We all like to think we know how to eat sensibly and exercise right, but the diet plan and exercise tape industries are built on the fact that we often attribute our failure to lose weight unaided on our own lack of knowledge, or, more often, patience. It’s much easier to blame your failure on whatever plan you failed to follow and in fact, the truth is that many of us do enjoy success when we follow such plans to the letter. However, as we’re all aware, the end goal is a lifestyle change that diet plans and exercise fads just can’t sustain. If you can apply the things you learn to a realistic lifestyle, you’ll have it nailed – just like this week’s Amazing Loser Tomas…
- Name: Tomas Kibsgaard Larsen (ask him anything on Talk)
- Location: Norway
- Job: Photographer and Graphical designer (www.kibsvisual.com)
- Height: 5’10” (178cm)
- Age: 24
- Highest weight: 265lbs (120kg)
- Lowest weight: 209lbs (95kg)
- Plan: N/A*
*Tomas’ answer to this question was about 500 words too long to fit into a bullet point, here it is in full:
I haven’t been on any specific diet, my goal is to not be on a diet, as I feel like that’s a way to set up for failure. A diet is temporary, and I wanted to change my lifestyle.
What I eat are the things we all know are good for us, and what I cut is everything we all know is bad for us.
I used to eat a lot of junk food and sugary drinks on a daily basis, and if I could describe my eating habits before starting on this journey with one word, I would use chaos. Total lack of control and thought. I ate what ever I wanted whenever I was hungry. I ate what ever was available, and would never have any leftovers.
Now, I actually think about what I eat, and I find it interesting to try new things and I am always on the lookout for healthy foods that I love. For example, I have always loved fish, but out of convenience, I almost stopped eating it. It was just easier to grab a burger. Now, I eat fish several times a week, and I really enjoy the flavour. Other things I try to focus on is to eat a lot of proteins, I try to include more veggies, and if I feel like having a snack, I’ll grab a carrot.
I want to mention one thing though, in the very start, I was super strict with my diet, but as I understood that sometimes life gets in the way, I have made a rule for my self. Say I’m in a birthday party with my whole family, and there’s cake, soda, candy and all the other snacks everyone loves at parties and events, I’ll have a small piece of cake to pay my respects to the chef, and to not look like a crazy-person. If I’m at a party with friends, and they decide to order pizza, I’ll grab a slice or two in order to be a “normal” dude. I feel like as long as I don’t go overboard on this, I’ll be just fine, and nobody got fat by eating one slice of a cake, it’s the binge-eating and the endless junk that got us.
How did you get to the position where you needed to lose that weight?
I would say I got in such bad shape because I started focusing on my photography career, but didn’t change my eating habits from when I had a much higher activity level. I used to do a lot of extreme sports in my youth, everything from motocross to inline skating, and my metabolism allowed me to eat what ever I wanted and still be in great shape. When I started to focus my time on my photography, I slowly stopped doing all of these activities, and my metabolism started to change.“If I’m at a party with friends, and they decide to order pizza, I’ll grab a slice or two in order to be a “normal” dude.”
What negative experiences did you have of being overweight?
I used to get negative remarks from friends and family. Most out of concern, but some were just bullying. I never felt extremely overweight, and would not consider my self obese, but I was for the most part the fattest guy at a party or in a group of friends. I also started to feel my self confidence drop, and would be extremely self aware in public. Another thing that would happen is that I would very easily get “friend-zoned” by girls. They always liked being around me, but I don’t think they ever viewed me as anything else. This has more to do with my confidence level than my actual shape/weight. However, I feel like this is starting to change as I gain my confidence back.
What made you decide to change?
I’ve tried to think about the exact moment everything clicked in my mind, but I think it was a gradual process over the span of a week or two where I joined my friend for a gym session. She has also lost a lot of weight, and inspired me to start.
I remember feeling like shit those first times at the gym. The first time I went, I hadn’t been in a gym for years, and I had no idea of what to do, which exercises to do or the correct form. I felt like an idiot, but at that point, my mind was made up. I didn’t want to feel like this anymore, and I wanted change.
