What does a real weight loss journey look like?

People are always concerned with getting skinny as fast as possible or having their dream body in a year. I am going to document my journey and show you that it won’t take a year and you can’t rush it. In fact the longer it takes and the more mistakes you make, the stronger you become and the more you learn.

My journey has been a lifelong one. I typically only count from my discovery of Atkins and inadvertently ketosis. This was in 2005.

Until I was in the 5th grade I was lean and active. I was severely ADHD and had several allergies including cows milk (I now know it was just the casein that I was allergic to). For this reason I was on a strict diet with no sugar, artificial color or flavor and was only able to drink goats milk (very little casein in goats milk). If I had any of these things I would be absolutely uncontrollable. Well that isn’t the effect the cows milk had on me. We won’t get into that.

When I was in the 5th grade I went to live with my father and diet was out the window. It was restaurant food and junk everywhere and no restriction on when or where to eat. I obviously was in heaven. Within 7-9 months I had gained a massive amount of weight. I had no idea. I moved back with my mother before the end of that school year. Partly I think because my step mother couldn’t handle me anymore, the ADHD was out of control, and I was mad because she was not giving me my way about something. Typical kid.

I moved back with my mother and went back to my old school. The crazy thing was that none of my friends even recognized me at first. Only after I told them who I was did they remember. I had gained that much weight. Things got rough for me from that point on. I had always been a very active and popular kid. Not the case anymore. The teasing and bullying was relentless. The worst part it was from my former best friends. I had to find all new friends and quit playing sports and joined the school band. I at least had some people there that were not teasing me. Too bad I sucked at playing saxophone as well. I ended up changing schools several times over the years in order to try and get away from the torture but eventually gave up and by grade 9 I moved back to my father who lived in a very rural small town. It seemed to be better there. There was still teasing and bullying of course but it seemed to be much better. I stayed there until I graduated and I remained overweight the whole time.

After graduating I moved back to my mother’s home town and being in the adult world now I decided I should try to lose some weight and maybe get a girlfriend. I tried cutting back on sweets and going to the gym and rollerblading everywhere I went but nothing really worked. Still just that chubby guy. I did manage to lose some weight at one point because I got really broke and the only thing I could afford to eat for an entire month was potatoes. I did lose weight but I felt pretty terrible. Needless to say, once I got some money to buy real food the weight came back with a vengeance. I eventually did end up finding a girl, my current lovely wife God bless her, and we got happy and I got fatter. I eventually went to school to be a computer engineer and got fatter still. After school I got a job in an office doing reporting and data analysis and got fatter still.

Here we are, 2005 and my wife and I decide to get a family picture taken. We get the pictures back and I am absolutely floored when I see myself. What happened? I got a scale and weighed in. I was 298 pounds of unhappiness. I pretty much stopped eating at that point and lost a little weight but not much. I was depressed ad lost and didn’t know what to do. I was pre-diabetic and on my way to being just like my diabetic father and bother. Watching TV one day a documentary on the crazy doctor that was helping people lose weight eating bacon. I was sold. I went and bought his book immediately. I read the whole thing in a couple of days and got on it. I ended up going on leave at work for 3 months and just focusing on the diet. I made every recipe and followed it to a tee. I was eating 3 huge meals a day full of fat and loved it. I was keeping my carbs below 20g as directed in the induction phase of the Atkins book and this was the first time I had heard of ketosis. I recall my wife complaining that my breath could peel paint. This made me happy.

3 months had gone by and I had lost about 90lbs. I had to get back to work. I was still 208 or 210 lbs at that point and still not completely happy but it was time to go back to the real world. I continued on with the diet though. Over the next year I was able to get down to 175lbs. So a total loss of 123lbs. You would think I would be happy. I was wearing the smallest clothes I had ever worn and people were always commenting on how slim I was but underneath, I saw differently. I still had a belly and love handles and my arms were scrawny with no muscle tone. I was skinny fat. I had never really done much for exercise after the age of 12 so I never really developed any muscle. I started going to the gym at that point. We had a gym at my office so I went every day at 6am, showered and headed to the office. Well you would think I would get even leaner or gain some muscle and look better right? Wrong. What happened next is what happens to most who don’t know better and I certainly didn’t know better.

