Women utilizing battle ropes in a dark setting.

How I lost 80+ Pounds – My Everything Guide to Fitness

Changing my Health & Fitness

In my late teens and twenties, I ate junk, drank and partied to a point I felt like crap…

After a bout with Salmonella Food Poisoning and Diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (which are ulcers in the colon.) I am lucky my symptoms have always been negligible or very minor… I knew something had to change…

And it did.

In this post, I will share what I know and learned along my fitness journey.

Items linked in this article may include affiliate links. Meaning, that if you choose to buy the product via the link provided I will receive a small commission.

My Journey

The journey began, if I remember correctly, sometime in my late twenties.

You see… I was overweight, hitting 215 lbs. at 5’7. Based on my height-to-weight ratio, I was on the obese side.

During this time, I neglected my body. I ate and drank like shit. I had the typical male “tire.” Which is a big belly and love handles forming a tire look.

I was looking for a photo of myself when I was heaviest; however, I could not find one. Most were on Facebook or physical photos that I no longer have.

Yes, I am dating myself. If one surfaces, I will add it here.

While my body was taking its beating, I can’t say I regret the amount of laughs I had and the things I experienced during this time.

I was a male full of testosterone who was enjoying life… but that shit can’t last forever… eventually, the body will tell you it has had enough. And when it does, hopefully, it’s not catastrophic.

When I say catastrophic, I mean having a stroke or heart attack or even worse. I came across a few people who had strokes in their twenties… I couldn’t understand why at such a young age.

After my decision to cut the “fat” pun intended, I decided to start taking things more seriously.

I went full-on fitness mode. From strength training on my own to eating a more healthy diet. Which meant not overeating and eating things we called “bro science”… Chicken, green veggies and healthy fat sources like almonds.

After some time, I realized I would end up binge eating… mainly due to the restrictive nature of the diet. I couldn’t last from a long-term perspective by dieting in this way.

So, I hired a coach… he sent me training routines via Excel and also gave me general guidelines on food choices. Providing me with macronutrients to follow on a weekly basis after a check-in.

In about a year’s time or so, I went from 215lbs to 135lbs and shredded… Just in time for an upcoming vacation. That was 80 lbs of weight I lost.

Me at 135 lbs. My Everything Guide to Fitness

The loss of weight was not quick nor drastic but a slow downhill walk… As my calories went lower, so did my mood and libido, and quite frankly, I was miserable.

You see, your body has this survival mechanism where it actually slows down your metabolism to make it harder to lose fat at a certain point.

Your body, through evolution, understood that food was hard to come by in the scavenger and hunter days. Therefore, a way to avoid death was to pack on fat when food was available so that it could be consumed for energy when food sources were not available or scarce.

Slowing the metabolism was another way to ensure our survival. It’s not a wonder why the body fights us as we get into the single-digit body fat percentages… It’s thinking of survival.

There are strategies you can use to help combat this evolutionary need, which I will touch on in the nutrition section.

Consistency

One of the most important factors in achieving success in fitness goals or in anything in life is consistency. Regardless of your aim, lose weight, gain weight, maintain weight… be consistent.

It’s okay to have bad days, good days, great days… What counts here is to put any setbacks exactly as what it is… a setback. Don’t harp on the mistake… rather, own it… Accept it and start fresh the next day.

To give you an example of what I mean here. In my fitness journey, which I still practice today… 20 years now, as I am … 40… there, I said it… Anyway, over the years, I had issues with binge eating…

What is binge eating? In my context, it’s when you’ve been dieting for some time and miss eating certain foods or certain amounts of food… You start eating with no concept of how much you’re eating or continue to eat anything that you feel might satisfy you…

Always in my case, I would start with something sweet… like Nutella… then bread, then cake or ice cream and so on… this would continue until I felt full and couldn’t think of eating anything else. In that context, that’s what I mean by binge eating.

The point here is I have binged numerous times… Is it a setback? YES…was it the end of the world… NO… The key was owning the mistake (I always felt like shit for binge eating the next day) but getting over it… Starting the next day fresh and back on routine.

Onwards…

Thermal Dynamic Energy Expenditure (TDEE)

What the hell is TDEE? In layman’s terms, it’s how much energy your body uses in a day… Essentially, your Maintenance Calories… meaning how much food you need to survive in your current lifestyle.

