I spoke at a business breakfast a couple of weeks ago at a wonderful place called ‘The Way’in Wolverhampton. It's part of the National Youth Zone network and it has a big and positive impact on young people in the town. Our friends from the local newspaper were at the event and wrote an article afterwards. They might have misunderstood what I said a little bit, but that's not the point of making the reference. When the article appeared, they used a picture of me from last year and in the caption they called me "fun loving". This made me smile and I know they didn't mean it like this but in my head, "fun loving" also refers to my size as well as my demeanour. In the picture I am a bit larger than I am right now.
I’ve lost 7 stones (99 pounds or 45kg) in the past 12 months. You definitely have to start in a bad place to hit those kind of numbers. I could give you endless statistics but here are just two: Body Fat Percentage from 34.7% to 16.01% and BMI from 38.4 to 24.7. That BMI reading is the first time in my life including my childhood that I have had a reading under 25, which is the cut off for normal. You can read here how and why I made the changes that I think have probably saved my life and have made me a better husband, father, boss, and co-worker. I’m so much happier and have regained energy that I didn’t realise I had. Here are a few insights that I’ve come to understand in the past 12 months.
Find your way
If you go back and read my post from October please don’t be fooled into thinking what I did will work for you. I tried a lot of lifestyle changes over the years and according to my Nike app had run over 7 thousand miles before I started to lose the weight last year. Nothing ever worked for me and despite that I knew that I needed to fix myself and would try and try again. I’d say at least 20 different New Year’s resolutions, several marathons to train for, weight targets for milestone birthdays, and secret promises I was making myself to be healthier for the kids. I was always comfortable with my weight but was always terrified that maybe my kids would be teased about their fat Dad. That maybe I would embarrass them. This drove me to try a lot of things and finally “no carbs” worked for me. That isn’t to say it will work for you. Maybe exercise alone will work for you, maybe going vegan, maybe not eating after a certain time, and it goes on and on and on. It is out there for you. Keep looking.
Don’t cross the red line
I decided to not eat carbs. No bread, no rice, no potatoes, no desserts, no beer, and no to most of my favourite fruits. That was my red line. I think in any lifestyle change you need to be able to cheat a bit. Life needs to be lived, as they say. That being said there needs to be one thing you find that you can always maintain. That one thing that anchors your resolve. No carbs was that for me. I broke my calorie diet on many occasions but not because I ate a bowl of cereal or had a muffin. I let myself have too many nuts or a few too many eggs but I didn’t break my carb rule. The longer that rule was in place the easier it was to maintain. I don’t even think about it now. I’m a master at deconstructing a sandwich. Find your red line and don’t cross it.
Don’t fool yourself
It is so easy to lose track of what you are eating. I think if you are looking after your weight then you must try to count your calories. I think people see this as extreme but I know first hand how easy it is to not really understand the impact of what you are eating. I was off carbs by the time I found out that a large Nando’s fries has 1,250 calories. If you are counting your calories it is impossible to enter that amount of calories and then order it. You just can’t do it. I’ve been on 2,500 calories a day for 9 months now and they go a lot further if you don’t blow 50% of them on a side dish. I’m not saying everyone needs to count calories but if you are trying to lose weight then how can you do it properly if you don’t know what calories you are putting in your body? I think to a lesser extent you should weigh yourself everyday. Not to freak out over daily changes but to build up the data to let you know where your average is going. Apps makes both tracking calories and your weight very easy.
Keep yourself motivated
It is so hard to keep motivated. I initially kept myself going last year by cutting my calorie intake to the point where I could see a lot of quick progress on the scale. I think you see this often when people diet. They start off strong and then lose interest. If you go back to what I mentioned above they start to drift when they stop measuring what is happening. I kept giving myself achievable short term targets for my weight and BMI. Those can only do so much so I started doing slightly odd exercise challenges like 25 flights of stairs each day in November or 20k steps per day in December. I then decided to give myself a big challenge for 2018 by running at least 3 miles every day. I kept it a secret at first. Then after 100 days I mentioned it in social media. I needed the extra motivation of the embarrassment if I stopped. I’ve now used the 365 day challenge to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Birmingham. I can’t let them down now and after over 200 days I think I can make it. I don’t recommend this type of challenge for everyone but it works for me. Find out what works to keep you motivated.
If you’d like to help keep me motivated and help a great charity then please support my 365 Running challenge:
Whatever you decide to do, remember that "It’s Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been”.