Can’t Win For Losing

Disclaimer: I am no nutritional scientist, I am not an anthropologist or human evolutionist, I am not an expert on anything but me, my life, my experience, my story.

However, I have learned some things that I think can be very helpful to most people who find themselves inhabiting a space in which I used to exist, miserably. I think things are a lot simpler than prevailing wisdom, society, and proprietary solution purveyors would have us believe they are. But inside that simplicity exists some difficulty and struggle, don’t get me wrong here. The actual things we need to do, the list of necessaries if you will, are simple. The complexity comes in with the execution/implementation.

As a fat person, nothing made me feel better than to have an excuse, or a well-publicized article to site, that seemed to relieve me of responsibility for my 400 pound plight. When you weigh 400 pounds, to accept that it is your fault is heavy (pun intended). So, when you read anything, or hear anything that might suggest that you are completely normal, your behaviors are completely normal, and you are just pre-destined to be fat, it offers some sort of a sick, twisted comfort. That comfort is chocolate-covered bullshit. The fact is, it is our fault. We must own our responsibility in it before we can truly move forward.
The reason it is our fault is complex, it is deep; it is tied to more than just food and food habits, movement and movement habits; it is tied to society, it is tied to family, it is tied to legacy, it is tied to tradition, it is tied to culture, it is tied to geography. But the basic moving parts of the answer are simple: eat some fucking plants, and cover distance as if you were patrolling a home range/territory, like a wild animal would do, on purpose, with purpose and regularity, period. But I digress.

If you can’t tell by now, what spurred this blog post is the New York Times piece on the Biggest Loser contestants and the fact that they all seem to gain their weight back. They go into all kind of reductionist detail that basically takes the onus of failure away from both the contestants and the riduclosity of a television program that taught them how to fail at achieving a health-induced natural-normal body weight. It basically blames nature for it.
The article goes into all kind of detail about how the contestants metabolisms have been altered to such degree that to regain the weight is basically an inevitability. And it leaves the reader to assume that these people just cannot fight the botched code that Mother Nature has installed into the fat person machine. It is fucking ludicrous! And I’m not talking about the rapper, he’s cool. I’m talking about how absurd it is to blame biology/nature for this problem when it is us who are the guilty ones. We are the ones who can’t see through tv commercials and financially skewed nutritional advice to the deck of cards Mother Nature has stacked for us, in our favor. No, we see that these people, who lost all this weight, that have a metabolism that’s all messed up now, not as an error in approach, but an error in specific people’s biology: fat people.

How many of these people were taught that the human animal, biologically speaking, is herbivorous, and that if one looks, one can find a plethora of examples of humans who’ve lost Biggest Loser type weight without the obesity relapse experienced by almost all the show contestants?
“Umm, wait, we have to sell Hardies, McDonalds, Nabisco, Kraft Foods, Jenny Craig and Nutri-System. We cant suggest that.”
How many of these people developed deep, meaningful relationships in the running community, or built a lifestyle around moving in a way that suggests “hey, this life thing, I mean it” ? No, they were stuck mimicking the unsustainable bullshit they did on the show.
What I’m asking here is how many of these people were taught to adopt plants and running as not a strategy for weight loss, but a strategy to become, finally, authentically human? Not a damn one, that’s how many!
It is NOT that Mother Nature messed up when making these people, so that even when they lose weight they are pre-programed to regain it, it’s from being, technically, calorie-fulfilled without being volume fulfilled. There is a physiological mechanism that is needed to send signals to the brain that say “We are satiated. Stop now.” If we eat calorically dense foods (like the ones sold in the commercials of The Biggest Loser), and constantly play calories-in-calories-out-regardless-of-source, then we never really activate that mechanism because the volume of food in the stomach is not sufficient to do so; if we do fill the stomach with those foods, we too easily achieve a caloric surplus (weight gain, or at a minimum, stalled loss).
To be clear, these calorie dense foods exist, also, in a plantbased, no oil diet.
But if we do the opposite, then we can sufficiently stretch the stomach, sending the proper “stop eating now” signals to the brain without a surplus of calories. Not to mention that calorically dilute foods (water-,fibre-rich plant matter) are usually extremely nutritionally dense.
So, what I think is happening is that these B.L. contestants are never taught this about their bodies, or the proper foods they are meant to use for nutrition (because the show is meant to sell advertising, not fix humans. Just like this NYT article itself), therefore sending them into an overwhelming rabbit hole of blunt-force calorie budgeting without proper attention to calorie sourcing for the human organism. Of course, I’m talking unadulterated plant matter here. No, it doesn’t technically *have* to be 100% plants-only, all the time, but a serious, drastic change in the plant/other shit ratio must happen.

