How I Lost 300 Pounds With the Keto Diet
Hi! Tell us about yourself…why did you decide to start losing weight?
I have struggled with my weight for my entire life. Food obsession and morbid obesity were my norms. I spent most of my life alternating between short periods of dieting and gluttonous excess. In 2013, I managed to get to an all-time low of 210lbs; down from 540lbs. However, within 6 months, I had regained almost 300 pounds. I struggled to find a way to reach my weight loss goals and break free from the cycles of food addiction that dominated my life. In 2017, I decided that I needed to try again, motivated by the realization that I was going to die and abandon my family if I did not make a change.
I finally realized that the missing piece in everything was losing focus on my desire to stay alive and to fight for my health. I needed to work on more than just food, but my mindful approach to life and how my choices affect my future. I had done the research and the keto diet seemed most in line with my needs and with the good whole foods that I loved to eat. I started the keto diet in February of that year at 470lbs, and now, almost four years later, I am again down 300 pounds from my heaviest weight and living a sustained ketogenic lifestyle.
I think the magic of my way of life now is not weight loss, but the true sense of control over food and my body that I have earned for myself. I am no longer a slave to my appetite. I feel hopeful that I am building a life that revolves around far more than my next meal. The lessons I have learned have inspired me to work with others who know this struggle as a holistic ketogenic nutrition coach.
What was your workout routine? Can you give us what a typical week looked like for you working out?
When I began my journey life was a workout! It was hard to imagine going to the gym when I could barely get into my apartment from my car. So I started slow. I began walking 5 minutes a day. Then longer and further. It was over a month before I walked into a gym, and even then it was challenging to fit onto equipment properly and discover the range of motion my body could handle. I had a workout plan developed by a trainer friend that started as a full-body lifting routine several times a week and eventually progressed into targeting specific body parts on specific days.
It was exciting to discover the new things my body could do as I moved through this process. The most important thing was consistency. You cannot get stronger without it, so I made my workouts a priority. I would go to the gym at 4 am most days to ensure I would not use a long workday or be tired as an excuse for not getting it done.
I think the biggest advice I could give someone is to start where you are at now, don’t wait until you think you will be perfect. Find an intentional activity that you enjoy, and start doing it. Whether that’s a walk outside, a swim, yoga, or lifting. Move your body. You will progress as your body changes and make the same awesome discoveries that I did!
What was your nutrition like? Can you give us what a typical day of eating looked like?
When I started in February of 2017 I was following what would be called a “dirty keto” diet. I tracked net carbs and ate enough fat and protein to ensure I was satiated. I included plenty of well-sourced proteins and vegetables, lots of healthy fat, and the occasional keto treat, like a homemade baked good or ice cream.
View this post on Instagram
I did this until I started to see my weight plateau, around 290 pounds. The gift keto gave me was a reduction in my appetite and a better relationship with food. To push to the goals I wanted to achieve I had to adapt and started working with a coach on a diet that tracked macros and calories tightly. This opened new doors for me as I started eating a higher fat ratio and counting total carbs instead of net. I discovered in doing this that my body responded with increased energy and focus.
I also learned that it is through playing the “net carb game” that we allow ourselves to continue to consume foods that we might have a poor relationship in the end. I find counting total carbs instead keeps me personally honest about my choices. I have gone from seeing food simply as an escape and entertainment to seeing it as a fuel that can be enjoyed. That may seem like a small shift in perspective but for me, it was very powerful! As for supplements, the only things I needed were electrolytes and plenty of water, specifically sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
Like this weight loss story? Get more exclusive weight loss stories delivered to your email inbox every Tuesday!
How did you stay motivated to lose weight? Did you ever slip up?
I think in the end motivation is a fallacy. We all have it at times and do not at others, but that does not change the fact that we need to stay on track and target. I think that building strong routines and habits is a better place to focus our energy. I think also that we need to realize that losing weight and crafting lasting sustainable change is indeed hard, and some days are going to outright suck.
