How I Regained the Weight I Lost

For almost a decade I was weight stable at 210 pounds. My height is 6 feet 2.5 inches (189 cm). Not overweight, but not lean. Like other ectomorphs, I’ve always valued muscle over leanness. When I moved to Seattle and started playing with lower carbs, intermittent fasting and cold exposure, my weight dropped gradually to 190-195. I wasn’t even trying to lose weight. It just happened. In fact, when the first 10 pounds came off, I was alarmed.

Getting Lean

Then for a couple of years, I was weight stable at 190-195. I looked good. I felt great. Unlike most dieters that regain the weight, I felt I could declare victory. I had it all figured out. Without counting calories or even exercising more, I was in the best shape of my life. Then in 2011, I confessed to my grand experiment. I was trying to get lower ab definition without breaking a sweat. By June of 2011, I was ripped and I did it with minimal exercise. True to my goal, I never broke a sweat.

I always kidded that if I ever got ripped, I’d take a glamour photo and then pig out on ice cream.

I never took the photo, because of my reaction to a news event that happened that month. June 2011 is when the Anthony Weiner scandal hit. For those that forgot, Anthony was a US Congressman that posted shirtless photos to social media. He ended up resigning. The “bro shot” selfie of being ripped instantly went from cool to undignified and narcissistic. I gave up any goals related to ab definition and just continued to eat nutrient dense healthy food.

Becoming Underweight

What happened next was completely unexpected. I kept losing weight. I wasn’t weighing myself very often, but I was slowly losing more weight. I was no longer weight stable at 190-195. I was below 190. By the time I got down to 185, I was getting alarmed. Then someone took a photo of me and my face looked gaunt. By early 2012, I was down to 183. My body was cold. My clean eating had become too clean.


photo by Bob B. Brown

Reversing Course

I decided I needed to eat a little dirty to add some weight. So after a bunch of research, I decided to add ice cream to my diet. It worked. I stopped losing weight. Then I started to gain weight. Everything was going fine, but I decided it would be a wonderful health experimenter to see see just how far I could push my ice cream consumption. I gradually increased the ice cream from a pint a week to eventually a pint a day.

I discovered that with clean eating that I could eat 2 or 3 pints of ice cream a week for stable weight. But then I started the hardest experiment ever in October 2012. I went the entire month without coffee. During this very dark period, my sugar consumption spiked. I suddenly had developed a sweet tooth where before I never had one. I was also drinking Mexican colas. And my weight continued to increase.

In December 2012, I started making dairy kefir. My plan was to scale back on the ice cream and replace it with kefir. I ended up consuming both.

Knee Pain and Conflicting Goals

In 2013, my left knee started to hurt. I had to stop long urban hikes and leg presses. I was becoming more inactive. And even after I posted that I was having too many conflicting health goals, I continued to create conflicting goals. More on that in the next post.

To make a long story short, my weight is now at 216, which is not overweight given my height, but is also not lean.

What is My Ideal Weight?

If I were to ask my body what it believes my ideal weight is, I’d get different answers. My shoulders, chest and legs, would say I look most muscular at 215. My abs might say 185. My face looks younger at 200 than 185. But right now only one vote counts and that is my left knee. After reading Framework for the Knee, I’m convinced I need to get my weight down to help my knee fully recover. The book states that for every extra pound you carry, the knee thinks it’s 5 to 7 pounds.

My goal is to lose 20 pounds and return to 195. Once my knee heals, I can decide if I want to stay there or go higher. Every other goal takes a back seat. Yesterday I entered a bet with three others. We are all going to lose 20 pounds. If I lose, I will be required to go 1 week without coffee. My body could use the break, so this is a win-win.

I consider myself in better health now than when I began this journey in 2008, but I’ve clearly been sidetracked. In my next post I will outline how I plan to lose the weight.


Add yours

  1. Given the timeline, are you sure there’s not a link between the ice cream and the knee hurting. We have the same height and build. I know if I ate all that ice cream, or fast food for that matter, my knee (also my left knee) starts hurting too. Personally, in my case, I believe it’s inflammation from the sugar and bad fats.

    I grew too quickly over my teenaged years giving me Osgood Schlatter’s disease in my knees this is a form of juvenile inflammatory arthritis. It shows up on X-rays. Day to day you won’t notice anything, but if I exercise too hard, or eat inflammatory foods, sure enough it starts to hurt.

  2. @JJ – I don’t believe ice cream is inflammatory. The fats in ice cream are healthy saturated fats. The sugar content is actually lower than most people believe. I cover that in my ice cream post. Plus I don’t believe 90% of the crap written about sugar is true.

    The easier explanation is a sudden gain in weight. How the weight is gained is likely irrelevant.

  3. Looking forward to this.

  4. Interesting. I’ve been weight stable within 12 pounds for ~25 years!

    That’s not a great thing when I’ve always been very thin. At the top range I look great but it’s very hard to stay there.

