Look for Thom King’s book coming out in January 2018 entitled “Guy Gone Keto“.
I woke up that morning in a suite at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. I felt terrible.
I was in town for a trade show and the night before a client had taken me to dinner. We ordered these massive, hundred-dollar steaks, drank several glasses of wine, and gorged ourselves on ice cream and desserts.
I’d brought the leftovers back to the room and they were still sitting on the counter. I glanced around the room. Although they had upgraded my room to a suite, the place was run down and sad. There was a Jacuzzi in the middle of the room and the place reeked of alcohol a previous guest had spilled.
I got out of bed and looked at myself in the full-length mirror. I was six-foot-two and I weighed 235 pounds I carried it well, but, not well enough. I felt sick. I was flabby and tired and filled with regret and remorse. I was going through my second divorce, I was in a lawsuit with my first wife, and my blood pressure was so high that my doctor had put me on medicine to control it. Vegas baby!
As I stood in front of the mirror, I asked myself, “How the hell did I get here?”
The worst of it was that I saw myself as a liar and a hypocrite. I owned a company, Steviva, that promotes healthy products. One of our principles is helping people to improve their health and diet by providing them with natural, no-calories sweeteners to replace the unhealthy refined and man-made sugars that make them sick and overweight.
Yet here I was, a fat ass who was not leading a disciplined life. I was eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and drinking whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to. It wasn’t unusual for me to drink half a bottle of wine a night, eat pizza a couple of times a week, and chow down on dessert every night. Food had stopped being sustenance for me and had become an addiction. I was addicted to alcohol. I was addicted to high-glycemic carbohydrates. I was addicted to sugar. I was also addicted to approval; I was drawn into unhealthy, destructive relationships with women, driven by a need to please others.
I turned away from the mirror, disgusted with myself.
Taking a New Road
That was my turning point. From that day in September 2016 forward, I vowed to make changes not just to my diet but to my entire lifestyle. It was, I knew, going to be a difficult journey. I would experience more than a little discomfort as I changed my diet and exercise habits and as I focused on the changes I needed to be a better person. I might have to stop associating with certain people. I’d have to give up many of my favorite foods. I’d have to carefully track my progress. But I was determined to change.
Now, as I write this a year later, I weigh less than two hundred pounds. My blood pressure is normal. I get up at 4:30 a.m. and run three and a half miles every morning. My waist size has dropped from thirty-eight to thirty-three. I am more clear-minded, optimistic, and energetic than I have been at any other time in my fifty-seven-year life.
My journey turned out to be more of a marathon than a sprint, and I’m grateful for that. If I’m in a marathon, that means I’m making long-term choices and changes that will stay with me and help me for the rest of my life. I’ve done sprints before, and I can tell you that short-term efforts to lose weight and get fit don’t work; you might lose weight, but if your diet and exercise habits are not part of a lifestyle change, you can expect to see your weight spin up and down like a yo-yo. Believe me, I’ve probably gained and lost thousands of pounds in my adult life.
I’m a huge fan of author and life-coach Tony Robbins, who says that if you want to change a habit, you have to associate massive amounts of pain to that habit. That day in Las Vegas, I began to meditate on the pain and suffering that overindulgence had caused me. I associated my first divorce, my indulgent lifestyle, and certain wrong-headed decisions with my poor lifestyle choices. I spent an hour throwing myself into an enormous pool of agony so that these bad habits would no longer be associated with pleasure, but with pain and regret.
I realized that if I kept up this lifestyle, I would soon be dead of a heart attack or stroke. Or maybe cancer. I lost both my parents to cancer, and I knew rogue cancer cells that are always present in a person’s body eat glucose to survive. I thought of all the sugar I ate and imagined these rogue cancer cells flourishing in my body.
Later, I bought a journal and began chronicling my journey from sloth, indulgence, and dishonesty to a life of self-exploration, healthy eating, and the study of the science behind getting healthy and fit.
Discovery, Forgiveness, and Transformation
This has been more than a journey of diet and exercise. It’s been a journey of self-discovery and self-forgiveness. What started out as a diet and lifestyle change become a complete transformation of who I was.
