How Penn Jillette Lost over 100 Lbs and Still Eats Whatever He Wants | Big Think


I lost over 100 pounds, a third of my weight. I was probably at my heaviest. You don’t ever weigh yourself at your heaviest
but I was probably over 340, certainly around there. And now as I sit here in front of you I’m
probably about 232. There’s a fluctuation of a couple of pounds,
it goes back and forth. That’s a lot of weight. And I did not lose it for vanity. I was pretty happy with myself fat. I didn’t mind being fat. It wasn’t a big deal to me. I didn’t mind how I looked. But my health was getting bad. I didn’t even mind how I felt very much. I didn’t mind not being energetic and stuff. But I started having blood pressure that was
stupid high like, you know, like English voltage, like 220 even on blood pressure medicine. And I have two young children. I’m an old dad. My daughter was born when I was 50. So I’m 61 now. And my life expectancy, the actuary tables
were crashing down and the doctor said that I had to get a stomach sleeve. It was a wonderful moment because it then
gave me the option to go crazy. If you’re going to surgically do something
to me to stop me from swallowing that means I don’t have to worry about doing a sane
diet. I can get nutty. And being given the option to be nutty was
all I needed. I realized that not only am I not good at
moderation, I also don’t respect moderation. Anyone I know who’s able to do moderation
I don’t like them. The people I respect and love are people that
go wild. I mean I don’t want to go into Kerouac here
but the mad ones. No one brags about climbing a nice little
slope. You brag about climbing Everest. So once my friend Ray Cronise who I can Cray
Ray, once Cray Ray told me that I could lose the weight but it was going to be really hard,
it got really easy. Once you make something a challenge, you make
something I can brag about, I can do it. So I wrote this book about me. It is more first person singular in it than
in a Donald Trump speech. I don’t’ write about you. If you take medical advice from a Las Vegas
magician you are an idiot who deserves to die. You have to do this for yourself and with
your proper medical professionals. That being said the first thing Cray Ray and
I wanted to do was change my way of eating. It turns out everything about eating is habit. It’s all habitual. You think you have a natural inclination to
like grilled cheese or donuts. Not true. All we eat is habit. So I wanted to take a couple of weeks and
change my habit. And one of the really good ways to do that
that worked tremendously for me is what’s called the mono diet which is just what you
think from the root, eating the exact same thing. And I could have chosen anything. I could have chosen corn or beans or whatever. Not hot fudge but anything. And I chose potatoes because it’s a funny
thing and a funny word. For two weeks I ate potatoes, complete potatoes
– skin and everything and nothing added, nothing subtracted. When I say nothing subtracted I mean no skin
taken off but also no water. You can’t cut it up and make it chips in
a microwave. Don’t take water out of it. Leave the potato completely – so that means
baked or boiled and not at any mealtime. You don’t get up in the morning, eat a potato. You don’t eat it at lunch or dinner. Mealtimes are obliterated. When you really need to eat, eat a potato. And over that first two weeks I lost I believe
14 pounds. So already I’m a different person. But I also reset my taste buds. I don’t like to use the word addiction. It’s a loaded word and also I don’t think
anyone really knows what it means. But I was habituated to a great deal of salt,
sugar and oil. After two weeks of potatoes that was gone. And the first ear of corn I had was candy. I mean it was just amazing. It was so sweet and so full of flavors and
so salty even. I grew up in New England where there’s wonderful
fresh corn in the summer but I always drenched it in butter and salt. I never tasted it. Then after that two weeks I went to, you know,
bean stew and tomatoes and salads. But still no fruit and no nuts. Certainly no animal products. And I lost an average – these words are
careful – an average of .9 pounds a day. So I took off pretty much all the weight in
three or four months, in a season, in a winter. Because we have so many calories our bodies
