A Man Suffering From A Decades-Long Battle Of Weight Gain And Loss Broke The Cycle By Moving To A Remote Village And Cutting Off Contact From Loved Ones
Ever felt like making a drastic change in life? Well, you can’t really get more drastic than packing up, leaving your family, quitting your job, and moving to a remote location to meet a weight goal.
But uprooting and drilling down into his goal is precisely what this incredible man did to beat a lifelong pattern of gain and loss.
The Real Secret To Celebrity Fitness
Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you might have noticed the abundance of good-looking, lean people splashed all over billboards, in movies, and on TV. These people weren’t born this way—it took them years of dedication and discipline to achieve their shapes.
There’s something about these models that hardly gets talked about during a discussion on health and weight loss—they had plenty of help. It’s not always easy for regular, non-celebrity people to get up and take on a fitness challenge, even if they want it so badly.
It’s No Easy Thing
For those without Hollywood-grade personal trainers, home gyms, or stay-at-home chefs, getting into shape—or at least the shape we’d like —can be seriously tough. With work, the temptations of modern convenience, and coping issues, some people find it near impossible to slim down.
Body positivity is a good thing, but everyone is different, and not everyone has the same ideal body image in mind. Being self-conscious about weight can seriously impact mental health as much as physical health. For Bryan O’Keeffe, his image had always been on his mind.
A Deeply Rooted Issue
Bryan wanted to share his journey to take stock of his achievements. But he also posted his story to show others that getting into shape takes a lot of effort and that failure is almost inevitable. But his most important goal might have been encouraging others not to give up on their path.
Weight issues ran deep in Bryan’s life. He talked about his childhood and when it started to become a problem for him. Sadly, it was on his mind from a young age.
The Right Situation
Bryan was born and grew up in Ireland. He was only slightly overweight as a child, but his time at boarding school helped him to slim down and countered his compulsive eating habits. He had lots of time to play sports and plenty of friends to play them with him.
Having fun while keeping active and healthy was perfect for him. He felt accomplished and fulfilled without the need to fill a hole in his life with calories. Bryan said that he lost the most weight at around 17.
Where Things Started To Go Wrong
It’s the modern trap: the demands of life get too much, and one of life’s greatest pleasures—food and drink—is only a phone call or an app swipe away. According to Bryan, his weakness was drinking and pizza in combination with little to no exercise.
His community of sports-playing-buddies was not around, and he couldn’t connect to any active people at college. As a result, he fell into a passive state of weight gain – a tricky habit that so many people struggle with today.
The Chain Of Good Habits Was Severed
To make matters worse, after he turned 19, the option of getting active by playing sports was taken out of his hands. He received a knee injury that he couldn’t recover from, at least not quickly enough for his new habit of binging to completely take over.
All the athleticism he had gained in his younger teenage years melted away. The pressure from school was mounting, and he felt himself being pulled under by a lack of self-control. He knew he wanted to improve, but he couldn’t.
The Start Of A Downward Spiral
Does this story sound familiar? Bryan realized that he needed to slim down, but with every promise came disappointment. Each vow to take up a healthier diet failed—and with it, feelings of guilt, shame, anger, and sadness. The only thing that made it better? Food and drink.
This cycle became more than just a “try and try again” situation, as each failure compounded into a snowball of depression. Willpower is one thing, but being trapped in a vicious downward spiral is quite another.
Bryan Hadn’t Given Up—Not Even Close
After earning his master’s degree, Bryan began his mission: to beat his depression and negative self-image. He tried everything—including having a medical balloon inserted into his stomach to prevent over-eating, hiring personal trainers, attending weight management sessions, and following special diets.
He got active and diligently counted his calories. He came so close to success, but as he said, it was one step forward and two steps back more often than not. Still, he achieved a great deal—even losing 70 lbs.
The Inevitable Fall
It’s a weight-loss story as old as time. The cost of such stringent constraints was high (and so was the temptation to fall back into old patterns). One good night with friends or family at a restaurant or bar sent Bryan back into craving his old comforts—comforts that were all too readily available.
All the gains he made while on a diet or program fell away. The stricter the diet or program, the harder he fell back into bad habits. He felt a loss of control.
A Tale Of Two Bryans
There were almost two Bryans—one that had an overpowering will towards eating and drinking and another that yearned for activity, challenge, and a healthy lifestyle. Each day he stepped into one of these personalities, each desperate to under the other’s work.