Using a TDEE calculator will give you an approximation baseline value for your calorie intake.

Let’s use my stats as an example: 5’7 inches tall. 145 pounds, 12.5% body fat and moderate exercise. I entered those in the TDEE calculator, which spits out the following:

TDEE Results
TDEE Results continued.

You can see what the calculation indicates, which is my maintenance, cutting, or bulking macronutrients. The calculator even gives you three options for each area, which you can flip through to see what fits your diet preferences.

Did you go ahead and input your numbers in the calculator?

Good. Okay onwards…

Nutrition

“Abs are made in the kitchen” – unknown

This quote is very, very true. It really comes down to what you’re eating, the portions, and either being in a calorie deficit or surplus, depending on your goals.

Every day, I use a rule of thumb that requires at least two servings of fruits and vegetables. And, at the very least, 30 grams of fibre. Hitting these numbers is a good way to approach your day, and the remainder of meals can be whatever you choose.

Now remember, if you are dieting down and calories are at all-time lows, it wouldn’t make sense to eat a burger from McDonalds compared to a bowl of broccoli, for example. The burger itself is quite small in terms of volume compared to the equivalent in veggies…

A comparison of volume eating. One muffin vs all the other foods you can have that are equal calories.

I am not saying that’s what you need to do, but it’s the point of volume that translates to satiety that helps in moments where dieting sucks.

Calories and Macronutrients

This is a good time to break down the calories of each micronutrient. For each gram consumed, it will result in the subsequent amount in calories…

  • Protein: 1 gram = 4 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram = 4 calories
  • Fats: 1 gram = 9 calories
  • Alcohol: 1 gram = 7 calories
  • Fibre: 1 gram = 4 calories

You may have noticed I included two additional “macronutrients” to the above list.

Alcohol is considered a poison to the body and requires a complex process to get rid of it, far beyond the scope of this post. But just know that, for each gram of alcohol, it does equal seven (7) calories…

Also, be mindful of this marketing tactic…

Beer nutritional label

If you notice in the above picture, the calories per bottle equals 90.
But if you add up the macronutrients… you’ll see a discrepancy… 3 carbs + 1 protein = 4 grams. Multiple that by referencing the list above.

Since cabs and protein have the same caloric value, 3+1 = 4 grams.
Now take that and multiply it by 4 calories = 16 calories…

Wait a minute… why does the label indicate 90 calories… where are the missing calories???

90 – 16 = 74 calories are missing in action…

If you paid attention to the above… then you’ll know that it’s from the alcohol itself.

Sooo if you divide 74 by 7 = 10.5 grams of alcohol…

Now if you multiply 10.5 grams x 7 cals = 74 calories… 74 + 16 = 90 calories.

That aligns with the nutritional label on the bottle of beer…

Phew.. hopefully, you’re still with me… but if not, feel free to reach out (info@paolotrulli.com), and I can help answer any questions or provide more clarity.

Protein

Okay, so now the question of debate is protein… how much do I need?

There are many opinions and studies on this, and the consensus floats between 0.8 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. But the range is dependent on what kind of lifestyle you are aiming toward.

General Population:
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This amount is intended to meet the nutritional needs of 97-98% of healthy individuals.

Athletes and Physically Active Individuals:
Endurance Athletes: 1.2-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
Strength Athletes: 1.6-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

Older Adults:
To prevent sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss): 1.2-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Increased protein helps maintain muscle mass and function.

Weight Loss:
High-Protein Diets: 1.2-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
High protein intake can help preserve lean muscle mass during weight loss and enhance satiety.

Bodybuilders and Powerlifters:
During Muscle Hypertrophy Phases: Up to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Optimal for maximizing muscle protein synthesis.

See footnotes for study references.

Fats

Old wisdom was to ignore fat intake to lose weight. However, we know today that healthy fats are important for optimal health, libido, hormone regulation, and more.

Moderate fat intake should be around 20-35% of the overall calories.

Fat Intake Recommendations:

General Population:
Total Fat: 20-35% of total daily calories.
Saturated Fat: Less than 10% of total daily calories.
Trans Fat: As low as possible.

