You’re standing naked in front of a mirror and looking at yourself. How do you feel about your body? Are you happy, sad, or spiteful? Maybe you think it’s beautiful, or maybe you think it’s ugly? I find it impossible to judge my body in the same way as women do, but I was certainly ashamed when I looked in the mirror last year. I kept asking myself, “What the heck is that?”

An advantage of being male is how women do not judge you on your appearance. Although they like to see a fit, handsome man, this is not a top priority when it comes to relationships and marriage, and frankly, we, the male nation, are at ease in this regard. However, a woman’s appearance is so important that a man will marry a woman for just her beauty and not even consider her other qualities, even though beauty should be judged as a whole. (You can bet the result would be a disaster though.) That being the case, obesity is much more of an issue for women than it is for men. They are then faced with diets, exercise routines, magic formulas, and various drugs at this point.

The History of My Weight

My mother would always say to me, “You were so skinny as a boy that I would chase you around with a spoon.” Thinking back to my childhood, I really was skinny, but something broke lose at one point and I became plump. I remember when my elementary school teacher weighed us in class. I weighed 66 pounds, while everyone else was around 50 pounds. I didn’t hesitate in flattering myself about this at the time, because it meant I was the biggest member of the class. This situation continued until I was a sophomore in high school, and its biggest disadvantage was the shame and inferiority complex it brought with it. I was regarded as nothing more than a fatso, and the girls would always have their eyes on the handsome boys. After all, why would they be interested in me?

I stuck to a very strict diet and exercise program during my sophomore year,  quickly losing weight and gaining height at the same time. My world quickly turned upside down: I gained self-confidence, and my interactions with my schoolmates hit a record high. I then started college, where I would walk from my dorm to school every day, contributing to my good shape. When I moved into my own house, however, I started gaining weight again. The years went by as I struggled to control my weight, and then I got married.

Marriage Adds an Extra 20 Pounds to a Man

After marrying, the first thing women do is change their hairstyles, but men change their bellies. I observed from my friends that men, even when they were in good shape before marriage, got paunchy within the first year of marriage. I was already chubby on my wedding day, but I really let go afterwards. I call this situation the “the neutered cat syndrome.” You know, when you neuter a male cat, he gets lazy and gains weight just because he can’t have his flings anymore. This is just like married human males: “The womanizing is over, dude. Let yourself go.”

I really let myself go, though. I was pushing my limits when I reached 240 pounds. The appearance aside, it was a very unhealthy state, and I was easily exhausted. Imagine having an extra 50 pounds on your body all the time. You can’t help but get exhausted quicker. What’s more, even though I kept telling myself that I didn’t care about my appearance, I got very upset when I saw my reflection in the mirror. I didn’t even want to look at photos of myself. I would fantasize about advanced aliens coming down and placing me in some sort of shaping-up device. I was that hopeless about reducing my weight…

As I write this, I realize I’m very close to the image I wanted back then, and this happened without any alien intervention. If someone had told me I would be in this shape today, I would have laughed at them. Nevertheless, it happened, and I’d like to tell you the process that easily took me down from 235 to 200 pounds.

In the Temple of Dionysus

The place where everything started was the Temple of Dionysus in Teos, south of Sığacık in Ä°zmir Province, Turkey. On a warm, cozy July afternoon, my dear friend Cem Şen and I sat in the sacred chamber of the temple. Deniz, Cem’s son, then started to take photos of us meditating. When I looked at the photos on his camera, I said, “Man, we look like a couple of Buddhas. Look at my belly!” The conversation then moved on and Cem said, “Actually, losing weight is really simple for you. Just eat foods with a low glycemic index and see how easily you lose weight.”

I didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained further, “Sugar, namely the hidden sugar in foods. You know I teach very intense spiritual training practices to people, and what I usually see is this: People are very focused in the morning, and the practice goes easily, but when it gets to lunchtime, they become drowsy. Why is this? It’s because they surrender themselves to bread products and cakes. The body cannot tolerate that much sugar, so it slows down. This process can even lead to depression. When I took bread and sugar out of their diets, our practices became more efficient, and their excess weight also wore off.”

It all sounded very logical to me. As well as being overweight, I also had a tendency toward depression. My mornings were very tiresome and pessimistic. I never considered this was caused by all the jars of chocolate paste that I scoffed down at nights. Both the paste and the bread I spread it on were rich in sugar. Besides, there were also a couple of great new cake shops in my neighborhood, and I would eat a box of baklava every week. My love for sweet things was this extreme. My breakfast consisted of half a loaf of bread filled with kasseri and strawberry jam. I drank boxed fruit juices, considering them healthy, but these were also full of sugar. These things didn’t just cause me to gain weight—they also deteriorated my mood.

