Weight Loss

Mid-Month Observations

I thought I’d do a quick update for mid-March since I haven’t been posting much.

I’m officially halfway to the end of the final stretch towards my weight-loss goal. I originally planned to run an aggressive calorie deficit for January, February and March, with the awareness that I may have to keep it going until the end of May in the worst case scenario. As of today, I’m down 8,9 kg (19,6 lbs) from my weigh-in on the first of January, and I’ve reached a stable weight of 80,2 kg (177 lbs). If I maintain the same average deficit for the rest of the month (872 calories per day on average), I will reach 78,34 kg (172 lbs) by the end of the month, just 3 lbs shy of my “optimistic goal” of 169 lbs. If I feel lean enough at that point I may go into a maintenance period, if not, I’ll continue dropping weight in April.

I do notice that I’m feeling hungry a lot more, and my focus is almost constantly on food. I’ve been playing with the idea of having a cheat meal or a refeed in the near future to see if that will help make it easier to manage. I’m also considering dropping my deficit down a bit in April, accepting that the last part of this journey will take an extra month or so, to make it a bit more tolerable. I’m not starving by any means, and I was losing weight at much higher rates last year, but I also had a lot more weight to lose at that point. My energy levels are suffering and I’m feeling cold much more than I’m used to, but the exceptionally cold winter we’re having where I live is hardly helping.

It’s just a matter of sticking to it. One of the funnier things nobody tells you about losing a lot of weight, is that your view of yourself doesn’t keep up with the weight-loss. I’m the leanest, strongest and least fat I’ve been in my adult life, and for the first time in 2 decades I have a normal BMI (23.9 today), yet I still feel very much like a fat dude. All the objective data I gather every month helps, so does taking progress pictures, but I expect that it’ll take time for my mind to adjust.

I had a fun experience the other day when I caught my reflection in a storefront and thought “That guy is pretty thin” until I realized that it was my own reflection.


My Big Fat Healthy Diet

There seems to be an idea floating around that calories do not matter, only what foods you eat matter. The idea is that if you eat healthy, organic, non-processed foods you will lose weight regardless of your calorie intake. So, for fun I decided to design a 4000 calorie daily diet of only healthy foods to show how easy it is to overeat on foods that are good for you.


2 medium fried eggs (44 g per egg) – 126 calories

100 g turkey bacon – 381 calories

1 tablespoon coconut oil for frying (25 g) – 180 calories

1 cup raw orange juice – 112 calories

2 slices whole wheat toast – 200 calories

Total for breakfast: 999 calories


2 slices whole wheat toast – 200 calories

1 medium avocado – 250 calories

2 teaspoons raw almond butter – 94 calories

1 cup skimmed milk – 120 calories

Lunch Total: 664 calories


1 cup Whole wheat pasta – 174 calories

200 grams chicken –  478 calories

2 tablespoons olive oil for dressing and frying – 238 calories

1 serving of red wine – 125 calories

Total dinner: 1015

Snack 1 

1 oz (28 grams) mixed nuts – 375 calories

Snack 2 

1 cup granola – 300 Calories

1/2 Almond Milk –  30 calories

1 Medium Banana (118 g) – 105 Calories

Snack 3 

1 Cup baba ganoush – 363 Calories

100 grams carrots – 35 Calories

Total Calories for the day: 3886

I could have added more food to this diet, but I wanted this to be somewhat realistic. The food I listed is pretty much all standard “healthy” food that people include in their healthy diets thinking that they’ll lost weight just because the food is less processed and more natural, paying no attention to the calorie content.

To compare, here is a random day at my current 1500 – 1700 calorie consumption:


Black Coffee – 0 Calories



400 g cottage cheese – 384 Calories

100 g sugar free strawberry jam – 60 Calories

Total lunch: 444 Calories


400 g lean ground beef – 484 Calories

26 g Hellman’s real mayo – 159 Calories

0.5 tablespoons of canola oil – 67 Calories

20 g Iceberg Lettuce – 2 Calories

2 Slices burger cheese – 128 Calories

Total dinner: 840 Calories


1 Snickers protein bar – 199 Calories

Total Calories for the day: 1483

The fact of the matter is that you can lose weight eating only convenience foods like twinkies, I wouldn’t recommend it but it can be done as long as you are in a caloric deficit. You can also pack on the pounds eating paleo, keto, vegan, or any other diet program if you are consuming more than you burn. I’ve done so myself, I’ve stalled out on keto and gained weight on keto. I still eat fairly low carb in my current diet, but I no longer put coconut oil or butter in my coffee, a cup of fatty sauce on my meat, or consume unlimited amounts of “good food” like nuts and avocado.

