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ME: This ties in to one of my strongest philosophies on money – it’s better to make a little bit of money doing what you love than making a ton of money doing what you hate. The same could be said of living a “healthy lifestyle.” A pound lost doing something enjoyable is worth more than 10 pounds lost doing something excruciatingly difficult – like starving yourself or doing unwanted exercise. The word ‘sustainable’ is sheer poetry – up there with ‘unprocessed.’ And this concept is really important when you consider the fact that you have been losing weight consistently for almost 2 years steady. Who could do unwanted exercise and deprive themselves of food for 2 years? Not me. And as you know, the metabolic consequences of doing so can be quite severe.

Now I’m sure everyone is curious… Could you tell us what kind of foods that you enjoy and were able to eat? What did a typical day of eating look like for you?

SASHA:? You are absolutely right. Chronic dieters have this imaginary wagon or track that they like to talk about being on and there are always a myriad of reasons for them to “fall off the wagon” or “go off-track.” I’ve seen a lot of this in the past two years of associating with people who diet, which to me is very different from people who heal their bodies. A lot of this has to do with food. I love talking about the way I eat because I love food and both my husband and I love cooking and looking for new sources of whole food. At first it was difficult, we had to spend a little time and research to suss out our sources for the right kinds of foods. I wanted to stay away from grocery store foods for the bulk of our shopping, so this meant the local farmer’s market, local produce sellers, people who sell pastured chickens and eggs, etc. We found a couple of butchers, and while the price is going to be a little higher, it’s worthwhile to have local product. We even managed to find a fish monger where we buy our seafood. We taste the difference and the nutrient value is also a plus.

Surprisingly we’ve done this all on a budget with a few extravagances like buying ghee and coconut oil from our local health food store. We just stay away from the processed “health” foods and expensive organic produce. If my produce is a little damaged but in season and comes from a local source who raises smaller crops organically, this is going to be cheaper than a large chain like Whole Foods. Learn how to shop locally and according to season for the best prices.

Typically we favor yogurt and in season fruit for our breakfasts or pastured eggs. We normally eat a second large meal but not a third, skipping dinner. We favor beef and game meats, our butcher carries a large selection of meats; fowl, buffalo, elk, sausages made in house. We’re especially fond of braising meats because there are so many ways of braising and the “low and slow” method in the BBQ during the summer. Legumes, sweet potatoes, squash, locally-grown corn, chard, greens, whatever is in season, with plenty of butter. A little fruit but not too much. We live where berries are plentiful and we incorporate these into our diet when they’re in season. We make our own pizzas and ice cream so we can control what goes in them, but again, this is not to make food necessarily less fatty but to avoid processed foods. The bottom line is, we keep things very simple and basic.

I talked about the lack of quality product coming out of fast food restaurants and chain/corporate restaurants. Our bodies need nutrient dense, fatty foods but we eat bad quality foods that are doctored up with a lot of sodium and HFCS. How do you think a place like Red Lobster is able to afford to sell you lobster for $9.99? Bad quality food and bad nutrition leaves your body lacking and still craving so you eat more bad food and so forth. Obviously I have a vendetta against these types of restaurants but I’m so well fed and satiated, there’s no danger that I’ll binge on packages of diet cookies because of uncontrollable cravings. There’s no imaginary wagon or track for me to fall of off. Not once in two years have I ever thought of my weight loss in those terms.

I just want people to know that this is real and I’m not crazy. I really do EAT.

ME:? You say that you weren’t eating dinner. Was this something you did all along or started up recently with all the talk about eating light in the evening? Did you eat anything at dinner at all? And how long did it take for your body to adjust to this eating schedule where you really weren’t hungry in the evening? I’m very curious about this because it could be a pivotal maneuver in your weight loss, AND I’m even thinking about re-working?one of my books’to advise overfeeding until 2pm and then coasting into the evening with a very light meal – to reap the same rewards, but make weight gain a less frequent occurrence. Do tell?

SASHA:? To be honest, the meal schedule wasn’t deliberate at all but rather accidental. It started a little over a year ago mostly due to my husband’s weird schedule and also because we had become used to eating when we were hungry and noticing that our hunger was greatest after 11 and before 2 in the afternoon. We thought it was because we would cycle, hike or run in the mid-mornings, but regardless of what we do or don’t do, this eating pattern simply seems natural. I imagine that people who eat a lot of “lite” processed diet foods and non-fat foods are constantly fighting their appetites (and probably why they just give up on losing weight). The more you get into the habit of eating whole foods and nutrient dense meals, the less time the body begs to be fed constantly. At first you may overeat and gain weight but eventually your body’s mechanism gets the signal that it is being fed. My personal experience has told me that obeying my body and appetite should be a priority. If I seem to gain a couple of pounds one week because I was hungrier a couple of days and ate more, the weight comes back off the next week then drops even further. The weight doesn’t stay on a logical schedule which I know makes a lot of people crazy, but it will continue a downward trend.

Any eating after 2 is very light and this schedule seems to give my body a chance to catch up and rest during the evening hours and overnight. Some days, if there’s a need or desire, I can switch things up and have a heavier dinner if I eat lighter during the day, but I don’t do this often, probably once or twice a month at the most. I’ve learned to be flexible.

ME:? Amen on not being hungry when you have nourished yourself properly earlier in the day. My most recent studies have highlighted just how truly natural this eating pattern is. And I do believe it’s a useful tool for weight loss – not starving yourself at night that is, but eating enough early to naturally be satisfied in the afternoon and evening. Once again, the focus is on eating more at the right time, and allowing the “eating less” part to occur spontaneously.

Anyway, this is exactly what I have sought after all along – trying to get people to ignore everything and focus on nourishing themselves, answering the physiological call of their hunger with quality nourishment, and letting things fall where they may. If anything, you seem to have succeeded because you are even MORE dedicated to that self-commitment than others. It’s amazing to see the trust that you’ve developed for your body, nourishing it and letting it sort things out on its own. I think a lot of people, by the time they get?near 400 pounds, have an extreme DISTRUST for themselves and a strong love-hate relationship with food. Congrats to you and your husband for overcoming such barriers. Very few people at your former weight and age ever have the kind of success that you have had. But I hope this interview will lead to many more light bulbs going off, and more people will have the courage to do what you’ve done, and display the kind of patience you’ve displayed. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this Sasha. Can’t wait to see where you are in another 2 years.