How I Lost Weight by Accident

I noticed sometime in early 2008 that I was starting to get a little chunky around the sides. I would suck in my stomach in front of the mirror and it no longer showed the muscles underneath like it used to.

Problem: I was getting fatter.

Another Problem: I was always being lazy (although at the time I never dreamed it had anything to do with food).

I don’t remember a period since college where I didn’t regularly get lots of physical activity or regularly go to the gym….so this wasn’t the problem.

One day my mom gave me a 5 pound bag of Clementine’s no one at home was eating. I took them to Austin with me. They’re like mini oranges that you can easily peel. I LOVED THEM!

I liked them a lot, but would eat maybe one or two a day. I then read Steve Pavlina’s 30-day raw diet experiment where he would eat only raw foods like fruits and vegetables. I had no intention of emulating this, but I was amazed at the sheer quantity of fruit he would eat. Instead of two Clementine’s, he would eat 8 or 10. Instead of one banana a day, he would eat 10+.

For some reason I just didn’t think of eating that many….sounds stupid, but true. I’ve never seen anyone eat THAT much fruit before.

So taking a cue from that I decided to up my fruit intake because I’ve always loved fruits. I ate pretty much the same junk I used to, but now with a whole lot more fruit. Slowly and slowly I started eating more and more, to the point where lunch was pretty much just grapes, apples, avocados, oranges etc.

Now of course I still craved heavier foods from time to time and would allow myself to pig out McDonald’s (I still love McDonald’s), but for the most part I was eating a lot less of everything else, and a lot more fruits.

During this time I started gaining an affinity for fruits and stopped craving junk food as much. Through the day I would snack on fruit and it felt great. The cool thing about eating that way is you don’t have to really watch what you eat. Pig out an all the fruit you want.

For dinner I decided that I wasn’t eating terribly unhealthy anymore, but my portions were out of control. To combat this I simply used a small plate, almost like a tea saucer to eat dinner on. I would try stacking my food sky high, but that little plate wouldn’t hold much. I allowed myself to return for as many servings, but that tiny plate had to be used. I quickly found myself eating drastically less food yet being equally satisfied, simply because I didn’t have much on the plate. I also stopped getting that over-stuffed “food baby” feeling after dinner.

I was still eating a bunch of junk, so I decided to not buy anything in a box. Well, I would still eat pasta or rice every night, and I suppose pasta and sauce comes in a box/bottle, but that was the extent of it. I stopped buying cookies, chips, soups, snacks or anything like that….and the transition really wasn’t that hard.

I would still eat junk at a party or when it was available somewhere, but I wouldn’t keep it in the house. I would also go to the grocery with one of those small hand-carts you carry instead of a rolling shopping cart. I physically wouldn’t have space to put a bottle of Coke or any other non-essential item.

(I admit….I have a weak spot for Ramen Noodles every once in a while).

Some very in-shape friends also told me that roughly once a week to PIG OUT on all the bad food I could get my hands on…..and pig out I did! I would hit up the McDonald’s value menu with a vengeance! Be careful though, when you eat all that junk food, you tend to crave even more junk food the next few days. It’s oddly addicting.

There were two VERY noticeable side effects to my new eating habits:

  1. I saved a lot of money on groceries.
  2. I felt WAY better (More on this later).

I never realized how cheap most produce is. You fill a basket with everything from the produce section and you’re looking at a pretty cheap grocery bill. It was an unexpected benefit.

The really crazy benefit was the way I felt after a few days of eating like this. Previously I would wake up, go to the office (two steps away from my bedroom) and sluggishly start working. Prior to that I’d usually hit the snooze button 10 times. I was sort of productive, but I always had “Fog Brain.” Fog Brain is not really a tired or lazy sensation, it’s just a not-as-clear-as-I-could-be sensation (which results in being somewhat lethargic).

