Small steps led to big changes for Orrington man

A year ago, Kyle Killip bravely showed up for my high-intensity sports training class. He’d decided to take part in a “Lose 20 Pounds in 20 Months” challenge I was holding to celebrate the publication of my book.

Kyle’s life took a turn for the different after that class, which tended to cater to the figure and bodybuilding competitors at my gym. Kyle’s what I would call “cerebral.” I mean, he’s an engineer. He isn’t much of a talker (but when he is, he’s pretty darn funny). But something happened to him during the course of participating in that group – not only did his fitness level go through the roof, he started to become interested in what the competitors were doing.

10001316_10101532815676949_1265283491_nAnd it wasn’t long until Kyle, who is 29 years old and lives in Orrington, decided that maybe he wanted to compete, too. I’m really proud of what he’s done – he is both common-sense and meticulous about his data: he tracks every workout and every bite he eats. It’s paid off, big-time. He’s down almost 50 pounds from a year ago and he’s packed on a lot of muscle, so his net loss of fat is even more than the scale indicates.

He can tell his story much better than I can, though.

The Starting Point

A year ago I decided to stop being lazy and in denial about my diet. At 6’0”, I weighed 235 pounds, which isn’t terrible, but my confidence in my physical appearance was disappearing faster than the remaining notches on my belt. I was going to the gym three to four days a week, but my weight was still on the up-and-up … and up.

I drank beer by the pitcher, ate wings by the pound, and enjoyed the company candy counter by the hand full. I knew my eating habits were self-destructive and the guilt that came with it was no help to my self-esteem.

At some point last February I got disgusted with ignoring my declining body image and decided to stop pretending the extra weight was OK because I “lifted bro.” At this same time there was a challenge at my gym for people to lose 20 pounds in 2 months. I was confident I could lose at least 10 pounds just by cutting out the 4,000 calories I consumed at restaurants and bars on the weekends.

I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with too much change in my diet, but I also didn’t want to feel like I was starving by 10 a.m. every day. I first cut out the nachos, fried chicken fingers, alcohol, daily breakfast sandwiches, McDonalds, sugary drinks, and the other obvious no-no’s.

I avoided trendy diets like paleo, Atkins, or anything with weird rules. I kept it simple. I did what I had always known was healthy: fruit, veggies, lean meats, and cutting out the beer (switching from craft beer to light beer wasn’t going to cut it for the challenge). I still ate carbs, but I kept them to around 50 percent of my calories. I still had probably 40-60g of fat per day as well. I was not on a strict diet.

Once I got used to the lack of junk, I honed my daily diet to 2,000 calories a day. I based that number on the nutrition to simplify the math. If I was too hungry, I would add to my diet, and if I was not losing weight fast enough, I would subtract. Simple.


Wendy invited me to join her High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) class. HIIT involves a rapid succession of sprinting, burpees, lunges, jumping jacks, and a bunch of other exercises with my own names not suitable for print. I had never done a group exercise class before, but I also never lost 20 pounds in two months before either.

About 30 minutes into my first HIIT class I was sure I was a hidden-camera show where the joke was to invite an out-of-shape guy into a room of athletes and see how long he could keep up with them before giving up. I could only do about two-thirds of my first HIIT class before my body quit just shy of suffocating. I was sure that I was an intruding on the regulars, but everyone surprised me by being supportive and welcoming me back.

I did heavy lifting three to four days per week. Legs, chest, back, and arms were done on separate days. I started running two days per week as well. My routine was to run for a minute or two, then walk for a minute. This kept me from getting bored. My goal was to get in shape and be able to finish a full session of the group exercise class. As my fitness level improved I actually started to look forward to each HIIT class.

I lost 8 pounds in the first two weeks, 15 pounds in the first month, and 25 pounds by the end of the two-month challenge. I didn’t want to relapse after the challenge, so I immediately set another goal to run the Walter Hunt 3K race with my brother two months later. I stayed on that diet and exercise plan and had lost 30 pounds in three months and 40 pounds in four months. After the race I set the goal of being in the best shape of my life (so far) for my wedding and honeymoon which was two months away. I weighed 190 pounds just six months after taking the initial two-month challenge.

My next goal is to compete in my first natural body building competition in April. This is something that was unimaginable to me one year ago. If I had set out to become a bodybuilder in one year, I am certain I would have failed and given up such a daunting task. I was able to travel the path I did because I set smaller successive goals along the way.

My advice to others is to not spend another day being unhappy about something you have the power to change. Start that change today. You can do it with hard work, consistency and dedication.

Wendy Watkins

About Wendy Watkins

Wendy Watkins is a Bangor-based personal trainer, fitness coach, studio owner, and writer/editor. She is the author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Losing 20 Pounds in 2 Months. Visit her website at