It’s strange but true: Tommie Whitaker has lost 108 pounds in just 13 months… without exercise. Instead, he’s rocking out in the kitchen and fueling with real food from The Wild Diet.
When this Atascocita high school teacher watched our ABC TV Show in February of 2016, and he thought The Wild Diet “sounded pretty good.” Bacon burgers, fresh produce, sweet potatoes, homemade pies, and hearty feasts in the evening.
After Tommie watched Kurt Morgan drop 87 pounds in 14 weeks with The Wild Diet on ABC, he was ready. Tommie, his wife and son doubled-down on the Wild lifestyle.
Now, just over a year later, he’s down 108 pounds and counting! He might just break the Wild weight loss record – he blew me away 70+ pounds ago!
Tommie is an inspiration, always eager to pay it forward and help others with their own transformation.
Listen in, and you’ll hear about:
- Why Tommie and his wife quit “cheat meals”
- The toughest thing to change when you switch to the Wild lifestyle
- What Tommie tells his friends when they ask about his stunning fat loss
- Simple tricks to eating Wild on a budget
- And more!
TOMMIE WHITAKER: “I FEEL GOOD”
Abel: Hey Tommie, how are you doing? How are you feeling?
I feel good, I feel good. This has been extremely life-changing for me because I’ve tried different things in the past and nothing ever worked, and it’s been great.
Abel: Cool. I wanted to connect with you, number one, to thank you for being involved in the Atascocita News article. It was so cool to see it pop up in my Facebook feed.
Yeah, I saw Kurt was tagged in it. Somebody had tagged Kurt in it before the paper had even told me that it’d become digital. I saw it before she’d even called me back to tell me it’d made print.
Abel: We’re you able to get in touch with Kurt personally?
Just on Facebook.
Abel: Kurt is great. And he’s sharp. He says that he’s dumb, but he’s incredibly astute and so generous with his time and knowledge.
I like that because he tells people about his struggles, and everybody goes through struggles. I’ve had so many people contact me since I posted my results on Facebook. It’s been amazing.
Abel: When did you start the process? Was it right after seeing the show?
Yes, it was right around the beginning of February 2016. So, it’s been about 13 months now, and I’m down 108 pounds. So it’s been really good.
Abel: That is fantastic to hear, I’m happy for you Tommie.
It’s really changed from being a diet to basically more of a lifestyle change. Eating Wild doesn’t feel like a diet. You just get used to it. You know what you can and can’t eat.
Really, my only weakness is sugar. That’s the bad thing. If there’s a birthday cake, or muffins, or something else, it’s just like, man, that’s my weakness.
Abel: Yeah, I hear that.
And you can really tell now. I used to not really notice the effects of eating those foods, but now… Man, and when I have it, I can feel the drug-like effects of it. It’s serious.
Abel: Yes. We’ve worked so hard on trying to fight that nasty, nasty bugger for a long time. It’s pernicious and it’ll get you. And we’ve all been there. Food marketers stacked the cards against us.
You’re in a unique situation, now where many others would like to be. Imagine yourself a year ago, that’s where some listeners are right now, and they need a reason to help make it feel like it’s worth it.
Anything that I can do to help motivate somebody—that’s what I like so much about the show. Just seeing Kurt go through his struggles, and then watching you on there, and seeing the food that Kurt was eating. I’m like, “I like that stuff”.
Abel: Yeah, why not?
Compared to some of the other diets that we’ve tried in the past where you just felt like you’re starving. I mean, that’s what I really like about The Wild Diet—you’re not starving anymore. The worst part of other diets is the hunger pangs. And it’s great being able to fast.
There’s times that I’ll fast for 16, 18, 20 hours, and I don’t even feel hungry. Just give me some more ice water, and I’m okay. That’s what’s been really helpful to me. I didn’t remember there being so much in the book about fasting, but I’m really reading it differently now, and I fast a lot.
Abel: It gets easier, right? At first it sounds like a weird idea, “I couldn’t go more than 2 hours without food.”
That’s how I started too, and then you do it a little bit and you get the hang of it and you think, “Wait a second, I like how I feel right now. I’m not hungry.” All of a sudden you don’t feel those cravings to eat all the time.
I know. When I would go to the doctor and I’d have to get blood work done, they’d say, “Well you can’t have anything to eat after midnight and you’ve got to come in here in the morning and have blood drawn.” It felt like torture. You’re staying up ’til midnight to go ahead and get something last minute to eat, then you wake up and you go to a doctor and give blood and it’s like, “Please hurry, take the blood. I’ve got to go eat some breakfast.”
Now, I’ll eat at 7 pm or 8 pm, go to bed, get up… I went to the doctor about a week ago and, they’re like, “Okay, good, we got your blood drawn. You can go get something to eat now.” And I’m like, “Well, I’m probably not going to eat anything ’til maybe lunch, noon or something. I’m not hungry, I’ve got some water. I’m good.”
Abel: Totally. I’m so glad that you’re getting the hang of it.
And your point about reading into the book and finding a little bit more in there. It’s true. I find the same thing when I watch childhood movies now. We watched Indiana Jones again this weekend, you watch it in a completely different way now that you’re not 8 years old anymore. But that happens so many times in life where you have to take some jump of knowledge and it’s only in retrospect that everything starts to make sense.
Me and my wife are really happy about this, because our youngest son still lives with us. He’s 13 now and he started eating this way with us—we all basically do it. We let him cheat a lot more than we do, but he has changed completely. He is so thin and toned, and he just loves the food. Both of us just wish that we would have been shown this when we were kids. Because I don’t know how it was when you were growing up, but we were always just told, “Clean your plate.” You just keep eating, “Hey, there’s more food in there, go back and eat more.” And you were just encouraged to eat and eat and eat. That definitely wasn’t good.
Abel: Right. I’ve been there, too. It’s an unfortunate part of the process. And you know what, you have to swallow up, or spit out some bits of your world view in order to get over that hump. But once you do, you have your shields up to the manipulations of the system, or the way that it’s been co-opted, to make you salivate every 5 seconds and crave their products.
That makes more sense. I was just reading some of that in the book and it makes more sense because we’re overloaded with messages to consume, consume, consume.
Kids now are seeing more of that. I teach high school, so I see kids grow up over those four years.
