Hello, I’m John Ellis. I lost 125 lbs over 18 months (2008-2010) without surgery. I simply changed my lifestyle and retrained my brain (and pancreas).  I changed my diet, went from “living to eat” to “eating to live”; and added regular exercise to my regimen.

How did I get to 330 lbs?

While I cared for patients with heart disease for many years as a cardiovascular anesthesiologist, I neglected my own health. As a medical school professor, I conducted and published research about heart disease and obesity, but I didn’t apply the lessons learned to my life and health. I lived a very unhealthy lifestyle. I did a lot of stressful eating at work as a physician. My diet consisted of a lot of junk, prepared, and processed foods. I used to love cheese and grapefruit juice so my diet was high in fat, salt and sugar. I exercised less and less – I loved to bicycle. All in all, I was leading a very unhealthy lifestyle.

What pushed me to change?

In December of 2007, I sat in a chair at a restaurant watching the ice skaters at Christmas. The chair broke, I fell to the floor, VERY embarrassed, but otherwise uninjured. It was a seminal moment to change. I also had a series of potentially life-threatening health problems – high blood pressure, sleep apnea, 2 neck operations – that motivated me to change.

What did I do?

I decided to enroll in a program. I spent 2 weeks at Structure House, a weight loss program that focuses on behavior modification for obese people. There I learnt what lifestyle changes I needed to make. It was a difficult first week as I was learning to completely restructure my life. Exercising, eating healthy, and mentally motivating myself were the 3 biggest things that I focused on. After the 2 weeks were up, I stuck with the changes. I lost 125 lbs after 18 months.


I’m now at 205 lbs! I have successfully restructured my life around maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Everything is regular for me now: my meals are regularized, my exercise schedule is very consistent, and I get adequate sleep. Exercise has been especially important for me. It trains the brain (reduces hunger), and builds muscle that burns fat 24/7. Exercise also helps the muscles use insulin to utilize sugar better, and reduces the burden on the pancreas to produce insulin. I am in a much better space physically, mentally, and emotionally. I am more confident, happier and a lot more active.

What’s next?

I do the same things to maintain my weight as I did to lose it, so I hope to see myself in the same place. Always healthier by the day!


  1. Hello…..I am a 43 yr old businessman, and I would really like to lose the belly….it’s hard getting started and keeping at it, for I feel if I did, I would okay and lose the belly…that’s the only weight, my belly. I am 5’9” and 221 lbs…(44 to 46 jacket; 38 to 40 waist)…feel I need to be around 200 lb’s to be healthy…please help me.

  2. Using BMI calculator @ http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/, you’re obese; BMI = 32.6. Like 1/3 of Americans!

    Keep reading the blog for suggestions. I’d recommend Dr. Roizen and Oz’s book, or the Structure House book (see Dr. Ellis’ Amazon recs on the right-hand side of the screen). Commit to 30 min/day walking. Stop sodas, and replace with water. Prepare your own meals from “scratch” as much as possible. Get a weight-loss buddy. For other starting tips, see http://goo.gl/TsBm

    These are generic recommendations, and do not replace seeing your doctor, who can make recommendations in light of your particular situation and conditions.

  3. wow, i didn’t know you had a blog about this! i can’t wait to read it. i think you should have a full sized before and after photos in this section to really give people an idea of what losing 120 pounds looks like.

    btw, congratulations on the weight loss. i don’t know if i ever told you that before!!

  4. Congrats on the weight loss! I’ve just started trying to lose too. I have 144 pounds to lose, but I’m going to take it slow.

  5. John….I know I congratulated you on your WT Loss before, but I feel the need to say it again… I am really proud of you. I also love this website. I think that you need to start a Structured Living house here in Chicago, as thats been my biggest problem. Getting started and restructuring my life.

    Anyway… congrats… looks like GREAT things are going on with the Ellis family!

