Rich on Money

7 Secrets to a Successful Diet That Actually Works

I am on a diet that actually works for me.

I’ve lost 25 pounds in the last 3 months. 

Wait…?

Aren’t you a real estate guy?

Don’t you write about finance and stuff?

Yeah.

But I’m so excited about how this diet is changing my life and how I feel about myself.

Here’s some stats that go with that weight loss. My wife is measuring me in cm instead of inches.

RichChestBellyButtWeight 
1/21/2019106102108190.6
2/17/2019106.599107.5183.6
3/2/201910398106179.2
3/16/201910495104175.4
3/30/201910594103174.8
4/15/201910393101171.6
4/27/201910391100165.8

And I’m not done. There’s more weight to lose.

Do you want to know what diet I used?

Or why I’ve been so successful on this diet and why it’s been so easy for me to stay on it?

Most people give up on their diets way before the 3 month point.

ESPECIALLY New Year’s Diets.

I started Jan 20 this year. 

After a family vacation where I overindulged.

When I got back from vacation, I weighed 190 lbs.  That’s a little heavy for me.  I’ve spent most all of my adult life hovering around 180-185 lbs.

What I really never realized was, even 180 was actually heavy for someone that’s my height (6’1″ or 185cm).  I’ve been heavier than I should be my entire adult life.  I’ve just been pretending I’m not.

The problem is, I look slim at 180.  My face, legs, and arms look skinny.

I’m tall, and I look skinny in a suit or military uniform.

So everyone assumes I’m in good shape.

But if the shirt comes off, the dad body is revealed!

(I’m not ready to show pics of this yet, and neither are you!)

I really hate using that term, but I do think it’s common for married men to let their bodies go.

I also realized and others have told my wife that I had “man boobs”.

Again, that’s another term I don’t like, but it’s accurate.

Also, there’s a nice little dad gut sitting there.  It’s actually not little.

Additionally, I had some pretty serious love handles and plenty of fat on my chest and back.  All this hides nicely on a skinny, tall guy when he’s dressed.

I think my point is, not enough people realized I was overweight, so I lived in denial.

Even now while I’m dieting, co-workers and friends tell me I don’t need to.  It’s a very strange phenomenon.  It’s almost like they don’t want me to diet for some reason.  Some tell me I’m too skinny.

Trust me, I’m not.

But the bottom line is, I don’t like how I look.

There is way too much fat around my waist, and I’ve got a gut that sticks out a lot.

Even after losing 25 pounds!

I’m a beach guy.  I want to look good in swimming trunks!

So I’ve decided I will from now on.

It’s that simple.

WHAT DIET DID YOU CHOOSE?

There are so many frickin’ diets out there.  How did I decide from the sea of choices.

Well, I’m a believer that pounds melt off when you don’t have carbs.  I decided to go no carb until I get rid of all this unwanted fat.

After I get down to the weight I want to be at, then I’ll add in healthy carbs.

I chose the paleo diet.  It’s working well for me.

Essentially, I eat meats and vegetables, with very little fruits and nuts, and nothing else.

No dairy, carbs, beans, or peanuts.  Peanuts are actually a bean.

BREAKFAST

Breakfast is almost always 2 eggs.  I do scrambled.  I try to add vegetables of some kind.  1/4 avocado is very common.  Baby carrots is also a good go-to.

When I gotta leave for work early, I’ve been ordering scrambled eggs and bacon from a cafe on the military base I work at. 

Also, I’ve have a cup of coffee a day.  I’ll allow myself milk and even some sugar in the coffee.  That’s the only milk and sugar I get.  I think I’d be better off without any coffee, milk, or sugar.  I consider this one of my only remaining vices.  Coffee is something I love, and just don’t want to give it up.

LUNCH

I won’t say too much about lunch, because for work, it’s almost always leftovers from dinner.  This keeps me from eating out too much, and keeps lunch trouble-free and healthy. 

DINNER

The most typical meal for me has been boneless chicken breast and baked broccoli.

I’ve learned to eat chicken breast prepared many different ways.  It’s a very healthy and low-fat meat, and it’s my go-to.

I don’t shy away from fat, however.  I’ll have ground beef, like making burger patties, without having the bun.  I’ll also have steak, any variety is fine.  Pork chops, also good!