Abel: It’s great that you get to see these kids get involved at a young age when they don’t know that nutrition is not cool yet.
I met a few kids who read The Wild Diet book and they’re in fifth or sixth grade… They’re trying to make weight for wrestling, or karate, or later on, crew teams, and all kinds of competitions. If you get the hang of nutrition when you’re young, there’s some hope, you know what I mean? You can dodge a lot of different problems that crop up over life.
I just wish I would have been shown this earlier because I was never a vegetable-eating person. It was always meat and potatoes, and I just never liked vegetables. And my wife has seen me change so much. I mean, I’m eating Brussels sprouts now and before I would have never touched them. Along with cabbage!
My grandmother used to cook cabbage and we just hated it because the whole house smelled. Me and my older brother would leave to go eat somewhere else when she would cook cabbage. And he’s the kind of person that you talk about in the book. He can eat whatever he wants to and he doesn’t gain weight. We always ate the same amount and I was always the big guy. I was the big little brother and he was always the older brother who never gained the weight.
Abel: Isn’t that interesting? We all have our own unique genetics, even brothers and sisters. You know, it’s fascinating to see how even genetically identical twins can be eating a slightly different thing and start looking different, and even acting different.
Science is uncovering the reasons for that. Basically, at almost an instantaneous level, what you’re eating, how you’re moving or not moving, how much sleep you got, and all these different things are turning on your genetic expression, little slices of it, one bit at a time. And so I can remember feeling so differently. I felt like I was locked into being a bad genetic specimen at a younger age.
That’s what I always felt like. I was the big guy. You’re just a big guy and it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re always going be the big guy. And I saw people in my family that were that way, too. He was always the big uncle, or whatever, and he was always going to be big. So, that’s what I thought. And now all that’s changed.
Abel: Yes. Then you get the hang of it, and you see that you actually have good genes, too. What are the biggest things that surprised you along the way?
Well, the biggest thing that surprised and really shocked me was getting off the sugar. The hardest thing was to get off of Dr. Pepper and sweet tea.
I was trying to just drink unsweetened tea, and then working as hard as I could towards just drinking water. I started in February, my birthday is in June, and I told my wife, I said, “Look, my birthday is coming and we’re going to go to an Italian restaurant.” I said, “I’m going to order pizza, because I want pizza and I want Dr. Pepper. It’s my birthday and I’m just going do it.”
We sat down and I ordered the Dr. Pepper. The first sip was just horrible. I couldn’t believe how bad it tasted. I couldn’t finish it. That was just really surprising.
Another thing that shocked me and my wife was being away from certain foods that we weren’t eating. Then on a cheat day, if we went back and tried to eat those foods, it made us feel sick. Maybe something more along the lines of fast food or fried food or something like that. We’d have it on a cheat meal and it was just horrible. You could feel it the next day, and you could feel how bad it made you feel.
WHY CHEAT MEALS STOP TASTING GOOD
Abel: What were the specific foods that really made it obvious to you that they’re terrible?
This was really just at the beginning. My wife didn’t like it because a lot of times I didn’t want a cheat meal. Or maybe my cheat would just be including a dinner roll with a meal.
I liked the Italian place because they have a huge salad that’s really fresh and it tastes really good. They have garlic knots there. I would have the garlic knots with the salad and she would get mad at me because she would have a whole cheat meal. There were times I would do it with her and maybe have fried food like Chinese food, like General Tso Chicken. And then, you’re eating it, and like you talk about in the book, certain chemicals they have in it make you feel good while you’re eating it but then later it’s just like, “Ah man, this is horrible.”
Or bread, just the bread, like you talk so much about the way that we make bread and pasta and stuff now. Being away from it and then trying it on a cheat meal, it was like, man, I guess this is why it says to have a cheat meal. Because you’ll have it, and you don’t want it anymore.
Abel: It’s a dirty trick.
The cheat meal makes you feel like you don’t want to eat that anymore. It’s a dirty trick. You’ve been craving pizza and now you have pizza. And after eating it, you just don’t feel like ever eating it again. It makes you sick.
Abel: The good news is that you eat Wild for a while and it’s pretty easy to make treats at home. And even if you can’t, I can tell you how much easier it is now, in 2017, compared to when I started writing about this in 2010. There were hardly any options aside from those tiny little super expensive mom and pop health food stores that you used to see around. But these days you can get organic food, you can get, like you said, the fresh salad just down the street, in a lot of places all across the country, and certainly all across the world. Not everywhere, but it’s so much easier to make the right decision when you have it around you and that’s getting better for sure.
We like that, because it’s been real easy for us to get food at HEB and Kroger, and any grocery store… they have so much stuff that is, if it’s not exactly right, it is so close.
In the book you had a quote where you said something like… “Well, do the best that you can, if you can’t find the best possible meat, here is how all the meat is rated, just do the best that you can. If you can’t find grass-fed beef, do this.” And there’s a lot of times that we just do that. If we can’t find the perfect foods, well we do the best that we can.
Abel: Here’s a secret: we do that, too.
Yeah, I mean that’s been really helpful. But we just try to do the best that we can. I’ve been trying to show some of my kids at school, because I teach high school and they’re always snacking in class. I’ll grab a candy bar or whatever from them, I’m like, “What are you eating?” “Oh it’s a chocolate bar.” And I’ll flip it over and start reading ingredients. And I’m like, “What’s this?” “I don’t know.” “What’s this?” I’m like, “And this sounds like a science lab experiment.”
Abel: What do you teach?
I teach automotive, so it’s mostly guys. It’s a little bit different, but they still understand. I don’t know how much they learn from it, but a lot of them saw me in the paper and they heard about it too, so they’re pretty excited about that. It’s just kind of weird because the people that see you everyday don’t ever see that you’ve lost any weight.
Abel: Isn’t that interesting?
It’s my ex-students that I had in class a couple of years ago, those are the ones that are like “Oh, Mr. Whitaker!” And they come give me a hug, and they’re like, “Man, what happened?”
Abel: Right. What made you really decide that it was worth it to make the changes?
The best thing was the timing of the TV show. Because you’re always making New Year resolutions, and for a lot of people every year it’s like, “I’m going try to eat better. I’m going to try to go to the gym. I’m going to try to be better.” And we were at home and I think I saw the previews for the show, and then I watched the show. I was watching, and I’m like, “Man, this is kind of crazy.”
