For years now, Penn Jillette has been recognisable to British audiences as the audible half of Penn & Teller, the famous Las Vegas magical duo. But those of us who are familiar with Penn will have noticed a remarkable difference in his appearance over the past few years. That is because he has remarkably shifted over 100lbs in weight and now has released a book to tell the world how he did it.
And that new book, Presto!, starts with one of the strongest disclaimers that you are ever likely to read, where Jillette cleverly tells his readers that if you are going to take medical advice from a juggler, then you’re an asshole. That being said, the people familiar to Penn want to know how he got there. This isn’t a diet book. It won’t tell you what you have to do to succeed. It just points out exactly what he did to get to where he is now.
So here is what he did:
- Firstly, lost a lot weight, in a really short period of time but that wasn’t the goal. Something I try to explain a lot on this blog is that the idea is to get healthy. If you start becoming healthier then the weight will take care of itself. Penn says the exact same thing. He decided to become really healthy, really fast. The weight loss was just a product of that.
- No animal products. Penn is careful to use that phrase because the word vegan comes with so much baggage these days!
- No refined grains. This stuff is all pretty common to a lot of diets. Most people that want to start becoming healthy start off by ditching the white bread and the white pasta. That’s exactly what Penn did.
- Very low levels of salt, sugar and oil.
- And then, every few weeks or even once a month he goes out and eats whatever he used to eat. That is effectively his cheat day.
So here is what he knows. He isn’t a scientist. And therefore he looks to the advice of people that are. He knows that this is working. Whatever he has decided to do has helped him lose all this weight. He’s also pretty sure that half of it is nonsense. But the fact that you can’t identify which part of it is nonsense means that you have to carry on with it all.
The remarkable thing is, and I think this is something that a lot of people don’t realise, that a person’s individual taste can change. This happens all the time with the sort of music you are into, the type of films you want to go and see or even the clothes that you wear. And yet so many people don’t allow for that in their nutrition. They decide that because they didn’t like vegetables much as a kid, they definitely won’t like them now. This is nonsense. The idea that when somebody stops eating bad foods all they do is crave them just isn’t true. I think a lot of people might start off that way but if you stick with it, your tastes will change. And you won’t constantly be having cravings.
Penn talks about corn on the cob in his example for this. Before he changed his life around, he had no idea that corn had a flavour that wasn’t salt and butter. In reality, you can strip back a lot of what you consume and often find that these ingredients have remarkable flavours of their own.
So now, here is my disclaimer. This won’t work for everyone, no nutritional plan will. But what we have is a success story being told. If it worked for him, we know it will work for others.