He Aint Heavy, Hes My Brother – Amazing Loser Jonathan Newell

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Ketogenic diets can work really well for men looking to lose weight – after all, what man doesn’t love the idea of scarfing a shedful of meat and getting in better shape while he’s at it? The problem is it can quickly become expensive and when it comes to successful long-term weight loss, consistency is key. However, as Jonathan and his brother discovered, Keto can be a great way to light a caveman style fire under your weight loss, give yourself a head-start and hit the ground running… 

  • Name: Jonathan Newell (ask him anything on Talk)
  • Location: St. Louis, Missouri, USA
  • Job: GIS Spatial Analyst
  • Height: 5’10” (178cm)
  • Age: 30
  • Highest weight: 270lbs (122kg)
  • Lowest weight: 140lbs (63.5kg)
  • Plan: Ketogenic and then transitioned to Calorie Deficiency


How did you get to the position where you needed to lose that weight?

Like many people, it happened gradually and due to a combination of apathy and depression.

When I got out of high school I was around 180lbs and with the combination of poor diet and losing the desire to stay active, I slowly started putting weight on. Initially it was only 10lbs and then it was 20lbs and I kept justifying to myself that it was only a little weight.

Fast forward eight years after high school, I was depressed, fat, and in general, extremely unhealthy.

[blocktext align=”right”]”I kept justifying to myself that it was only a little weight”[/blocktext]

What negative experiences did you have of being overweight?

The biggest issue that I ran into was losing friends and my ability to be social. I strayed away from social situations and lost contact with all of my old friends. I was much more content sitting at home playing video games or watching movies for the tenth time while eating junk food than I was going out and being social.


What made you decide to change?

It was a combination of seeing my older brother beginning to get healthy and seeing big guys losing lots of weight with the Keto diet.

I just figured, “what’s the worst that could happen?” and the fact that my brother was getting himself to a healthier place – seeing it can be done was the final spark for me to get started.

What made it different from the times before?

If not for having such quick initial results because of the keto diet, there is no way I would have kept up with it.

I didn’t have the confidence or patience for a slow initial weight lose so when I started losing 5-10lbs/week in the beginning, I was able to stay motivated and stick with it.

Granted, I did have my backsliding and weight gain, but getting that initial weight off and seeing for myself that I could do this gave me the confidence I desperately needed.

How did you do it?

I started with the Keto diet initially which helped me get from around 270 to 225, but the biggest thing that it allowed me to do was get active again. I started by just taking a walk – a mile or two to begin with. Once I started getting more comfortable in that, I began trying to jog on the treadmill and outside when I could build the confidence. From there, with the help of my brother, I learned more about the nutritional side of the lifestyle change like my TDEE and BMR. Once I started to understand that the most sustainable weight loss comes from a calorie deficiency, I focused on running to help burn calories and I started being religious about counting calories and tracking what I consumed.

[blocktext align=”right”]”Seeing for myself that I could do this gave me the confidence I desperately needed”[/blocktext]

I really did like Keto to begin with but there were a couple of aspects that helped me realize it wasn’t for me. First and foremost, it was really expensive in the small town I used to live in. Prices for the necessary foods were getting much too expensive so I had to find a different plan. I started on Keto when I first decided to get fit and since I was so overweight and had so much excess fat, it was the perfect diet for me.

I was able to not focus on counting calories but just track my necessary macros for the first few months and I immediately saw results. It was exactly what I needed since I was lacking the confidence to begin with, so seeing results so quickly is one of the main reasons I kept on track. Once I started to lose the body fat, I noticed it back more and more difficult to get away with not counting calories but still being able to see results. Once I realized I was logging every single item of food or drink in My Fitness Pal and I also realize how expensive the Ketogenic diet was, I decided that I might as well make the transition to “normal” food and really begin to focus on just counting calories and learning how to control my portions and my cravings for binge eating.


What did you eat over the course of an average day?

Before the weight loss a normal day would look something like:

  • Breakfast: A fast food breakfast meal of a breakfast sandwich, two hash browns, and likely a 40oz soda.
  • Lunch: Fast food as well, likely a cheeseburger and fries and another soda, something of that nature.
  • Dinner: An entire frozen pizza.
  • Snacks: Some chips and cookies all day.

Presently a normal day’s meals would consist of:

  • Breakfast: Fresh fruit, an apple or grapes.
  • Lunch: Something similar, fresh veggies and some fruit – I like to eat pretty light during the day
  • Dinner: Could be anything, I just try and maintain moderation and portion control. I love chicken wings!


How was the journey? Straight-forward or were there a few plateaus along the way?

The journey was far from straight forward. From 2012 until now I have fluctuated, plateaued, gained back weight… you name it, it happened.

I had plenty of plateaus over the course of my “journey” (over four years from the start till today). I ran into plateaus using Keto, I plateaued doing CICO. The biggest thing that I started to focus on when I plateaued was taking measurements in addition to weighing weekly, especially when I would begin to incorporate any form of exercise. There were plenty of weekly weigh-ins where I would have not lost any weight, or even gained some, but after taking my measurements for the week I would notice that I slimmed down a quarter inch here or a half inch there. That was the key mentally to keep me from getting too frustrated by not seeing the number on the scale go down every time I stepped on.
How has life changed now you’ve lost the weight?

In the most general way, I feel amazing. I am happy, healthy, and wouldn’t change a single thing in my life today. Four years ago, I don’t think there was a single thing I didn’t want to change.


Who helped you the most and who got in the way?

My brother, Matt, was by far the most helpful and encouraging. Having someone to learn from, vent to, and get healthy with made all the difference in the world.

My girlfriend Courtney has also been tremendously helpful throughout the last year with keeping me motivated and being 100% supportive. Without her, as well as my brother, I would not be where I am today, and for that I am forever thankful to both of them.

Who got in the way? Myself most times.

What surprised you about losing weight?

I was most surprised by how my taste and cravings for foods changed. I don’t crave the sweets and terrible foods like I used to, but rather I always find myself craving some sort of veggie or fruit.


If you could go back to the person you were at your heaviest – what would you say to him?

Get started right now! Also, listen to your brother the first time.

You’re President for the day, what one law do you bring in to help others who are obese?

I would attempt to just make healthy food more available and easier to access for all. It shouldn’t be that eating healthy is more expensive in some situations.

What three things do other fat men need to know about losing weight?

  1. Water – drink a lot of it.
  2. Move – take the stairs, go for a walk, just get active anyway you can.
  3. Find a support system. Someone who is going to be that positive force you will need when you have stalled or feel like you can’t do it.

 Our thanks to Jonathan and don’t forget – as with all our Amazing Losers and their weight loss before and after stories, you can find Jonathan on Talk and ask him anything you like! 


If you want to make a change to your life right now – then simply sign up for one of our free 30 day online weight programmes, the only thing you’ve got to lose is fat…


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