Lyss Remaly: From Bariatric Surgery To Bodybuilding

Lyss underwent bariatric surgery, but it wasn't enough. To shed over 200 pounds, she first had to overcome a lifetime of poor eating habits.

For Lyss Remaly, weight was always an issue. "I was definitely that cute baby who looked like I had rubber bands on my wrists and arms," she says. "It's just not as attractive when you're 18."

At age 4, Lyss was already seeing a nutritionist for her diet and health issues. Family history played a role, but so did eating habits. "As much as I want to blame genetics, it's not like I helped the situation any," she says. "Yes my dad is a bigger guy, and all five of us kids are bigger, but I was also a closet eater. I hid what I ate—I'd hit the drive-thru and maybe eat four Whoppers and fries in my car before going home for dinner. I kept that horrible behavior going for years."

For years, the actress, jokester, and self-proclaimed funny girl hid behind jokes and her vivacious personality, until an embarrassing wake-up call forced Lyss to listen to her body.

This is Lyss' story.

Lyss Remaly Transformation
Watch the video - 19:00



You mentioned you're an actress and you're always funny. Was that a coping mechanism?

Totally! I think every person who gets made fun of has that quick comeback they put together so the insults don't hurt as much. My family is hilarious, so I grew up in a pretty goofy home anyway, but I used being fat to my advantage. I thought, "Oh, I'll just make up this character. I'll be the funny fat girl—I'll own it." I made myself believe the typical "Oh hips and thighs and I love my pies" and "Big girls are like paychecks; the bigger the figure, the better." I tried to make myself feel better.

Why did you decide to transform?

I always put on the "funny fat girl" front, and that worked for most of my life, but it stopped being funny in 2010. I got on an airplane flying from Vegas to New York to audition for an off-Broadway play—ironically called "Fat Pig"—and I didn't fit in the airplane seat. They made me buy the seat next to mine, and to rub salt in my wide-open wound, I needed an extender seat belt to actually get the belt to fasten around me. I was so embarrassed.

Here I was, 21 years old, and I couldn't even walk up a flight of stairs or put on my own bra! I had a whole life I wanted to live, and I was killing myself instead. I knew I had to change. No amount of humor or quick wit was going to save me from eating myself to death.

Before 350 lbs.
After 130 lbs.
Age: 21
Height: 5'4"
Weight: 350 lbs.
Body Fat: 62%
Age: 26
Height: 5'4"
Weight: 130 lbs.
Body Fat: 11%

How did you take the first steps in your fitness journey?

In 2010, I decided to have bariatric surgery for weight loss. However, I soon found out that surgery is not a quick fix or a be-all and end-all solution to weight gain. I failed to realize that if I kept eating the same trash that got me to 350 pounds, no amount of surgery would ever fix my problem. When I had only lost about 20 pounds a few months after surgery—at a time when people typically drop three times that amount—I realized that the food wasn't the problem. I was.



I had to do something I knew wasn't going to be fun: sit down and be completely honest with myself. I wrote out a list of every single bad habit I'd picked up through the years. I went line by line and focused on changing one behavior every few weeks until I made it through the entire list.

One of my first steps was to get my bulging behind to the gym. Up until that point, carrying the groceries up a flight of stairs to my apartment was my only cardio. I went to the gym for the first time at 350 pounds and literally just went from machine to machine trying to figure out how each machine worked and which muscles I felt it moving. I kept track of everything.

How did Bodybuilding.com help you?

When I first got into the gym, I tried the machines I could figure out. It wasn't until I had been at the gym for a while that someone recommended I check out Bodybuilding.com. I remember thinking, "Bodybuilding.com? I'm not going to be a bodybuilder! What are you talking about?"

Still I went online and followed the prompts on the "Find a Plan" page. I put everything in as an out-of-shape beginner, and Jamie Eason's LiveFit program popped up. I knew I could probably do it. I printed it out and started. I really liked it, and it got me familiar with how programs and splits work.



Did you change your diet quickly or ease into it?

I originally tried going cold turkey, but for some reason that made me mentally crave fast food. I ended up doing a lot better when I took it really slow. I cut fast food down to three times a week instead of four, and then down to two times a week. Then I did the same thing with Starbucks.

What did you eat instead?

A paleo lifestyle was really what taught me most about food. When I decided to give a paleo lifestyle a try, I learned how to get creative with foods. I made my own nut butters and condiments. I have always followed a "little and often" theory when it comes to food. I eat a little bit every 2-3 hours.

What do you eat on a typical day?

Meal 1

Egg whites 3


Avocado 1 oz.


Meal 2

Egg whites 3


Avocado 1 oz.


Meal 3

Shredded chicken 4 oz.


Green beans 1/2 cup


Meal 4

Shredded chicken 2 oz.


Cashews 1 oz.


Meal 5

Ground turkey 4 oz.


Spinach 1 cup


Sesame oil 1 tbsp


Meal 6

Egg whites 5



What supplements helped you along the way?

Lyss's Supplement Stack

What training regimen spelled results?

