Voice actor Bill Johnston slowly but surely gained weight while eating low-fat and wholegrain products. Eventually he had a closet full of clothes he could no longer wear. Then he found Diet Doctor and low-carb.
Here’s what happened next:
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This is my story of dietetic redemption. It has an ironic twist that I’ll reveal at the end. My story begins in late January 2012. I saw Michelle Obama on TV. She was talking about the “New School Lunch Nutrition Guidelines.” This is where kids should eat meals that include more veggies, fruits and grains. It is a part of her signature “Let’s Move!” initiative that works to fight childhood obesity. It stems from some studies done in 2009-2010 that showed 24.3 per cent of black children and adolescents were obese compared to 14.0 per cent of white children and adolescents.
It caused me to think back to my early years and I recalled that very few people were obese then. In that time, people ate a lot of meat and cooked with butter or lard or, especially, beef tallow. Most people were hale and hearty. My family was not different. Diabetes was rare. I knew of only one person who had it. Back then it was referred to as “Sugar Diabetes.” Later it was called Juvenile Onset Diabetes; still later called “Type I Diabetes.” Very few people had what was then called “Adult Onset Diabetes, later labeled “Type II.”
As I was almost imperceptibly gaining weight and girth by tiny fractions of ounces and inches, I remember noticing, while shopping at the grocery stores, that most of the shopping carts were filled with low-fat and no-fat foods, whole grain cereals, crackers and breads; heart-healthy this and heart-healthy that. But, strangely, most of the people pushing the carts were visibly overweight. Many were morbidly obese.
A simple, logical approach to the phenomenon led me to the inference that, if the contents of their shopping carts were a reflection of what their diets comprised, these people should not be fat. Yet, they were! How could that be? Patently obvious, based on the contents of their shopping carts, these people were closely following the government “Guidelines.” If that were true, however, how were they getting so fat? Could it be that they were they just gorging themselves, and then some? The whole thing didn’t make sense.
Then, there was my own problem. Looking into my clothes closet, I saw stuff I couldn’t wear — not because the stuff was worn out — but because I could no longer fit into them. I had pants, jackets, suits — good stuff — stuff that’d been there for quite a while. No matter. I still couldn’t wear them; they didn’t fit my then current bulging waist. So, why are they in my closet? Simple answer: I just hadn’t dealt with them. Out of sight, out of mind? Perhaps.
I was very disquieted. For me, time was passing, but life seemed to be not so good all around. I didn’t feel up to par. I tired easily, I had nearly constant heartburn, my knees objected to my climbing stairs. I felt mentally sluggish and physically logey most of the time; definitely not mentally sharp. I was within fractions of an ounce of weighing 240 pounds. I had a pot belly, my waist size had been increasing. It was about to hit 40 inches. Overall, in short, I felt like I was just “going through the motions” of life. Why was I doing this? Why was I feeling this way? I didn’t know.
To make matters worse, my wife was also overweight; I won’t take my life into my own hands by revealing how much. She’d developed Type II Diabetes a few years ago, had been taking various medications for it, plus some more of them for elevated cholesterol.
I thought back to when I first met her. At that time, I was still on active duty in the U.S. Navy. She was slim and trim; very sexy! She did not have diabetes. I was also slim and trim; a lean, hard guerrilla fighter (not that I was any longer looking for lean, hard guerrillas to fight).
My naval uniforms fit me quite comfortably. A set of Service Dress Blues (custom-made for me in Hong Kong by Lee Chong Tai and Sun Kee Tailors), that I had worn when I first met her, was one of the items hanging in my closet. I took it out of its plastic garment bag and tried it on. Well, more accurately, I tried to put it on. No Dice! I was unable to. I tried the same with my “Wash Khakis,” (formerly a standard officer working uniform.) Same deal. Then, more of the same with other clothes from that time, like the beautiful bespoke suits from a Savile Row tailor in England. I had to face the unwelcome fact that I had a lot of money tied up in unwearable clothing. That was not a good day.
My wife started talking about my birthday, upcoming in 2013. She wanted to throw a party for me. I told her, in my best mafioso style, “fuggedaboudit. I don’t want a party; I don’t need to be reminded about how old I am; the last thing I want is a party.” But, she persisted. She wore me down. I was in no mood to fight. She was lean but soft, but hardly a lean hard guerrilla. So, I caved. (I just couldn’t stand the nagging.)
Here, I begin a short digression.
I have done a lot of internet research on eating and health. Incident to my research, I discovered, among other sites, the biggest health blog in Scandinavia, with over 50 000 daily visitors. This is the blog of Andreas Eenfeldt, M.D. It’s at DietDoctor.com. I strongly advocate to everybody I can that they visit this site.
Also, incident to my search, I found that all forms of carbohydrate are merely different forms of sugar. Some are short-chain, or simple; some are long-chain, or complex. I also discovered that, contrary to conventional wisdom, dietary fat, including saturated fat, was good for the body. I learned how carbohydrate causes the creation of body fat through the repression of fat burning by the hormone, Insulin. Therein seems to lie the master key. Further, I came across additional information, including some videos, that warned of the many dangers of dietary sugar, no matter the form. I discovered how ingesting sugar in any of its forms could lead to all kinds of bad things —including Diabetes and a host of other diabolically debilitating and life-threatening diseases.