Now I finally understand what a lot of people talk about when they start eating better and getting “better mental clarity.” It sounds like some hippy peace/love crap, but it works. I was more aware, willing to work longer and had better clarity….I also slept better, but more noticeable was I woke up in the morning with greater ease. I’m not saying everyday I’d hop out of bed with enthusiasm, but waking up was MUCH easier….working out was MUCH easier…and working through problems and issues seemed MUCH easier.

I sincerely wish I had discovered this in college.

I literally cannot explain how much clearer everything seemed when I ate well for extended periods of time. The benefit was immense.

So those benefits were great, but the changes physically were the most fun. I had always worked out, so I would get larger muscles, but my body fat pretty much remained constant due to my horrendous eating habits and love of fast food. Now my body fat was shrinking, and while my muscles remained relatively constant, I could see them better. Especially around the waist and chest.

A few times a month I took a shirtless picture of myself in a flexed and un-flexed pose (These pics are from Feb. 2008 till July 2008) in order to gauge my progress.

Here are the UN-FLEXED pics. Me just standing in a relaxed pose in front of the camera (Click image for full size):

Here are the FLEXED pics. Tensing the body to show muscles better. The difference from the 1st picture to the last picture is relatively dramatic (Click image for full size):

Here are both the images above put next to each other (Click image for full size):

None of the pics have been Photoshopped (except cropping). Some things learned from taking these pics:

  • Flexing vs. not-flexing looks incredibly different.
  • It REALLLLLY depends on how much you just ate. Waking up in the morning I would look great, but after a big meal I’d look much fatter in the picture.
  • The camera is deceiving.

During this time I didn’t take any vitamins, supplements, protein shakes or any type of physical fitness product. I simply ate less “bad stuff” through moderation and a lot more “good” food.


Eating habits:

  • Used a hand-carry basket instead of rolling cart at the grocery.
  • Didn’t buy anything that comes in a box or can (small exceptions for pasta and dinner ingredients).
  • Started using a small plate for everything. Took as many servings of food as I wanted, but on a tiny plate or bowl. This drastically helped cut down on over eating. If you go to a buffet, use a small salad plate to take your food.
  • Once a week pigged out on whatever I wanted. This quickly showed me how lethargic bad food makes you feel in comparison with the good food.
  • Started eating a lot more fruits and vegetables.

Exercise Habits:

  • Instead of driving to gym, biked to gym.
  • Joined a rock climbing gym and ditched the boring regular weight-lifting gym.
  • When still at boring gym, took spinning classes regularly.

Originally I liked the benefit of losing body fat and looking ripped, but that superficial goal didn’t last long. Eventually I started to slip back into bad eating habits since the motivation to “be ripped” wasn’t strong enough.

The thing that got me back into eating properly is the obvious difference in my mental clarity, being unbelievably more productive than before and waking up with much greater ease. The changes to physicality are just a happy side benefit.

Unexpected benefits:
I’m quite sure NO ONE wants to hear this, but taking a poop is a much more pleasant experience when eating well (did I just say that)?? Everything comes out quicker and is a lot easier to clean up. I suppose less time spent in the bathroom can also be considered a productivity benefit :-)

I’ve never heard so much conflicting advice about a subject like working out and health. No matter what you do for exercise or diet there will always be some conflicting opinion, study, blah blah blah…

Whatever. Just eat well. Your body is much stronger than you might expect. If you eat 3 bananas in one day you won’t die of a sugar overdose, or if you don’t eat steak everyday you won’t start losing mass amounts of muscle. You’ll be fine.


  • Getting past that first “hump” of cravings for heavy foods.
  • Self control when you’re at a party with unlimited food.
  • The first few days can be a little rough….that’s why I slowly started eating better, the “transition” was nearly non-existent that way.

Sticking To It:
Since I originally took all those pictures and started this (roughly Feb. 2008) I’ve slipped in and out of good/bad eating habits a few times. Generally holidays and vacations help you eat a bunch of crap, and it’s a little difficult to slip back into the good habits again.

