Photograph by Steve Buissinne
My Weight Loss Story
Ignorance is Bliss?
When I was younger, I used to quote this phrase a lot to justify other people’s lives and my own life events. Some, I was responsible for, others, I was not.
An example is I was a heavy cigarette smoker for 16years, from age 19 to 35. That was not a very wise thing to do. Cigarette smoking is one of the many ways of delivering a highly toxic substance into my body, namely nicotine. Did I know what I was doing back then? Half knew; mostly, I was an ignorant little idiot man. I used the phrase a lot though when someone would tell me, “You know, you are killing yourself with smoking.” I would usually respond with a laugh, and say, “We only have one life, I will live it as I want and ignorance is bliss.”
Nicotine and Pesticides
Ignorance is indeed bliss. I mean, if you think about it, for 16 years, I was injecting a substance that is primarily an insecticide of the tobacco plant into my brain and bloodstream. Nicotine is a substance that the tobacco plant produces so it will kill and keep away insects that try to damage it.
Nicotine actually is widely commercialized and used as a pesticide and herbicide. So me being blissfully ignorant, I was putting a pesticide in my body! That is not good, right? It’s stupid, but, hey, ignorance is bliss.
Oh, I Love My Coffee!
Another thing I was doing while studying was drink a lot of coffee and a lot of caffeinated sodas. If you are doing that now, and if you are also a smoker, then this little booklet will help you get perspective and maybe help you wake up from your blissful sleep.
I would wake up in the morning and the first thing I would put in my mouth would be a cigarette, then I would prepare a big cup of coffee and sit on my porch, looking at the sea, and drink my coffee leisurely and smoke one cigarette after another! Ignorance is bliss, right?
Nutrition, What’s That?
Another aspect of my life I was extremely ignorant about nutrition. I was eating everything and anything into the extreme. I would usually eat only once a day. Nicotine made sure I wouldn’t feel the hunger feelings, feeding me intravenously by instructing my liver to release glycogen and fat into my bloodstream every time I was smoking a cigarette.
The only time I would eat was either late afternoon and that would be either a big sandwich filled with all different kinds of meat, cheese, and egg, or fast junk food, like MacDonald’s style restaurants.
Burgers, fried French fries, and a big glass of Coca-Cola.
If it was not late afternoon, it was always midnight, or sometimes after midnight, the beginning of the next day and it was always a big portion of pork meat on wooden sticks cooked on charcoal and a lot of bread drowned in lemon juice and olive oil. “Yummy!” It is good to be ignorant, right?
Flirting with Obesity
When I was 35 years old, I was overweight and flirting with obesity. I had a lot of medical problems, mostly concerning my digestive system (heartburn, stomach and duodenum ulcer, constipation), and hemorrhoids and bad acne on my chest mostly. If you want to learn more about that, you can check out my first book, Thirsty for Health. I was still a smoker but I was only smoking 2 packs a day, or about 40 cigs! I used to smoke more! I couldn’t run or walk briskly because I couldn’t breathe, and I was in a state of chronic depression.
I was eating a little bit better because I was eating my mother’s cooking but I still ate junk processed food and drank a lot of sodas. Not caffeinated though, because I stopped drinking caffeine after the doctor told me not to after being diagnosed with a stomach ulcer.
Does the picture I drew for you look familiar, give or take a few years? Do you think the condition I was in is something normal or something abnormal? Do you think the status of my life when I was 35 is part of something that we call growing up? I was growing older so that’s why I was in that situation? Do you believe that? Well, if you do, then you are wrong like I was.
Wake Up Call
That’s what made me wake up. I was 35 years old and in my mind, I was a healthy man, I was just getting older. The fact that I had all those illnesses were part of my bad luck as far as my DNA is concerned. I was doing okay. Ignorance is bliss, right?
As I describe in one of my latest books, My Weight Loss Journey: How I lost 44 pounds and never gained them back using a plant based diet., an incident made me realize that ignorance is not bliss, that ignorant is a stupid thing to practice and it’s deadly.
The reason you downloaded this book, well, except that it was free (wink), is because you are genuinely interested in losing weight and the most important part of all, not gaining it back.
How I am Today
Well, you read how I was. Now, I am 42 and I am 44 pounds lighter, I haven’t lit a cigarette for the last 7years, and I don’t intend to. My stomach is as good as new, as the doctor told me after doing my latest gastroscopy. No hemorrhoids, no bleeding from my butt anymore, no heartburn, and no nasty acne on my chest. I can smell and taste again after being a prisoner of nicotine for 16 years and the most importantly, my cholesterol levels are way down and my heart is, knock on wood, in better shape than when I was 32! My heart rate now fluctuates between 50 and 60 beats per minute!
Where I couldn’t walk ten meters without stopping because I couldn’t breathe, now I have completed one 50k race, 3 marathons, more than 20-something half-marathons, and more 10k and 5k races than I can remember.
I am fit as a fiddle and even though my biological age is 42, I feel 22, and I am not exaggerating.