Athletes and Physically Active Individuals:
Total Fat: 20-35% of total daily calories.
Maintaining adequate fat intake is crucial for hormone production and overall health.

Individuals with Cardiovascular Disease or Risk:
Total Fat: 25-35% of total daily calories, with a focus on unsaturated fats.
Saturated Fat: Less than 7% of total daily calories.

Weight Loss:
Low-Fat Diets: Often aim for 20-30% of total daily calories from fat.
High-Fat (Ketogenic) Diets: 60-75% of total daily calories from fat, with very low carbohydrate intake.

Children:
Ages 1-3: 30-40% of total daily calories.
Ages 4-18: 25-35% of total daily calories.

See footnotes for study references.

Carbohydrates

So, at this point, you have calculated your protein and fat intake, right?

Good!!!

Using your TDEE caloric breakdown, whatever calories you have left are assigned to carbohydrates.

For example, let’s say you have 2500 calories to work with. 150 grams are protein, 60 grams are fat, and so on.

Let’s calculate those calories first.
150 X 4 = 600 cals. 60 x 9 = 540 calls.
Add those calories together, and you get 1,140 calories minus the 2500 total calories = 1,360.
The remaining 1,360 calories are what you can assign to carbs.
1,360 / 4 = 340 grams of carbs…

Tadaaaa… You now have your macronutrient profile numbers set up!!

150 g Protein
340 g Carbs
60g Fat
= 2,500 Calories…

You’re still with me, right… Good!!

Weightloss vs Bulking

Now that we have a handle on macronutrients and what is considered a good baseline, we can talk about weight loss vs weight gain…

If your goal is to lose weight, a healthy, slow process is something like one pound per month.

This is purposely slow for a few reasons.

  • Hunger: going slow means you won’t get massive hunger pains out of the gate…
  • Maintaining as much muscle and strength as possible. The fewer calories you have, the more your body will begin to attack easy energy stores, which are, unfortunately, muscle first.
  • Strength Training: That is why strength training is so important. You signal to the brain, hey, I may be on low calories, but I still need my muscle to move things. Survival is what the brain interprets that as.

Okay, so you established you want to lose weight, and you have your nutrition dialled in… after a week, you don’t see results… What do you do now?

You simply lower the calories by 500. Track your weight daily and compare the seven-day average. Boom… you should be losing weight. If not, you can subtract another 500 cals and so on…

The opposite side of that is the same. Not gaining weight… add 500 calories. Rinse and repeat.

You can, of course, also manipulate cardio and how many calories you burn in those sessions as well.

In combination with food adjustments, you should be on your way!

Fibre

Okay, next is fibre… without going into a long-winded explanation… fibre is treated just like a carb is… There is no such thing as 0 NET CARBS… It has fibre, it’s 4 calories… which is basically a carb… Keep that in mind.

By the way, the best method to track your weight, is daily weigh-ins and then diving by 7. Comparing that figure week to week. This takes into account daily fluctuations in water retention and gives you an accurate reading.

To make life easier, you can also get one of those fancy Bluetooth scales that upload your weight to an application for ease of use.

Here’s a scale I use that is similar to what I use…

https://amzn.to/3KutHWG

Renpho scale

It also gives you a body fat percentage, which is likely not accurate. Again, it’s a baseline to use going forward.

Supplementation

Supplements are exactly what they sound like. They are meant to supplement your diet to ensure you are receiving all the necessary vitamins and minerals to make your workouts and body function optimally.

These are the supplements I personally take:

Again, you might not need any of these. I personally like to take supplements, especially when I have a caloric deficit. Even when I am not, I will still use the above as it’s what works for me (placebo or not).

I won’t go into detail about each one, as those really should be separate posts. A quick Google search will give you the info needed about each supplement.

Tracking

So now you understand what TDEE is, how to use it as a baseline calorie strait point, and macronutrient breakdowns.

Next is tracking… How do we know what we’re eating each day… You’ll need two things a food scale and an application you can record the data.

Food Scales

There are tons of food scales on the market. Amazon, Walmart, you name it. I’ll link the one I use; feel free to use it or find one that suits your style.

One thing to keep in mind is what kind of batteries the scale uses. I used scales that had those annoying thin round batteries, which is a pain in the ass to find the replacement batteries for.

