How I Lost 110lbs and Got Happy

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
BMI 34.1 33.2 32.3 32.3 31.9
Weight (kg) 89.5 87 84.7 84.7 83.8
Skeletal Muscle (%) 22.2 23.1 23.1 23.9 25.1
Total Fat (%) 49.6 47.9 47.5 46.3 44.2
Visceral Fat 7 7 7 7 6
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?

33 thoughts on “How I Lost 110lbs and Got Happy”

  • I am totally in!! Can’t wait 😀

    And, of course, I’ll blog about it 😉 I have a feeling if we lived in the same city, we’d be pals (I have a lit degree as well!)

  • I still love that before & after pic. I’m glad you’re sharing the How To’s as well – I expect a lot of interesting information out of you & know you won’t disappoint! 🙂

  • wow, those pictures and your story are just inspirational! Huge congrats to you and Matt for helping you on the journey. I just this week resolved to get fit and lose weight so count me in, can’t wait to hear more about the food plan and how to stay motivated re exercise!!!!

  • oh yes and doing a phd part time is a blast not!!!! I did mine that way too, ended up with no connection / support from the university, a supervisor who was busy writing two books, one on occasion it took 6 weeks for him to respond to request for feedback, I was also working in a job I loved, which made it easier, plus supportive family around me xx

  • I think you are pretty awesome and inspiring. I’m working on my own radical muscle mass body weight overhaul!

  • Oh, I have this problem of not eating enough too… It is easy to do at work when I forget to bring my lunch and don’t want to ruin my diet. I end up skipping breakfast and lunch, and guess what happens at dinner? Yes, binging. I am getting better, but occasionally this will happen to me and it sucks!!

    • It’s so difficult, isn’t it? I try to keep some nuts in my desk and pick up some fruits and lean meats at the start of each week to keep in the fridge at work – then I can usually whip something up even if I’m in a rush! Well done on getting better though – it’s a learning process 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  • Congrats on losing weight the right way! I am in school to be a personal trainer and nobody believes that you have to eat more (of the right foods) to lose weight. Anything less your starving your body!

  • First of all, congratulations on your success! I would love to know more about this program!

    I had various problems with my ovaries 12 years ago, which started my weight gain. Then I found out I had ovarian cancer and spent the next 7 years off and on a blend of chemotheraphy drugs that caused even more weight gain. I have now been in remission for 15 months, lost 80 pounds but still weigh over 250 and at 5’2″ (short), I am considered morbidly obese. I survived “terminal” cancer; I do not want my weight to kill me. I am definitely in this for the long haul.. I know that the changes that I am making are life style changes; I just want to make the right ones. I don’t have any time to waste.. the doctor says that I am more likely to get the cancer back (as I already have twice) if I don’t loss the weight.

    Any help, suggestions, tips, etc. that you can give me will be very much appreciated.

    • Wow, Dawn – thank you so much for sharing your story. It sounds like you’ve been through so much, and to come through it on the other side and focus on improving your health (and your life!) You’re a hero! I started out at 290lbs and I’m 5’3″, so I’m a short girl too – but it’s not impossible. And if you’ve identified that you need to make a lifestyle change, that’s a great start – especially having lost 80lbs already!

      I was interested to read your blog post about trying to decide on an exercise programme – it’s not easy, is it? The thing to remember is that both this way, and HIIT will work as long as you stick to them, but you need to work out what works for your lifestyle. I personally picked this programme because (particularly when I was heavier) I struggled a lot with injuries, so something like HIIT wouldn’t work for me because I’d overdo it, and end up hurting myself and not being able to continue. I think that’s why Matt designed the programme as he did – so that it’s doable for people who are morbidly obese. It’s a slow process (although, really not that slow in the grand scheme of things!) but it does work. The NEAT thing that I talked about here is quite a big part of the reason I’ve made it so far, too – because making movement and exercise a part of my life all the time has made a big difference to how efficient my body is at burning calories, and building muscle.

