How Übergeek Syp Lost 40 Pounds in 2012

Yoda Chewie Skillet

Justin Olivetti (many of you may know him as Syp) is a senior contributing editor at Massively and übergeek blogger at Bio Break. He also lost 40 pounds in 2012 by changing his lifestyle. I asked him to scribble a few words about what he did, and this is what I got. Enjoy!

2012 was a watershed moment in my life if for one reason: It’s the year when I finally, finally started losing weight.

I come from a family that skews toward “short and stout,” and ever since I was in college, I crossed the 200 pound barrier and didn’t look back. It wasn’t that I ate constantly, which is what some folks assume fat people do all the time, but I didn’t take great care of myself either. My weight has always been a problem, both health-wise and self-esteem-wise, and shortly after college I began a long, long series of diets to try to get thinner.

They really never worked, even though I’d go walking every day and would punish myself with, say, constant oatmeal breakfasts. Eventually I kind of gave up, although I’d keep modifying my diet according to whatever I had recently read was good and/or bad for me.

What helped me get onto my current regimen was hearing the testimonies of several friends, such as B.J., Dodge, and Moxie, as well as my mother, who had to lose weight after being diagnosed as diabetic. All of them said the same thing: low carb works. I figured it was worth a shot, and this past July I just started in the middle of a mission trip. After having a pizza dinner, I refused to put another piece of bread in my mouth.

The results are pretty incredible: Without adding exercise or counting calories, I’ve lost 40 pounds in a half of a year. I’ve gone from 245 pounds to 204, withing spitting distance of the lowest weight I’ve been since college. I generally feel better and haven’t had blood sugar crashes that I would get in the past. And people have really noticed, starting with my wife. Self-esteem is up and I keep holding my breath that somehow it’ll all stop working and I’ll go back to being really overweight. That’s why I’m adding an exercise regimen — just 20 minutes on an exercise bike a day — to my program.

So B.J. asked me to share with you what I eat. I did do a bit of research before beginning all of this (I recommend the book “Living Low Carb” for a great summary of all of the different plans as well as a host of tips), and generally figured out a plan that worked well for me. Not all diets work for everyone equally; you have to find something that works for you.

That said, here’s what I do.

Shopping, I follow the maxim of “just shop around the edges of the store.” That means fruits, veggies, meats, fish, cheese, yogurt, and some dairy. The idea here is to eat primarily fruits, veggies, and protein (and some fats), trusting that your body’s metabolism will stop converting carbs to fats when it has all of that delicious protein to chew on.

I’ve had to cut out a lot of what used to be “normal” foods: No breads, nothing with a high dose of sugar or carbs, no rice, no tortillas, no bagels, no chips, no pretzels, no pasta, no processed foods, and (generally) no fast food. When I tell people this, they tend to balk, although my next sentence is trying to explain that I have virtually no willpower and I was able to do it because when you focus primarily on veggies and protein, you are just not hungry. Like ever. You feel full more, don’t feel the need to snack as much, and generally eat fewer calories in general.

Now that I’ve started to pay attention to carbs, I’m absolutely shocked at what I used to put in me. Carbs are virtually everywhere, even in so-called “sugar-free” products, and they are not your friend. Your body processes carbs first and will convert any leftover carbs into fat (which tends to be a lot), and your body comes to rely on them for your energy. Switching over to protein gives you just as much energy without all of the spikes and crashes.

So here’s what I eat:

BREAKFAST

  • Eggs (generally two) and a few strips of turkey bacon or turkey sausage patties
  • Apple

LUNCH

Kroger (a supermarket) sells “carbmaster” yogurt, which is high in protein and low in carbs and calories. I will have two of these for lunch OR breakfast, but I try to have just one meal of the day that’s primarily yogurt. Greek yogurt is another possibility, you just have to be careful about the overly sugared varieties.

  • String cheese
  • Apple
  • OR Roast beef and swiss cheese rollups
  • OR Leftover meats

SNACKS

  • Almonds (Blue Diamond makes many tasty varieties, like chili and lime, habanero BBQ, backyard BBQ, and others. Just make sure that you don’t get the glazed types.)
  • Tic-tacs (for sweetness)
  • String cheese
  • Apples

DINNER

I’ll do a serving of meat (steak, chicken, pork tenderloin, turkey burger patties are my go-tos) with some hot wing sauce or low-sugar ketchup. Then I’ll heat up a bowl of frozen broccoli, green beans, or other greens and have it with a spinach artichoke dip.

I’ve also bought flavored sour cream and had that with veggies. Another possibility is a salad with chicken on top. Subway can make a great salad if you want something on the go.

DESSERT

Frozen blueberries–these are really awesome and keep forever in frozen state. Add normal whipped cream on occasion.

DRINKS

  • Water
  • Coffee with sugar-free flavored cream
  • Diet soda

And that’s pretty much it. It’s not that complicated of a plan, which is how I like it.

I’m not a huge cook and don’t want to be making weird recipes all the time. All of the above is quick to make, highly filling, and varied enough that it doesn’t get old. If I go out to a restaurant or fast food, I’ll just eat meat and veggies.