Going Paleo: How to Get a Thin Waist and a Fat Wallet

FIRECracker
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FIRECracker

FIRECracker is Canada's youngest retiree. She used to live in one of the most expensive cities in Canada, but instead of drowning in debt, she rejected home ownership. What resulted was a 7-figure portfolio, which has allowed her and her husband to retire at 31 and travel the world. Their story has been featured on CBC, the Huffington Post, CNBC, BNN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance. To date, it is the most shared story in CBC history and their viral video on CBC's On the Money has garnered 4.5 Million views.
FIRECracker
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Photo credit: festivusweb @ Flickr

For some reason, I keep getting emails and comments from people asking me what I eat. “What do you cook?” “How do you stay fit?” “Is there a special diet you use?” To which my response is: Who cares? I mean, how am I supposed to make that article interesting? Walking you through my shopping list and NOT yelling at old people or houses? That’s just crazy!

But still people kept asking: “No, seriously, what do you eat? What’s your secret?”

So FINE. I’ll talk about my stupid diet. You people are weird.

Diets Suck

Back when I was working, I would eat out all the time, blowing good money on bad food and not bother to ever think about all the crap I was shovelling into my food-hole.

I couldn’t help it. Work was busy and stressful and I had no time to cook. I also had no time to think about what I was eating. Grabbing a greasy pizza at lunch with co-workers, or horking down a bag of chips for dinner was the norm. The costs were adding up as quickly as my waistline.

As a result, I gained 15 lbs in 1 year. And despite gaining all that weight, I felt lethargic and hungry ALL THE TIME. The amount of high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and carbs swimming in my stomach was messing up my blood sugar levels like crazy and screwing up my metabolism. I knew I was on my way to gain even more weight if I didn’t do something about it.

And during this time, I WAS going to the gym, but as it turns out managing your weight is kinda like managing your money. Just like it doesn’t matter how much you earn if you can’t control your spending, it doesn’t matter how much you exercise if you don’t control what you eat. So even if I did 1000 sit-ups everyday and ran 5kms to and from work, I still wouldn’t lose weight. I knew I couldn’t just grab food on the go and eat out anymore. I had to make some drastic changes.

But having tried several fad diets like:

The Green Diet

  • Only eat things that are green. In practice, tastes like eating a lawn. This one gets old REALLY fast unless you’re a cow.

The Zone Diet

  • Big breakfast. Medium lunch. Tiny dinner. Everything is obsessively portioned out and weighed on a tiny food scale made for dwarfs. SO TEDIOUS. The idea is that our metabolism slows down during the day so you should eat the smallest meal at the end of the day—which meant starving all evening and then having erotic dreams about food all night.

The Low Fat Diet

  • Basic strategy: Make all food taste bad, so therefore you won’t want to eat anymore! Genius!

I knew I wasn’t going to stick with it and was about to give up.

This is when I discovered “Paleo”.

Turns Out Carbs Suck

I don’t know where I heard about “Going Paleo,” but the basic idea is to go back to what cavemen used to eat. And I know, I know, cavemen had an average lifespan of like 24 years, so the dogmatic idea of imitating cavemen because cavemen were the best didn’t appeal to me much. But the underlying ideas sounded good to me. Meaning:

  • Cut out simple carbs like bread, cake, and sugar
  • Replace with fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Cook with fats like avocado, coconut oil, and even animal fat
  • Add lots of meat, protein
  • Lift heavy things

So this one didn’t ring the normal alarm bells that diets like Atkins did because each part seemed to have a purpose and complement each other.

For example, the claim is that simple carbohydrates like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc. break down quickly and spike your blood sugar levels, which cause you to be hungrier again quicker, which causes you to eat more. This I definitely experienced. I was constantly snacking on cookies and then getting hungry again an hour later.

Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Can’t go too wrong with that idea.

Cook with healthy fats. The idea is that fat in your diet makes the food more delicious and satisfying so you’ll be less inclined to snack between meals. This I could totally get on board with. Low-fat food just makes me sad. Sad FIRECracker eats more cookies.

Eat more meat/protein. OK…steak and sausages? I’m supposed to lose weight by eating more steaks and sausages? What’s the catch?

Lift heavy things. Aaaand there it is. You’re supposed to combine this with weight lifting. The higher protein causes you to build muscle faster. More muscle (besides making you all swole) increases your metabolism because muscle consumes calories even when you’re not exercising.

So basically, eat more protein and fresh vegetables (with lots of yummy yummy fat) and less cake, cookies, and sugar while power-lifting. That sounded like a system that could actually work, so I gave it a go.

And boy am I glad it did!

