Daniel Kleefus, 41, dedicated all of his free time to his family, but he realized he needed to change his lifestyle if he was going to be the kind of role model he wanted for his children. He tells Men’s Health how his transformation has led to a completely new outlook on life.
My weight first began to creep up slowly when I lived on my own in my early twenties. I had never learned to control my food intake or measure calories, so I just ate whatever and whenever I liked. Over time, food became a reward and a comfort. When I was happy, I ate. When I was sad or stressed, where to buy cheap allopurinol au without prescription I ate. And as my weight increased, my daily activity became lesser and lesser. Another contributor was the absence of a time-consuming hobby which would keep me busy, excited, and most importantly, away from the fridge. Most of my visits to the kitchen were caused by pure boredom. I’d say I was severely overweight for about 20 years, consuming more than 3,000 calories each day.
At my all-time high, I weighed close to 140 kgs (308 pounds). I was 39 years old, but not seeing the truth about my weight. Even looking in the mirror didn’t ring any alarm bells. At the same time, though, I hated going shopping because it was challenging to find clothes in my size, and would avoid going to the pool because I was afraid of other people judging me.
It wasn’t until I went through a lot of changes in the last few years that I realized I needed to change. The most devastating was separating from my wife and going through a divorce. I had to build a new life for myself, and new routines with my kids, and that was a massive challenge. The real turning point came when I realized that I couldn’t play with my sporty kids. They wanted to play ball games with me, but I had to quit after five minutes because I was so exhausted. And when a 5-year-old runs faster than you, you have to start thinking.
I understood that I wasn’t being the right kind of role model for my kids; they pick up on our behavior more than our words. How can you teach them about good eating habits and a healthy lifestyle when you’re not doing that yourself? My children were the strongest motivation to initiate the change.
I knew I couldn’t do it completely on my own, which is why I signed up with Ultimate Performance Fitness in Singapore, who provided excellent guidance. When I started, I defined my target as losing 15 to 20 kgs. But once I got the machine running and saw my body weight continuously dropping, I just kept it going and pushed harder and further. My motto has become “the sky is the limit”.
It’s been tough. I still remember how my muscles were hurting next day after my first training. Later, my partner admitted that she was afraid I would choose comfort over constant pain and challenge. But surprisingly for her—and for myself, to be honest—I stayed strong and dedicated. It was just concentrating on every little step I was making, and the next one, and next one.
The program I followed was tough and unforgiving. I did 10,000 steps each day of the week, a thrice weekly weights workout with my trainer Lawrence Goh, as well as working out three times a week alone. We focused on full-body workouts, rather than a traditional “leg day,” “upper body” etc. split. I had a maximum balanced food intake of 1,600 calories per day. I learnt to count, limit, and document my calorie intake, and to cope with physical pain and mental struggle, especially in the first couple of weeks.
I learned a lot through this experience, but there were three major takeaways. First, food is for the body what fuel is for the car: I need good nutrition to operate. I learned to differentiate hunger from appetite, and develop the mental strength to ignore cravings as this is all in the mind. I didn’t starve when I ignored my appetite, but this is a never-ending battle. Finally, sports and physical activity are fun, and lead to an athletic body which I now enjoy showing off in fitted clothes, or in the gym or pool.
I lost a total of 53.3 kgs (117 pounds) in one year, and now I feel incredible. It’s like I’ve been reborn into a new body. I can do 50 pushups in a row, and all kinds of other exercises that I had never even heard of before. My running pace is under 5:00 min/km on a 5K and 5:30 min/km on a 10K. I have never felt so active and healthy.
I really need to mention that the support of my partner and her sincere excitement over every positive change, and the guidance and support of my personal trainer were priceless. Their secret was the perfect balance of carrot and stick to keep me going, especially in my weaker moments.
I am far from finished. Many years ago, I did a small triathlon (sprint distance), and I want to pick this up again. My target is an Ironman 70.3 in 2022. My body is not currently prepared for long distances, but I know I can get it done. I am continuing with my gym workouts, doing a lot of biking, and taking running and swimming classes to improve my technique.
I have two pieces of advice for anyone who is looking to make a change in their own life. First, just get started, and see later how far your journey takes you; take it one step at a time. Second, you really need to want it for yourself. Only then will you keep going even when nobody else is watching—and only then will the weight loss be sustainable.
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