This post is part of the series Losing Over 100 Pounds

Other posts in this series:

  1. Day 2: An Introduction
  2. Video: How Dyslexics Like Me Won’t Get Left Behind
  3. Day 3: Diet Disclaimer, Details and Poop (Current)
  4. Video: A Talk at Google? It Must’ve Been Good!
  5. Day 4: The Atheist 12 Steps

Current Weight: 288.6 lbs
Body Fat %: 38.3
BMI: 41.3
Lost Weight: 3.6 lbs
Avg Per Day: 1.8 lbs

Target Weight: 180 lbs
Need to Lose: 108.6 lbs

If you have thought about reading Penn Jillette’s book, Presto! How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales, which inspired this diet change attempt, there’s a few things you should know.

First, if you check out the review section of the book’s Amazon.com page, you’ll notice that nearly all of the 1 Star reviews are due to Penn’s shameless honesty. He uses “bad words” and talks about “dirty” things. While many were offended by the book’s language and content so much they felt the need to give it a 1 Star review, I say they were reviewing how they CHOSE to feel about the content and not the content itself.

For me personally, the level of honesty is what sold me. I already saw it in Penn’s interviews and talks on YouTube where he was only 1/100th as unfiltered as he is in the book, but what he wrote let me know that he didn’t care how comfortable the reader was in hearing his unfiltered thoughts and creative wit… and he didn’t care, because he wanted the reader to know he was being genuine in a humble “I’m just another screwy human being on this planet and this is some of my stories” sense.

To those who couldn’t handle the book, it’s a loss that probably sabotages their appreciation of many things and not just this book.

Second, this is not a diet book. It’s a book about someone’s journey on the diet and a bunch of stories that help him let you in on it. I’d guess that you can figure out 90-99% of the diet from grabbing the rules piecemeal as they’re mentioned or explained or you can even look at the list in the next section of this post that someone else compiled, but the person who came up with this experiment/set of rules hasn’t put out an official diet yet.

Supposedly a book will come out sooner or later by Ray “CrayRay” Cronise, but who knows. Cronise is a scientist and may take awhile to formulate what they think is the perfect version of the diet. I’m not waiting for perfect. Bottom line: Penn makes it very clear that you’re listening to someone who is not an expert and shouldn’t be treated as one. He’d even tell you that if he were an expert, you should still be highly skeptical, so, be skeptical of everyone I guess.

Third, you should probably talk with your doctor first. If you’re on any medications or have a heart condition, you’re making changes to your body that may be so drastic that the medications that are keeping you alive may very well become deadly. This might mean sending in your blood pressure and other health stats to your doctor once or twice a day for them to tell you which medications to stop and when.

When you first talk to your doctor, you’ll be doing one of two things; you’ll either be looking for approval/permission to go on this diet or you will be telling them that you are regardless of whether they want you to or not, but you need their help to stay as safe as possible despite their disapproval.

This diet is not conventional and will make many people question or even tell you to stop. If they are unhealthy themselves, you can easily dismiss what they say. They have no room to talk. If they are healthy, perhaps their life isn’t at as high a risk as yours is for them to understand. If their life is at as much risk, expect them to want to do the diet with you, but make sure they understand these disclaimers first. I’m not an expert and I’m not even talking to my doctor about this. Where many have to talk to their doctor due to medications they’re on or existing health conditions, I’m taking this challenge on before I’m put on medication. If you’re in the same boat as me, it’s better to start this sooner than later for this very reason.

Fourth, a major difference is that Penn had already been on a standard diet that had him losing some weight before he started this diet. I on the other hand went cold turkey from eating crap and too much food to just potatoes. Because of this, I’m probably going to see much more drastic results in the beginning in addition to the initial weight loss results most people see. The first two weeks might have been much easier for Penn than it’s going to be for me as well.

Fifth, there is plenty of explanations and secondhand science on why this all makes sense and ultimately works (ie. no exercise, no large amounts of protein, etc.). I’ll leave it to you reading the book or looking more into mono-diets to find that.

Diet Details

Now there are a few things I’m doing differently in this diet and differences in results that I’m going to expect compared to Penn due to how we were eating when we first started. I’m going to give you the rules that I am following, NOT all of the rules that are in the book. For instance, one rule is taking showers with 10 seconds of warm water then 20 seconds of very cold water and repeating that five times with the last cold period being for as long as you can handle it. There’s a theory behind this, but even though it might be valid, I’m too scatter brained to pay attention to a timer or counter while I’m thinking about washing in the shower and what I have to do when I get out. If you want all of the rules that Penn says he followed, check out CalorieLab’s book review and record of the diet.