Part of the process was surrounding myself with like-minded people and positive role models. It’s been said that you’re the sum of the five people closest to you, and in my case, that meant I was surrounded by people who only enabled my overindulgence. So I started listening to Tim Ferris, who wrote the 4-Hour series of books, and Jocko Willink, the ex-Navy Seal who wrote the book Extreme Ownership. I read everything I could find on Dr. Dom D’Agostino of the University of South Florida, one of the world’s foremost experts on ketogenic diets.
Before long, I was getting up at 4:30 a.m. like Jocko Willink, going to bed at nine o’clock, cutting out wine, and following a ketogenic diet.
I’d been aware of ketogenic diets for several years, since Dr. Robert Atkins introduced it to the world with his bestseller in 1972. The diet is fairly simple: You eat mostly fat and protein and cut out the sugars and complex carbohydrates. Although people attacked it at first—we’d all been taught that fatty foods made you fat and that sugary foods gave you energy—more than twenty studies in recent years have shown that low-carbohydrate diets like the ketogenic diet can help you lose weight and get healthier.
What I learned was that our bodies burn fat more efficiently than sugars or carbohydrates. When you greatly reduce those sugars and carbs, your body turns to the white fat around your organs and around your belly and other places for energy. If you’re ingesting a lot of sugar and carbs and you’re not exercising enough to burn those carbohydrates off, your body converts it to fat. When you get too much of that fat, you start seeing problems with heart disease, diabetes, and organ failure.
Studies show that 80 percent of weight loss is attributed to diet and 20 percent to exercise. You can lose weight on a ketogenic diet, but if you go back to your old way of eating, you will only gain the weight back. Yo-yoing like that is even harder on your heart than just remaining overweight. To succeed in the long term—to live longer with greater health benefits—you need to make a commitment to a lifestyle of eating right and exercising. It’s what I did, and I’ve never regretted it.
Your Own Journey to Health
My goal with this book is to share my journey to better health so that you too can make lasting changes. These lifestyle changes will help you forestall the effects of aging and help you fight off the diseases that come from being unhealthy and overweight.
My own experiences have proven that these techniques work, but you don’t have to take my word for it. This book is also based on the latest scientific findings that show a diet rich in fats and protein and low in sugars and carbohydrates will not only help you lose weight but will improve your brain functions. By following the suggestions in this book, you’ll have a better chance of fighting off cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and dementia. You’ll be happier and more productive.
These are lofty goals, I know! But I’m not pretending that they are easy to achieve. It will take work, dedication, perhaps some difficult conversations with loved ones, and no small amount of pain. But the results are worth all the effort.
What Ails Us
The United States used to have the distinction of being the fattest country in the world, but recently Mexico took over the top spot. Europe used to be much better than the U.S. but it’s catching up; today 50 percent of men and women in Europe are considered overweight.
Obesity is now a global issue. In a recent study in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, researchers found that 90 percent of men and 80 percent of women in the U.S. and 29 other developed countries have enough excess body fat to increase their risk of diabetes and heart disease. In the U.S. alone, two in three adults are considered overweight or obese, according to the National Institutes of Health. One in three is obese. More than one in six children between the ages of six and nineteen are considered obese.
When you consider the health effects caused by obesity—diseases and conditions such as cancer, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes—it becomes even more frightening. If two-thirds of the population are ill or becoming ill, how can the remaining 33 percent support them? Our health care system could collapse. This is an out-of-control train speeding down the tracks.
Two-thirds of the medical costs in our country are the result of obesity and diabetes, which I call “diabesity.” Those numbers don’t include the loss of productivity or time on the job. Let’s face it; if you are carrying an extra two hundred pounds to work, you’re not going to be as productive as someone who maintains a healthy weight. You aren’t going to be able to do some jobs. This makes us less competitive in the labor market.
Diabetes affects 30 million adults and children in the U.S. More than 84 million Americans have pre-diabetes, meaning they are at risk of moving into Type-2 diabetes, and 90 percent of those 84 million don’t even know they are at risk. They just know that they feel like crap. Every 21 seconds in this country, someone is diagnosed with diabetes. When that happens, they have a choice; they can either go on medicine or make a lifestyle change. When you have Type-2 diabetes, your health care costs are 2.3 times higher than someone who doesn’t.
It doesn’t have to be this way. But if we want to prevent diabesity from becoming a pandemic, we are all going to have to learn discipline and take control of our lifestyles.