Fortunately you do this a couple of times, and the “bad” binges get shorter and shorter. The quality of work and productivity is so much higher when you’re eating clean, that it almost seems silly to eat bad stuff. But don’t worry, you’re supposed to shock your system once a week and eat horribly, so that makes it fun!

Happy eating!

Blog posted on: July 13, 2009

90 comments on “How I Lost Weight by Accident

  1. jason

    I have actually done something like this, except you never mentioned if you ate any bread? White, whole wheat, any kind of bread. I have to have some bread, but the results are pretty much the same as yours.

  2. Richard

    Hey Nev,

    I can't remember how I came across your blog but I really enjoy reading about your little experiments!

    I was just wondering if you could summarize what you would eat in one day before and after the experiment?

    I am thinking of doing something like this but I want to see the difference between your eating habits previously and mine now.

    Keep up the good work


  3. Austin Wedding Blog

    Definitely interesting. Congrats on motivating me to try this out. My fiance will probably thank you for this later :)

  4. Anonymous

    Very interesting, especially thte part about eating tons of fruit and your mental clarity.Makes me want to try this since i like fruit too but have gotten away from eating a lot over the past few years.

    1. Debbie

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  5. Oke

    Good post and experiment. Just doing the little things help. I did something similar with coffee. I simply stopped drinking it during the work week and only drink it here and there on the weekend. I craved it so much, but slowly realized that I had more energy and more alert.

    That is the benefit of eating and drinking well – the increase amount of energy!

  6. Anonymous


    Awesome experiment. The mental clarity must have been a nice surprise. Can you gain weight if you eat enough fruit? Or does the fiber make you poop too much?

    PS- Ever had a "no-wiper?"

  7. Neville

    I don't know much about nutrition, so if it "felt" healthy I would eat it. I used to make sandwiches for lunch everyday with wheat bread, avocado, tomato and turkey. I eventually stopped because eat just plain fruits and veggies for lunch became more appetizing (and easier to make).

    BEFORE I started eating well I subsisted on fast food, Ramen Noodles, Spaghettio's, frozen pizzas and basically any other junk-ish foods.

    I drink coffee from time to time if I go to Starbucks with friends, but I don't drink it daily at home. I drink loose leaf tea on a semi-regular basis though (I got hooked when I went to China).

    Gaining weight with fruit? Possible? Maybe, but I doubt it if you eat like a normal human being. Keep in mind you lose weight when you go into a calorie deficiency for a few weeks or months. I can eat all the fruits I want in a day and not approach what I expend, yet still feel satisfied.

    And yes, I've had a "no wiper" before :-) They're more common when I eat well. Everything on it's way out is very quick and clean.

  8. Paul

    I'm not sure why, but reading that just gave me major motivation. I just went to the grocery store and loaded up on tons of fruits that I've never even eaten before.

    I'm doing all fruit, but mostly fruit and vegetables. I also got some whole grains that can go with my meals, and my protein will be cheese, chicken, and salmon (on sale, woot!)

    I always love reading your blog, Nev, always interesting, and always inspiring!

  9. infonetguide

    I was stupid that I was try to eat as less as possible,because I think that can help me loss weight.

  10. Khyron

    With the exception of

    [1] workout intensity,
    [2] increased protein intake and
    [3] decreased carb intake,

    (all done intentionally, of course), this is very similar to the diet laid out by Mark McManus in his Targeted Hypertrophy Training (THT) and Total Anabolism programs.

    See where he lays it out.

    Nev's program is not bad for the amateur, although Mark is targeting bodybuilders with his programs. Still, worth some comparison for the curious. Mark's program has less emphasis on the fruit, since as I mentioned, he's targeting muscle growth (hypertrophy) but Nev's diet is an subset of Mark's diet. Just a few modifications and you'd get to the same place.