I have a sweaty, passionate love affair with weight lifting. Lifting gives me time to just focus on me, my body, and my muscles. I can put in my ear buds and just escape into the zone. The first book I read when I started my journey was the "Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding" by Arnold, and I've adopted an "old school" way of training—heavy and hard until I can't go anymore. I've followed a split this entire journey and find that the following split works best for my lagging body parts as well as my body parts that seem to hold on tight.

Day 1: Chest, Arms, and Abs
1

Assisted dip

3 sets of 20 reps
Dip Machine Dip Machine

2

Barbell Press

1 set of 20 reps with the bar
1 set of 15 reps at 55 lb.
2 sets of 10 reps at 85 lb.
1 set of 10-12 reps at 55 lb.
Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip

3

Barbell Bicep Curl

4 sets of 10 reps
Barbell Curl Barbell Curl

Superset
4

Dumbbell Hammer Curl

4 sets of 10 reps
Hammer Curls Hammer Curls

Skullcrusher

4 sets of 10 reps
Lying Triceps Press Lying Triceps Press

5

Incline Bench Press

1 set of 20 reps with the bar
1 set of 15 reps at 55 lb.
2 sets of 10 reps at 85 lb.
1 set of 10-12 reps at 55 lb.
Barbell Incline Bench Press Medium-Grip Barbell Incline Bench Press Medium-Grip

6

Bench push-up

5 set of 12 reps
Push-Ups With Feet Elevated Push-Ups With Feet Elevated

7

Isolated barbell curl (alternating)

3 sets of 10 reps per side
Dumbbell Alternate Bicep Curl Dumbbell Alternate Bicep Curl

8

Cable Triceps Push-down

10 sets of 10 reps
Triceps Pushdown Triceps Pushdown

Superset
9

Heavy rope pull-down

5 sets of 25 reps
Triceps Pushdown - Rope Attachment Triceps Pushdown - Rope Attachment

Lying Flutter Kick

5 sets of 1 min.
Flutter Kicks Flutter Kicks

Day 2: Legs, Glutes, and Calves
Warm-up
1

Step Mill

5 min.
Step Mill Step Mill

2

Barbell Squat

5 sets of 10 reps
Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

3

Stiff-Legged Deadlift

5 sets of 10 reps
Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift

4

Barbell Glute Bridge

5 sets of 10 reps
Barbell Glute Bridge Barbell Glute Bridge

5

Seated Calf Raise

5 sets of 10 reps (finisher set of 20 reps)
Seated Calf Raise Seated Calf Raise

6

Weighted Walking Lunge

4 sets of 20 reps
Barbell Walking Lunge Barbell Walking Lunge

7

Kettlebell dead walk (Shown w/ dumbbells)

4 sets of 20 reps
Suitcase Dumbbell Carry Suitcase Dumbbell Carry

8

Sumo Squat (Deep)

10 sets of 10 reps
Wide-Stance Barbell Squat Wide-Stance Barbell Squat

Day 3: Shoulders, Triceps, and Abs
Warm-up
1
Punches Punches

2

Military Shoulder Press

5 sets of 10 reps
Standing Military Press Standing Military Press

Triset
3

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

5 sets of 10 reps
Side Lateral Raise Side Lateral Raise

Front Dumbbell Raise

5 sets of 10 reps
Front Dumbbell Raise Front Dumbbell Raise
4
Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise

5

Arnold Dumbbell Press

5 sets of 10 reps
Arnold Dumbbell Press Arnold Dumbbell Press

6

Bodyweight Dip

4 sets to failure
Dips - Triceps Version Dips - Triceps Version

7

Upright Plate Row (Shown w/ barbell)

4 sets of 12 reps
Upright Barbell Row Upright Barbell Row

8

Cable rear-delt Face Pull

5 sets of 10 reps
Face Pull Face Pull

9
Standing Low-Pulley Deltoid Raise Standing Low-Pulley Deltoid Raise

10

Dumbbell Around-The-World

5 sets of 10 reps
Around The Worlds Around The Worlds

11

Dumbbell Row

5 sets of 10 reps
Bent Over Two-Dumbbell Row Bent Over Two-Dumbbell Row

12

Decline Crunch (Weighted)

4 sets of 12 reps
Decline Crunch Decline Crunch

13

Hanging Leg Raise

4 sets of 12 reps
Hanging Leg Raise Hanging Leg Raise

Day 4: Back and Biceps
1

Assisted Pull-Up

4 sets of 10 reps
Machine-Assisted Pull-Up Machine-Assisted Pull-Up

2

Assisted Chin-Up

4 sets of 10 reps
Assisted Chin-Up Assisted Chin-Up

3

Wide-Grip Lat Pull-down

5 sets of 10 reps
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

4

Underhand Pull-down

5 sets of 10 reps
Underhand Cable Pulldowns Underhand Cable Pulldowns

5

Deadlift

5 sets of 8 reps
Barbell Deadlift Barbell Deadlift

6

Biceps Cable Curl

4 sets of 10 reps
Standing Biceps Cable Curl Standing Biceps Cable Curl

7

Bent-Over Barbell Row (w/ Iso hold)

