How I Got This Body: Choosing Consistency Over Speed, Eating a Keto Diet, and Starting a Fitness Instagram

Photographs courtesy of Louis Kim.

Who: Louis Kim, a 40-year-old real estate broker
Lives: Ballston
Pounds lost:
60 pounds
How long it took: 
Six months

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The video on the left is from 01/06/19 the video on the right is from 07/27/19. Both 106 lbs each after a workout. The workout I did on the right significantly harder than the one I did on the left. • • Could I be slimmer? • • I absolutely could have lost more weight during the months between January 6 and July 27. I could have been more disciplined, I could have eaten less, I could have done more cardio, I could have pushed myself more, and I could have also gained more weight too. All of that has passed. I can’t change the mistakes, and I can’t rest on the victories I’ve already stacked. Until I make prime health, and high performance an absolute standard in my life I can’t rest. The irony is when peak performance is the baseline there will only be forward movement and growth. • • Whatever happens in the future depends on what I do today. Whatever I did in the past is in the past. All I can control is this minute, this moment now. So what I can promise is a commitment to keep growing, and pushing myself. All else is a byproduct of my efforts. My expectation by December is to be in the 250 lbs range with a high degree of athleticism. This goal is necessary so that by July of next year I will be 185 lbs and primed for Mount Rainier. • • Whatever you are seeking, whatever you want, whatever you desire, whatever you want to change just take the steps to move forward. Stay Salty AF Friends. • • #75hard #75hardchallenge #saltyasian #saltyasians #salty8sians #salty8sian #saltyfam #staysaltyAF

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Turning point: I was tired of feeling tired. I’d ballooned back up to 363 pounds and started to have problems sitting up because my stomach was so large. It would push me backwards, so I’d have to slouch whenever I sat.

Exercise: I started working out with a trainer who I’d met at Washington Sports Club a long time ago. He and I had a rhythm that picked right back up like you do with old friends. Because he knew my abilities [from] the past, he didn’t give me a chance to quit. I started once a week with him, and still see him once a week.

In January, I started working [out] with one of the trainers at One Life Fitness. At the time, I had all these goals for strength, like squatting 400 pounds, deadlifting 500 pounds, and benching 300 pounds. Today I’m more concerned about work capacity and doing high-volume workouts to burn more calories and build endurance. My goal is to climb Mount Rainier next summer and Aconcagua the following fall.

A major fitness threshold I broke at One Life Fitness was benching 225 pounds for the first time in my life. I think the day we did it, I got up to 265 pounds for a one-rep max.

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Day 33 of 75. It starting to feel like a snowball. The days pass and they are stacking towards 75. I need to be careful I don’t get cocky and forget something. Considering how out of it I was last night I feel great this morning. Much better than the lull from a few days ago. Here’s the workout: • • •Superset •20 standing iso lateral row @100 lbs •8 dB croc row @60 lbs •12 incline bench press 95 up to 135 lbs •8 rounds • • •Superset •25 pulsing seated cable row 90 lbs •15 cable bicep curl 35 lbs •5 rounds • • •Superset •12 trx sled pull •16 sled pushes •40 full body crunches •4 rounds • • • My legs got a bit of a rest this morning, they will get pounded again this afternoon either with a weight vest walk or bike ride. I will also need to foam roll my quads because my right knee is still tight. Progress progress #progress. Stay Salty Friends. • • • #staysaltyaf #saltyasian #salty8sian #saltyfam #75hard #75hardchallenge

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Diet: I went strict Keto. The last three months, I slipped off; however, I’m back to strict again. I count macros more than calories, unless my weight plateaus. Today I focus very heavily on eating veggies and protein, along with eliminating anything with a sweet flavor profile.

How he stuck with it: That’s a loaded question. I don’t think anyone truly stays dogmatically committed or motivated to their routine. For me, I am focused on a constant forward momentum. So if I slip up, I don’t let it ruin my day. I focus on getting back on the saddle as quickly as possible, negating what just happened, and then building the momentum back. There’s so much inspiration porn on social media that motivation has to come from a deep desire to achieve something—it’s meaningless without action.

There is no such thing as a work, life, and fitness balance. You prioritize and then converge those areas where you can, like spending time with family outdoors on a hike or getting some cardio in on a bike while listening to a book you have to read. Those areas that don’t fit into your goals have to fall [lower] on your priority list and you get to them when you can.

