Jon Calvo's Weight Loss Methodology

From Jon Calvo’s Facebook Page (Posted under “Notes”)

My Weight Loss Methodology

Originally Posted on FB: November 7, 2012 at 2:29am

Updated: 8/10/13

My name is Jon Calvo. I first moved to Seoul, Korea in 2003, and I have been a member of the USAG Yongsan community for about 9 years on-and-off. I was a big guy all my life, and on April 2010, I reached my highest weight of 340 pounds. On May 16, 2010 I began my journey to health and wellness over YouTube. At that time, I was not sure of the how and why, but I was sure of the when. I knew that at 330.4 pounds and 5'5", I had to make a change. Three years later, on April 12, 2013, I finished my weight loss journey at 150 pounds and the 6 percent body fat range. In those three years, I have lost 190 pounds and 26-inches on my waist; going from 5XL shirts to a size small. To this day, I still hold on to my favorite shirt and size-56 shorts as a reminder of where I have been.

I have experienced a lot of hardship in the past two and a half years. When I first began exercising, people were not too kind. I was ridiculed regularly on and off the military base in Korea. There were times when people would call me "the fattest person they have ever seen." There was even a time on base, near the public library, where two ladies in a taxi rolled down their windows just to repeatedly call me a "fat kid." It was extremely disheartening, especially since these events happened within the first month of my journey. I felt like quitting, but I did not give up. To this day, I still do not know why, but I persevered against all adversity.

If you find yourself susceptible to hurtful comments, a support system can keep you in a positive state of mind. It was something that kept me accountable and lifted my spirits on several occasions. I began a YouTube channel as a video diary where I discussed my success, failures, and frustrations. In the process, I received a lot of support from friends, family, and strangers alike. If you are thinking about YouTube, the weight loss community on there is a very supportive group, so do not be afraid of mean-spirited people visiting your videos. I would highly recommend either doing this or, at the very least, tracking your progress through a notebook. Seeing your progress whether written down, recorded on video, or through photos are a great way to stay motivated. Trust me. As you succeed, you will be happy you documented everything!

It is also paramount for you to know what your motivation is. Regarding weight loss, some people say that it is important to do it for yourself and no other. To an extent, this is true, but the idea behind it is seldom elaborated upon. Fulfillment is defined as the “satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s abilities or character.” There is a phrase in the fitness community of striving to “become the strongest, or best, version of yourself.” This is essentially what you do every time you act on fully developing your abilities and character in fitness and other areas of life. When fulfillment is your motivation, the satisfaction or happiness comes as a result every time you work toward becoming the person you know you are, and can be.

There were a variety of methods I tried when losing weight. I tried a variety of diets and lifestyles in my two and a half year journey with varying success. All my methods had a few things in common. I drank lots of water; having at least two to four liters each day. I also supplemented fish-oil and a multivitamin on a daily basis. In the next few paragraphs, I will not state which “diet” worked best, because I would rather not spark a debate. I will simply discuss what worked best for me.

When I first started, I did a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet accompanied with lean meats to keep protein high. The diet was complimented with lots of cardio through walking and daily elliptical machine use, and over a period of 6-months, I lost 40 pounds. During this time, I was also set on limiting my caloric intake and eating six small meals.

My first plateau was reached at 290 pounds, and lasted about two months. I knew something had to change if I were to continue the flow of weight loss. In January of 2011, my brother introduced me to the Paleo Diet and CrossFit. The Paleo Diet was something that, in many ways, was the exact opposite of the previous method I used. On top of eating more protein, I was consuming food high in saturated fat and low in carbohydrates. In the process, I began eating more fibrous vegetables, tree nuts, and organic whole foods. CrossFit was also something that I tried throughout January 2011. I was introduced to various weightlifting techniques and exercising at high intensity for the first time. Although I would not keep up with CrossFit, the mentality and discipline would later help me in my journey. I reverted back to elliptical machine use and over the course of eight more months I lost another 80 pounds through the Paleo Diet lifestyle. During this time, I was not worried about meal frequency, or counting my caloric intake. On countless occasions, I would eat upwards of over 3000 calories a day. Although the Paleo Diet may be contrary to mainstream nutritional thought, it was able to successfully stabilize my cholesterol, bring my high blood sugar to a normal level of 70, and bring my triglycerides down to 47. If you don't understand those numbers, let me just say that they are pretty good!