Some of them on there, it was kind of crazy. “Well, it depends on what color your plates are.” I’m like, “Man, this is nuts.”
Abel: Trust me, I know.
I started watching what Kurt was eating, and then I looked at the book and I was like, “Well, I’m going to pay attention to the show.” I kept my eyes on Kurt the whole time, and at the end of the show seeing the results, he came in second. And what did he lose, like 87 pounds, or something?
I got on Amazon, just ordered the book right after that. I’m like, “You know what? If it worked for him and he’s got knee problems and everything else… ” I’m like, “Most of the foods they’re showing I like or would be willing to try or whatever else.” And I’m like, “You know, I need to give it a try.” I need to do something, because my doctor’s been talking to me for a long time about my weight. We’ve known the same doctor for a long time, so he’s seen me gain weight over the years.
I’ve had a lot of problems with high blood pressure and cholesterol, and I was on four different pills. My doctor was just like, “Hey, lose 10 pounds. If you can just lose… ” I think he was just trying to motivate me to do something. And I’m just glad because me and my wife have tried several different things over the years and this is the only diet that actually lasted more than a few weeks.
Abel: Wow. Why do you think that was?
I think some of it was being able to eat more at night. I was happy with that.
Being able to eat meats, I like meats. In the book, I remember you talking about “If you eat dinner and you’re still hungry go back and you can eat some more.” It never was saying, “Here, have 2 ounces of this, and that’s all you can eat.” It was just a list of what’s good and what’s bad, and do the best that you can.
That’s what I’ve tried to tell people, because I’ll have people that ask me, “Well, what do you eat?” And I tell them, “Look, you don’t want to know what I eat right now because it’s going to turn you off. Let me tell you what I ate when I first started.”
So, when I first started I got up every morning, and I had bacon and eggs. I had 2 eggs and 2 pieces of bacon every morning. I’m not a coffee person. And then I was just trying to have snacks, lunch, and dinner that went along with the foods that were okay as far as the book goes.
The longer that I was on that, the longer that I was away sugar and processed foods, the easier it was. You start noticing your portions are naturally smaller because you just weren’t as hungry. And that’s what made it so easy for me. I never felt hungry. I don’t know if it’s actually a word, “hangry.”
Abel: It’s a word now.
Yeah, hungry and angry. I know exactly what that was because I felt that so many times. I would be going somewhere in the morning and it’s like, “No, we’re stopping to get breakfast. We’re going to stop or I’m going to get out of the car at the next light and walk somewhere and y’all can just leave me because I’ve got to have breakfast.” And now I get up and it’s like, “Well, I just want some water. I want some ice water. Give me ice water and I’m good to go.”
Like you talk in the book, “Are you hungry or is your body just trying to tell you that you’re thirsty and you don’t understand what your body is telling you?” I really like it, and honestly it’s the only thing that’s ever worked for me. I’m very happy about all of it.
Abel: That is great. Yeah, it’s a slippery slope, we’re never really taught to drink water, whether coffee is actually good or bad, and a lot of us never think about these things. Or even the type of coffee, because if you’re talking about a type from a fast food chain, or instant coffee, or stuff you might find on those sham websites, it’s not the same thing as like a real cup of coffee. And so it’s important we don’t lose sight of that.
You see the pictures on the internet where people show a bottle of water and they’ll show a bottle of Coke or whatever and they’re like, “Why does the bottle of water cost more?” We’ve never been pushed to drink water, we’ve always been pushed to drink sodas. And there was a show I remember watching, it was on Netflix. And you probably know what show it is, but they were talking about, an African country and about them introducing Coca-Cola and how all their health had changed.
But for us, we always had it growing up…
Abel: But it was smaller bottles, it was like these kinda cute, collectible, glass bottles.
When I was a kid we still had the small glass bottles you had to take back for deposits. I remember that, but I always drank Coke.
Abel: And Dr. Pepper started as an elixir of actual herbs. And then it turned into a bunch of flavors from chemicals.
Sugar, a bunch of sugars. Yeah. I still remember on my birthday when I tried to drink that Dr. Pepper, it was just so nasty. And I haven’t had anything other than water, and well, occasional alcohol, but…
Abel: Right. The sugar, or even the diet sodas, how are you able to beat that? Because a lot of people are super addicted to soda. I find that people are actually more addicted to the diet sodas than the sugar varieties.
Well, for Lent, before I had given up sugar, I did the best I could, and you’ll laugh, but I gave up Dr. Pepper for Lent one year.
Abel: That’s huge. I think that’s great.
Well, but you hadn’t caught the rest of the story. I was still drinking sweet tea.
Abel: Alright. One step at a time.
It’s one evil for another. I had given up soft drinks one year for Lent, and it actually went further, it went about six months. But I didn’t realize exactly what I was doing because I was still drinking sweet tea. So, that was really one of the hardest things.
That’s what I try to tell people when they ask me about starting the Wild Diet. I’m like, “Look, if you can just step away from sugar, if you can get rid of the Cokes and the sweet tea and try your best to get away from sugar.” Because I mean, it is really a drug. And I know you talk about that in the book, but you don’t understand it until you’re off of it, how much of a drug it is.
And I know now. A friend of mine just had a birthday party, and he’s lost 50 pounds on The Wild Diet, so I’m pretty happy for him.
Abel: Me too. Tell him I said hi.
Yeah. He lost 50 pounds. And he had his 40th birthday party, and we had cake over there. And just having a good piece of cake, it’s like, man, I feel the sugar kicking in, because I’m like, “You know, I just want another piece of cake.” I think sugar is the biggest problem, besides the processed food. I know the processed stuff is horrible, but the sugar is so addictive.
And like you talk about, food is engineered so you eat more, and the 100-calorie packs of cookies. Just try to say you’re full. Well, no, I eat one and I’m like, “I need another one or I need something else.” Compared to eating an apple. You might eat an apple, and you’re like, “Okay, well, that was a good snack. Let’s go do something else.”
I take it from the book you used to work in the foodservice industry?
Abel: Out of college, my first job… I had college loans and they were significant, so I wanted to pay them off as quickly as possible, so I took a job in management consulting, or strategy consulting, as it’s sometimes called.
