My Philosophy of Food helped me lose 10 kg in 8 weeks! + Five Key Weight-loss Concepts for Success

So, here’s my food journey that led to me losing 10 kg (22 lbs.) in 8 weeks without losing any muscle and without using any supplements or pharmaceuticals.   Over 1 year later, the weight is still off.

In late February of 2018, at age 46, I decided to compete in a Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournament that was 8 weeks away.  Since jiu-jitsu tournaments have their competitors divided into weight classes, I wanted to lose some weight so that I could have the best possible advantage and not have to fight against freakishly strong monsters.  I had 8 weeks to move from 83.5 kg to 73 kg.

Above are before and after photos showing my weight loss

My Philosophy of Food

Many years ago, one of my old law enforcement instructors said that martial arts is 90% mental and 10% physical.  My food journey has taught me that nutrition is a martial art in itself.  

Some people can move from bad eating habits to perfect eating habits instantly, what we call the “cold turkey” approach, and maintain their weight-loss long after their target is reached.  Most people cannot. 


Every story has a beginning, middle and end.  When you skip to the back of a book or a movie, it’s no big deal.  When you try that in the real world, what happens?  You wind up right back at the beginning because you skipped the middle to get to the end.  The only difference now from when you’ve started is that you’ve lost precious time and that’s if you’re lucky.

If you’re unlucky you’ve acquired the psychological baggage that comes with failure.  

When people apply the cold turkey approach to food it usually happens something like this:

The dieter has a history of eating junk food and wants to lose weight.  He gives up the foods he loves to get to the end of the story, which in this case is a beautiful body.  If he gives up these foods immediately, instead of gradually, he’s skipping the middle of the story.  Unless he knows why he loves those foods, he’s skipping the middle of the story.  Unless he knows why having a beautiful body is so important to him and unless he can be happy with himself as a person, even if he fails to lose the weight, he’s skipping the middle of the story.  

So, the dieter skips the middle of the story and depends on willpower to get to the end of the story.  Willpower works until it doesn’t.  Even if I had been able to transition from a junk food diet to a health food diet instantly and had been able to maintain that for 8 weeks through sheer willpower, after the tournament I would sooner or later have gone right back to my old eating habits after the tournament and have lost all of the health benefits obtained from my weight-loss.

Don’t forget that willpower is a constant state of war with yourself and your cravings and things that give you comfort in a world that is not always supportive.  Fighting a battle with yourself is stressful and costs enough energy to be exhausting.  Why would I fight a battle with myself when I have a tough and very real opponent waiting to kick my ass in 8 weeks?

For most of us, willpower is inseparable from character. A lack of willpower is synonymous with weakness and is therefore a very embarrassing character flaw.  Adam and Eve didn’t have the willpower to resist the serpent and the human race was forever punished.  If you’re influenced by the most dominant religion in the Western World, a lack of willpower is our original sin, literally the first sin ever committed by a human.  You can’t get more primal than that.  

So, the dieter fails to resist the serpent and offends God by eating that donut and is therefore a weak and unlovable person.  Society has been programmed to think this way for thousands of years.  Consciously, he has failed himself because he didn’t meet that goal of getting a beautiful body.  Unconsciously, he has failed God and all of the Judeo-Christian values that have been instilled in him since before he could walk. Even if he has been raised by atheists, it’s really hard to escape the influence of Christianity on Western thought.  Regardless of the separation of church and state, our legal systems, educational systems, our art, literature, movies, music and even fashion are influenced by Christianity and the stories of the Bible, often in ways that we are not consciously aware of.  That’s why Christianity and this concept of original sin is part of our subconscious.  

Artwork from Albrecht Durer, “The Fall of Man” and “Expulsion from Paradise”

Because the dieter has lost self-esteem and is experiencing shame, guilt, anger and fear both on a conscious and a subconscious level, he is well on his way to depression and possibly an eating disorder.  The vicious cycle begins.  Diet.  Fail to resist the serpent.  Punish self for failure.  Eat comfort foods to escape depression, what we call “binge eating”.  Instead of losing fat, he gains fat and decides to go on a diet to atone for the new fat.  

Fail to resist the serpent, again.  Punish self for failure, again.   Eat comfort foods to escape depression, again.  Now he’s fatter and fear starts to seep in.  As he becomes what he thinks people consider to be unattractive and then he fears that nobody will love him when he becomes unattractive, fear turns into desperation and he’s willing to try any diet, take any drug, stick his finger down his throat or even have surgery. 

Luckily for me, that dark journey was not my 8-week food journey.  I always knew that whether I lost the weight or didn’t, whether I won the tournament or didn’t, people would still love me.

I also knew that 8 weeks was enough time for me to gradually change my food habits and check my weight regularly, to see what was working and not working.  It wasn’t my first time losing weight for a tournament, although I haven’t fought at such a low weight class since the late 1990’s.  I wasn’t completely ignorant about nutrition either because in 2001 I became a certified holistic health counselor through Integrative Nutrition

Food Charts

Most of the 90% mental part of my nutrition plan had already been worked out before I even began my 8 weeks.  Now that that was out of the way, I could focus the easier part, the physical.

