Name: Mikal K.
LIVESTRONG.COM Username: MikalKintner
Age: 32 Height: 5' 11"
BEFORE Weight: 255 pounds Dress/Pant Size: 44
AFTER Weight: 200 pounds Dress/Pant Size: 36
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM?
Mikal: Most of my life has been marked with being overweight, inactive and unhealthy. I’ve been through several attempts to get my life and health in check — some of them more successful than others — but all of them were short-lived.
My problem was finding the motivation and commitment to see the entire process through. I’d often join weight-loss challenges and groups, but those endeavors never lasted.
One year I began a weight-loss attempt in December. I started at 265 pounds (my peak weight), and within a few months I had dropped to 220 pounds. But then I took what was intended to be a short break. Over the next couple of months I ballooned back up to 240 pounds. I decided I needed to get back into gear and dropped to 215 pounds. I let off right as the fall holidays rolled in and bounced all the way back to 245 pounds before the year’s end. I had managed to lose and gain a total of 120 pounds in a single year. My closet was littered with pants ranging in sizes from 40 to 44 that I would swap out as I rode up and down this weight-loss roller coaster.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your inspiration to make a change?
Mikal: Just after my 31st birthday, I decided it was time for everything to finally change. I realized if I was ever going to be able to effectively encourage and influence others —including my kids — I had to be an example of what I preached. I had to make the journey and inspire others through results rather than empty words.
Of course, there was no reason to think this time was different than any of the others. In fact, now that I was into my 30s, it wasn’t going to be an easy task. The odds were certainly against me, but none of that mattered. Internally, I had finally made the decision to be determined.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you lose weight?
Mikal: One of the biggest differences between this journey and previous ones is information and education. This time around I inundated myself with new books, articles, podcasts and a wealth of information, all of which helped me stay mentally invested and physically motivated. Learning new things added variety and gave me fun things to try.
Fast-forward to October of 2015 when I stumbled across an article on LIVESTRONG.COM. I made an account, signed up for the emails and have since added many of the articles to my knowledge base.
I often forward LIVESTRONG.COM’s articles to my work email and enjoy them during a lunch break. I love learning about topics, such as lifting routines for muscle building or weight loss, as well as which foods to eat to aid in muscle building or recovery and which foods to avoid altogether.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system like?
Mikal: My wife has always been supportive of my health endeavors. In fact, she’s more than supportive. Rather than simply cheering me on, she joined me on my weight-loss journey. And together, we have lost over 100 pounds.
She is currently remaining active and working on toning up, all while encouraging my efforts to build lean mass.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s your favorite way to work out?
Mikal: Walking was my favorite exercise before I was able to do anything more strenuous. At the time, even walking up a flight of stairs was a bit of a task. I would take my lunch to work, listen to a nutrition audiobook on my iPhone and pick a different route to walk around. I learned much of the surrounding area that I had previously been blind to and saw beauty in places I would have never otherwise cared to go.
Now I tend to favor lifting. It’s closer in line with my current goals of building lean muscle mass. At the end of the day, I can enjoy both feeling and seeing the results. The soreness I get after lifting lets me feel the progress, while fitting into smaller clothes gave me a great visual reference of my accomplishments.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s your weekly exercise schedule?
Mikal: Most of the time I’m at the gym by 6 a.m. so I can work out before heading to work. I’d start my routine with 10 to 20 minutes of cardio and then head to the weights, working out different sets of muscle groups on different days. I’d finish up with 20 to 30 minutes in the sauna.
Currently, I’ve been reading about the benefits of eccentric weight training. The lifting is pretty taxing on your system, and the benefits are dependent on complete recovery, so I’ve reduced gym days to two or three days a week and try to stay relatively active otherwise.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s a typical day of meals and snacks?
Mikal: I generally begin my weekdays with a homemade protein shake at 7:30 a.m., which is right after my workout and before I head to work. I try to eat a snack at 10 a.m. to keep my appetite under control, especially on gym days. The snack can be anything from mixed nuts, olives, tuna, fruit or a bottle of fruit juice.
I take my lunch around noon. In an effort toward a healthy waistline and a healthy wallet, I try to bring lunch from home. Sometimes this will be leftover veggies from the previous night, while most often it’s a bagged salad with a side of protein. I follow with another snack (similar to the midmorning snack) around 3 p.m.
A typical dinner would run between 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. depending on my wife’s schedule. It usually consists of a salad with a side of protein and a sauteed vegetable side, such as mushrooms and spinach. Desserts are occasional and usually have to fall into whatever eating plan we’re currently prescribing to (such as ketogenic-friendly).
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s the range of calories you eat per day?
Mikal: I rarely count calories, and to be honest, it would be hard for me to give an estimate. I find that it’s easier for me to pay attention to what foods I eat, rather than the calorie content of them.
I use a lot of fats in my diet, which quickly adds up to high calories. But I’m more concerned with the type of fats and carbohydrates and how they make me feel the next day.
