Healthy Holistic Living

19-Year-Old Boy Went from Being Obese to a Personal Trainer, This Is How He Did It


If you have a lot of weight to lose, it can feel intimidating to work with a personal trainer who does not understand your emotional and personal experience.

Luckily for you, 21-year-old Peter Nielsen of Denmark is one personal trainer who can – and will – understand your struggle. After all, he once weighed 250 lb himself, living a life of unhealthy foods and little exercise.

“I have been through a very big lifestyle change earlier in my life,” Peter admits on his website, Peter Nielsen Fitness (1, 4). “The happiness I have had, I would like to pass on to people. So let me help you to achieve the results you want!”


Here, we present Peter’s incredible weight loss journey – and tips on how to find just as relatable a personal trainer.

Peter’s Story: From 250 lbs to 171 lbs in 2 years

Though he is now a personal trainer and calisthenics enthusiast, Peter weighed 250 lbs and sported 40% body fat just 4 years ago, in 2013. Overweight at the age of 17, Peter did not just feel heavy – he also felt emotionally and mentally drained by his unhealthy dietary habits, lack of exercise, and negative body image.

“I had accepted that I would probably be overweight for the rest of my life,” he confesses (4).

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However, feeling trapped and helpless by a vicious cycle of fatigue and unhealthy eating also allowed him to realize that he had hit rock bottom – and that he could lead a happier, healthier life, if only he put in the effort to change himself. In his own words:


“I was tired of feeling unmotivated and unobtrusive in everyday life – it was now or never.” (1)

Over the next 2 years, Peter lost 77 lb of body fat by cleaning up his diet and sticking to a workout routine comprising largely of calisthenics. In this incredible time of change, Peter also managed to complete his one-and-a-half year of training as a soldier with Royal Danish Army, begin training as a personal fitness trainer, and star in the popular athletic-competition TV show, “Denmark’s Ninja Warrior”!

“[Healthier living] has given me the opportunity to get up every morning and be content with my mirror image,” Peter explains on his personal website (4). “It has given me the opportunity to become stronger both physically and mentally.”

Now, Peter works as a personal trainer both online and offline to help people lead healthier lives through his business, Peter Nielsen Fitness (PNF). Through PNF, Peter provides long-term, individualized exercise and/or dietary guidance for each client, whether to help them get healthy – or to prepare them for the arduous physical entrance exams for the Danish army.

How To Find A Good Personal Trainer


If you are looking for a good personal trainer but live nowhere near Peter, you should consider finding another skilled trainer who can relate to your personal health and weight struggles. Make sure you take the time to set up an initial consultation with them and get to know them on a personal level.

Since not every trainer will have gone through a similar journey as Peter, it’s important that they are someone who is not judgmental and understands that:

  1. People who are overweight are not lazy (6). While an inactive lifestyle could lead to weight gain, other causes, like thyroid complications, could also be the culprit (10). An ideal trainer should understand the various causes of obesity, as well as the stigma surrounding obesity, which tends to emotionally burden overweight people and cause them to internalize harmful, false stereotypes about themselves (7).
  2. People who are overweight are not stupid (6). People who struggle with weight generally know what they should eat or how much exercise they should get to live healthier (6). Thus, a personal trainer should focus on helping their clients to find the motivation to adhere to the health goals they already have in mind, rather than assuming that their client’s weight is the result of ignorance. 
  3. Obesity and weight issues are chronic conditions (6). People with obesity or long-term weight issues can regain body fat easily if they do not stick to a healthier lifestyle their whole lives. Personal trainers should thus encourage their clients to get holistically healthier in the long term, rather than focusing on short-term weight loss. Indeed, studies found that the tendency to judge self-worth in terms of weight, as well as difficulties experienced in achieving specific weight loss goals, were associated with weight regain (8).
  4. Weight loss can be dangerous (6). A sudden change in diet and/or exercise can negatively impact your mind and body, as in the case of dangerous “diet pills” (9) or extreme cardio exercises (if you are at risk of cardiovascular disease). Your personal trainer should take small steps to improving your lifestyle holistically – and always consult with health professionals to double-check their recommendations, if need be.
  5. Exercise or diet alone can be good enough (6). Living healthier is a life-long journey of self-improvement. A good personal trainer should take your needs, pacing, and priorities into account, even if it means starting small with exercise or dietary changes only. 

Whether or not they have a weight loss story of their own, your personal trainer should be knowledgeable, understanding, and flexible when it comes to prioritizing your fitness needs and personal history. After all, you have already begun living healthier by committing to personal training!

It’s as Peter notes – you only need “a helping hand to cross the finish line” (4).


  1. Nielsen, P. (2017). Homepage: Peter Nielsen Fitness. [online] Peter Nielsen Fitness. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].
  2. Nielsen, P. (2017). Police Training: Peter Nielsen Fitness. [online] Peter Nielsen Fitness. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].
  3. Nielsen, P. (2017). Online Training: Peter Nielsen Fitness. [online] Peter Nielsen Fitness. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].
  4. Nielsen, P. (2017). About: Peter Nielsen Fitness. [online] Peter Nielsen Fitness. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].
  5. Nielsen, P. (2017). From Obese To A Personal Trainer – My Calisthenics Journey. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].
  6. Young, M. (2017). Personal Trainers and Obesity: 5 Things You Should Know. [online] The PTDC. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].
  7. Puhl, R., Moss-Racusin, C., Schwartz, M. and Brownell, K. (2007). Weight stigmatization and bias reduction: perspectives of overweight and obese adults. Health Education Research, 23(2), pp.347-358.
  8. Byrne, S., Cooper, Z. and Fairburn, C. (2003). Weight maintenance and relapse in obesity: a qualitative study. International Journal of Obesity, 27(8), pp.955-962.
  9. University of Maryland Medical Center. (2017). Weight control and diet. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Oct. 2017].
  10. Laurberg, P., Knudsen, N., Andersen, S., Carlé, A., Pedersen, I. B., & Karmisholt, J. (2012). Thyroid Function and Obesity. European Thyroid Journal1(3), 159–167.

Image and Video Sources:

  1. Nielsen, P. (2017). From Obese To A Personal Trainer – My Calisthenics Journey. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].
  2. Nielsen, P. (2017). August 14. [Blog] _peternielsen. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].
  3. Nielsen, P. (2017). February 18. [Blog] _peternielsen. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].
  4. Nielsen, P. (2017). June 17. [Blog] _peternielsen. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].

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