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'I told myself I had to say goodbye to Fat Neil and never look back': How this man shed 135 pounds

Wellness Wins is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Neil James is 6’2” tall and currently weighs 185 pounds. In 2017, after experiencing depression because of his weight, he became determined to turn his life around. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.

Neil James’s weight-loss progression. (Photos courtesy of Neil James)

The Turning Point

I first realized how overweight I was at the end of 2016. Looking in the mirror and seeing the direction my lifestyle choices were taking me made me want to change. Being overweight was constantly on my mind. I was unhealthy, starting to get a lot of pains and suffering from depression. I knew I couldn’t go on that way and had to turn my life around.

At the beginning of 2017, I was battling depression and just overall not loving life. I told myself I had to say goodbye to “Fat Neil” and never look back. I began working out daily to accomplish my goal.

Neil James then and now. (Photos courtesy of Neil James)

The changes

My first step was exercise. I do all my workouts at home — walking every day on a treadmill and lifting weights. I kept eating what I thought was healthy and tried to control my portion sizes. At the beginning, I never really tracked calories or used a specific plan. I just started working out. But over time, as I started to lose weight, I increased my workout regimen and added new exercises to challenge myself.

For nine months, I worked out daily and got down to 250 pounds. I got stuck there for a few months, though, and that’s when a friend recommended the ketogenic diet to me. I began to research it, and it made a lot of sense to me, so I cut the carbs and sugar out of my diet and hit my goal of 200 pounds by the end of 2017. I love the effects of keto. It increased my energy, I had better focus at work and my appetite went down. Then I transitioned to intermittent fasting with keto. They work really well together.

I started to feel great, not only physically but mentally as well. Friends and family noticed my progress, and the community on Instagram was very supportive. And seeing the changes made me want to continue getting better. Dedication is required to get results, and I wasn’t going to give up on myself when I had come so far.

Neil James before and after. (Photos courtesy of Neil James)

The after

I feel healthier and more confident in just about everything I do. A lot of my aches and pains are gone. Overall, I am just much happier every day. Keto changed my life. It goes against all the standard diet ideas. You can eat fat and get skinny? Yeah, it’s real. I would not be where I am today if I did not adopt this way of eating, and I plan on staying on it indefinitely.

It’s satisfying to look back and see how far I have come and how the hard work has paid off. It’s also very humbling to inspire people around you to take action and start their own journey to becoming healthier, better versions of themselves.

Neil James lost weight and got in shape with daily workouts and changes to his diet. (Photos courtesy of Neil James)

The maintenance

Today I still follow a keto diet. I eat lots of greens and foods high in healthy fats like avocado, pecans, cheeses and meats. And of course, I love bacon.

I do intermittent fasting, too, and consume my calories in one meal. I have a large dinner every night and fast until dinner the next day. It works really well for me and my schedule. I work out 5 to 7 days a week, doing a mix of cardio and weight training.

Neil James’s body transformation. (Photo courtesy of Neil James)

The struggles

Managing time to work out as much as I’d like is really difficult. Sometimes I have cravings for stuff I miss like rice or some fancy Italian breads. Every few months I’ll have a cheat, like some sushi with rice. But there are other things to fill those voids that are just as good.

Neil James, then and now, says he’s much happier with his new physique. (Photo courtesy of Neil James)


Every day is a new day. Take that first step toward a better you. I won’t lie and say it’s going to be easy or fun all the time, but you’re the only one who can change you. Give 100 percent and you will get 100 percent results!

Follow Neil’s journey on Instagram.

Need more inspiration? Read about our other wellness winners!

Wellness Wins is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative, 135-pound weight loss of her own.

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