Do you know how I managed to transform myself from the sickly, depressed person with low self-esteem and low self-confidence into a winner? It’s not easy, but it is not hard either. Hard and easy are not in my vocabulary anymore. I replaced them with, “do your homework, read your info and apply them, get results, see what worked or didn’t worked and reapply the same formula until you figure out how to do it so it works for you”.
Or you do nothing. You still sit on your comfortable couch, with a beer in one hand, remote in the other, watching other people living your life like I describe in my book, How to train and finish your first 5k race.
I will tell you what you need to do to transform yourself from a wishing lazy couch potato into an energetic achiever. It is to understand that ignorance is not bliss, but instead, that knowledge is power.
The World around You
You need to understand that everything you see around you, the skyscrapers, the different type of car models, the bridges, and all the items, they are making your life more comfortable. They all were ideas in people’s heads at some point and with good time management, solid goal building, and an amazing application of knowledge, they became a reality.
If you want to lose weight, if you want to physically change your body, you need to change the way you think, you need to reevaluate how the world is operating, you need to educate yourself about nutrition and exercise, you need to start reading and acquiring knowledge and start experimenting.
Stay Away from Diets
All these diets that various institutions and people offer where they say“ easily lose X pounds” or “easily lose Y amount of kilos” are diets and will only work during the time you apply them. Once off them, you will go back to your previous weight, resulting in you being miserable and sad again.
To lose the weight, you need to adopt a lifestyle, not a diet. You need to adopt a nutrition lifestyle and an exercise regime that is doable and that you know you can keep for the rest of your life.
A Deadly Addiction, Not a Meaningless Habit
When I was a heavy smoker swimming in my blissful ignorance, I didn’t know that I had an addiction. I thought it was a bad habit that I could easily break free whenever I could.
It was after several failed attempts that I realized that smoking was not just a habit but something even stronger and much harder to get rid of.
For 16 years I was killing myself, flushing my money down the drain and wasting my time.
Most smokers do not last long enough to get lung cancer or esophagus cancer, just two of the most known and famous cancers that are a direct result of smoking.
Nope, most smokers die from the poisonous effects of nicotine. Nicotine constricts our arteries, making the heart work harder to pump blood to all our organs. Also, smoking clots the blood, increasing the possibilities of heart attack.
A very specific condition that only happens to smokers is Buerger’s Disease, where, because of smoking, there is a complete cutoff of circulation to the fingers and toes, resulting in gangrene and amputation!
So by being ignorant, I was putting my life in danger, either by inviting the possibility of various cancers, heart attack, stroke, and amputation of my extremities into my life!
Stay Away from Stimulants like Caffeine
Drinking coffee and, even worse than coffee, caffeinated drinks, I was again creating an addiction that my body did not really need.
Caffeine is a stimulant of the central nervous system. I can tell you now that you don’t need caffeine to stimulate your nervous system to wake up and to go through your day. There are more natural and healthier ways of doing that, like exercising, which is the best stimulant of all your systems ever!
Coffee drinking is like shopping with a credit card. You use money that you don’t have now and pay for them later.
By drinking coffee, you are bullying your adrenal glands to produce hormones that will give you a short energy boost but at the same time ,adds more stress on your body.
By doing that, your body is always stressed because you don’t stop with one cup of coffee, do you? By creating this situation, your body is more prone to inflammation, cortisol levels are going up, making you even more anxious and stressed, and insulin spikes are all over the place.
Inflammation, high cortisol levels, and insulin spikes are not things you want to have.
By drinking coffee, I was messing with my nervous system and interfering with my body’s natural hormonal balance.
Sodas and Soft Drinks area Big NO!
Caffeinated sodas, while containing caffeine and stimulating the nervous system, are also packed with refined sugar, which is the most unnatural product man ever invented.
It is empty calories and has no nutritional value. Once digested, it will give you a short boost of energy but then it will stop and it will transform into fat.
White sugar and sugary products like sodas are one of the main reasons people are so overweight in this time we live in now. I know, I used to live on Coca-Cola.
Let me give you an excerpt from my first book, Thirsty for Health, about sodas and caffeine:
“Soda is very acidic; it’s only one point higher on the pH scale than battery acid! Thus, it is terrible for people who suffer from acid reflux.
With each can of soda, you get about 150 calories, which are empty calories because you don’t feel any fuller and they are not nutritious. Caffeinated soda, which was my soda of choice, has between 30 to 55 mg of caffeine, and is also loaded with sulphites, artificial coloring, and dangerous high fructose corn syrup.
Do you know how many teaspoons of sugar a can of soda has? On average, a can of soda contains ten teaspoons of the “white devil”. Every time you drink a can of soda, you are putting ten teaspoons of refined white sugar into your body. The phosphoric acid is added to soft drinks to give them a sharper flavor. Phosphoric acid can interfere with the body’s ability to use calcium; chronic consumption of sodas may lead to osteoporosis.
When I was in high school, I would easily drink at least three cans of soda a day! That’s like consuming about 30 teaspoons of sugar—and that doesn’t include any of the junk food I ate during the day.
