I’ve always been the fat kid and have struggled with my weight my entire life. It wasn’t until I started to get really serious with Crossfit and a lower-carbohydrate existence that I started to actually transform not just my body, but my mindset as well. I remember in 2007, I stepped on the scale at over 260lbs.
I remember talking with my wife about joining some cardio-kickboxing class that was going to cost FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS for 10 weeks (that seemed like a lot to pre-Crossfit me?). I did some work on my own prior to starting to actually start to get the weight down, and entered the “program” at 234 pounds, with a nearly 40-inch waist. Cardio-kickboxing was my life for a couple of years, and I even ended up instructing. At a certain point, I got tired of using resistance bands for strength training and found a more functional place that used kettlebells, pullup bars, and other pieces of equipment that seemed more “real” to me.
My goal was to run and complete a Tough Mudder (a 13-mile obstacle course race). Well, I completed it totally Ketogenic…I even wore a keto shirt 🙂 But that was just the start…
At the new gym, one of the coaches said “Tough Mudder, huh? Have you ever heard of a GORUCK Challenge?” No, I hadn’t. He told me about it…it’s a 12-14 hour endurance challenge led by current and former Special Forces to give you a taste of their training. You get the hell beat out of you for at least 14 hours, and oh yeah, you have a backpack full of 40lbs of bricks the entire time. Who the hell would do that? Me…6 months later, that’s who.
And I’m still actively doing these events…even completing a few of them back to back (on consecutive nights with about 3 hours of sleep). It’s amazing how much your outlook on life and “hardship” changes when you put yourself through something as difficult and soul-crushing as a GORUCK Challenge…it’s honestly been one of the biggest change agents in my life. And guess what? I do all of these events without gel packs, energy drinks, or other sugary concoctions that are supposed to help “get you through.” #ketoforthewin
It was around this time that another friend told me about “Crossfit,” which I could only assume was one of those cheesy “Lift weights for Jesus” type gyms. I did some YouTube searching and saw people dragging sleds, flipping tires, and using real barbells. I saw thrusters, squats, and…”wait…what the hell kind of pullups are those!?” Within weeks I was hooked. I couldn’t do a single pullup. Power cleaning 135 off the ground was a milestone for me. Double-under jump ropes were basically an exercise in self-flagellation. But, it brought out this competitive spirit in me that I had NEVER felt before. I felt…awoken…alive…better.
It’s been 5 years doing Crossfit now, and it’s transformed my life and helped me to be a great role model for my children so that they never have to go through the bullshit of being the fat kid…because it sucks a lot. My children also understand what sugar is, why we don’t eat cookies all the time, and why they get the lunch we pack them each day 🙂
Since I started getting serious with my weight-loss journey, the number “185” has always been in my head. It seems so far from the “260” and well under the dreaded “200”. I finally switched from “Lazy Keto” to what I called “Lazer Keto” (strict Keto) and the results were incredible. I never had more energy, and suddenly I was wearing smaller clothes than I had ever dreamt possible. Photos of me shirtless were shocking. “Wait, that’s me!?!”
I’ll never forget the day I hit 185…5 weeks in. Let’s just say this was a very good day. I woke up, hopped on the scale and almost wept at the number staring back at me. I did it. My son heard me yell something in the bathroom and came and looked…”MOM!! DAD DID IT!!” Having him see that I had a goal and I worked hard to achieve it is a lesson I continually try to reinforce upon him. “You’ve gotta work for it, son” is something I probably say too much to an 8-year old. On the same day, in addition to hitting my goal weight, we found out our house back in Iowa sold for well above asking price, and my wife got news of a bonus at work. This was a “holy shit, we’re celebrating with wine” type-of-night. A really dry red wine, of course 🙂
I continue to evangelize the Ketogenic diet to people at my gym that ask about “how I did it.” To feel so helpless and out of control with your body is a feeling I distinctly remember. Finding out that the reason I was obese, unhealthy and headed for diabetes was a life-saving discovery and I want everyone to feel how I do. I’m amazed at how easy it is to be Keto with the resources available on the web. I would have killed to have half the recipes and articles available online when I started! I tell people that “your glory days” are not behind you…they can be ahead of you…if you just take some time to invest in yourself.
1. What tactics did you employ to help you get to your goal? What did you find helped you get to your goals best?
I learned as much as I could about Keto, about nutrition, about the body. I knew that in order to be successful, knowledge was going to be a tool that would be indispensable. It’s much easier to avoid pizza and ice cream when you know that really, they’re just going to trick your body and make things worse long term. I also learned to not take cheat meals “because I deserved it.”