So, What Should I Eat?

This conversation between Cem and me influenced me greatly, so when I returned home, I started researching foods with high glycemic indexes. Almost everything I was eating had a high glycemic index, so it was no wonder I gained weight. I later chatted with my friend Seher (Gülcan) on Facebook while thinking about what I should eat, and she advised me to read a book. The next day, I bought the book, The Paleolithic Diet by Prof. Ahmet Aydın, and my process of saying goodbye to excess weight began.

If you’ve ever heard of the paleolithic diet, you will know it’s a diet with very low amounts of carbohydrates and high amounts of protein. The book also explains how common food products ruin our bodies. About a year before reading this book, I attended an event in Susurluk Park where a doctor gave a wonderful speech about the issue. I cut out all kinds of soda and sugary drinks after that. I mean, I was already practicing part of the book’s advice, but I also learned about problems with foods that I previously considered healthy. After finishing this book, I read about the Karatay Diet, and my thoughts became clearer. I knew then exactly what I should do.

Everything Is in the Head

I can easily tell you that what we call our habits are actually programs in our heads, and these programs can change. For example, I despised eggs so much I wouldn’t even sit at a table if there was a boiled egg on it, and I was very fond of sugar and salt. When I look back over the last seven months of my life, however, I see a man who gobbles down three boiled eggs for breakfast. I can no longer drink my tea if I accidentally put a single cube of sugar in it, and those french fries they make in fast-food chains are too salty for me now. As I said, everything is in our heads.

Besides the other books I mentioned, Yasemin Soysal’s book Our Brain: The Actual Fatty One helped me a lot at this point, because it showed me the effects of these programs in our heads. In fact, Soysal unwittingly wrote a guide on how to use our brains. (I can easily use the word “unwittingly” because I know the author personally.) I read the book a couple of years ago, and the most significant bit for me was this: “Never throw out your undersized pants. Always think about the day when you’ll fit in them again. You’ll see you’ll achieve this goal one day.” In my wardrobe, I actually had a pair of small pants that I‘d never worn. My wife tried to throw them out many, many times, but I never let her. Now, I can fit in them perfectly. (By the way, maybe it’s because they were ten years old, or maybe some other reason, but I looked ridiculous in them. Regardless, the goal was accomplished despite the pants not really working out.)

I don’t want to go into a lengthy explanation about the things I learned from these books, because if you really want to lose weight, you can read them for yourself. I can only summarize what I have experienced on this journey.

 The Low-Carb Diet

The Karatay and Paleolithic diets are categorized as low-carb diets. You take carbohydrate-based foods—such as bread, sugar, desserts, pasta, and so on—out of your diet and eat natural products that are rich in proteins. I started with two or three eggs (either boiled or fried), cheese, olives, plenty of tomatoes, and walnuts for breakfast. I skipped lunch and finished the day with a dinner consisting of soup, meat, and salad. I didn’t eat anything after eight at night. I drank plenty of tea, and even though I didn’t really feel hungry, I drank a glass of buttermilk when my stomach rumbled at night. I also walked a lot.

You might be asking how long I kept on living like this. First of all, if you regard a diet as a process that continues until you lose enough weight, reverting to your old ways afterwards, you’re destined to keep gaining and losing weight. A diet is a regulation of your daily nutrition, and the answer to the common question of “How long should I live like this” is simple: for a lifetime. What the authors explain in these books is not just about losing weight—their purpose is certainly not that. They convey what they know about a healthy diet, and you can’t help but tell yourself, “Gosh, I had no idea.” We are ashamed of our bodies when we look into the mirror, and it’s simply because we’re clueless. We should be ashamed of our ignorance rather than our appearances. This is what creates our flabby bodies. I used to feel hungry at night and eat whatever I could find in the fridge and chug sugary fruit juices back, yet I never felt satisfied. Then a greater greed would emerge in me. Eventually, as well as being chubby, I also experienced reflux. When I put my diet in order, the first thing I bid farewell to was my reflux. I immediately started losing weight, and within just three months, I had lost more than 28 pounds when the scale displayed 206 pounds.

Is This the Same Thing as the Dukan Diet?

Another question I’m frequently asked is, “That sounds like the Dukan Diet. Have you read about it?” No, I never read about it, but I didn’t need to. After all, I think the dietary habits in France are different to other countries, despite our basic similarities. I live in Anatolia, for example, so how should the Dukan Diet consider my local foods? This is why I haven’t read it.

