By: Jon Corrigan
After high blood pressure landed him in the hospital in 2015, illusionist Penn Jillette was forced to make drastic changes to his eating habits.
“I was on six very powerful meds to bring the blood pressure down,” Jillette, 61, told PEOPLE last year. “My doctor said I needed to get my weight down, and if I brought it down 30 or 40 lbs. it would be a little easier to control. And then he said something in passing that completely blew my mind — he said, ‘If you got down to 230, you probably wouldn’t need any of the meds.’”
Accepting that challenge, Jillette went from 330 to 225 lbs. in under a year. He chronicles his weight-loss journey in a new book, Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear.
“In just a few months in early 2015, I lost 100 pounds. The way I did it was very extreme. I did a monodiet for two weeks, which could have been anything. I did potatoes because they’re funny. Could have been corn, could have been beans, but I didn’t want a lot of fart jokes,” he writes. “A monodiet is not very entertaining, or social. No one ever calls up and says, ‘Hey, Penn, I just landed in Vegas, let’s have a potato.’”
He eventually began to work in other foods like salads and vegetables, and has maintained his target weight for 17 months.
“I’ve changed everything about how I eat. Turn on the TV, look at the billboards, read magazines — see all that food? I don’t eat any of that,” he writes. “I eat no animal products, no refined grains, and extremely low salt, sugar, and oil.”
Jillette tells PEOPLE his typical diet consists of, “an ‘enormous salad’ with vinegar as dressing for lunch (he usually skips breakfast) and a dinner of 3 lbs. of greens and three servings of black or brown rice with a vegetable stew, along with lots of fruits for dessert and vegetables with vinegar or Tabasco sauce as a snack.”