What motivated you to embark on the Ancestral Reset journey? Now that you’ve completed the program, how did the experience address that original desire or motivation?
A big part of my story was being in denial about how much weight I needed to lose. At first I wanted to lose “a few” pounds, which is laughable in retrospect.
I am literally the only man in my family who isn’t morbidly obese, and I unfortunately inherited my family’s sweet tooth and tendency to gain weight. Fear of getting fat like everyone else has been a pretty consistent part of my life, as has been denial when it started to happen to me.
At the beginning of the reset, I suddenly realized that I didn’t need to lose 4-5 pounds, I needed to lose 45. Deciding that this was far too large a goal, I decided that it would be nice to lose closer to 10 pounds during the 9 week challenge, then work on the remainder later.
After immediately losing 10 pounds, I decided that 20 would be a good limit. The first pounds are easiest, right? Turns out I was wrong, and I made it past 20 in the same amount of time as I lost 10. I set my final goal at an impossible soundings 30 pounds in 9 weeks.
In the end I lost 31lbs during the 9 week program (216.3lbs -> 185.9), and since then I’ve lost another 5.9lbs. This was both way more successful than I ever could have hoped, and I am literally back down to my college weight and pant size. I’m hoping to get down below 180lbs by week end, which will put me back into highschool weight, much to my continued shock.
Please describe how you felt before the Ancestral Reset Experience. How did you feel at the halfway mark? How do you feel at the end of the 9 weeks?
How I felt before the reset was the quintessential case of a frog being boiled. I was getting fatter and accumulating a bunch of small aches and pains that all felt “normal” because of how slow they were building up. Hilariously I’d attribute that to “getting older”, because obviously a 28 year old is “old”.
Since the first DXA scan technically happened before the keto reset, I felt pretty awful about that too. It revealed in a unambiguous and unavoidable way something I had tried my best to avoid: I was overweight and showing some warning signs from metabolic syndrome. Not only was I far fatter than I originally thought, 28%, but I was carrying around a dangerous 1.8lbs of visceral fat.
By the middle of the challenge I began to realize what a healthy person should feel like. My energy was starting to not only get better but more consistent. The aches and pains I’d normalized weren’t quite gone, but they were for certain beginning to recede. I felt better all around and wanted more.
After the challenge I feel amazing. As previously mentioned I am back down to the size I was in college, which was way beyond my wildest dreams. Coworkers and other people in my life are beginning to notice my transformation, and I am super happy to share the details with them, usually to their befuddlement.
I also continue to lose weight and look better in the mirror, which I am a fan of.
What specific changes have you noticed in your day to day life now that you’ve completed the program?
As mentioned before, my energy and endurance are much better than on my old diet. Most useful is the fact that I no longer “need” food on a consistent basis. Skipping a meal is no longer the day ruining experience it used to be, and in fact I do it on purpose occasionally.
I still need my morning coffee though. Hey, even I’m human.
I also find myself not needing to snack very often, which is something I used to do a lot. Everyone around me seems to need “healthy” snacks, usually fruit or FroYo, right around 2PM. I don’t need these pick-me-ups anymore.
The one mixed change is that sometimes I have a ton of extra energy that I need to burn off, which can be mildly problematic when you work on a computer all day. Luckily I’d already developed a reputation as a character around the office, otherwise the addition of cossack squats at my standing desk would freak everyone out.
Did you learn anything new about yourself you didn’t know before during the experience? If so, please share what you’ve learned.
My body loves blood ketones. I got into ketosis super easily without any hesitation or negative consequences. I was prepared to suffer from the “carb flu”, but my blood ketones shot straight up into the 3-5 range within the first week without an ounce of drama.
In your experience, how is the Ancestral Reset different than other weight loss/diet challenges you’ve tried in the past?
I typically haven’t done a lot of weight loss challenges (see denial above), or haven’t been super consistent on the few I have done. So actually completing one and continuing after the end of the time period is a huge change of pace.
The big difference is that I had a much better guidepost during this challenge than others: blood ketones & glucose. Combined with very simple and easy to follow food instructions, this gave me a concrete answer about whether I was on the right track; if my ketones remained high and I saw signs of insulin sensitivity, then I was doing the right thing. This information kept me on track before I started losing weight, and gave me confidence and resilience during temporary plateaus and weight fluctuations.
It’s kind of hard to overstate what a big deal this is. Weight is an incredibly noisy signal, since it’s the result of sleep, exercise, food, stress, water retention, bowel movements, etc. Even with the correct inputs your weight will fluctuate a bit, mine tended to float by about 4lbs from morning to evening. If you make adjustments based only on weight, you might end up chasing the wrong things and end up way off track. Instead by tracking a reliable predictor of body weight, I was put in control of the trend line of my weight, even if the minute fluctuations were outside of my control.
Also, it let me tell the diabetics and medical professionals in my life that my fasting blood sugar was regularly at 78 and I could expect my blood sugar to get no higher than 90 after a typical meal, which tended to quell any concerns or complaints from them.
Did your relationship with food change as a result of participating in the program? Do these changes empower you? In what ways?
Food has always been an emotional crutch for me. I would stress eat, celebrate achievements with treats, or “deserve” something after working hard at the office or the gym. In retrospect, a shocking number of life events, good and bad, were excuses to eat poorly.
