A Brief History of My Timeline Photos

I’ve heard some pretty juicy rumors about what I did to achieve my weightloss and physique, so I thought it would be fun to give you guys an accurate rundown as to what specifically I was doing at each stage of my progress picture timeline. It’ll be good to have this post handy as well, because I get asked so frequently how I did it. So here you go! Enjoy!

'Before'. 230 pounds. Sedentary. Probably 3000-4000 calories a day or more.

‘Before’. 230 pounds. Sedentary. Probably 3000-4000 calories a day or more.

One year later. 170 pounds. Around 2800 calories a day, 100+ grams of protein a day. 30-60 mintutes of exercise a day, including 2-3 strength-training sessions a week.

One year later. 170 pounds. Around 2800 calories a day, 100+ grams of protein a day. 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week, including 2-3 strength-training sessions a week.

 

 

6 months later (18 months after first photo). 155 pounds. Around 2800 calories a day, 100+ grams of protein a day. 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, 5-6 days a week, including 2-3 strength-training sessions a week.

6 months later (18 months after first photo). 155 pounds. Around 2800 calories a day, 100+ grams of protein a day. 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week, including 2-3 strength-training sessions a week.

6 months later (two years after the first photo). 155 pounds. Around 2800 calories a day, 100+ grams of protein a day. 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, 5-6 days a week, including 2-3 strength-training sessions a week.

6 months later (two years after the first photo). 155 pounds. Around 2800 calories a day, 100+ grams of protein a day. 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week, including 2-3 strength-training sessions a week.

1 year later (three years after the first photo). 160 pounds. Training for a half-ironman. 1-3 hours of exercise a day, 4 days a week, including 2 strength trainign sessions a week. 4000+ calories a day, around 150 grams of protein a day.

1 year later (three years after the first photo). 160 pounds. Training for a half-ironman. 1-3 hours of exercise a day, 4 days a week, including 2 strength training sessions a week. 4000+ calories a day, around 150 grams of protein a day.

One year later (four years after the first photo). 162 pounds. Around 3000-3200 calories a day, 100+ grams of protein a day. 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, 5-6 days a week, including 2-3 strength-training sessions a week.

One year later (four years after the first photo). 162 pounds. Around 3000-3200 calories a day, 100+ grams of protein a day. 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week, including 2-3 strength-training sessions a week.

6 months later (four and a half years after first photo). Around 3000-3200 calories a day, 100+ grams of protein a day. 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, 5-6 days a week, including 2-3 strength-training sessions a week.

6 months later (four and a half years after first photo). 163 pounds. Around 3000-3200 calories a day, 100+ grams of protein a day. 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week, including 2-3 strength-training sessions a week.

6 months later (five years after the first photo). Around 3000-3200 calories a day, 100+ grams of protein a day. 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week, including 2-3 strength-training sessions a week.

6 months later (five years after the first photo). 170 pounds. Around 3000-3200 calories a day, 100+ grams of protein a day. 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week, including 2-3 strength-training sessions a week.

 

 

As you can see, aside from the time I was training for a triathlon, my eating and training hasn’t changed a lot other than adding a few hundred calories a day once I reached my lowest weight. I increased my calories to give my body fuel to increase muscle mass. Some people think I changed my routine to change my physique, actually my physique progression is my body’s natural response to consistent training stimulus. Consistency folks. It’s the REAL magic pill.

A quick note about my triathlon training: I was doing a tremendous amount of cardio. As you can see, that was probably my leanest point without restricting calories (I got a little leaner during my ‘fitness model diet’ but had to restrict calories to do it). There’s a ridiculous meme out there claiming cardio makes you fat. Skip and Sol handily destroyed that myth in their guest post here. The primary reason I was so lean then was that I was eating enough calories to support my physical activity. I was burning 4000+ calories a day, so I ate 4000+ calories a day. Cardio is fine if you’re eating to support it (and you want to do it).

So there you go. Pictorial evidence that consistency is key. My diet and training have remained generally pretty consistent over the years. My body has changed in response. It takes time. Be patient.

