When I was 16 years old, I weighed 256 pounds. Limited exercise and a diet comprising of salty snacks and sweets on a frequent basis was the lifestyle I had. On a diet focused on portion control, I managed to drop down to 185 following a book called ''8 Minutes in the Morning.'' College came and I ballooned back up to 220 pounds after relaxing on keeping my weight down. Clearly I needed something to keep the weight off permanently.
It was in my second semester in college when I had my breaking point. While dining at a restaurant with friends, I saw how stuffing my face with food gave me far less joy than being at a healthy weight did. At this point I decided I needed to do more than follow a book. I needed to come up with my own diet program and exercise routine specifically geared toward me.
Not long after this epiphany I found several online forums with lots of useful information, primarily on nutrition.
There was no name to the diet I decided to follow. All I got from it was eating high protein, high fat, and low carbohydrate. I later came to find out that is often referred to as a keto diet.
I began this diet by first writing down everything I would consume. I measured out my macronutrients, sure to hit my goals of 40% protein, 40% carbohydrate, 20% fat. This was far fewer carbohydrates and fats than my body was used to with a greater intake of protein. Protein is of course beneficial for anyone looking to gain lean mass or lose weight. This would help a lot with my new workout program.
Up until this point I had only lifted weights primarily for the sake of saying I was exercising. None of the existing exercise programs I knew about seemed like something I would want to do or was capable of based on budget and will. Having gotten as far as I could with my diet and meager exercise program, I decided it was time to change things from focusing so strongly on food and let my weightlifting lead the way to a healthy life. I began following the popular Stronglifts weightlifting program.
For Stronglifts, the basics are lifting heavy weights three times a week including squatting each of those workout sessions. This program significantly increased my strength and outward appearance as well as giving me an inner confidence. I was able to follow the program easily with only a barbell and a bench I had in my home gym.
Due to only working part-time and not making much money, it was tough to eat as clean as I would have liked. My diet was heavy on protein-rich milk, low-carbohydrate and filling nuts, and of course chicken breast served with romaine lettuce. Limiting carbohydrates was always the primary goal while making sure I ate plenty of protein, often times using whey protein powder to supplement my diet.
Now, I am a healthy 175 pounds. The number could be lower, but from what I learned it's more about having confidence and knowing you are in control of your diet and exercise program.