I love salmon.  I try to go with fresh and not frozen.

Since I’m really not a fan of vegetables, I’ve found that baking vegetables has been a life saver for me.

My absolute favorite has been baking brussell sprouts. I get fresh ones, cut them in half, toss them in olive oil, put them on a baking sheet, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, throw some chopped garlic on there, and bake on 400 for 25 mins.  I like to burn them a little.

Broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and even green beans are great like this. Green beans are not paleo, but I make an exception for that.  I’ve really been baking like crazy.  Also been baking my salmon and chicken breast as well.

DRINKING

I have a job where I drink a lot.  Alcohol, to be precise.

The drinking also involves nice dinners where we indulge in too many ways.  Here in South Korea, that’s Korean BBQ.  Lots of fat, salt, rice, noodles, beer and soju (rice wine).  No, not healthy.

So I cut back massively on drinking and told my co-workers and Korean counterparts I was on a diet.  More on this later…

WHY IS THIS WORKING?

The question I’ve been asked the most by family, friends, and co-workers is why is this diet, this time, working?

What makes this diet successful when I’ve done so many others that have fizzled out?

Additionally, acquaintances of mine have been inspired by this diet and started recently, but have not followed through.  This is very common. 

In the past, it was common for me.

So what’s different with me this time.

I’ve pinpointed seven important factors:

MOTIVATION

It takes a lot of motivation and willpower to overcome all the temptations and B.S. that will get in the way of successfully accomplishing a diet.

It’s a little embarrassing, but I’m going to have to share some of my motivation so you can understand what drove me.

For starters, my children, ages 12 and 8, kept teasing me that I was fat.  I was starting to overcome my denial and agree with them.  It’s embarrassing and humiliating to be fat to your children.

My wife also told me quite often that I was fat and didn’t look good.  This might seem mean, but who else is going to tell you the truth?

I know these days that body acceptance is in and fat shaming is taboo as hell but, in this case, I don’t think of what they are doing as a bad thing.  It’s unhealthy for me to be overweight.

Most important of all…

I didn’t like what I was seeing when I looked in the mirror.

I saw a bloated belly and lots of fat around my waist.

I went from being annoyed over the years to finally being disgusted.

I made a firm decision that I was done with it.

I want a flat stomach and no fat around the waist.

Period.

Yeah, I know this is all very superficial, but that’s my motivation. 

Clearly, there are massive health benefits to not unnecessarily carrying around 30 or more extra pounds of fat.

For me, caring enough about how I look to myself and others as well as worrying about my health is what it took to make this diet stick.

SUPPORT

Support from others is key to success in many different endeavors, and I find this true in dieting.

It would be near impossible for me to do this diet without the support I’ve received from my wife.  She’s made the most difficult part of the diet possible for me.

See, I hate cooking.  I’m lazy.  I’ll eat whatever is put in front of me.  If it’s not cooked for me, I’ll push the easy button.  I’ll eat out or cook something that can made in a microwave.

I’m also extremely busy, as I’m sure is a problem for many people on diets.  Work and kids and the rest of life just makes dieting so damn hard!

Even if you’re not married or don’t have kids, life with work and other obligations has a way of filling the day to the point that taking the time buy and prepare healthy food is impossible.

My wife knows the diet I’m on, and fully supports me in it.  She cooks dinner for me almost every night.  When I get home, exhausted from my job, there is a healthy dinner waiting for me, and enough leftovers for me to take to lunch the next day.

She also makes herself a totally separate meal, because she’s dealing with health problems that a vegetarian diet is helping, and she cooks yet again separate food for the kids. 

A true saint!

I know not everyone will have the luxury of having this much support.  I’m saying in my case, it’s been very helpful to my success.

Support can come in many forms.  It doesn’t have to come from a spouse.  It could come from a friend, any significant other, even co-workers.

It’s hard to get too far in life doing everything ourselves.  It’s ok and even important to rely on others.  That’s been a tough lesson for me.  I’m still learning it in other aspects of life.

I talk about my diet a lot, which is probably annoying to some people.  That brings me to my next point…

GOALS AND ACCOUNTABILITY

This is key.

I’ve always heard this about setting goals, but never really done it before with a diet.