It is in those moments that I focused on my why, wanting to live. I would ask myself if the choices or cravings I wanted to feed would move me closer to that why or further away from it? I had to set rules for myself and follow them. And honestly, on some of the toughest days, I would do whatever it took to stay on track, including going to bed early, going for an extra workout, or getting out of my house so I wasn’t surrounded by food. I had to adopt a “whatever it takes” mentality, and remain committed to making the right choices. Of course, I am far from perfect, but when I would slip up or fall off course I would remind myself that the most important choice we ever make is the next one. The past has already happened. It cannot change. The future isn’t written and is just waiting for us!
One of the biggest mental tools I have developed is the ability to ask myself in any given situation, what can I control right now? And then work to let go of the things I cannot.
When did you start to notice progress?
I think progress is a funny thing. There are some days that we see it clearly and others we feel like we’re still that person back on day 1. The best way for me to conquer this mentality was tracking more than just weight. Taking pictures, measurements and setting goals related to non-scale victories were my best tools here. We see ourselves every day so it can be hard to see the progress.
For me, I was so big that I just didn’t fit into many normal spaces, like chairs with arms, theater seats, some cars, restaurant booths, etc. The biggest moments of realization of change for me started when I realized I could fit into these spaces better, that I could walk further, etc. I think saving clothes from my heaviest and trying them on regularly also helped me see the changes. Oh speaking of clothes, I also loved buying smaller “goal shirts” that I work towards fitting into. They were powerful motivators for me!
Did you use any sort of trackers/apps/scales to track your progress?
I was honestly not a big techy when it comes to this journey! I had a basic scale at home but not connected to a tracker or anything. When I did start to track my food I actually started with a notebook, then an Excel sheet, and finally, I admitted I needed the convenience of an app, and started using Cronometer. I found it intuitive for me and easy to personalize macros, etc.
Do you have any weight loss “hacks” or “secrets” that helped you succeed?
My biggest tips are simple – read food labels and drink enough water. It’s important to empower yourself with the knowledge of what you’re actually eating. When I would ingredients I didn’t recognize, I would google them! As for water, often we mistake thirst for hunger. Whenever I had a bad food craving I would drink 20 ounces of water and set a 15-minute timer. If I was still hungry after that I would ask myself if I would be satisfied eating something very bland, like an undressed salad or boiled chicken breast. If the answer is yes, I was hungry. If the answer was no, it was just a craving!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t add one more HUGE tip. Start now. Don’t wait. Don’t overanalyze your steps or program in search of perfection. Get started and tweak as you go along. If a way of eating or exercise routine doesn’t bring the results you want, don’t give up. Try something else. Just realize that the mythical Monday we all talk about never comes unless you get started!
Do you have any fitness books/podcasts/websites that you’d recommend and why?
If someone is interested in looking at a ketogenic diet or lower-carb lifestyle, I highly recommend the books Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore and Fitness Confidential by Vinnie Tortorich. For a look at the mindset I think is needed for lasting success, I recommend Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way. It dives into Stoic philosophy in an easily accessible manner and truly is the book that changed my life.
I of course have to also recommend my own podcast, the Fat Guy Forum! It is a collection of stories of many amazing men that have struggled with and overcome challenges related to their weight. Guys from all walks of life and of all shapes and sizes have honored me by sharing their journeys!
What is your best advice to beginners who are looking to lose weight?
Start simple. Set achievable goals. And just get started! Your wins will add up and build the momentum you need for the journey ahead. Don’t expect anyone to hand anything to you, do your research and pick the path that feels most sustainable to you personally. Be honest with yourself about what your biggest challenges are and look for the tools you need to help you conquer them!
Where can we find more about you?
You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @gormygoesketo. You can find my podcast on all platforms. And if you’re interested in working with me as a client, you can go to TheKetoRoad.com/coach-mike!
Would you like to share YOUR story on How I’m Fit?
We’d love to hear from you! Please send us an email and we’ll get in touch shortly!