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Slow, Smart Meals: A Trick For Getting Fit, Trim, and Resilient Again

How can you improve your personal resilience?  How can you improve how well you respond to the challenges of life?

One step in the right direction is to get trim and fit again.  Here’s how I did it.


One of the Tricks I used to lose 40+ pounds and Keep it Off

I’ve been heavier than I’d like for years.  It’s even worse than that.  Every year I aged, I got heavier, no matter what I tried to do to reverse it.

So, it became clear to me that I need to rethink my approach to eating and exercising.

I did and it worked.

Here’s the first thing I learned:  Our bodies are smart.


Our Bodies Aren’t Machines, They are Smart 

Here’s what I mean.  We’ve been taught that our bodies are machines.  With a machines, all you need to do to change how they work is to push and pull on the levers.

So, using this logic, if the body is a machine all you need to do to lose weight is to:

  • Less in.   Reduce the number of calories you eat.
  • More out.  Increase the amount of exercise you do.

While this may be correct on some level, it doesn’t work so well in practice.  Our bodies will fight us for every pound/kilo.  The reason is that our bodies aren’t machines.  They are smart systems.  They anticipate and adapt.

So, the best approach is to work with the way our bodies are designed.  What does this mean?

  1. Our bodies are built to protect us. To be smart and resilient enough to keep us alive during tough times and to anticipate our needs.
  2. Over the vast majority of human history (recorded and unrecorded), the biggest threat to human existence was starvation.   Our bodies are built to prevent that at all costs.
  3. When our bodies were designed we ate differently.  When we had a good crop or a hunt went well, we feasted (partly because food couldn’t be stored well without refrigeration/freezing).  When that food ran out, we fasted/ate little.    Our bodies were built to smooth out this cycle.


So, How do We Take Advantage of this Insight?

Let’s simplify this insight.  Our bodies were designed to respond to the extremes of:

  • FEAST and

Whenever we eat much MORE than our bodies need at the moment, our bodies think FEAST!  It’s time to store up, another feast might not show up again.

The opposite is also true.  Whenever we eat much LESS than we need, our bodies think FAMINE!  It’s time to squeeze every calorie out of the little food that is available and time cut down how much energy is expended.

You can see how badly the modern lifestyle fits into this.  We are constantly gravitating between carbohydrate rich FEASTS and missed meal FAMINES.

The key to short circuiting this?  Get our bodies to RELAX by giving it a steady supply of long-term energy.  How to do that?

My solution?

Slow, Smart Meals

What are slow meals?  Lean meats/proteins and vegetables (non-starchy and mineral rich). Meals that take a while to digest.

To pull this off, I stayed away from simple/hollow carbohydrates and sugars (pastries, candies, breads, etc.) that would digest quickly and trigger a FEAST response.  I also ate a steady diet of lean proteins and vegetables, without any caloric restriction to ensure I didn’t trigger a FAST response.

So, that’s one insight that helped me lose the weight.

There are quite a few more that I’ll share with you if you are still interested.

The Resilient Pay-off?  

Here’s a picture of me at Whale Lake Colorado (here’s where the photo was taken) on a hike last week.   For most of the year, this lake is under 7-10 feet of snow.  Fortunately, it’s deep enough to support a large number of fish.


The cool part?  Without carrying around that extra burden of an extra 40 pounds, I could hike all day — even up steep grades at high altitude (10,000 feet plus) — without getting overly tired.  It was great.

The upshot is that I can now work harder for longer both physically and mentally.  I’m also more upbeat/can-do than I’ve been in years, which is important to resilience and long-term success.


Your soon (this Sunday) to be 50! (wow, time flies) guide to resilience,




PS:  There are other variations of this insight out there.  The Atkins/Dukan/Paleo diets have spins on this insight.  I have stolen from them without remorse and simplified the approach for my own and your benefit.


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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Chris

    Your low G.I. diet is a good idea.

    You might be interested to know that the BBC Horizon strand, the flagship science series, just did an hour film about this topic, with the surprising amount of recent evidence about intermittent fasting being a useful strategy for slowing age and controlling weight. It may still be up on youtube. The guy’s strategy, after looking at variety of research projects in the US, was to fast 2 days a week (that means under 600 cal a day, a small breakfast and some veg/tiny bit of fish in the pm)

    Anyway, here’s the program maker’s twitter if you are curious. I was surprised how thought provoking the ideas were.

    • John Robb

      Thanks Chris. JR

      • John, That the “modern” processed diet shared by fast-moving impatient civilized people is highly detrimental to our health was abundantly shown by Weston Price DDS 75 yrs ago in Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Ill effects of changing from indigenous “slow” diets (regardless of culture) became evident within a year. How much worse this is now due to genetic engineering of our grains is impressed on us by Wheatbelly and beggars the imagination. So I’m very willing to believe you’re onto a huge source of modern malaise and chronic diseases. Won’t you share with us pertinent details of your approach? After all, the angel lies in the details. Gracias.

        • John Robb

          Thanks Bob. Will do. JR

  • adm

    Less globe, more gorilla [sic]

  • Federico Mena Quintero

    You have written about this before, but the exercise you get from doing resiliency-oriented projects really helps a lot. I do woodworking with hand tools and break a big sweat with every session of sawing, planing, mortising… Gardening is obviously strenuous when you dig with a shovel or when you move soil.

  • different clue

    All the other insights and methods you have developed for fat loss over time would
    be welcomed by us all (I suspect), at whatever rate and manner you care to release them, hopefully all of them eventually.

    • John Robb

      Thanks DC. Will do. (It’s very empowering to be in complete control of your weight). JR

    • Rob

      I second @different clue’s reply! I’d love to hear about what worked for you. BTW, what are your thoughts on Arthur DeVany? I became aware of him through Nasim Nicholas Taleb.

      • John Robb

        Rob, I like DeVaney too. JR

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