I felt like I was in a 70-year-old’s body. One day, I’d had enough, and I made a commitment to finally get in shape.
What this man can tell you about his surprising diet may help you lose weight and keep it off for good
At my heaviest, I weighed 205 pounds. That may not seem too big, but it is when you’re 5-foot 6-inches tall. My body fat percentage was between 40 and 45, and I was obese. It wasn’t a good look.
I’d always been a big kid, but then two things happened that helped me pack on even more pounds. First, I became a successful online entrepreneur.
Because I could work from anywhere, I decided to become a digital nomad and move to Argentina.
While there, I really took to the food, especially the ice cream, which you can have delivered right to your door. That’s dangerous.
The second thing that happened is that I tore my right ACL, and I couldn’t walk much. The combination of eating too much and moving too little left me tipping the scales.
When I moved back to Toronto in my late 20s, the combination of getting older, being overweight, and living a generally unhealthy lifestyle was taking a toll on my health. I felt like I was in a 70-year-old’s body. One day, I’d had enough, and I made a commitment to finally get in shape.
Today, I weigh 150 pounds and my body fat percentage sits around 12 percent (I had it tested using a high-tech DEXA scan).
How’d I do it? With a little exercise, smart eating, and cookies. Lots and lots of cookies.
Here’s how it worked.
At first, I walked 10,000 steps a day. That’s it! It doesn’t seem like much, but it resulted in a 20-pound loss.
I then started to lift weights, and over the course of a few years lost an additional 35 pounds. Lifting also made me look and feel much better.
Through all that time still today I’ve eaten at least one cookie every single day. On rare days I’ve had 10 in a day.
A running joke among my friends is just how much I love cookies.
So earlier this year I hosted a ridiculous chocolate chip cookie off everyone would bake (or buy) the best chocolate chip cookies they could, bring them over, and we’d all eat vote to see whose was the most delicious.
After I posted a picture of the event on Facebook with the hashtag #cookielife, people began telling me that their cookies would have won.
So, I said, prove it—send me your cookies.
And people did! The #cookielife became an ad-hoc movement of hilarity. People sent them partly as a way of thanking me for my business advice, and partly as a way of just being included in something ridiculous.
Since the #cookielife was born in January of this year, I’ve had over 70 people send me cookies. I’ve eaten them all, too (ok, sometimes I share).
This phenomenon has also opened up a lot of interesting discussions about food and weight loss. Invariably when I tell people that I eat cookies every day, they wonder how I can do it and stay lean, especially because most know I was once heavy.
Here’s how: Calories in and calories out is the key to weight loss.
Eat consistently more than you burn, and you’ll gain. Eat consistently less than you burn, and you’ll lose. Eat about the same as you burn, and you’ll stay the same weight. It’s surely not complicated, but that’s the science.
You might be wondering what a tech entrepreneur knows about weight loss. I helped co-found a company called Examine.com, and its purpose is to act as an encyclopedia on nutrition and supplementation.
We have a team of researchers and Ph.D.s who read all the research on a given nutritional topic and translate it into easy-to-understand information for the average person. Since our founding, my team has analyzed over 50,000 studies.
When I challenged them to answer the question: “What foods lead to weight loss?” their conclusion was the point I made above.
From our investigation: “Independent of your diet’s macronutrient ratios, a negative energy balance (consuming fewer calories than your body needs) is responsible for weight loss.”
Now, does the overall quality of your food matter? Absolutely!
In general, all of our nutrition researchers agree that you should focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods. You should also take in ample protein to build and maintain muscle.
But it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition.
For the vast majority of people, as long as your calories stay at the right level—for whatever your weight goal—there is zero reason you can’t also enjoy a daily treat. I know incredibly fit people who drink two beers, or eat a chocolate bar, or McDonald’s cheeseburger every day. (Hey, we all have our vices.)
I, myself, make sure to eat ample proteins and vegetables every day. I especially like okra, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and more.
The vitamins and fiber they provide are amazing for your body—they’re great for your health, great for digestion, and great for staying regular.
I also lift weight four times a week (admittedly two of them are arm days—I’m a bro at heart).
The other three days I try to walk 10,000 steps. This ensures I both build lean body mass and have a reliable cardiovascular system. (My resting heart rate used to be about 90 beats per minute. It’s now down to a healthy 55.)
But I always finish dinner with a cookie. Or two. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day—in fact, I’d argue, my daily cookie gives me a little incentive to consistently eat those healthy foods, walk, and make it to the gym.
Of course you can. Simply pay attention to consistently eating the amount of calories that keeps you at the weight you’d like to be, and make the majority of your foods “healthy.”
The cookies (or whatever treat you love) are part of the diet—not the entire diet.