Tyler Paoletti has always loved science and math. At his day job as a machinist, he does tech support and sets up things like medical devices, but in his free time he loves conducting research on passion projects and diving deep into the minutiae of a topic. “If you ask me a question, if I don’t know the answer, I’ll research it and figure it out,” says Paoletti, who lives in Sellersville, Pennsylvania.
“His nickname growing up was Scientific Ty,” jokes Chris Schutte, who’s known Paoletti for 20 years and used to be roommates with him, but now lives next door.
Fortunately, for 32-year-old Paoletti, his love of science was instrumental in his weight-loss efforts, helping him lose more than 100 pounds by testing new techniques and diets and finding what worked best for him: his own personal science project.
“My entire life I’ve been overweight and never really thought about it,” says Paoletti. “It’s just who I was.”
Schutte thought the same thing: Tyler was always just Tyler. Even now that Paoletti’s gone from 270 pounds to 169 pounds and put on muscle from lifting weights, friends don’t realize how much weight he’s really lost until they see old pictures. When Schutte’s daughters see those old photos, they refer to him as “the old Uncle Ty” — a guy who is a far cry from the new Tyler.
Paoletti remembers a point, about eight or nine years ago, when he did lose a little weight, tried to eat “slightly” healthier and occasionally ran on the treadmill, but he got injured, lost momentum and stopped paying attention. He admits it might have continued like that, but remembers getting out of bed one day about a year ago and everything hurt. He could feel his body deteriorating. “This can’t be healthy,” he thought, “not at 31 years old.”
He pinpoints that day as the turning point on his weight-loss journey — the first day of his most important science experiment.
Once he made the decision to get healthier, it simply became a science and math problem. In his free time, Paoletti started doing all the research he could. He’d read up on different weight-loss theories and diets, visit forums and look at data. He found MyFitnessPal and loved the math element of tracking calories and macronutrients. The app turned the endeavor from an abstract, vague idea about losing weight into a concrete plan with numbers and graphs.
“I liked the idea that everyone is their own science project,” says Paoletti.
At first, he just tried to eat healthy here and there and get on the elliptical at the YMCA. During the summer of 2016, he rode bikes with Schutte and their friends, who all live near each other. But when he began tracking calories with MyFitnessPal, he was finally able to make a plan and things really got going.
“It was the details and numbers that really sparked his interest,” says Schutte.
To find the best approach for his body and lifestyle, Paoletti tried different diets, closely tracking the numbers and macronutrients. When he didn’t feel well after a few weeks, he looked at his history in MyFitnessPal and saw he hadn’t eaten red meat and was low in protein. A bonus of tracking everything, he says, was he started realizing how much he was eating and how big his portions were.
As Paoletti continued mountain biking with his friends, he lost a small amount of weight, “but I looked in the mirror and I was still the same person,” he says. After more research, he decided weight training would help him change more than just the number on the scale.
In December 2016, he started lifting — of course, only after more research on proper technique and standard lifts. He watched videos, learned about progressive overload and downloaded a training program. Because he was “luckily” undertrained and overweight, he says, he was able to see big gains right away. He had also found his passion and something to look forward to.
From there it was trial and error — more like a science project. Once he started lifting, he wanted to put on muscle and still lose weight, so he had to experiment with finding the right blend of nutrients, proteins, carbs and fat. For Paoletti, it wasn’t just about losing a set amount of pounds, but about being a different person. After his beginner gains, he hit a plateau, struggled with some injuries, adjusted his diet and did more research. Now he’s back in the gym, gaining more strength and losing even more weight.
“I’m someone who gives 110%, does all the research, looks at all the angles,” he says.
Paoletti is so happy with his success that he wants to share his story — and all that research. On October 15, he outlined it all in a Reddit post. Now that he’s lost 100 pounds, can squat 244 pounds and deadlift 340 pounds, he wants to help other people reach their goals and invites people to reach out to him. He’s changed his whole life and found new motivation, so it’s not surprising he constantly gets asked for the secret behind his success.
But the answer isn’t what people expect or want. According to Paoletti, there isn’t a secret. When people ask, he tells them he’ll help set them up calorie tracking and meal plans. The rest is up to them
“You can’t just sit around and wait for motivation,” he says. “You just have to do it.”