Lightening Up: How I Lost 25 Pounds in 6 Weeks

Me Then: at Wild Goose 2011, riding my all-time high of 284.

Me Then: at Wild Goose 2011, riding my all-time high of 284.

A year and some change ago, I’d had enough. I blogged about my sluggish health, and what I felt was a matter of life and death: I had high blood pressure, was chronically tired, and 80+ pounds overweight at a lifetime-high of 284 pounds. Since that post, I went in for a sleep study and was diagnosed with sleep apnea. I began using a CPAP machine at night; I’d experienced incremental gains in health, but was still in a weight plateau, sliding between 275 and 284.

A few months ago I started doing three things consistently; six weeks later, I weighed in at 259. I’ve kept these 25 pounds off for six weeks now, and am about to step up my game for the remaining 59 pounds I’d like to lose. But I’d like to freeze-frame this moment and share the three things I’ve done to get where I am. I have a feeling that many of you are exactly where I’ve been – feeling stuck and wanting to break out of a holding pattern. While your results may vary, here’s what I’ve done:

1.) High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). When it comes to exercising, I’ve been getting more results in less time using the proven, efficient, and increasingly-popular HIIT approach. I’ve been using my trusty ROM, doing 4-8 minutes each on upper-body and lower-body, for a 12-16 minute workout, 3-4 times per week. And while I always recommend the ROM, there are other ways to achieve HIIT bliss, too; a good overview of HIIT approaches (with video discussion) can be found here.

2.) Living Fuel ‘Fasting.’ Living Fuel is bar-none the best whole-food based meal replacement on the market today. No, that’s not hype – compare this label to anything you’ve ever seen or used. I’ll wait. 🙂 I use their SuperBerry Ultimate, SuperBerry Greens, and Living Protein. If I’m traveling, I’ll use it for breakfast only. If I’m home, I’ll use it twice a day, preferably for breakfast and dinner, with a nice lunch of some kind of protein, and veggies. When I’m feeling particularly plateaued, I’ll drink three shakes a day, having apples and Cocochia bars as sparing in-between meal snacks. (This is the Fuel Fast.)

These two components – exercise and nutrition – have been crucial, but I’ll be honest: I’ve done variations of these for a couple of years with only minimal results, mostly enforcing my body’s status quo. While doing these two are nonnegotiable, the addition of a third component has been necessary for catalyzing my body’s transformation.

3.) Lymphatic detoxification.

At the beginning of this year while visiting him in Myrtle Beach, my buddy (and relationship coach extraordinaire) Rick Williams introduced me to the work of Dr. Robert Morse after I vented my frustration at years of being stuck between eating well and exercising, but seeing no substantial bodily changes. Dr. Morse is a naturopath (with a Doctorate of Science in Biochemistry and a Doctorate of Naturopathy from the Brantridge Forest School in Sussex, England, as well as a Master Herbalist with degrees from many Institutes – full bio here) and raw foodist; he doesn’t mess around. But his clinic in Florida receives clients (both in-person and virtual) from around the world with chronic, supposedly-incurable diseases. This blogger sums up Dr. Morse’s approach aptly:

If given the opportunity, through fasting, cleansing, detoxing, and raw living foods, the human body can and will regenerate and rebuild at the cellular level. However, most people eat acidic meals 3 times a day every day and have never fasted or detoxed even once in their lives. This is equivalent to perpetually running a complex machine 24/7 for years and expecting it never to break down. But over time pipes get clogged, waste backs up, wear and tear take their toll, and the machine ultimately overheats and fails. Only then can repairmen come in, fix the pipes, remove the excess waste, and repair the damage done. It is exactly the same with the human body and our repairmen (self-regenerating cells/tissue) can only clean out and fix the machine when it’s turned off. Fasting gives your internal organs the break they need to repair the damage of overuse. What allopathic doctors refer to as “diseases,” Dr. Morse suggests could be more accurately termed “healing crises.” The allopathic model merely lumps together a bunch of symptoms, gives them a name based on what part of the body they affect, then offers you unnecessary pills, vaccinations, radiation and surgeries that ultimately do more harm than good.

Me Now: Getting ready for Wild Goose 2013, at a 'fighting weight' of 259 and feeling good!

Me Now: Just beforeWild Goose 2013, at a ‘fighting weight’ of 259 and feeling good!