I wasn’t perfect on my journey, but I learned that I couldn’t beat myself up if I had a slip-up or a set-back, I got on the horse the next day. I tell people that start keto “you’ve gotta really commit for a while and let your body adjust”…” keto isn’t something you can do 75% of the way…you have to be willing to go all in.”
I found that in order to achieve my larger, longer-term goals, I needed to set smaller goals and hit them. Let’s say I wanted to ditch 20lbs. I would find some competition, some event, something that held my feet to the fire. And maybe before that event, I’d try to lose 10. I’d make it through and then set my goal for the next event. Having something that’s on the calendar, that you paid money for, and that is always looming is incredibly motivating.
2. What is the most impactful change you’ve made to your diet and why do you feel it’s been the most important?
The most impactful change for me, and where I saw the most change was when I plateaued for about 2 years doing “lazy keto.” I’d stripped off a good amount of body fat, but I wasn’t to the “I can see my abs” phase that I had wished for. It got really hard as I started to get leaner. The losses were smaller. The achievements weren’t as easy to get. That change was logging my food intake.
I hesitate to say I was counting calories, but I was very much counting calories. When I started logging my food and only eating what was on my plan, I started to lean out in ways I’d never imagined possible, and my performance in the gym increased dramatically.
3. What is the best single piece of advice you can give to someone that is just starting out?
Go all in. Do not half-ass this. Keto works, but you’ve gotta give your body time to adapt. Then, one day, you will wake up and you will be amazed at the energy you have. Keto demands discipline but returns substantially more than the investment.
4. How do you feel your life is now that you’re at your goal?
My life is full of confidence. My life feels…in control. For so many people I’ve talked to, they’ve “just gotten fat because they’re getting older.” Almost like being overweight is something that happened to them as opposed to something they did to themselves. Most people have no idea how to lose weight and find true health.
It feels amazing to be able to talk to a random stranger in the grocery store looking at frozen “healthy” meals about why that might not be a good choice. It feels amazing to have people hear my story and ask for advice…for wisdom from the trenches. I love being able to help guide people through a battle we will fight for the rest of our lives.
5. What do you consider the biggest change in your day-to-day life?
The biggest change for me is definitely Keto + Intermittent Fasting. Being able to not worry about lunch, or where my next meal will come from is incredible. Having the ability to “just not eat” has saved me from that trap of “there’s nothing healthy to eat here, so i’ll just have Nachos.” The mental clarity, focus, and simplicity that Keto + IF give me are something that I wished I’d learned about much earlier in life. Food has no power over me and the clock doesn’t control my hunger. I love to eat…but at the end of the day food is just fuel…tasty, tasty fuel 🙂
6. What did you do to find support throughout your journey?
Keto is sometimes misunderstood so, unfortunately, I didn’t receive a ton of support from coaches that bought into the “eat 6 small meals a day…you need carbs” nonsense. So, having a few online communities such as Reddit and the Ruled.me website was crucial to keeping me on track. Quite honestly, the biggest support I had involved reading and re-reading the science I already knew. Sometimes, reaffirming the knowledge inside your head is incredibly motivating to keep you on the right track.
I also signed up for several newsletters with inspirational stories, recipes, and keto-related content that gave me the warm keto fuzzies when I needed them most. I’m so bought in at this point, however, I now find inspiration and support in helping others and seeing their lives transform. That’s truly been the best part of this journey, helping others.
7. What do you currently do to manage your day-to-day diet?
We meal plan. My wife and I spend just a few minutes on a Sunday night planning out the week’s meals. So, day-to-day, it’s really easy. She’s not 100% keto, but she loves the delicious food I create, so meal planning is pretty easy for us. Also, I make sure that I have plenty of Keto snacks in the house for when actual hunger strikes (which is rare). It’s the old cliche — “Fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
8. What is your favorite keto recipe from www.ruled.me that’s become a staple?
Easy Keto Creamed Spinach — Hands down. It’s so easy to get a high dose of quality nutrients in a relatively small amount of physical space 🙂 (Isn’t it amazing what happens to a bag of spinach when you cook it down? It disappears!!). I add this to a lot of my meals as a nice, rich supplement. And I have yet to get sick of it!
9. If there is one thing that you could do differently during your journey, what would it be and why?
Two things. I wish I would have started intermittent fasting and tracking my food much earlier. Period. The two go hand in hand quite well 🙂
You plan your food out so you can be assured that you’re getting the macros and food energy you know you need in a day (without guessing). You are fasting, so you need to plan less meals, so planning becomes that much easier!