• Fueled by unhealthy eating habits after moving away from home, Magnus Nordlander’s weight reached a peak of roughly 420 pounds.
• After changing his diet and committing to daily step goals, he took back control of his health and started to see dramatic results.
• Nordlander—who is 6’7″—now weighs 255 pounds, for a total of 155 pounds lost.
Like most people, Magnus Nordlander can’t say with any degree of certainty when he crossed the line into being obese—for most of his life, he’d simply been heavy. He does know that when he moved away from home to live on his own, things got worse. He’d go for a walk here and there, maybe an occasional jog to work up some momentum, but it wouldn’t take much—a bad cold, for instance—to throw him off. Nordlander, 32, who lives in Sweden and works as a digital consultant, says that he also struggled with depression. “It was a vicious cycle—I didn’t feel good about myself, and I used food for comfort, which made me gain weight, and which made me feel even worse,” he says.
That would lead to unhealthy eating—usually something calorie-dense. He rarely had the energy to cook “real” food, he says. For years, Nordlander avoided the doctor—and, by extension, avoided hearing the truth about his worsening physical condition. “I very likely had sleep apnea, hypertension, and depression,” he says. During that time, Nordlander estimates that his weight likely peaked around 420 pounds, but says it could have been 450. “I do know I topped out at a 65″ waist, though, which was in June 2017,” he says.
Looking back, he identifies three things as playing a major role in getting healthy: The first was joining Mensa, a nonprofit organization for people with extraordinarily high IQs. If he qualified, Nordlander decided, he would join. “It’s basically a social organization, with lots of events and gatherings. I was not a very social person, but going to these events and talking to and making friends with other members was a substantial boost to my overall happiness,” he says.
Second, in early January 2018, Nordlander read a couple of research papers on insulin and how it affects the body. “I’ve since learned those particular papers are pretty controversial, and don’t align very well with the scientific consensus, but at that time diabetes was a major fear of mine,” he says. “Basically my take from them was that eating less carbs could mean not getting diabetes. Also, I felt that eating less carbs wouldn’t be too much of a sacrifice; that it would be something that I could easily do.” Nordlander started by switching out pasta or rice for vegetables or a salad, for instance. “At that point I didn’t really believe that I could even lose weight, but that I at least could improve my health in other ways,” he says. Nordlander also started logging foods in order to control how many carbs he was eating. Early on, he says, he was pretty stringent, but after about a month or two, he began to slack off. “Despite that, I was still losing inches off my waist.”
Finally, Nordlander purchased an Apple Watch—his goal was to close the activity ring every day by going for walks. On work days, he’d walk an extra subway station, and on weekends he’d go for longer jaunts. He also purchased a scale—a choice he describes as “anxiety inducing”—and soon found out that it maxed out at 400 pounds, meaning he was still too heavy to use it. “I took it surprisingly well, figuring that since I was losing inches off my waist, it’d only be a matter of time before I could use it,” he says.
In June, he resumed logging his food, and started to do some interval running interspersed into his walks. Around the same time, he discovered Reddit’s “lose it” community—known as a subreddit—which helped him read up on other dietary principles, such as calorie restriction, and set his upper limit at 2,400 calories per day. Until then, he’d still been eating calorie-rich foods like cheese and charcuteries, but started to prioritize vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy. The pounds continued to drop.
By August, Nordlander was under 400 pounds, and able to weigh himself normally on the scale. Feeling motivated, he hit the gym—imagining he’d do mostly cardio, but also started to work in circuit training with weights. “I discovered that I enjoyed lifting a lot more than doing cardio. I started working with a personal trainer at the gym—initially, one session every other week, but we worked a lot on good form and he gave me a lot of good advice on exercises,” Nordlander says.
The momentum continued to build: Soon, he was going to the gym four days a week, then five, and now he’s up to near-daily gym session. “I do 5 lifting workouts per week—basically a push/pull/legs split—and I run twice a week, plus some range of motion exercises. I also upped my calories continuously with my increased activity.” In April, Nordlander says, he reached his goal weight of 255 pounds, for a total of 155 pounds lost. (Worth noting: He’s 6’7″) “Honestly, it feels fantastic. I’m not sweating all the time, I can walk up stairs without getting winded, I sleep a lot better, and I have a lot more energy. My blood pressure is now normal, and my resting heart rate is below 50 bpm,” he says.
That said, Nordlander still has goals he wants to pursue: He wants to keep increasing his bench press, he’d like to run a sub-25 5K. He still has some loose skin to deal with, and would like to achieve 12 percent bodyfat. But he’s also not in a hurry. “In general, the overarching goal—or perhaps the vision—is to look good, and be fit and happy,” he says. As for people looking to follow his lead? “Focus on sustainable lifestyle changes and routine,” he says. “If you have a lot of weight to lose, it’s going to take time.”