 

43 thoughts on “A Brief History of My Timeline Photos

  1. Stumbled across your website today and have already started reading the book. I’m also 5’9″ and of the same body type as you though currently somewhere between your 1st and 2nd “before” photos posted here. It is so great to see these after photos of someone with the same body type and to read rational, real life methods for becoming healthy. Looking forward to reading the book and learning more. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Pingback: FAQ | Go Kaleo

  3. I’m curious to see what’s a typical day’s menu is like for you. I workout 5-6 days a week and struggle getting enough calories. I’m not good at counting or logging my calories. I generally don’t eat grains, legumes, dairy or any white carb. Most of my carbs come from vegetables and sometimes fruit.

    • Hi Elise,
      Lovely name (my daughter’s is the same). Is there a medical reason you aren’t eating so many different foods? If not, you may want to reconsider eliminating foods that you have no medical reason to avoid. That would certainly help you get more calories easier. Also, how do you know that you don’t get enough calories if you are not tracking? Are you hungry a lot of the time?

      • Hi Rachel,

        Thank you! Yes there are medical reasons why I avoid those food groups. I try to eat until I’m satisfied. There are days that i’m hungry all day long.. Especially on days where I take 2 gym class and have errands and things to do around the house.
        I guess i’m just curious what Kaleo’s menu plan is like.

        • I don’t tend to share my meals and food choices, because people always seem to interpret my food choices as a prescription for THEM, and I’m firmly in the ‘everyone needs to eat what works best for THEM’ camp.

          I eat pretty much everything now. My carbs come from grains (oats, bread, rice, etc), fruits (lots of fruit, as many as 9-10 servings a day in the summer, fewer but still lots in the winter), potatoes and sweet potatoes, sugar and dairy.

          • Thanks.. Understandable. Each person needs to evaluate what works for them. I was just curious to see what kind of foods you ate etc.

  4. I guess I am kind of late here but, what have you found is best for fat loss for those who don’t necessarily want to put on muscle? I have a high BF% after recovering from undereating and I am not sure if my weight is stable but I just look very, well, chubby. It seems cardio is the best for losing fat but I have read that 1) it causes muscle loss (as you mentioned I believe), especially done excessively, 2) the body adapts to a high amount of cardio and lowers metabolism as suck, and 3) the amount you need to lose fat is just unsustainable. From what I see, it seems you were able to lose weight because your metabolism was already pretty high (3-4000 calories!), but what about those of us who have not been eating that much? I feel like creating a small food deficit would just result in a metabolic adaptation to that small deficit. Sorry if I am rambling.

    • Eating at a deficit will prevent any appreciable muscle gain, regardless of what kind of training you’re doing. To keep the muscle you have while losing fat, eat at a modest deficit and strength train a couple times a week. Cardio isn’t necessary, but it won’t hinder your progress either. If you enjoy cardio, do it! Just make sure to eat enough to keep your calorie deficit fairly small.

      Check out this blog post for more.

    • Hi! Just curious as to why you don’t want to put on any muscle? When you’ve been dieting or restricting too much you’ll lose muscle and I would think it would be a good idea to try and replace it. Your metabolism would be faster with the more muscle you have as muscle tissue is more metabolically active than other tissue. If you dislike lifting than that’s one thing but you only mentioned not wanting to gain muscle. As a side note, it’s totally possible to gain muscle and not look muscular if that’s your concern :)

  5. this is a huge inspiration. I’ve only been lifting for 2 years and eating intuitively for about 1. Seeing progress in stamina and strength. I totally laughed when I read this post – saw it coming – I knew your “pictorial dietary descriptions” through the years would be nearly identical. You just tweaked til you found what worked for you, and stuck to it, without being some overboard zealot. People don’t like consistency, but that’s really the ticket. That — and small, sustainable changes. Thanks for motivating us!!

    • At my lowest (in the triathlon pic) I was in the low to mid teens. Very low, too low for most women, but I think because I was eating enough it protected me from negative effects. When I stopped the tri training it went back up, I’ve been maintaining in the high teens for the last few years. 12% is really the lowest a woman can go before negative endocrine adaptations set in, and many (perhaps most) women need more than that even. 18-25% is a happy medium for most I think. And women can be healthy up into the mid-30′s or higher.

