How Penn Jillette Lost 100 Lbs: I Eat What I Want by Changing What I Want

Magician and Entertainer
Over a year ago

The story of the Penn Jilllette's weight loss is, as you might expect from a Las Vegas entertainer, quite extreme. In fact it was the radical nature of his diet that made the prospect of losing weight so attractive. After consulting with his doctor, who wanted to surgically remove a portion of Penn's stomach, a moderate diet was no longer an option.

With skyrocketing blood pressure and a veritable chest of pills he was swallowing each day, it became apparent that he might not live long enough to see his children pass into adulthood. And so as he puts it, he realized that his children were more important than chocolate cake.

A balanced diet and steady regime of exercise was not in the cards for Penn, who admires individuals who take extreme steps to reach extreme ends. Moderates? Penn just doesn't get along with them. And so he chose the so-called mono-diet, selecting the potato as his mono-food.

For two weeks, he ate nothing but, baked or boiled, and lost 14 pounds as a result. After these initial weeks, he allowed himself to eat bean stew, salad, and other plant-based meals, but seldom animal products and never meat, he says. By his own admission, Penn had become habituated to salt, sugar, and fat, and how his extreme privations would break him of his unhealthy routines.

You may be thinking that this diet is for you. Well, you should consult a medical professional before making dietary changes. Or as Penn says: "If you take medical advice from a Las Vegas magician, you are an idiot who deserves to die."

Penn is currently 17 months into his weight-loss adventure — indeed he has seen it as an adventure and a challenge in order to motivate himself — and once he reaches 2 years, he will consider it a major milestone in his own life and the lives of his children. Penn insists that he today he eats whatever he wants, but that what he wants has profoundly changed.

Penn Jillette's most recent book is Presto! How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales.