Three and a half years ago, Steven Schaafsma weighed over 600 pounds (272 kg).
For most of his adult life, Schaafsma’s weight had stayed around 375 pounds (170 kg), which is still rather large, but after he switched from an active job to a more sedentary one, the weight crept higher over a ten-year period.
“The problem,” he said, “was I got so big that I would say, ‘Oh, I’m going to try tomorrow.’” And with this mindset, tomorrow never came. Tomorrow turned into a month, then into six months, and into a year.
The struggles seemed endless. Walking stairs was a hassle, sitting in a booth at a restaurant or in a chair with arms was tough, and in the grocery store children would point and tell their mothers about how fat he was—to everyone’s embarrassment. “I didn’t really realize how big I was until I would see photos or stand next to someone,” he said. “There’s lots of denial when you’re that big.”
Suffering from water retention in his legs, Schaafsma discovered still worse fallout from overweight: the skin on his shins was becoming so thin it peeled like an onion at the slightest bump.
Prior to keto he tried an endless number of ways to lose weight but nothing ever worked. Things changed when he learned about the keto diet from Joe Rogan’s podcast, which eventually led him to Dr. Berg. He did his own research for about a month.
Keto was the first healthy eating habit Schaafsma was able to stick with. Before, he ate lots of sandwiches, pizza, and chips – essentially, a carbohydrate-based diet. “I wouldn’t eat a lot throughout the day,” he said. “But once I got home from work I would have way too much.”
“Keto has probably been the best thing I’ve ever done and it’s actually been pretty easy to do it,” he said. “After the keto flu, which was admittedly tough, I found it simple because I wasn’t hungry all the time. Plus, my grocery bill is way down.”
Since keto he’s been able to lose the weight and keep it off. After only a few months his sleeping improved and weight plummeted. In response to a few plateaus, Schaafsma was able to kick-start more weight loss by eating only whole foods and by adding intermittent fasting a year and a half ago. Now he does well on one meal a day: a big salad with arugula, spinach, kale and chard, with burgers, no bun and some cheese.
When Dr. Berg last caught up with Schaafsma in September of 2018, he was at 248 pounds (112 kg) despite gaining 18 pounds (8 kg) of muscle. He was lifting weights in the gym five days a week and reported being incredibly happy with the results so far.
Schaafsma still has excess skin and has spoken with a few plastic surgeons about fixing it. But he ultimately decided against going under the knife. “They tell me these would be five major surgeries costing $100,000 and I’d be out for six weeks,” he explained. “I’m at an age now where I’m happy and the skin is just a reminder to never get back there.” On a positive note: Dr. Berg assures that over time, intermittent fasting should help with some of this extra skin.
Now that he’s approaching his goal weight, Schaafsma urges others in a similar position to put the scale aside and measure their progress based on clothing sizes. “I’m down to an extra-large or 36 in pants and the whole shape of my body has changed,” he says. “In this last year, I don’t really care about the scale.”
His key to winning the weight-loss battle: “If you want really good success long term, stay simple.”