This is a picture of me in April 2011. I was around 102kg (16 stone) when this was taken and I easily had a 104cm (41") waist. I did not feel healthy or particularly happy. Most mornings I would wake up with an unexplainable pain in the gut which my doctor could not diagnose but I would later put down to simply being overweight.
I've never been particularly good at sport. From the ages of 16 to 26 I did very little exercise and most of my work involves me sitting in a chair typing at a computer. When I left University I had a 38" waist and by around 2007, I'd graduated to a 40" waist. I was able to make some progress in the gym on my own but not nearly enough. Also travelling between London and Prague was taking its toll - I was eating in too many restaurants and fast food places. Last April, I'd had enough, so I did several things.
- I bought a bicycle and started cycling to work in London.
- I started going to the gym in Prague.
- I hired a trainer and exercised more
- I changed my diet
Cycling to work was absolute hell the first few weeks I did it, but after a month or so I was able to do it without feeling tired afterwards. London is full of good cycle routes and I am able to get to work without having to spend too much time on busy roads. The round trip burns 1000 calories which makes a big difference.
Only the combination of diet and exercise works for me. The trainer started off with cardiovascular exercise which is essential to losing weight. Even if you want to lift weights, you need to do cardio to warm up and it makes you feel better.
The personal training sessions built up from doing little things to lifting heavier weights and doing press ups (which were impossible when I started). The trainer put me on a new diet, taking into account that I travel a lot and have limited food options. Essentially my diet was this:
Eat 5 small meals a day, of which two are snacks.
The theory is that you will not feel hungry and as a result your body will keep burning calories. Here are some examples:
- Breakfast: Poached Egg, Pitta Bread, Tea, or Mackeral fillet, Tea
- Snack 1: Fruit or Protein Bar (see below)
- Lunch: Chicken Salad Sandwich, Small Fruit Salad
- Snack 2: Handful of dried apricots and cashews, or a Protein Bar (see below)
- Evening Meal: Chicken stir fry with vegetables (no rice or noodles)or Boiled Chicken and Boiled Broccoli.
- 2 litres of water throughout the day. Squash is allowed. Tea and Coffee are ok but don't count towards the 2 litres.
- Buy some small low-carb protein bars. You can carry these conveniently with you and use them as snacks. They are usually 250 calories and keep you feeling full.
- Yoghurt with Granola is a great snack, and it's available at Starbucks, Caffe Nero and Costa Coffee.
- Change your large Starbucks to an espresso and a bottle of water.
- If you have the choice only between Macdonalds, Burger King and KFC, go to KFC, buy 4 pieces of chicken and diet Pepsi (or better, water) and take the skin off at least 2 pieces of chicken. No chips.
- You can have steaks but ideally have them at the weekend as a treat. Chicken and fish are better.
- Avoid carbohydrates like potatoes, bread and rice in the evening
- Eat well in advance of going to bed - at least 2 hours
- Cut down on alcohol but be realistic. Give yourself a target like <= 8 drinks a week. And then reduce further.
- Do not overdo it - rest is as important as exercise.
Note that I did not cut out sugar or milk from my tea to begin with. Provided you don't over do it, you can eat "normally" at the weekends and in fact you should do so. I did not cut out alcohol at the weekends.
By October I was down to about 94kg and I plateaued there for some time. This is probably because I was putting on muscle but also because I eased off the regime due to a change of job. This year I've been able to shave more off and my last weighing was about 88kg (13 stone and 12lbs) - I'm now a 96.5cm (38") waist and am able to get into slim fit jeans. Here is a more recent picture.
I still have a long way to go - I need to lose at least 5kg more and then work on my shape.
I'm trying a slightly different diet which I will describe now. One of the problems with the 5 meals a day diet is that it is easy to graze and eat too much. What I try to do now when I'm in Prague is this:
- Wake up, have a black coffee - no sugar or milk
- 20 minutes run around the block
- Situps or Press-ups for 10 minutes
- Breakfast - Poached egg (or fish) and pitta, Coffee
- Lunch - sandwich ideally chicken, fruit salad
- Dinner - chicken stir fry (just add vegetables)
- Only snack with a protein bar if I'm feeling hungry
- 2 litres of water
The theory is that the coffee kick starts your metabolism. As does the exercise. Having a cold shower will also help but I've never been able to do this. Once your metabolism is high, you will start to burn calories and not eating before the exercise means that you are burning yesterday's calories. I was able to keep my weight down on my recent trip to New York by doing something similar. It is also possible to do the above and get into work for 9am, provided you have had enough rest.
I hope you will find this useful. Trust me - if I can do all this then so can you.