Especially since the food was SO tasty! I mean how could it not be? You can use bacon and animal fat! And also avocados, coconut milk, and coconut oil! Which is probably why I felt full all the time on this diet and never deprived. Nothing tasted like a lawn or food that my food would eat.

Also, another thing Paleo did was save us a ton of money.The quality of the food I was making was so good I started preferring it to eating out! Our food budget quickly went from $2000/month down to $900/month. So my food quality went UP while my food spending went DOWN.

And unlike the other diets that make me hungry all the time, with Paleo the fats and proteins kept me full longer so I could eat less food, have it taste delicious, and not make me want to eat all the time like when I ate carbs.

BUT, and this is a big but, you have to pair this with power lifting or you just become one of those unhealthy Atkins people.

This was a bit of an adjustment. I had to switch from being one of those cardio bunnies at the gym bouncing on a treadmill to learning what a squat rack was.

I’m not going to talk too much about power-lifting (that’s for a future article) but after I got comfortable with it, I actually found it pretty enjoyable. You can get so much more working out done in 5 minutes lifting than running on a treadmill for 45 minutes like a bored hamster attached to a wheel.

Plus there was the added bonus of the strange looks I got being the only girl in the weight room.

Huge Muscle Head finishes his set, turns to see small Asian girl. Jaw drops.

Muscle Head: OH! Uh…do you want me to take these weights off for you?

Me: Nah, that’s fine. Just leave it on.

Proceeds to dead-lift the same amount of weight as the Huge Muscle Head

Everyone’s head explodes

So yeah. That was fun.

And after a few months on Paleo, I went from looking like this:

 

To this:

That’s when I stopped weighing myself and bought my first bikini. Over time, my clothes got looser and looser and I had more energy (and muscle) than ever before.

This was pretty shocking because at the time I was sure there was no way I could stick to a diet that would require me to cook so often, since I absolutely LOATHED cooking.

As it turns out the trick to it was two things:

  • Easy recipes with few ingredients (usually less than 6), cooked in the oven (yes, I’m REALLY lazy)
  • Making a 4-portion meal each time, so I could have enough left over for myself and Wanderer the next day. (Again, and I can’t emphasize this enough, I want to cook as little as possible if I can help it)

Because I was using the oven, I could be doing something else (literally anything else) while the food was cooking itself and this was a huge time saver.

And because the dishes were so easy to make and I could make a big batch, I didn’t need to worry about constantly wasting time cooking.

Now I don’t want to turn into a food blog, but here are a few of my favourite Paleo recipes I use. The best part? They are SO easy and fast…perfect for a lazy cook like me:

Mouth-watering Bacon and Brussels Sprouts (It’s got bacon. Enough said):

Photo credit: Arnold Gatilao @ Flickr, license: CC BY 2.0

Ingredients:

  • Salt (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Black pepper (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Brussels sprouts (1 pound)
  • Olive oil (1/4 cup)
  • Bacon (4 slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C)
  • Hack the Brussels sprouts into halves; toss them into a baking dish, while remarking how much they look like tiny little cabbages for dwarfs.
  • Sprinkle bacon pieces over it and season with salt and pepper.
  • Mix, mix, mix.
  • Place in oven until bacon is crispy and Brussels spouts are soft (around 45 mins) or in my case, burnt to a crisp and served anyway.

Finger Lickin’ Good Kale Chips (the perfect alternative to oily, processed chips):

photo credit: T.Tseng @ Flickr, license: CC BY 2.0

Ingredients:

  • One bunch of Kale
  • Olive oil (¼ cup)
  • Salt (½ teaspoon)

Instructions:

  • Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Tear the leaves off the Kale stems into bite-sized pieces with your teeth like a rabid wolverine. Wash well.
  • Put the leaves on a piece of parchment paper.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt.
  • Mix while singing “Despacito” at the top of your lungs (Bonus points if you can remember the actual Spanish lyrics rather than gibberish version that I made up)
  • Bake until crispy, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Cackle manically at the idiots who said you need a convection oven to make this. No, you don’t. No one needs a convection oven. That’s stupid.

And again, since I’m not a food blog and there are plenty of other resources out there for this, for more tasty Paleo recipes (without the snarky commentary), here’s the page where I got the free recipes (submitted by his readers).

https://www.marksdailyapple.com/recipes-home/

FYI, I don’t have any affiliation with Mark’s Daily Apple and I’m not getting paid anything for this endorsement. I just REALLY like his recipes….oh and also he’s 65 year old, has sexy 6-pack abs and hulk-sized arms that could crush a bear. Enough said.

WOWZA! Is GFILF a thing? If not, it should be.

I tend to memorize around 5 to 6 recipes, and cycle through them so our taste buds wouldn’t get bored (as if you can get bored of steak and kale chips!) Occasionally, it makes sense to cheat by going out to eat and indulging on some ice-cream or pasta. But as long as you keep it within once or twice a week you won’t break anything.

And don’t you DARE go out and buy house with a giant mortgage, just to to have a kitchen to renovate, just to get a convection oven, just to make kale chips and say “FIRECracker said this was OK.” I WILL dead-lift your ass and toss you off a bridge.

So what do you think of the Paleo diet? Do you think you could give up grains and sugar? What about that Mark guy? Isn’t he a dream boat? Do you also fantasize about his dancing pecs like I do? Or having him lift you over his head and do bad things to…*notices Wanderer glaring*…ahem. ANYWAY. So yeah. What do you think?

70 thoughts on “Going Paleo: How to Get a Thin Waist and a Fat Wallet”

  1. I am so glad to see this mentioned on a financial advice blog. People keep claiming that eating healthy is super expensive, and I keep telling them it saves you money.

    1. I think people think it’s expensive because they’re thinking of it in terms of eating out and ordering salads instead of fast food. THAT is obviously expensive (since the restaurant has to dump out the salads at the end of the day).

      But if you compare eating fast food to cooking healthy food, cooking healthy food wins hands down! I thought I wouldn’t have time to do it initially, but once I learned how to make easy recipes (fewer ingredients, uses oven) and make big batches, it was a huge win!

      1. Couldn’t have said it better — hands down cooking good health food wins. Not only is making your own food far healthier and cheaper, but you end up being a couple calories making the dish. That’s like a win-win-win right there.

        While I don’t explicitly eat paleo (nothing wrong with a few carbs once in awhile), those recipes sure look great. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi FC,

    That’s a very thin waist of you. This goes to show that it’s better to prepare own food and be healthy. If there’s a will, there’s a way. You are the living example. Cool!

    Ben

    1. Thanks, Ben. I found what worked for me was make it as easy as possible and making big batches so I don’t have to keep doing it repeatedly. Worked out great!

  3. I prefer a vegan diet that is relatively higher in fat. I’m vegan for the ethics and the fat helps me stay satisfied. The cost side is a bonus, dairy and meat are more expensive than grains and beans so it keeps my costs reasonable. I’ve been vegan long enough that I really don’t have a desire to eat meat anymore and I don’t go for too much of the “meat analogues”. Trying to watch my portions cuts down on the cost too ;).

      1. Paleo works because of all the fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed junk and bread. The part that isn’t great (and more expensive) is meat and dairy. The mass production of both is killing the planet and contributing to global warming. Although you look great on the outside, I am not sure about the inside. Bob Harper followed this diet and had a massive heart attack. The only reason he is alive is because there was a doctor in his gym who brought him back from the other side. If you look up the legit science, there is only one diet that prevents and reverses heart disease (look up Dean Ornish). It is plant based, no meat, oil, dairy. Oil is a processed food, so it is great to eat avocados, olives, nuts but stay away from olive oil and coconut oil (they both contribute to heart disease). I recommend you check your blood cholesterol to know your state of health. I switched to a whole foods plant based diet because it prevents heart disease, diabetes, cancer, auto-immune disorders. I have the added bonus of not contributing to the destruction of the Amazon, over consumption of scarce water resources, reducing Co2 and methane, polluting water, excessive use of antiobiotics (contributing to antibiotic resistant diseases), the list goes on. Check out “Comfortably Unaware” and “Drawdown” (the book) to get the real story. I guarantee you will save significantly more money eating potatoes, rice, beans and you will not gain weight. Carbs aren’t the devil. I eat a ton of food, and lost weight effortlessly, have no cravings and I’m only a few pounds from my high school weight (I am 50). Take the challenge!!!

        1. Plant-based diet? You mean like the vegetarians I know who are anemic and constantly having health issues? They finally had to give in and eat fish. Couldn’t handle the destruction to their health anymore. Just because it works for you doesn’t mean it works for everyone else. Also, Paleo doesn’t mean you have to buy factory farmed meats. You can buy locally-sourced, organic meat. And I don’t see why a plant-based diet is cruelty -free. You are KILLING plants. The only truly altruistic diet is fruitarianism. So maybe it’s time for you to switch?