4 sets of 8 reps
Bent Over Barbell Row Bent Over Barbell Row

8

Barbell Pull-over

xxxsetsrepsxxx
Front Raise And Pullover Front Raise And Pullover

9

Alternating dumbbell biceps curl

4 sets of 8 reps per side
Dumbbell Alternate Bicep Curl Dumbbell Alternate Bicep Curl

10

Good Morning

4 sets of 10 reps
Good Morning Good Morning

Superset
11

TRX bodyweight row

10 sets of 10 reps
Suspended Row Suspended Row

TRX biceps curl

10 sets of 10 reps
Suspended Curl Suspended Curl

Day 5: Legs, Glutes, Calves, and Abs
Warm-up
1

Step Mill

5 min.
Step Mill Step Mill

2

Leg Extension (Pre-exhaust)

4 sets of 10 reps, increase weight each set
Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

Superset
3

Hack Squat

5 sets of 10 reps
Hack Squat Hack Squat

Kettlebell Curtsy Lunge

5 sets of 10 reps per side
Kettlebell Curtsy Lunge Kettlebell Curtsy Lunge

4

Lying Leg Curl (1-1/2 reps)

5 sets of 10 reps
Lying Leg Curls Lying Leg Curls

5

Dumbbell Bench Step-Up

4 sets of 10 reps per side
Dumbbell Step Ups Dumbbell Step Ups

6

Glute Kick-back

5 sets of 10 reps per side
Glute Kickback Glute Kickback

7

Adductor Machine

10 sets of 10 reps
Thigh Adductor Thigh Adductor

8

Abductor Machine

10 sets of 10 reps
Thigh Abductor Thigh Abductor

9

Smith Machine Calf Raise

4 sets of 20 as fast as possible
Smith Machine Calf Raise Smith Machine Calf Raise

Superset
10

Cable Crunch (Heavy)

5 sets of 25 reps
Cable Crunch Cable Crunch

Suspended Crunch

5 sets of 5 reps per side
Suspended Crunch Suspended Crunch

Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Shoulders, Chest, and Arms
Warm-up
1

Assisted dip

4 sets of 10 reps
Dip Machine Dip Machine

2

Machine Shoulder Press

5 sets of 10 reps, increase weight each set
Machine Shoulder (Military) Press Machine Shoulder (Military) Press

3

Pec-deck machine

5 sets of 10 reps
Butterfly Butterfly

Superset
4

Barbell Biceps Curl

4 sets of 10 reps
Barbell Curl Barbell Curl
Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Superset
5

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

4 sets of 10 reps
Dumbbell Shoulder Press Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Front Plate Raise

4 sets of 10 reps
Front Plate Raise Front Plate Raise

Superset
6

Svend Press

4 sets of 10 reps
Svend Press Svend Press

Push-up

4 sets of 10 reps
Pushups Pushups

Superset
7

Triceps Rope Push-down

4 sets of 10 reps
Triceps Pushdown - Rope Attachment Triceps Pushdown - Rope Attachment

Rope hammer curl

4 sets of 10 reps
Cable Hammer Curls - Rope Attachment Cable Hammer Curls - Rope Attachment

8

Reverse pec-deck machine

4 sets of 12 reps
Reverse Machine Flyes Reverse Machine Flyes

9

Assisted dip

10 sets of 10 reps or to failure
Dip Machine Dip Machine


What aspect of your weight-loss journey did you find to be the most challenging?

My food demons will always be there. That is a battle I will continue to fight (and win) every day. I will always crave garlicy, cheesy, buttery mashed potatoes, but I have worked very hard to train my brain to choose the foods I know are better fuel for my body. I have had to completely change my relationship with food and find other things in life that give me pleasure and satisfaction.

The loose skin has also been tough to deal with. After being obese my entire life, it's not like the skin has anywhere to go back to—it's been stretched out the whole time. As annoying as the loose skin is and as expensive as it is to have it fixed, it's my constant reminder of what used to live in that skin; it's the leftovers of what was once a sad and insecure girl. What lives there now is a vibrant, strong, and confident woman.



What are your future fitness plans?

Now that I drank the competition Kool-Aid, I'm in love! I ultimately want to compete in the WBFF Transformation Division in Las Vegas. I want to keep growing as a competitor. I'm also writing a book about my journey. My book is a fully detailed, politically incorrect account of being fat and how I transformed into the person I am today.

Any advice for aspiring transformers?

Realize that you deserve this. You deserve to feel good and strong and proud of the person looking back at you in the mirror.

Lyss's Favorite Gym Tracks

Pantera
"Drag the Waters"
Chevelle
"The Red"
Godsmack
"I Stand Alone"
Slipknot
"Duality"
Pantera
"Drag the Waters"
Chevelle
"The Red"
Godsmack
"I Stand Alone"
Slipknot
"Duality"


We Want Your Story!

Have you transformed your body by burning fat or building muscle? We want to tell your story. Send your before and after photos, plus a brief paragraph about your experience, to transformations@bodybuilding.com for a chance to be featured on Bodybuilding.com!