Keto and Five-By-Five Workouts Helped This Guy Lose Nearly 200 Pounds
Eric Clarke’s weight gain started in middle school. The 33-year-old state park employee from Virginia Beach, Virginia, remembers it happening slowly, just from diet and inactivity. He played football as a lineman, where being heavier was an advantage. Then came college, with parties and drinking. He followed that trajectory into his thirties.
At his heaviest, in his early thirties, he weighed around 415 pounds. “I was generally unhappy,” he says, but his weight was only part of the problem. He describes himself as a “lonely dude,” which caused him to reflect on how he treated himself: How could he ask someone to care about him when he didn’t take care of himself? “I also knew I just needed to be healthier in general in order for my life to get better,” he says.
He knew his relationship to food needed to change; after talking with friends and his doctor, he settled on the keto diet. In January 2018 he started; he was then 404 pounds. “The process wasn’t hard,” he says. He mostly needed a weekly meal plan he could stick with. He found food he could enjoy, including low-carb protein shakes he could enjoy after the walks he’d started taking around the local park on weekdays.
In the first month, he lost 25 pounds, which helped keep him motivated. He lost another 12 in the second month, settling into a rate of about 10 pounds a month. He didn’t feel healthier, though, and realized he had a long way to go.
After a year of slimming down, he started hitting the gym. A Marine friend recommended five by fives, which Clarke started doing every weekday, a different muscle group daily. He’d start with chest, then triceps and biceps, hitting his shoulders on Wednesday, then back, and finishing the week with leg day. Mixing that up every couple months kept him engaged. He also started trying intermittent fasting, limiting his eating to an eight-hour window during the day.
To date, he’s lost 190 pounds—from starting at 404, he’s now just 14 pounds from his goal weight of 200. “In losing all this weight I have a lot of loose flabby skin,” he says, “so my next goal is trying to deal with that.” His friends and family have been supportive from the beginning, with some of them joining him on his walks. They’re impressed at his progress and happy to eat with him at restaurants with keto options. He’s got some extra confidence and is able to fit into old clothes—plus, once he lost the weight, his energy spiked and he didn’t find it as challenging to exercise.
“My advice to others would be to do your homework about a diet you think you can stick with,” he says. Even he’s not totally sure where his motivation came from, but he turned his choices into habits, in both diet and exercise. “Set small goals first,” he says. “Once you achieve those, the bigger ones seem more attainable, which goes a long way in maintaining the willpower to stick with your plan.”
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