Shocking True Story: How I Lost 12 Pounds in 12 Months!

Or: How I Lost 10% of my Total Weight Without Even Trying!


In just less than a year, I went from 143 pounds to 131 pounds.

I’m not on a diet, I can’t remember the last time I went to a gym to work out, and I’m not using any supplements, pills, or medicines.

I’ve never felt better, have plenty of energy, and feel completely engaged and excited for what’s next! 


I went from this: to this:
nathan - before nathan - after
Pilot Rock, Oregon, August 2010 Stanley Park, Vancouver (BC), August 2011

(note: hat weight was negligible :)

PLUS: I did this all over 12 months of travel!


Remarkable! Stunning! Unbelievable!

Now, I know this is almost from a year ago—do I still look like this? Yup. My average weight stays right around 130 lbs. and I have about 9% body fat (this is serious athlete range, and I’m definitely not that ;).

According to BMI charts (the most standardized method I found), I’m still in the healthy range for weight (I’m 5’10”).


The crazy thing to me is that these numbers have never been goals, and this has not been “work”; this is all the by-product of healthy living!

Yes, I believe that most people can become healthier through simple means: no chemicals, no surgeries, no crazy routines!


How did I achieve such amazing results?! ;)

Ok, so I know this is a bit silly. There ARE, however, some things that I think are worth sharing if you’re serious about losing weight, getting fit, and feeling great.

Of course, this path might not work for everyone, and certainly consult a professional if anything feels outta whack.


The 8 ways I got Lean and Clean!

1) LOTS of Walking

With no car and no bicycle, my feet are how I get around and experience the places I find!

Pus, add in the weight of a backpack all day, and that’s a good workout (ask any student)!

General (minimal!) recommendation is to walk at least 2-3 miles per week (that’s about an hour of walking at a brisk pace). Sometimes I hit that target in one day! In fact, back in April 2012, I logged about 50+ miles!

Find a couple nice and short walks in your day: to experience nature, or you could schedule phone calls, listen to music or a podcast, or walk with friends.

Everyone agrees: walking is some of the BEST exercise you can do, even if it’s the only exercise you do. Here’s a bit of goodness from Dr. Frank Lipman’s book Revive:

“When we walk, we coordinate the movement of our arms, legs, and torso. A daily walk burns calories, increases metabolic activity, helps counteract postural imbalances, and massages your internal organs. That’s right, walking actually massages your internal organs. It also strengthens the abdominal walls and improves your breathing. Moreover, walking outdoors on uneven terrain is even better for you. It stimulates varied movement patterns, improving balance and coordination.”



no grains!

2) Cutting out Grains

I believe one of the biggest reasons I’ve become leaner is because I’m not overloading on carbs anymore.

I don’t eat bread, pasta, and rice.

Ok, I’ll still eat these items, but nowhere near where I had been. I might have rice once a month, and I don’t remember the last time I ate pasta. So, super infrequently.

I’ve found that I get enough carbs from all the vegetables and fruits I eat. Of course, check in with yourself.

Most importantly: how do you feel?

If you get a little tired or sluggish after eating grains, try cutting them out for a week or two.



actual foods!

3) Focus on Whole Foods

Not the store, though I am a big fan.

You can’t go wrong eating a variety of all the natural goodness out there: SO MANY kinds of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds chock FULL of nutrients that our body knows exactly what to do with.

Most days I’ll have a green smoothie for breakfast, an enormous salad for lunch, and then some kind of vegetable-based dish for dinner (like Vegan Chili or Zucchini Pasta).

Just about every item on the grocery stores shelves (even WF) contains a ridiculous list of additives, chemicals, and unnatural weirdness that our body really can’t process. These substances are literally making us sick and slowly killing us.

If you do buy packaged foods:

  • Look for as few ingredients as possible (example: Almond Butter only needs to contain almonds! :)
  • Avoid high fructose corn syrup or corn syrup
  • Skip items where the first ingredient is sugar. The first ingredient is the majority item—you’d like that to be the actual food!

Stick to natural foods: things that come directly out of the ground or off trees!



eat less!

4) Portion Control

On average in this country, most people eat FAR too much at each meal. Our portion sizes are ridiculous, and most restaurants are not helping. They serve us entire plates of food, and then offer up dessert (another meal?!?).

I’ve been working on this one for a couple years now, really re-training myself to leave food on the plate: it’s OK! :)

Whenever I make salads, they tend to be HUGE; I’ll often share them, or I’ll just eat half and save the rest for another meal (even breakfast!). I’m not a fan of wasting or throwing away food, so I always look for ways to re-use or eat later.

When you go out to eat, you could even try this one: ask the waitstaff to box up half of your meal before they serve it to you!



get your exercise

5) Regular Exercise

Just about everyday, in addition to walking, I get in some kind of light-to-moderate exercise: yoga, stretching, tai chi, pull-ups, push-ups, etc.

