This is a bit of a different post than your regularly scheduled programing, but I’ve been wanting to share this extra bit of my journey with everyone that reads the blog. I have been getting quite a few questions about it via email as well so I hope this answers some peoples questions!
Over the last year I gained about 70 pounds, but in a much better way than that might sound. As you might already be able to tell from the photo above. With this said, lets start from the beginning for those of you who are new or just need a quick recap of my most known story so you know where I’m coming from.
When I was about 15 years old I took the treacherous path to losing more than 100 pounds and was successful in the process. This was brought on due to several health problems as well as debilitating humiliation and ridicule from my classmates almost my entire school career. At this point I had found strict paleo and the fat was practically melting off of me. I started the very website that you are on and got my first cookbook published all by the age of 17 (I’m now 19).
This is where things sorta took a bit of an ugly turn, and yes even when I first started this blog. So everyone thinks that after weight loss life is perfect, but it’s not; at least not for me. I felt the need to continue to lose fat even though I probably should have stopped. I felt like I wasn’t lean enough and wasn’t ripped like the guys that I saw in the magazines. Of course I wanted to get bigger muscles too but I wanted the leanness first. So I continued to eat low carb strict paleo every day and happily so. I didn’t feel bad, in fact I felt great but my young metabolism needed far more than leafy green vegetables and fatty protein sources to sustain myself. Mind you I was only working out three times a week for an hour or less at that time.
I continued shedding more weight until I decided I wanted to gain some muscle to fill out the leanness that I had acquired. I knew very little about mass gaining so I went to my friend Chris Girgis the owner of Crossfit Cypress. The first things he told me about mass gaining and the quantity of food not to mention fruits and carbohydrates being vital in success which was shocking to me. For one, I was literally afraid to eat carbohydrates in the beginning, including fruits like apples and bananas. Once he nudged me to start eating them I slowly began to get over that but felt the need to do it in an intermittent fasting style because I was mortified at the thought of gaining as much as a single gram of fat back. At this point he mentioned the possibility of body dysmorphia, which I respectfully disagreed with him at the time.
Eventually I just listened to Chris and stopped the fasting, stopped all the fancy meal timing habits, and really truly just ate to nourish my body to grow (breakfast, lunch, and dinner, protein, carbs, and fat, no calorie counting) but continued my hold on real food ideals. I was probably eating somewhere around 6000 calories a day for the first weight gaining phase which was an intense linear progression program. As I was preparing this post I was getting old shots of me prior to the weight gain and went to my cookbook promo video for some. I was completely dumbfounded with what I saw and I can say with certainty that I definitely had body dysmorphia. I was so struck that I could feel my heart racing and I immediately thought: “how the fuck could I let myself do that?!”.
I don’t even recognize the person that I’m looking at when I watch that video. All I can recall is when I was at that point I remembered looking in the mirror and seeing someone that needed to get “a bit leaner” and still had some “stubborn fat” that needed to be lost. No big deal right? That’s the oddity of body dysmorphia. I feel like I’ve never even seen that version of myself before. Luckily at the time Chris guided me out of that phase and helped teach me more than I could ever list here.
For the training portion, I first started with a linear progression program where I begin with a low weight for movements such as squat, deadlift, press, etc. Then the weight is increased by a certain amount depending on the lift every single day which continuously overloads you and adds chunks of strength and adds weight super quickly especially since I was squatting every single day that I was working out. For that portion I was eating around 6,000 calories a day. After that I went on my trip to Europe. Following Europe; which I had lost a lot of fat there due to all of the walking and climbing, I decided to do another bulk this time with a more bodybuilding style. For the first portion I worked mainly on strength with some hypertrophy involved for 3 months. Then for the second portion of that I did german volume training for another 3 months. Both times I was eating about 4000 calories a day.
(This image is not intended to be inappropriate it’s simply to show mass gain in the quadriceps)
So in total the training equated to about 9 months worth of training, and another 2 months of being in Europe not working out at all, which is a complete total of 11 months. Within that allotted time my metabolism is even higher than before with the added muscle mass and I’m about 70 pounds heavier but this time with muscle rather than fat. I ended up siting around 200 pounds of fairly lean mass and started my first cut about 2 weeks ago. I also quite literally added hundreds of pounds to all of my lifts which was really fun and exciting to experience.