So I was working out hard and pumping iron and expecting to get huge. What happened instead is I got tired and more hungry. Well I was working hard so I deserve to eat more. I did but not necessarily the right things. Well I was working out so I could eat more carbs right? That was good for working out right? Wrong. Before long I was back up to 225lbs. I had gained 50lbs by working out? What? All the fitness magazines were lying to me. So I doubled down. Worked out harder and longer and went back to low carb strictly again but it was different this time. I was working out so I needed more protein. Protein shakes and meat all day every day. My main staple was probably 60% meat and protein and 40% cheese and that is about it. I lost a little bit but never got even close to 200 lbs again. Yes I was gaining some muscle but not very much and I was very unhappy with my weight. I started doing P90x and that worked pretty well. I did notice more muscle but no weight loss. I guess that was good.

I spent a few years playing with diets. I tried Jenny Craig, weight watchers, simply for life and some other pre-packaged food company but always stayed between 200 and 210lbs. Then in 2011 I found Crossfit. I did my first workout and fell in love. I stayed low carb and lost about 10lbs in the first couple months. I was happy to below 200lbs for the first time in a long time. With Crossfit they used to push the Paleo Diet. Our gym was doing a paleo challenge where we logged everything we ate and stuck to a strict paleo diet and got out body composition tested before and after. Well I jumped right in. Paleo was kind of low carb but I could eat like 150g a day as long as they were caveman carbs. I did this for 3 months. I did lose alot of weight. I got back down to 175lbs again. I was so happy I couldn’t speak, for maybe 5 minutes but still. Time came for the body composition test and I was pumped. I was working out hard and eating paleo and I was sure I was going to see some great numbers. Yes I lost about 25 lbs but what really hit me is that 4lbs of that weight was muscle!!! I was so depressed. I was working so hard to put on muscle and was floored that I lost some. I know now why. Lower carb but not low enough to get into ketosis and without ketosis we don’t get the muscle sparing effects of ketones. Lesson learned.

After that disappointment I pretty much said screw it and just ate what I thought would be healthy. Over the next few months I gained back 20lbs and sat at 195lbs for a good long while. I would say about 3 years ago I really got motivated and said I am going to get down to 175 again and stay there. I found this website called Eat to Perform. It was advocating low carb except when training and said eat carbs around training. It was not specific though about how much or what kinds really. I played with that for about 6 months and saw nothing out of it. Lost no weight and saw nothing really in the way of performance gains so I tossed that. I then found the book The Carb Nite Solution by Keifer. That sounded awesome. Eat low carb all week then once a week in the evening you eat carbs till the wheels come off. Donuts, pies or potatoes it doesn’t matter. Go nuts. I did that for a month or two and felt horrible and gained 4lbs. Not a solution. Then I got the idea that I just have to eat less and workout more. Crazy right. I then thought well if eating less and moving more works well, then eating less and doing low carb will work even better right?

I started tracking everything and working out 6 days a week instead of 5. No luck. I was eating 2,000 cals and not losing any weight. OK, cut more. 1800 cals and working out 6 days a week. Nothing. 1600 cals a day and working out 7 days a week. Nada. 1501 cals a day was the lowest day I was able to do without being absolutely useless. I sat there for 3 weeks and lost nothing. I started working out more. I was doing crossfit 7 days a week then started running 2 days a week in the evening. I did this for 4 weeks. I gained 6 lbs. WTF!!!!! I quit. NOt point. I stayed low carb but stopped tracking and ate whenever I wanted. I also went back to working out only 4-5 days a week. Guess what. Gained not 1 more pound. Nothing. What was the point of all that bullshit. Eat less move more my ass.