Another comment I encounter is, “But don’t other doctors criticize the idea?” I personally believe both authors were genuine about what they tried to convey, so I believed them. I did exactly what they suggested I do. By the way, when you decide to start a diet like this, you’ll be surprised how many “nutritionists” you have around you. Everyone around me became self-styled nutritionists and gave me advice from newspapers. No one ever took the trouble to research it properly, and what’s more ridiculous, almost all of them had bellies of biblical proportions.

Tibet’s Fountain of Youth

I wasn’t very physically active outside summer because I work in a home-office environment. I can take walks in just shorts and shoes in the summer, but the fall brings a busy work schedule and the cold weather, and somehow I just end up stuck at home. At this point, I needed a way to stay active and energetic, and this was when Tibet’s Fountain of Youth was added to my life.

This exercise is actually a variation on yoga that Tibetan monks practice. It consists of five very simple principles, and completing a set every morning takes no more than 20 minutes. So, you then have your daily exercise, and this helps you lose weight while also charging your spiritual batteries. You can watch videos on how to do it if you search for “the five Tibetan rites” on YouTube. There are also books about it that I recommend you read as well.

The Effects and Results of the Process

It’s seven months today since I started my new diet. I weighed 235 pounds when I started, and now my weight is down to 200 pounds. I know I will lose more weight over time, but I don’t force myself that much anymore. This doesn’t mean I just returned to my old dietary habits. While at first I abstained from all kinds of sweets, I can now cut myself some slack for an occasional treat. I can eat a wrap if I crave it, not that I have much desire for bread. I seldom eat baklava, and when I do, it’s because it’s extremely well made, even though I know it’s not good for my body. Sometimes I eat bitter chocolate with a cup of coffee, and it’s a blissful experience for me. That said, I don’t crave this much either.

I enjoy seeing my body in the mirror because it’s the result of my hard work, and even though I’m not an athlete by any means, it still looks good to me. By the way, I should add that I never worked out at a gym during my diet. I found jogging on treadmills that lead nowhere extremely boring when I was younger, if you know what I mean. Plenty of other things can support your diet, such as yoga, Pilates, and so on. Maybe I would have slimmed quicker if I went to a gym, but my aim was to discover if we can lose weight by just regulating our dietary habits rather than straining ourselves with heavy exercises. And yes, we can.

I feel energetic and healthy now. People warned me about cholesterol because I started eating a lot of eggs during this period. I didn’t pay attention and enjoyed my eggs instead. I’ve recently had a blood test taken for this article, and my cholesterol level is 157, well within the normal range of 140 to 220. My blood markers were also excellent. I haven’t encountered any kind of health problems except for a food-poisoning incident and a cold I caught last winter. I’m 36 years old by the way.

More importantly, I experienced a major change in my spiritual energy. The heavy, depressive feeling I suffered from in the mornings is gone. They still happen from time to time, of course, but now I know exactly where they come from: the other problems in my life. I don’t have to struggle against the effects of the huge amounts of sugar I used to consume. When I combined my diet with the Tibetan Fountain of Youth, my energy gained considerably.

Okay, so are there any negative effects of this new diet? Well, yes, there are some things. First, there are no usable pants in my wardrobe because they are all so huge. Second, it’s tough to find places to eat out because fast food and sandwiches are so widespread in my country. You can’t eat bread or fries, so your options are pretty slim sometimes. My wife complained a lot about this at first, saying things like, “You don’t eat this. You don’t eat that. What will I give you to eat?” Sometimes, one small portion of rice or pasta is acceptable if you don’t have enough time, but you can’t have such meals all the time, and you need to eat a full meal. This can get impossibly hard at times. You’ll also find your food expenses increasing, but it actually seems to balance out once you cut down on the sweets, sodas, and juices. Of course, the hardest aspect of changing your eating habits is saying goodbye to the sweet foods that you’ve associated with pleasure since childhood. Many of my friends rejected the idea of a dietary change and claimed they didn’t need it, just because they couldn’t imagine giving up this pleasure. Ha, just take a step forward and see if you really need it or not.

The Bottom Line

I’m perfectly content with my new diet, and I’ve tried to summarize my journey for you. I would recommend you try this low-carb diet as well. I read two books—The Paleolithic Diet by Prof. Dr. Ahmet Aydın and The Karatay Diet by Canan Karatay, both written in Turkish—but I’m sure there are plenty of English equivalents in the USA and Britain. (By the way, everyone has a different metabolism, so if you have hesitations or health problems, you may want to consult your doctor first.) What’s more, when you combine this with the Tibetan Fountain of Youth, both your body and spirit will benefit. You can then continue your journey through life with a clearer, more positive approach.