The reason I haven’t done it before was I didn’t want others holding me accountable to my diet.

That means I wasn’t serious about it yet.

This time I was.

If you tell people what your goal is, then the likelihood that you will stick to it is much higher.

You’ve set an expectation not just to yourself now, but to whoever you’ve told. 

If you mis-step, cheat, or quit on a goal, you won’t be the only one that knows.  Others will ask.

Why are you eating Cheetos?  I thought you were on a diet?

Dad, Why are you having Oreos?  I thought you lost 3 pounds last week?

Or the biggest of all, sharing your goals on social media.  That’s some serious accountability.

The more people you tell, the more accountable you are to the goal.

PLANNING

I’m going to talk about planning from two perspectives.  One is planning so you’ll have access to healthy food when you need it.  The other is planning , or mentally preparing, for the temptations, the bad food that is going to be put it front of you throughout the week.

You need to think about your entire week and how you will ensure that for each meal, you’ll have ready access to the food required to sustain your chosen diet.

This is done through a combination of relying on others, allowing extra time to prepare in the mornings or evenings, or taking a large amount of preparation time on the weekends so that food can be prepped for the week.

Another important aspect is thinking through business trips, vacations, social outings, etc.  You need to have a solid plan in place ahead of time of how you will eat (or not eat) at each of these events. 

For me, the temptation planning I talked about has been huge.  I have a co-worker who is the greatest baker in the world.  She routinely brings in lemon squares and cookies of all types.  I LOVE chocolate chip cookies.

Being in a traditional American office, it is common for someone to bring in donuts occasionally.  Sometimes, this happens on the same day as the damn cookies, which is crazy!  We also have cakes for employees on their birthdays, and that seems to happen more now that I’m on a diet.

Probably not, just seems like it.

My  guess is, this is common for many.  Identify your temptations and then make the decision.  How often will you indulge?  I have limited myself to one cheat meal a week. 

I know all my temptations throughout the week and I’ve decided ahead of time that I’m saying no to all of them.  Even the surprise pop-ups I haven’t anticipated.  Everybody knows, especially me.  The diet will never work without this steadfast commitment.

CHEAT MEAL

From ACTUAL cheat meal!

I mentioned this briefly earlier.

There would be no way I could diet this successfully without knowing that there is a reward for my hard work on the horizon.

For me, it’s a lunch or dinner on Saturday.

During the week, I’ll often talk about it. I’ll even watch co-workers wolf down a burger and fries and fantasize about the meal I’m going to have on the weekend after I’ve paid my dues.

There is no rules to the cheat meal.  There are 21 meals in a week.  20 meals are eaten according to the diet, and one meal is eaten however you want.

That includes dessert and alcohol!

I find tremendous freedom in that, and I’m still seeing amazing results with my diet.

I will admit that the longer I diet, the less and less overboard I go on my cheat meals.

It takes less to satisfy my cravings.  I used to go all out and just gorge.

Now I might just have a few pieces of pizza and call it good.

BRAVERY

You need to be brave if you want to be successful on a diet.  Socially brave.

There is often peer pressure, or social pressure to eat or drink certain things in specific social situations.

This goes back to the planning I talked about earlier.  You need to anticipate and plan for these events.  You also need to be brave enough to tell people that you are not going to eat or drink, and not worry that you are inconveniencing or not being “part of the group”. 

This is kind of huge in my job right now.

I’m in a position where I’m expected to wine and dine.  I’m expected to go out to fancy extravagant dinners, and then get drunk with my South Korean counterparts.

The drunker I get with them, the more I trust and care about them, and the better for our countries, or so the assumption goes.

It’s been like this my whole career.  Very tough on my waistline and liver!  Recently, I just started saying no.  I explain I’m on a diet.  I eat meat, vegetables, and no alcohol.  My coworkers and counterparts give me funny looks once in a while, but I care a lot more about my health than I do these silly work expectations.

At the end of the day, these expectations are pretty superficial and unimportant, and there are also plenty of other people in my office willing to pick up my slack and drink with these guys instead of me!

You will indeed have something similar in your life.  New Year’s Eve, a friend’s wedding, a work gathering, a girls night out, you name it, there is social pressure for you to overeat and/or overdrink.