Phase 1: “Potato Famine”
2 weeks

  • A “mono-diet” of any one family of vegetable, nothing added or removed, cannot be dehydrated and skin must be eaten.
  • As many of that vegetable as you want per day whenever you are hungry.
  • Prepared by boiling, baking, or microwaving, or eaten raw.
  • No seasoning: no salt, no oil, no Tabasco, no ketchup, no vinegar (but black pepper is allowed from the second week).
  • No exercise.
  • Full night’s sleep.

Phase 2: “Wait Loss”
10 Weeks or Till You Hit Target Weight

  • Whole plants, vegan
  • No meat, no fish, no milk, cheese, or butter, no sugar, no bread, no sugar, no salt, no oil
  • Vegetables and vegetable dishes added gradually over a 10 week period at which point you can have all vegetables.
  • Seasoning: Tabasco and vinegar allowed.
  • No calorie counting.
  • No exercise.
  • Full night’s sleep.

Phase 3: “Unethical Vegan”
Rest of Your Life (if you want)

  • The maintenance phase is essentially Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “nutritarian” eating plan.
  • Vegan: whole plants, no animal products, no refined grains (breads, pasta), nuts and avocados in moderation.
  • Big salads, all or mostly salad greens, seasoned with vinegar.
  • Raw fruit including watermelon, berries, cantaloupe, apples, and peaches.
  • Low salt, oil, sugar.
  • Tabasco, cayenne, cocoa powder, nutritional yeast, vinegar, cilantro, and salt-free spices to Fuhrman’s bland recipes.
  • Dessert of berries (blueberries and blackberries, 4 pints each) seasoned heavily with cayenne pepper and cocoa powder.
  • Exercise permitted, muscle-building may be warranted.
  • Calorie counting not required, but you can for the sake of figuring out your new daily calorie allowance considering your height, sex, new weight, and how much exercise you’re doing.

Cheat Days: “Rare and Appropriate”
During Phase 3

  • During the maintenance phase you are allowed a binge or cheat day after having strictly followed the modified Fuhrman diet for 13-14 days.
  • A binge consists of one meal or eating session, lasting no more than 4 hours.
  • You can eat as much of anything that you want, including non-vegan food.
  • The timer resets after the binge: you cannot bank up binge days, but you are allowed guilt-free mini binges that don’t reset the clock on holidays.
  • Daily small treats are prohibited: it’s binge or nothing.

[EDIT #1: I’ve allowed myself to replace a few servings of tabasco sauce with a meal for a serving of mustard, either by itself for dipping veggies, or diluted with water, apple cider vinegar and black pepper as a salad dressing. I also didn’t slowly introduce vegetables.]

[EDIT #2: I’m now experimenting with bananas and possibly other fruit even though I’m not supposed to be per these rules. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, I end the experiment and carry on. Just remember that there are no official rules to the diet. These are simply a place to start and if you’re keeping track of your results, you’ll see what does and doesn’t work. If you don’t mind having sleightly slower results, but you’re still getting results overall… you do you and enjoy every minute of it.]

[EDIT #3: WARNING! IGNORE #1 and #2! DO NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES I MADE. Testing out how slippery the slippery slope of falling off the wagon is NOT worth it. Stick the the diet the way it was meant to be done. Don’t risk the sabotaging of progress for anything, not even curiosity. Curiosity is not as important as the reason you’re starting this thing! Sincerely and with love, me from Day 37.]

Daily Update

Bought a microwavable vegetable steamer yesterday so that I have less issues at work cooking. It also helps make sure the potatoes aren’t losing much, if any, water.

Bought my mom a three month membership to Audible.com for Christmas, because she wanted to listen to Penn’s book in the car. She’s an amazing cook in every way and will probably be able to help me out with “nutritarian” recipes. I’ll make sure to share those with you here.

Oh yeah! And my poop floated for the first time in a very long time last night. Supposedly, that means it was a healthy one.

If that’s too much information, wait till you read Penn’s book.

Microwavable Vegetable Steamer
The microwavable vegetable steamer I picked up.

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