I distinctly remember that I couldn’t wait for the bell to ring to signal the start of the lunch break so I could run to the school’s cafeteria and buy a soda to have with my sandwich. When I would swallow the first sip of a can of soda, a feeling of satisfaction would take over my whole body, from my head to my toes.
The carbonation in soda causes calcium loss in the bones through a three-stage process:
- The carbonation irritates the stomach.
- The stomach “cures” the irritation by adding the only antacid at its disposal:
calcium, which gets it from the blood.
- The blood, now low on calcium, replenishes its supply from the bones. If it did not do this, muscular and brain function would be severely impaired.
Twenty minutes after you drink a can of soda, your blood sugar level spikes and your liver turns large amounts of sugar into fat in response to the burst of insulin. The extra sugar that is in the blood that cannot be used by the body gets turned into fat and stored. The same thing happens whenever you eat processed carbohydrates (such as bread made from white flour) that are not in their natural form: the body turns them into fat more easily than natural carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables.
Within forty minutes, your body has absorbed the caffeine in the soda, which causes your pupils to dilate, and your blood pressure to rise.
Forty-five minutes after consuming caffeine, your body increases dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure center of your brain.
After sixty minutes, you will start to have a sugar crash. Sugar increases insulin levels, which can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, weight gain, premature aging, and many more negative side effects.
You still think being ignorant is bliss? I don’t think so.
Nutrition is Alpha and Omega
A third aspect of my life that I was blissfully ignorant about for a while was nutrition and that it is reflected in my caffeine consumption. I am talking about the consumption of animal products.
When I was younger, meat was sometimes a daily item in my food, especially when I was a student in Greece. I don’t think there was a time that I wasn’t eating meat every day!
What is meat anyway? Have you ever thought about it? Well, me, I was struck by the next revelation about 3 years ago, when I decided that I would no longer eat anything that has a mother, a face, and nervous system.
The revelation was this: Meat is dead animals. Why on earth would I want to put something that has been dead for I don’t know how many days? Meat is basically another animal’s corpse.
That’s when I realized that I was a carnivore! How can I eat the flesh of another animal and expect to be healthy?
Well, people will say, “You need your protein.”Well, that’s what I thought, too, but it turns out, we don’t need much protein and a whole plant-based diet offers more than enough of the amino acids that our body cannot manufacture on its own.
Meat used to be a beautiful animal. An animal that only wanted to live, grow up, reproduce, and then naturally die from old age. All living things on this planet want that. Now how much they realize that and at which conscious level they are as we humans see it does not play any role. All living things on this planet want to live.
An animal was killed and had its skin and organs removed so we can have meat!
Meat is not that nutritious. It contains high doses of cholesterol and saturated fat, both of which will clog and close your arteries, making you prone to heart conditions and strokes.
Meat consumption increases your chances of erectile dysfunction, and type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, to name a few. The list is endless. Let me say this: All the so-called chronic diseases in USA and in the rest of the so-called western way of living are a direct result of meat consumption. If you see other countries where their food is mostly plant based, like India, China, and a lot of the African countries, they don’t have these illnesses. They are nonexistent. It’s the animals we eat. People, do your research. Don’t believe me, just search for yourselves.
I read a lot about meat consumption and animal consumption. I am going to give you a list of doctors and dieticians who really helped me see the error of eating meat and processed and refined products.
The list is from my latest book, My Weight Loss Journey: How I lost 44 pounds and never gained them back using a plant based diet.:
These are the doctors and dietitians I follow, and read their books, watched their lectures on YouTube or read their articles there are dozens more out there which can help you like these people help me.
I described and gave all the information above to give you a real life example from my life of what you need to take under consideration if you truly want to lose the pounds and never gain them back.
Being overweight and obese like I was for a large part of my life and using diets that only offered me yo-yoing pounds up and down over 20 years was not something I could accept anymore and it was starting to take its toll on my health.
I am telling you, if you want to change your body, you need to change your way of thinking. You need to reset your mindset and enrich yourself with knowledge, with information that will steer you towards your weight loss goal.
Why do you expect to lose the pounds that took you years of faulty eating and erroneous exercise regimes in only a few weeks? Why? I’ll tell you why. Because people on this planet, in one way or another, are indoctrinated to believe in miracles.
Wake up! There are no miracles. No one is going to quit smoking for you, you are. No one is going to go run your 3 miles for you, you are. No one is going to lose the pounds off you, you must do it.
There is no miracles, there is only you motivating yourself to start a nutrition and exercise lifestyle, not a diet, and find what is best and suited for you through experimentation.
For me, it was a whole plant-based diet. A friend of mine, and one of my reviewers of my book, My Weight Loss Journey, said it was the paleo diet for her, I disagree with her but who am I to tell her otherwise? If it works for her, then amazing.
Do not stay idle and stuck in miracles and wishful thinking. Stop looking at diets and short-term solutions. Think lifestyle changes and long-term solutions.
You will lose the weight gradually and slowly, and it might take years, because it took years to accumulate. Any other weight loss program that promises weight loss fast and easy, for me, is a scam and is dangerous for your health, and my advice is to stay away of it.