My current scale uses double A batteries… They last longer and are super easy to replace. I’ll link it here for those who are interested.

https://amzn.to/4bKSZf1

Food scale

Applications IOS/Android

There are many applications out there that can assist you with this… I have used so many, and most are alike in one way or another… I personally use Avatar but feel free to explore and experiment with what you like better.

  • MyFitnessPal
  • Avatar
  • Lose it
  • Carbmanager
  • Lifesum
  • Cronometer

There are literally hundreds of applications you could try. I won’t go into much detail about Avatar, the application I personally use. I will do a review about it on a serrate post.

Cardio

Cardio itself has great benefits including cardiovascular health, circulation, endurance and depending on how many calories you burn can contribute to fat loss. Cardio is also paramount if you are an athlete and compete on a competitive level.

Endurance… Its something that occurred to me as such an important area to concentrate on. I realized this in my last Jiu-jitsu match, where I had 3 matches and nearly died in the last one… I was gassed… I essentially just had the thought of survival on my mind… that was it… I vowed from that day forward to begin incorporating endurance-type cardio into my training… VO2 training…

There are a few different types of cardio to know and understand. Let’s explore what those are next…

HIIT

HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training… This means short bursts of going all out (sprints as an example) for 15 seconds or so, followed by a short rest period, and repeating the cycle for a number of rounds.

An example could be a 5-minute warm-up, just walking… followed by a 15-second sprint and 60 seconds of walking. Reappear this for 10 rounds… Then, a 5-minute cooldown.

So in essence 5 – (15 – 60 (x 10)) – 5…

Because of the all-out strain you are putting on your body during HIIT sessions, it’s recommended to train 2 to 3 sessions a week at max. Any more than that would likely lead to overwork or fatigue… Remember, we want to create a sustainable habit, not one we will break because it’s too much.

Start slow. Maybe one session per week and build up from there.

I should mention that one of the benefits of HIIT cardio is even after the session is completed, your metabolic state is still at a higher level for hours afterward. Compared to regular cardio, once you stop, your metabolic rate slows back down to regular function.

LISS

LISS stands for Low-Intensity Steady State cardio… This means a state of cardio where you can still hold a conversation and isn’t as demanding on your system as HIIT sessions are.

LISS is often anywhere from 20 – 60 minutes approximately. Think a fast paced walk or a light jog.

VO2 Max Training

VO2 Max is the maximum volume (V) of (O2) oxygen your body can process during exercise. With VO2 max, there are levels in which you can fall, which establishes your baseline and can help you train to improve your VO2 Max.

There are three main components that make up our VO2 Max:

  1. Lung Capacity and Heat Volume – The more oxygen your lungs can process, the more Oxygenated blood your heart can pump out, increasing overall VO2 scores.
  2. Capillary – The more oxygenated blood your system can circulate and move to your muscles, the higher your VO2 level.
  3. Muscle Efficiency- the more your muscles can extract and use the O2 from the blood, the higher your VO2 max will be.

You can measure your VO2 Max either with a device like an Apple or Garmin watch… Or via an online calculator.

Don’t worry if your VO2 Max is low; you can train to increase your numbers by training near your body’s max VO2 level.

Dr. Peter Attia has a great video speaking about training VO2 Max. He is an expert in this domain and explains target ranges and how to train and improve your VO2 Max.

Okay, now that you understand cardio, its various forms and maximizing VO2 Max, let’s get into strength training.

Strength Training

Strength training is the movement of force in either a push or pulling method. The force is the weight itself. The heavier you are, the more effort you need to move the weight.

Now, there are various training areas we should touch on.

Powerlifting or Strength Training

For this level of training, you are aiming for steady progressive overload. A fancy way of saying adding weight to the bar every week. These increases in weight can be .5 lbs and upwards.

Typically, the rep range here is between 1 and 5, depending on the program you are on. For instance, I am on the 5/3/1 program.
5 reps on week one,
3 on week two and,
1 on week three…
I am, of course, simplifying, but you get the idea. The main purpose of this weight training is to gain strength… Not to “build” muscle.

Are you a little confused?

Okay, let me explain. Sure, you will build muscle regardless of the program you are in. However, the rep range really determines the amount of muscle growth you are going to achieve.