This is not denying that your body is obviously going to be better off if you consume whole, unprocessed and natural foods. After all, getting enough of critical macro and micronutrients is very important for health, but it’s possible to over-consume calories and be under-consuming nutrients. If you want to lose weight, meaning reduce body fat, eating less calories than you burn over a period of time is the only factor that matters. If you are looking to reduce body fat and improve health, the quality of the calories matter.

Weight Loss Update: February 2018

As of the morning of February 28th 2018, I’ve reached a new low of 80,9 kg (179 lbs), putting me 0,9 kg (2 lbs) short of my next weight milestone of 80 kg (176 lbs). This means that since I started this last leg of my weight loss journey, I’ve lost 9 kg (20 lbs) in total, that is more likely 7 – 7,5 kg (15 – 16 lbs), considering water and glycogen. I’m happy to say that my lifts have been going up in the weight room since new years, so I’m pretty sure that the fat vs lean mass calculations are on point. On February 28th, I have a BMI of 24,4 and my 6 day average body weight is 81,9 kg (180 lbs), which is roughly on target based on my tracked calories in and out.

February started out very challenging because I had to attend a 3 day corporate retreat, and that always means more food and alcohol, plus that I won’t be able to track the calories of every meal accurately. It also means that I had to shuffle around my training schedule. I compensated for the over-indulgence at the retreat by doing extra cardio in sub-zero temperatures and eating less in the 3 days following it. It’s not optimal, but it doesn’t seem to have done any damage.

I’ve increased the weight lifted on the Bench press, Squat, Overhead Press and Barbell Row. My calculated 1 rep max for these lifts after 10 months of training, is 77 kg (169 lbs) for the bench press, 103 kg (227 lbs) for the squat, 60 kg (132 lbs) for the standing overhead press and 100 kg (220 lbs) for bent over barbell rows.

I’ve seen good progress on my lifts in these 10 months, despite being in a severe caloric deficit for the whole period, and I’m getting very exited, but a little nervous about doing my first “bulk” sometime in April or May. I feel like I have full control over my weight and to some degree my body composition at this point, but the idea of eating in a surplus on purpose after losing 45 kg (100 lbs) in the last 24 months, and 77 kg (170 lbs) in total, is a bit scary.

February Weight Loss Statistics

I had the same 750 daily calorie deficit goal as I did for January, this was a bit of a challenge this month, because I had to attend a 3 day corporate retreat where I was unable to track calories accurately. Usually I prepare all my meals from scratch because this gives me control over what I put in my body and how much of it, when dining out I have no way of knowing if a steak was cooked in 5 g of butter or 50 g of butter. I guesstimated the calorie intake for each day at 3500 including alcohol just to be on the safe side. I also made sure to cut calories back extra in the days after I got back home and added some extra cardio.

The overall deficit was down to 774 calories for February compared to 877 calories per day for January, this was mostly because of the 3 days with little to no control over my food, and where I also had some alcohol. My 6 day average around the weigh in for February was 81,85 kg (180 lbs) and my first of March weight was 81,6 kg (179,8), which puts me well within the range of my goal for the month.

I burned a total of 73847 calories this month according to Fitbit, tracked a total of 52178 calories in MyfitnessPal, for a deficit of 21669 calories for the month. This is lower than January both because the February deficit was 100 calories less every day than my January deficit, but also because February has 3 fewer days.  Overall, the deficit difference didn’t make a major impact, if my February deficit was the same as my January deficit I would have lost 3,19 kg (7 lbs) instead of 2,81 kg (6,1 lbs).

My body fat based on the Navy Body Fat calculator is 19%, I’m starting to see some muscle definition mostly in my forearms, shoulders and legs, but I’m still carrying a bit of subcutaneous fat in my problem areas. I’m hoping most of that disappears when I get down to 15 – 16% at the end of March. My waistline went down from 94 cm (37 inches) to 90 cm (35,4 inches) and  I had to punch new holes in the belts I bought last year.