  6. I was wondering – how active were you outside of the 30-60 minutes of exercise during most of the 5-6 years when you were being consistent and patient? Does a person like me with a more sedentary life’s work just need to be a patient for a little longer?

  7. Hi GoKaleo,
    I see in the first photo you are sitting on a tractor with a little girl (your daughter?). I was wondering if you came from a farming background or from an athletic background in your school days. The reason I ask is that I did heavy-lifting type of farm work from the age of 11 to 18 during the summer and middle/high school sports during the school year. It is very easy for me to put on and maintain muscle mass, and I was very muscled at 11 years old. If you had well-developed muscles in your younger days, maybe it is easier for you to put on muscle than it is for someone without that background. just a thought.

    • Ah, the tractor was totally staged. I grew up in the city, and was a bookworm. Aside from a brief stint on a swim team as a teen, I was never athletic.

      That said, I do think I probably have a good genetic predisposition to building muscle! I’ve talked about genetics before. Genetics are why (for instance) I can have visible abs without too much ‘discipline’…I carry my body fat below the waist, not around my belly. :)

  8. Thank you so much for posting this! It’s tremendously helpful. Quick question–if 3000-3200 calories a day is the appropriate number for your activity level, what do you believe accounts for the 7 lb weight gain between the second to last and last pictures?

    • 3000-3200 is actually a very small surplus, I’ve gained weight intentionally. :)

      (I seem to have stabilized at 166-170, so my new intake supports my current weight.)

  9. Thank you for the post – I really needed it today. I am very frustrated with a weight gain I have experienced since beginning weight training (middle of May) and am at a loss of what to do. So I will take heed and try to be more patient as my body tries to sort itself out.

    Thanks again for the inspiration!

  10. Amazing! Did your 30-60 minutes of exercise include your stength training or was it separate?

  11. I also am a lurker!!! I am currently re-feeding and am gaining a lot of weight. On some days it terrifies me, other days I am able to accept it. How do you know when you’re ready to start working out and try to lose some weight?? Are there some specific things you look for??? Do you agree with Matt Stone’s 3 S’s?? Sugar, starch and salt/????

    • I think when your weight is stable and your energy is good. I don’t really focus on specific foods and macros, other than getting enough protein and the appropriate number of calories.

  12. Another thought/question:
    I would imagine that the change from photo #1 to photo #2 would have been the hardest, because so many people who find themselves in your “#1 situation” have also worn down their health and down-regulated their metabolism/thyroid/etc with weight-loss efforts that purposely or accidentally amounted to underfeeding. Do you think you were in that situation, yourself, of being metabolically “downregulated,” or do you think that eating 3,000 to 4,000 kcal actually was protecting your metabolism enough to begin exercise and weight-loss efforts?

    To put it another way, I’m curious whether you found yourself in need of a “reset” (as the Eat More Weigh Less ladies call it) or “diet recovery” (as Matt Stone calls it) before you were able to increase your exercise and eat somewhat less?

    Or, perhaps you weren’t even aware of that stuff back then to the degree you are today, and you started your exercise efforts gradually enough that they were tolerated, in any case? (One thing that I find so impressive about your story is the way you patiently taught yourself so much by trial-and-error.)

    In short, I think it might be interesting for readers to elaborate about the first part of the “journey,” especially if there’s anything interesting from the “if I’d known then what I know now” point of view.

    Great work, as always!

    • Thanks! I didn’t need a reset, inactivity was the crux of my problem. Although I’d dieted, I don’t think I’d managed to really damage my metabolism. My set of challenges was different. :)

  13. Great post … I was reading through, getting ready to make the comment that, gee, activity and even calories are surprisingly similar in most of these … and of course when I got to the text, that was your very point. Call me Captain Obvious, here to save the day! :)

    Side note, perhaps its the angle of the photos, but you seem to have really adorable feet. Despite this being the internet & all, I am not particularly interested in feet, just happened to notice!

    Seriously, this is a great series that shows that one’s body can adapt in a healthy way — even in an aesthetically satisfying way — to stimulus OVER TIME, as long as we aren’t pushed too hard, too fast, and as long as the stimulating conditions are truly fair, kind, pleasurable, patient and life-supporting.