          1. Oh where to begin…it is clear you are taking a very emotional and defensive position, so really no matter what I say will not be considered. I am definitely disappointed that a FIRE blog is being used to push an ill advised diet for human health and the planet, I think you should stick to your original agenda. Your reaction is akin to non-FIRE whiners who can’t live without their house, car and new apple device. If the Paleo diet didn’t impact me or others, I wouldn’t really care if you eat bacon for breakfast, lunch and dinner — but unfortunately it does. Let’s take each point and explain the real truth. Vegetarians who are anemic are not eating a plant based diet, they are eating processed crap like Oreos, french fries and Coke. Non-heme iron (greens) is better processed by the human body than heme iron (meat), and in fact too much heme iron leads to heart disease and inflammation. 100 calories of spinach contains 15 mg of iron, to get that much from sirloin steak you would need to eat 1700 calories. Iron absorption improves when eating vitamin C rich foods, which naturally happens eating a spinach salad with tomatoes, red peppers, etc. Who are these weak vegetarians? Have you looked at Patrick Baboumian (strongman)? Rich Roll (ultraman)? Serena Williams? Those are some pretty weak, frail plant eaters! LOL. The human body is designed to thrive on carbs, it is biology. Occasionally eating meat or fish likely won’t kill you, but eating it 3X a day probably will (unless you have great genes!). The problem with eating fish are the toxins (mercury primarily) concentrated in them. And by about 2050 there won’t be any left in the oceans at the rate we are overfishing. Eating meat 3X a day actually DOES mean you need to eat factory farmed meat. There are various estimates, but anywhere from 56-70 billion farm animals are raised for food each year. With growing demand (as more people go Paleo instead of veg) and poorer nations gain wealth, this will continue to rise. We would need 5 more planet earths to organically raise all of these animals. Honestly, the math doesn’t work, it isn’t sustainable. Finally, the idea of killing plants is a non-starter if you are referring to the animal cruelty issue. First, not all plants die (I grow and pick lettuce leaves but the plant keeps producing!). Second, plants don’t have a nervous system. And if I were concerned about cruelty, I would surely prefer to kill one plant, than up to 16 to consume the same amount of meat. The only way to not have an impact on the planet (food, water, emissions) is to jump off a bridge and die. Clearly I am not going to do that, but I can make an effort to reduce my impact to reduce environmental issues. All the investments in the world will be worthless as more of the planet is harmed, more extreme weather events displace people, drought leads to war, blah blah blah. The UN is advising people to eat more plants and less meat for this very reason. And the World Health Organization has classed bacon, sausages in the same carcinogenic category as tobacco and asbestos. I hope your other followers are aware of this.

            1. @Frugalgenx You’re absolutely correct on everything you said. I think why Firecracker responded negatively is because it MAY have seemed that you were trying to impose a vegan lifestyle on her. I myself am a vegan for personal reasons, but I never suggest to others to stop eating meat ALTOGETHER. I do, however, encourage them to take a moderate approach and not make it a daily affair. And the same goes for processed “”Healthy”” fats like Olive oil and C.O. They’re gateways to strokes and heart disease. To whoever is confused by all these diets, then watch the doc Forks Over Knives and you’ll get a great idea on which path to take

              1. “I myself am a vegan for personal reasons, but I never suggest to others to stop eating meat ALTOGETHER.”

                This says it all. I don’t tell vegetarians to start eating meat, they shouldn’t impose their dietary choices on other people. Just because veganism or vegetarianism works for some people, doesn’t mean it will work on others.

                1. I can guarantee a plant based diet will work on everyone, but people aren’t willing to make the change. Cholesterol still matters, the studies cited in the book you mentioned are funded by the meat, dairy, egg, oil and pharmaceutical industries. There is no denying biology, which is saturated fat and cholesterol lead to atherosclerosis, stroke and heart attacks. Some people last longer due to lucky genetics, but most meet their fate. There is big industry and money paying off our politicians and scientists to tell the story you want to hear about butter and bacon. As I said, you can do what you are doing and look great on the outside, but things won’t be as great on the inside. Most are hit by a silent killer and never get a second chance. Please check your cholesterol and triglycerides and don’t ignore those markers. I have had friends die suddenly in their early 40s because they believed cholesterol didn’t matter. Unfortunately it is too late for them

          2. FIRECracker I’m extremely disappointed in your response to the previous commenter (Frugalgenx) suggestion and insight.

            Your defensive response is akin to those you try to enlighten about financial independence who think that the only way to save $ is by living a miserable frugal lifestyle.

            I’ve been a long time reader and admirer and to see you be so dismissive towards a well thought out comment that provided suggestions (i.e. have your blood pressure checked, be wary of overconsumption of meats and to consider that the state of one’s outside is not always reflective of the state of one’s inside) made me question if I want to follow a blog that would be (or at least come across as being) so closeminded towards a topic that is not “FIRE”… Let me point out that they did not say anywhere that you are unhealthy and did not come across as a personal attack. They even offered the perspective that it could save you even more money which in itself is a topic you would normally embrace.

            You also go on and make a blanket statement about vegetarians being anaemic is not something I would expect from you, to be honest.