There you have it guys and gals, I think I have truly put my body through a ringer but my journey still continues and I plan to add a bit more mass after this cut. I just wanted to share and add this extra piece to my story for you guys to read and take from it what you want. The whole point of this is, a lot of the time I think we get too hard on ourselves about the things we eat and begin to obsess about it. It takes a certain level of obsession in order to be successful but you can do that without letting it consume you as a person.
Which is why when I started this I just told myself, if it’s real food, something that isn’t entirely destructive to MY body then I’m going to eat it. For those of you trying to lose weight just remember to know where you started and make sure that you don’t let what happened to me happen to you. Make sure you have a goal in mind, stop there and reevaluate with a careful opinion. It’s all about the journey there are no wrong moves and things tend to fall into place. Take both of these success stories as a point that there is always a way in and a way out. Our bodies are incredible and can do just about anything and take on any journey/trip, you just need the right mindset for the person driving.
I’m very proud of what I’ve done but it doesn’t stop here there will be another bulk(mainly for tweaking and focusing more on certain areas like arms, calves, etc.) Now to finish off this cut whilst still getting up delicious recipes for you guys! So thanks everyone for reading and most of all thank you Chris for helping me out through that tough time. If you have any questions or things you want to let me know please leave them in the comment section of this post and I will get back to you.
Also heads up for those of you in Arlington, VA. I will be doing a book signing and a panel discussion at the debut screening for The Revolution:Food Movie at The Take Back Your Health Conference. Come meet me, get your book signed, and watch an incredible documentary (which I happen to be featured in as well) about the power of real food!
Josh- glad to read this post and tell you I find that your thoughtful description of your journey, as well as the actions that you have taken are refreshing. Good for you! I loved your posts from Europe and tend to agree that when one is off expolring part of the culture is to be exploring the food rather than rigid adherance to a “diet”. Most cultures look at our obsessions with/around food and the attachments that we place on it as bizarrely American wierdness. That is not a knock around anyone’s allergies or preferences, just a comment on what we do with food and how we attach certain ideals to it that do not translate in other cultures. I am gald to hear that you are finding the joys of working your body and the benfits of exercise. While I commend that you decided to write about it, I also feel that you need not be forced to share irregardless of people’s questions. It is uniquely your journey, and if all you do is put up recipes that is to the bebnift of anyone follwoing. You do not need to explain yourself. Good eating!
Slim Palate says
Thank you very much Moe, I really appreciate your sweet words. I definitely didn’t feel obligated at all, I just ended up wanting to share it since people were showing interest. Glad you enjoyed!
Congratulations!! You look healthy and fit.
Slim Palate says
Thanks so much Bret!
jenn in GA says
josh, i’m glad you shared this. when you lost 100 lbs, your body was still going through puberty, and now, 4 years later, you’re a young man. you made a massive change for the good. whenever we go from one extreme to another, we can’t live there. we must swing until we find the middle ground. sounds like that’s what you have done. i’m grateful for Chris’ influence in your life and for your teachable spirit. just one last thing: don’t judge yourself by your outer appearance. who you are, how you think, and what you do with both of those for the sake of others is what will define your adult life.
looking forward to more recipes.
Awesome blog. So great to see the momentum you’ve gained and to hear the transparency behind the message. Keep it up
Josh, I commend you for your honesty! I admire you because you’ve set goals for yourself and then achieved them! Please continue to be a ‘real person’ for your followers. We care about you, regardless of your body size!
Thank you so much for your story. I have been through a lot of the same accept a lot later and I’m not done with my transformation. I did exactly as what you did about wanting more and loosing more eventually I completely destroyed myself and my health. I have since realized I need to eat and am starting to gain as we speak. If you can give me any advice that would be amazing . Grant it I’m 10 years older then you but you have the experience not me.
Slim Palate says
If anything I would recommend making sure that you are doing some sort of weight training to make sure you are gaining quality weight and not just fat. You will need to eat a lot of food so be prepared to be full! Good luck!
I am so glad I found your blog. I am 60 years old and wish I could have done what you have done at your age. I continue to struggle but hearing things like your post encourage me to keep keeping on. It’s not over until your last breath yes ?
Slim Palate says
Age is just a number there is never a bad time to start.