I worked with some of those big companies, and looked at how they got into new markets. What you were talking about before is exactly how it’s engineered. And behind the scenes, I realized that people are engineering addiction and they’re hiring people like me who… I studied psychological and brain sciences. People who have more advanced degrees than me, who truly specialize in how to addict a brain to a food or an app, for that matter, to a technology. And that’s another thing that we’re seeing.
It’s easy to overeat when you’re overstimulated, and we’re all super stressed and overstimulated, mostly thanks to these devices and corporations.
I remember reading a research study that showed the amount of popcorn, that you eat in front of a scary thriller or exciting type movie, versus eating popcorn on its own without a movie. You mindlessly munch on 200-300% more food in front of the movie, and you don’t even notice it.
Then there are these other studies of bottomless soup, and the person doesn’t know it, they keep eating gallons of this soup because they have no idea that’s it’s slowly filling back up. We’re just trained to finish what’s on the plate, on autopilot. If it’s a burger and it’s the size of those tiny mini ones, the cute little sliders, you’ll eat that. But if it’s 20 ounces or 40 ounces of meat, with these huge buns, and fries, and shakes, you’ll eat that, too.
The problem is, and I think you probably understand this at this point Tommie, when you combine something like a hamburger from a fast food chain with a soda or sugary ice cream shake, the difference in those flavors is, you get sick of the burger because it’s just a blast of this hyper-stimulating food, so you have to take a sip of the super sweet soda to recalibrate. Then you drink that until you’re kind of sick of it. Then you go back to the greasy, salty, and you go back and forth. And that effectively shuts off your hunger. Because otherwise, as soon as you get sick of something, you’re over it. You’re done eating, really. Maybe you’ll eat a little bit of something else, but you’re pretty much done once you reach that saturation point.
But that point has been manipulated by most food companies to be broken, so that we’re over the line, and constantly asking, “What am I going to eat next? What am I going to eat next?” Until you’re hangry in the morning, and that’s your life.
It’s like there’s a delay from your stomach to your brain. You eat so much and then sit down, and you’re just like, “Argh.” That’s what I really like about the Wild Diet is now it’s not like that. Even if I’m full and I stop eating, I never feel that over-fullness, that bloated-ness or whatever in my stomach.
Man, I felt that for years. And when I was a kid, that’s how we were told we were full. You just keep eating ’til you can’t eat any more.
Abel: I remember that feeling, too. Especially with breads, pastas, other carbs like that, which you pretty much have with every meal, so you don’t know where it’s coming from, but I remember especially at night you feel like your stomach is halfway up in your chest and it’s slowly rising up and you just have this awful feeling of nausea, I thought that was just me and the way my body worked.
Yeah, I thought it was normal. We were told “You’re full, you’re a growing boy, you need to get big and strong” and whatever.
Abel: Ever since I started eating and living this way I don’t get that feeling in my stomach where the whole thing’s seizing up. It’s an awful feeling and I’m happy it’s gone. And frankly I don’t know what was causing that, but I just tried to knock out everything that it could have been and it worked. And you know what? We tour to other countries and we’ll eat the wheat and baked goods there sometimes, we’ll taste a little bit of the bread , depending on where we go… sometimes it’s not an issue at all and other places it’s a huge deal, as bad as the U.S. or worse.
I’m waiting to see, next week I’ll be in Japan for about 10 days. So I’m waiting to see how that goes.
Abel: Have you been there before?
No, the only time I’ve been out of the U.S. has been to Mexico and England. I was in England for 2 weeks, when I was in seventh or eighth grade. So yeah, this is gonna be different, but I’m curious how the food will be.
Abel: I haven’t visited Japan yet, but from what I understand… I have a few friends there, and it’s basically a smorgasbord of the craziest food you could ever imagine for dude’s like us from America.
It’s only going to be a few days so if things don’t work out, I’ll get back on track when I get home.
Abel: Eat some weird fish thing for us!
I love seafood, and I like every type of Asian food. If somebody else will eat it that means it’s okay, and I’ll give it a try.
Abel: All the different types of mushrooms, seaweeds, if I were going there, which I’m sure we will soon, those would be some of the things that I would seek out. Especially the seafood—it’s just unbelievable. I’m happy for you, that’s going to be fun.
HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT WITHOUT EXERCISE
Abel: When I saw the article the paper wrote about you, “Man loses 100 pounds with no exercise“ it made me laugh. Let’s talk about the no exercise part.
Well, everybody’s so busy. Our youngest son still lives with us, and we both teach. There’s always stuff going on at school. Our son plays baseball and he’s in the band and choir. It’s like every day you’re just always busy. In the book, I believe you say, “Losing weight is like 80% diet and 20% exercise,” and I’m like, “Well you know what, I can give something 80%.”
I just started trying to eat better to see what would happen. And the weight started coming off. Really, the only exercise I ever did was during the summer. When we were both off of work, we rode our bikes a few times, but I didn’t really call it exercise. To me it was more like I’m not going to the gym. And I don’t know why it really started that way but I was busy at work and I was just focused on trying to eat right. And I just kinda ran with it.
My wife kept bothering me to go to the gym and I was like, “Well, you know if I drop 100 pounds, I’ll go to the gym.” And I’m still working on trying to get to the gym, but I had posted on a local board that’s here in our area, and the writer from The Chronicle picked it up. And that’s what she wrote the article with the headline including the no exercise part. Which I was fine with, it doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care which angle you want to throw on it. I didn’t really exercise other than ride my bike a few times, I really haven’t done any exercise now—I know I need to.
I’ve still got weight that I want to lose in my mid section where men carry it the most. Right now that doesn’t matter to me because I’m just happy. Like when I look at the pictures, when I see the difference from where I was a year ago and then seeing the pictures now, it’s just crazy.
I can actually go to a store and buy clothes now. I’m no longer trying to find one of those places that carries 3XL, 4XL and 5XL shirts. That’s what upset me inside the most, was not being able to go to a regular store and buy clothes. I was trying to find a place that had big enough clothes for me.
And from your point of view, looking through your eyes, you don’t see it. You never really see what you look like. You see it in pictures and then we’re always the type of people, it’s like, “Don’t take pictures of me, I don’t want to see a picture of me.”
