How I Lost 110lbs and Got Happy
I’m actually pretty delighted to be writing this post, because – along with the aforementioned Mr Super-Trainer-Nutritonist-Man (who I’ll introduce properly below) I’ve finally got this weight loss thing down to an art. Not an art, actually – a science. GO SCIENCE.
If I haven’t stressed this enough in previous posts, let me say this once and for all – there is no gimmick that will offer you long-term, sustainable weight loss. Not one. So if you’re looking to lose weight ridiculously quickly, and gain it back just as fast, that’s not what I’m going to offer you.
Probably for the best, really.
What I can say, for absolute certain, is that I’m on a programme now that definitely – definitely – works. And I’m eating a LOT. And I’m not killing myself with exercise. And it feels great. Here’s what a difference it’s made since just last Christmas:
In writing this, I do feel like some sort of demoniac, creepy wide-eyed evangelical salesman. And I know that’s how it comes across. But seriously – I have actual numbers to explain this stuff. Numbers and science.
So – how did I lose over 110lbs?
Matt Peacock is the Health and Fitness Consultant and Wellbeing Lecturer that designed the programme I’ve been following. The programme, that is, that’s allowed me to lose over 110lbs.
Yep. He’s a genius.
So I’ve asked him to write a little introduction to his programme, which I’ll be explaining in a bit more detail over the coming months – and which I strongly recommend! So… Take it away, Matt!
The diet, fitness and supplement industry is a multi-million pound industry offering quick fixes and miraculous results at an affordable price with minimal effort required. Promoted by muscly, tanned dubious characters akin to a snake oil salesman, the products they are pushing have little clinical research to back their claims and are usually packaged as the ultimate cure-all. These products seldom work.
As a health, fitness and lifestyle consultant I work directly with GP’s and health professionals to deliver ethical, sustainable health goals to promote wellbeing and quality of life; it also just so happens the weight management system I developed reduces fat and increases lean muscle tissue. For the last three years I have been working with people who have chronic illnesses; these individuals are mostly sedentary with poor diets and little nutritional knowledge. They have often dieted for most of their lives and tried all the major market leaders’ systems for weight loss – so when I work with these people a lot of preconceptions, myths and untruths need to be undone.
State of the art, clinically approved technology, research in the fields of sports science and modern nutritional software are some of the tools I use to achieve these goals. If it can help an athlete run faster, jump higher be leaner and stronger why can’t these same approaches be used to help individuals who have the greatest health needs? I employ an holistic approach; I analyse nutritional information and health performance indicators to monitor progress – previously the reserve of hospitals and University labs where I lecture, this equipment is now accessible to most of the population.
My goal is to empower individuals to understand how their body works and what they can expect from the effort they put in to achieving their personal targets. A word of caution - this is no quick fix; some clients follow the programme from anything between 6 months to 2 years to reach their target. The science behind the programme is proven and data from countless clients I have helped over the years shows it helps in weight management – but you have to be prepared to become your own personal trainer!
Or, you know, you could start a blog about it. Just sayin’.
Anyway, I started training on an early version of Matt’s programme way back in August 2010 – with quite a lot of success, losing just under five stone (70lbs) in as many months. In short, the programme is based around eating the right amount of calories for your BMI, and combining resistance training and a cardio workout that – honestly – anyone can do.
I’m allowed to say this, because when I started, I was on crutches with two dislocating knees – so nobody gets to argue with me on this point. All you have to do is find 60 to 90 minutes to get your heart rate to between 115-130bpm, three or four times a week. Walking, cycling, swimming – whatever floats your boat. And that heart rate is really pretty low – it’s barely enough to break a sweat. Combine that with some resistance training (at a level that works for you) and it’s possibly the simplest exercise plan ever. I’ll come back to the science of how that works in another blog – but for now, trust me. It’s cool.
Unfortunately, back then I hadn’t quite figured out that a diet of low-fat, but mega-processed (and in particular – sugary) foods weren’t adequately nutritious – or tasty – to make that weight loss last. Long story short, by the end of 2011 I hadn’t gained it all back – but it was creeping up on me. And I knew it – but you’d have to pry the cereal bar from my cold, dead hands before I’d let it go.