This is pretty easy stuff, and only takes about 20-30 minutes. The point is to keep my body moving (what it is designed for)!

What do you love to do? Could be something mentioned above, or maybe gardening, climbing stairs (so good!), or playing outside with your family and pets!



relax when you eat

6) Triggering the Relaxation Response

Our bodies have two modes: Stress and Relax.

Which one do you think is healthier for eating? ;)

We’re such a fast-paced culture, and when we eat, we’re just cramming food in so that we can get back to work!

Guess what? If you do that, you’re triggering the stress response: your body assumes that because your hurriedly eating, food is scarce and it better “store” it for later energy-use. Mostly, this food ends up clinging to us as fat.

This is definitely a constant practice for me, as I often realize I’m just shoveling in the food again, and not paying attention to what I’m eating. Let’s take a cue from Sophie above (a dog I hung out with)—I don’t think she could be more relaxed when she eats!! :)

When we engage the relaxation response, we tap into our full metabolic power and process foods efficiently and effectively, allowing our body to pull exactly what it needs, without any stress.

How to switch to relax mode? Start breathing! Seriously. :)

In just one minute, you can completely pull your body out of stress with deep, full breaths.

Take a minute to breathe before you eat, take deep breaths while you eat (really taste your food!), and then give yourself about 15 minutes before you run off and stress yourself out again! :)

I’m also a big fan of MEDITATION, and totally know that overall I’ve become more calm and relaxed because of this practice (750+ days), which has definitely contributed to more time in the relaxation response!!



Thumbs up!

7) Enthusiasm, Positivity and Gratitude

Anyone who thinks these things don’t have an effect on your health and well-being is cray-cray!

If you’re full of good vibes, have some rockin’ mojo, and truly appreciate all the blessings around ya, of COURSE you’ll be more inclined to take care of yourself with what you’re eating and how you’re staying in shape.

Three ways to connect with E, P & G:

  1. Find what you LOVE to do and DO THAT! It could be dancing, volunteering, cooking, hiking – anything that fires you up!
  2. Always look for the best in any situation you’re in and with any person you interact. Yes, life will still be challenging, but what’s the opportunity for growth (instead of seeing something/someone as a “problem”)?
  3. Bust open your journal (or your laptop) and write down 5 things you’re grateful for today! (Learn more about journal exercises here.)

A happy mind makes a healthy body!



now you see it

8) What You Don’t See

So what’s behind Door #1? What’s my big mystery that I haven’t revealed?

Pretty simple: no alcohol, refined sugar, or processed foods.

My goal is to consume as little of these things as possible. Particularly for the last two groups, this “not-food” is very unhealthy and we don’t need any of it!

Alcohol, depending on the kind and quantity, has shown health benefits, but excess of anything (including spinach! :) usually has negative consequences.

Now, for those who read the Practice Reports, I do track these items, and they make up a very small percentage of my overall approach to food. Occasionally I will indulge, but again, not to the level where it’s making any impact.

Whole, healthy foods win out overall!



Next Steps for YOU!

Based on this list, are there any ways you might want to optimize your health? More than one? Awesome!

Here’s the secret: start with ONE new practice or habit!

I definitely didn’t commit or start these all at the same time. This has been a multi-year (yes, you read that right) project—and it’s still going! :)

Pick the one that most resonates with you, or the one you know would have the most positive impact on your life.

Then: start with a laughably small baby step! :)


A Few Ways to Kick These Habits Off:

  • Wanna start walking?
    • Go for 2 minutes. (Then bump it up to 3, 5, 10 and so on over time.)
  • Eat less?
    • Save the last bite on your plate for later. (Then make it the last two bites, etc.)
  • Focus on more whole foods?
    • Pick ONE healthy item that you’re going to START buying and one unhealthy/junk item you’ll STOP buying. (Feel free to add and subtract more as you’re feelin’ it!)
  • Be more relaxed?
    • One deep breath before, during, and after your meal (and I’m repeating myself: really taste your food!).
  • Live with more gratitude and positivity?
    • Think of ONE thing right now that’s awesome in your life! (Family? Work? Friends?) Now write that down…and do that again tomorrow! :)


If you can put ONE of these habits into practice (starting TODAY), I guarantee you’ll notice a difference over the coming weeks and months.

Good luck out there!!




How have you stayed fit while on the road?

I’d love to hear your response + any other thoughts you have below.


Looking forward to learning more!




Former life: actor/office worker/virtual assistant; lived in Los Angeles for 11 years. Since then: sold nearly everything, took a $5 flight to Hawaii, lived there for 3 months, wrote an eGuide about all of it, and still traveling. Currently: digital nomad - looking to improve myself, have fun and serve others.