Growing up, Kyle Frank never learned about healthy nutrition. He wasn't a particularly active child, either.
"Before college, I wasn't too active, but I wasn't completely sedentary either," Kyle remembers. "I would get together with friends and play football or go on bike rides, but I was never involved in any sports except for one year in high school participating in track."
Kyle's lifestyle wasn't a problem when he was young, but when he went to college, his weight started to slowly creep up—so slowly, in fact, that he says he didn't notice it.
"Thinking back, it's almost like I didn't see the weight gain happening," Kyle says. "Like I woke up one morning and stepped on the scale weighing in at 240 pounds and had no idea how I got in that condition."
Still, Kyle admits, partying and eating fast food took precedence over lifestyle change. It took a series of wake-up calls to convince Kyle he was unhealthy. Even after he decided to make changes, serial yo-yo dieting almost made him give up. But eventually, Kyle figured out how to feed his body in a healthy way. That 100 pounds he lost? It's still gone.
This is Kyle's story.
What was your lifestyle like in college?
After high school and during my first couple years of college, I was only interested in hanging out with friends and partying. Heavy drinking and poor nutritional choices led to steady weight gain. My food choices were anything and everything. I had no knowledge about nutrition, nor did I care. College involved a lot of drinking and partying, with late night pizza and burritos. There was quite a bit of fast food.
What was your 'aha' moment?
At first, I didn't care too much about the weight gain and kept up with my normal partying lifestyle. But as time went on, there were three different events that flipped the switch in my head and made me realize I wanted to do something about my weight.
First, I noticed I could no longer bend over to tie my own shoe. My stomach would get in the way, pushing against my legs, making it difficult to breathe.
Second, I was supposed to join my brother and his friend to go skydiving, something I'd always wanted to do. Upon arriving at the airfield, I discovered I was over the weight limit to do a tandem skydive with an instructor.
Third, one morning while getting ready for work, I was putting on the pair of jeans that I always wore. After I buttoned and zipped them up, I tried to adjust the pocket. In doing so, I split open the crotch. Although I was alone at the time, I felt humiliated.
I couldn't believe I'd let myself get to the condition I was in. I was sick of missing out on life by not being able to do things I wanted to do, and I was sick of feeling insecure. I wanted to change to ensure I would be able to live the life I wanted in the future.
What's the first step you took toward making a change?
The first thing I did was hit the books. I researched everything I could get my hands on, including tons of different diets and training plans. I found people in the fitness industry who inspired me with their videos or blogs. I tried so many different diets and meal plans, as well as tons of different exercise routines.
It was a challenge for me to be consistent with everything. I would switch programs quickly or be distracted by a new diet. I think I would have seen results faster if I had stayed consistent.
What finally made you stay consistent?
I stopped trying every fad diet and workout routine, and simplified the process for myself. I set smaller, more achievable goals, like eating more whole foods and going to the gym three times a week. Once that became habit, I was able to build on it. Eventually I turned to flexible dieting so I could eat in a healthy way without depriving myself.
What's your secret to long-term maintenance?
I stopped believing there are good and bad foods. I allow myself to have anything I want, but I manage the quantity. This was a huge mental shift for me.
I count macros and change them depending on my goal. I no longer feel restricted to a few select foods. Since I no longer feel deprived, I no longer have the need for "cheat days."
To me, the secret is finding what works best for you. This will result in increased consistency and adherence.
What was the difference between the approach that made you yo-yo and the approach that worked?
In the beginning of my weight-loss journey I restricted certain foods, trying to eat "clean" and "whole" foods, and definitely undereating. I struggled with how restrictive that was, and felt like I wasn't enjoying the food I was eating because it was so plain and boring. I remember initially being hungry because I wasn't consuming enough calories.
I still had to be in a caloric deficit when I switched over to counting and tracking macros in order to lose weight. The difference was that since I was tracking food, I had objective data to look at and know where to make adjustments if my weight loss plateaued.
The other main difference was simply the mindset shift when switching to counting and tracking macronutrients. I no longer put any food off-limits. If I wanted a serving of ice cream and I could fit it in my daily macro count, I would have it.
I still prioritize whole foods. But I got hooked for good when I saw results while still including foods many people consider off-limits.
Since you've been counting macros for so long, what strategies do you recommend?
Learn to read a food label, and use an app on your phone to track the food. The apps make it very easy and most come with a barcode scanner, so you have the nutritional information right at your fingertips.
I think flexible dieting is a great thing for everyone to try at least for a little while. In doing so, you start learning what a serving size looks like. You also begin to understand the macronutrient composition of foods.
I have been doing it long enough that I can look at most food items and more or less know their serving size and the macronutrient makeup. That knowledge can help anyone trying to lose weight.
How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?
Bodybuilding.com was the first website I came across when I decided I wanted to transform. The articles, videos, and training programs I found kept me motivated. I always read the new articles that come out to keep learning. I find lots of tasty recipes, and I always find inspiration.
I honestly give Bodybuilding.com the credit for sparking my interest in fitness and giving me the motivation that has put me on the path to where I am today.
What does your diet look like now?
Day 6: Random day. I use this day to work on anything I feel like I haven't hit in a while, or I'll do a light outdoor recovery activity such as rucking, paddle boarding, or a trail run. Sometimes if I'm feeling good, I might put together a mini circuit of strongman movements or an interval weight-training session.
Day 7: Rest