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Sticking to salad helps Iain Jones's soccer game. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
Sticking to salad helps Iain Jones's soccer game. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

Portrait of weight loss: Trying the 'paleo' diet Add to ...

When Iain Jones hit 223 pounds last October - the heaviest he'd been in three years - he decided it was time to get serious about his diet. He hired a personal trainer, who put him on a strict nutritional regimen. The 33-year-old, who is a learning professional for the Ontario government and lives in Toronto, has had his struggles with what he can and can't eat, but he's well on the way to reaching his goal of losing 35 pounds and cutting his body fat in half from 30 per cent. And he's always got cheat day to look forward to.

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The diet: "I had tried losing weight, but my main problem was I didn't really adjust my diet. I was focused on just hitting the gym with a vengeance. I did drop some weight, but the problem was if I slacked off even slightly the weight would come back. Three years ago I dropped 50 pounds, but because my diet wasn't stable I regained 30 pounds. I sort of went Robert De Niro in Raging Bull. I like to play soccer, but it's a pretty physically demanding sport. Playing with an extra 30 pounds around your waist isn't the easiest thing to do."

The biggest challenge: "Cutting out the bread and the dairy wasn't as bad as I thought. It's changed my coffee habits. I used to be a double-double guy. I can still have coffee, but it has to be black. It was a tough adjustment. I'm now really picky about the coffee I drink because it actually has to taste like decent coffee. Eating out at restaurants can also be a pain. I try to look at menu items and see what's close to the diet I'm on, and then look for things I can either ask them to hold back or things I can push to the side when the plate comes out."

The current plan: "My trainer turned me on to a paleo diet system. It's sort of going back to earlier diets of paleolithic man before we started such a heavy reliance on grains and dairy products. The main piece of it is eliminating dairy, taking out things like breads and pastas and rice, and reducing sugars. When my trainer first told me about it, it just seemed completely bizarre to me. But I was willing to go along with it. I think he sold me when he said I could have bacon every day if I wanted to. And I hit the gym four to five days a week. I do weights three days and cardio on two days."

The goal: "So far I've dropped just over 20 pounds, so I'm making pretty good progress there. And my body fat is down from 30 per cent to about 20 per cent. I'm still working consistently, but I put a lot of that success on the diet. The paleo diet requires a lot more planning. It's really easy to make bad choices for breakfast, whether it's quickly making some toast or oatmeal. I have to get up a little earlier because I have to make eggs or bacon and some vegetables."

How it's going: "I allow myself one cheat day a week, like on a Saturday I'll get my junk in. I try not to go too crazy. Even on my cheat day I'm pretty picky. I only get this one day, so I'm not going to waste my cheat day on a piece of toast and cream in my coffee. I'll still drink all black coffee, but maybe have some wings and a beer. I have that to look forward to all week. I'm playing soccer more regularly now. I find I have more jump in the last part of the game than I used to."

This interview has been condensed and edited.

 

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