Damn, that one hit home. I went down a similar path…very strict paleo, deathly afraid of carbs after shedding a good deal of weight (especially for my very tall frame). And then at some point I just realized I couldn’t maintain it anymore. I felt great, just like you said, but there was just a little voice in the back of my mind saying, “Might as well keep going.” It’s very easy to get wrapped up in your thoughts about who you SHOULD look, but what you really need is to take a step back and see what you are getting hung up on and what that is doing to you in the end. Was my body healthy? Hell yeah it was, 100 times more so than what I was doing to it before, but my mindset wasn’t. And that is a lot harder to fix with just a meal plan alone. I still get those days where I revert back to my old thoughts. It doesn’t mean I threw out all my knowledge of what real, whole food eating does for my body. I just have to take a more measured approach to it now.
Thanks for sharing your journey with us. You very easily could have chosen not to, but I hope you know it makes a difference in other people’s lives when you decide to open up.
And keep it up with those gains, it’s damn impressive
Kathleen Myron says
Josh, you are a remarkable young man. Am enjoying your blog and your recipes. Wishing you the best always during the ups, downs, and inbetweens of life.
Estela Mulloy says
Just found your wonderful book!! (Slim Palate Paleo) and I LOOOVE it!!! Thank you! You’re truly talented! Just brought the fried eggs with lemony spinach with rosemary to eat at the office with me and everyone is asking what that wonderful smell is!!!
Congrats, Josh! I’m so glad you decided to share. Your instagram posts while in Europe were awesome to follow & I loved that you seemed to be truly enjoying yourself & all the wonderful food without seeming to worry too much about it.
This is very inspirational! I don’t even know you and I’m proud of you!
Thanks for sharing! I love your cookbook and follow your blog and instagram. Would you be able to share what a meal plan looks like that equals 6000 calories a day?
Slim Palate says
In order to help myself achieve those 6,000 calories I was also drinking a gallon of raw milk. If you have a seller for that and can tolerate milk I recommend that method. If you are trying to gain weight then I can promise you that whole raw milk will put it on you quickly.
The extra lbs (muscle) look good on you! I like that you say to eat “real” food. I feel that is key for good health. If we eat real food and exercise we can look and feel amazing!! Always looking forward to your blog and recipes!! 😉
Carol Girgis says
Josh, always to happy to hear of your continued work, success, learning and sharing…glad to have you “on my bookshelf”.
Really impressed here! I’ve always been lean and wanted to gain muscle mass. I just started a somewhat similar exercise program, although I haven’t progressed with barbels yet. I know nutrition is the main thing for body building but I can’t, for the life of me, can’t eat tons of calories. I eat well enough but reaching 2500 calories sounds too much already. I say 2500 cal bec it’s the amount I need to reach my weight goal. Anyway, the raw milk sounds good but my tummy might not like it bec I can be sensitive to lactose.
You look good btw and keep it up! I’d be happy to gain even just half of what you did. 🙂
Slim Palate says
Thank you so much AJ! I think in bodybuilding nutrition is definitely the most important but don’t neglect the programming. 2500 calories is actually pretty low but I don’t know how tall you are or anything like that. I eat 2500 calories on workout days when I want to lose fat (some days I eat 3,000 if the workout was really long and intense and I will still lose fat). Keep in mind I’m 6 feet tall and have a pretty good amount of muscle on me so my metabolic rate is also quite high. Being interested in the pursuit is the first step, I know you’ll be successful if you keep at it. Good luck!
Not sure if you are still monitoring this post but decided to give it a try.
Well done – your progress is awesome.
I started my Paleo journey due to some health issues but now working a functional medicine practitioner I have finally found the root cause and feeling massive improvement. Therefore, its’s time for a bulk 🙂 I managed to gain about 20(ish) pounds in the last few months and would like to continue that …. However, my question is how did you manage to eat 4000-6000 calories per day? Can you give some basic guidelines or if you have written it in a post just let me know where I can look for it?
Many many thanks,
Slim Palate says
Thank you for the sweet words. Before I say anything, I just want to let you know that I think caloric intake is going to differ from person to person. You may not need as many calories as I did, which will make it even more difficult to eat that much. I put myself through a very vigorous bulk. With all of that said, eating large amounts of calories of food is more simple than you think (it really is just to eat a lot of protein, fat, and carbs), but I do have a couple tips. I utilized the GOMAD (Gallon Of Milk A Day) method. You basically drink a gallon of whole (ideally raw and local) milk every day on top of your large meals to help bolster the overall amount of calories that you’re consuming. Other than that it was just a matter of eating huge meals with large quantities of protein, fat, and carbs. Hope that helps!