            As a disclaimer: I’m not a vegetarian/vegan although I try very hard to follow a plant-based diet. I have locally raised and butchered steak 1-2x a year on special occasions, fish 1-2x a month and still consume eggs and dairy in moderation. I chose this lifestyle for a variety of reasons: reducing my footprint, animal cruelty, factory farming, and what would be a *sustainable*, healthy and enjoyable lifestyle for ME.

            I don’t feel it’s my right to offer suggestions, but maybe ask yourself why you felt so defensive towards their comment in the first place?

            1. I didn’t not make a blanket statement, I said “vegetarians I know” not “all vegetarians”.

              Like I said, vegetarianism works for some people, doesn’t work for others. Just like Paleo works for some people doesn’t work for others. Everyone’s different. I don’t tell vegetarians to eat meat, so I don’t see why they would need to impose their dietary choices on me.

              If Frugalgenx’s comment did not come across as offering suggestions, it came across as trying to imposing their dietary choices on other people.

          3. I’m glad to hear you eat local and organic meat but the points frugalgenx makes are valid–paleo worked when there were like a million people on the whole planet. With 7.5 billion people on earth today, it’s just not a way for us to move forward as a species, no matter how our meat is sourced.

            But you don’t have to be a vegetarian (btw, many vegetarians enjoy wonderful health although it doesn’t work for everyone). You could simply substitute some of the meat dishes for high-protein, plant-based ones. This would also balance out some of the costs so that you can continue to splurge on more ethically produced meats.

            Funnily enough, I did a plant-based cleanse for a month awhile back which was basically the diet you describe (no refined foods, no grains, no sweeteners) except it did not include meat. I thought I would be STARVING as the first week was literally lentils and vegetables (you add more as the weeks go by). The weird thing was I wasn’t hungry between meals at all! Just cutting out the crap that your body burns through really fast does wonders.

            Of course people need variety and I think meat and dairy are fine in moderation; my point is that paleo is a pretty self-defeating trend for us as a species. Plus apparently cave people did not use agave syrup ;).

            Would also like to say that these are important conversations to have and it’s really discouraging when they devolve into argument. I hope you find the tone of this message civil and friendly–that’s how it is intended!

          4. I think everyone is different. I say go with whatever appeals to you. I happen to be one of those people who do best on a vegan diet. My brother on the other hand is Paleo and said he couldn’t be vegan to save his life.

            Speaking of anemia, I was slightly anemic before I went vegan but somehow veganism made me lose my anemia (?????!!!!!!) Now that I’m not vegan anymore I’m back to being a little anemic. I have no idea how this shit works, but all I can say is your gut will lead the way.

            1. Eating dairy prevents the iron from being absorbed. If you went back to dairy products it is likely why you are becoming anemic again. Humans do a better job of absorbing plant based iron than heme iron (which can actually become toxic and lead to heart disease — too much isn’t good). Also, iron is more readily absorbed when consumed with vitamin C which happens easily eating plant foods.

        2. Like everything, balance is needed. We’re designed to be omnivores. It’s not the meat that’s the problem, it’s the animals themselves. Humans have been eating dairy and meat for thousands and thousands of years.

          You should read the Big Fat Surprise… you’ll read very interesting things about how things do NOT actually contributes to heart disease. That being said… science is great and wonderful, but don’t just trust studies that you read, or anecdotal stories like “X died of Y, and he ate lots of Lettuce, so Lettuce is bad.” The science of nutrition and studies based on human trials are almost IMPOSSIBLE to conduct because you can’t reliably account for all the thousands of variations. For example most of the so-called evidence around olive oil and coconut oil being contributors to heart disease is based on dubiously conducted studies by Ancell Keyes, and the considerable influence he had on worldwide nutrition science.

          In addition, we’ve learned a considerable amount about cholesterol and whether it’s REALLY a contributor to heart disease. AT one point we thought that cholesterol is bad, but now we realize that there’s a beneficial part of cholesterol.

          The more you research, you realize that everything in our body has been put there for a reason ( we used to think some organs were vestigial… and now we realize they’re actually pretty useful ).

          I agree that we probably want to limit our meat and dairy to flavor enhancers (mostly due to the feed that these animals are given), but people have been eating meat and dairy for thousands of years.

          1. The Big Fat Surprise has been debunked by scientists who do studies. Much of what she cited was out of context or based on studies done by the meat/dairy/egg industry. It does sell books though!

            When it comes to cholesterol and saturated fat, the studies that show it doesn’t matter do the following – start with people who already have high cholesterol (200 mg) and show it doesn’t rise when eating more. This is already danger zone levels and the body is too saturated to go much higher. Or they say low fat doesn’t matter, but the low fat diet is 37% and the high fat is 39%. There is really no difference, so of course fat doesn’t matter! Or they say carbs are bad and raise triglycerides more than high fat diets but by design the carb eaters are eating processed, sugary foods.

