A banker from Rheinhessen, a well-known wine region in central Germany, wakes up one morning in November and decides to lose weight. And he actually follows through -— 53 kg (117 lbs) in just 10 months. No joke. How did he do it? Get to know his ambitious plan, the beginnings, the difficulties, the aids and the successes.
On November 25, 2022, Kay von Dreger, 54, woke up and officially declared war on his excess weight. He decided to lose weight because the physical strain was getting to be too much. At that time, he weighed 151 kg (332 lbs), and his BMI was over 40—extremely obese. He also had high blood pressure, which was already being treated with medication. Kay had always been a big guy, but the amount of excess weight had accumulated gradually over the years, mainly due to snacking, stress eating, lack of exercise, and long working hours.
Kay knew it wouldn’t be easy. He didn’t believe in miracle diets; he was familiar with the yo-yo effect. He even briefly considered surgery until his wife encouraged him to give it a try on his own. But just giving it a try is not Kay’s style — he is an analyst and realist through and through. He describes himself as a nerd who is very interested in data and also challenges it.
So Kay went right into the thick of things on November 25. First, he created a severe calorie deficit by restricting his daily calorie intake. In practice, this meant no carbohydrates, lots of vegetables, lean protein, i.e. only poultry, and an absolute ban on snacking—and all this so close to Christmas! When asked how he managed to get through the holidays with this low-calorie meal plan, he said that a lot of it is a matter of the mind: “You have to really want it. Sure, I could have been tempted by the smell of freshly-baked Stollen. It was already like a kind of gluttony that you first have to get away from. Comparable to smoking.”
With a clear goal in mind, Kay proved to have an iron will. By the end of December, he had lost the first 15 kilos (33 lbs) — mostly water, as he could tell from his body composition readings on his Withings smart scale. This was also how he explained the rapidity of the weight loss. It was a fantastic first success that also caught the attention of those around him. In particular, acquaintances he hadn’t seen for a while were the first to notice that his face looked thinner.
To make further progress, Kay introduced more exercise into his daily routine from the end of December. Here, too, he didn’t do it halfway: He set himself a daily goal of 10,000 steps right away. He tried to walk these mainly during the course of the day. If he didn’t manage to make his rounds during his lunch break, he’d do it in the evening. This worked well at first, but the motivation decreased over time, because that many steps took about 1.5 hours to complete. Logging that time in the evening was tough, and he missed the time with his family. So he looked for a more efficient solution.
He was able to live out his motto “Measure, weigh, assess” in detail with the Withings app—the visual representation of his development and the detailed measurement data showed him exactly where he was. This made it easier for him to plan further steps and to target his efforts effectively.
Thanks to daily use of his smart scale, he noticed that in addition to losing water and fat mass, he was losing muscle mass as well.
So, in the summer of 2023, he put his step goal on pause and went to the gym twice a week for 20-minute treadmill sprints and lots of strength training. Kay’s gym had machines that adjusted to his weight and goals, which helped him be his own trainer.
He then relaxed his calorie restriction a bit which slowed his weight loss down. It was also clear to him that he couldn’t follow an extremely strict regimen forever. It was a successful starting shot that got the kilos rolling, and now it was a matter of readjusting so that his goal remained realistic and sustainable.
An important milestone for Kay was to get below 100 kg (220lbs), which he reached in June 2023. According to his own statement, this was “a special event that touched my soul.” To his great delight, he went down 8 shirt sizes, and he no longer had to buy his clothes in specialty shops that sold only big and tall sizes. The other day, he was sorting out some clothes and had a jacket in hand that he and his wife now easily fit into together. “Those are the kind of moments that make me proud of myself and motivate me to keep going.”
Looking back, Kay credits two factors for his weight loss: completely cutting out carbohydrates (except for sushi on occasion) and measuring his weight daily with his Withings smart scale, which also analyzed body composition.
Kay told us he didn’t buy a scale when he started this journey… in fact he owned a Withings smart scale for many years, and it was used by the whole family. But for the year that showed him great progress, his scale did play a starring role in Kay’s everyday life.
When asked how he feels and what has changed in his life, Kay reflects:
“When I weighed 150 kg, I couldn’t walk 9 km. Now I hop like a young deer, I’m much more agile and my blood values are in the positive range. Soon I’ll have an appointment with a cardiologist, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
What’s next for Kay? Currently, the scale shows 98 kg and he says he’s on a weight plateau, which annoys him a bit, he’d like to reach his goal a bit faster. He has lost a lot of weight on his face and all over his body, but the fat is holding on in the abdominal area. “I want to get to 80 kg and only when I can keep the weight off for two years, would I call it a success.”
At the same time, Kay also knows that once he reaches his goal, he can’t just stop and go back to old habits, because then the dreaded yo-yo effect can happen. It’s a change for good. However, Kay is positive about this. He is approaching 55 and wants to stay healthy and fit for his family for a very long time. To do this, he is happy to forgo overindulgence in empty calories. Which doesn’t mean he doesn’t indulge at all: “I love pistachio ice cream, and I haven’t given it up in the summer.”
And that’s a good thing: In life, realistic goals, ambition and effort are just as much a part of life as celebrating and enjoying it. It’s all in the balance!
We thank Kay for his story and wish him continued success on his health journey.