Here is a summary of the gradual, week-by-week progression of changes I made in my nutrition with easy-to-remember names for the theme of each change for that week, which I will discuss in greater detail below. 

Week 0 : Health History

The first technique they teach you at Integrative Nutrition is how to do a health history.  A health history is a written record of what the dieter eats for a week:  breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, Monday to Sunday.  

Week 0 is a typical weekday and a typical weekend day from my health history for my food habits from October 2017-February 2018.  Because the timing of my eating was directly connected to my workout schedule, the workouts are included as well as my basic work schedule.  Remember, this was before I decided to lose weight for competition. 

Breakfast07:30Water. Fruit (banana, apple, grapefruit or orange). Cappuccino, 250 ml.  (Of course, I have water at every meal, but when I wake up, drinking water is one of the first things I do
Lunch13:30-14:30Fried eggs, toast with mayonnaise and bacon, Romaine lettuce and tomato salad with honey-mustard dressing.  Cappuccino, 500 mL
Dinner22:30Fruit immediately after my workout: banana or apple
Fish taco with nachos.  Blueberry hard cider 500 ml (or apple, grape or grapefruit cider for variety)
SnacksWhenever. 1-3x/day including late-night snacks
Note- I would only have 1 or 2 items from the list below at each snack:

Dannon yogurt (blueberry, strawberry or banana flavored), salted peanuts, fruit (banana, apple, grapefruit or orange), Twix candy bar, ¼ to ½ a bar or dark chocolate (preferably with almonds or hazelnuts inside and often with yogurt or coffee), hotdog, Big Mac without fries, corn on the cob, meat pie, buckwheat and fried vegetables
WeekendsBreakfast, lunch and snacks were pretty much the same but dinner was different because I didn’t have evening jiu-jitsu classes on the weekends and on some week days, and I often wasn’t eating dinner alone.

Weekend Dinner-  20:00
Option 1- Burger & fries with beer
Option 2- Grilled chicken Caesar salad with margarita pizza and chocolate milkshake
Option 3- Sushi with glintwine (hot wine with fruit)
Option 4- Pasta with mussels and Parmesan cheese.  Red or white wine
Table 1
Above are my “Breakfast  for Lunch” and my post-jiu-jitsu fish-taco with nachos

Week 2: Dry Week

  1. No more hard cider or beer after jiu-jitsu and only 1 drink of alcohol per week.

After one week of having less sugar and more fruit and vegetables, my awareness had changed.  When I put a half liter of cider to my mouth, it tasted like liquid sugar to me and I no longer craved it.

Week 3: Grapefruit Week

In addition to all of the other fruits I was eating, starting in week 3, Grapefruit Week, all the way until week 8, Time Restricted Eating Week, I was eating at least 2 whole grapefruits per day, one of which would be right after jiu-jitsu class.  This lowered my cravings, both for sweet foods and fried foods.  

Week 4:  Egg Week

I knew that sooner or later, my late-night, fish-taco dinners would have to end.  I also knew that making that change in week 1 would have been a shock to my system but by week 4, I was ready.  

My substitution for fish tacos was 1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs with 1 banana and 1 whole grapefruit and about 1 liter of water.  If that wasn’t enough, I had almonds, cashews and dried apricots to fill me up.

I kept this dinner in my gym bag and consumed within it 15 minutes of finishing my jiu-jitsu class. I didn’t even wait until I got to the metro.  I either ate it on a park bench or simply ate while walking.  One of my trainers joked, “What’s wrong?  Your wife kick you out of the house?”.

At first, I needed 2 hard-boiled eggs and lots of nuts to keep from starving myself after an intense jiu-jisu workout.  Eventually though, 1 hard-boiled egg, a banana and half-a-grapefruit or orange would be enough.

If you’d read more about the specifics of the second month of my eight weeks and know more about my long-term results, please read the second part of my series, “10 kg in 8 weeks: Pt. II, Health Histories”.

Week 5:  Salad Week

After a month of slowly changing my food, my way of looking at things had changed.  I wanted all of the fuel I would need for that day at my lunches, but I wanted efficient fuel.

My solution was The Salad Bomb. (The little white things on the plate are grains of quinoa.)

As you can see, The Salad Bomb has a shitload of food with all of the protein, fats and carbohydrates an athlete should need.  People thought I was starving myself on salad but I was so stuffed after lunch that I needed that cappuccino with cookies to stay awake.  

If people remember one thing from this article, it should be that salads can be completely satisfying. If your salads are leaving you hungry two hours later or if they’re simply boring, then I’ve got news for you… You’ve been eating the wrong salads!

Week 6:  New Food Chart Week

By Week 6, after many gradual changes, my food habits were almost unrecognizable in comparison to Week 0, with the exception of breakfast.