My goal for March is to maintain a daily deficit of 850 calories per day, for a total deficit for the month of 26350 calories, and this should bring me down to 78,5 kg (173 lbs), at 15 – 16% body fat, by the end of the month.

I’m noticing that maintaining this level of deficit is more draining than the 1000 calories per day deficit was last year, I have a bit less energy and my mind is on food a lot. I think this is because as my body fat percentage is going down, my body is noticing that it’s gigantic store of adipose energy is emptying out. I’ve made some changes to my eating schedule to try and get around it. Instead of eating a large main meal totally about 1000 – 1200 calories, and a lunch of about 350 – 450 calories, I’ve reduced my main meal to between 800 calories and 900 calories, and have a snack either in the morning or during the afternoon.


3 Major Mistakes I made When Setting Weight Loss Goals

I’ve had many weight loss goals over the years. When I was sitting in excess of 300 lbs, I didn’t really set a goal, I just wanted to lose weight. Over time I’ve become more serious about weight-loss and body composition, so I’ve started setting goals. The first weight-loss goal I set was in 2009, when I set the goal of 113 kg (250 lbs.). I knew that this wasn’t as slim as I wanted to be, but at the time I just wanted some weight off to make my life easier. Once I reached 250 lbs, and saw that I was still a fat f*ck, I decided to drop it even lower. I made a mistake at this point that was assuming that my lean mass was much higher than it was and that I would be as lean as I wanted (15 – 20% body fat) at between 90 – 95 kg (210 and 220 lbs.).

Knowing what I know now, this was naive, since natural body builders with years of training at my height compete between 190 and 200 lbs. This means that their maximum lean mass is around 83 kg (182 lbs). Myself as more or less untrained, could not hope to lean out at that point. This set me up for disappointment, but I was still pretty happy with myself when I reached 95 kg in the fall of 2013. I still looked like the same old fat f*ck but at least I was a much smaller version of him.

After my relapse in 2014/2015, when I sat back down to set a goal for myself, I had information about how lean I would need to get. I also knew that it wouldn’t be quick, painless and easy. I sat down and found that the fastest I could safely lose weight was 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) per week, and set a goal to reach the upper end of normal BMI (24.9) that for me is 83 kg. I reached that in August of 2017, after dieting since January 2016, and having lost 31 kg (68 lbs) in 20 months. This added up to an average per month of 1,72 kg (3,8 lbs), this is much slower than what is possible, since if you maxed out at the 1k deficit, you could potentially lose 68 lbs in about 8 months.

Overestimating Lean Mass

Your body is composed of lean mass (muscle, bone, blood vessels and so on) and fat mass (what we want to get rid of), it’s very common for an overweight or obese person to over-estimate their lean mass, and underestimate their fat mass. Usually when we say we want to lose weight, we mean that we want to lose fat, but when we underestimate fat mass and overestimate lean mass we also underestimate how much we have to lose.

Martin Berkhan at leangains has come up with a simple formula for maximum muscular potential in drug-free athletes, that I like to use as a rule-of-thumb when estimating how much weight I have to lose. This formula is (height in cm – 100) = body weight in kilo at 5 – 6% body fat (contest lean body builder), this means a lean mass of about 79 kg (174 lbs). Anyone without at least 2 – 3 years if not more of weight training with a solid diet is unlikely to be close to their genetic muscular potential so subtract 20 – 30% from that lean mass weight.

Going All Out, All The Time

I can get very gung-ho and plan out a weight loss period with 100% compliance at 1000 calorie deficits for a long time. Being aggressive with weight loss can be a good thing, but expecting yourself to be 100% compliant for months or even years in some cases, is unrealistic, especially if you have set very aggressive goals. The 80/20 principle is a good thing to shoot for, and allows for some leeway to manage a social and professional life along with your weight-loss journey.

This month I had to spend 3 days at a corporate retreat, and while I was able to schedule my workouts to work around this break, I found it impossible to track calories with normal accuracy. It’s very difficult to be the “weird guy” who can’t eat any of the provided food or have a drink, so I accepted that those 3 days were pure losses, and just compensated for them with larger deficits the next week.

