• Unhealthy eating and a sedentary lifestyle caused Palak Satia’s weight to peak at nearly 290 pounds.
• He committed to walking two miles a day and restricted his daily intake to 1700 calories.
• The result has been a dramatic, nearly 100-pound weight loss transformation.
Palak Setia remembers the exact moment when he realized his weight had become a problem. A few years ago, Setia’s parents wanted to throw a party for their 25th wedding anniversary. Setia, 26, a software engineer and DJ in San Jose, California, recalls that he needed to get a new suit—at the time, nothing fit.
“I went to DXL—a men’s store that sells suits for larger guys—and asked to try on a 2XL shirt,” he says. “The 2XL didn’t fit. So I asked for a 3XL. The 3XL didn’t fit. So I asked for a 4XL, and it kind of fit, but was loose in weird areas,” Setia says. That day, Setia walked out of the store with two things on his mind: First, he’d never felt more uncomfortable in his own body. Second, he was definitely going to return that overpriced shirt. It was time to make a change.
Setia had dealt with weight problems most of his life—something he attributes, in part, to not being taught portion control at an early age. “Indian mothers are very affectionate and want their children to never feel hungry,” he says. “I remember being chubby as a child, but going through college I really pushed into being obese. It only got worse when I graduated and started living on my own.”
After graduation, due to a combination of eating lots of unhealthy food and sitting at work all day, Setia’s weight climbed steadily, hitting a peak of 286 pounds in early 2017, not long after his 24th birthday. He felt the effects acutely: “I was always tired, I had started becoming more antisocial, and I was depressed because I didn’t feel comfortable in my own body. But I had no idea what to do about it,” he says.
Setia had tried to lose weight before, but he would often give up within a few weeks of starting. This time, however, he felt compelled to build strong habits that would last. Part of the problem in the past was that that he felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of weight loss advice available on the internet. So he started with just two simple rules: Eat less. Move more.
Every day after work, Setia set a goal to walk two miles and began restricting his calorie intake to just 1700 calories a day. “It was a simple start to getting used to exercise in my daily routine and counting my calorie intake,” he says. It didn’t take long for the scale to start moving in the right direction, and as a result, Setia’s motivation and confidence only grew exponentially. “There were just constant little non-scale victories that made me want to keep going,” he says.
Gradually, he was falling into a routine that he could sustain. With momentum now on his side, Setia went back to some of those diet and weight loss forums—the ones he’d initially found intimidating and unhelpful—and started to incorporate more advanced weight loss metrics into his regimen.
“I looked into macronutrients and what it meant to eat clean,” he says. “From there I ran with the typical 50/30/20 split for macros and continued to progress.” As a result, over a roughly two-year timespan Setia says he’s now lost about 96 pounds. After recently plateauing at around 215 pounds, Setia says he experimented with the keto diet, and lost an additional 20 pounds. “It’s an effective diet, but definitely a bit more effort initially if you’re not used to counting your macros and your electrolyte intake,” he says.
While his physical transformation has been gradual, the changes to his body have been dramatic enough that they continue to take people by surprise—even those who see him every day. “My roommates have random moments when they notice. I remember one day I was just standing in the living room and had recently dropped to a large shirt size,” he says. “One of them said, ‘Where did half of you go?'”
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