In May, however, I moved back to my old flat with a new love for real food, and rejoined my old gym – signing myself straight up to Matt’s programme to pick up where I’d left off. And here’s the science bit. Here are the numbers – and I know they won’t make sense yet, but I promise, all will become clear:
|Start||Week 2||Week 4||Week 6||Week 8|
|Skeletal Muscle (%)||22.2||23.1||23.1||23.9||25.1|
|Total Fat (%)||49.6||47.9||47.5||46.3||44.2|
|Metabolic Rate (rest)||1578||1557||1532||1539||1540|
|Measured Walk||6 visits||6 visits||7 visits||7 visits|
So – what on earth does that mean?
BMI – Your BMI (Body Mass Index) takes your weight and height, and works out roughly whether you’re underweight, normal, overweight, or obese – you can work yours out here. There are, obviously, issues with using your BMI alone – because if you happen to be a bodybuilder, you’ll no doubt weigh far more than your BMI allows for your height, despite being a fitness machine – but with the rest of these measures in mind, it’s a handy tool.
Skeletal Muscle – That’s basically what it says – muscle. We love muscle. We’re trying to get this number up.
Total Fat – As above, that’s the amount of fat – and we’re trying to bring that down.
Visceral Fat – Okay, this stuff is a bit scary. According to Matt, ‘visceral fat is the fat that surrounds the major organs; the body requires a certain amount to act as a shock absorber to stop the organs rattling around and to insulate – keeping the core body temperature at an even level. Too much visceral fat impairs the ability of those organs to function, which could lead to heart disease or type 2 diabetes.’ Eww. A healthy level is between 1 and 9.
Metabolic Rate – That’s how many calories I need to consume every day, assuming I don’t get out of bed. Here’s a site where you can work out yours. If, like me, you do actually have to get out of bed, then you have to factor in the calories you’re burning over the course of the day – and eat to compensate for them.
Measured Walk – The number of times I did the 60-90 minutes of walking in the two weeks between weigh-ins.
Now that’s cleared up – what do these numbers show in my case?
You might remember that I had some reservations when, in Week 4 (after handing over a week’s food diary) I found out that I needed to eat more. Significantly more. Because if you look at the numbers above, you can see that in the fortnight I wasn’t eating enough, I gained absolutely no muscle, and lost only a smidge of fat. And the moral of that story – not eating will NOT make you hot. So don’t even try it.
Following my nutritional analysis, I started eating the right amount of calories, and I’ll be honest – I found it difficult. I had to significantly gear up the good carbs and proteins, and for a few days I was full ALL THE TIME. It wasn’t comfortable, but after a week or so, my appetite had gone into overdrive, and suddenly I was hungry a lot – but when I was hungry, I ate. Good times.
By Week 6, I fully expected to have gained weight, because I was eating near enough constantly – but as you can see, I’d hit a plateau weight-wise. However, I’d gained muscle and lost fat – so I was back on track, with my body adjusting to my newfound munching. And that brings us bang up to date, here at Week 8. Not gonna lie – this was an exciting one for me.
I was nervous before the weigh-in, because – for the first time – I felt like I’d hit on the perfect balance of food and exercise. It hasn’t even felt like I’ve been on a diet, because I’ve been eating plenty, not restricting myself, and even having the occasional glass of wine, so I desperately, desperately wanted this to be the perfect way to get fit – because frankly, it’s easy. Really easy.
And as you can see – it rocked. Muscle up, fat down, visceral fat down – this programme does everything it should, without me even feeling like I’m on a diet. And the upshot is that I’ve lost 16lbs of pure fat in 8 weeks – so while I’m always going to stand by the fact that there’s no such thing as a quick fix, I think you’ll agree that’s hardly slow. You’ll have to forgive me if I’m a bit like a cheerleader on speed, but I am delighted. Because after a whole life of being Fat Girl, PhD, it suddenly all makes sense – and I desperately want to share this with anyone and everyone that’s uncomfortable with their weight.
I’ve been doing this long enough now to know what works – and it’s great, after all this time, to finally have the numbers to back it up. So now I want to share what I’ve learned, and get you guys involved. That’s why, with Matt’s help, I’ll be posting all sorts of recipes, meal plans, exercise tools and all sorts of other exciting things (as well as my own results) on this blog from now on – meaning that you can join me in getting fit, healthy, and happy, whilst eating great food and enjoying an exercise plan that fits in perfectly with my (very busy) life.
Anyone can do it – so are you in, or are you out?