Keith Christensen: Obese to Fit

September 12, 2015

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Keith before and afterThis is not your typical EP podcast. Our guest is not your average hardcore triathlete nor ultrarunner. But this story is extremely touching and inspiring, and proof that hard work with the right approach pays off. In fact, our guest, Keith Christensen, is a long-time fan of Endurance Planet and credits the show for helping him learn to adopt a sustainable healthy, fit lifestyle and diet–essentially saving his life.

Keith was known as “Big Keith” most his life. He played sports in high school, and was well-liked. But he dealt with lots of inner demons at the same time (candidly discussed in this show), which manifested into high numbers on the scale. At 25 he broke his back and could not walk unassisted for a year. Keith went from a 235 lb man to almost 500 lbs–a size 32 pant to size 54–going from active woking in the steel industry to not active, depressed, jobless and so on. He is a husband and father, and knew he had to change his ways.

In 2012 he finally started making those changes beginning with quitting smoking. Then in 2013 his journey to permanent weight loss accelerated. No more yo-yo crash dieting or boring exercise programs. After being inspired from what he heard on EP, Keith decided to adopt the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) approach and participate in outdoor endurance exercise (running, hiking, dynamic strength training). It worked. It was sustainable. And he felt better than ever. The pounds started coming off, and Keith was able to regain his life and found new happiness unlike ever before.

Keith is now down more than 160 lbs and has run more than 4,000 miles in two years (including plenty of running and obstacle races). He’s also a running coach who helps marathoners run their first race or those coming back from injury. He is also a “go Ruck” coach helping local ex-military with PTSD by getting them out and active.

On this show you’ll hear:

As a non-endurance athlete (at the time) how did Keith get into and inspired by the Endurance Planet podcast?

On being “Big Keith”

How negative family relationships and negative self-worth manifested into obesity.

Why Keith says his weight gain was related to feeling like “a prisoner to my cyclical feelings of inadequacy and failure from childhood through adulthood.”

The psychology of someone who becomes obese from Keith’s experience: “Just like any problem, no matter how deep you think you bury it, it will eventually surface. For me, it surfaced on the scales, which I topped at 456 lbs January, 2013. I was slowly poisoning myself with the one thing I found comfort in, FOOD. I had tried before and, like most, I set a weight-loss goal but never really committed. When I failed to accomplish the goal, I ate to feel better.”

Weight loss mistakes Keith made in previous approaches. “In the past I had always imposed a weight-loss goal instead of a just-getting-healthy-and-fit goal.”

What was the catalyst to finally make permanent changes?

Baby steps: quitting smoking in 2012.
“What I took from that experience was that if my WHY was strong enough then I could find the willpower.”

Motivation and willpower.

His experience with high-carb low-fat eating and the problems with that for his weight loss goals.

Switching to LCHF – the pros, cons and results for someone trying to lose extreme weight. Why this way of eating worked when other approaches did not.

How Keith found success by educating himself on healthy living and healthy eating.

What new things did you bring into your diet?

His approach adopting a sustainable exercise routine?

How moderate hiking was so beneficial instead of needing to go inside a gym to suffer.

What does Keith eat? A day in the life of meals, snacks and exercise for Keith.

The need for a positive environment at home to achieve personal success.

The dynamic and relationship between Keith and his wife, who was also looking to lose weight.

How Keith’s life changed since beginning his journey to getting fit and healthy, and how he’s inspiring those around him.

Discussing protein needs.

Avoiding “skinny fat” syndrome.

Sharing food and recipe ideas.

Brands and specifics discussed on this show:

Thrive Market

Go Raw

Epic Bars

Julian Bakery Coconut Paleo Wraps

Paleo Wraps with Turmeric

Quest Nutrition

Mt. Capra Protein (Tawnee and EP’s pick) mtcapra.com – email us for a special discount code

Tawnee’s high-fat green smoothie recipe

Comments (4)

  • Thanks so much it was so great talking to you !!

  • sk says:

    I loved this interview so much. Thank you for doing it (both of you). So many good things in it and so similar to my own journey. EP helps with info and focus for sure. Loved it. Adds variety to the show and it was just all kinds of awesome!

  • Iris Posin says:

    So inspirational! You should be so proud! Keep up the great work! Your story is amazing.

  • These kinds of interviews are always great to listen to. Really inspiring.

    Regarding avocados in your smoothies, they’re a great low crab replacement for bananas when you want that smooth texture, but still really calorie dense. Since it’s getting to be that time of year, have you tried pumpkin purée in a smoothie? I’d expect replacing the avocado with a 1/2 cup of pumpkin in your high fat green smoothie would be great (though probably no longer qualify for “high fat”) since it already has ginger and cinnamon in it. Perhaps a few drops of stevia extract for sweetness. That’s 60 calories less than 1/2 an avocado with only 6-7 grams of non-fiber carbohydrate. Same texture, still quite low carb, and a little lighter on the stomach.

    And, you know, it is the season of pumpkin spice/flavored everything so it seems appropriate.


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