“I know your heart is set on surgery this summer, but there’s no way you can finish the pre-op requirements in time,” said Amanda Rose’s nutritionist. “We’ll need to push it later in the year.”
Tears stung Amanda’s eyes. With 260 pounds on her 5’3″ frame and zero luck with diets, the California mom was constantly exhausted and limping through life on a bad knee; she’d come to believe a “gastric sleeve” procedure was her best chance to get healthy.
Since making the decision, she’d been on a mission — powering through tests and counseling, losing 20 pounds. She had vowed to be recovered and lighter on her feet before a long-planned family vacation. I was on fire, she thought. I was doing it!And just like that, another defeat. Since both she and the surgeon had packed schedules, she’d have to wait six months to try again. Could she hold on that long?
Driving home, Amanda recalled the many “miracle” plans she’d tried: low-fat, low-cal, Atkins, vegan, soup, shakes. Could she stick with one for six months? No, she thought. That’s why I need the surgery!
She gripped the steering wheel, suddenly desperate. “I’m not losing all my progress,” she whispered. For weeks after, she mulled her past experiences and research she’d read. My body seems to need lower calories and lower carbs, she realized.
Meanwhile, friends were buzzing about the benefits of eating less often. She found herself with an idea: What if I stick to one huge low-carb salad a day? I’ ll probably be too hungry. It probably won’t work. Yet.
A Slimming Surprise
Always bone-weary, Amanda knew diets made her feel worse. So she announced to her family, “For the foreseeable future, Mom’s services are closed. Don’t bother me unless the house is on fire.” Her boys — Alastair, 9, and Frederick, 15 — rolled their eyes; husband Sander agreed to pick up slack at the couple’s consulting business. She was ready.
The ‘Eat Like a Bear’ Diet
Amanda sipped coffee until midday, when she filled a serving bowl with shredded lettuce, onion, tomato, and bell peppers. She added a grilled chicken breast, avocado, and homemade ranch dressing. It was ridiculously big — and it was delicious.
Scraping the last bits from the bottom, she was Thanksgiving-stuffed. When everyone else had dinner that night, she marveled: I’m still full. Tired, she went to bed early. To Amanda’s surprise, days that followed were the same. She’d make sure the kids were set, do a little paperwork, have a giant salad and get on with her day.
If her tummy grumbled, she sipped seltzer; it expanded in her stomach and solved the problem. I thought my hunger would be intense, but it’s not, she thought. I’m just really sleepy. She was grateful to be able get in extra winks at night and take weekend naps. She was also grateful when she stepped on the scale, finding herself down half a pound every single day. By holiday time, she was down 85 pounds from her highest weight. It hit her: I don’t need — or qualify — for surgery anymore!
Amanda’s energy began to surge, her knee pain gone, pounds pouring off. In 30 weeks, she dropped 100 pounds — the amount she was expected to drop with a gastric sleeve. Folks began to notice her transformation and ask how she was doing it; several commented, “You’re starving yourself!”
At first, Amanda was unsure how to respond. Then it came to her: “I live in California’s bear country. I know bears feast and hibernate, and as they hibernate, their bodies are fueled by fat,” she says. “I’d tell people I was eating like a bear.” She eventually made a Facebook video about it. It went viral.
Within eight weeks, people were already posting that she helped them drop 40 pounds. “I was astounded,” says Amanda, 51, who has amassed over 60,000 followers. One woman shed 205 pounds; another dropped 100 pounds in just 24 weeks. Amanda herself ultimately shed 140 pounds — she weighs less now than she did as a teen and has become an avid hiker.
“When I started, I didn’t have energy or hope. I could barely walk. I just kept my head down and practiced some new habits. With each little success I felt stronger. Little successes can fuel big things,” she says. “Women over 50 see me and think, ‘Maybe I can do that.’ And they can. You can! We’ve created a community of people eating like bears. We’re losing a whole lot of weight, transforming our health, and changing our lives for the better!”
To follow Amanda’s lead, choose a daily “eating window” (from one to eight hours) during which you’ll eat your fill of natural, low-carb fare. Having just one big meal? Pack it with nutrients and at least 1,200 calories. Learn more at EatLikeABear.life. Get a doctor’s okay to try any new diet.
Scientists call Amanda’s approach time-restricted eating. The key is enjoying calories in a set window rather than freely through the day. During periods when you don’t eat, your “hibernating” body burns fat for fuel. Many devotees use an eight-hour window with three meals; others find a one-hour window and one huge meal works best.
Turns out, frequent sittings elevate insulin, “the main hormone responsible for weight gain,” says nutrition expert Jason Fung, M.D. “High insulin means we don’t burn fat. Eating less often lowers insulin and weight automatically.” Since excess carbs also spike insulin, Dr. Fung and Amanda are fans of lower-carb fare.
Time-restricted eating activates a “self-cleaning” mode that allows the body to purge toxic waste and damaged cells—a survival mechanism that kills hunger and amps energy as it fights pain and countless diseases. Says Dr. Fung: “It takes some getting used to, but this way of eating can be far more beneficial than a typical diet!”
The Ultimate Salad
You won’t believe how delicious and filling Amanda’s signature salad is!
- Toss 6 cups torn lettuce with veggies like cucumber, tomato and green onion.
- Top with 8 oz. cooked protein (like eggs and chicken).
- For flavor, add avocado, cheese and/or bacon.
- Dress generously with no-sugar-added full-fat dressing.
Makes 1 large serving
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.