In the spring and summer of 2018 I set out on an adventure with my family, through the Pacific Northwest in the spring with the whole family, and then a cross-country road trip with my sons, flying into Philadelphia to pick up a new-to-us Ford Explorer and driving it back to California. It was my big goal that season to hike 100 miles to celebrate losing 100 pounds.
I called it “The Century Hike,” way back in 2018, when I was young and naive, and I didn’t realize how much life was changing.
First, I actually lost 140 pounds, weighing in at 30 pounds below my lowest weight ever as an adult. Second, success like that is naturally viral and gets noticed. My cousin adopted my diet simply by asking a few questions and watching me eat at a cheap Chinese buffet in Delano, CA. He’s now below his high school graduation weight. My aunt (his mom) is more trim than I have seen her. Fellow school moms are more trim and off diabetes medications. People in my actual, real life were jumping in and having success!
As I prepared for the Century Hike, I was energetically working on the Fresh Bites Daily website, updating its long-neglected foraging and herb content. Heck, I could get out and forage much more easily and I was ready to forage. I did some LIVE videos on the Fresh Bites Facebook page in May and told people about my weight loss. I took off on a trip to the Pacific Northwest, logged in some Century Hike miles, and didn’t hit the LIVE videos again until early July. It was then that I discovered that people who watched the videos in May had implemented the diet. Two ladies were down 40+ pounds and, more importantly, they reported that they had hope for the first time in years.
“Whoa! I’ll start a Facebook group so we can keep in touch.”
And then: “Whoa! The group has 500 people!” (That was the first day.)
By the time we left for Philadelphia in late July, we were approaching 4K group members. We took the long way back to California via Michigan (it was a Ford-themed trip after all, and a family car bought initially in the Ford Friends and Family Program). We visited Aunt Diane on the way home and hung out on Lake Michigan. In a LIVE video moment on Lake Michigan, I jumped in a kayak announcing “I couldn’t fit in one of these last year and I want you to see how much your life can change!” Of course, I crashed it at least twice, but that’s another story…
We drove from Michigan through the Dakotas, catching the color of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and we landed at the 45th Parallel sign on the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park. My boys had found some “before” pictures from August of 2017 when we traveled home from viewing the total solar eclipse in Wyoming. We took those “before” pictures on August 24, 2017, one week before I would launch the diet that changed my life. I had already lost 20 pounds to qualify for bariatric surgery, that I would no longer need nor qualify for. In the photo I weighed 260 pounds.
On that August 2018 road trip, we recreated those 2017 photos and, in a rare moment in history, I was speechless. In fact, I was speechless for about three weeks. I wrote about it on Instagram below. The video I referenced on Instagram, causing me to pace the floor and wear out my carpet, is “A Postcard From Yellowstone,” which has now been viewed on Facebook hundreds of thousands of times and has brought thousands of members to the Eat Like A Bear! community.
Personally, I have constant moments of shaking my head and wondering what on earth has happened in my life. I am not used to it at all. I can walk without limping. I can walk fast. I can run if I care to. More than that, I continue to be blown away at the community we are growing around weight loss. It would be hard for me to exaggerate how ridiculously stupid I have found weight loss content to be over the years and, here I am, making weight loss content on the internet. Ten years ago, had I made a list of “possible universes” I might be living in today, I can guarantee you that I would not have conceived of one little piece of this one.
There is actually a good bit more to the Yellowstone back story, but I will leave it here for now.
The Seminal Message of A Postcard from Yellowstone
The message of the video itself shaped the culture and success rate of our community, helping people step boldly into a major life transformation.
The early adopters of Eat Like a Bear, finding us through this video, gave me a unique opportunity to shine an analytical light on what works for weight loss. I have a Ph.D. in the social sciences and have worked for decades as a data and program analyst. I turned those skills onto our community, attempting to understand the best practices for weight loss and weight maintenance.
When you craft a whole weight loss program out of your own head as I basically did for myself in the fall of 2017, it is easy to make a lot of assumptions about why it was effective, and easy to take a lot for granted.
You implement a whole bucket full of things but often only specific things in that bucket have driven most of the success. If you don’t know what those specific things are, it makes replicating your success and maintaining your weight loss more difficult.
I have learned key life lessons not so much from my own weight loss period but from observing thousands of people coming up behind me. Those lessons then shape the content on this website, social media, and in the premium content I make. The book “Half My Size with The Ridiculously Big Salad” is a key case in point. It never occurred to me that I had a unique meal framework until engaging with community members, much less that the books would drive even more success and that book sales would pay for the community I have been able to offer for free.
- Find The Ridiculously Big Salad on television.
- Find the quaint story of shipping the first 10,000 copies out of a rural post office in a zip code with a total of 256 people.
- Find Jack Canfield and Amanda Rose talking about the book.