3 Fat Loss Lessons From Man Who Lost 137 Pounds

Bryan O’Keeffe before and after weight loss.
Bryan O’Keeffe

  • Bryan O’Keeffe lost 137 pounds in seven months by moving to a remote village.
  • O’Keeffe told Insider that he learned three main lessons about fat loss.
  • He said he succeeded after analyzing triggers, embracing discomfort and eating the foods he loves.

Bryan O’Keeffe lost 137 pounds in seven months in 2022, as Insider previously reported, after over a decade of trying different diets and exercise fads that never worked.

He took a drastic approach—disappearing to a remote Spanish village, quitting his job, and cutting off all contact with his family—but he did it, albeit more quickly than is advisable for others with a modest amount of weight to lose.

In a TikTok video showing him surprising loved ones after returning home from self-isolation for seven months, he said he decided to focus on being mentally tough and building discipline rather than the number on the scale.

O’Keeffe told Insider that he learned three main lessons that were key to his weight loss.

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Analyze your previous attempts

O’Keeffe said his previous weight loss journeys were “always one step forward, two steps back.”

Last year, however, he paused to analyze what had made him give up and go back to his old ways.

“My triggers were food delivery and nights out with family and friends,” O’Keeffe said. “My response to this? Build a bubble around myself so these triggers can’t get in the way.”

While he accepts that disappearing for seven months isn’t practical or sensible for most people, he encouraged others to reflect on their previous attempts to lose weight and put measures in place to succeed.

Blocking takeaway apps on your phone could be one way to remove temptation, O’Keeffe suggested. Research suggests that easy access to high-calorie foods can hinder a person’s efforts to manage their weight.

“There’s always a solution,” he said. “You just need to find the ones that work for your own triggers.”

Embrace discomfort

Challenging yourself in the workouts and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone was important, O’Keeffe said.

Instead of seeing exercise as a way to burn calories, O’Keeffe used it as a way to build discipline and mental resilience by pushing herself harder in each workout.

He pushed himself to work out even when he didn’t want to, gradually becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable, he said.

“The benefits of this will spill over into other areas of your life, but from a weight loss perspective it helped me maintain my calorie deficit when I wanted to eat more because now I had built the mental resilience to deal with cravings, hunger, and the desire about to binge,” O’Keeffe said.

Weight loss is simple in theory – create a caloric deficit by consuming less energy than you use – but it is not necessarily easy. A deficit of 250-500 calories per day is recommended for weight loss, but this will vary from person to person.

“Seeking discomfort every day built the discipline that put me in a position to follow my deficit for the seven months I needed,” O’Keeffe said.

Eat food you love

If a diet eliminates all the foods you like, you won’t be able to stick to it long-term, O’Keeffe found — and dietitians agree.

“You have to have the freedom to have a chocolate bar when it’s necessary and not feel guilty about it,” he said. “There are no good and bad foods. Only good and bad amounts of each food.”

O’Keeffe is “crazy about food,” he said, and spends much of his free time watching cooking shows.

“I found ways to enjoy all the foods I loved by making calorie-hacked versions that could fit my calorie deficit,” he said.

For example, O’Keeffe makes a lighter version of a burger and fries using chicken, low-fat cheese slices, sandwiches instead of a burger bun, burger sauce made with fat-free yogurt instead of mayonnaise, and fries cooked in the air-fryer.

“I applied these calorie-hacking techniques to every meal I ate, and I never felt like I was on a diet my entire trip,” he said.

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