future former fatties
Mar 27, 2015 at 10:42 AM

Interview With Aaron Snyder

By Linda Misleh Wagner, Future Former Fatty

Aaron Snyder, author of The New Diabetes Prescription, founder and developer of the website UltimateWeightLossRx.com, is a man who is making a difference in the lives of many people. Aaron, who battled obesity once upon a time, now spends his time helping others control their diabetes through proper diet and exercise, and learn to make the changes in their mindset, one small change at a time, in order to reach and maintain their weight loss and health goals. Let’s find out more about Aaron and how he began his journey into the health field.

1: Aaron, please share with us your background prior to writing The New Diabetes Prescription. Why did you write the book?

I wrote the New Diabetes Prescription for several reasons. First, I was upset at how naïve the message to diabetics was. “Just lose weight!” No one was willing to acknowledge the elephant in the room, which is that diabetics are heavy people who got that way from intentionally overeating too much of the wrong food while not exercising for decades. If they could just flip a switch and stop, they would have! I knew this because I was the same way when I was first diagnosed with the disease. I did not have a blood sugar problem. I had an eating problem. I had a lifestyle problem that included hating to exercise. I didn’t want to eat healthy food because all I liked was fast food. But I had to change or face an early death like my binge eating diabetic grandfather, and that fear motivated me to do so. So after I succeeded in losing the weight, I wrote this book as a systematic approach for everyone else struggling to do the same.

2: How much weight have you lost? How long did it take you to lose the weight?

Weight is a misnomer somewhat because I have lost fat and built muscle. At my heaviest, I was about 220 pounds at 5 feet 6 inches. I was easily at 35% body fat. I now weigh 160 pounds at 8% body fat. A healthy male will have less than 20% body fat, and I attained that level within 2 years of diagnoses from diabetes, then fluctuated for 5 years until I figured out how to lean out with starving myself, creating cravings, bingeing, and then putting the weight back on. I should mention that my level of struggle dropped in stages. I went from huge eating fluctuations to milder ones over those 5 years, but even after, I still had to fight back urges to binge from time to time, even into my 30s. All I can tell you is that it has gotten easier over time and the urge to binge is gone and has been gone for the past 3 years. That total time span is nearly 10 years, with the hardest struggle in the first 5.

3:How many starts and restarts?

Countless. Almost weekly. Given 5 years is the amount of time I struggled, I’d say more than 200. Then over the next 5 years, perhaps 100, but on a much smaller scale. My weight did not move as much, but my mind still fought a battle. Now that battle is won.

4: What was the turning point for you, the catalyst to permanent and healthy weight loss?

The first impetus to control my eating was right after the diabetes diagnoses. “This is not ok” I remembered thinking. I was referring to the fact that I ate big and bad, but even though a lot of other people did, they weren’t the ones who got diabetes in their 20’s. Also realize that I grew up with countless stories of how mean and out of control my diabetic grandfather was. I literally did not want to be him, or die his early death from kidney failure. For me, this was a strong enough reason to change. I would not have changed my opinion of my eating had I not already had that blueprint.

5: You are the guru of encouraging people to make one small change at a time. Why is this a winning concept in losing weight?

I see so many people who weight 300, 400, or even 500 pounds. They are in chaos. They hate themselves, they have no energy, they want to change, but they cannot quit what they are doing. And therein lies the opportunity for change. You see, no one stops doing one thing without starting to do another. The problem is these poor souls trapped in their weight gaining mindset do not know what to change to. And to be frank, they have a lot of changes to make, the number of which varies but nonetheless remains overwhelming if you knew it all. And on top of all that, they live in denial of how bad their problem is. This makes it impossible to even see how many or what changes they really need to make. So I do that for them. I use my years in the trenches to identify 3 things they can do every day that will have the biggest impact on their weight loss, and ask them to try to do that consistently. Notice I don’t just say “do these 3 things” because if I did, I’d be no better than all the other well-meaning folks out there who think telling you what to do is enough. It’s not. Getting these people to follow through on what they need to do is enough. And that is where I’m different, and that is why I ask for small consistent changes. Because I know that once a person can make a habit out of 3 monumental weight loss principles like having a high protein breakfast or exercising 30 minutes per day, I am going to be able to get them all the way in time. This first set of changes is the hardest, and that is why I am fine taking my time working with people until those first changes are integrated.  