More on the 100% thing, if you are caloric-density-enhanced-food addicted, which is most of America,—hence the success of fast “food” companies in this country—then flirting with the “foods” (see advertisers) that need to be avoided for optimal health is a death knell to sustainability. The caloric density (therefore addicting/habit-forming component) of meat and dairy must not be overlooked, even chicken and fish. If one pays close attention to caloric density, and eats accordingly, one will lose and keep off weight, while accidentally reseting your palate, saving your planet and planetmates. It is a win. Get used to the idea of removing things permanently. I’d say start with milk. It’s any easy one these days.
And while one can be plant based and not lose all the excess weight on one’s body, he or she will still be healthier than the average American. However, that’s a pretty low bar.

I have lost over 200lbs in the past few years. I have made some forever decisions when it comes to my food choices, and that has made my running and weight-loss sustainable for the long haul. I don’t know what my metabolism numbers are, don’t really give a good shit (but I’m open to the testing if anyone is so inclined to study me), but I feel alive with life. I wake up early every day. I run like the wind. I cover territory with my natural bipedal locomotion. I eat plants. I love big, big. And I am happier than I have ever been in my life, and want to share with the world, especially the “loser” world, how I’ve discovered Mother Nature to be conspiring in our health’s favor. Let’s not let self-assigned labels, and what you think those mean, get in the way of letting nature have her way with you.


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13 thoughts on “Can’t Win For Losing

  1. Love your response. Was wondering what you and Dr. Garth and Rich would be thinking. I never struggled with weight but am just amazed by what people buy into. My journey is moving me towards a plant based diet for my health and to improve my running performance. You rock!

  2. I have been following you on instagram and i agree with you! I was wondering how to approach a friend on this topic, she lives in another state and I don’t see her a lot but I always worry about how big she is. I keep wanting to help her in some way without offending her. any suggestions? :/ and your blog is great, more people should def adopt a plant based diet.

  3. Hey Josh, Just wanted you to know that you are inspiring a 36 year old dude (currently 288lbs.) in Phoenix, AZ to lose weight by eating plant based and cycling/running. Your message is getting out there and your helping people! Thank you for being an awesome example!

  4. Thank you! I absolutely agree with what you’ve said. What makes me absolutely crazy is that nobody talks about obesity as a food addiction in the same vein as alcohol and drug addiction. No one doubts that you should absolutely not drink alcohol or take drugs if you are an addict but no body would dare suggest that an obese person (obviously addicted) should dramatically change his/her eating habits and entirely abstain from processed and fast food (chips, pop, McD’s). In fact, as a triathlete and definite food addict, every time I turn around I run into articles/people/so-called experts opining that I should eat more to lose weight. I don’t understand how it helps people to tell them that they are victims and have no control over the health of their own bodies. Why is it useful information to know how much your metabolism has slowed down? I am frustrated to say the least. I’m an aspiring vegan and giving it another shot starting now. Thanks for being such an inspiration – I heard you on Rich Roll and you’re among my favorite guests (right behind Mishka of course).

    1. I know, right? And just like I was Mishka on our run the other day, a huge step for me was being able to turn some things “off” forever; just avoiding all animal products is a great way to black-n-white-ize the whole food paradigm. By doing just that, one accidentally avoids many of the crack rocks that litter our path in a given day while trying to procure nourishment. Getting people to understand that animals are not an obligatory part of a healthy human diet is a great step one in the fight, but it’s goes against so many advertisers that a change won’t be made from the tv out; it can only be made by changing demand en masse, therefore changing the message of what businesses want to sell us. It’s a behemoth of a conundrum, but there’s no more authentically human niche than solving behemoth problems. I’m just glad I’m oart of the solution now. ✌🏻️🏃🏼🌿

  5. I love your no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners approach, which is what one has to do to conquer any addiction; you’re an inspiration!
    Keep on keepin’ on!
    #WFPB! #Vegan!
    (PS: Loved you at #HF2016!)

    1. Thanks!!! I find it easier to just be me, and write the way I would say it. I’m glad you get, and don’t it’s too vulgar or aggressive. I’m just very passionate about this movement. It helps to vent in a constructive way. ✌🏻️🏃🏼🌿

  6. I just started with Chef AJ UWL and saw your interview with her on you tube. My husband is also an ultra runner and will be running the Rio Del Lago 100 mile in November hoping to win a spot in the Western States 2017. He is moving to a plant based diet and you are just what he needed for inspiration. Thank you for sharing your life with us !! Also I love your comments about the BL article in the NYT, our friend who struggles with weight and is running the Western States next week quotes that damn article constantly and I cant wait to share your blog with him. Your are very inspirational and your honesty keeps it simple and easy to understand. I’m really excited I found you and look forward to following you. THANKS !!!!!!!

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