My Transformation Story

See embarrassing photos of me and read a great story on how I went from 220 pounds and 27% body fat to 164 pounds and 13% body fat.

Before The Transformation

In August 2013, I used to weigh 220 pounds and 27% body fat. I just graduated from college and definitely packed on the freshman 40. And yes, I used to eat the Rutgers fat sandwich almost 3 times a week for dinner.

This is a Fat Darrel from the Rutgers Grease trucks. It is packed with about 1800 calories.

But after I saw my BMI in the “obese” section, I decided to make a lifestyle change and with all the free time I had, it seemed doable.

What Got Me Going

While I was working for Urban Compass as a software engineer, I met one of my great friends to date, David Pham, who was promoting everyone to be “super human” and that the first step to that was eating healthier through the Paleo diet. Because I was already alarmed about my BMI, I was the first person to jump onboard.

The basic rules of the diet was to eat everything organic and unprocessed. Or, if a caveman didn’t have it, you can’t have it. So things like bread, milk, pasta and especially the fat sandwich was crossed off the list. I was now limited to fruits, meats and vegetables. This was already a drastic change for me and I wasn’t sure if I was able to do it.

This was one of the first meals I cooked under the Paleo diet. Chicken & Broccoli for dinner.

Calories didn’t really matter at this point to me. In fact, I had days where I ate more than 3,000 calories and some days where I ate a measly 2,400 calories. However, I did unintentionally go into a ketogenic state where I ate less than 80 grams of carbs a day and replaced it with more than 300 grams of protein and roughly about 150 grams of fats.

What Kept Me Going

Now I’ve tried other diets before and fasting diets during college but none of them worked because I binged on bad foods when I was feeling stressed out. So one of the first things that helped was being in a stress-free environment at work and outside of work.

Because David Pham was a co-worker of mine, I was able to ask him questions about what I could and could not eat. He was essentially the guy that helped me become accountable to myself. I even logged everything I ate so he could review it.

Another interesting thing that really helped was buying a Withings Scale and a Fitbit Flex. These things together helped me notice my changes when I didn’t notice them in the mirror. During my transformation, I never saw any changes because I saw them day-to-day.

BBQ was also an all-time favorite for me. In fact, I went almost five times a week with my buddies to binge on BBQ (dry-rub of course).

What I’ve Noticed

  • The first couple of days were really difficult. I had some times where I wanted to jump ship because I didn’t see any results. It wasn’t until the 10th day where I actually saw weight changes on the scale.
  • I became much more aware of what I was putting into my body. I was reading the labels of everything and trying to understand how foods affected me.
  • I began cooking a lot. I found it pretty fun to experiment on my own taste buds.
  • It costs a lot. Going out to healthy restaurants and buying organic foods actually almost doubled my food expenditure.
  • It became a lot harder to eat out or go to bars with friends. But luckily they were all pretty understanding and went to places where I could eat.
  • I lost almost 6 pounds a week. As any good doctor would advise, this is extremely dangerous because this can thin your capillary muscles and increase your risk of a heart attack. However, because I ate so much protein, my risk was not as bad.
  • My focus, memory and energy drastically changed. I literally felt like a better me throughout the transformation. I even felt like my vision got clearer.
  • After about a couple of weeks, cravings and temptations disappeared. My desire was completely set into reaching my goals.
  • After about a month, it just became a habit.

Before & After

Now here’s the embarrassing part. Laugh all you like, but to me this is a good reminder to stay on track.

My before photo, and my still pretty embarrassing after photo
My weight change data from the Withings Scale
I took a test half way through my transformation and this was my health. Are you surprised after all that BBQ that my TC/HDL ratio was at 3.48:1?

Some Takeaways

Nearing my one year anniversary of my weight loss, I actually am still eating healthy and on a bodybuilding diet.

I would have like to have done things a little bit differently, but it was definitely the best thing that I’ve done for myself. Hopefully I continue doing to help me reach my end goal of getting a “fighter’s” body type and complete a triathlon.

It made me become a health nut and want to learn much more about how I can improve myself and hopefully I can bring the things I’ve learned to you. So stay tuned as I try give advice about things I’ve encountered that have worked for me.

Things That I Wished I’ve Done Differently

  • The entire time I didn’t exercise one bit. Granted I walked a lot in NYC, I still wish I went into the gym earlier and hit those weights.
  • I wish I put in more low glycemic (slow digesting) carbs into my diet. I put my body in a catabolic state (where your body eats away at its muscles for energy) and therefore lost 20 pounds of muscle weight in the process.
  • Lastly, I wish I never was overweight in the first place. I have a lot of fat cells in my body that I can never really get rid of (unless I get liposuction). It is much harder to get abs now.