“Is Today the Day I Die?”

An interview with Richard Morris

When Susan, Liberty, Justin and I sat down at the Weston A. Price Foundation Conference banquet, a couple with two daughters also sat at our table—Richard Morris and his family. To look at him you would never have guessed that he used to asked himself every morning, “Is today the day I die?” Not too long before this man of normal size had weighed over 400 pounds, but he lost 160 pounds.

Mr. Morris has chronicled his experience—and his discovery—in a book: A Life Unburdened: Getting Over Weight and Getting on with My Life. I read A Life Unburdened myself on the plane ride home, and wholeheartedly recommend it.

Moneychanger: You lost how many pounds in what period of time?

Morris: I lost just over 160 pounds in about a year and a half.

Moneychanger: You weighed about 400 pounds when you started?

Morris: At least. I’m pretty sure I weighed a little bit more than that when I started, but I didn’t have a scale that went up that high.

Moneychanger: I assume that you had become that heavy over a number of years. Had you tried to lose weight before?

Morris: Yes, it happened over a number of years. It started after college. I have tried just about everything: vegetarianism (for about a year), low-fat, low-carb, just about every kind of low-fat diet that you can think of. The results were always the same, either temporary success followed by long term failure or just failure out right.

Moneychanger: To lose this weight you changed your diet but it’s not the kind of diet that most people believe they would lose weight on.

Morris: Correct. I eat whole foods. I eat raw dairy, including raw milk, cream made from raw milk, and raw cheese, whole meats, nothing processed, and fresh seasonal produce.

Moneychanger: So butter would be included in that list of dairy.

Morris: Absolutely.

Moneychanger: That doesn’t really sound like a diet that anyone would lose weight on.

Morris: I’ll tell you what. It’s not a diet, and that’s its secret. Most people have figured out by now that diets don’t work, or I should say that diets don’t work long term. It is possible to lose weight, and there are probably a 100 different ways to do it, but most of those ways are not very healthy because people gain the weight back.  If those diets did work, would the national statistics show that two-thirds Americans are overweight or obese?

Moneychanger: Do you have any idea how many calories you eat a day?

Morris: Well, initially I was tracking my calories because it was a good thing for me to do. My wife, who was following the same diet, did not have to track her calories because she had more control. I was worse off than she was. Initially I was consuming about 2000 calories on an average day. Currently I can’t tell you how many calories I consume because I don’t count calories. It’s completely unnecessary.

Moneychanger: What did you give up when you changed your diet?

Morris: I stopped eating processed foods. That includes everything from processed junk food, potato chips, fast food restaurants, everything processed. Just about anything that’s already cooked, I stopped eating it. Which means that now my family now cooks 99% of the food that we eat.

Moneychanger: So, you eat fewer carbohydrates and no white sugar or white flour, or as little as possible?

Morris: I agree with that up to a point. Because I am not counting calories, I am not counting carbs either. What I am doing is eating the foods that make me feel good. To clarify that, there was a time when I thought that, say, a Snickers or a Coke made me feel good, but in fact, they didn’t. Half an hour later I was hungry again and I felt pretty lousy because of all the sugar. These days I am eating food that is far more satisfying without any sense of deprivation. I am eating all the foods I want to eat. They’re whole foods and the dishes are just wonderful. Thanksgiving is coming up and we look forward to the food. Christmas is coming up and we look forward to the food and the family experience and being around the table more than anything else.

Moneychanger: You said that you don’t feet deprived? You are satisfied? You are not hungry all day? You don’t feel like you would kill for a Snickers bar?

Morris: Absolutely. People don’t understand the nature of deprivation. The experts tell us that if we deprive our children of, say, soda, they will turn into soda-holics at some point down the road. We don’t say that about violence. If you deprive them of beating their friends over the head with a bat, they will turn into murderers later on. The nature of deprivation is this. You can only be deprived of something that you desire. The food that I am eating right now is completely satisfying so I don’t desire those processed foods that I use to eat. Without desire there is no deprivation.

Moneychanger: Over what period of time did you lose this weight?

Morris: About a year and a half.

Moneychanger: Did you add exercise to that?

Morris: Absolutely. My wife and I had an empty space in our basement and we converted it into a small gym. But most of the exercise that I do is walking. Because the food I am eating now is so nourishing and so energy dense, it enabled me for the first time to do the kind of exercise that I actually needed to do in order to lose weight.

I am an early riser, so some days I get up as early as 4:00 a.m. and my wife and I take an eight mile walk. That takes an hour and a half to two hours. We’rere not racing, it’s just a walk. There have been some Saturdays that we have walked 16 miles.

Moneychanger: You weren’t doing that when you weighed 400 pounds?

Morris: No, I could barely walk sixteen feet. I was in so much pain. I was almost disabled.

Moneychanger: You had high blood pressure, too?

Morris: Yes.

Moneychanger: But you didn’t have diabetes yet?

Morris: No.

Moneychanger That’s normally the course that obesity follows.

Morris: Absolutely. I would wake up every morning wondering if today was the day that I would find out that I was diabetic. Fortunately for me I was able to catch it in time.

Moneychanger: From your experience do you think this diet would work for anybody who is overweight?

Morris: I believe so, but remember all I am talking about is eating real food, not that processed simulated stuff that looks like food. If it’s got red and white stripes it’s probably not food. If it’s blue, it probably not food. If it comes in a package that looks like some cartoon character, I can guarantee you that it’s not food. Food looks like food, it tastes like food, and it affects your body like food—positively. That is the effect that our bodies have been engineered to benefit from. Real food.

Moneychanger: And that is a high fat, high protein diet?

Morris: I have a bit of a problem with the idea of “high fat” and “low fat.” I would rather say that it’s the right fat, the right protein, and the right amount of carbohydrates that’s healthy for you. Ultimately you have to figure out what works best for you. If someone sets some arbitrary dietary number and you are trying to hit that number, maybe it works for you and maybe it doesn’t. You have to find out what works best for you. So that’s why I say it’s the ”right” amount of those nutrients.

Moneychanger: Richard, thanks very much for your time.

WARNING & DISCLAIMER: By publishing this material, neither The Moneychanger nor the author/interviewee recommends or endorses any specific treatment or therapy for any physical condition or disease. Neither The Moneychanger nor the author/interviewee guarantees or warrants any results from any treatment discussed, nor assumes any express or implied liability for any use to which the reader puts this information. By this interview, the interviewee does not prescribe any treatment whatsoever for anyone who is not his patient. All the information here is offered for information purposes only, subject to the reader’s own research, prudence, and judgment.

Originally published November 2005