are constantly in summer. We’re preparing for winter that never comes. Winter came for me. And that was 17 months ago. So I’ve kept the weight off for 17 months. Now two years is magic. Very few people keep it off for two years. I’ve got seven more months to go. I think I have a shot at it. I feel better. I’m happier. I’m off most of my blood pressure meds. Not all of them, it takes a while for the
vascular system to catch up with the weight loss. I have more fun. I believe I’m kinder. I’m embarrassed about that because I’m
an atheist as I’ve covered to this very camera before. So I should not believe in a mind-body separation. But somehow I believed that my mind could
stay healthy and happy even if my body was falling apart and I shouldn’t have ever
believed that. But I did. And now that I’m lighter I feel lighter
and I feel happier. And, you know, there’s a chance, my chances
of living longer for my children have gone up considerably. You know I lost my mom and dad when I was
45 and a year of my life was in deep, deep mourning, you know. And there’s a very good chance my children
will have to go through losing their dad. And I’d much rather they do that when they’re
a little older than having to do that when they’re 15. It turns out that being with my children is
more important to me than chocolate cake. All of that having been said now that I’m
at target weight I also – this is important – I also didn’t exercise while I was losing
the weight. Exercising is body building. It’s a different thing. Wait until you hit the target weight, then
you exercise. Then it’s easy. Then it really does good. But while you’re losing weight make it winter. Sleep a little more. Get sluggish. Let your body just eat the fat that you’ve
stored up just the way you should. Hibernate a little bit. Let it eat the fat. Be a little bit like a bear. Now I eat no animal products, no refined grains. Extremely low salt, sugar and fat. Another way to say that same thing is two
words – whole plants. That’s all. That being said every couple of weeks at least
two weeks go by but every couple of weeks I just eat without thinking. I eat, you know, my son says come on dad,
eat like a man. I’ll have a pizza with him. I’ll have a hot fudge sundae with my daughter. If there’s a special occasion and I haven’t
gone off program in two weeks I’ll eat whatever. Do you know when I’m in New York if I haven’t
had anything in two weeks I’ll have a slice of really great pizza or maybe a little bit
of corned beef on rye. But that is an occasional rare inappropriate
meal. That’s a special thing. It’s not a cheat. I don’t cheat because it’s part of my
plan. The weird thing is though after the microbiome
changes and after the taste is reset I do not crave donuts. I do not crave pizza. I do not crave ice cream or hamburgers. They taste okay when I have them. Well that’s really not true. Chicken disgusts me now. I used to love chicken. Fried chicken, chicken and waffles. It’s kind of disgusting to me. Eggs kind of disgust me. Steaks I liked for a while and now that’s
kind of fading away, even hamburger. Everybody I know that’s gone through this
– we’ve lost all together a bunch of us like 5,400 pounds. Is that right? Yeah, 5,400 pounds. All my friends. And I was just talking to a couple of what
we call ourselves Cronuts after Ray Cronise. I was talking to a guy last night and he was
just saying now hamburgers have fallen away too. And I realized the other day I was in an airport. I was stuck for ten hours in an airport and
I said, you know, I’m going to eat for entertainment because I’ve got nothing to do. And so I just said it’s been a few weeks
since I ate badly, I’ll just eat whatever I want. I realized after and I’ve been noticing
– I had cookies, you know, I had a bagel. I hadn’t eaten any meat at all. And they’re all there, barbecue places,
you know. There’s good ribs places. McDonald’s. I just kind of – I lost the taste for it
which is really remarkable because I would have never guessed that. I would have never guessed it. And if someone had told me oh by the way you
just won’t want this stuff. So the kind of punchline to this whole thing
is after this whole incredibly restrictive diet and all of this willpower and all of
this climbing a dietary Everest as I sit here right now on the Big Think I now eat whatever
I want. But what I want has changed profoundly.

100 thoughts on “How Penn Jillette Lost over 100 Lbs and Still Eats Whatever He Wants | Big Think

  1. Congrats, Mr. Jillette, on your great successes of both losing weight and also achieving a much healthier lifestyle! Not to offend your atheistic senses, but you may be surprised to learn that God has a lot to say about the deep connection that exists between the mind (spirit) and the body:

    "A tranquil heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones." Proverbs 14:30

    "Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad." Proverbs 12:25

    "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12

    "A joyful heart makes a face cheerful, but a sad heart produces a broken spirit." Proverbs 15:13

    "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a but a broken spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22

    "The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?" Proverbs 18:14

    People can die of a broken heart. It's a real phenomenon! Intense sorrow (mind) can destroy the body. That's why God advises us to dwell on all good things because they are healing to both mind (spirit) and the body:

    "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy – dwell on these things." Philippians 4:8

    Something for anyone seeking a persistent state of good health to consider. 😉

  2. IF by 'eats whatever he wants' means eating vegetables, then yes he does indeed eat whatever he wants.
    Don't imagine he's eating steak, chips, pizza or actually 'anything he wants.'
    Plus, you will find it hard to eat potatoes only. Diets like this demand will power and habit beats will power every time.

  3. IF by 'eats whatever he wants' means eating vegetables, then yes he does indeed eat whatever he wants.
    Don't imagine he's eating steak, chips, pizza or actually 'anything he wants.'
    Plus, you will find it hard to eat potatoes only. Diets like this demand will power and habit beats will power every time.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story. I love that you refer to this as 're-setting' your body. Inspiring! I'm such a carnivore, I'd like to go through this change

  5. Love this guy. Such a genuine soul. A weight off his shoulders for sure! I have to agree your tastes completely change and the cravings go away. Sugar/salt/fat is an addiction (research says similar pleasure centers as cocaine are activated in the brain). Getting those out of your diet is paramount to getting healthy. WFPB diet. Word.

  6. I am in this. I think his is the very best explanation of the entire diet situation that i've ever heard and I can concur about it even though im closer to the start of the process. He says it right and true. And the first key is the so-called mono diet. Nobody had told me about this and 5 years ago I did it with baked beans and lost 11lbs in two weeks. Slowly I went off this and back to normal and gained weight. Now for the past 4 months im on the track again and we'll see how it goes. No sugar, bread, noodles, rice, potatoes or fruit as ROUTINE, but once a month I have a piece of bread or scoop of rice or something. Its true what he said, its not cheating, it part of the plan. I can tell everyone this, the body is very slow to adjust to anything new or foreign. Thats what defeats everyone. But I can see and feel the slow but steady adjustment in all sorts of ways. Patience is something almost impossible to have nowadays but if you just trust the body, it will adjust and guide you. Dont even try to rush, just make changes and wait. You'll see.

  7. Thank you, Penn, for telling us how you did it. It makes a lot of sense to only eat the potatoes when you are hungry. All through my life people wanted me to eat when they ate. I don't sleep when they sleep, why should I eat when they eat? Glad you're feeling great!

  8. Congratulations! Your doing something you never believed possible and it blows your mind because it’s outside your thought pattern. I would suggest the next thing To try is God. I’m sure He to will change your life. I wish you well.

  9. The fool has said in his heart there is no God, but this guy is speaking more like a wise person, the love that he has for his children and the desire to live, is what is called an internal truth, internal truth. In his case his lips are saying one thing, but his Spirit his mind is saying another thing… I love my children, if there was no God what is that? How can a man feel so compelled, if there's no God.. I think he's on the right track let's see what happens

  10. What an interesting comment Penn made about being kinder. I've followed him since the Asparagus Valley days and honestly, his personality was prickly (operative root "prick") so this is fascinating to hear. Now I go Googing and YTing to find some present day PJ videos and see what I think of his assessment. For Penn's sake, I hope he's right.

  11. For a magicien that shouldn't be a problem to make 100 pounds disappear.

    FYI David Copperfield made an elephant disappeared.