  14. Great post. I’ve read your story several times but this is a really really good pictoral example of how you’ve changed. I really hope this all works for me. I’ve been stuck despite being consistent, though I haven’t given up. I’ve been at this for a year, since my last baby was born, but got into the over-exercise pitfall and now I’m trying to rebuild. I refed, regained some weight, like 5lbs, and now I’m just plain stuck it seems. I’m trying to count calories now, typically at 2200/day but my TDEE according to healthcalc and I even filled out the little graph where you follow your day and enter your activity in hour by hour says that my TDEE is more like 3100-3200 on a strength training day. I also seem to be high in fat and lower in carbs without trying. I get over 100g/protein per day (around 130). I may have to adjust all of it. I still feel like I should be losing SOME fat with 2200, but I haven’t been for months. Sigh… such a battle!

    • Well sounds like you aren’t eating enough :) trying adding 50-100 calories a week until you get up around your tdee. Gotta feed your activity or your body thinks you don’t have enough food around and it needs to hold on to what it has.

  15. This was so great for me to read today. I’ve been frustrated that my lifting really isn’t improving as fast as I’d like, and that I’ve even had to go backwards sometimes…but it takes time! (OK, to be perfectly honest, time and more calories than I’m eating right now…I’m working on it!)

    Thanks for posting!

  16. I love everything about this. On the days when I start feeling impatient, this will help remind me that consistency is key!

  17. Consistency, consistency!! Excellent job!! I love this story, it could never get old and is really inspirational!!

  18. Hello! Creepy lurker here!
    I am sure you get these questions A LOT, and so I don’t blame you if you don’t have time (or willingness!) to answer…
    But, I am about 240lbs right now. I’m not training for anything, but my work out regimen is similar to yours. 45-60 min a day, 6 days a week. I was eating 1,000 – 1,200 calories a day everyday. I have since upped it, because I am not losing weight anyway. lol.

    Anyway! Do you have ANY advice for me is I want to lose some dang weight? I got as low as 185, but that was from a 60 day juice fast. I enjoyed it, but clearly it did not keep the weight off, despite my best efforts!

    • How long have you been following your current routine? Do you have any health issues? What’s your current calorie intake? How much protein are you getting?

      • Thank you so much for the reply! To answer your questions –
        I’ve been on this routine for about 4-5 years now. I’m, of course, in much better cardio-respiratory shape than before, but I am still very overweight and not healthy!
        I do have health issues. I have a hereditary disease that greatly effects my joints. (Ehlers-Danlos) and arthritis.
        Currently, my calories are around 1,600 a day. I’m not too much into tracking protein… but looking at my last few days logs, I’d say my average is 55g a day. Which I think is good?

        • Hi sweatygirl,

          In my opinion, based on what Amber recommends and the Health Calculator she suggests, you are eating far too little calories and not enough protein. It’s good to get around a gram per lb of body weight so for you that would be 240g. That might seem high, but even if you got 100-150, that would be much much better than 55g, which is very low. :) Also, remember to lift heavy enough. Sometimes people end up doing “weighted cardio” instead of actual heavy lifting. Then they don’t see the muscle that they want to see because it’s not being built. Best of luck!!

          • Thanks Rachel!
            I’m still very leery of the needing more protein thing. It’s not necessarily a belief I’ve subscribed in.. however, what I am doing is not working, so.. it’s time for some new beliefs, isn’t it? :-)

            As for the heavy lifting.. I WISH. I LOVE strength training, and I especially love benchpress and exercises like that, with heavy weight. It’s so satisfying! However… due to the disease I have, when I lift anything over 25-30lbs, I dislocate my shoulders. VERY frustrating. I am working with my trainer and we lift heavier when possible, but its very hard.
            Thank you again for your input… I definitely need to make some changes!

  19. I so appreciate this post. “I love you” might be a strong sentiment, but thank you for presenting yourself with such honesty. It’s refreshing to have someone real, sharing their experience. You’re inspiring me to give up the idea that some expert or program is going to come into my world and be the end of all my body woes…that expert is me, armed with some patience! Thank you thank you thank you.

Comments are closed.