Stand up for yourself and stay on your diet.  Only cheat if you want to cheat that particular night.  Don’t tell people about your cheat schedule.  That’s up to you!

CALORIE DEFICIT

You might think this would go without saying, but it must be said.

I’ve failed miserably in this regard in the past.

WARNING: COMMON SENSE ALERT!

If you are on a diet, you have to run a calorie deficit to lose weight.

You may not realize it, but it’s easy to find a way to overeat on your new diet, just like I’ve done many times.

Diets are easy to overeat on.  Vegetarian?  O my god with the carbs and fruits!!

Paleo diet?  Give me a break with the supposed unlimited nuts and fruits.  Also, amateur paleos think nuts means peanuts and peanut butter. 

Hell no it don’t!

My point is, once you pick your diet, you actually have to make sure your calories are low enough on this diet to lose weight.  Watch out for snacks, especially ones you think might be healthy, but aren’t.

I used to make these protein shakes with peanut butter.  Man, did I put a lot of peanut butter in there.  Couldn’t figure out why I was gaining so much weight!!

I make my meals, and I exercise portion control.  I take probably a third less than I want to, and that’s it.  If I snack, it’s a very healthy snack in a small amount.  I make sure each day that I’m taking in less calories than I need so that I burn fat.

This isn’t a perfect system.  I’m not a nutritionist, and I don’t pretend to have the ideal diet.  I’m just saying, overeating doesn’t work.

Tell me your dieting experience.

What’s worked for you, and what hasn’t?

Do you agree with my seven “secrets”, and what would you add?

Rich on Money

I’ve also been fairly successful in Real Estate. I own 20 single family homes debt-free that will provide me an awesome passive income in my retirement from the military next year!

Read my Complete Guide to Real Estate Investing

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8 Comments

  1. Great post! I’m always happy to see when people prioritize fitness/health back into their lives.

    My biggest diet/fitness change has been intermittent fasting – for a few main reasons:
    1 – I’m lazy and don’t like dealing with breakfast in the morning
    2 – It saves me money because I’m cutting a meal out of my day
    3 – 1 less meal = 1/4 (I’m assuming breakfast is smaller than lunch or dinner for most people) fewer calories.

    After getting over the first few days of hunger my body got pretty used to it. I actually feel more alert and awake now than I used to in the mornings. I usually have a cup of black coffee when I get to work each day which helps if I’m feeling extra hungry.

    If you’re willing to give up the eggs and veggies/bacon you should give it a shot!

    • I appreciate the comment. It’s worth consideration. I’ve always thought having the breakfast was key to my success, but who knows. I should give it a shot.

  2. Scott Fanello

    Rich,

    Awesome results! I 100% agree that I learned the same thing. I did intermittent fasting and it didn’t work until I balanced the calories I was eating throughout the week. Even with 36 hour fasts I still gained weight. I only reversed that when I combined fasting with meal plans that led to calorie control.

    Super thankful for your honesty in this article.

    Everyone thinks paleo or keto or fasting or vegan or [fill in the blank] will help but they don’t account for cheat days that blow things out of the water.

    This article is a great help to all those trying to succeed with paleo.

    Thanks for posting and thanks for sending out awesome email.

    Your emails are one of the few I look forward to reading.

    Awesome article and looking forward to the next one!

    Scott

    Also, please keep us posted on the progress. I know it’s not real estate related but it’s an awesome tangent.

    • I appreciate this comment! I’ll do an update article in a few months. It’s been a fun ride so far.

  3. Scott Fanello

    PS from Scott… And for all readers that made it to this point, sign up for Rich’s email list. I consider him a trusted advisor in real estate questions. He’s replied to my lowly comments and questions and I greatly appreciate it!

    Scroll up above the comments and add your email to keep in touch!

  4. Eric

    Consistency matters. I lost over 30 pounds using a calorie counter on my phone (MyFitnessPal). It allows you to scan barcodes and create recipes for what you cook (if you cook!). While the app isn’t perfect, you can get very close. It’s the discipline to enter in everything that makes the difference, even the cheat meals. I weigh 15 pounds less than when I was training heavily for a marathon and not watching what I was eating. Thanks for the post.

    • That’s a good tip with that app. Consistency is an attribute that could be added. Thanks.

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