3 Fat-Loss Lessons From Man Who Lost 137 Pounds

  • Brian O'Keefe lost 137 pounds in seven months after moving to a remote village.
  • O'Keeffe told Insider there are three main weight-loss lessons he's learned.
  • After analyzing triggers, accepting discomfort and eating foods he likes, he succeeded, he said.

Brian O'Keeffe lost 137 pounds in seven months in 2022 after trying different diets and fitness fads for more than a decade that never worked, Insider previously reported.

He took an extreme approach – disappeared to a remote Spanish village, quit his job and cut all ties with his family – but he did it, albeit faster than anyone with a modest weight loss would advise .

In a TikTok video, he showed off the surprises he brought home to loved ones after coming home from seven months of quarantine, saying he decided to focus on being resilient and building discipline rather than the number on the scale.

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

Analyze your previous attempts

O'Keeffe said his past weight loss journeys have been “always one step forward, two steps back.”

But last year, he paused to analyze what prompted him to give up and resume his old ways.

“My triggers are food delivery and going out with family and friends,” O'Keeffe said. “My answer to that is? Build a bubble around me so those triggers don't get in the way.”

While he acknowledges that disappearing for seven months in a row isn't practical or sensible for most people, he encourages others to reflect on their previous weight-loss attempts and take steps to set themselves up for success.

Blocking food delivery apps on your phone could be one way to cut the temptation, O'Keeffe said. Research shows 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 have to find the ones that work for your own triggers.”

hug discomfort

O'Keeffe says it's important to challenge yourself in training and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

O'Keeffe sees exercise not as a way to burn calories, but as a way to build discipline and mental resilience by pushing yourself harder with each workout.

He said that even when he didn't feel like exercising, he forced himself to exercise and gradually got used to the uncomfortable feeling.

“The benefits of that spill over into other areas of your life, but from a weight loss standpoint, when I want to eat more, it helps me stay in a calorie deficit because now I've built in the cravings, the hunger. Mental resilience, and the desire to binge,” O'Keeffe said.

Losing weight is simple in theory—expending fewer calories than you expend, creating a calorie deficit—but it's not necessarily easy. A reduction of 250 to 500 calories per day is recommended for weight loss, but this varies from person to person.

“Seeking discomfort every day built the discipline that allowed me to hang on to my deficit for the seven months I needed to,” O'Keeffe said.

eat your favorite food

O'Keeffe found that if a diet eliminates all the foods you like, you won't be able to stick to it long-term—and nutritionists agree.

“You need to have the freedom to eat chocolate when you want, without feeling guilty about it,” he said. “There is no such thing as good or bad food – there is only good or bad food of each kind.”

O'Keeffe is “obsessed with food,” he said, and spends a lot of free time watching cooking shows.

“I find ways to enjoy all the foods I love by cooking chopped-up versions of the calories that can fit into my calorie deficit,” he says.

For example, O'Keeffe created a lighter version of the burger and fries fryer using chicken, low-fat cheese slices, sandwich strips instead of hamburgers, burger sauce made with nonfat yogurt instead of mayo, and air-dried fries.

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

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