How I lost weight and got healthy at 57

Steve Panayiotou

On the day after Christmas in 2017 I was left debilitated, and it wasn’t the first time I had gotten massively sick over the holidays. After indulging in lousy eating and way too much sugar, I would lay in bed for days feeling miserable. To recover, I loaded up on supplements and slowly got back on my feet. I’m grateful for those products, but they only put a Band-Aid on what my real issue was. Even though I’ve been athletic for most of my life and have sons who help keep me active, I had become a sloth. I wasn’t just thinking, “I’m getting old.” I was starting to accept it!

I’ve been a clinical nutritionist for the past 13 years. While focusing on others, I ignored the slippery slope called age, and that left me really feeling it these past few years. It became evident at our family Christmas ping-pong tournament. I became lovingly known as “frail old man” and the title started haunting me. When my son kept encouraging me to get off my butt and exercise, my response was, “Leave me alone, I’m getting old and I’m not going to be a world-class athlete anytime soon.” I was giving in to age and resigning myself to becoming older, fatter, and weaker because I didn’t have an effective solution to do anything about it. It was affecting me physiologically, emotionally, and relationally. I was nappy, lazy, grumpy, and so uncomfortable. I was a mess! Some of you may know the feeling.

If a person is drowning because they don’t know how to swim, telling him to swim harder doesn’t help. I, like many of you, have dieted most of my life, but I was so tired of starving myself and exercising while knowing it wouldn’t work long term. This cycle was never sustainable for me. Sure, I’d lose 15 pounds in a few months, but the weight would come right back on. At some point, my willpower failed me. I was drowning and didn’t know what to do about it.

For years I held seminars for health care practitioners to learn about micronutrients and how they affect the body, but, on February 11, 2018, I learned something new that would change my life. There is a world of difference between supporting your body with supplements and the profound effects of macronutrients in your diet on your metabolism.

The doctor presenting that day went over vitamins and supplements that were familiar territory to me, but then he explained about macronutrients—carbs, protein, and fat. He described how the wrong ratios of macronutrients can lead to the horrific effects of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, which in turn leads to many chronic debilitating diseases. I realized I was slowly dying from the inside as well as on the outside from hyperinsulinemia. This disease is characterized by chronically elevated insulin levels. It described me perfectly! The doctor suddenly got my undivided attention. I was all ears and was determined to retain all the information he presented. I knew I didn’t want to die the same early death as my father did at age 48. I needed a sustainable solution for my metabolic health and the encouragement not to continue doing what I had been doing.

I continued to read and research, and I discovered that positive metabolic health is associated with minimizing prolonged elevated insulin and optimizing fat metabolism. That discovery led to the following questions: “How do I manage insulin and reverse my metabolic syndrome to save my life while also improving its quality for the remaining time I have left?” Ultimately, “How do I finish my life strong?” From there I began a deep dive into studying metabolism and the possibilities of regaining some control of my metabolic health, permanently losing some fat through sustainable methods, and getting rid of the “frail old man” symptoms.

The night I came home from the seminar I had told my family, “When I get down to 10 percent body fat, we’ll do a Spartan race as a team!” Of course, I didn’t know what I was getting into. They sneered and mocked a bit, but I was totally serious. Little did I know that I had set a course that would change my metabolic status and start addressing all the “frail old man” symptoms.

Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore was one of the first books I read, and I started following doctors (some of which you’ll read about in this newsletter) who are having success with the high fat-low carb lifestyle. I read books on metabolism and watched all kinds of YouTube videos. Armed with this knowledge, I was able to break old habits and start new ones and hope of some level of control re-entered my life. I adjusted my fuel source—that is, my macronutrients—and my whole demeanor started changing. I started feeding my body nutrient dense foods and removed all the “fluff” that sneaks in alongside real food. As I shifted my fuel source to delicious bacon, eggs, cheese, avocados, meats, fish and some organ meats, I never went hungry or felt unsatisfied.

As I shifted my fuel source to delicious bacon, eggs, cheese, avocados, meats, fish and some organ meats, I never went hungry or felt unsatisfied.

Steve Panayiotou

My source of fuel went from sugar to fat as I became fat adapted. I started burning my own fat stores 24/7 by eating steak and eggs! I began having more energy, my sleep and snoring improved, and I became less grouchy. I found new hope that this old, former athlete didn’t have to prematurely give in to the natural decline of age. I had a plan and I was determined to get my life back, so I could finish my life strong instead of frail!

It was simple, but not easy.

Twelve months after that seminar I had transformed my garage into a gym, lost 25 percent of body fat—I dropped 40 pounds—and I was approaching the best fitness I’d experience since my early 20s! My wife also embraced the process with me and she has had just as much success as I have with this way of eating and exercise program. She is now much more metabolically healthy, and she looks amazing!

There was no magic bullet. I stuck to a simple plan that also fueled my determination to nourish my body, mind, and spirit, to fulfill what God has for me on earth. Although I had been a clinical nutritionist for more than a decade, I was so focused on micronutrients that I lost any understanding for the role of macronutrients. Now I’ve been so blessed by this transformation that I love to share it with others through my website, FinishingStrong.co. I believe we all need to have an understanding of how our metabolism works and the effects of macronutrients in our diets. If you have a need and want to do something about it, I will help you by pointing you to the right resources. I’m not the hero, or a doctor, but rather a guide who can help direct you. That’s what this is all about.

So, who is Finishing Strong for? Primarily guys like me who have allowed themselves to become complacent. Maybe they have given in to the temptation of getting old and feeling overweight and grumpy, becoming physically, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually unhealthy. I am by no means a perfect example of a man who has all these areas dialed in. However, what I do have is knowledge gained from my 13 years as a clinical nutritionist and from the experience of going through this myself. A number of people made a dramatic impact on my life and helped me off that slippery slope of personal decline as I was entering into the third-quarter season of my life. My intent is to share these people and the information they gave me, all in one spot so that someone else can also benefit from their knowledge and expertise. My hope in doing this is that you too can live out the rest of your years not in decline but thriving with more joy and purpose than ever!

Getting old doesn’t have to stink! Chronological age is inevitable, but we can slow the biological, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual decline by implementing the principles that you’ll find in my podcasts. I’ve compiled wisdom from people who have inspired me from different disciplines around the globe. I cover many topics: nutrition, exercise, money, relationships, the Christian world view, and other things throughout these podcasts. I’ve also developed a nutritional guide and do individual consultations to help men in this season of their lives. These resources are also meant as a legacy for my kids, family, and friends, because I value how each of these individuals have changed my life and contributed to my 57 years of life. You’ll agree with some of my ideas and not with others, depending on where you are and your worldview, and that’s OK! I hope they will at least give you something to think about and that you’ll gain inspiration to take control so you too can enjoy thriving during this time in your life! 

A native of southern California, Steve Panayiotou is a a graduate of UCLA (Sociology) and Western Seminary (M.Div). After working in technology sales, he became a clinical nutritionist in 2006 and also owns a consulting company in Los Angeles. A lifelong athlete, Steve is a huge sports junkie, especially baseball. He can be found at finishingstrong.co, on Twitter, and on Instagram.

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