6: What do you find to be the biggest obstacles people face when trying to lose weight?

You, Linda, opened my eyes to this in your blogs. The answer is denial. People are in denial when it comes to losing weight one way or another. Either they are in denial that they need to lose weight, or how much weight they need to lose, or in denial that doing or eating “X” is not part of their weight problem. Because denial is the tool we use to protect ourselves from seeing we need to change. Without denial, we are forced to face the ugly truth, which is actually scarier than the problem we’ve created.

7: How does your method break the cycle of yo-yo dieting?

We don’t start by counting calories or usually even cutting calories. We start by making permanent behavioral changes. When those changes occur, you eat fewer calories from junk food. You lose weight because your appetite is not as high and your cravings are fewer. By doing that, you’re cutting calories you never needed in the first place. Hence, there is no rebound in your appetite or hunger that drives you to act on by overeating and gaining back more weight. Instead, you lose that weight through making changes that you are willing and able to make, then make a few more changes, all the while losing weight, or at the very least, not gaining any back until you start to lose again. Yo-yo diets only happen when you treat your weight loss as a short-term sprint. Weight loss is created by our day-to-day actions that we follow every day for the rest of our lives. Eventually, our weight drops to a healthy point and stays there, and that is what I teach.

8: You plan mainly follows a low-carb style of eating. Why is a low-carb lifestyle more effective than other types of diets?

Low carb can mean eating 150 or 20 grams of carbs per day, not counting fiber. When we’re talking about a low-carb lifestyle being effective for weight loss, we’re talking about someone who has already gotten into deep doo-doo with their weight and/or their health. Those people are not athletes or health nuts. They need a clean diet that increases fullness, cuts cravings, and burns fat. That is a low carb diet. If there were another diet that could do all that as well or better, that would be the diet I would put people on.

9: What makes sugar and white flour detrimental to our well-being?

They are foods that take away your control. When you eat them, you no longer have control over your appetite or cravings. These foods make you want to eat more and more of them and avoid healthy foods that would keep you full and lean. That’s why they’re bad. Biochemically, they’re doing that because they’re disrupting blood sugar, leptin, and key neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that make you crave more calories than you burn. Now, if you’re eating these foods every day, you don’t even know that they’re making you hungry. You simply think you’re a carbaholic and that is natural for you. And yes, there will be a withdrawal phase from these foods that will simply be uncomfortable that you will have to endure. The reward will be control over your cravings, but until you are no longer in denial of the control these foods have over you, you will not be willing to through that.

10: What does your plan offer that other plans do not?

My plan is not sexy. It’s not trendy. It is however permanently life changing, which to me, is very sexy. That is what it offers. It offers the opportunity to start a journey of life time leanness where the only way you fail is if you quit, and without breaking you bank account.

11: How important is exercise in controlling our weight, and in controlling type 2 diabetes?

If you’re really overweight, 95% of the time it’s because you have been eating too much crap. In other words, it’s really not a genetic abnormality like being deficient in leptin. That said, when you are that overweight, you can change your eating habits and drop a good chunk of weight without exercise. And then that won’t work anymore. Likewise, if you only have a little bit of weight to lose, you will lose a little bit of weight changing your eating habits, and then you’ll need exercise. In either case, the reasons for exercise are two-fold. Exercise burns fat. Duh. More importantly though, and this is key, is exercise in the form of weight lifting builds muscle. That matters so much because everyone is chasing the wrong fitness goal, i.e. losing weight. That could mean losing fat, muscle, or water. You want to be chasing fat loss, and fat loss only happens by keeping all the muscle you have while you lose weight so the weight lost is fat, or even building muscle to burn even more fat. You can’t get that with diet alone. If you try, you lose fat, lose your metabolism, burn fewer calories, and thereby make it impossible to lose more fat. It would be like trying to cut your expenses and simultaneously cutting your salary until you have no more salary and can’t even pay half your bills. And in diabetics, exercise, in particular weight training, has the added benefit of increasing insulin sensitivity, dropping the need for diabetes medication in many cases.

12: What do you say to people who tell you they are too fat or out-of-shape to exercise?