Much of my weight loss has come from limiting carbohydrates, especially the empty processed carbohydrates of little or no value. I generally avoid breads, pastas and sugary snacks at all costs. I also haven’t had a soda (regular or diet) in more than a year now.
When my goals are aligned with weight loss, I back off of starchy vegetables and legumes. My family thinks my habits are extreme, but it’s easier for me to avoid certain things altogether and eat as much as I want of the things that are OK.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What are the healthy staples that are always in your kitchen?
Mikal: First, I keep plenty of my protein-shake ingredients on hand. Worst case, no matter what my family is eating (like cereal for breakfast), I can always take refuge by having a protein shake.
Second, I try to keep an assortment of vegetables that can be easily cooked or eaten raw. If something takes too much time or is too difficult to prepare, chances are we’ll find easier — often unhealthy — options. Salad (a good mix of dark greens) is an essential at our house. Salads are easy to make, easy on the wallet and good for my health.
Third, I try not to have too many snacks or junk food on hand and instead stock up on fruits. My kids enjoy snacks on occasion, but keeping them to a minimum keeps my kids expectations of snacking realistic and also encourages them to munch on fruits as alternatives.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How do you strategize for meals?
Mikal: My wife and I generally do one or two large shopping trips per month to stock up on staple pantry items. We then fill in as needed with smaller shopping trips for produce and other perishables throughout the week.
Keeping plenty of easy-to-prepare foods generally keeps the burden of timely planning and preparation to a minimum.
LIVESTRONG.COM: Were there any supplements that you took during your journey?
Mikal: I’ve tried a banquet of various supplements at different times along this journey, including vitamins, fish oils, protein powder, pre-workout and recovery drink blends, milk thistle, maca root, matcha tea and more.
Through reading, I’ve stumbled into a wealth of information about the many benefits of the various supplements available. I try them out long enough to reap the claimed results and then decide if it’s something worth continuing. Many of them are a one-and-done experiment that I won’t be restocking.
The thing I’ve found with supplements is that the results are small or negligible. They can be a tool to aid in a particular goal, but only when combined with proper nutrition and exercise.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s the biggest challenge you faced?
Mikal: The biggest challenge I faced and continue to face is social scripting along with social environments.
Scripting from friends and family can be a big hurdle to tackle. Friends that expect certain behaviors like drinking alcohol or eating at certain places will promote those behaviors because that’s what they’re used to and comfortable with.
Family members uncomfortable with the significant changes of a loved one may wish for a return to the former behavior — sometimes knowingly, but often subconsciously. As an example, when my mother-in-law came to visit my wife and I after a combined 100-pound loss, she quickly congratulated me on my weight-loss success and continued to tell me how good I looked. I quickly tried to turn the congratulations towards my wife’s success, but my mother-in-law quickly retorted that my wife had lost too much weight and looked ill. Likewise, if you ask my mother, she’d look at my wife as a positive example, but would tell you that I’m too extreme and should be happy with the results I have rather than continue to aim toward additional health and fitness.
In addition to scripting, the habitual environments that we are a part of are largely responsible for continued behaviors. For example, I tried to give up smoking for years, but it wasn’t until I stopped going to the bar and hanging around other smokers that I was able to finally kick the habit. Notice the previous example includes people, places and times. If we expect to make permanent changes in our life, often we have to look around us and evaluate what factors and circumstances are feeding the decisions and behaviors that are preventing us from being able to make the change.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s your biggest secret to success that you want to share with others?
Mikal: Whatever your goal is, read up on it! Books, articles, blogs and forums help to constantly remind you what you’re working toward. In addition, reading provides you with a wide variety of information you need for your journey.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s your life like now?
Mikal: My life is 160 degrees different. I still have about 20 degrees to go, but I’m so much better off than I was a 18 months ago. And I’m continuing to make progress.
The thing is, when you find a little success in one part of your life, you’re able to snowball it into other areas. By removing the stress and problems in one place, it leaves you with more energy to work on the other areas that you previously were too exhausted to think about.
Together, my wife and I in the last year have tackled our weight and health issues, our financial future, a lot of our time-management issues and some of our communication struggles. We have bettered our relationship, improved on our spiritual life, enhanced our family life and worked toward our career and education goals.
Our key goal is to not get comfortable and settle with the progress now, but to continue to build and invest in our future. I continue my routine of forwarding LIVESTRONG.COM articles to work for lunchtime reading, listening to audiobooks while driving and intentionally working toward stronger habits.
In fact, through the success we have had this past year, my wife has found confidence to further her role in our church, and I have found courage to embark on going back to school to finish the degree that I passed up on 13 years ago. I’ve also been working on a blog project throughout the past year, sharing a lot of my experiences and information that I’ve gathered that’s helped me along the way. And with my wife’s support, I’m finally pushing to publish ProjectWholeLife.com.
It’s hard to imagine what life could look like in another five years from now, but a year ago, I wouldn’t have even been able to dream my life would be like this now.