    I went strict paleo last summer and my allergies improved. Since coming off paleo my relationship to food changed and I tend to binge much more now. Now I’m creeping towards my top range but not in a good way. Getting towards my mid 40’s isn’t helping.

    You have any posts on how to get back into a gym routine after a long lay off? =)

  5. BTW, I can guarantee an asthma attack within 1 hour of eating ice cream. It may not be inflammatory for you but it certainly is for others.

  6. While I like the idea of accountability your friendly “bet” entails, I’m not sure a win-win “bet” is the most motivating way to do it. The best weight loss motivator I ever heard (but never tried) was from Dan John:

    The single best piece of diet advice I ever heard came from (don’t laugh!) peak performance consultant Anthony Robbins. Robbins got his advice from one of his clients. It’s called the “Alpo Diet.” Invite a dozen friends over to your house. Tell them that by the end of the month you’re going to lose ten pounds. Tell them that if you don’t, you’ll eat the can of Alpo in front of them.

    Well, as long as it has gravy…

    For the next week, every time you feel the urge to take a piece of chocolate from the cubicle next to you, reread the contents of the Alpo can. If someone offers you something smothered in goo, open the Alpo can and take a good deep sniff.

    You see, this is the crux of goal setting: Rarely do people improve because of the pleasure of the goal; rather it’s pain that sets them on a goal.

    Now that’s a motivating bet!

    Does your singular focus on weight loss mean that raising your metabolism and solving your headache and neck pain issues are all going by the wayside for the time being? Personally I am hoping that you’ve made some progress at solving your headache problems, but I suppose I’ll have to wait for the next post to find out.

  7. MAS,

    Found your page yesterday and have been reading through it with interest. I to became interested in evolutionary nutrition and exercise concepts when I first read De Vany and started experimenting with ketogenic diets in the mid 80″s. My nephew is epileptic and I was searching for drug free solutions to control his seizures.

    Ketogenic diets were the precursors to the entire low carb movement by whatever name. As an aside, I also have been making my own kefir and eating kimchi for decades.

    The reason for this post is to suggest to you the work of Dr. Jack Kruse. He has a great website and focuses in great detail on evolution and the human diet. He also has conducted serious cold thermogenisis protocols on himself with incredible results. He is a neurosurgeon who is also looking at cold as a pain control technique for surgical procedures. I am sure you will be interested.

  8. You might think about trying something my wife has been doing for the past week. Strapping 5 to 10 pound ankle weights on and wearing them all day long, especially when you go out for a walk (ideally uphill!).

    That could gently strengthen your knee…

  9. @Stuart – My ice cream comment of course assumed one did not have an issue with dairy. I have an issue with wheat, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it is toxic for the general population. Whatever my genetic makeup is, I thrive on dairy.

    No advice on getting back to the gym other than to figure out what is keeping you from starting. Boredom, scheduling, other? Fitness done right shouldn’t require much time. It can even be done from home.

    @Geoff – Great comment. Worthy of its own post. Coming up next!

    @Michael – There are health gurus on the internet that I don’t understand and there are some that I don’t trust. Kruse fits both. It is clear he is brilliant, but he does a poor job of communicating his thoughts in basic language. He confuses through complexity and verbosity. As for the trust issue, see this post.

    Using another man’s fitness photo and claiming it as your own is more than wrong. It is psychotic. Kruse may be right in the end, but it will take someone else without trust issues to reframe his findings to get my attention.

    @Glenn – Good idea. I don’t want to push it yet. I’m doing the cycling now (+ some rowing). I’m up to 20 minutes done a 4-5 times a week.

  10. MAS – Thanks for the link. I had no idea about the controversy. And he is difficult to grasp at times.
    That said, I agree with many of his ideas on human evolution from the cellular level perspective, the role
    of diet and exercise on the hormonal system, and the evolution of the human brain and the nutrients required
    for that to occur. But I already believed those ideas. It was great to finally see someone else saying the same things who seemed to have the academic and professional experience to validate my intuition.

    I will have to be more critical in the future.

    Thanks again.

  11. This is just a guess, but it might be worth experimenting with “nutrient timing.”
    For example: having the ice cream in the middle of the day, immediately after a workout.
    And – if Sally Fallon is right, many of us crave the butter fat in ice cream. You could play around with having a tablespoon or so of ghee a couple of times a day and see if that makes a difference.
    Or combine with a previous experiment:
    Right before bedtime: Mix two tablespoons of raw honey with two tablespoons of ghee and see how you get on with that!

  12. Glen – My post soccer match meal was usually a pint of ice cream and even though I thought it was “bad” for me my body graved it. Now I make my own with organic ingredients and raw milk and it has become a superfood for me.

    The honey and ghee works for me, but especially my wife who has a much harder time falling asleep. I recommend it to my clients on very low card diets and it works well then majority of the time.

    I also prefer grass fed ghee to butter in most of my cooking or for mixing in drinks like coffee. Cultured ghee has worked well for people with lactose issues. No problems for anyone yet.

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