  12. Great video! Thanks! Thank you so much for this informative video! I got so much out of it. I also lost all desire for meat. Eggs and milk and cheese seem gross to me. What a change with a whole-food plant-based diet!

  13. Damn! Now I'm inspired to do the Penn Diet.
    Yes, the Penn Diet.

    I'm not doing it though. For my age, exercise and such works fine.

  14. Really enjoyed Penn's book "Presto". Even if you don't need to lose weight, it will make you rethink your food choices. Processed foods are pumped so full of salt, sugar, oil, they're almost chemicals. Love the stories about his parents – my dad was 45 when I was born and my mom was 42, also I was 45 when my dad passed away.

  15. i am going threw with stomach sleeve surgery feb 4 and i have to say out of all the dozens of videos i watched yours has eased my mind the most. thank you.

  16. Thousands of years human beings ate mostly protein and suddenly we don't need any of it, OKAY!!! I'm guessing the weight loss basically came from the fact that you stopped eating like a pig. I'm also guessing that you're another Hollywood Liberal which means you're basically a card carrying member of the new Ku Klux Klan. The Diversity Klan! Although you're really not about DIVERSITY, you're about control. Save your Trump slams for when you're alone with your Communist friends. The one redeeming quality about you is the fact that there's now LESS of you. Oh and by the way, Atheism is just another way for people of average intelligence to convince themselves they're smarter than everyone else. I spent many years in college and got a Masters Degree sitting right next to and unfortunately having to talk to hundreds of idiots just like you. You and celebrities like you just can't shut up when it comes to your political opinions. I've had the misfortune of seeing your particular face for years and unlike your silent buddy you just can't STFU! Talk about Narcissists. Look in the mirror!

  17. "It's gonna be really hard. As soon as I hear that it's something I can brag about, it's something I can do."
    Whelp I'm screwed

  18. But you had a stomach sleeve surgery, so this is cheating. U didn't lose the weight by diet and willpower

  19. Habitual. No shit. Have you ever looked at what is in the cans of food we buy at the store? The FDA totally sucks! They have the gaul to tell you what we doing wrong and yet let allow all this poison and crap to stay on the counters at eye level in the stores. Whats in these cans is worse than cocaine and we are weighted down with the chore of getting off this crap and "it's a habit". PLEASE.

  20. Many people have done this and it works he's prove! I am going to start this tomorrow I will give updates!! Big T did you have lose skin from losing weight fast???

  21. Cut the sugar and refined foods. That’s a absolute major foundational key. I’m personally doing Keto. So far it’s working great but I’m not opposed to trying something else down the road. Never going back to eating refined foods ever again though.

  22. When I lost weight before, not nearly as much as Penn, a similar thing happened.
    I cut out sugars and junk food, lost about 70lbs (I had been around 200 lbs)
    Similar to Penn, I no longer enjoy the foods I used to. For the longest time I couldn’t stomach sweets and I still don’t crave them as I used to

  23. I started the Potato diet three days ago and I'm already noticing the benefits. Especially in the farting department. I mean I used to enjoy a good old toot before but blimey charlie!

  24. God help you make the Right Choice before it is to Late !!!  “For what profits a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul”.

  25. I had a gastroplasty for health reason and lost many pounds. However researched big time and went to a hospital that has one who wing for gastroplasty patients. They have patients from all over the world.

  26. To Penn, I don't even know you personally but I'm proud of you. Our stories are a lot a like. Keep up the great work

  27. I lost 100 pounds as of today!!! I can't believe it!! Anyone can do it guys just stay focused and get a good support system

  28. I've lost 100 lbs and got down to 180 lbs eating bacon pretty much every day 🙂 Maintained it for 3 years and all health/blood markers perfect. Keto is life changing, works much better than this. 🙂

  29. He is definitely healthier now and that's tremendous. However, he no longer looks like himself. Looks like a completely different person.

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