Not Accepting That It Takes Time

I have no idea where I’d be today if I’d realized that going from 152 kg (335 lbs) down to the 75 – 77 kg (165 – 170 lb) range would take me a little under 10 years. During the period I’ve had some pretty bad setbacks, I’ve had years where my weight stabilized and I’ve had years where I lost over 50 lbs. Up until 2017, this was a very emotional journey, until I decided to divorce my emotions from my weight.

I spent  12 – 13 years putting on the excess weight, expecting to lose all of it in a year or two, and having the problem be “over” was one of the times where I was extremely optimistic. It’s easy to get so focused on the physical changes you are creating, that you don’t focus on creating psychological change at the same time. The reason why I yo-yoed a bit for some years was that I never really made an effort to change my binge eating habit.


A Calorie Isn’t a Calorie, But It Sort of Is

“A calorie is a calorie and to lose weight eat less calories than you burn”. This is the no-nonsense diet advice that I’ve heard since I first started to get into fat fuck territory in my early teens. When I started my weight loss journey, I did it using an ultra-low carb ketogenic diet based on “Eat less than 30g of carbs every day, don’t bother with calories, they don’t matter.

Keto has worked amazingly for me and most of the weight I’ve lost has been on a keto. In fact, I’m still using keto-diet basics in my current program. Now, one of my bigger peeves with the “fitness industry” is that everyone who wants to sell a product has to invent a new and revolutionary way of doing it.

Whether it’s Dr. Andreas Enfeldt and keto, Dr. Robert Lustig and “Don’t eat sugar” or Dr. Jason Fung and fasting, or many of the others, everyone has to find something unique to their product. I get annoyed with this because it confuses people.

There are 3 ways you can look at a calorie:

Calories As Units of Energy

A calorie is a measure of how much energy is stored in food. From the law of thermodynamics we know that energy can never disappear it can just change form. This is what people talk about when they say “eat less than you burn”. Eat 3000 calories every day and burn 2000, then 3000 calories go into your tank, 2000 leave your tank, and the 1000 in excess are stored in your body.

Calories As A Source of Nutrition

I try to visit my grandmother every week, because I know that she gets lonely these days and I enjoy talking to her. Since I’ve lost a lot of weight, and the grandmother instinct is to fatten you up, we ended up talking about my diet. I love cooking, also I make wine, cider and beer, so my grandmother asked if I was just going to keep making wine, cider and beer since I don’t drink when I’m losing weight.

So, I told her that I’m going to start drinking again, but since my caloric deficit is currently 750 calories every day, and I only eat 1500 – 1600, I would rather spend my calories on protein, healthy fats and fibrous carbs, that are loaded with micronutrients I need, than on alcohol that is more or less empty calories.

If I was eating the 2800 – 3000 calories I burn every day, then I would have space for some beer or a glass of wine without it affecting my nutrition goals.

Calories As a Metabolic Trigger

The third way to see a calorie, is as a trigger of metabolic effects in your body. Sugar triggers an insulin release, and insulin is anabolic (makes you build mass), this is why strength athletes take in dextrose or other simple sugars with protein as a post-workout meal. If your muscles and liver are already full of glucose, and you haven’t done strength training, excess calories are more likely to be stored as fat.

Everything you eat has hormonal and metabolic effects, as a man if you’re not getting enough fat and cholesterol in your diet, your testosterone level drops because fat contains cholesterol and cholesterol is required to produce testosterone.

A Calorie is a Calorie… sort of

If you want to lose weight, you have to consume less calories than you burn (a calorie as a unit of energy). To make sure your body stays as healthy as possible during weight loss, you have to make sure you eat the right foods to meet your macro nutrient  and micro nutrient goals (A calorie as a source of nutrition). To maintain optimal health, avoid bad hormone effects, and make your weight loss easier, you want to make sure that you avoid bad hormonal effects (a calorie as a trigger for hormones and metabolic effects).

So, a calorie is a calorie if you just want to lose weight. If you eat a 500 calorie a day deficit from twinkies and protein shakes, or if you eat a 500 calorie a day deficit from chicken, broccoli and olive oil, you will lose the same lb of weight. You will get a lot less nutrients from twinkies and protein shakes than from olive oil, broccoli and chicken. The twinkies will trigger insulin releases, and various other metabolic effects, and the protein shakes will not supply the micro nutrients required for to make certain hormones, but the weight loss will be the same.