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Day 36 of 75. This morning I wanted to change it up so I reached out to @mikesavitch who owns the @theconditioningroom in my office building. He was a coach at the #crossfit gym I used to go to, and a former Olympic bobsledder. In thinking about my goals I needed to consider longer term programming built around my goal of mountaineering. I’d heard he was a good coach, and I figured if he’s spent years of his life training for Olympic trials, and international competitions that he would understand a longer training arc especially when targeted towards a specific goal. In any case most of the session was an assessment where Mike really helped to correct my form in the squat, deadlift, press, kettlebell swings and even my lunges. He also spent a good chunk of time helping me with my shoulders. He’s got two torn labrums and has worked around the problem. • • • Afterwards I got on the bike rode down to Gravely Point where I did an EMOM of 5 burpees for 20+ minutes. It was actually every 90 seconds instead of minute. Then I got back on the bike and rode to Shirlington where I grabbed an omelette at @busboysandpoets. I’m sitting here now contemplating an Uber or a bike home, May have to Uber to move on to my next task. Either way I’ve had a good morning. I got work in, pushed myself at times however a chance to recover a bit while enjoying the outdoors. Stay Salty Friends. • • • #100to0 #75hard #75hardchallenge #saltyasian #saltyasians #saltyfam #staysaltyAF

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Favorite splurge: My splurge these days is a Fresca or a Coke Zero. I’ve mostly eliminated sweets from my diet when I’m out with friends or family. [If] everyone else is drinking, I’ll drink artificial sweetener. I can tell you I regret it every time because I feel more sore the next day. The only other thing I will do is have a milkshake if I’ve done something endurance-related for multiple hours.

Changes to his “invisible” health: I’m a Type 2 diabetic because of my weight. [Now], my blood sugar is naturally lower. I also sleep better.

How he felt then vs. how he feels now: When I started, I wanted it next week—I wanted to be 100 pounds lighter [immediately]. Today I am going to be happier if it takes me two years to lose another 100 pounds if it means that I can keep it off forever. Consistency trumps speed. More importantly, sustainability until I die is the only way I win. Doing the things that instill lifetime habits and strategies are all that matters.

Newfound body love: If I could just show my legs everywhere, I’d be one sexy bitch.

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Here’s the thing about trying…it’s the fucking bare minimum. Showing up and just trying is literally the difference between doing something and just talking about doing something. I told myself over 2 years ago hey I’ve lost weight before I’ll start tomorrow and crush it hard. That became a daily routine where one day rolled into another 2 years. I wake up and I’m heavier, angrier, and in THE worst shape of my life. I wasn’t even trying. So at some point when you’re tired enough and angry enough about how you feel go for a 5 minute walk around your block, or 3 flights up and down the stairs of your office don’t think about just do it. • • Make the commitment and when starting from zero do the fucking bare minimum to get started. One step, then build on that, nothing good ever came easy or quick. • • After you start “trying” then you have to start growing. Keep pushing yourself through those areas that are uncomfortable. It’s super cheesy however get “comfortable being uncomfortable” it’s the truth. Eventually you will dig at it like a scab and find yourself pushing towards growth. • Two three months ago box jumps seemed impossible, until one day I just started it. Then this motherfucker @alitrainshumans pushes me to do 24” box jumps. I do a few and now I can’t cycle them but I’m doing them for reps in workouts. Leads us to today. • • Ali’s been pushing me to hit 30” and of course today was going to be another day of attempting. I wanted to post this because I didn’t make it happen today. Attempt, after attempt, after attempt, I ended up missing. If you see the video I am physically capable of getting on the box. I get on the box two or three times and lose my balance. Physical isn’t the problem. I mentally am uncertain of doing it. The doubt I’m carrying in my head is preventing me from reaching what I am physically capable of doing. • What started as a single step forward of doing cardio for 20 minutes has me doing 150 squats and biking 15 miles in the same day. Just trying isn’t good enough anymore. My mind has to shift towards focused effort as part of a larger plan so I can make the adjustments to continue to grow. #75hard #saltyasian #saltyasians

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On who keeps him accountable: [Fitness coach] Ali Register—he’s my spirit animal and helped me get off my ass. He truly pushes me to overcome my limitations. We are working on jumping up to a 30-inch box. [And trainer] Joe Heilen—he’s helped me push my body in a way I had never [done before].

To those who want to make a change: [My Instagram page] sums it up. 

This interview has been edited and condensed. Readers should consult their doctors before making health and wellness decisions. 

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.