I have been hinting around the results I have achieved following Chef AJ and John Pierre’s Ultimate Weight Loss Program. It’s time to pull back the curtain. Let’s get down to numbers, why I even started this in the first place, and how the program really works, from an insider’s perspective.
The China Study started my journey in June 2011, and after watching Forks Over Knives, I followed Dr. Esselstyn’s program to become heart attack proof. I dropped 15 lbs easily and stabilized at 135. I maintained that so easily without regular exercise that I started to become complacent. I remained vegan throughout but started to add back in oil – by eating out a lot more, having pita chips and humus or tortilla chips and salsa as a frequent snack. It seemed harmless but before I knew it, I wasn’t following Dr. E’s program much at all – I was just a vegan that trended toward healthy.
After a healthy pregnancy and the first year of my daughter’s life, it was time to reevaluate why I hadn’t yet returned to my ideal body weight (I hovered around 150 and thought 140 was more reasonable for my body frame and type). I had to admit that I had strayed even farther from the whole foods plant-based diet that I claimed to follow. I wouldn’t be able to sustain that pattern for the long haul. I also related to something my Dad had recently admitted about himself (and it’s true of so many of us) – “I can’t just cheat a little.” If I have a bite of a cookie (or cake, muffin, chips, chocolate, you name it), I’m going to end up eating half the bag. It might not be all in one sitting, but I’d wrap up the bag and put it away and take it out again 5 more times before I would actually quit! It frustrated me that I could know what’s good for me and yet I repeatedly made poor decisions.
I was familiar with Chef AJ’s work through her book Unprocessed, and I had a hunch she could help. When I had my phone consult with Chef AJ on Jan 3, 2015 and I told her I wanted to lose the last 10-15 lbs of my baby weight, she warned me progress might be slow. That ‘last 10 lbs’ seems to be the hardest for everyone. She reminded me that this program was not so much about moving numbers on the scale as it was about balancing my brain chemistry. It was about eating plant foods in their whole natural form in order to escape the pull of the Pleasure Trap. It was about embracing the realities of being addicted to certain food and celebrating that there’s a solution. All I had to do was follow a very specific program, diligently, to achieve optimum health. Losing the baby weight would be a bonus.
It became apparent that I was battling an addiction to processed foods. I completely understood her analogy that you wouldn’t expect an alcoholic to just drink less, or to just switch to a different kind of alcohol and carry on. In the same way, I needed to abstain from the foods that were causing my cravings and overeating. Sugar and flour were my biggest culprits, so I eliminated those immediately. (I was already off animal products and mostly off alcohol already). In February 2015 I joined Chef AJ and John Pierre’s 21 Day Challenge, a group of people all starting the Ultimate Weight Loss Program at the same time. It was at that time that I became completely compliant with their program. For the next 21 days I committed to do everything I was told. (The food, the movement, the mental, and the supportive social aspects). I tend to prefer ripping the band-aid off fast, and it just made sense for me to jump in with both feet.
I’m thrilled to say that the UWL program works. I got through withdrawal from junk foods in a few days and the full 21 days gave me enough time to neuroadapt to the taste of real food again so that I thoroughly enjoy everything that I eat. It balanced my brain, improved all of my blood work results, and it moved that scale way more than I ever thought possible. When I focused on improving health and filling myself up with the right food, my body found its own ideal weight – Now a size 0 at 125 lbs!
After 2 1/2 months I took a tally on my results. Here’s a snapshot:
Weight – Total loss of 25 lbs (then stabilized)
Body fat – Dropped from 30% to 22%
Inches – Lost 6″ off my waist
Cholesterol – 152 (my all time low)
Triglycerides – 68 (also an all time low)
Blood Pressure – 110/70 (A decrease of >30 points since my pre-vegan days)
The 21 day challenge ended long ago yet my new lifestyle remains. I have felt the best I have ever felt, and I have no desire to go back to my old ways. I am full of energy, have a more positive outlook in general, and feel a renewed sense of vitality. It helps me to have big goals to focus on, so I recently decided to start training for my first half marathon. Note that I didn’t run to lose weight. I lost weight and now I like to run! I sincerely wish this feeling on everyone I know!
UPDATE April 2017:
I’ve been wanting to update my success story for some time now. As many people experience, it can be difficult to maintain weight loss once you’ve achieved it. In my case, I got really cocky after losing so much weight so quickly and easily. I started to add back in some rich foods like nuts and avocado and dried fruit. A little led to more. That lead to some “healthy” vegan baked goods at special events. Which lead to vegan baked goods at any time. I gained about 8 lbs back from October 2015 to January 2016. It took me trial and lots of error until April 2016 to realize the answer was the answer I knew all along – just follow UWL! It worked once and it would work again. It took me a lot longer the second time around, largely because I still wasn’t as diligent as I was the first time around. But somewhere in the fall/winter of 2016 I returned to my ideal weight. In January 2017 I joined the UWL Mastery Program and I have trimmed down even more! I have learned for a second time that this lifestyle works if you work it!
Many weight loss plans work while you’re “doing it”, but if you go back to your old ways, you’ll go right back to your old shape. The beauty of UWL is that it is totally sustainable. It’s an Ultimate Way of Life!
What challenges are you facing? What can you do today to take your health in a more positive direction? Leave a comment below or on Facebook. Shout it out loud to make yourself accountable, and just do it!