Tennis, cycling, and traveling were all things that he did during this time. Unfortunately, his eating habits were keeping pace, and his weight fluctuated wildly. The pendulum kept swinging back and forth, going from extreme effort to extreme guilt and disappointment.
The Drastic Action He Took To Improve
It may seem clear to anyone looking from the outside that Bryan’s problems were both internal and external. He had too much easy access to the object of his cravings—junk food. After the lockdown in 2020, he moved to Mallorca to try and get himself a clean break.
At 330 lbs, the plan was to find a new environment—and by doing so, find a new, healthier routine. Unfortunately, after making some progress, the world went back into lockdown, and for the next nine months, he went back to 338 lbs.
Even More Drastic Action
Bryan took stock of the last nine months. His stress levels were lower, thanks to the new environment. The biggest problem was that he was still within arm’s reach of temptation. He still had his phone, and he was still able to order unhealthy food from an online delivery app.
Unfortunately, for those of us in the modern world, cell phones can’t simply be left alone. We use them for work, and, without them, we wouldn’t be able to pay the bills. So Bryan looked at the problem another way.
Putting The Plan Into Motion
Determined that his prior failure would be the last, Bryan formed an extreme plan in his mind. Although he was away from his friends and family at home in Ireland, he was still not far enough away from the ability to order take-out food that held him in such a state of coming and going.
He had moved to Mallorca, where his brother had been living and working as a doctor, to aid his transformation. But he felt this wasn’t far enough.
Life In The Fishing Village
Reasoning that his social life revolved around restaurants and bars, Bryan played a dangerous move and cut it all off to move to a small fishing village named Cala Figuera. In the village, the only place to get food in the winter was a single shop!
He even quit his job and made weight loss his only responsibility. Thankfully, he had saved up some money to help him get by. He would still need to eat right—after all, you can’t just get into better shape by eating nothing.
The Secret Transformation
By March, Bryan had lost an enormous amount of weight—over 50 lbs—in a very short amount of time. He was working full time at his new exercise regime, even completing a sprint triathlon. His faithful companion was there to see him through it, but drastically, he was his only company.
One of the most extreme things he did was cut himself off completely from all his friends and family. While he was away, he had no contact with them. He wanted to resurface in the condition of his choice.
The Secret To His Success
Bryan took three months away from his loved ones while he worked on himself this way. He began the 90 days by walking his dog. Then, he started lifting weights while watching what he was eating. That soon became running and stretching. Three days of swimming a week soon followed.
All in all, Bryan was working out about five hours a day. He began his training slowly, and since he had no job to worry about, he had to worry about his stress-relieving addiction a little less.
It Wasn’t Ever Easy
While his family supported his three-month plan, they became concerned once he told them that he would not be giving up once the 90 days were up. He planned to continue and even take a more rigorous approach to his workouts. To this, he received some pushback.
He saw results but felt he hadn’t seen enough yet. He wanted to finish what he had set out to do. He recorded a video diary to bring out his thoughts while he worked in solitude.
Five Hours Of Movement A Day
Whether the weather was good or bad, whether he was tired or not, whether he had sustained any injuries, or if he was good to go, Bryan trained. He worked around his injuries, ignored his tiredness, and disregarded the weather. There was no one around about it, anyway.
He was overtraining—a dangerous thing to do, especially for those looking to shape up—but he said he needed to push himself “to the limit.” While it was a miracle that he didn’t seriously hurt himself, his attitude was impressive.
His Approach To Exercise And Nutrition
Having tried many other approaches over the last decade, Bryan had some idea of what he was doing, at least nutritionally. He aimed to keep below 2,200 calories a day, using an app called MyFitnessPal to do it. Additionally, Bryan went on an intermittent fasting diet.
He would be allowed to eat eight hours a day, but outside this time, he had to let his stomach rest. As well as giving his gut some time off, it also prevented him from “fog eating” or snacking.
He Kept This Image As His Phone’s Background
While he worked away, he had this image on his phone at all times as a background to remind him of why he was working so hard every day. Bryan looked happy in the picture, but it wasn’t the body he wanted.
He was tempted often. After losing around 56 pounds, he recalled that he craved a McDonald’s burger like nothing before. But seeing that the nearest restaurant was an hour away, he dismissed the thought and returned to pulling his reps.
After Much Sacrifice And Pain—The Result
Three months after his original deadline, this is what Bryan looked like in the mirror. After all the rigorous training and dieting, he had finally met his goal. Rather than celebrate over drinks, Bryan ran half a marathon around his home in victory.