            Big industry wants to keep selling you foods that make you sick and are willing to fund studies. They want to create “doubt” not proof because then people will continue to eat meat and butter. The tobacco industry lost the battle, and those companies bought up the food companies (RJR bought Kraft) and make the investment to convince you that what you are eating is healthy. Look to who funds the studies to really know the truth. These are conflicts of interest.

            I completely agree we can eat animal products and did it to survive as a species. The challenge now is that we live longer than the average 45 years of age back in Paleo times. I suggest you read The Blue Zones to see what people should eat to live to 100 and stay healthy and active. They are not always 100% plant-based but very high – Okinawans ate 98% plants with sweet potatoes as their staple food. (There are studies of populations that compare diets – the best is the Adventist 2. That group of people follow a specific religion in the US, have similar activity and social relationships, don’t smoke or drink alcohol. So the main difference is their diet. Some are vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, meat eaters. They have done head to head comparisons of these dietary differences. The healthiest are the vegans – have lowest BMI, fewest deaths, live longer, etc.

  4. Awesome post! I suspected you did paleo for some reason :). I’ve been eating keto for almost a year and lost 40 lbs. I was originally doing it for weight loss, but now that I see all the other benefits (better sleep, clearer mind, awesome skin) I can’t imagine stopping. I also discovered my love of lifting and want to keep that up forever. I like it a lot more than cardio. I’m with you on eating this way costing less. Now that my food at home tastes delicious (thanks butter and fat!) I rarely want to go out to eat since I know my food is just as delicious – if not more.

    Questions:
    – How do you lift while traveling? I’m already thinking of how I’ll handle this with perpetual travel 🙂
    – What “unhealthy Atkins people” are you referring to? I haven’t heard that before.

    1. Nice work, Semira! I’m glad you mentioned the awesome skin. I noticed that too after I cut out the sugary crap. Way less breakouts and my skin kept improving.

      To answer your questions:

      1) When we travel, we did weight lifting when we stayed in condos with gyms (ie in Chiang Mai and Malaysia). Other times, we went to city parks that have free exercise machines (it uses your own body weight as the resistance). Generally, I found that while travelling, we do so much walking, carrying our backpacks around, and swimming, that I naturally stay fit even if I miss some workouts. You just end up burning calories really easily when you’re not sitting in front of desk 9 to 10 hours a day.

      2) Some people use the Atkin’s diet as an excuse to pig out on bacon, butter, and steak without restriction. They skip healthy things like fruit and veggies. Even thought that’s not the point of the diet, it’s easy to abuse it and say “I can eat all the fat and protein I want, as long as I don’t touch carbs”. No, no you can’t. Veggies and fruit are important.

  5. So has Wanderer gotten on board? After seeing his wife get smoking hot, I am sure he would want some of that…healthy food that gives him more energy.

    1. Ha, Wanderer has the opposite problem. Eats like a bird and can’t gain any weight. I tried force feeding him protein shakes and getting him to do weight-lifting with me. The weight-lifting helped a bit, it’s still really hard for him to gain weight. I suspect it’s because he’s too fidgety and can’t sit still.

  6. I am somewhat envious of those who can gain weight rather so easily. What is their secret anyway I often would wonder.

    Despite eating A LOT (including a copious amount of high-calorie, high-fat junk food), I still can’t seem to gain weight.

    I remember when I was in medical school, I ate nothing but fast food every meal, exercised never. But still no weight gain whatsoever. No health problems either. I guess I must have super, extraordinary genes, or something. I’d often joke that I have a superpower — and that superpower is Immunity to Obesity.

    I guess I shouldn’t complain. I am perfectly healthy other than having this weight “problem.”

    Some day I would *love* to make a sequel to the documentary “Super Size Me.” (Don’t know if you’ve seen that film.) This time, in my film, after eating at McDonald’s for an entire month, I’d actually lose weight and get even healthier.

    I guess at the end of the day it’s all about your genes. 🙂

    1. PS, Firecracker, honestly you don’t look too differently in those 2 pix–that is, you don’t look fat in either! You’ve got good genes.

  7. Paleo sounds like it is working great for you. I don’t know if I could do it, I like myself some carbs sometimes. Fresh bread is delicious. You make Paleo sound do-able though. I do most of the cooking for the family, so I’d have to get them on board.

    I really like your sample recipes – baking is so much easier.

