For as long as I can remember I’ve been overweight, suffered from migraines, lacked self-confidence and been quite unfit. Last October I tipped the scales at 250lbs, and decided that for someone who is 5’10” that was far too big a number. Something had to change, but with work and play mostly involving sitting on my back side in front of a computer, and me really rather enjoying my food, what was I supposed to do?
The answer was simple – make change happen! No-one was going to do it for me, and it was probably going to be tough, but I needed re-programmed. First I had to be honest with myself about why I was overweight and unhappy in the first place, and that was actually really easy: my eating habits were all wrong, and I didn’t exercise enough. Consume more calories than you burn and you’ll put on weight – it’s hardly rocket science. I also drank far too much coffee and diet coke which no doubt contributed to the regular migraines.
With such a big lifestyle change required, I decided to phase myself in gently. Firstly, I stopped drinking coffee. I was convinced that with each mug, the half-pint of milk and double hit of the finest beans our office frother could dispense were doing my head (and my waistline) no good at all. Given that I could have had 3 or 4 mugs before 11am each day, going cold turkey was going to make the first week very tough, but I made it through by drinking lots of water – in itself a positive change.
The next step was to think about what I was eating. In truth, I didn’t eat that badly, but portion control and snacking were major problems that I had to overcome. My first new self-imposed rule was to ensure I had breakfast before I left home, rather than stop at the corner shop or snack bar for greasy, fat-filled rolls, or the supermarket for pre-packed ‘all day breakfast’ sandwiches. Next, a sensible healthy lunch and some fruity snacks for during the day instead of crisps or biscuits would see me through until dinner time where I would have my normal evening meal. All common sense stuff, and again, not rocket science. Suppers were banned initially too, and whilst I allowed myself the odd treat, I taught myself how to say – and think – ‘no’ and how not to just join in when everyone else was having dessert. I was proud (and somewhat amazed) at the level of willpower I was able to display. I can do this!
Then I started walking. My intention was to get out for a half-hour walk 2 or 3 times a week, and I found this not only easily manageable, but ultimately quite enjoyable. I was helped along by a little GPS tracking app for my iPhone that told me how far I’d walked, what my average speed was, and how many (or few!) calories I’d burned. Before long I was racking up 2.5 mile round trips 4 or 5 times a week at 4mph, and had graduated to longer weekend walks – I would walk to the shop in the neighbouring village for the lunchtime baguettes rather than the local one, and routinely walked 4.5 miles to the supermarket where I’d meet up with my wife and kids in the car to get the weekend shopping done.
And so I kept up this regular walking, the change in eating habits and the willpower right through Christmas and into the New Year. Although there were days that the Winter weather stopped me in my tracks, every Saturday morning I would step on the scales and see a lower number. Today I’m far from athletic, and I still spend most of the day sat on my backside in front of a Mac, but I am much happier, healthier and fitter now than I was five months ago, no longer have frequent migraines and am still losing weight each week. By making some really simple changes I’ve re-programmed myself and made a big difference to how I feel – and if I can do it, anybody can!
So far I’ve gone from XXL to L, lost three-and-a-half stone, and for the first time in about 20 years just bought a pair of 36″ jeans…. I think that officially makes me a loser. Woo-hoo!