Breakfast07:30Water. Fruit (banana, apple, grapefruit or orange). Cappuccino, 250 ml.  (Of course, I have water at every meal, but when I wake up, drinking water is one of the first things I do
Lunch13:30-14:30The Salad Bomb
4 Basics- chicken (or salmon or beef), tofu, spinach, quinoa

1-3 of the following vegetables in various combinations: lettuce, green beans, green peas, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, red bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms

Toppings- sunflowers seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and olive oil

Dessert and drinks- apples and water with lemon and mint, 250 ml cappuccino and granola cookies
Dinner22:301 or 2 hard-boiled eggs with 1 banana and 1 whole grapefruit and about 1 liter of water.  If that wasn’t enough, I had almonds, cashews and dried apricots to fill me up.
SnacksWhenever. 1-3x/day including late-night snacks. In addition to eliminating most junk food, I’d added some really healthy food.

Note- I would only have 1 or 2 items item from the list below at each snack:
Fruit (banana, apple, grapefruit or orange), buckwheat and fried vegetables, almonds, cashews, apricots, kefir, an occasional piece of dark chocolate, and boiled beets, broccoli and cauliflower
WeekendsBreakfast, lunch and snacks were pretty much the same, but dinner was different because didn’t have evening jiu-jitsu classes on the weekends and on some week days, and I often wasn’t eating dinner alone.

Weekend Dinner-  20:00

I did a lot less socializing in the last 3 weeks before my tournament.  I still had my one drink but I usually had my dinner alone.  By then I was so used to having hard-boiled eggs, fruit and nuts for dinner I was fine with it even for nights that I wasn’t training. 
Table 2

Week 7: Espresso Week

Teachers inhale coffee.  However, through great discipline I was able to go from 750 mL of cappuccino/day to only 500 mL of cappuccino/day. However, for someone trying to lose weight for a deadline, that’s still a lot of milk!

Fortunately, as an English teacher, I have students from all over the world.  One of them, Giancarlo, is a genuine Italian from Brecha.  He has informed me that real Italians only drink cappuccino in the morning and that after that, it’s espresso for the rest of the day well into the evening.  So, if you order cappuccino with your lunch or dinner, everybody knows you’re a tourist.  

As an American of French descent, it’s unacceptable to be seen as a fake Italian by Ukrainians while living in Kiev.  That made it easier to give up my beloved cappuccino in favor of espresso.

So, for the last 2 weeks it was no cappuccino, not even in the morning.  After the tournament, the plan was to do it the Italian way, morning cappuccino followed by espresso for the rest of the day.

Week 8: Time Restricted Eating Week

I had actually made my weight within 7 weeks, one week ahead of schedule.  However, one disappointment in my love-life and one trip to a Georgian restaurant later, I was 4 pounds over and I have 5 days to lose the extra weight before the weigh-in for my competition.  

My solution was to limit all of my eating within a 12-hour window. That did take willpower and after my tournament, I stopped limiting my eating to a 12-hour window. 


Immediately after my tournament, I stopped limiting my eating to a 12-hour window.  I do continue to fast on rest days, however, but only to the extent that it doesn’t use willpower.

Also immediately after my tournament, I fell off the wagon and went back to my cappuccino addiction.  I even enjoy a chocolate croissant with my cappuccino almost every day, but never at night.

Instead of eating hard-boiled from my gym bag after my jiu-jitsu workout, I wait an extra 30 minutes and eat fried eggs at home.  In fact, fried eggs at home are now part of my snacks but they are whole eggs from local farmers and they are fried in extra-virgin olive oil.  I also enjoy a protein shake with a banana on-the-side immediately after my weight-lifting workouts.

All of the other changes during my eight weeks remain intact because they have become so painless for me.   Twix, Big Macs, Dannon yogurts and the most destructive of my snacks foods are virtually gone from my life.  One alcoholic drink on average per week is more than enough for me and half the time I don’t even want that.  Fruits and vegetables are things that I’m always putting in my mouth every chance I get and salad bombs are still a regular staple in my diet.

One year later, I’m still at my competition weight, and yet I now look even thinner and more muscular, probably because I’ve done a lot more weight-lifting since that competition.  I’ve kept most of the changes that I’ve made, but I’ve dropped of the most difficult ones.

So, if losing weight is important to you, try my 8-Week, Willpower Free Program. Keep training!

My whole philosophy of food could be summed up in 5 key concepts:

  1. No good habit comes from low self-esteem and negative energy; eating disorders and addictions come from low self-esteem and negative energy.
  2. It’s not about the individual meal; it’s about the habit.
  3. It’s not about what you don’t eat; it’s about what you eat.
  4. Gradual changes can be painless and easy to maintain; baby steps work and baby steps last. 
  5. Salads don’t have to be boring and they don’t have to leave you hungry.
David Francis Banc
David Francis Banc

David is a writer and English teacher from New York City with a Master’s degree from Columbia. Living in the Podol district of Kyiv for the past three years, he’s also a published writer, currently with four books available on Amazon and two films on IMDB. Before moving to Ukraine, he’s had several careers that include: soldier, start-up partner, actor, and highly decorated police officer. He also has a holistic counselor certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, a personal trainer certification from IFPA, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

You can find David on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter!