Aaron Waddell shares how he reclaimed his health


A Boy, His Mother, and a Quarter

Like many, my lifelong fascination with health started at an early age. For me it started with my mother coming to me, as a 12-year-old, and asking me to be her workout partner.

Even at her young age, (She was 32 at the time) my mother had struggled much of her life with her weight. She had already lost her mother to diabetes and cardio-vascular disease, and her father to colon cancer. She was determined to be healthy, had lost weight with Weight Watchers after the birth of my sister, and had become a group leader. And know she realized that she needed to focus on exercise to maintain her health.

Now, when she asked me to workout with her, I didn't have much interest. I was introverted and was happy reading and messing with the computer and such. But it was important to her, so she used the tried-and-true method used by parents for centuries to get kids to do something they didn't want to do. She used incentives. Or what some refer to as "bribing". She offered me a quarter for every session I did with her.

While this doesn't seem like much, it was enough for me to realize she was serious. We didn't have much money at the time, so the money wasn't insignificant. So, I went along with it, albeit reluctantly.

For several months, I did daily calisthenics with her. Push-ups, sit-ups, squats. That sort of thing. I didn't think much of it. But I kept doing it. But then something miraculous happened. As spring began, we started playing softball in gym class. In my first chance to bat, I got up to the plate, waiting for my pitch, and promptly crushed it over the left fielder's head! As I sprinted around the bases to complete my home run, it dawned on me what I'd done. I'd gone from being a non-athlete to an athletic person. Just by doing some exercises consistently. I was hooked.

I went on to play Basketball and run Track and Cross Country in high school. I got in to weight training and became a decent athlete. I was always on the high side of the weight tables but was able to stay away from getting overweight by being tremendously active. Also, we rarely, if ever, had junk food in our house, like cakes, cookies or soda. My mother had been one of the early health-food proponents. She had given me cod liver oil as an infant. We had yogurt and wheat germ in the house, and she made most of our meals from scratch. As a result, I didn't get exposed the ultra-processed foods that have been the downfall of so many.

Bad Habits Creep In

I was put to the test when I joined the army and was sent to basic training. I went there in solid shape. I could run for miles and was pretty strong. At first, I lost weight because of the insane amount of activity we were doing. But there was a downside. We were encouraged to eat as much food as we wanted, but to eat everything we put on our plate, and to eat as fast as possible. If I was to create a program for causing someone to gain weight, this would probably be part of it. Plus, we had passes to get away from our barracks, which would inevitably turn into trips to the Post Exchange to Binge on as many candy bars and ice cream and snack cakes as we could eat. I had no tools to deal with these temptations. It was an absolute recipe for disaster!

As the activity level dropped to a (almost) sane level, I started to gain weight. This continued as I entered my first semester of college. The experience of eating in a dining hall was totally new to me, as was making my own food decisions as far as when and what to eat. By the end of my first semester, I was 50 pounds over my lowest weight of 175 pounds at the beginning of training. I was unhappy and I knew I needed to do something.

I went to my mom for help. She suggested I go on Weight Watchers. This was my first experience with "Dieting". I was extremely motivated and lost the weight quickly. I even got into a plant-based diet for a short time, though I gave it up quite quickly when I started having dreams about meat! I got into bodybuilding culture, with high protein diets and supplements and the like. I thought I could maintain this for the long term. I thought I had everything figured out.

Family Changes Everything

Things changed when I started a family. As priorities changed, my activity level dropped off. As many have experienced, I didn't get to the gym much, if at all. I got soft and the pounds started to pile on.

As I neared 40, I realized I had to make a change. I went back to what I knew. Eat Less, Move More. Otherwise known as Restriction and Exhaustion. I started tracking my food intake and calorie expenditure on my Fitbit. I got up at 4AM to walk or run. I went to the gym to train several times a week. I was eating 4-6 small meals a day. I was eating a high fiber, low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. I was doing all the recommended things to get in shape and lose weight.

And it worked! At least on its face. But something else was happening. I was slowly grinding down my body. Sleep deprivation had trashed my hormone levels. I was suffering from chronic prostatitis and sinusitis. I had debilitating plantar fasciitis. I was cold all the time. And to top it off, despite holding ravenous hunger at bay most of the time, I was slowly gaining back the weight.

A Wakeup Call

Then, a profound event occured that rocked my world. I was walking in to work as a Software Engineer. All off a sudden, the man in front of me, someone in my department who I knew early well, paused, staggered and dropped from a heart attack! Though he ended getting to the hospital and recovering, the impact to me was deep. In the aftermath I considered "That could be me in 10 years if I don't figure out something sustainable!". I set out to discover that path.

Just a few weeks earlier, I had heard this guy Vinnie Tortorich (you may have heard of him) on a podcast, espousing the benefits of a low-carb diet. Now in addition to studying Computer Science in college, I had also studied Health Science. I had taken coursework in nutrition and even did an internship with a nutritionist. What he was saying flew in the face of everything I had learned. From "carbohydrates are essential for the brain to function", to "fat burns in the flame of carbohydrates", to "ketones are used as an emergency fuel source". I just couldn't accept it at the time.

But two things had always bothered me about this narrative. One, that I had always been told that my great grandparents, and their parents before them, ate bacon, eggs and sausage for breakfast every morning. Yes, they did live on a farm, so they were active. But they never had problems with weight and lived well into their 90's! If meat and eggs and cholesterol were so awful, this didn't seem possible.

The second was about teeth. It was always said that you should eat a high fat diet with meat and dairy for tooth and bone health, and that fruit juices, breads and sugary foods were to be avoided. Avoiding those made sense. But why would the best foods for health be exactly the opposite of what would be best for our teeth?


So, with my natural skepticism combined with the event I had witnessed, I took a leap of faith. Without explanation (which in retrospect wasn't the best idea!), I stopped eating sugar and grains. Almost immediately the brain fog that had been haunting me for years lifted. My hunger just stopped! I started enjoying foods that I had rarely indulged in and felt guilty about when I did. Foods like Butter, Heavy Cream, Ribs, Chicken Wings, Bacon and Ribeye Steaks! It was a revelation! I lost weight and felt amazing!

Eventually, my chronic inflammation resolved as well. Even my allergies went away. I stopped doing my crazy workout routine and got more energy. I kept exploring and found that I get build strength on as little as 15 minutes of training a week! I realized that sustainable, healthy, robust life is not only possible, but is the birthright of every man, woman and child on the planet.

After all that I had learned, I couldn't keep it all that knowledge to myself. I turned to coaching to help as many people as I could. I'm focused on helping overweight men to lose weight, get fit and lead the amazing lives they deserve. If you're interested in learning more, you can follow me or DM me at the links below. You can also join my Facebook group, Weight Loss Made Easy. I'd love to see you there!

All the Love, All the Power!

Aaron Waddell




Written by Aaron Waddell
Published: March 13th, 2022


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