Fat Head Is Ten Years Old. I’m Somewhat Older.

If Fat Head had an official birthday, it would be November 14, 2008. That was the night we had the premiere party, which was the first public showing. We invited a bunch of friends and everyone who worked in production or post-production. Most of the people who appeared on camera in the film lived hundreds or even thousands of miles away, but Drs. Mike and Mary Dan Eades made the trip from Santa Barbara to Burbank to be at the premiere and show their support.

To add a touch of irony to the evening, the only nearby facility with a private-party room big enough and affordable enough for the premiere party was an Italian restaurant. Yes, we served pizza and pasta, along with a variety of meats and side dishes. I announced that after dinner, we would show everyone a film explaining why we should stop eating pizza and pasta.

Here we are with Dr. Eades.  The cheesecake was a low-carb cheesecake.  Chareva ordered it long before the party.  The pasta and pizza were definitely not low-carb.

It was a sentimental evening for me. I of course had a great feeling of accomplishment. It also happened to be my 50th birthday, so it was a double celebration. But we had already decided to put our townhouse on the market and move to Tennessee, mostly because I couldn’t stomach California and the Hollywood culture anymore.  We knew we’d be saying goodbye to the friends who were at the party.

Since the audience was comprised of people we knew or who worked on the film, the response of course was very positive. I was a ball of optimism at the time. I had dreams of the film replacing my income as a programmer and launching me into more projects.

I had no idea the DVD distributor would go bankrupt without paying us, or that the foreign distributor would claim zero profits (which was an obvious lie) and never pay us. Chareva has not-so-fond memories from 2010, when I was still writing large monthly checks to pay off the post-production costs, of me screaming at the top of my lungs, “I wish I’d never made this @#$%ing film!” I swore I’d never make another one.

Then we managed to get Fat Head placed with Gravitas Ventures, an actual honest distributor, and BOOM! I remember an executive from Gravitas calling to tell me that Fat Head had become the most-watched documentary on Hulu during the previous cycle.

“That’s great!”

“Hang on. It gets better. Fat Head was also the fifth-most watched film on Hulu, period, in all categories.”

Because of its popularity on Hulu, Gravitas was able to sell Fat Head to Netflix, then Amazon Prime, then a bunch of other networks and streaming services. The audience kept growing, and most importantly (at least to me at the time), the royalty checks finally began rolling in. No more debt load for the post-production costs. I’d bet the farm (before I actually owned a farm), and for two years, I thought I’d lost the bet. I thought I’d be stuck paying off the debt for years. Now I was free.

Hard to believe it’s been 10 years already. It seems fitting that Gravitas is re-releasing the original Fat Head on DVD in a few weeks, and equally fitting that I finally made another film.

If you’re capable of first-grade math, you may have already done a little calculation in your head:

Let’s see, the Fat Head premiere party was 10 years ago, and that was his 50th birthday, so …

Uh, yeah. I turn 60 today. It sounds weird to say that out loud, so I haven’t been saying it. I don’t feel 60. I’m pretty sure I don’t look 60. But there it is. I’m 60.

I’m not afraid of becoming old and tired anytime soon, but when I roll that number around in my head, it does have an effect. To use a football analogy, it’s the realization that if I’m not in the fourth quarter of life yet, I’m certainly well into the third. The game doesn’t last forever.

It’s also a wee bit unpredictable. There’s an old saying that Man makes plans and God laughs. If you’d told me 30 years ago that I’d end up on a farm with chickens (and occasional goats and hogs) and actually look forward to doing manual labor on the land, I would have explained that your psychic powers were seriously whacked.

On a farm? In Tennessee? No, no, no … I’m going to be producing my own show in Hollywood by then. Each episode covers a current topic, ya see. It’s going to open with me doing some standup comedy to introduce the topic, then we move on to comedy skits and funny songs, then a bit of standup to close each episode. Kind of a “Dave Allen at Large” type of thing, but with musical numbers.

That sound way off in the distance was God laughing.

At age 25, I was a writer for a small magazine and had no plans whatsoever to ever try standup comedy. At age 35, I had no plans whatsoever to become a software programmer. I had no idea that I wouldn’t get married until age 42. As you know if you’ve heard me interviewed on any of several podcasts, I didn’t set out to make Fat Head. It started as something else. I didn’t expect to buy a little farm and live out in the sticks. For a long time, I didn’t think I’d make another film.

