Like most kids growing up, I had my share of issues. As a child, I ate some of the worst quality foods available. Every day’s meals consisted of some combination of fast food, TV dinners, processed snacks, soda, juice, or Gatorade. By the time I was 11 years old, I had eaten at every fast food chain, tried every Hungry Man and Lean Cuisine microwave dinner, not to mention thousands of Bagel Bites, frozen pizzas, cookies, donuts, bowls of cereal, processed deli meats, you name it. I can only recall eating a handful of home-cooked meals at my house until I was in middle school. Looking back, I believe this had a big impact on why I suffered from obesity, stomach problems, lack of confidence, and was a bully to others when I was an adolescent and all the way through high school.
About a year after I graduated from Georgetown University, my life changed forever. One day in December 2012, I was at a friend’s house going over the TRX training program that I had made for him. Along with him, was one of his good friends, Mark, who was there to go over his meal plan. I sat back and listened intently to the meal plan he was going to receive. To my surprise, the plan did not consist of chicken breast, ground turkey, tilapia, egg whites, complex carbohydrates and dry vegetables that I was accustomed to. You know, "healthy food." Instead, he was being told to eat steak, burgers, whole eggs, and butter. I couldn't believe my ears. Once he finished explaining the meal plan and my friend left the room, I pulled Mark to the side and asked him, "He's going to eat all of that and lose weight?!” With a confident smile, he replied, “Absolutely.”
Confused and in disbelief, I asked him, “So if I wanted to lose weight would I eat all of the same types of foods but less?” “No. You'll eat more because you are bigger than he is.“ Now I was intrigued. For the last 18 months before that, I was doing everything I could to lose weight (with little success). As every former lineman's dream, I wanted to lose weight and get a six-pack once my football career was over. At the time I was going through all of the “politically correct” protocols that I had picked up from the “experts” and all of the bodybuilding and fitness magazines.
• Eating 6 small meals a day
• Chugging a protein shake within 20 minutes of completing my workout
• Focused on a diet that had a ton of protein, some complex carbs, dry vegetables and low fat
• Used stimulant and non-stimulant fat burners
• Exercised a minimum of 5 days per week, up to 10 hours some weeks
Following that format, I was able to lose my first 20 pounds, dropping from 280 to about 260 pounds. However, I was stuck there and couldn't get past that point so I was open to trying just about anything. Mark gave me some materials to read and told me to reach out to him if I had any questions.
This led me to the work of Dr. Weston A Price, a dentist who lived from 1870-1948 when the industrial foods were just starting to spread like wildfire. Spurred by the death of his son from a tooth infection and his own experience with tooth decay while eating a typical diet, he became intrigued by the question “Why do teeth decay?”
That question led him on a journey where he studied the effect of new industrial food versus their traditional diets. He compared the “new foods” such as a white sugar, white flour, vegetable oils, and canned goods to those who ate their traditional foods. These comparisons included 14 different healthy people groups ranging from indigenous populations in the US, Peru, Switzerland, and Africa.
The first observation he made was those who ate their country's traditional food were robust and healthy with wide jaws to support good teeth structure, very few to zero cavities, and a resistance to the common plagues of that time such as tuberculosis. Those who ate a lot of the new foods, like refined sugar and flour and the vegetable oils, often had rampant tooth decay and little resistance to disease. He documented the pictures of people’s teeth and facial structure showing how vast of a difference there was between those who ate traditional foods and those who didn’t. The difference was often alarming.
The importance of a nutrient-dense diet was common among all of the populations he studied. He found four times the water-soluble vitamins, calcium, and other minerals and ten times the amount of the fat-soluble vitamins from animal foods such as butter, fish eggs, shellfish, organ meats, eggs, and animal fats. Based on this research, I decided I was going to buy a meal plan from Mark, which ended up being a life-altering experience for me. In a span of about 10 months I dropped roughly 30 pounds, but more importantly, I had more energy, clearer thoughts, got sick less often and had a new zest for life! My entire attitude about life shifted. I was happier, optimistic, and eager to learn more about how I could continue to improve my health physically, mentally, and spiritually.
This transformation all started with a shift in the way I ate. I now focus on eating micronutrient-dense foods (high in vitamins and minerals) that allow me to perform at my highest potential:
• Grass Fed/ Pastured meats and wild-caught seafood
• Pastured Eggs
• Non-oxidized saturated and monosaturated fats such as grass-fed butter & ghee, unrefined coconut oil, olive oil, and palm oil
• As many organic vegetables as possible (emphasizing variety)
• Organic berries, pineapple, and low sugar fruits
• Some low-glycemic sweeteners like monk fruit extract and xylitol
• Sweet potatoes, yams, and jasmine rice
Changing my diet has led me to an enlightening journey that I am so grateful for. It has steered me towards some unbelievable people and thinkers who I learn from every day. All of which find health, wellness, and high performance as key cogs in any life. The work of Dave Asprey, Abel James, Tim Ferriss, Ben Greenfield, Dr. Rhonda Patrick, and Joe Rogan are just some of the people who have had incredible thinkers, high performers, and podcast guest on their shows. The knowledge, tools, tactics, and routines these people have shared have made a profound impact on my life and the life of my clients. It has introduced me to mindfulness, gratitude practices, biohacking, and other methods that enable me to grow into the happy, focused, energetic person that I want to consistently be.
There is a huge shift happening right now. So many people are fed up with the status quo. Many of us are done being mediocre in all facets of our life. Fed up with being sick, tired, and unhealthy. Done buying into ineffective, “politically correct” diets and workout regimens that do not provide the results that match the work and time being put in. People are ready to take back their health, find their own happiness, and be the best version of his or herself. There are so many different self-care strategies out there that can be beneficial. In my experience, change occurs when an individual makes the conscious decision that he or she wants to grow, is open-minded and willing to dedicate the time to see what works for them.
In my experience, we often tend to overestimate the abilities of others and underestimate our own, most noticeably in the workplace, the sports arena, and within our peer group. You Can 2 is a belief and a mindset in which we see the success of others and use it as fuel to our fire. Understanding that those who have experienced the change, growth, or success we are looking for are prime examples that we can do the same. My goal is to share the routines and strategies that have worked for myself and others so that you can try them for yourself and see what works for you. The shift that I experienced made me realize that anyone could go through the same life-changing experience that I did. At the end of the day I’m just a regular person and if I can do it, You Can 2!