But then seeing the changes and everything—I’ve kept the same belt that I started with. And a friend at work, he’s got a leather hole punch and that’s all I’ve done is punch holes around it. And now it will basically almost go around and touch the center of my back. So, it’s a huge difference in the length of the belt and it’s fun to complain about having to buy smaller clothes.
That’s been a constant change and it’s really a motivator, when you go to try on jeans and you’re like, “Well, I think I can go down a size,” and you go try them on, you go down 2 sizes and it’s like, man, that’s just a lot of motivation. But that’s kind of my deal now is if I can motivate anybody to at least try it.
The funny question I always get is, “Well, what do I have to buy? What do I have to do? They’re waiting for some chemical fix. “Here, buy these pills, they’re 300 bucks”.
When I saw the stuff about The Wild Diet, when I saw the show, and I’m like, “Well this fits in my budget. We all gotta eat.”
Abel: Exactly. But at first it was a little expensive, right, like you weren’t used to buying fresh food?
It wasn’t really… ‘Cause people ask us that, “Was it expensive?” “Is this hard?” And it’s like, really, I don’t think it is.
My wife spends most of the money on food, that’s not really part of my budget. That’s her budget, but when you look at all the junk food that you’re not buying anymore and you’re actually buying real food, and then when you’re on it for a while and the portion sizes start to go down, I don’t see how it’s more expensive. That’s what I kept telling people, I’m like, “Look, all you need to do is buy the book. The book is less than 20 bucks on Amazon. Just buy the book and read the book, that’s all you need to buy, there’s no pills. There’s nothing else.”
Abel: I’ll tell you one thing about diet books. Most of the time you see diet book authors spitting out a book every year or two, just churning them out. I got some blowback on this, but everything’s right there. I’m not going to do a bunch of other books about this. I’m giving you all the things you need right here on my website and in my book, I aimed to put the best of what I know in there.
You can give The Wild Diet to a friend, you can give it to your grandmother, you can give it to a kid. You can read the whole thing in 2 hours. And it gives you the knowledge that we should have learned along the way, but at some point just got dropped. But I think that’s one of the things that have fallen through the cracks, is that focus on just the simple life skills that we need to get through the day, like drinking enough water and eating some vegetables every now and then.
I know, I know. I agree completely and I wish the schools were allowed to serve the food that the workers in the cafeteria have the knowledge to prepare.
Abel: Yeah, absolutely. One step at a time.
A lot of people don’t understand that and what was the guy’s name that… I remember that he was doing some of the TV shows and I think he was from England, he was over here trying to show them about cooking correctly and serving food to kids.
Abel: Jamie Oliver, maybe?
Abel: He’s great.
I like those shows and working in the education industry. You kind of understand it, that our hands are tied so much it’s ridiculous.
Abel: Well, even if you look at the availability of snacks that are portable, 98% of them are going to be just pure garbage. Especially if a kid who’s hungry walks into a convenience store. It’s tough. But I think it’s getting a little bit better. You can even find Kombucha in some convenience stores these days.
But, and it’s like you talk about, all they’re doing is trying to figure out how to make you eat more of it and then how to put preservatives in it so it’ll sit on the shelf longer and not go bad. If their food goes bad they lose money. They don’t want it to go bad so, if I can make a bar and it sits on the shelf for 3 years and you can still sell it, great.
WHY DOING “THE BEST YOU CAN” WORKS THE BEST
Abel: What were some of the things you wish you knew at the beginning?
I guess when we started, it was a little overwhelming trying to learn exactly what was okay to eat and what was not okay to eat. And that’s what we kept having to go back through the book for, was trying to understand.
If I went out to eat somewhere, trying to understand how I could make something that they have fit the diet the best that I could. And I understand maybe some of the ingredients they were using weren’t 100% correct, but I’m trying to have something that’s not fried food and hopefully not something that’s processed. And I’m trying to eat out and do the best that I can. That was a little overwhelming. Now, we don’t even really want to go out and eat that much.
Your taste buds really change with this diet. What you think is good and what you think is not good changes a lot.
I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they’d like to see more about meal plans. I really don’t like meal plans, because some of the other diets that’s what they get behind, is a meal plan, and I don’t like those, because you’re sitting there and it’s like, “Okay, eat half a grapefruit for breakfast.” I don’t like grapefruit. I don’t want grapefruit for breakfast. That’s one of the things that I liked about the book was when it was talking about this is okay and this is not okay.
My son used to be like, “Can I have this sugary sweet treat that’s wrapped in plastic? Is this okay to have?” And you’re saying, “No, no, no. Don’t have that.” Now he goes in there and, “Can I have this banana?” Yes, the answer is always, “Yes.”
Abel: That’s smart. If I knew when I was a kid, that I would do better at sports and school if I made the right call with what I was eating… If I had any inclination about that, it would make a big difference.
That was probably my hardest thing, was saying, “Yes, I want to do this,” and then trying to figure out what I could eat and what I couldn’t eat.
And I don’t know if it’s hard for you to say that this particular food is good, or this brand of food, or whatever. I had a friend, the one that I told you about that lost 50 pounds. He gave me one of these bars. And he’s like, “Man, here, try this. I like these.” And you look, first thing I do now is look at the ingredients to see what’s in there. On the one he gave me, it said, “dates and cashew nuts.” And I was like, “Well, that’s cool.” Another friend showed me this other lady’s website, and I think she does like 100 days of real food, or something else. It’s not exactly the same, but you get a lot of the same good information about not eating processed foods.
And that’s kind of hard if you’re trying to figure it out in the grocery store, “What can I eat. What can I not eat.” At the beginning I started off sticking to the outside of the grocery store where more of the fresh foods are that will go bad—meats and vegetables and things like that—and we really had a hard time at the beginning trying to plan exactly what we could eat. And that’s probably overwhelming to a lot of people because you’re asking them to change everything they’ve always known and try to eat this way. And it’s difficult. It was really hard for us on the food part of it.
I started out with bacon and eggs. Well, that’s easy. We could find bacon that doesn’t have as many chemicals and stuff in it. I don’t remember how they have it labelled. And eggs are not too hard to find because they have a lot of different selections that are not-as-bad.
Abel: Right. And I’ll tell you what. If you go for the not-as-bad, step up from the cheapest, sometimes that’s good enough. You can almost always get a little better going up the spectrum, but sometimes just that one step up from the cheapest is good enough.
