Courtesy Matt SchiffmanMatt Schiffman has worked out for as long as he can remember. A 36-year-old resident of Miami and vice president of Brand Management for RSP Nutrition, Schiffman says sports always played an integral part in his life. But despite playing multiple team sports during childhood and staying active throughout his life, Schiffman gained weight steadily. The pounds kept piling on until he finally found a way to stop the gain and turn it around—thanks to the keto diet.
At the start of high school Schiffman weighed 210 pounds; by the senior year he topped out at 240. Freshman year in college brought him another 30-pound gain. Though weight can be a benefit when you’re an offensive lineman, he struggled with how the extra weight made him feel. “I graduated college in 2005 at 300 pounds, and everything hurt. I was 21, and my ankles, knees, and back were in constant pain.”
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After college, he had less time for working out, and he spent most of the next decade yo-yo dieting. “I was eating the typical American diet and believed, like most people, that losing weight is about will power. I thought if I ate less and moved more, I’d lose—but that didn’t work.” Schiffman says he would crash diet before special events and trips, which led to a cycle of losing and regaining the same 50 pounds. It wasn’t until New Years Day, 2013, that something shifted. At the time, he was working as an investment banker and living in New York. Schiffman spent the day looking at photos of himself from a party the night before. “I was fat, sweaty, and had a double chin. I didn’t want to live like that anymore. That was the breaking point for me. I began educating myself about exercise and nutritional science.” After reading a book about the keto diet—a plan that focuses on low-carbohydrate, high-fat, moderate-protein foods—Schiffman decided to give it a try. “It was the first time I ever considered that it wasn’t about the quantity of food we eat, but the quality.”
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Schiffman found that his body really responded to the shift that keto required. “The key to my weight loss has been consistency. I consistently eat a low-carb diet. Small daily victories are massively important. Decisions snowball—today you skip a soda, and tomorrow you’ll skip the soda and the chips you would normally eat. Celebrate those victories.”
At first, he focused on following a keto eating plan; then he shifted to focus on eating clean—all organic whole foods. It’s been a journey of tweaking and changing his diet to fit his individual needs, he says, and his efforts have paid off: Schiffman’s managed to shed 100 pounds. Two years ago, he and his wife moved to Miami, where he began working for a nutrition company—and that’s just one example of the kinds of changes his weight loss has made in his life. What’s more: “I’m no longer in pain. I feel better at 36 than I did at 21. I look and feel better. I feel mentally sharper, too, which is something I never expected.”
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Schiffman continues to work out regularly, though he cautions others from counting on exercise alone to lose weight. “It’s 90 percent diet. I was at my heaviest when I was working out the most. At the end of the day, if you are eating whole foods, you’re almost there.” Schiffman says YouTube is where he learned to cook healthy meals. “I didn’t know how to cut an onion when I graduated from college—it was that bad,” he recalls. His favorite keto-friendly foods are nuts and protein powder, both are nutrient dense and readily available at most markets. His words of advice for those hoping to follow in his footsteps? “Read labels and learn what’s in your food. Bring your own food to work, so you don’t set yourself up for failure. Surround yourself with supportive people. Technology makes it easier than ever to find like-minded people to hold you accountable.”