I have known for a years that I learned some bad habits around food, but I have failed to change them for as long as I’ve tried. During the reset, that changed without me consciously trying to. Suddenly food became about my body’s needs, not my emotions; something that years of therapy and self reflection have failed to do. This has made my dietary changes much more sustainable, since life events no longer present a temptation to break my diet.
My tastes have also shifted to an amazing degree around sugar. The easiest place to identify this is in my chocolate preferences, which have shifted from ~50% cacao to 88% cacao. While this has let me enjoy chocolate without spending my entire carb limit on a single square, it has also pissed off Leah who previously was the only one in the house who like 88% chocolate and had that stash all to herself.
Did having a community of people training and eating the same way as you did on the Ancestral Journey help you accomplish your personal goals? If so, how?
Absolutely! Having a group to celebrate achievements and discuss discoveries with was a huge help. Never underestimate the power of peer pressure properly harnessed.
Would you recommend the Ancestral Reset to like-minded friends and colleagues looking to make positive changes to their lives like you did? How would you persuade them to give it a try?
Of course. The transformation for me has been amazing, how could I not?
For me, visibly and openly living a healthy and empowered life is the best persuasion technique I can think of. People can rationalize a lot in the abstract, but it’s hard to argue with a coworker that is literally changing in front of you.
At what point in the program did you begin to notice changes to your body composition and overall physical aesthetic? How did seeing that change make you feel?
Almost immediately! Tanner actually first saw me a few days into the reset and said “Woah, you lost weight”. I don’t think even he was prepared for it to be that fast.
Not only did I lose weight quickly, it came off my face first. This has a huge impact on how I look, getting a chiseled jaw is nice, but it’s also more apparent because clothing doesn’t cover it.
How did the Ancestral Reset experience impact your performance:
In the gym?
The hardest part of the reset was that I lost performance in the gym at first. While a few exercises were spared, nothing improves your pull-up like becoming 20lbs lighter, my total strength and stamina dropped noticeably during the first few weeks. Tanner had warned us about this process to prepare us for it, but losing 30% of that deadlift that you were so proud of is a big blow.
That being said, my performance has finally returned and I can say definitively that I am faster and stronger than I have ever been. I am also beginning to enjoy pushing myself to the max, rather than seeing it as a necessary price to pay to avoid negative health consequences.
Increased mental focus and stamina are incredibly useful on a day to day basis in the office. Your average employee starts pretending to be working by about 2PM, while I could actually continue to work all day with my new found consistent energy.
In your everyday movement outside the gym?
I have notice increased flexibility in my hips when I walk, along with the total elimination of pain or stiffness in them on a day to day basis. Since I walk to work, and my father just had both his hips replaced, I find this change relieving.
In the bedroom?
Typically a gentleman shouldn’t kiss and tell, but let’s just say that both partners suddenly losing fat and gaining muscle goes a long way towards improving interest and desire. The added strength and strength-to-weight I’ve gained has also gone a long way towards any more acrobatic pursuits in the bedroom.
Were there particular aches, pains, ailments or other areas of discomfort that were alleviated by the Ancestral Reset program? In what ways were these physical issues impacted?
Does clothing not fitting count as an area of discomfort? Because the reset fixed that!
Losing weight has had a knock on effect on basically everything health wise. Obviously losing weight has reduced strain on my hips, making them work better. I am also stronger per pound, which makes more core more effective at protecting my spine. My grip strength can now hold my lighter frame longer, which means I can do the shoulder exercises at the gym longer, improving my shoulder flexibility and durability.
Basically everything is better.
Did you notice any change in your mental acuity and sharpness while on the program? If so, what were these changes and how did they impact your work? Your life?
At my best, no. I’m a pretty cerebral person, and my job demands a pretty high level of cognitive ability for short stretches. The difference is not me at my best, but me after 6 hours of demanding work. While nobody maintains peak output for long periods, I am much much closer to my sharpest later in the day, rather than feeling run down and sluggish.
Maintaining better control of my emotions has also allowed me to remain in control of my mental faculties during stressful situations, which is also helpful at work.
Did you notice any change to your emotional state of being during the experience? How did these changes impact your relationship with friends, family, co-workers and most importantly, with yourself?
Historically I have suffered from a decent amount of anxiety, which I have masked to varying degrees of success. What I found is that not only did the diet reduce my anxiety, but the reduction tracked inversely with the amount of carbs I ate. Take the guidelines to the limit yielded little to no anxiety at all. Stay just within the guidelines and the anxiety returned to a larger degree. This has led me to decide that sugar is just not for me at all, and to keep my carb consumption well under 50g, because anxiety sucks.
How has this experience equipped you to take responsibility for your diet, rest and movement practice beyond the time of the Ancestral Journey?
I have always been lost in grocery stores. Sure, I could buy coffee or whatever, but planning a meal and picking out healthy ingredients was beyond me.
After the reset, I finally feel like I know what I’m doing at the store. Tanner equipped me with simple guidelines that let me evaluate for myself how healthy foods are. This has let me take control of food for myself, rather than depending on him or a list of foods or recipes for everything.
Please use this space to share anything else that you think future cohorts should know or any feedback about your experience, what you liked, didn’t like, or that we could do better in the future.
I can’t emphasize enough how much cold is useful, and I’d encourage everyone else to utilize cold to a larger degree. At the risk of fulfilling a tech bro stereotype, I have relied on cryotherapy to help keep inflammation in my wrist down after previous injuries. But even for those who don’t need that level of extreme cold, cold showers and baths are the best.