    My strategy was to treat diet like personal finance. I got a fitness tracker that has a food log via a web/app interface. I logged my food and fitness activities daily. It was a lot like going for FI/RE! When losing weight, I just had calorie deficits most days. Just like we want most months to be net saving in the FI spreadsheet. Worked like a champ. After dropping 40 lbs, now I just keep it in balance. Most days are slight deficits, then some days I eat more, like when there is a party with food. My weight has been maintained for the last 1.5 years. Tracking made it happen. Actually, I think the weight-loss journey helped lead me to FI/RE since the idea was so similar. I could probably write more about this…

    1. That sounds like a similar strategy to the video game diet. It was invented by a kid and the calories were points and each day you get a certain amount and the amount of calories you eat get subtracted but you can earn more points by working out.

      1. Cool – independently discovered a diet strategy! Video games are a guilty pleasure of mine. Maybe that’s why it worked out.

        Seeing the tracking charts and progress helped me stay on course. I just updated my FI spreadsheet for the end of September and watched the savings and expected safe withdrawal go up while the spending is going down year-over-year. Feels just like losing the pounds after watching my 10k steps per day and calories in.

    2. “My strategy was to treat diet like personal finance.”

      Love it. And clearly it worked cause you dropped 40 lbs–NICE!

      Hope you try the recipes! The oven is your friend.

  8. Awesome article. I recently went towards a more plant based, vegan diet and whilst this isn’t the same as paleo, the effects have been similar. Not only did I begin losing weight, the amount we spent on groceries took a noticeable drop. Meat and dairy is damned expensive here in Canada and fruit and vegetables are fairly reasonable (especially if you shop seasonally). We spend about $400 a month on groceries for two people following a predominantly plant based diet. It’s a great way to get healthier and reduce your costs!

    I won’t lie, I don’t think I could ever go full vegan though. Part-time veganism all the way.

    1. Awesome! I’m glad it worked for you!

      I would never be able to become a vegetarian (too easy for me to become anemic), plus I just wouldn’t be able to stick to it, but I’m glad it’s working for you.

  9. I have a recent injury that won’t let me do weight lifting until I have surgery (bummer). But there may be some things I can do gingerly, like standing squats, that could suffice.

    Maybe we’ll give it a shot! So many of our go-to dishes are carb heavy (spicy noodles, curry, pasta). But with a little modification, we could go with veggie noodles and cauliflower rice…

    Going to try those bacon sprouts, for sure.

    1. Yikes, sorry to hear about the injury, DbF! Hope the surgery fixes everything.

      I think if you try the food part and just some simple exercise, it could already make a big difference. Bacon sprouts all the way, baby!

  10. This is fantastic! It’s mostly how we eat anyway. And I love cooking. So we’re good. Glad to see it’s working out for you!

    The beer is the hard one…. hmmmm

    1. Yes, beer is definitely the hard one to cut…um…make up for it by lifting heavier things? Order of operations is very important here though, I cannot emphasize that enough ;P

  11. your cooking style is the same as my spouse’s, he liked to make casseroles all the time because he can just thrown a bunch of things in a casserole dish and put it in the oven. Unfortunately he likes using a lot of pasta but I have gotten him more into cabbage role casserole now so he will often make that if we have the ingredients, no pasta but it has some white rice in it.

    His diet has improved a lot over the years though. When we first got together he’d heap margarine unto everything because he’s one of those lucky people who is skinny and can’t gain weight no matter what he eats. He also wouldn’t eat cauliflower or cabbage when we first met but now he loves them both if they are cooked the way he likes them.

    1. “he’s one of those lucky people who is skinny and can’t gain weight no matter what he eats”

      Ehe. That’s exactly what Wanderer’s like. *shakes fist*

  12. I’ve been exhausted after having miracle baby. For the last week I have done an anti-inflammatory diet by Julie Daniluk-a fellow Canadian, similar to pale so no sugar flour etc. and have lost 2 inches off mid-section in a week woohoo! Getting sexy back 😊😉

  13. You look fab in both photos and I’m so glad you’ve find something that works well for you on so many levels! I definitely found it easier to save on my grocery budget because I’m vegan (for ethical reasons) and got into “batch cooking” about a year and a half ago, which means I plan ahead and stick to my shopping list. This past week I batch-cooked 11 meals for $17 in 2 hours! Now if only I could tackle my wine budget… 😉

  14. Great to hear you guys are on Paleo! My wife and I are on the Paleo for almost an year and having great benefit from it.
    I have a quick question, how could you manage to be on Paleo since you guys traveling around?
    I always wonder how to be on it especially when you are in Asia. Feels like tasty rice and noodle would make almost impossible.

    1. Actually I find it easier in Asia to get more protein and fresh veggies than I do anywhere else. Plus, everything is organic by default (most of the meat and veggies are sourced right from the cook’s backyard). There is some cheating going on with the rice, noodles, and sugary sauces, but I’ve found that because of all the organic food and the extra protein and veggies, the little bit of extra carbs don’t really affect my weight or health. Whenever I stay in Asia for long periods of time, I just automatically lose weight without trying.