    Just an observation from a guy who considers himself a fitness and finance geek. Today is my "carb up" day using Mark's ab program, and I always notice the post-carb crash before I hit the gym (and thus burn off the sugar appropriately). On my low carb days, it takes a while to get into fat burning mode but for me, it happens rather quickly and once I do, the difference is palpable. That "brain fog" is very real, and being low carb clears that right up.


  11. Rebecca


    I came across your blog today, and it immediately grabbed my attention. I am currently on weight watchers. I just started the program, and am learning a lot about the points system and different foods- the good and the bad.

    It's amazing how much fruits and vegetables will fill you up. I have been surprised about how much better I feel after I eat a meal too. WW teaches you about portion control and calorie intake. It's pretty fascinating.

    Keep up the great work- you look great!

    if you guys get a chance, check out our credit union blog- it's got a lot of tips on saving money (on groceries, products, etc) I would appreciate any comments or feedback on the posts!

  12. The Gooroo @ Finance Advisory Stop

    I'm not overweight, or even close to it, but this is still really interesting to me. It makes me think why more people don't care (like you do). Obesity is not good at all. I wish more people would use the carrying carts at the grocery store, rather than using the pushing cart. Little things make a big difference.

  13. Dealspecialist

    Sounds like an interesting concept, pigging out on healthy food that doesn't necessarily taste bad (fruit). I try to keep myself eating healthy just by not keeping any junk food around.

  14. learn forex

    By reading the title, I though it was purely by "accident". In fact you have put in lots of effort to get it work.
    Good work out!

  15. Aman@BullsBattleBears

    Great progress Nev! Hopefully people will see that note that long lasting results can start off with small, simple steps. Its amazing how many people spend countless dollars on gimmicks when instead a natural solution is not only going to promise results, but at the same time improve overall health without breaking the bank. Keep up the work buddy!

  16. Donald Keith Wheeler

    I am a devoted Weight Watchers fan. I lost 52 pounds and was able to keep if off for nearly two years. Keep up the great work! Donald Keith Wheeler

  17. Autumn

    I second you on the poop thing!!! I just finished 3 months of calorie restriction which involved more fruits & veggies & smaller portions of regular stuff. Made a HUGE difference on my stomach problems! Mental clarity – i wish it had… maybe even more fruits/veggies are in my future..

  18. Neville

    Glad to help inspire you. Sometimes we need a whack over the head for these obvious things!

    Yep, I actually took all these pictures well before the Homeless Experiment. In fact I probably GAINED weight from the Homeless Experiment since I had so much food to eat!

    It's just kind of common sense. You're putting stuff in your body to run on….if you don't put high quality gasoline in your car what happens? Exactly.

    Well fast food is convenient, fast, cheap and very good (I know I LOVE fast food)! Then most of what we eat is all heavily processed to last longer on shelves. There's nothing inherently wrong with these things, but we tend to eat them too much and too often.

    Glad you learned something, that's my point of posting it :-)

    I still eat meat. I usually eat pasta or some variation of Indian food for dinner and sometimes for lunch too. Both have meat in them. I haven't really cut any particular item OUT of this, just cut down. I still pig out on everything several times a week too!

    It really is these silly small steps that I did. It's also consistency and doing this for several months. It's easy to do for 3 days and quit. I've tried drastic changes in eating before, and it doesn't work in the long run (usually).

    Awesome job, and thank you!

    Hahaha, I definitely had some of my friends comment about that particular statement! I really notice quick bathroom breaks and less rumbly in the tumbly when I eat well for a while.

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  24. Zach

    I’ve also heard that when dieting, you should take one day a week to eat whatever you want. Not only does it help mentally to keep you eating right through the rest of the week, but it also keeps your metabolism up. If you only eat smaller amounts, your body compensates and your metabolism slows. Then when you go of your diet (as we all do), your metabolism is still slow, so more of it stays fat instead of getting processed. By having one heavy day of eating, it keeps your metabolism high and burns your smaller amounts faster along with fat you’ve stored in your body. :)

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  26. Greta Jourdane

    Hi Neville I love your blogs, this is really an incentive, the clementine’s are really yummy I pig out on them when they’re in season the best. I also like the pics you take of what your eating, and the pics of yourself are… quite wow!!! too lovely. I would like to promote this on my blog is it okay Neville? as its always women who are on about the weight thing, its good coming from a bloke for a change. Thanku so much for all you do to help others. :-) Greta J

  27. Valerie

    Wish I still lived in California where produce is cheap and plentiful. We get crap that’s been on a truck for a week here in Virginia. Ug.

