Veteran and former ‘heavy drinker’ on how he lost 105 pounds

Wellness Wins is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Nick Laustrup is 6’2” tall and currently weighs 175 pounds. In 2015, after gaining a significant amount of weight, he was inspired to change his life. This is the story of his weight-loss journey, as told to Yahoo Lifestyle.

The Turning Point

I started having problems with my weight towards the end of my senior year in high school. I had always participated in sports and worked out at the gym, but I had just gotten lazy and stopped trying. I joined the Army out of high school and was briefly whipped back into shape, but then went back to yo-yoing with my weight until my release where I maxed out.

I had always been a heavy drinker, but it really became a problem after my release from the military in 2014. I drank and ate my emotions, and eventually my marriage crumbled because of it. I went back to live with my parents and drank myself into oblivion. I started to get in fights with my parents because of my drinking and emotional problems. So I decided to move out and go to college.

One particular day, I remember watching interviews with successful people and trying to understand how they got to where they were. I felt like something was wrong with my life, but I couldn’t put a finger on it. The interviewer asked the actor whether he was more of a beach ball in the waves or a panther on the hunt; essentially, do you wait for life or do you go after the things you want?

That was the moment that it clicked. I felt such an intense surge of energy spurred on by the “Aha” moment that I couldn't sleep that night. I just laid in bed making decisions about every aspect of my life. I was going to fix it. I felt very empowered that night. My dream life was a matter of making the decision to pursue it with everything I had.

Nick Laustrup before his weight-loss journey. (Photo: Nick Laustrup)
Nick Laustrup before his weight-loss journey. (Photo: Nick Laustrup)

The Changes

Getting a grip on my body was the easiest goal I had set for myself, so I began immediately. I dove head first into research, devouring every Youtube video, online article, book, and piece of advice I could get my hands on. I tried everything: counting calories, measuring my food, cutting out fats, ketogenic dieting, intermittent fasting. Some things worked for me, others didn’t.

I kept doing the things that worked and ditched the things that didn’t. Diet is very individual-dependent. What works for me may not work for the next person. My body responds particularly well to low carb diets and tends to hold onto fat unless I really cut my calories low. I would eat low carb (under 100g a day) for two or three days and then eat normal carbs (around 300g). I like to eat until I’m completely full, so intermittent fasting was a good option for me. I try to keep my diet as clean as possible, not only for the health benefits but also because it makes this whole process easier. You can find a sizable amount of scientific evidence online in favor of fasting and eating low carb. It's important to experiment and find what works for you.

For my exercise routine, I try to keep it simple because I enjoy spending time outside of the gym. You can either work out hard or you can work out long, but you’re kidding yourself if you think you can do both. You will burn far more calories super-setting exercises for 45-60 minutes while taking very little rest breaks. You’ll never go wrong with high intensity. My particular workout routine is an upper/lower split several times a week.

At first, I felt terrible. The initial push of cutting out alcohol, sugar, and junk foods left me with cravings. Going to the gym hurt. I was so incredibly sore that I could barely move. My brain hurt from all the research I was doing. I wanted to quit. But I kept repeating my mantra in my moments of weakness: “Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.”

Then something incredible happened. The pain gave way to energy. I started feeling good. My workouts were getting easier, and I was able to push myself harder each time. My body stopped craving junk food. My sleep got better. It became effortless to continue after the initial wave of pain.

Laustrup before and after losing weight and getting in shape. (Photo: Nick Laustrup)
Laustrup before and after losing weight and getting in shape. (Photo: Nick Laustrup)

The After

After the weight was gone and I had put in the work, I felt on top of the world. All of my other goals seemed easy in comparison. My body was operating at peak levels. My hormones and emotions were running synergistically. With my mind clear, I could focus for as long as I needed to. I find it's easier to remain calm and positive in stressful situations. The good moments feel very good and the bad moments feel manageable.

Interestingly, when I achieved peak fitness levels, it became effortless to make friends and it seemed like people were more willing to acknowledge my viewpoints. Feeling good about yourself and what you’ve accomplished gives you higher self-esteem. Your increased confidence makes other people confident in you. When you say you’re going to do something, people will be more inclined to believe you. It's the law of attraction. Believe in yourself and others will, too.

I was surprised by how easy losing weight really is. It's just making sure you make the right choice one meal at a time a couple times a day for a few months in a row. Slip-ups are fine as long as they’re accommodated the following meal or with a decreased carb portion for a couple meals in a row.

Laustrup after losing 105 pounds. (Photo: Nick Laustrup)
Laustrup after losing 105 pounds. (Photo: Nick Laustrup)

The Maintenance

I still go hard in the gym mainly because it’s better than long-winded, slow workouts. The main focus now is squeezing out one more rep, one more set, and leaving nothing on the table. If you’re going to the gym, then go all the way.

As far as food goes, I’ve really dialed in my diet to foods that I enjoy and are also healthy. I eat as close to the Earth as possible and avoid processed foods like the plague. I never want to go back to that sick lifestyle brought on by my previous diet.

My daily routine consists of meditation, positive affirmations, fostering a growth mindset by taking account of things I’m grateful for, spending time on work and socializing. The process of getting in shape is much more than just physical; it's a journey of the soul to create a magnetic field of positivity. Losing weight and getting in shape is a byproduct of a much deeper and more fulfilling lifestyle.

The Struggles

I don’t really have any struggles in that sense of the word. I don’t feel that there are any barriers that are insurmountable. I have confidence that anything is achievable as long as you are able to break it down into reachable goals.

Advice

Stop wanting it and start doing it. The difference between you as you are now and you how you desire to be is choice. Make the decision to do it. You don’t need to be talked into it or shown the quantitative evidence because inside you already know. Finding excuses takes the same amount of effort as creating solutions. In one year you can be surrounded by an entire year of justifications or a year of progress. You make that choice every single day.

Follow Nick’s journey on Instagram @strupnick.

Need more inspiration? Read about our other wellness winners!

Wellness Wins is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative, 135-pound weight loss of her own.

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