I was trying to find that quote in the book where you talk about doing the best you can with the quality of the food. We did that a lot. In the book, you talk about using ghee. And my wife’s like, “What the heck is ghee?” And she’s trying to look it up, and said, “Hey, it’s a form of butter.”
Abel: Yes, ghee is purified, clarified butter. Yeah so, pure fat. You take the milk solids out so it’s shelf stable and cooks better than butter.
But that was one of things—I’m trying to show her recipes in the book, and she’s trying to figure out how to cook them. And she’s like, “Oh, it’s more of a refined butter.” And she’s like, “Well, for now, I’m going to use butter.” And then it started…
Abel: Which is fine by the way.
Yeah, it kind of started turning into, “Well, let me try to find a butter that’s a little bit better. I’m going to try to do a little bit better.” And we try to do that the best we can.
We’re trying not to buy the foods that have been processed so much. And there’s times that, like if we buy vegetables, we’ll buy organic, and there’s times where it’s like, “Well, we can’t right now. It’s just not working,” or, “Maybe they don’t have it.” You just do the best that you can, and that’s what we try to do.
But getting away from some foods was really hard. Getting away from potatoes, I never thought I could like a sweet potato. And now I just love a sweet potato and we cook them three or four different ways. We had a friend that was asking us, “Well, tell me why sweet potatoes are better than regular potatoes?” And my wife had to go back in the book and find where it talked about it being like a slow-burning carb versus a fast-burning carb. She quoted that out of the book and she could understand the difference. Whatever it is, I don’t know, but I’m losing weight.
Abel: Just so everyone knows, it’s usually more complicated, but sometimes thinking in that shorthand can really help you just get through and go for that sweet potato instead.
It’s debatable when you ask if any one food is good or bad, and that’s where it gets tricky, and a lot of people get tripped up. I totally hear at the beginning of the process, it’s hard to, number one, change your entire worldview that you’ve had for however many decades, and everything that you’ve been taught about nutrition, health, whatever, just let all that go.
Then, number two, learn how to cook everything now, and start today. And it’s a lot to do all at once. That’s why I think it’s great to speak with you because you made it through to the other end. And it’s tricky. Not many people get there.
My wife, she’s probably helped me the most, because she’s a good cook. She’s one of these people that if you showed her a recipe or if she tasted something, she can figure out how it’s made. She’s a good cook, and she can improvise.
It’s been a blessing to me to have her around to cook because it doesn’t matter what it is, she can cook. I’ve always been the bad guy because I never wanted to eat some of the stuff. If she tried to cook cabbage before, and I’m like, “Well, you can cook cabbage, and I’m going to go out and eat. I’m leaving, I’m not going to stay here.”
That’s probably what’s helped us the most because we don’t have to eat out. We don’t have to eat fast food. We don’t have to. We’re fine.
We go into the grocery store and buy food and cook it at home. That’s helped us a lot. I don’t want to go to Taco Bell. I don’t want to go anywhere. There’s nothing there. I don’t want to have to get that desperate, to even have to go in there.
EATING REAL FOOD CHANGES YOUR TASTE BUDS
Abel: Let’s say before you went through all this—you wanted to go to Taco Bell and you thought that was freedom because you could eat whatever you want. But on the other end, now freedom is NOT going to Taco Bell.
That’s the way that I feel now—you want to rise above the cravings and the Taco Bell diarrhea wheel for the next 3 days.
Being older and eating Taco Bell it’s like, “Man how did I eat this when I was a teenager?” As a teenager it was great because it was cheap. You’re looking for cheap food. Now you go in there and it’s like torture.
But after following the Wild Diet, if I’ve got to eat out, there’s a few places I know where I can get stuff that’s pretty close to correct.
Other than that, it’s hard sometimes to eat out, because you’re so used to having good food that you made at home. Your taste buds are accustomed to fresh food that you cook at home. You’ll go eat at a restaurant and you’re like, “Well that wasn’t really worth it. We should just have just bought some steaks and cooked steaks at home and it would have tasted better.”
Abel: My wife, Alyson, and I just went on a little mini vacation for 6 days. We were on a road trip, drove from Texas up to Colorado and then back through New Mexico and it was great fun. But when we came back, we realized after looking over the bills, I’m just like, “You know in six days we actually ate out only 3 times, and all 3 were at the same foodie-friendly place that we love in Denver.” The rest of it was from meals we packed up, and snacks from health food stores. That was about it.
It was so easy and to us that felt like freedom. When you go on a road trip and you have all the food you need, you don’t need to say, “Okay, where are we going for breakfast? Where are we eating for lunch? Where are we eating for dinner? We’re hungry, we need a snack.” It takes up your whole trip. But when you get a handle of the food thing, it starts to get really fun. You feel free again.
If it wasn’t like that it’d be very difficult. We don’t have a Whole Foods or anything like that out here where we live. It’s basically just Kroger, HEB, Aldi and Walmart. But so much of this stuff you can find at any of those grocery stores, or like we talked about, it’s really close. It might not be at the very top level, but it’s better than being at the bottom level and it works.
Abel: Well I’m really proud of you guys over there. You’re doing so great. If there’s any way that I can help, just let me know, or drop a line anytime. I was so excited to get connected in the first place.
I didn’t mention this before, but, my doctor was at the point that he was wanting me to have some type of weight loss surgery. And after doing my own research about different weight loss surgeries and the different things they’ll do to your stomach and all the problems associated with it, that people don’t realize because they’re looking for a quick fast fix. That was something else that really motivated me to try give something else a try.
Abel: Good. Well I’m glad you did.
I am too. When I talked to my doctor, he kept telling me, “Hey, you need to lose 10 pounds or you need to lose 20 pounds,” or whatever, I told him one time, I said, “Doc, that would be like me telling you that you need to breathe less. I want you to breathe 20% less than what you breathe right now.” When you’re so addicted to all this food, that’s what it felt like to me. It just felt like, really a total addiction. Because you’re hungry all the time. We’ve tried to share the book as much as we can and now we’ve had a lot of people buy the book.
Trying to get them to read it and follow it might be a different problem, but we’re trying to get people as motivated as we can. It really helps motivate me if I put something on Facebook and you have all these other people that are liking it, commenting and sharing—that’s a really big motivator.