      Plus, there’s a time and a place for a bit of high-impact training – God knows my weekly circuits class gives me a much needed adrenaline rush, which is nice!

      I’d say you should definitely do what works for you – but if you’ve got any other questions do feel free to ask 🙂

  • Way to go! In my practice, I find that the folks who are best able to lose weight are those who are willing to be good to themselves, nourish their body, and take the time do some type of exercise that makes them happy. Wonderful to see you caring for yourself this well!

  • I just came across your site. Thank you for sharing your story. It really motivated me and i look forward to following in your footsteps.

    • Well, you’ve already started – you’ve made the decision to change! That’s half the battle 🙂 Now it’s a matter of getting to know what you’re doing, and what you could be doing better. Have a think about what you eat over the course of a week, and how much exercise you get – and then try to make small changes (baby steps!) to improve it.

      We’ll have a meal plan up soon so hopefully that’ll help to give you an idea of what you should be eating over the course of a week – if you can combine that with doing more exercise (by which I mean, walking, or cycling, or whatever you want to do!) you’re good to go 🙂

      Good luck – and let me know how you get on! x

  • Thank you for creating this blog and Congratulations on your success!! We have a lot in common!! I see myself in your posts lol. I have terrible knees. I tore my ACL when I was 13 and I’ve luckily been avoiding the surgery but its coming down to a point where I’m going to need it if I don’t start doing something about it. I definitely don’t eat enough and that has always been my problem. When I was 15, I met with a dietitian who said, you need to eat more…That’s great but an eating plan would have been nice. I eat comfort food when I’m stressed, which is most of the time. A year ago I was at 340 and about passed out on the scale. I couldn’t believe it!! My boyfriend and I started eating healthier and he lost about 100lbs…I lost 20lbs. We then got busy with life and fell off the wagon. Though we both haven’t “gained” I feel like garbage right now. Today I’m 27yrs old, 320lbs and 5ft 7in. I’ve been struggling and looking for a way to start back up. Finding your blog today has been a blessing. I feel re-energized to get back on my journey to being happy and healthy! Keep up the good work!! You look amazing!! I hope to look and feel as wonderful as you do!!!

    • Wow! We really do seem to have had the same journey – and you sound like you’re definitely motivated to succeed! It’s amazing how easy it is to let life get in the way, especially when you’re not 100% sure what to eat, or how to go about losing the weight – but I promise we’ll have a meal plan up as soon as possible that will help 🙂

      I’ve never really thought of myself as a “success story” – but I’m living proof that anyone can do it, and you can too! Good luck – let me know how you get on 🙂 x

    • It depends on what you’re using the crutches for, I guess – if you feel you can do that much walking on crutches, then absolutely! Alternatively, you could cycle, row, or use an arm bike machine – it doesn’t matter which form of cardio you do, so long as your heart rate is in the right zone 🙂 Good luck!

  • fair play katie you have done superb. I have been trying to lose weight but lack the will power. hope your story can give me that kick up the arse that i need.

    • Thanks Ste – good luck! Will power grows the longer you work at it – so stay focused and I’m sure you’ll be able to do it 🙂

  • I’d love to see some of that on here! I’ve been trying to lose weight for months now, counting calories, cutting out all sorts of things from my diet, going to the gym and running on a regular basis and NADA. I think I’ve lost two pounds in maybe six months. I don’t know how I’m getting it so wrong so would love to hear how to do it properly!

  • My goodness, what a difference! You look radiant! Yes, you got it right; staying slim doesn’t mean starving ourselves nor going hungry. I eat once my stomach starts growling!

    I have healthy snacks around me, in the office as well. Garlic peas and cashews. At home, I snack on peanut butter, grapes, soft-boiled eggs, a slice of cheese, stir-fry a small plate of onions or eggplant, etc.

    It’s so important to eat while exercising. What matters is the type of food we consume. It makes a difference.

    Good on you!

  • I’m loving your blog. Definitely want to say a massive THANK YOU for sharing all you have. Consider this site bookmarked <3

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