I Lost 80lbs... So Can You
I had hit the scale and it was reading 227lbs
Ashamed, I weighed 60lbs more than I used to, and I was rather chubby then. I had trouble tying my shoes, my daughter couldn’t get her arms around me, it made her laugh.
I never looked at the scale again till I knew I was losing pounds. I am confident I broke 230. As I was gaining weight I remember saying that I’d never go over 200lbs, this was laughable at this point. So, I started a journey to change my life, it depended on it.
I was drinking a lot..yes, more than you think is a lot, this was a major contributor to the gains. With that I was drinking and eating whatever I wanted. Nachos at 1am, followed by ice cream. I was not that active, gave zero shits, was in a very bad place. An internal alarm went off, maybe it was me hitting rock bottom, but something happened. A switch flipped.
I was determined to regain my health and fitness.
You see I was once in the U.S. Army, I was an Airborne Paratrooper, a communications NCO for some of the most elite forces the U.S. has, the 230lb Colton here was to never exist. I let go, got lost, no excuses here.
May 2018 until October 2018. This is where most of the weight came off.
I went from 230+lbs down to 170lbs +-.
Food & Diet... it wasn’t that serious
As I started this journey, I learned I was already kind of intermittent fasting. I have never been big on breakfast, part due to a hangover, part due to the fact that I just don’t really care for breakfast. I extended my lunch time till around 1-3pm, and stopped eating around 8/9pm.
- 16-18 hour fasting windows 7 days a week.
- Started drinking bulletproof style coffees in the morning.
Tip for Bulletproof Coffee. While it tastes good and makes you feel good if you are trying to lose weight it can slow progress and break your fast. (I didn't know this at the time and used it throughout 2018) If you are really about losing weight and are using intermittent fasting the extra calories are not worth it, you also lose additional benefits of fasting.
From deploying and changes in diet while deployed I already knew that I responded well to lower carbs and sugar. At this time I was not being strict at all but I cut my beer down by about half, would drink liquor, had less shit foods, nothing super serious, just less. I replaced some foods with healthier alternatives. Between diet and exercise, this was a good start and it was working well.
Exercise & Training
Following a keep it simple theme most of my training consisted of bodyweight workouts, circuits, Tabata, HIIT, lots of cardio (usually intervals), and tire flipping. I did these 6 days a week. I had no equipment, I live in a rural area in Michigan, the Army taught me well there. By early September I was down to 170 or so, I continued this until the end of October.
November 2018, finishing up the year.
As it got cold here I realized I need to be able to continue through winter inside or it would all be for nothing. A gym membership was not an option for me. I already had a rower so I bought a power rack, barbell, bumper plates etc. from Titan.
October 31 I started lifting. I did Stronglifts 5x5 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with added items like pull ups, planks, dips, it varied. I also did something cardio related Tuesday, Thursday, and most Saturdays. This typically would be a run if weather permitted, otherwise it was rowing, interval running or rowing, kickboxing, & circuits.
By December, I had gained some muscle, took it slow, learning lifts, followed the program I wasn’t really making much progress body fat wise. Weight loss had stalled.
At this point I was drinking less and less, but still a handful during the week/weekend, usually bourbon. I had also started eating slightly better, reducing meal-based carbs however it was the holiday season I kept partaking in the sweets so that played a major role in not progressing as much with weight loss. I was progressing through StrongLifts but very much still in the beginning... only 2 months into lifting. You start with just the bar, not exactly progress but moving forward.
Happy New Year
For Christmas & New Year 2019, my brother in-law came to visit. He knew what I was up to and where I came from. He advised I look harder at dropping sugars, alcohol, and carbs. He is very fit, is usually on the right track with advice so I did, I went very low sugar & carbs. I dropped the Bulletproof Coffee for black coffee or green tea.
Cue the research and endless YouTube videos, I learned a shit ton about Keto and went that route as a test for a month. I was down to the low 160’s (24% BF, DEXA) by mid-February. I continued StrongLifts and the cardio mentioned before, stayed low carb/sugar, experimented with longer fasting (24-52 hrs.), and was generally in Ketosis most days.
From that point on, my goal was to really focus on dropping body fat and replace it with muscle, I didn’t want to really weigh less and I still had a decent amount of fat by April I was down to 22%. Again, staying with Keto, I would bounce in and out every few weeks, and tracked calories to keep the low via MyFitnessPal. I worked on dialing in a diet and what I would like to do long term. I tested my reactions to certain foods (ex: sweet potato or fruits) the best I could, Keto test strips...
From May until now I’ve been mostly in a maintenance mode, slowly gaining muscle, body re-composition, replacing fat with muscle. I’ve weighed the same since (155-ish). Today & for the last few months I sometimes have sugar or heavy carb meal (intentionally and rarely), the main carbs I do eat are complex in nature, my diet is probably 80-85% carnivore, meats, dairy, and veggies. I’m usually in ketosis when I test via a test strip, I tend to go in and out depending on diet sugars or heavy carb meals. I dropped alcohol to nearly 0, still have a drink 1-2 a month.
I haven’t done a scan since April, the military tape method tells me I’m in the 13 percent range (BF%) but that way of measuring is usually on the low side by 1-2%. I have a scan scheduled, look for an update on that soon.
What does today look like?
(Left April, Right October)
- I lift using my own version of StrongLifts + my own accessory exercises on M, W, F.
- Cardio, usually intense intervals, T, TH, Sat via rower, running, kickboxing, kettle-bells etc.
- Not a lot of sugar, lower side of carbs (complex), converted some desserts and meals to low carb/keto, so I can share some of those at some point if I get interest.
With food it’s like learning a new language for me at least. I spoke fluent standard shit food diet; I love to cook and am learning alternative ways. It was a challenge but doable, it’s no challenge now. I stuck with it and learned, not that hard.
- Diet diet diet, find a way to eat that works for you. For me it's cutting back on sugars and carbs. The answer might be different for you. Don't be afraid to try a method for 1-2 months. Stick with it. You got here due to diet and lack of the next bullet.
- Do something, get up get active somehow, walk during your lunch, mine was free since I was intermittent fasting, exercise, progressively increase intensity.
- Lifting weights is critical. Whether at the gym or at home, do it. Find a program you like.
- BE PATIENT!
- Adapt a new mindset. This is the new you. Your new way of life. You are not a yo-yo.
- Fuck everyone else. People will tell you fasting is bad for you while they eat a candy bar. These people are jealous, stubborn, and do not have your best interest. If (IF) doesn't work for you do something else. Just a tool.
- Again, understand diet diet diet. Intake problems got you here in the first place. Put the donuts down, fuck donuts.