  15. Awesome! I’ve been eating similar to Paelo, it’s called Low Carb High Fat. Basically the same as Paelo, but allowed dairy and less fruit (it’s nature’s candy after all).

    One thing you should consider is the Instant Pot! It’s an electric pressure cooker. Life saving – saves sooooo much time you feel like you’re cheating somehow.

    1. Pressure cookers scare me 😛 But yes, I can see how it would save you lots of time and make some really good stews. Thanks for the recommendation!

  16. I’m game for more recipes with snarky commentary, yours are more fun than The Daily Apple’s. 🙂

    I’ll be making the MWB&BS tonight!

    1. Only a Chautauquan would get my insane recipe ramblings. This is why I love you guys!

      Enjoy the Bacon Sprouts! DonebyForty made me realize that’s a much better, snappier name 😀

      1. Bwahaha!

        So I tried out a snarky recipe … formatting is going to be terrible in the comments, but still. This is one of my go-to slow cooker treats.

        Crock Pot Southwestern Turkey Chili

        3 pounds lean ground turkey
        1 large onion, chopped
        (OR Onion Powder if you’re a lazy bum like me)
        4 garlic cloves, minced (a garlic press is a MAJOR timesaver here)
        2 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
        1 (15-oz.) can tomato sauce
        4-6 tablespoons chili powder
        3-4 teaspoons ground cumin
        ~ 1 teaspoon pepper
        ~ 1/2 teaspoon salt

        Optional add-ins:
        1 (15-oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained (Do you like black beans in your chili? I do, and I can’t stand other kinds of beans. I’m just like that.)
        1 can chilis in adobo sauce (This adds plenty of spicy zing, sensitive mouths will cry though!)
        4-6 Slices of Bacon (or Turkey Bacon), sliced into bite-sized pieces
        3 cups frozen corn kernels (add some color to this sucker!)

        The following options add more prep time (I find dicing up peppers & chilis takes forever) but are great if you plan to serve this to people other than your partner-in-crime/significant other/person who has to eat what you cook or starve:
        4 oz diced green chilis (more colors please!)
        1 red bell pepper, chopped (oh hai, more color)
        1 green bell pepper, chopped (guess what this is for …)

        Directions
        Cook turkey, garlic (plus bacon if you’re being awesome and added it), and onion in skillet over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until turkey is brown. Drain the oily fat away if you’re aiming for more protein, otherwise dump the whole thing into the slow cooker.

        By the way, did you notice I indicated THREE pounds of turkey? Unless you have one HECK of a big skillet, you’ll probably need to do this in 2 cooking runs. I buy the 4-packs of ground turkey at Costco and cook them 2 at a time, hence the size of this recipe.

        Mix turkey and remaining ingredients in slow cooker, cover and cook on Low heat setting 6 to 8 hours.

        Optional: uncover slow cooker for last 30 minutes of cooking to thicken (I like my chili able to stand a spoon up in it.)

        Optional Toppings: shredded Colby and Monterey Jack cheese blend, Avocado, Sour Cream (Basically, these add more colors/southwestern flare which is perfect if this is being served to guests. It’s probably more trouble than it’s worth if you are just cooking for you or you plus one. Unless you REALLY like them.)

    1. And then proceed to have him watch me clean….

      …”Power Clean” that is!

      SHAZAM!

      (btw: Power Clean is a weight-lifting term, this isn’t just me cleaning really hard here :P)

  17. Cutting back on sweets is a really tough one for me. All my meals are well balanced but it’s the in between! I have been doing ok for the last three weeks but not sure how long I will last! I miss the sugar. Any tips? BTW, you do look great on both pics.

    1. Thanks! I tend to eat fruit whenever I get a sugar craving. And every now and I then I’ll have a cheat day. No one can be perfect 100% of the time. I also found that, once you stop drinking lots of sugary drinks, it’s gets easier to wean yourself off of sugar over time.

      1. desperation mode setting in? So much time finances can exhaust .

        Don’t know how you folks do it . Moving aimlessly . No children . The need to share your experiences online , how little you spent .

        Fascinating

  18. My husband and I do not know any body else who retired extremely early, I mean personally know them. We were talking about health, diet, exercise and financial independence just today, and we were wondering if the drive to achieve financial independence so young, is the same quality that has made us maintain a healthy weight, healthy diet (we are not vegan but mostly plant based diet works for us) and we exercise regularly(weights and fun stuff like biking rollerblading sports etc). Does discipline in one area of life, extend to others as well? At any rate, although it’s funny people reading a financial blog want to know what you eat, it is an important component to achieving happiness in life. Glad you found something that works for you.

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