Pretty much my entire adult life has been full of bends and turns I didn’t see coming. And that’s the beauty of it. There have been ups and downs and turnarounds, but one thing it’s never been is boring.  Life seems to enjoy surprising me, and I enjoy it too … mostly.

I recently received an email from a guy who’d just seen Fat Head for the first time. He pointed out that the follow-up section in the film is nearly six years old. He asked if I’d explain in a post where I’m at now in terms of my diet, my weight, my plans, etc. I said sure, that’s a good idea, but I’ll probably wait until I turn 60 in November.

I think you can guess part of the current plan: sell a helluva lot of copies of the Fat Head Kids film and book. Chareva is working on a Kindle version the book, so that will be coming along soon.

At some point, I’d like to find time to do a video version of the blog. Same kinds of topics, but with graphics, animations and sound. I’d also like to take the songs I wrote for Fat Head and Fat Head Kids along with several others (some already recorded, some not) and release them as album. (Does the word “album” show my age?)

I’m still on a low-carb, whole-foods diet, but I have made one significant change. As you may recall, I ended up at 213 pounds after months of recovering from the shoulder and bicep surgery. I wasn’t pigging out, but I also wasn’t interested in trying to lose weight when my body needed to rebuild. Lifting weights at the gym was of course out of the question.

On the low-carb cruise in May, Dr. Ted Naiman gave a speech outlining the science behind his version of a low-carb diet. It’s not the high-fat/moderate-protein diet that most people use to get into ketosis. Naiman’s diet is much higher in protein. He believes (and presented several studies to back up the argument) that a high proportion of protein grams to non-protein grams is better for body composition. I’ve always felt better on higher-protein diets, so I paid attention.

Naiman defines “non-protein” grams as fat grams or carbohydrate-minus-fiber grams. To determine your protein grams per day, you figure out what your lean body mass is (or should be), and eat at least one gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. To lose weight, you want the ratio of protein to non-protein grams to be above 1.0. In other words, if your intake of protein is 160 grams per day, the total of (fat grams + carbohydrate grams – fiber grams) would be no more than 160. (You can read more about his specific recommendations on his web site.)

Unless you plan to eat a lot of turkey breast the rest of the day, that means you’re not going to melt a stick of butter into your morning coffee. You’re not going to eat the fattiest meats every meal. If you choose to get all your non-protein grams from fat, that’s still 70% of the total calories at a ratio of one-to-one, but you can’t go crazy on fat and stay within Naiman’s fat-burning zone.

I don’t get all my non-protein grams from fat. I like my diet to include vegetables, small servings of squash and tubers, and even some gluten-free bread here and there. So I have to reduce the fat a bit to stay within the ratio. After scrolling through the Excel workbook where I log my meals, I’d say a typical day for me is something like 30-40% protein, 45-55% fat and whatever remains comes from carbohydrates. As you might guess, I eat a lot meat (but not the fattiest meats) to keep the protein ratio high.

I usually follow the protocol five days per week. On Fridays and Saturdays, I don’t measure and count everything, but I don’t go crazy either. We usually go out for dinner on Friday night, often to a Mexican restaurant near us. I usually order steak fajitas. I’ll eat some refried beans and perhaps a corn tortilla or two. I’ll have a beer or two. Sometimes I also enjoy some red wine on Saturday night.

Low carb, moderate fat, high in protein. That’s what seems to work best for me. When I started following Naiman’s program, the post-surgery weight began coming off.  We don’t have a scale at home, but the scale at the gym put me at 198 pounds on Sunday.

I haven’t done this since I turned 55, so here’s a shot of me on my 60th birthday. (I’d like to deny the rumors that something is wrong with the top of my head.  I didn’t raise the tripod quite enough.)

Not much different from age 55. Still carrying that bit of softness around the middle.  It’s quite determined to stick around.  I’m pretty sure my arms are a little smaller, since I don’t do curls at the gym anymore. With the severed bicep tendon now surgically inserted into my arm bone, I’m not going to risk snapping the thing by pushing the muscle to its limit.

So that’s it. Yeah, I’m 60, but I feel good. I’m looking forward to giving my speech at the Weston A. Price Foundation conference this weekend. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the Fat Head Kids film does.

Happy birthday to Fat Head, and happy birthday to me.

