At 6’7”, Deandre Upshaw has a hard time hiding in the background of any room — and weighing 180 kilograms made it nearly impossible.
Thankfully, the 30-year-old has always loved the spotlight — just not the weight. So one morning, he woke up and decided it was time to get fit.
“I’ve always been sort of a gigantic,” Upshaw told MensHealth.com. “I think I was 5’11’’ in the eighth grade.”
As a kid, Upshaw used that height to his advantage, playing football and taking centre stage in his school’s theatre program. But in college, his size started to take a different turn.
“College happens, and you gain weight, you lose weight, you gain weight,” he recalled. A few years after graduation, Upshaw met his now-fiancé, Stuart — and he gained even more weight as the pair wined and dined their way to falling in love.
Upshaw felt okay about the way he looked, but he knew that carrying those extra pounds came with certain health risks. In 2010, he made his first attempt at losing weight, but he did it in a way that he describes as a huge mistake.
By restricting his eating and doing P90x, “I went hardcore all in — threw myself into it — and I think I lost 25 kilograms,” Upshaw explained. When he finished the program he thought, “Alright, I’m done. I finally achieved my goal.”
The problem? He thought that once he lost 25 kilograms, his journey was over. He stopped working out as much, and became more relaxed with his diet. As any yo-yo dieter can guess, the weight came back — and then some.
It took a few more years before Upshaw recommitted himself to losing weight.
“A couple of years passed, and my weight went up and down and then kind of settled into an area,” he said. Then, one morning, “I literally woke up and I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll just try this today.’”
Instead of falling for gimmicks or trying hyper-specific fitness routines and diet tricks, Upshaw did some research and talked to his doctor to find out what would work best for him. He ended up undertaking a simple weight loss plan: Calories in, calories out.
“The coolest thing about calories in, calories out is that it was math,” he said. Upshaw spent the first few days figuring out his personal caloric allotment, which worked out to about 3,000 calories a day, thanks to his height. He downloaded the MyFitnessPal app and started tracking his calories — not any macronutrients, not any workouts, just calories.
He lost seven pounds in the first week.
Next, he popped on a Fitbit and starting walking, ensuring he hit 10,000 steps a day.
“I would play these games with myself where I would always take the longest route to get anywhere. I’d park in the farthest parking spot or at the top of the parking garage,” he said. “I told myself that I wasn’t going to take any elevators and escalators.”
By doing those two things alone, he lost 35 kilograms in five months. Once he started thinking about food as fuel for the body — and adding in a workout routine on top of his 10,000 steps a day — he lost even more. In fact, in exactly one year, Upshaw said he dropped 70 kilograms.
Behold the transformation for yourself:
“If I were to look back at that year and figure out exactly what the recipe was for me, I think it was 70 percent calorie watching and counting, and 30 percent exercise.”
Part of his success came down to compartmentalising his weight loss in small, achievable goals.
“I figure if I have a quarterly review with my boss and my company every three months, why am I not doing the same thing with my goals?” he said of his process. He regularly checked in to make sure his plan was working for him, and calibrating it as needed.
Eventually, Upshaw started dedicating himself to building muscle mass again. He turned those daily walks into runs, joined a gym, and began lifting weights and .
“I discovered that I enjoy nothing more than dancing to hip hop and pop. And that’s what I did for 2017,” Upshaw said.
As for what he hopes other guys learn from his transformation?
When it comes to weight loss, “there is no secret pill, potion, or magic trick,” Upshaw said. It takes work, and it isn’t a quick journey.
“I didn’t lose 70 kilograms once,” he said. “I lost one pound 150 times.”
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health