    You’re young. You *should* be able to lose weight easily. Wait until you hit your 40s, dude.

    I never would have believed it if it hadn’t happened to me.

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  30. Tony

    I agree with 99.99% of your recommendations. The one exception is a caution on the quantity of fruit consumption for people who have metabolic syndrome or pre-diabetes (type 2). The fructose in fruit stimulates hunger (causing you to want to eat more of it) and is processed by the liver directly into stored fat. Not a problem in moderation or if you don’t have a glucose intolerance condition.

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  32. Viviana

    Hi there I have read your weight lose and I have a question and I hope you can help me. If I eat lots of fruit on everyday basic as I wanna go on a diet. Will it help me lose the weight and retain my muscles. In my family everyone just slender and slim. Except for me thou ., I tried everything but I would lose 5 kg in a week put it won’t go down any future. I am very sad becoz my sisters can wear size S& M. Please help me,

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  35. omarcccp

    i was wondering if this is true because the same is happening to me, i usually finished all pizzas at home yesterday ive only ate 2 slices XD

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  39. Rachel

    Well done, I really enjoyed reading this.I can definitely relate, I stumbled onto this healthy eating lifestyle by taking a health education class in college recently. I kept a food journal in which I added lots of fruits and veggies to my diet and felt happy and satisfied all the time. I also noticed the poop thing and love it! :-)…The world would be a happier place if a healthy lifestyle was practiced.

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  41. kaila

    its to expensive to eat healthy, you saved money because you were overspending anyway, probably on a lot of packaged microwavable meals and eatinng out.
    when i buy basics (the kind of things you would eat in poor parts of the middle east for example)

    a carb and a protein i almost always skip vegetables and fruits, because the most expensive part of the food budget is meats and fruits/veges.

    carbs like rice, spaghetti are filling but cheap, so you buy those in bulk and then meat for protein or beans and other lentils + cheaper alternatives to meat like sardines and tuna if you are really broke, not vegetables.

    by the way my budget is about $200 a month for this and i live in san francisco, when i started eating fruits and vegetables as part of my staple and replaced those foods my cost almost doubled, $300-350/month.

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  45. zane

    ive eaten mcdonalds everyday for the maybe the past 3 months except the past 2 weeks i have had none of it and eat mostly bananas, apples, protein shakes, occasional cheeseburger, and gluten free stir fry. All i can say is i have absolutely no craving for bad food at all after eating healthy for 2 weeks except for snacking on things like cheezits. Anyways i went from pooping once or twice a day to 4+ times a day and i feel way better and way healthier. definitely recommend this way of eating.


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  47. Alex

    Good idea using a smaller plate. I’ve always been accustomed to a large plate because they are more versatile. And I’m messy, sometimes. I guess more food will find its way onto a bigger plate, though.
    For a number of years I’ve been a fan of bananas. They’re always a good start to the day. But I must admit I don’t eat enough other fruit. I should try one of your lunches, I’m sure it feels great for the rest of the day. Nom Noms.

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  50. Alec Barron

    Hey Neville,

    I had a similar experience with improved mental clarity when I ate healthier. It’s crazy how my brain fog plummeted when I switched to a modified Paleo diet.

    Another thing that has greatly increased my mental clarity is drastically reducing coffee intake. Recent science has shown that after just 2 weeks of habitual coffee usage, you build up a tolerance to a point where you get none of the initial mental benefits.

    Have you experimented with varying coffee intake?

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