November 27th of 2011 Nick had just finished a huge meal at his father͛s house. He was feeling heavy and decided to step on the scale after dinner. He was shocked by the number it showed.
It had been some time since he had weighed himself and he was horrified to discover that at the age of 21 he was 274 pounds. "There were a lot of video games in my life"he told me, I'm a computer IT guy and I was eating a terrible diet and playing tons of World of Warcraft." He knew then that he needed a big change in his life and he was not going to wait. He first toyed with the idea of a January 1st start to his new lifestyle, (who hasn͛t?) but he realized quickly that he did not want to be ͞just one more person who failed to follow through on a new year͛s resolution. He needed to start sooner. He decided on Dec 27th and then he started reading.
It would not be an easy journey back to health. Nick admitted to being lazy with difficulty following through and completing tasks complicated by "alot of well-crafted binge eating tendencies that I had perfected over the last two decades". His brother Mike, a personal trainer, tried to lend support. ͞I would complain about being overweight so I'm sure he was constantly frustrated. But it was Mike who gave him the final tool he needed to get going on his journey; a copy of Tim Ferris͛s book the 4 Hr Body. From there he did more reading and listened to podcasts and somewhere along the way he encountered the ketogenic diet.
Nick spent quite a bit of time on bodybuilding.com and saw how many people were being successful and loosing ͞huge amounts of weight͟ on a ketogenic diet. "I was a big progress picture guy I really liked looking up people who had a similar weight to me and seeing what they looked like before and what they looked like now so that I could imagine what I might look like if I lost that much weight." Nick doesn͛t have to imagine any more, he can just look in the mirror. Nick lost 100 lbs in one year. His diet began as lean meat, good fats and under 20 grams of carbs. ͞I just cook everything in coconut oil and I am sure to eat at least an avocado a day. I don't follow a specific macro breakdown, I just don't have carbs at all at my house. The only carbs I get are in the fibre from avocado, and salads, which I am trying to eat more of now".
Nick told me that he does not eat any condiments, a big stumbling block for a lot of people, and he does not supplement with MCT oil. ͞I did once, and had too much and experienced the ͚disaster pants͛ that came with it." Nick told me he eats about 80% of calories from fat and about 80 gms of protein a day. ͞I͛ve cut out protein shakes, I think in the beginning I was eating too much protein and I prefer to get it from real food". Nick has never tracked his food in a journal. ͞I kind of wish I had͟ he said, ͞but at the time I think I was just too scared that I might fail and I didn't want to create a paper trail." He laughed when he mentioned this to me and I thought that it was great to have an example like Nick who can have such great success without tracking. For some people the idea of tracking everything can be overwhelming. Some people thrive on it and others hate the idea. He admitted to being pretty good at eyeballing portion sizes and a big label reader but that his basic recipe for success was to ͞eat protein and fat until I was full and not worry about anything else as long as I wasn't eating the carbs".
I asked Nick what impact his lifestyle change has had on his family, ͞It's always weird at first when you first start and people are saying ͚oh that doesn't seem healthy, you͛re eating too much fat and you're not eating bread͛. My go to response for that one was ͚well you didn't say that when I was hitting Wendy's and McDonald's in the same night͛". Nick͛s habits are rubbing off on his family too. His older brother has started Keto and has lost nearly 30 pounds, and his girlfriend has started too, not for weight loss but just because she likes how it makes her feel more energized. Nick now works out regularly. He admitted to never really working out before and still not liking gyms in general. He has a small set up in his home with a pull up bar, a bench press and kettle bells. ͞I do a lot of body weight exercises which anyone can do, anywhere. When I first tried to do a pull-up I snapped my pull-up bar off-the-wall. But it was not to long before I was able to do 35." Nick really likes his Kettle bells because ͞even if you don't have much time you can always find time for swings, you do 120 kettle bell swings in 20 minutes and let me know how you feel afterwards". He had a point. There is always time for a few swings and I made a mental note to bring my kettlebell back up from the basement so I can follow his example and not use ͚pressed for time͛ as an excuse.
Nick admitted it was hard work. ͞It's awesome when it's done but when it's going on it͛s work, that͛s really what it is, lots of work. I never wanted to have to do that again. Realistically I have an addiction to sugar. If I eat candy or cake or something you can pretty much guarantee that I will end up at the store buying more. One of the reasons I like keto so much is it that it just seems more sustainable to me. The best diet is the diet you can stick to". And Nick has been able to stick to it. He has kept the weight off for six years.
Beyond the weight loss Nick has seen a big change in his mental health as well. "I have had bad ADD for most of my life and I've been on Adderall since I was a young person. Keto has had a pretty profound effect on me. I can pay much more attention when I'm keto adapted. There is no question about it, I can tell the difference immediately. I can tell if I am in ketosis based on how well I can concentrate. I don't take Adderall anymore I'm completely off that now". Nick has also noticed a change in his attitude, from never finishing anything to wanting to finish projects and succeed. He has noticed a change in his motivation and confidence too. "I just felt like I was a huge loser. I looked at my weight as a point of shame. Every day there was something to be embarrassed about because I knew better, I played sports when I was younger and my brother is a personal trainer".
Making the changes to his lifestyle and following through gave Nick the confidence he needed to reach higher. First it was an internship, then he got hired full-time, then they asked him to take over the internship program. The confidence led to momentum. "I love the fact that I can move around better now I love the fact that I can do a bunch of pull-ups or any pull-ups for that matter. I can climb a tree! I find myself doing things like going hiking or running which I still don't like doing but I do it because I can. I went to Hawaii and climbed mountains that I never would've done without losing the weight. I never would have made it up the mountains we scaled. I would've been embarrassed to try. I honestly think the momentum is everything, I really do"
Nick sure has momentum now. When I asked him about his big lessons learned he was quick to encourage people to celebrate successes and to stay away from negative thinking that undermines the process. "Avoid the highs and lows. What is a year? It͛s nothing really. What if you can make your life 10 times better by spending six months committing to something? You didn't gain 100 pounds in a day you're not going to lose it in a day. Remember if you mess up once a month it's better than screwing up 30 times in 30 days".
His advice for anyone just beginning a really big weight loss journey is to ͞take progress pictures. Get it done. Take lots of progress pictures. Enjoy it. It won't take as long as you think." Even though Nick is a big believer in transformation pictures, and recognizes how important they were for his own journey he still felt very self-conscious about his own transformation pictures. He credits his brother Mike for helping get him onto his successful path and for helping him realize that his transformation is just as much an incentive to others as the ones he had seen in the early days of his ketogenic dieting. I want to thank you for sharing your story and your pics with us Nick. I know they will inspire others. Let Nick know how his story has inspired you by leaving a comment below.
Ketogenics .com, bodybuilding.com reddit.com/r/keto
Favorite Keto meal: bacon avocado and eggs
Book: 4 hr body, Keto clarity