Abel: That’s great. People can be so supportive. Of course, there’s the other side of it but for the most part it’s very empowering and super cool. And we do have meal plans by the way, too. We have a whole Fat Burning Tribe set up. You’re not in that yet, right?
I’m not in that and I saw it. I just didn’t really think much of it because we’d kind of already started figuring the book out.
Abel: Yeah, I totally get it. But we’ll be happy to invite you and your wife, your whole family if you’d like and you guys can pop in there. We do meal plans every month. We’ve got the whole Facebook group as well. It’s like 2,000 people from all over the world. Some of them have been doing it for 5 plus years now. So they’re always answering questions and all sorts of stuff pops up. We’d be happy to include you on all that.
What’s the biggest weight amount that you’ve heard of doing this?
Abel: The biggest? There’ve been a few over a 100, I think a 120 maybe 130. You’re trying to beat it?
Oh, if it’s that low I might go for it.
Abel: I think you could beat it. How much more do you think you have to go?
When I started I weighed 357 pounds, which I can’t believe I weighed that much. But right now… I’m right at the verge of hitting 210, but I still got a lot of fat around my mid section. I would love to weigh 199. That would be amazing to get below 200. I don’t know if I can get there or not.
Abel: I bet you can.
I’m still trying. I’m not going to give up.
GETTING TO THE GYM (FINALLY)
Abel: You said that you haven’t really worked out yet?
No, I need to. I’m one of these people, I’ve had a gym membership for probably 10 years and doctor says, “You need to go to the gym.” I drive right by there every day.
Abel: It is hard to get started. It’s hard to get started in the gym because it feels like such a judgy place, at first, right? You feel people will think, “Oh, you’re not doing it right.” Or, “That guy is out of shape.”
For the most part it’s not like that. But the quick win is at the beginning. And the good news is that you haven’t really worked out yet at all. Once you do you’ll get some quick gains which are easy at the beginning. Low hanging fruit. And you could get that by certainly just walking as much as you can, is always wonderful. But full body compound movements, even if you just do one, like squats, if you can get full mobility up and down with no weight, that is going to be like 50% of the way there. Just that one movement. And of course adding other things like push ups, pull ups eventually or something like that. Presses, deadlifts, whatever, you can add more things on there. But, it’s as simple as a squat.
I’m at the point I’m trying to get motivated to go back to the gym.
Abel: Do you have a garage or a place to work out at home?
There’s actually a gym that we have a membership to, but I’m just getting motivated to go there. There was one time I was working nights. And that’s the only time I ever went to the gym because I would get off work about midnight or 1:00 AM and it was just so easy because I didn’t have any responsibilities at home. Everybody else is already asleep. I can go to the gym for an hour or so with no one bothering me, no phone calls or anything. That’s the only time in my life I’ve ever really been able to go.
Abel: One thing that might help you, this helped me, is on Mondays I have monster lifts. It basically just means big heavy lifts. That’s the day I’m going to do squats. That’s the day I’m going to do deadlifts. I’m going to build strength that day. And usually I’ll work out for about 20, 30 minutes of those heavy lifts but that’s just what I do that day. So there’s nothing to argue with. It’s not like, “Maybe I should go to the gym. What day is it?” It’s like, “I’ll go tomorrow.” It’s like, “No, on Mondays I do monster lifts.”
And it’s easy. But the hardest part is being like, “Should I go or should I not.” Because when you go back and forth in your head it’s exhausting. Then at the end you’re just like, “Screw it. I’m eating some pie.”
You have to play tricks on your monkey brain sometimes and help yourself make the right decision. But if you could do that one thing, that might help you, too.
The easiest way to get started, I would say bar none, is kettlebells. Just having one at home would be good just so you can look at it, get it in your head, and be like, “Okay, this is there. Maybe I should learn how to use this.” But take a class or two, if you can, with a personal trainer at that gym who can just show you some of the correct form and get you set up with the right weight. Or just watch some YouTube videos and you can get a lot that way too.
Yeah, we have great resources now.
Abel: For sure, but it’s really as simple as that and if you do the minimum amount of exercise to cue an adaptive response to build strength, that’s the thing that gets you to the next level, where you’re going to get back to your ideal weight and body composition.
The best predictor of how long you’re going live is maintaining muscle mass as you age. So the longer you can maintain your strength the longer you’re going to live and the more health you’re going to have. Your hormones are going be in a good place.
That’s what I need to get into and that’s the next step. That’s what I really need to get into is start getting into the gym.
Abel: Awesome, just so you know, if you wanted to send anyone to a particular blog post, I can send you links. For example, there’s one on getting fit if you’re over 40 or there’s the the 7 Minute Wild Workout.
When I started the diet, a friend of mine, he was always watching or listening to your podcast and so he had started a diet plan. It’s really really close, I don’t know what this diet’s called that he’s on but it’s almost the same thing. And so when I started he was asking me questions and he’s like, “Oh well yeah, I listen to all of his podcasts, I listen to Abel James, I listen to all the podcast stuff.” I don’t know how much he’s lost, but he’s lost a lot, and he looks completely different. He’s down to like a size small shirt.
Honestly, I never thought I’d get to an XL t-shirt. That’s high school for me.
Abel: We’ll get you to large probably, with rocking biceps, and you’ll be looking like a rock star in no time.
Well, we’ll see about all that. I’m just happy to lose some weight. That’s been a life changing experience.
Abel: I’m so happy for you and your family Tommie. And like I said, drop a line anytime. If we can help, we’re happy to do that and I’m really excited to get this out there because I know people will really appreciate it. It’s one thing to read about someone losing a huge about of weight, but when you can actually hear them talk about it and be like,” Okay, yeah some parts of this really sucked.”
It’s not all easy. That’s what people want. They just want a pill, “Give me a pill and I wake up in the morning and I lost 50 pounds.” I’m sorry, it’s not out there. I wish it was out there, but you have to put forth some effort…
Abel: You stop doing a lot of things all at the same time, right?
Yeah, kind of cold turkey, but I’m kind of a cold turkey guy. If I need to stop, I’ll just get hard headed and just do it. That’s what I did with the sugar. I just said, “Hey, I’m just not going to have it anymore.”
Abel: Oh, and here’s another tip from Jerry Seinfeld—this is how he says he got good at comedy. His advice to young comics was: Get one of those calendars with the white boxes for each day, and write every day. On the days that you write, make an X, and that’s a streak that you have going… all those Xs in a row are a streak… and never break the streak. Write every day, never break the streak.