You can get fat from healthy foods and you can get thin from unhealthy foods.

My Five Biggest Weight-loss Mistakes

I’m getting to be very close to the end-goal for my fat loss (2 – 3 months left), and the beginning of the next phase of my body transformation, this made me think about how long my journey from 153 kg (335 lbs) has been, and the major mistakes I’ve made. The journey has taken me a full 10 years of progress, set-backs and downright disasters. From my record high weight loss in a year of 23 kg (51 lbs) to my record high year of gaining weight back 19 kg (42 lbs), it has been a long and winding road.

Could I have done it faster yes I could, and here are the five biggest mistakes I made in my weight loss journey.

Picking Diets Over CICO

For years I did every possible strange diet program, high-carb, low-carb variations, Paleo, weight-loss shakes, rapid fat loss diets based on protein shakes, the cabbage soup diet, intermittent fasting and many others. All these diets are just ways to create a caloric deficit without making you realize that you are actually in a caloric deficit. I had the most success with low-carb diets and out of the 69 kg (152 lbs) I’ve lost from my highest ever weight,  57 kg (126 lbs) was lost using the ketogenic diet. This is why I’m still a big fan of keto for weight loss.

Once I reached about 95 kg (209 lbs), I constantly stalled out on keto, going through weeks or months of no weight loss what so ever, so I tried what I had always refused to do, calorie counting. Since I started counting calories in MyFitnessPal and tracking all my activity with a Fitbit my weight loss has been pretty predictable, linear and much more emotionally stable.

Being Emotional About Weight

It used to be that I stepped on the scale with a sense of dread and if I needed to buy clothes I walked into the store with a sense of impending doom. Since I mentally cut my emotions away from my weight, and decided to approach my weight from a scientific and rational perspective, it made everything much easier to deal with. Stalls and plateaus are some of the worst things a dieter, especially a long-term dieter can experience, because you feel like you’ve been depriving yourself, have put in a ton of effort and willpower, but you are not being rewarded.

I step on the scale every single morning if I have a scale available (I’m obsessive, but not obsessive enough to pack a bathroom scale in my suitcase), and I see my weight every morning as a datapoint. It doesn’t say anything about me as a person or my personality, it’s an observation.

Not Lifting Weights

I’ve been lifting weights 3 times every week for the past 9 months, and it has made a major difference in my weight loss journey. As I’m writing this I’m at my lowest weight since sometime in junior high, but I also have more lean body mass than I ever had before.

One of the most demotivating things I’ve experienced was when I reached 83 kg (183 lbs) for the first time, looked in the mirror and felt like I was looking at a scaled down version of the same fat fuck. Muscle is expensive tissue, and when losing weight, odds are you will lose some muscle as well. When I hit 83 kg (183 lbs), it was after being in a 1000 calorie per day deficit for 4 months, including doing upwards of an hour of steady state cardio every day. This stripped away a lot of fat, but it also took away a lot of muscle mass. Weight lifting gives your body a reason to hold on to muscle tissue when in a caloric deficit, and this maintains your basal metabolic rate.

Focusing on Weight Loss instead of Fat Loss

When I started my journey back in 2008 and until mid-2017, I was obsessively focused on weight loss. As long as the scale went down I was happy, if the scale went up, I punished myself by not eating for a few days until it went back down. When I started out I was 152 kg (335 lbs) , and at that point it made perfect sense to just focus on losing weight, but when I got closer to my goal weight back in late 2010 and weighed in at 103 kg (227 lbs), it would have made sense for me to switch to a fat-loss focused diet.

I didn’t always keep meticulous track of my diet and body measurements, but I imagine that back 2008 when I was over 300 lbs, I was probably 50% body fat. When you have a 150 lbs of fat to lose, losing lean mass is the least of your worries.

Not Focusing On Sustainability

This is probably one of the biggest reasons why I took so long to lose the weight. At my biggest I had about 77 kg (170 lbs) to lose. In pure fat, this is a total deficit of 592 900 calories that I had to make. Knowing what I know now, and having everything dialed in, it would take me two years at most to lose that weight. Losing it all in a year would mean a daily deficit of 1624 calories, losing it in 2 years means a daily deficit of 812 calories per day. The second is roughly what I had in January of this year. The combination of unsustainable diets meant that I spent a lot of time in a binge-purge type mode, where I’d binge out with 5000 – 7000 calories, then spend the next few days not eating at all to “make up for it”. That does not work. It’s much easier to maintain a calorie deficit of 300 – 500 calories every day than to go through the feast-and-famine cycle I did.