  6. Love your website. It has been motivating me to stay on track. I’ve lost 70 and have another 50 to go! It is hard when I associate good food from my neighborhood in my youth – like pizza, Carvel and Chan’s Chinese Food all that were all on one street in Jamaica — with being happy. But I am continuing to stick with it!

  7. Wow! Just found your blog on the Structure House website. Looking forward to reading all about your weight loss journey.

    Congratulations ~ you look amazing!


  8. I a 54 years old and Iam extremely tired and fatigue. I have diabetes 2 and every time a take a shower my hair is falling. I have told that my thyroid is ok. But I ALSO UNABLE TO loose any weight at all. Iam 203 pounds.I just started to eat right and I am taking medicine for Diabetes and cholesterol and high blood pressure. But mu body always feel cold. Also I suffered from constipation.

    I walk 30 minutes every day.

    I am using natural vegetables and fruits.
    Can you please tell me what can I do.

    I am looking also to buy some vitamins. At nights I suffered of insomnia and some leg cramps.

  9. I think these are questions for your doctor. I can’t offer medical advice. On this blog, I share things that have worked for me to lose weight and keep it off. Thanks.

  10. John–Here’s a possible idea for a future blog entry – the trend of outrageous ballpark foods where teams seem to try to outdo one another with their over-the-top offerings, and the demand for these extreme foods (Arizona Diamondbacks ran out of their $25 18 inch corn dog). See http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/dining/os-outrageous-ballpark-foods-pictures,0,4967455.photogallery and http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/10716817/arizona-diamondbacks-running-supersized-corn-dogs

  11. Wow John what a Journey! You look and sound so happy and healthy!
    Congratulations! I myself need to lose weight I picked up the same way stress eating (working in Domestic Violence field) and not exercising ( when I use to both dance for a company and run track) So I’m looking forward to learning, restructuring my lifestyle and dropping the pounds too. Thanks for the Inspiration!

  12. Hi Dr. Ellis,
    I just saw you on the Dr. Oz show. Congratulations on your weight loss! I have a few questions for you. Do you make whole grains apart of your regular diet? My research shows that grains negatively affect blood glucose levels and will hinder weight loss. (Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis) Do you stick to a diet of only nuts/seeds, protein, veggies and fruit? If you eat grains, which ones would you recommend? I read that even brown rice and quinoa have the same adverse affect to blood glucose as consuming a candy bar. I’d love to hear your opinion on this. Also, is alcohol (specifically wine and Champagne) an allowable part of your diet?

  13. Thanks so much. I eat sweet potatoes and brown or black rice or quinoa as my carbs. I don’t drink alcohol – stopped 30 yrs ago – but that has nothing to do with trying to lose weight. 1 glass wine or equivalent/day recommended max for women. Of course, life’s not fair – men are allowed 2 glasses. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/wine-how-much-is-good-for-you

  14. Proud of you my brother. Lookin’ like the old Rochdale days !

  15. Ignacio Sarmiento

    Dear Dr. Ellis,

    I was just going through the 2014 PGA lectures that I attended, when I saw that not only you have an entire open access website with your last lectures and articles, but also you have this blog about your personal fight against MACE and weight loss.
    Sharing is a beautiful thing that one can do to others. Your commitment to education – at all levels – is truly inspiring.
    Ignacio Sarmiento MD
    Department of Anesthesiology
    Clinica Santa Maria
    Santiago de Chile

  16. Dr. Ellis,

    I’m so proud of your journey… I can relate to your story because it’s similar to my own, I’m down 130+ pounds I adapted a vegan diet along with running …

    I played in the NFL for 7 years weighing around 335 pounds .. I moved to NYC took a business development job in construction and the rest is history…. I ballooned up to 405 pounds my daily routine was entertaining clients at breakfast, lunch & dinner at the best restaurants…

    I had an epiphany one day while sitting on a bench in central park, it dawned on me that I didn’t see to many 300+ pound 70 year old men walking around and that if I wanted a shot at living past the age that my father passed away (63) that I needed to make some serious lifestyle changes…

    Gratitude for your journey ❤????
    Peace & Blessings


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