“Imagine that in order to have a great life you have to cross a dangerous jungle. You can stay safe where you are and have an ordinary life, or you can risk crossing the jungle to have a terrific life. How would you approach that choice? Take a moment to think about it because it is the sort of choice that, in one form or another, we all have to make.” Ray Dalio
For those that don’t know before I started tackling the mysteries of data relates to fat loss I tackled a different kind of data, I was a high stakes poker player and traveled the world playing poker. Not only haven’t I played a hand of poker in a while it’s been over 6 years (it’s longer but 6 years ago was when Eat To Perform started and I haven’t played a hand of poker since then, not for anything significant at least). In 2006 a friend and I made a weight loss bet, neither of us won the bet because we both lost a significant amount of weight (I lost 80 and he lost 100), the break even was 65 and 80. The extremes we both went to were obscene, so much so that I showed up at the 2007 WSOP and couldn’t play the main event because I was sleep deprived, the previous year I had bested a record field (I can’t remember if it was over or under 10,000) to finish 112th or something close to that. It was the second time I did it and I had a good reputation as a deep stack player. So when I wouldn’t put up my own money people offered to stake me for half, I declined. If I wasn’t willing to put my own money up because I was physically ill I wasn’t willing to set other people’s money on fire either. When I left Vegas that year I flew to Hawaii to meet my family, looking back at those pictures I didn’t look healthy, neither did my friend.
We both gained the weight back with interest but obviously that wasn’t the end of the story for me, nor was it the end of the story for him.
I bring this up because the contrast is interesting, after that time we both lost more with radically different approaches. I think by now people know my approach but if you don’t, I used food as an ally, started exercising and the results are in the picture below.
I remember what we both did in Vegas, we gorged on food together, after all, we were starving. We both agreed that it would be our celebration and we both avoided the scale for a couple of weeks hoping things would get back to normal. When I went to Hawaii I started eating normal, I had more energy, my sex drive came back it was like my whole life changed. My sleep was back too! My wife and I both exercised, nothing extreme but I remember thinking “this is what I want my life to be like all of the time”. When I got back home I was up 15 pounds and that started a snowball effect that told me something drastically needed to change for me this to stick. I just couldn’t fight through the depression again, I needed another way.
My friend didn’t agree, his path would be the same path and to his credit at this moment, he is down roughly the same amount I am down, not technically actually. I am down 100 pounds of fat because I put on 38 pounds of muscle, so I am technically only down a bit over 60 pounds now. But if you count the fat I replaced we are similar.
If it sounds like I am judging my friend I am a bit, I wish he had taken my path, here is why:
My friend now struggles with serious bouts of depression, nothing like before we started all of this. He routinely talks about suicidal thoughts and he is on various forms of medication. Is he healthier? If we are judging by degrees of course he is healthier. Being over 300 pounds can be a death sentence even for a large framed individual. So I have to think he has extended his life. That said, he thought he did it the easier way because he has told me “I just couldn’t do what you did”.
What did I do that was so remarkable? For my journey I used two tools, food and exercise, in those initial two years I only reduced my calories once, other than that I used food as an ally.
He stuck to a naughty and nice list and basically avoids carbs. Right now he avoids carbs even more extreme than before and has EPIC binge sessions for obvious reasons.
I put the Ray Dalio quote up to illustrate one point, if you are going to have an epic struggle shouldn’t you end up with a great life at the end? There is no question that my friends struggle was harder than mine but I don’t think he is living his best life and I think that’s sad. At this point after talking to him he feels too far gone, like he has used so much will to get to where he is at that he couldn’t imagine mustering up more to make exercise a priority in his life. He prefers that grind over an unknown grind that could potentially change his life for the better.
He also still plays poker, as we left the coffee house where we met the other day I asked him what was his plans for the rest of the day and he said “going to get a few hours in at the tables, I’m still on that grind”.
I went for a hike. My grind changed or better said, I am no longer on the grind.