Because this program is a lower rep range, its not optimal for muscle growth, as its main progression is strength. If building muscle to look good at the beach is your main concern, then hop down into the next section… Hypertrophy.

Hypertrophy or Body Building.

So you want to build muscle… not necessarily strength. Welcome to the world of hypertrophy. In this strength routine, your rep range is going to be in the 8 – 12 range. This is where the most optimal muscle growth appears to occur, based on science.

Will you build some strength using a hypertrophy training method… yes… but again it won’t be the main purpose of the program. You can find yourself gaining muscle while strength increases do occur, but they won’t be as progressive as the strength training programs.

See footnotes for study references.

Warm-up

As with any exercise, it’s important to warm up first. This helps get the blood pumping, raising your heart rate and priming your muscles for the workload ahead.

A simple 5-minute brisk walk pre-workout, regardless of whether you are doing a weightlifting session or cardio session, is very beneficial.

Again, you don’t want to go too crazy here. The aim is not to exert yourself but rather just raise your heart rate a little.

After the work is done… cooldowns are just important. A 5-minute cool down at a walking pace is also important to lower the heart rate in a slow and controlled manner.

Stretching / Flexibility

Don’t be like me and never stretch.. for years I ignored stretching. As I aged, more muscle spasms, more injuries and the lack of flexibility are evident… Not to mention my poor posture…

Please stretch after your warm up and after your cooldown sessions. By stretching, you ensure your muscles stay flexible, resulting in longer ranges of motion, which can really help not only in strength training but in everyday life as well.

If you don’t stretch, your muscles will tighten, or another word for that is shortened. This means less range of motion, less mobility, and more prone to imbalances and injuries…

Stretch and practice flexibility!

Additional Recommendations

Final Thoughts

In this post, I touched on a multiplied of things that I personally used to transform my unhealthy lifestyle into one of health and happiness.

My health went through a significant improvement, which was accompanied by mental and physical benefits.

Remember, in order to be successful, slow and steady wins the race. Don’t harp on any missed days or days you went off track. We are human, and sometimes these things happen.

Are you improving your mental or physical health? If so, I want to hear from you… Let’s create a support group… I’ll try my best to assist you along the way.

*Disclaimer – I am not a Doctor, nor am I implying that what I wrote here will work for everyone. This is merely my experience along the way. Please consult your doctor if you have any medical questions or seek additional support.

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References

Phillips, S. M., & Van Loon, L. J. C. (2011). Dietary protein for athletes: From requirements to optimum adaptation. Journal of Sports Sciences, 29(sup1), S29-S38.

Moore, D. R., Churchward-Venne, T. A., Witard, O., Breen, L., Burd, N. A., Tipton, K. D., & Phillips, S. M. (2015). Protein ingestion to stimulate myofibrillar protein synthesis requires greater relative protein intakes in healthy older versus younger men. The Journal of Gerontology: Series A, 70(1), 57-62.

Pasiakos, S. M., Lieberman, H. R., & McLellan, T. M. (2014). Effects of protein supplements on muscle damage, soreness and recovery of muscle function and physical performance: a systematic review. Sports Medicine, 44(5), 655-670.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hooper, L., Martin, N., Jimoh, O. F., & Kirk, C. (2015). Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (6).

Siri-Tarino, P. W., Sun, Q., Hu, F. B., & Krauss, R. M. (2010). Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 91(3), 535-546.

Mansoor, N., Vinknes, K. J., Veierød, M. B., & Retterstøl, K. (2016). Effects of low-carbohydrate diets varying in carbohydrate restriction on weight loss and cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Nutrition, 115(3), 466-479.

Wernbom, Augustsson, and Thomeé (2007):

The influence of frequency, intensity, volume and mode of strength training on whole muscle cross-sectional area in humans
Schoenfeld, Ogborn, and Krieger (2016):

Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Campos et al. (2002):

Muscular adaptations in response to three different resistance-training regimens: specificity of repetition maximum training zones
Krieger (2010):

Single vs. multiple sets of resistance exercise for muscle hypertrophy: a meta-analysis
Morton et al. (2016):

A Systematic Review, Meta-analysis and Meta-regression of the Effect of Protein Supplementation on Resistance Training-Induced Gains in Muscle Mass and Strength in Healthy Adults