At first, I didn’t change my diet at all, because I kinda liked eating burgers and drinking coke, so why should I stop? I would say the point of where I really got in to it was when I didn’t feel like eating anything that wasn’t healthy because it felt like a waste of time to go to the gym every day while still eating like shit.“I remember feeling like shit those first times at the gym.”
What made it different from the times before?
The other times started with an idea of “ Yeah, I’d like to be in shape” And ended with “…tomorrow.” I had never taken it seriously. This time I felt like I had to, because my size was making a negative impact on my mental health, and I was a mess from having such low confidence for an extended period of time.
How did you do it?
For me, It’s simple: I go to the gym every single day. Every lazy Sunday where all I want to do is to lay on the sofa and watch Netflix, and every day that I have “other plans” that would normally get in the way. You almost certainly have an hour to spare during your day, so use it. I only skip gym if I’m out of town or If i’m having a fever, but I always try to do some sort of exercise if I can’t go to the gym.
When I’m at the gym, I don’t spend my time scrolling through Instagram or chatting with friends. I lift heavy weights until I can’t lift them any more, and I try to vary my program from day to day. I focus on strength exercises and I have been tossing in some High Intensity Interval Training during the last month and a half or so.
Other than training at the gym, I focus on eating a lot of good quality foods, with a high protein and low calorie content. I also drink a double protein supplement shake every day, and I use a pre-workout. I feel like these are optional conveniences that shouldn’t stop anyone from reaching their goal, but if you could only afford a couple of supplements, I would go for these. The protein shake has BCAA, which really helps me get back on my feet after a heavy work out, and the pre workout is especially helpful on those lazy days where you want to do anything other than go to the gym. You can absolutely get the same results with a Red Bull (get the sugar free version though) or a cup of coffee, so this is no miracle cure that will make a massive difference, but I swear by it, and use it every day.
What did you eat over the course of an average day?
Normally, I would skip breakfast, eat what ever was in my fridge for lunch. This would typically be 4-5 slices of bread with some sort of topping on it. Processed meat, cheese or liver pate. Then I would have nothing all day, but a huge burger and fries or a full size pizza in the evening for dinner. I would typically drink about 1-1.5 liters of coke with this meal, and I would be in food coma for a couple of hours on the couch. This would leave me with no energy, no drive and I was left feeling like shit all day.
Now, I try my best to include breakfast. I find that it’s a very inconvenient meal for my lifestyle, but if I can get 2 eggs in a sandwich of whole wheat bread, I’m happy. I usually try to get some chicken for lunch, and I typically have a side salad with this. For dinner, I try to vary it up. I get sushi some days, I have chicken with rocket salad and feta cheese (I love that combo) Or some other healthy option. I have my protein shake towards the end of my workout, and the pre-workout 20-30 mins before going to the gym. I will usually get a little hungry in the evenings, so I’ll grab a carrot or two, or an egg. Other than that, I try to keep hydrated, and I drink between 2-3 liters of water per day.
How was the journey? Straightforward or were there a few plateaus along the way?
It was roughest in the beginning. Every workout was a chore, and all I wanted was junk food and sugar.
However, this really changed when I noticed that I started to look different, lift more and have more energy. After this, it has been smooth sailing.
I have hit some plateaus, but they don’t bother me a lot, since I’m always progressing in different areas all the time.
One thing that was a huge milestone for me was to do my first unassisted pull up. Before that, I felt like I simply weighed too much, and that I wasn’t strong enough, but after reaching my goal, I felt great, and set a new goal of doing set of 10. I’m not there yet, but it’s coming. I’m patient, and every set I get one more, I’m ecstatic.
How has life changed now you’ve lost the weight?
I feel great. The other day, I went shopping for a new fleece sweater. This is something I would hate before, as the stores around me normally only stock XL sizes, and I was a XXL. Now, I’m at an L, and I get more fitted clothes, so they show off my progress more.
The feeling of wanting slim fit clothing in stead of baggy t-shirts is amazing. I always catch myself sitting around with friends thinking “Hey, I haven’t adjusted my shirt once, and I haven’t cared about how my stomach looks at all”. That really makes it easier to be active socially.
I also get a huge amount of compliments from friends and family, who are super exited to see the results that I have made, and they’re happy to see that I’m healthy.
Who helped you the most and who got in the way?