In most cases, it’s denial. If you have a busted knee and can’t walk, you should be in physical therapy or if needed, getting surgery for it, then physical therapy, which is exercise. If you can walk at all, then you should be walking. If another joint hurts, you should get that looked at, and then get rehabilitative exercise from a specialist. If you are not such a hard luck case, then you are out of excuses. I would honestly prefer someone tell me they do not want to exercise than they can’t. I respect being told they won’t, and I have faith in the day when they say they will. This typically happens after they’ve lost several pounds through diet changes and their motivation kicks up a notch.

13: How much does emotional eating play into obesity? Can your method teach people the tools to overcome emotional eating, stress eating, and boredom eating?

Emotional eating is obesity. Even if you’re not yet obese, you will be. You have the mindset of the obese, and you’ll eventually get there just like I did and millions of other people. Emotional eating, stress eating, boredom eating, whatever you call it, is the route of nearly all weight problems. It is exactly what my program is targeted towards changing, but it cannot work until the individual is not in denial of having that problem. If you think it’s normal to sit in a parked car in the dark and eat two bags of fast food, then I invite you to look around and see how many other people are doing that. If you think it’s normal to say you don’t eat and not count all the little bites of food you had, then you and my past-self have something in common-emotional eating. Now, the good news is that emotional eating is not as emotional in nature as one thinks. Look at the food that people binge with. Ice cream, chips, French fries. It’s never broccoli or even scrambled eggs. Simply stopping to eat these foods will eventually lead to not craving them anymore, but as I previously mentioned, there will be a period of discomfort. That’s the time you want to really start looking fro healthy snacks that you like the taste of. They will save you during this time. I would make low carb protein shakes that tasted like ice cream or low carb cheese quesadillas, and it did the trick. I survived the dark period long enough to not need those crutches anymore, but they were vital when my emotions screamed for something sweet, and I had a safe way to indulge them without hurting my progress. I teach those recipes in my weight loss club. 

14: Tell us about your eating lifestyle now. Do you ever “cheat”?

I eat regular desserts every week. Is that cheating? I’ll answer that for you. No, it’s not, because dessert is part of my lifestyle and hence is not a cheat against it. The whole mindset of a cheat is that you have to be good and then let yourself be bad. We assign these moral sides to certain foods when none of us are perfect, and if fact, there is no such thing as a perfect diet. Truth be told, too much dessert will make me gain weight, and yes, in my mind that is bad, but I eat it every week because to not do so would make me feel deprived and hence want to overeat even more of it. I have simply found the amount of junk food I can eat on a weekly basis that I am happy with can maintain for life and that will keep me looking the way I want to look. I eat low carb Sunday night through Friday night, and allow myself to eat more freely on Friday night or Saturday. But I do not feel guilty about what I eat, and that is my point when I say I do not feel that I am being bad. Pay attention to guilt. At first, it tells you when you’re doing something that you should not be doing, but once you figure it out, be sure you are not feeling guilty about something that is just a part of life and really is okay.

15: What is the most important tool members get from joining your website, www.ultimateweightlossrx.com?

Relief that rest assured they have found a real weight loss solution that will finally work. It was designed by a former fatty who figured out how to help future former fatties deal with the root of their problem and permanently change. The method of that change comes from weight loss menus, at home exercise programs, emotional eating solutions, and a program that identifies your greatest weight loss problem, works with you to decide how fast you want to change that, and then keeps you accountable as you do. But none of those by themselves make up the main tool, which is the confidence that this program will finally change me.

16: What message do you want to leave for our readers to take with them?

I want people to wake up and realize that their weight loss answer is not going to come from some magic supplement that you see on a talk show or from an advertisement by some celebrity. The world has done a very good job of teaching us what does not work with weight loss. I’d like people to see from the above conversation what real weight loss success looks like. It undoes the not so pleasant parts of our personality that makes us fat in the first place. It keeps us accountable for our own weight. It does not allow us to use denial to ignore what we really need to do. Once that depth is accomplished, then the exercise regimes, calorie counts, diet menus, and low carb tricks all of a sudden work, and work better than they ever have in your life because you’re not falling off the wagon so often that you can never reap their benefits. And that’s what UltimateWeightLossRx is all about.

Thanks so much, Aaron. I sure appreciate your time and your insight. You are an inspiration to all of us.

Until we meet again, this is Linda Misleh Wagner, Future Former Fatty

Posted in Interviews/Guest Posts.