“Results not typical. Individual effectiveness will vary.” This disclaimer — a constant refrain with weight-loss testimonials — may well define Alvin Schultz. Since 2011, Alvin has redefined himself personally, professionally and physically. It all has to do with food.
“I grew up watching Julia Child and all that PBS sort of Saturday cooking show stuff. I watched that instead of cartoons,” Schultz said.
When he moved out of his parents’ house, he wanted to eat better than he could afford to. “So I started cooking for myself a little more seriously, and that started to springboard my passion for food,” he said.
Schultz’s passion grew, along with his skill set, eventually landing him a spot on Season 2 of “Master Chef,” a reality cooking show on Fox. Though he was eliminated on the seventh episode, he used his success to launch a gig as a private chef and caterer.
His life centered around food, but that relationship started to sour. He had always been on the heavy side, but he hit a turning point around 2013. “When I started to be able to feed myself pretty well and continued to enjoy food, probably to a fault, I fed myself very well. That led me to a lifestyle that was, looking back on it, honestly, very unhealthy,” he said.
Then he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
“That was a time in my life where I just didn’t go anywhere near a scale. I was probably not entering the same room as a scale. Looking back on pictures from that time frame, I would guess that I was every bit of 350-plus pounds. Probably on my worst day, I was approaching 375 or more at times. So the diabetes thing was kind of a wakeup call.”
Schultz answered that call with Krav Maga, an Israeli martial art and self-defense system. What started as a trial class turned into an obsession. Soon, he found much of his free time devoted to Krav, spending five to 10 hours a week training, on top of his full-time job working for Bose Corp. and his side job in catering. He started losing weight.
“Probably over the next year or so, I would say I probably lost around 60 or 70 pounds.”
CJ Kirk, owner and chief instructor at Krav Maga Houston, remembers when Schultz joined. “He was surprisingly coordinated and agile,” he said. “He approached his training in a consistent and thoughtful way, asking intelligent questions that indicated the depth of his understanding and revealed his process in exploring some of the deeper concepts within Krav Maga. I wasn’t surprised at all by his progress.”
While Schultz changed his activity level, his diet remained much the same.
Kirk had adopted a low-carb diet after attending a lifestyle coaching certification event in San Diego, and he had seen immediate results. “I started telling anyone who would listen about this lifestyle,” he said.
He came up with a concept he calls Mind Body Fuel, a meal delivery and coaching service. He collaborated with Schultz on the chef-driven menu. The pair launched MBF in April 2018, with Schultz designing and preparing low-carb, ketogenic diet options for a small client-base, many of whom were fellow Krav Maga enthusiasts.
Schultz was not an immediate convert to the low-carb lifestyle, however. But his weight had bounced back up, even with his Krav Maga successes.
“I just thought, I’m going to the gym a bunch, I’m working out, I’m doing these relatively hard workouts at the gym, this must just be my body type and my body frame,” he said. “I must just be a 275-pound person.”
Seeing his customers’ successes onspired him to change his diet, too.
“MBF was right at a month old, and we had a small handful of clients, and they had all started to lose pounds,” Schultz said. “I was like, ‘That’s pretty cool, maybe I should do this for a month.’ ”
He went cold turkey, cutting out almost all carbs. The transition was easier for him because he already had access to a low-carb diet.
“I remember setting micro goals for myself, saying, ‘This week I’m going to be 249, and that’s going to be the first time in my life that I’m closer to 200 than 300.’ I remember celebrating that… ‘OK, can I be 230?’ Then it was, ‘Well, I was 316 when I started. If I’m at 235 right now, I can get to 216. That’ll be 100 pounds down. That’ll be cool; that’ll be amazing, right?’… Then I was like, holy (cow), I’m under 200 pounds for the first time since middle school.”
Now Schultz has lost more than 120 pounds. While his first month or so was what he calls “full keto,” now he cheats from time to time.
“What I tell people is you’ve got to live your life,” he said. “You have to find balance. If you try to do a strict diet for three years, there are people that can do that. More power to them. I am not one of those people.”
These days, he thinks of diet more as a part of who he is, rather than a thing you do for awhile. “I tend to think about the way that I eat now more on a weekly basis than a daily basis,” he said.
During the week, he is strict about his diet, with MBF meals comprising the majority of what he eats. On the weekends, he relaxes “in a more conscious way.”
“Instead of going out and having three pizzas, I’ll have three slices of pizza, you know?”
Now, he is focused on growing his business. When he first started in catering, he didn’t see it as a full-time job. “I started this business so that I would have a way to write off my blender, basically,” Schultz said.
Things have changed since then, and his perspective has shifted.
“I’m looking at my success, my weight loss last year, and seeing what other parts of my life I could apply it to. I feel like so much of it is mental.”
Nicholas Hall is a Houston freelance writer.