After finally trimming down to under 95 stone, he finally had a body he felt comfortable inhabiting. All that work in the dusty old gym in the small fishing village had finally paid off. But that didn’t mean that he could relax.
Returning Home Victorious
One-third lighter than he had been before the start of the year, Bryan snapped up a ticket back home to Ireland. He hadn’t spoken to his loved ones in around six months. He had told them he would be gone for three, but he always knew it would take much longer.
He told them he would be gone for three because he thought that would make it easier for them so that they wouldn’t worry quite so much at his disappearance. With his transformation, he was ready to return.
Shocking His Sister
His family hadn’t seen him in more than half a year. This is what happened when Bryan knocked on his sister’s door. The look on her face is priceless. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. He had completely changed his appearance.
Bryan reconnected with everybody he had left behind before heading out on his fitness journey. Although he had cut off connections with his family, he did call his father twice a week. He had advanced Alzheimer’s disease, so he felt it necessary to keep calling.
Spot The Difference
After another six months of meeting up with old friends, family, and acquaintances, Bryan thought it would be appropriate to recreate some of the photos that motivated him to transform himself in the first place with the people in his life that he cared about.
Here, he is posing for a Christmas photo with basically the same outfit he had been wearing a year earlier. The lighting has changed somewhat, but no amount of lighting tricks could pull off what hours of grit and discipline did for Bryan in exile.
Had He Been Happy Out There?
During his first few months out in the fishing village, his sister asked him, “Are you happy?” Bryan thought on it for a moment and replied, “Yes.” He recalled that he was lying at the time. He was quite unhappy and tired. He craved all of his old void fillers.
But he was working towards something meaningful. While he might not have been happy during those grueling months, he was fulfilled. As he started to see progress—and it was slow progress—those hard days got a little easier.
Keeping The Momentum Going
After so long, his achievements filled the void. He was pushing himself, but his newfound energy and vitality filled the gap where junk food and sugary drinks would do it before. He felt free and confident, as though he were doing the right thing. Eventually, he didn’t even want to quit.
Bryan’s fitness habits persisted long after he returned from his self-imposed exile. On his accomplishments, he said, “I was achieving something that I’d wanted more than anything for 15 years.”
All The Small Joys
He also enjoyed the small benefits of losing so much weight. He described the moment he realized he could sit in an airplane seat without discomfort as “like swimming.” He said, “I used to be locked in—I’d leave with a seatbelt mark.”
His sister signed him up on the dating app, Bumble. He was taken aback by the amount of attention it brought him. He has since gotten into a relationship with a woman living on the Spanish island of Tenerife. The two live together in Palma.
Slimming Down No Easy Thing
Going from 338 pounds and losing 137 in just over half a year is inspirational, but it was also very risky. Bryan had found the willpower and environment that worked for him, but he was playing a dangerous game by overtraining. Nonetheless, he came out of it on top.
Most people looking to change their body shape find that their regime quickly burns them out—whether it’s completely cutting out sources of joy or overworking themselves in a rush to change. Everyone gets healthy at a different pace.
Getting Into The Right Environment
For Bryan, changing his environment was the key to success. He was living in what some experts consider to be an “obesogenic environment.” In other words, his world was full of easy temptations and constant reminders of void-filling, unhealthy foods. It was his barrier to good health.
Bryan says he wouldn’t recommend his methods to everyone. However, many personal trainers will agree that a drastic weight loss for one to three months can do wonders for motivation. Afterward (to prevent relapse), dieters should move to a more sustainable lifestyle.
He’s Still At It—But At A More Sustainable Level
Much of Bryan’s success can be attributed to building mental resilience against his cravings and building the discipline needed to endure five hours of exercise daily. Bryan also checked in with health experts. The recommended weight loss rate is generally 1% of body fat every two weeks.
He got away with losing more because he was carrying more weight. He was also eating right and pushing himself, not completely overdoing it. After seven months, he transitioned to a sustainable diet and exercise plan.
Looking Forward To The Future
Bryan won fame for his efforts, but more importantly, he is still happy and fulfilled. He posted a viral Tik Tok video about his story. He now works to inspire others to start their long, hard journeys and to help others not give up on their dreams.
His success is jaw-dropping. He’s sure that the weight will stay off this time: not because it would take a long time to put it back on, but because he’s cultivated health, resilience, and happiness in his life.