Fastforward. November 2016. I started hearing about this Keto diet. Sounded like what I had been doing for years now. Even Dr. Atkins talked about ketosis. Sounds too good to be true. I started doing it. Tracking carbs and keeping them down to 20g. My breath was all paint peely again according to my wife. I lost some weight. Not a great deal but more than I had lost in years doing all that other crazy crap. I was feeling better as well. I was still eating keto treats and sugar free candies and such though. I was still drinking on occasion as well. January 1st, 2017 I decided I was going to do this hard core for 30 days and see what happens. I cut all sweets and treats. No alcohol. No net carbs. Just real traditional high fat low carb and moderate protein keto. The results were nothing short of miraculous. I could not believe what I was seeing. This was the body I had always wanted and could never get. I still saw too much love handle though of course. I only lost maybe 5 lbs but the mass gain I had and the fat that came off was stunning. I was sold. Ever since that day it has been strict keto for the most part. I’ve still done the occasional experiment and paid the price with the loss of my abs and the yearly trips down south with the same result but I have always been able to get back to it and get back to that shape with some common sense keto. 🙂

33 days of Real Strict Keto

What strict keto did

Well that is my 13 year, life long, journey. All 2150 words of it. You asked for it and you got it. Hope you enjoyed it more than I did. 🙂

The journey

Progress From healthy kid to obese man to skinny guy to fit, healthy and happy

Just some pics from over the years for fun. The article wasn’t long enough and I am feeling nostalgic.

A boy and his best friend

A kid and his Kid

Hands in the cookie jar

Hands in the cookie jar

Is skinny really healthy?

Is skinny really healthy

How did this happen?

How did this happen

Now this is what I’m talkin about! (sorry for the undies) 🙂

Undies shot

Keto ON!

Coach Jack

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11 Replies to “What does a real weight loss journey look like?”

  1. I loved reading this! I Crossfit, Work in my gym and feel like I’m in a weird spot where I’m less lean than before (although i also lost 13 lbs at the start and then am at a more happy place about 6 pounds back) and although I changed to a keto lifestyle for health reasons, I’m also vain about having the visible abs I always had! Went keto in September 2016. Finally I feel good but darn it I want those abs back! You are proof it can happen so who knows where I’m messing up! Thanks for the share!!

    1. Oh my abs come and go with the seasons but unlike before they are always showing somewhat. I never thought that was possible until I got serious about keto and eating enough. Fuel your sport and you will reap the rewards.

      Keep at it and you will figure it out.

  2. THANK YOU! I, too, have been struggling w being hefty for all my life. I’m 51, 6’2”, 203#. I’ve been doing keto like your group specifies for 6 weeks. I’ve lost 17# & I’m hoping to get healthy. I’m beyond ready for that. Like many. I want the excess weight gone by yesterday, but I’m aware I’ve more healing to do and this will be a process. I’m getting happy.

    1. You are very welcome. After 13 years of doing this and still having progress to make I have realized that the “I want it now attitude” will never work. If I had gotten frustrated and given up because it didnt happen in a week I would not be the person I am today. Even though I was way smaller than I was throughout the majority of this journey I have never really been satisfied. Maybe that is part of the reason I kept at it but only in the last year have a slowed down and started just taking it in strides. I feel better and am far more calm. You just have to ride the wave and accept what comes. Of course never stop learning and improving but don’t let the stress of it all ruin what can be a great story.

  3. Nice to read of your story. Thanks for sharing it. So trippy after cutting so hard and getting down to 1500 cal (man, you were freaking crazy going that low doing CrossFit seven times per week and running twice!!) That you actually begin to lose weight when you actually increased your calories again!

  4. What do you recommend for exercise? Have you written about that somewhere?

    1. Best for weight loss is steady state cardio keeping heart rate below 120 bpm. Slow heavy weight training can be beneficial as well.

  5. Great story. I’m 63 and this brought back so many not so good memories. I was the one in the family that wore “Chubby” sizes and damn I wish I could forget that memory. Keto on!

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