 

 

 

 

 

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62 thoughts on “Fat Head Is Ten Years Old. I’m Somewhat Older.

  1. Cary

    Congratulations Tom! And thank you for referencing “Dave Allen at Large.” A true comic genius whose name I haven’t heard in much too long a time.

    Reply
      1. Firebird7478

        I never heard of it and I’m pretty up on my BBC from the 70s. One of my favorite shows from that time period was “Two Ronnies”

        Reply
  2. Firebird7478

    Happy birthday, Happy Anniversary!

    Naiman’s approach is stunningly similar to Jonathon Bailor’s SANE Nutrition…higher protein, lower fat with a recommendation of 10 servings of vegetables/low sugar fruits per day.

    I’ve just had a rough time finding leaner cuts of meat that aren’t chewy and flavorless.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I suspect the high-protein diet works better for some of us than it does for others. Ham, chicken and roast beef all fall easily within the ratio.

      Reply
  3. Less Antman

    An inspiring post on so many levels. Your Fat Head movie had an enormous impact on me several years ago and your continued open-mindedness is a model among too many who act as if we have all the answers. Happy Birthday, Young Man!

    Reply
  4. Lynda

    Happy Birthday Fathead! We (my partner and I) first watched your movie in 2009 and it was life changing. Like you our diets have evolved over the years but have always remained fairly low carb. I was pre-diabetic but have had normal blood results ever since – I am sure that had I not found your movie and learned about the insulin response etc I would now be a full blown diabetic. I did go through my zealous phase where I lived and breathed low carb but thankfully it’s just our normal life now. While Fathead the movie didn’t have all the answers it sure started the learning/thinking process for many of us. Thank you 🙂

    Reply
  5. PJ

    Tom, I’m thankful that your own learning and interests have benefitted the rest of the world as well. Your film and Gary Taubes’ book (GCBC) are my favorite low-carb education points, but guess which one is easier to share with… er, just about everybody, ha! Happy birthday!

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Yeah, GCBC is a great book, but not an easy read. We’re hoping Fat Head Kids becomes the next “easy to share with others” project.

      Reply
  6. Kathy in OK

    It’s only been 10 years? Seems I’ve “known” you much longer. Wish I was the type to keep a journal so I’d know how/when I “met” you.

    You’ve been my go-to guy for sound reason for a long time, always pulling me back from the brink of either paranoia ( I’ll surely die tomorrow if I eat that! ) or being “that woman” who knows everything about diet/nutrition/health. A friend who’s a poster child for why Weight Watchers will never go out of business (been on it for years and still weighs virtually the same) once put me in my place saying “Everybody’s not like you.” Of course my thought was “Well, they should be” but I let it go.

    So thanks – and Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary! You deserve all the good finally coming your way.

    Reply
    1. Walter

      Weight watchers are a great example of why selling products that don’t work is good business. Works in the short term at long term cost, so people get drawn in deeper and deeper.

      Reply
      1. Dianne

        I suspect that the whole point of WW’s “points system” is that it keeps you tied to the company so you’ll have access to their information on the “points” of various foods and have to keep paying in every month. I also suspect that the reason they make a big deal of telling you that you can eat whatever you want as long as you can afford it points-wise (even while telling you to reduce sugar and fat) is that so many people can’t lose significant weight and keep it off without really cutting the carbs, and we crave carbs. Chances are you’d get the same or better results by counting calories and making sure those calories came from healthy proteins, fats, and low carb veggies — and all without paying WW a dime!

        Reply
  7. Deborah Lorraine

    I just discovered Fathead the movie last month! And Keto a few months before. In the 30 years since jumping onto the low-fat bandwagon, I had steadily gained, all the while trying desperately to lose. For the first time it doesn’t feel like a struggle. I’ve lost 30 lbs, all the while enjoying eating (and drinking my wine!) so very much. Happy birthday.

    Reply
  8. j

    Congrats on all your accomplishments. Had you become some Hollywood guy, perhaps many wouldve missed out on a path to better health.
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I’ve thought about that. I missed doing standup when I had to leave it behind. But nobody ever emailed me after a standup show and thanked for me turning his or her health around. I like think it all worked out exactly as it should have.