De-toxing, like many expressions of ‘alternative’ health, has its critics – even among proponents of alternative faith expressions (ahem – Tony Jones), and I’ve certainly seen detox done in faddish, superficial, and quick-fix ways. However, I was intrigued by Dr. Morse’s approach and thought I’d give it the ‘ol Life Experiment try. (Sorry, Tony). I took this in-depth Health Questionnaire, and contacted Dr. Morse to see if he could customize his ready-made detox kits for me. He did, focusing on some of my unique brain issues. I received a variation of his Herbal Health Club’s Detox Kit – Weeks 1&2, 3&4, and 5&6, with G.I. Broom. (It’s a twelve-week program in all; I’m halfway through at this juncture.) It involves various tinctures with names like Lymphatic System I, Kidney & Bladder, Endocrine Glands, and Liver/Gallbladder, as well as capsules, that are taken on an empty stomach before meals.

The meals themselves start at a ‘moderate’ austerity level with veggies, fruits, and proteins, and move onto exclusively raw fruits and veggies if you can handle it. I have to confess, I have not yet dived into the ‘deep end’ when it comes to diet, doing mostly the Superfood smoothies and a meal a day, which usually contains a moderate amount of meat. My challenge for weeks 6-12 will be to stick more ‘to the letter’ of what Dr. Morse recommends – I have a feeling this will break me out of the “25 pound zone” of weight loss and into 50 and 80 pounds total lost. But for now I take it as good news that a gradualist approach, as I’ve espoused, has yielded substantial and sustained gains in such a short amount of time.

Almost instantly with the tinctures, I began to feel different. The cliche about fat “melting” away? That’s what I felt like, with frequent trips to the bathroom, even though there are no harsh diuretics in Dr. Morse’s products – it’s all about releasing the stored fat that exists to protect us from all of the harsh toxins we’ve ingested over the course of our lives.

In addition to 25 pounds of weight loss and my blood pressure coming well into ‘normal’ range, a frequent comment I’m getting lately is that I look younger. Not just thinner, but like I’m de-agining; my eyes are looking clearer. (Dr. Morse uses Iridology to assess the soft tissues of the body to help people achieve maximum health through detoxification and regeneration on a cellular level.) I still have a ways to go, but after six weeks of this in-depth de-tox I’m looking and feeling way better.

Here’s the enigmatic Dr. Morse himself on detoxification:

To Summarize: 

In early May, I committed to three practices:

1.) High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
2.) Living Fuel ‘Fasting.’
3.) Lymphatic detoxification.

My story is definitely to be continued. And, I’m curious about yours: When it comes to health and weight loss, what’s worked for you? What hasn’t? I’d like to hear in the comments below.

15 Responses to Lightening Up: How I Lost 25 Pounds in 6 Weeks

  1. Jason August 19, 2013 at 1:55 am #

    Good information. I’ve had good results last year with simply counting calories via the FatSecret app on Android. No diet changes, just calorie counting. Apparently the very act of tracking your food leads to unconscious diet changes. There are studies, but I don’t have a link to any studies offhand. I was doing some other things too, a little exercise and whatnot, but the food tracking was what really helped. No big hurry; I was losing about a pound a week, which is totally ok except that I stopped tracking my food and, wouldn’t ya know, I stopped losing weight.

    I’ve got back into it this summer, and just this past week started working out again – the Couch to 5k running plan 3x a week and bodyweight calisthenics 3x a week. Sundays off. Sure enough, I’m dropping about a pound a week again. Once I’ve gotten into the habit again I’ll start changing up the diet a bit at a time. I’ve learned the hard way that I have to do change incrementally or it doesn’t stick. But your ability to make the big changes is impressive – keep up the good work!

    • zoecarnate August 19, 2013 at 2:02 am #

      Thanks for sharing this, Jason – I’ll have to check out the FatSecret App. Oddly enough, I’m getting pretty used to the smoothies and veggie-protein meals. For me, ‘extreme’ is the new incremental. 🙂

  2. Bill Sahlman August 19, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    GREAT stuff! Keep it up, and keep blogging. My wife, Susi, has been on a similar track– and found a naturao-path in Charlotte. The connections and ways of seeing our bodies is so different than “comventiona; medicine/aka: pharmaceuticals…. I wonder, if this is not the next possible step for those of faith who — are seeing the effects of society that can be rethought and lived in fresh ways? (along with the justice issues around processed food and GMO-related futures, but that’s a big topic)

    We got a Nutri Bullet. the veggies I drink everyday are crazy. the implications of how our bodies really– can– and do — heal themselves are… powerful!

    • zoecarnate August 19, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

      That’s awesome, Bill. I think there is every connection between just/sustainable food and personal health and well being…many of us are just beginning to make those connections.

  3. Don Milam August 19, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    Congratulations Mike. Very proud of you!!!

    • zoecarnate August 19, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

      Thanks, Don! I need to stay in shape so I can keep up with you. 🙂

  4. Michelle August 19, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    Hey, Mike. So, you’ve inspired me. I’ve been down the weight loss road before – I’ve done it both poorly and well. I was feeling my healthiest about 6 years ago. Ironically, my time in seminary did me in – small budget, crappy food, little sleep, and even less exercise. What worked for me prior to seminary was approaching the task holistically, as you’ve done: regular detox, mindful eating of non-acidic, non-inflammatory foods, and mild enjoyable exercise (hiking, yoga, etc).