I think that’s great advice because, once you miss a workout, once you miss a day of eating well, it’s so easy to be like, “Screw it, whatever, I’m just not going to bother because I already screwed it up. I already had that little piece of cupcake, so I’m just going to eat all six.”
Like the people that have a cheat meal, but it turns into a cheat day. And then every day is a cheat day. You just gave up.
Abel: Yeah, exactly. So when you start—it doesn’t have to be Monday—but we’ll get you on a monster lift Monday. You’ll have that going for you, which is nice.
Yeah, that’s what my wife wants me to do, too. I’ve just really got to get after it and figure out how and when and set a plan. And I think that’d be the best thing is to just go. Just get in there and we’ll start seeing changes.
Abel: I bet if you worked out for three to five minutes, even once or twice a week for a few weeks on end, you would see major differences. If you’re doing the right thing, if you’re doing kettlebell swings, or using a bit of weight, and getting your muscles involved in the right way, you’ll see some massive wins right at the beginning.
Well, that’s probably my next step, that’s what I need to do. So we’re going to have to read that part in the book.
Abel: The good news is that you’ll find that it’s a lot more fun now than it would have been a year ago. You’ll have more energy, your muscles will respond faster, you’ll recover faster, you’ll probably sleep better.
That’s the hard thing about being overweight, if you try to go to the gym, it just turns into, “I’m just going to try to walk on the treadmill or I’m going to try to ride a bike,” and I think that’s what a lot of people have difficulty with. They’re trying to go to the gym and they’re so overweight, just like I was. And you’re just exhausted trying to do anything and then you don’t see results.
The commercial they have where the guy runs around and he hops back on the scale and he weighs the same or whatever. A lot of work needs to go into it.
Abel: Yeah, exactly. That’s why I love your order of doing things. Just being able to focus on diet diet, put all of your energy into it at first—you don’t have to work out at all if you don’t want to—and then once you get a significant amount of weight off, or you’re closer to your ideal weight, then it’s fun. You want to move more and it becomes a part of who you are and you have the energy for it, you feel younger again.
Hey look, you don’t have to go to the gym, just start eating right. You can see some weight come off just by eating right.
Abel: No one believes this, because it’s all of the marketing is saying, “You need the fanciest running shoes and you need these sweet shorts and cool shades and you need to workout all the time like an NBA pro.”
Yeah, and you have to eat all this hyped up food that says, “low fat, healthy… ”
Abel: And you have to drink Gatorade! It comes with baggage, for sure. Then all of a sudden you’re drinking Dr. Pepper again. You’re going to Subway. But anyway, not anymore. No looking back. We’re not going to break that streak.
One of the forums that I was posting on, some people were asking me a lot of questions about it and that’s what one of the guys was saying. He said, “Well it sounds more like it’s a lifestyle change,” and I was like, “Yeah, you’re exactly right.”
I mean it’s not a diet anymore because you just kind of know, “Well no, I don’t eat that.” It’s not that I’m craving bread and it’s like, “No, I just don’t eat bread because I know what it does to me now.” I don’t want to eat bread, I don’t want to eat pasta, I don’t want that Coke. I’m not trying to say I can’t have it anymore. I’m just trying to say that I don’t want to eat it because I know what it does to my body.
It’s more of a lifestyle change and it becomes normal. The great part is when you don’t even feel like you’re on a diet.
Abel: Exactly. You feel like you’ve found a sweet spot. That’s how I feel. It’s like you find that little sweet spot and then if you need to, you can turn the dials, one way or another.
Sometimes I like to enjoy myself a little bit more. My abs may be a little bit blurrier then, which is no big deal, and then if you want to you can get a little bit more discipline or you could shoot for something in particular and then you just, you keep on going. It’s part of the fun to see how much it changes over the years.
Just like the holidays. Going through Christmas and Thanksgiving, it was like, “I’m not going to sit here and look at this food and not eat it.” I ate a lot of food. I ate just as much as everybody else did and I saw the scale go up and it’s like, I’m not worried about it ‘cause I know how to make the scale go back down.
Abel: Exactly. That nailed it. I think that’s the biggest thing that allows you to see your whole life in a different way. It’s like everything’s a bit brighter. If you gain a few pounds, it’s not like you’re sentenced to gaining weight for the rest of your life. It’s more like, “Oh, I see what happened here, I can see why that happened. Let’s… Alright, let’s be a little better.”
That’s what I like about it, is if it’s Christmas time and I have some apple pie and ice cream, or whatever else—because a lot of us have multiple Christmas gatherings we go to and we eat a lot of food. Well then after that it’s like, “Okay, well I’m going to get back on track and do what I need to do,” and then bam, the weight goes back off and you’re right back where you were up before Christmas.
Abel: Well, at 108 pounds down, no exercise, I can’t wait to see how it goes…
I hope to hit 110 by the end of this week. That’s my goal.
Abel: So cool. I’ll have to double check, but I think if you lose more than a 120 or a 130, that’s the most I’ve heard of anyone losing with The Wild Diet.
My son weighs about 118 pounds, and I’m trying to get to where I can picture with him to show how much weight I’ve lost… I’ve lost a person. That’s why I keep asking him like, “What do you weigh? Don’t gain any weight. Let me catch up to you. We’re gonna take some pictures.” That’s what I want to do is take a picture with him. That’s really my goal now is to, if I can get there, I want to lose as much as he weighs.
Abel: That is great. Yes. You’ve already lost more than the weight of my wife, Alyson, who’s about 106 pounds. Good on you man! I’m thrilled that you’re enjoying it and you totally get it and really, thank you once again for being generous with your time. This is great fun. And I’m always so curious to hear where people go with that little book I wrote.
Yeah it’s great. I’m glad that you did it. I’m really glad they had the TV show because I don’t know if I would have heard about it without the TV show. I wish they would do it again. I thought that was great and I thought it was great timing for them to show it right after the beginning of the year when people are trying to lose weight.
LEARN HOW TO DROP 20 POUNDS IN 40 DAYS WITH REAL FOOD
READY TO TRY THE WILD DIET YOURSELF?
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What did you think of this interview with Tommie? Go ahead and leave a comment below to let us know!