Dan Keiver readily admits he once lived a rather sedentary life. As an IT professional, his days were spent sitting in front of a computer, and it didn’t end with his work day. Instead, he’d go home and plop down in front of his PC to play video games, too. All that sitting lead to one thing: weight gain. At his heaviest, Keiver weighed in at 325 pounds. After years of struggling to conceive a child with his wife, Keiver knew he’d had enough, and dropped a whopping 125 pounds on the way to becoming a dad.
“I’ve been heavy since adolescence but it got really out of control once I got into adulthood,” he says. Keiver found that most of his socializing revolved around eating. Even at home, his world centered on food.
“Portion control and snacking were my problems,” he says. “I ate too much and I ate when I was bored. I also had—and still have—a sweet tooth, so that didn’t help.” Paired with his aversion to working out, this behavior was a recipe for a weight gain disaster. Despite the fact that he found himself sweating while performing mundane tasks like cleaning his home, and stark warnings from his doctor about his weight, none of it really mattered to Keiver. Until, that is, the day his son was born.
“There was a very clear lightbulb moment for me,” Keiver said of when he decided he needed to get healthy. “My wife, who also struggled with obesity, and I had been trying to have a child for years without success. We finally had success through IVF.”
The pair, however, didn’t decide to have children until later in life. When his son was born, Keiver was 39 and his wife was 41. At the time, Keiver couldn’t help but think of his own father, who had also struggled with obesity and died of heart disease at 53 years old.
“When my son was born, I couldn’t help but do the math, and it scared me. If I made it as far as my dad, I’d be leaving my son behind at 14 years old. I had to do way better than that,” he says.
To kick off his new, healthier life, Keiver started with his diet. He was reluctant to try any fad diets that felt unsustainable. Instead, he used the good old fashioned calories in, calories out model and tried to eat a balanced diet of carbs, fat, and protein.
“To this day, I track everything I eat on MyFitnessPal,” he says. Keiver also uses a food scale at home and one at work to efficiently track his meals. While losing weight, he stuck to eating between 1700-1800 calories per day and aimed for a weight loss rate of roughly two pounds per week.
“When I started out, my nutrition IQ was fairly poor,” he says. “I knew to keep myself to a calorie budget, but for a while, I was ignorant of how much protein, fat, carbs, and sugar I should have every day. I’ve since learned to keep my protein intake higher and be more careful with carbs, sugar, and saturated fat. I don’t restrict carbs, but I’m careful not to go overboard and rack up all my calories with them.”
Next, he added in a workout routine. He joined a local rec center and started working out three days a week just performing cardio. Later, he added in a weight routine three days a week as well and dropped to two days a week of cardio. This, he explained, helped him gain more muscle mass while still dropping weight.
“The results on the scale were immediate, but the first changes I actually noticed was my clothes,” Keiver said. “Actually, I think my wife noticed before I did and told me my ‘jeans were hanging off my ass.’”
The need for a new wardrobe, along with his scale success, became his new favorite game. “It felt great,” he said. “I looked forward to every weigh-in day.”
Finally, at the age of 41, Keiver hit his goal of weighing 180 pounds. But more than the weight, he was thrilled to hit his goal of staying healthy.
“I honestly didn’t plan to go beyond 200lbs, so the first time I saw that “1” in front of my weight on the scale felt pretty incredible,” he says. “ I didn’t think I’d ever think I’d be in the 100’s in my adult life. I made sure to take a picture of that “198” for posterity. I now feel fantastic at 180.”
Another memorable moment came when he went back to that very same doctor who warned him about his impending fatty liver. “I had a physical last summer and my blood pressure was spot-on. My bloodwork looked great. And my doctor hit me with the news, ‘well……you’re fit.’ I was tempted to get him to repeat it so I could record it,” he says. “At 41 years old, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in and I’m still going.”
Now Keiver runs and plays with his active two-year-old, and continues to enjoy running and cycling. As for what’s next, he has his sights set on running his first half marathon this summer. His success inspired his wife to drop 95 pounds herself; that support system is something Keiver believes can help others find success, too. As he puts it, “I’d tell anyone wanting to lose weight to find support.” (And maybe find a cool, supportive partner willing to go through the struggle with you, too.)
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