      Reply
  9. Michael Niedermayer

    I watched “Fat Head” several years ago and shared it with my wife. She was backed into a corner as she was diabetic and taking so much insulin that her body stored everything. She had a bariatric sleeve three years ago and even gained weight on the two-week liquid diet before surgery! She woke up from that surgery no longer diabetic and has had no insulin since. They followed up with a full gastric bypass one year later and she has lost 250 lbs! Meanwhile, unlike most spouses of bariatric patients, I have lost over 70 pounds by eating a lower-carb diet and occasionally going full ketosis. My weight is still at 222, but moving the right direction thanks in large part to your clear explanations in “Fat Head.” My wife has also benefited from the low-carb meals I prepare, including Fat Head Pizza and tacos with cheese shells. Thanks so much for all your work!

    Reply
  10. Robin

    Happy Birthday Tom! and Happy Fat Head Anniversary! A decade of making a real difference in the quality of life for many people is an accomplishment to wear with great pride! Thank you!

    Reply
  11. Kayla

    Happy Birthday Tom! It’s been 7 years since I picked up FatHead on a whim at the library. It was life changing! While I’m still not in the “after” success story category, because old habits and all that, your work has informed and encouraged me along the way. Thanks and congratulations!

    Reply
  12. Wayne Gage

    That bit of softness around the middle might be thick skin. That is my acceptance of the softness around my middle.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Whatever it is, I can live with it. I had way more than little thickness around the middle for most of my life.

      Reply
  13. Don in Arkansas

    10 years. Wow, tempus sure does fugit, doesn’t it? I’ve watch Fat Head at least 10 times and I seem to get some new thought out of it every time.

    I know you have gotten older and the girls have blossomed into beautiful young ladies. But why does Chareva still look the same?

    Best wishes for your continued success and happiness.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      My theory is that buried deep in a closet somewhere, there’s a picture of Chareva that keeps getting older and uglier.

      Reply
  14. Dianne

    Happy Birthday to both you and the movie. Like Don in Arkansas, I’ve watched the movie multiple times both for new insights and reinforcement, and I never miss a blog posting. Best wishes, with gratitude.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I think we’ve definitely turned the corner. The USDA probably won’t change its advice much, but fewer and fewer people believe them anymore.

      Reply
  15. Firebird7478

    It turns out that Fat Head is still readily available on several platforms. I found out that the film can be seen for free on Pluto TV, The Roku Channel and Tubi-TV (all free w/commercials.

    Reply
  16. Janet Hunter

    Just watched, Science for smart people you did on a low carb cruise, LOL. 60 soon too, LOL. Got Dave Allen’s autograph as a kid in Western Australia, LOL. I am now a remote area nurse in Australia, hoping the kids movie will be suitable for people with low literacy and English as second language. Indigenous people I know have a great sense of humour too, so I hope it’s funny. Crossing fingers it will turn out to be a good resource I can use.

    Reply
  17. Elenor

    Happy happy birthday Tom! And whew! big anniversary for all of us out here! I’ve watched Fathead many many times (always uplifiting!) and inflicte… er… shown it to many friends! (And thanks Gravitas for fixing the wee part of the world we care about!)

    Reply
  18. 3Duranium

    I’ve heard that 60 is the new 30, so you still have a long time to go! Happy belated Birthday by the way!

    Can’t wait for the album! I’ve been meaning to ask if you had released the songs from the movie at some point.

    The best entertainment I’ve seen has come from outside of Hollywood. With the easier access to filming, people are taking advantage of making entertaining films without worrying about budget or Hollywood executives. Hope to see if you make a web series of some sort.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Thank you. It’s a great time to be alive as a creator. No more having to go through gatekeepers to put your creations out into the world.

      Reply
  19. john

    Hey Tom, have you ever written about the fact that Morgan Spurlock’s ex-wife admitted that she was never a vegan and used to eat meat in secret?

    Reply
      1. Walter

        Belike, that’s the kind of Vegan who hold protests at other peoples stores and restaurants, to assuage their guilt.

        Famously breatharian gurus have been caught eating burgers at fast food restaurants.

        Reply
  20. Firebird7478

    I’m curious to know what the doctor who examined you in the film is up to, if he’s following the success of the film. Maybe that is something for a future blog? He was quite entertaining.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Very likable guy. He was only my doctor for the film. My GP at the time worked for one of those big medical groups and couldn’t get permission to be in the film, so I had to find someone else. Worked out well, because Dr. Feit was a natural on camera.

      Reply

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