The three people who has been there for me most in my weight loss journey is my best friend Hannah, who has been my training partner. She has shown me how to do the exercises and kept my head up during the awkward start of me trying to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to do with a gym membership.
The other two people has been my mom and my grandmother, who supported me greatly through this journey, and actually helped me out by getting some work out clothing, gym bag and other things that I needed in the start, which actually made me think that since they were so nice and gave it to me, I would respect them by actually use what I got.
I have found that a lot of friends actually try to get me to eat candy, drink soda and otherwise stray from my diet. I don’t get why they try to sabotage me, but I don’t really care, as I am one stubborn guy. When I set my mind to something, it gets done.
What surprised you about losing weight?
How much it has affected my ability to love myself, and how much self confidence I have gained. I always heard about it before I started, but to actually feel it is a whole different thing. It has also been easier to change than I thought. Once you get in to a good rhythm and you start getting compliments from others, you simply stop craving junk, and find satisfaction in stuff you used to hate.“I remember how fat and ugly I felt that first day in the gym. Nobody cares. We all started somewhere, and there’s respect.”
If you could go back to the person you were at your heaviest, what would you say to him?
Get your f***ing fat ass in gear. What the hell are you doing with your body and your life? I would be blunt, but honest. That’s the only way I could learn.
I remember seeing this cheesy Instagram post that said who do you want to be in six months? That really stuck with me, and just over three months later, I’m already happy with my progress, I wouldn’t feel ashamed without my shirt on a beach, but I still have a lot of goals to stretch towards.
You’re King of Norway for the day, what one law do you bring in to help others who are obese?
As a proud Norwegian, I have to say that free health care. The fucking Canadians figured that one out, why haven’t the US?
Hear hear! Support our NHS!
What three things do other fat men need to know about losing weight?
I can only speak to men in the rough size I was, as I do understand there are a lot of complications that makes things harder when you’re a lot larger, but if you are about a 2-3 XL shirt size and you’re reading this, please read closely.
Get your activity level up, use a lot of caffeine in order to be able to have energy, what ever it takes.
Get some control over your eating habits. What do you value more, eating that same old greasy burger, or being healthy? Wouldn’t you like the people who are calling you fat now to be saying “Hey, great job! You look great!” in a couple of months?
It’s happened to me, and I’m no superman. I used to laugh at people when they were all dressed up in “sporty” gear and being active. I din’t see the point when people posted pictures on social media of standing on mountain tops. Wouldn’t you like it if you actually felt like going on a hike if the weather is nice on a Saturday?
Let me leave you with the cheesy words that stuck with me. Who do you want to be in six months? – Think back six months and imagined you started then. You could have lost almost 100lbs by now if you were diligent enough. Now imagine actually looking forward to going to the beach this next summer. It’s actually within reach if you get off your ass right now, not tomorrow or next week.
Go kick some ass, and tell me how it goes!
What else should we know about your weight loss story?
I want to share a thought I had in the gym the other day when I saw a guy roughly the size I was at.
I remember how fat and ugly I felt that first day in the gym. Seeing all those fit bodies all around. Nobody cares. We all started somewhere, and there’s respect to be had in actually going to the gym.
I have seen a lot of fat people show up at the gym for one session all pumped up and ready to go, but to never return after that first time, most likely because they felt like shit when they were there. Put on some music, stay in your own “bubble” and don’t give shit if there’s a ripped dude doing 60lbs bicep curls next to you. He wasn’t ripped when he started either, so we all know how intimidating the first couple of times are.
One other thing I want to mention is if you’re like me, and you start researching in to the early morning hours when you get into something, be aware, there’s no other topic like fitness where more people claim to be “experts” and gurus. There’s so much misinformation out there, and try to be skeptical. There are no shortcuts, there are no miracle pills that will fix your problems. You already know what works. Eat healthy, exercise. If you do those two simple things, your body will change for the better. Every company that sells supplements or other workout/diet plans wants to make money, so be aware that they have no interest in your personal goals, only your wallet. Supplements aren’t “the cure” they are purely convenience. If you want to have a high protein diet, it’s gonna take a lot of chicken breast to get there. it’s simply easier to drink a shake. That’s all.