If I had done a 500 calorie deficit every day, it would have taken me a little over 5 years to lose all the weight, this is half the time it has actually taken me to lose it.


Fat Habits That Prevents Permanent Weight Loss

The hardest thing for me to do as part of my weight loss journey was fixing my fat-habits, or “fabits” for short. What made my journey such a roller-coaster of weight loss and weight gain was that until 2016, I never focused on changing my habits. I could stop eating certain things, exercise more, drink more water or change my macros, but I never took the time to deal with the habits that lead to weight gain, the change was only temporary. Weight is a result of your good habits and bad habits related to calorie intake and calorie expenditure. I had fabits in both groups that didn’t stop me from losing weight, I could go on a diet and lose over 50 lbs in a year if I was determined enough, but I would gain some of it back every time. This was a “two-steps forward, one step back” deal, that meant that for the most part my weight was trending down, it just wasn’t optimal. In 2015, I had some personal issues and all my fabits came back with a vengeance, and I gained 22 kg (50 lbs) from the end of 2014, to the end of 2015.

My Fabits

Binge Eating 

This was a habit that I’d had for years, but that became even worse when I started using a diet built around a 6 hour eating window once a week where I could go nuts with carbs. I would often put away 6000 – 8000 calories in this window. It became my opportunity to binge on the carbs that I had denied myself for a week, and I spent most days planning what I would have for my next cheat.

Not Reading Nutritional Labels on Food 

Most of my food choices were based around what I enjoyed eating, I didn’t think about calorie content or macros, just that it tasted good. Not reading labels kept me ignorant about what I was putting into my body, not just in calories in vs calories out, but also based on what my body needs. I was consuming large amounts of sugar, very little fiber, hardly any vegetables (except tomato sauce on a pizza), and a lot of fat.

Intuitive Grocery Shopping

I used to go to the grocery store every day, I would pick up dinner, and some form of a snack. Sometimes I would go twice a day, once in the morning to pick up breakfast, usually an energy drink loaded with sugar and a few fresh pastries. Then in once more trip once I finished work to buy a frozen pizza and whatever snack I wanted for that night. This was a habit of convenience more than anything, it meant I spent as little time as possible thinking about food.

Not Thinking About “Bites, Nibbles and Licks” and Secret Eating 

Even when I was at my heaviest, a lot of people in my family and circle of friends would comment “You don’t eat that much”. I didn’t eat much in public or for the main meals, but I was constantly having bites, nibbles and licks on a constant basis. Driving somewhere? Grab a snack for the car. Popping out of the office for something, grab a snack on the way. Had a 2000 calorie dinner an hour ago, better grab a small snack. This constant eating adds up even if the small snacks have few calories by themselves. Eat 10, 100 calorie snacks in a day, that’s half of my sedentary BMR.

What you eat in private becomes visible in public.

Doing as Little as Possible 

These days I get restless if I spend too much time sitting down during the day. I joke that if I dropped something when I was at my heaviest, I would have a discussion with myself about whether I should pick it up or not. I would work very hard to avoid anything that involved being physically active. I would cut gym class most of the time, pretend to be sick for ski trips or other trips in school, and drive everywhere.

Putting Comfort First

I like being comfortable, this meant that I would try to stay in my Goldy Locks zone, not too warm, not too cold, not too full, not hungry and so on. This also meant not being sweaty, staying on the couch instead of going outside, avoiding physical activities and on it goes. The problem was that the more I focused on being comfortable, the less I was able to go outside my comfort zone and the comfort zone included a TV and food.

Using Food As Comfort

This was the biggest one, I would use food to regulate my moods and emotions all the time. Have a bad day at work, have a pizza. Bad date, have some candy. Feeling sick, have some burgers. For every problem that came my way, I would have a snack or meal to make it feel less important. I would be able to regulate my emotional state this way, at the cost of being hundreds of lbs overweight. It was the same as an alcoholic.