On the morning of August 3, 2018 I hopped on the scale and held my breath. When the digital number display revealed its calculation I could hardly believe my eyes. The big red numbers read 237.4.
That was such an emotional moment for me because just six months earlier on February 10, 2018 that same scale read 339.0. That’s right. I had reached a major weight loss milestone – I had lost 100lbs!
How Did I Do It?
If you’re like me, the first thing you want to know after hearing someone has lost 100lbs is, “How did you do it?”
Well the first thing that comes to mind for many people who see me for the first time after losing all that weight is surgery. And in my case I did not have any sort of weight loss surgery. (Let me just say that I believe that surgery should be a last resort for weight loss, but for some people it is a necessary and helpful option.)
The other image that comes to mind for most people is major amounts of exercise. If you watch most YouTube videos on people who have lost 100lbs, most of them involve lots of exercise. They usually show hours in the gym with morbidly obese people who are struggling to do the most basic of activities.
I did virtually no exercising. In fact, I purposely avoided it. (To find out why see my blog post, Stop Exercising to Lose Weight)
So without using surgery or a strenuous exercise regimen, my focus was obviously on what I ate.
The Four Food Rules
How I lost 100lbs in just six months without exercise or surgery involved following just four simple food rules. Notice I said, “simple” and not “easy.”
Now I did not come up with these four food rules. Rather, I found them in a life changing book by Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson called, “Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin & Free.”
In the book, these four food rules are called “bright lines.” They are bright lines because it is clear if you follow them and clear if you break them. These food rules or bright lines are as follows:
Bright Line #1: No Sugar
The first bright line is the complete elimination of sugar. This includes all added sugars of any kind and all artificial sweeteners as well. (For a complete list see, What kind of sugars or sweeteners are allowed.)
I know. This one was really hard for me to wrap my mind around too.
And you may be thinking, “I get why you’d want to cut back on sugar since it has so many calories. But why eliminate it altogether? And why no artificial sweeteners?”
Here’s the deal.
Sugar can be addictive. And for a chunk of the population (which unfortunately includes me) the addictive qualities of sugar present a major dietary problem. Eating food with added sugar can make you crave more added sugar and make you much more likely to overeat.
And unfortunately, even though they may have no calories, the artificial sweeteners light up the same areas of the brain and can cause the same cravings and overeating behavior. This is likely one of the reasons that the consumption of diet beverages has been linked to an increase in the consumption of calories from solid food.
By eliminating all added sugars and sweeteners from my diet, I was able to substantially reduce my sugar and hunger cravings. It was very difficult at first, but after about 60 to 90 days I started to see major changes in my cravings for sugary foods.
My brain was no longer driving me to hunt down the sweets. And, when I was in places where there were sweets present, it was minimal effort on my part to avoid eating them.
And, as a bonus, fruits and most vegetables taste so much better now. Many of the vegetables I couldn’t tolerate before I was soon able to eat with no problems. And many of the fruits and veggies that were once just tolerable suddenly became down right enjoyable. For example, I use to want to roll my eyes whenever someone described carrots as sweet. And then a few months into Bright Line Eating I was eating cooked carrots and, for the first time in my life, I noticed and was able to enjoy their natural subtle sweetness.
Bright Line #2: No Flour
The next bright line is no flour of any kind. No breads, pastas, doughs, etc. Although not as addictive as sugar, flour is a processed food that can still cause some major cravings and blood sugar spikes. It has been a hindrance to weight loss attempts for centuries.
This is not to be confused with a no gluten diet. The second bright line is not “no gluten,” it is “no flour.” Gluten-free breads, pastas, etc. still contain flour are not part of the Bright Line Eating program.
And, this also does not mean “no grains.” In fact, whole grains are a regular part of the Bright Line Eating program.
In my case, I did a lot of oatmeal for my grain every day. However, I occasionally also ate brown rice, quinoa, freekeh, shredded wheat cereal or Triscuit crackers. Other whole grain options you could do include oat bran, grits, rice cakes or Ezekiel Bread (it is not made with flour).