Now, you might be thinking that getting information from the internet is very risky because there’s so much garbage out there. You’re quite right. But, be advised: I also sought out material on “the other side of my argument.” I did this, both on the internet and in independent, printed hard material. My objective was to find scientifically valid evidence on both sides of the issue. To that, I added my analytical skills, which have been proven in another forum. So, although my information reliability vetting process was not perfect, I think it was more than adequate to “prove” my points.
Fundamentally, developing any strategy requires serious consideration of three things: ends, ways, and means. The ends comprise the terminal objective, the ways comprise the path to be taken toward achieving that objective. The steps on the path are the enabling objectives. Each step, in turn, enables the next step to be achieved. The means comprise the resources necessary to expend on traveling the chosen path. By definition, unless all three aspects have been considered and established, a strategy cannot exist.
I decided that my strategy would be as follows: my end, or terminal objective, would be: “I will be able to wear, at my birthday party (coming up in about 17 months, my now unwearable clothes.” The way, or path, I would take for girth reduction, would be: “Shifting from my present government recommended, high carbohydrate-low fat (HCLF) lifestyle to a low-carbohydrate-high-fat (LCHF) lifestyle.” The means would be: “severely restricting (by comparison) my intake of all carbohydrate/sugar, no matter the form: In addition, I would no longer buy, nor would I eat or drink some of my favorite foods and beverages—bread, pasta, potatoes, fruit pies, beer! And, the list goes on.
In execution of the strategy, the best case scenario would have me stop eating any carbohydrate. As a practical matter, however, I realized that I probably could not completely avoid carbohydrates, so I settled for a daily goal of eating not more than 15 grams of the stuff. In addition, because I did not want to burn up my body protein, I would substitute healthful fat in place of toxic carbohydrate.
Near the end of January, 2012, I started executing the strategy. By the end of July, 2012, only six months later, (I had dropped 38 pounds (17 kg) of excess weight and five excess inches from my waist measurement. I have since lost another few pounds.) As of this writing, my weight has stabilized at 200 pounds, plus or minus two pounds (the approximate weight of one quart of water.) I am comfortably ensconced in my Kirkland Brand 5-pocket blue jeans: Size 34 waist, 34 in-seam, with no overhanging belly! I feel very much better; no heartburn! My endurance has rebounded. I feel 50 years younger; maybe, 60 years younger, even! Some people who are in their late 50s run out of gas before I do; they are amazed at my energy level.
And another benefit has to do with my work. Being a voice actor, I am naturally very sensitive to anything that could affect the sound of my voice. I am happy to say that many people have told me that it sounds much better than it did before. Now, that’s cool!!
Now, finally, here’s the irony I mentioned up front. What I started to do in January of 2012, was nothing more than just going back to eating the way I had been eating from my early years, i.e., the dietary lifestyle that I had been following before it got derailed by my acceptance of my government’s Dietary Guidelines.
What about the Guidelines? Well, they came out in 1978 and were called the “Dietary Goals for the United States.”, also called “The McGovern Report.” I (and probably everybody I knew) had been following those nutritional guidelines. I believe most people in America have tried hard to follow those “Guidelines,” too. Yet, I saw a gigantic disconnect between the action of following those guidelines and the results of the action.
I have gotten over mourning the temporary loss of my health and well-being for the years that I suffered by following the Guidelines. Now, however, I am so angry that the newest set of Dietary Guidelines still doesn’t recognize the disaster they have caused and they now continue to perpetuate. The Guidelines still recommend that people consume 300 grams of carbohydrate every day. At 4 grams of sugar, or sugar equivalent, per teaspoon, my government is recommending that everybody eat 75 teaspoons of sugar per day. With 100 grams being 3.52 ounces, the recommended 300 grams is 10.56 ounces, or 2/3rds of a pound. Now, why would anybody, especially the government, recommend to people that they slam down 2/3rds of a pound of sugar every day?
Based on my own positive experience, I decided then to try to pass on to family and friends, the information I had gathered and analyzed. One of the keys to their acceptance (some grudgingly) has been my own experience. Some still don’t believe it when the see how my body has changed for the better. They think it must be for some other reasons; reasons that they don’t reveal; maybe because they can’t.
I end on an odd note. I still use the same trouser belt I used with my jeans before I started my LCHF Lifestyle. Now, though, I have to curl the tip back under the belt loop so that it doesn’t hang out like a big tongue wagging in the air. I do this because it is a daily reminder to me, when I look at the wear marks that the frame of the buckle made on the leather of the belt as I progressed through the prong holes to a shorter and shorter waist length. Notice from the photograph of the belt that I had to punch three more holes in it to shorten it enough.
Thank you Dr. Eenfeldt. Thank you LCHF lifestyle.
William (Bill) Johnston, M.B.A.
Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Voice Actor and Authorized ACX Audiobook Producer/Narrator
Congratulations, Bill! And thank you for sharing what you learned.
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