My second plateau was one that lasted an entire year. From August 2011 to August 2012, I also gained 20 pounds. Back at 230 pounds, I was unsure if I would ever get under 200. I resorted to expanding my horizons when it came to health, wellness, and nutrition. I spent the first two years of my weight loss journey neglecting weight training. I had an unnatural fear of building muscle, but I decided to give CrossFit another try around March 2012. Up until this point I believed the myth that weight lifting would make me “big and bulky.” Needless to say, so long as you eat in a caloric deficit and remain natural, no amount of weightlifting as a man or woman will make you “big and bulky” like a professional bodybuilder. For the next three months, I began working out harder than I ever have in my life, but nothing changed. The effectiveness of the Paleo Diet seemed to have waned as well. Not a single pound was shed no matter how hard I tried. It wasn’t until August 2012 that I discovered the reasons why the Paleo Diet’s effect on my weight loss died down. Part of it had to do with my inconsistent caloric intake, but a big part of it was blood leptin. Rather than have a “carb refeed” to boost my stalled weight loss, I looked to other methods outside of the Paleo Diet.

On August 13, 2012, I began the next method of my journey. I have heard from several people that intermittent fasting is an effective plateau destroyer, so I decided to read into it. Intermittent fasting is not a diet, or to be confused with a diet. It is a protocol that dictates when to eat, and not what to eat. Technically, since it is not a “diet,” any lifestyle may be applied to it. Followers of the Paleo, Raw Food, Standard American Diet, and Vegan lifestyles have all experienced a degree of success through intermittent fasting. I researched a program called LeanGains that described nearly everything I needed to do.  It also appeared backed by documented scientific studies and data, which I liked; tackling issues such as the cortisol awakening response and fasting as “starvation” myths. After months of contemplation, I finally decided to give it a try.

When I first began intermittent fasting, I was fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8 hours. I began skipping breakfast, and for the first month, my eating window was from 1:00PM to 9:00PM. I introduced carbohydrates back into my diet, began macronutrient cycling, and counting my calories and macronutrient compositions seriously. I also traded in cardio, like running and biking, in favor of strength training with compound movements like squatting, benching, and deadlifting. On training days I eat high-carb and low-fat, and on rest days I eat low-carb and high-fat; adhering to the Paleo Diet. Both days consist of eating at least 1-1.3g of protein per pound of body weight. For weight loss, I initially worked out fasted for about an hour to an hour and a half on three days out of the week. Since finishing my weight loss journey, I have refined my workout routine to an eight-day cycle that has me working out upwards to four days a week. Over the course of a year, I tested various eating windows described in other intermittent fasting protocols, and even did 24-hour fasts on occasion. For over a year now, I have been strength training exclusively without cardio for both fat loss and muscle building. I finished my weight loss journey by losing 80 pounds from August 2012 to April 2013 with intermittent fasting, strength training, and macronutrient cycling techniques. Today, I am also stronger than I have ever been.

If you are thinking about beginning a journey to health and wellness for yourself, I do have a few words of advice. Know that there are times when you will fail, but that failure is one with your success. A weight loss journey is like riding horseback for a thousand miles. If you fall, do not revert back to where you started by turning your horse around. Instead, get back up and continue moving forward. Your conviction, perseverance, and self-discipline are your greatest allies. No matter what method you decide on, do not ever give up. Lastly, the most important piece of advice: It does not matter when, how, or why you decide to change. The only thing that matters is that you do.

- Jon Calvo

Part II of Jon's Weight Loss Methodology
Jon Calvo: "The Man Who Never Gave Up"