My Life’s Quest
Promoting healthy lifestyles and practices has been a central principle of my company from its inception. The idea for Steviva came to me in the late eighties, after I met a man who had just returned from Paraguay where he had been collecting herbs and natural ingredients with the Guarani Indians who live in jungles there. He had me taste a green paste from a vial. It was wonderfully sweet. He told me it came from the stevia leaf and that it was 25 times sweeter than sugar, but didn’t have any calories. I was intrigued, to say the least.
I founded Steviva with the sole goal of getting those sweet components out of the stevia leaf and making a natural sweetener that food manufacturers could use instead of chemical sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose. I began reading everything I could about diet and the effect of sugars on metabolic diseases.
I wanted a successful company, but part of my quest was personal. I was born in Milwaukee, the land of cheese, beer, and bratwurst, and my family’s diet was always rich in sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrates. I started struggling with my weight when I was thirteen after our family had moved to a ranch in Colorado. Part of the problem was that my parents fought a lot, so I turned to food as a way to ease the stress. There was always sweet treats and soda in the refrigerator.
As an adult struggling with his weight, I knew I had to cut sugars from my diet, so after I first tasted that green stevia paste, I made it my life’s work to find a way to make a natural sweetener. At first, we could only sell stevia as a dietary supplement, but then in 2008, the Food and Drug Administration approved stevia as a sweetener, and the company took off. Suddenly, food manufacturers were coming to us for our sweeteners.
Successful entrepreneurs find the things that make them burn with passion. For me, it was stevia. I not only wanted a successful company, I wanted a company that changed people’s lives, including Steviva’s own employees.
Steviva is a small, agile company with a collaborative environment. Every employee has a voice in how the company is run. We have raised-bed gardens that people use to make their own food. We have a yoga studio and a climbing wall. We have chickens and employees can collect eggs. We emphasize health and fitness at company events, and almost everybody who works here ends up on a ketogenic diet. It’s amazing. Most of the people who work production in my company end up losing a minimum of thirty pounds.
Most importantly, our employees understand the stewardship of the land and animals and the role we all play in the ecosystem we live and work in. I wanted a company that promoted healthy lifestyles and helped people feel more alive. I think we are achieving this, but this process, like the process of getting fit and reaching a healthy weight, needs to be a long-term commitment.
Are you ready to make one?
In my book “Guy Gone Keto” I’ll show you the steps I have taken on my quest to lose weight and get fit. For now, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Set a goal for how much weight you want to lose and which parts of your lifestyle you want to change. Write it down. A goal not written down is simply a good intention and the in the words of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. Hell is not where we want to go.
- If you want to lose weight, do it slowly and methodically. Shoot for losing one to two pounds a week extrapolate that over a year and you can easily lose 50-100 lbs. Losing weight any faster is going to leave you with saggy skin, and if you do it too fast, you’re more likely to gain it back. Lose weight with a combination of diet and exercise.
- Learn how sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrates like crackers, cereals, and bread affect you and how switching to a ketogenic diet rich in healthy fats, including foods like salmon, tuna, avocados, and nuts, will benefit you.
- Trust the process. I’m fifty-seven years old and I started down this path when I was fifty-six. I lost thirty-five pounds in one year. If I can do it, anyone can. I love pizza, beer, cake, and ice cream as much as the next person, but I’ve cut it from my diet. Find the discipline and enlist a strong support group.
- Pay it forward. One reason I am writing this book is that I learned at a young age that knowledge and good fortune should be shared. If you read this book, adopt a ketogenic lifestyle, and enjoy dramatic changes in your weight, health, and mental capacity, promise to pay it forward by teaching someone else what you’ve learned.
By the end of this book, you will know how your body functions metabolically. You’ll have the confidence to control your weight, diet, and health. You may even see improvements in your short- and long-term memory and overall cognitive abilities. I know I did. You’ll feel totally in control of your machine.
You’ll also understand how the ketogenic diet affects brain chemistry, and how your body can burn ketone bodies in fat rather than sugar and carbohydrates. You’ll learn how to identify and avoid the hidden sugars in processed food that can take you out of ketosis, which is a metabolic state in which you are burning ketones from fat rather than glycogen from sugar and carbohydrates. You’re going to save money when you go shopping. I’ll also set you up with meal plans and recipes so you can hit the ground running.
Reach out to me and let’s begin.