    I’ve been looking for some way to detox and move into a more conscious day-to-day lifestyle. I like what you’ve done. I’m going to take a deeper look and see how I can incorporate the elements of your routine into something that works for me.

    Thanks for the inspiration. Truly! It’s heartening to hear your story.

    • zoecarnate August 19, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

      Thanks for sharing this, Michelle. I so resonate with your journey. It was undergrad college for me – previous to that, I’d been relatively ‘skinny’ (if out-of-shape). Low overall budget plus crappy all-you-can-eat diner food did me in. Most people gained a freshman 15, I gained a freshman 50, and have had difficulty with it ever since. I hope more campuses (like mine. *cough* Berry College *cough*) sign on to the Real Food Challenge, so this doesn’t happen to so many of us to begin with.

      But yes – please check out these three resources. I find that the lymph detox in particular has made all the difference for me. Let me know how your journey goes!

  5. Rachel August 19, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Hooray Mike! I’ve recently started down the same path and have found great success in some of what you have as well.
    My keys have been far less sexy, and more like what my grandma used to say: diet and exercise actually works.
    I just found HIIT classes at the Y, and before that was doing personal training and boot camp. I cannot say enough of how working with someone, in my case a trainer, made ALL THE DIFFERENCE in the world for my partner and I.
    Speaking of which, doing it with someone, in my case with my spouse, was something I didn’t know I needed. I can work out alone, but its so much better with someone. And not because I am competitive—I am a social bug who loves to share stuff.
    Diet: for the first three months I was sugar free (no fruit either), dairy free, gluten free. Sounds like hell but it was exactly what my palate needed to reset and relearn what food actually tastes like. I eat for fuel mostly, not as much for pleasure. When I am eating for pleasure, I really take the time and enjoy it. I eat 4/5 times a day, which at first was REALLY hard, but now I just keep my food close and handy all the time. I eat real food, low in fat, carbs and sugar, whole foods, and take the time to prep what I need to have, and I make it easy and accessible. Blah blah blah – that is what is working for me. I’ve lost 65 pounds since January and I can’t believe how different I feel. I am SO excited for you. Keep writing, about what works and doesn’t for you. I am always looking for new resources and people to talk to about all this!

    • zoecarnate August 19, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

      Whoa – 65 pounds since January?? I saw you in January, in Memphis! I feel inspired…and a bit jealous! Keep it up, sister; I’m going to have to delve into your blog and glean some wisdom for the journey.

  6. Bruce Sanguin August 19, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    Hey Mike,

    Good on ya buddie. I’ve been doing HIT training for years now, and I agree it’s the best. The key is getting the metabolic resting rate really cooking, so in addition, I pump weights every day, but I do it for short, intense workouts – 30 minutes. The key is intensity. And yup, acidic food is a killer. I was speaking at a university in Halifax this past weekend (at the CCPC – Canadian Progressive Christians). We ate at the university cafeteria. The food was not food. This is what we’re feeding the future of our country. It’s pathetic. In my talk, I spoke about the future of progressive Xy (whatever the hell that label means) as originating in somatic protest. Being an incarnational faith we need to trust the wisdom of the body, and the body don’t want to eat that shit we were being served in the cafeteria. But we’re so disconnected from body as sacred vessel that we’ve lost the competency of listening. Oh, thanks for the meal replacement tip. I’m going to check it out. Anyway, all my support comin’ your way, buddy.

    • zoecarnate August 19, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

      Thanks, Bruce! I’m with you. As I said in a comment above, I really got jacked up on terrible cafeteria food. “It was undergrad college for me – previous to that, I’d been relatively ‘skinny’ (if out-of-shape). Low overall budget plus crappy all-you-can-eat diner food did me in. Most people gained a freshman 15, I gained a freshman 50, and have had difficulty with it ever since. I hope more campuses (like mine. *cough* Berry College *cough*) sign on to the Real Food Challenge, so this doesn’t happen to so many of us to begin with.”

      Somatic protest indeed!

  7. scott December 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    Hey mike how are u great to hear about the weightloss I have lost 50 pounds in 3 months just watching calories . I am interested in rom machine. Did u find for minutes effective our did u need more

  8. scott April 13, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    Hey mike do you do rom at less resistance for more than 4 minutes do you feel 4 minutes really helps our it’s not enough time on the machine

    • Mike Morrell September 15, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

      Hi Scott! I find the four minutes truly makes a difference! Sometimes I ROM for eight minutes a day, doing upper body and lower body in one day.

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