Surprisingly for me, giving up flour ended up being more of a practical and logistical challenge than it was a craving issue. That is because flour is an ingredient in so many foods that I use to eat that it initially took some effort to find alternative meal options.
I did crave some foods with flour, but those were the foods that also had a lot of sugar. But because I was still eating lots of healthy carbs (grains, fruits and veggies), I did not have the intense cravings for the foods with flour like you often have on a low carb diet like Atkins or Keto.
Bright Line #3: Eat Only at Mealtimes
The third bright line I followed to lose weight flies in the face of traditional dieting advice. I only ate three meals a day. I did not snack throughout the day as most weight loss programs recommend.
Because contrary to popular belief, research has not shown that eating more frequently throughout the day actually helps you lose weight. Nor is there any research to suggest that it will boost your metabolism (see 8 Metabolism Myths Debunked). And, in fact, more research is starting to suggest that just two or three meals throughout the day may actually be more beneficial than six smaller meals.
However, the way we eat is very much driven by our habits. And habits are driven by a variety of cues or triggers like time and location. So if you are eating extra meals throughout the day, then you will also be experiencing extra triggers every day that tell your body it’s time to eat.
That is why Bright Line Eating suggests just three meals a day and specific times and locations. Over time, this will retrain your brain to know it is time for food only at appropriate meal times. This will help you be less focused on food throughout the day and less likely to break your bright lines.
This rule has been a huge help to me. I only have to manage food time three times per day rather than five or six. And it is just easier to plan and prepare for just three meals each day without having to also prepare and plan extra snacks as well. I also found during previous weight loss attempts that eating a snack often left me hungrier and more tempted to overeat. By limiting myself to just eating a meal time, I have had an easier time sticking to my bright lines.
Bright Line #4: Eat Precise Quantities
The final rule or bright line that I followed to lose over 100lbs was eating precise quantities of food. At every meal I weighed my food using a food scale to ensure that I was eating the exact amount of food as prescribed by the Bright Line Eating food plan. No eyeballing, estimating or guessing allowed.
This method of limiting your food intake has several advantages over the more traditional calorie counting method. First, research shows we are not very good at estimating calories eaten. We underestimate the quantities on our plate so we record fewer calories that we actually consume. With a food scale, you are forced to be precise.
Second, I find weighing my food an easier long-term solution than counting calories. Having tried both approaches, I like weighing food better because I don’t ever have to look up what I’m going to eat in some database. For example, tonight we are going to be having bison steak for the first time. I know that I’ll serve myself six ounces of it. I won’t be searching an app to find out how much of it I can eat based on how many calories or fat it contains.
Third, weighing food rather than counting calories has helped me eat less processed foods. When counting calories it can be easier to just look at the label on the food package. But calculating the calories in a tossed salad can take forever. So if you are counting calories there is a built in incentive to favor prepackaged foods where all of the calculations have been done for you. However, when I have a tossed salad, I just weigh out to total amount of the salad no matter how many different vegetables it contains.
And knowing what food to weight is also very simple on Bright Line Eating. The meals you eat include some combination of protein, a whole grain, a fat, fruits and veggies. The amounts vary based on gender and whether you are in the weight loss phase or the maintenance phase. (You can find the full food plan in the Bright Line Eating book or by signing up for the Bright Line Eating Boot Camp.)
So those are the four rules or bright lines that I followed to lose 100lbs in just six months. And by keeping these bright lines I have continued to lose additional weight. As of the time of this writing I have lost a total of 140lbs and am starting to transition into maintenance mode (increasing the amount of food). But without these food rules I do not believe I would have been able to lose so much weight. No, strike that. I KNOW I would not have succeeded without these bright lines. And I know this because I have an extensive list of diets I’ve tried and failed in the past.
Wanna learn more about Bright Line Eating? I would encourage you to read the book, check out the website and consider the boot camp. You can click here to see my video review of what I liked and didn’t like about the boot camp and see what my results were after finishing boot camp.