The background:

I have never really been too concerned about my weight. I was naturally a slim enough build in my youth (a few years ago) but gave up all sports and routine exercise very early in life at about 20yrs of age. Even with that sedentary lifestyle I didn’t become too rotund (depending on who you talking to).

As my children began sport and continued with football, running and walking I was content to drive them to and fro without indulging myself in any structured or deliberate exercise.

In my youth we owned a small country grocery store (which was really a sweet haven for eight children) and I developed a love of all things sweet.

With an obligatory sweet finish to all meals and snacks and a few pints at the weekend there was no way to stop a slow build up to a sub 14st frame.
Again because this weight gain does not take place over night it passed by largely unnoticed.

The turning:

There was no dramatic turning event that I am aware of …no heart failure…no pains or aches …. but a subtle realization that my sons and daughter were all active and enjoying their good health along with purposely aiming for goals they set themselves.

I realised that Declan aka Performance Treanor was advocating a holistic approach to good health and having read some (not all Declan) of his articles I somehow/somewhere/sometime realized how little I was doing to secure as far as possible a healthy late summer (even autumn) to my life.

The Lads
Tommy and Son a few years ago in Brussels. He is minus the belly now 😉

General health and not weight reduction was the carrot but soon I gathered from Declan’s modus operandi that a weight appropriate to one’s age/stature/gender is a precursor to that general health.

A decision to engage:

Perhaps a few photos from holiday walks or family events told the truth and that I had not the svelte figure that I imagined in my mind’s eye…the camera doesn’t always lie.
Once my decision was made to combine a weight loss target with general well-being I knew I would use a decision making model that I first encountered in first Commerce in UCD.

Put in its simplest form it goes like this.
1. Where am I now
2. Where do I want to be?
3. In what time frame
4, What are the options to get there?
5. Pick the best option
6. Measure progress
7. Take effective action if not getting there
8, Enjoy the journey

Dad and Mum post workout
Such a plan definitely worked – tee shirt is hanging off him!!! Tommy and Ursula after a T25 workout

In reality I have added a couple of my own steps there but they all are important.

To expand on that decision making model.
Be specific with the targets –e.g. I want to lose 10lbs in 6 weeks(date)
The opposite of being specific is to be aspirational —-I’d like to lose a few pounds at some stage.

There are always options –different routes to the same goal –e.g. I will hire a personal coach or I will pay for liposuction or I will have my tummy stapled or….
An option that is likely to be less costly and more effective might be to engage in regular exercise and measure daily calorie intake and calorie burn.
Let’s just assume you take the last option –that’s the one I chose and I can share with you some of the key steps for me the journey from 13st 8 lbs. to 11st 8 lbs. in 3 months.
This is not a plan a route map or a suggested approach…it is just my story with some pointers you may find helpful or irritating.

While I was specific about my goal –it was really 3 distinct phases or three separate goals – one to get to 12st 8 and then 12st and lastly to 11st 8lbs.

Within that I also set myself daily or weekly goals …believing the best way to eat an elephant is one piece at a time.

Note —-I would not have succeeded without:
A weighing scales
A mentor in the form of (note the coincidence of similarity of name to myself)
An obsession with measurements/feedback
An odd day off
Other non-essential things that helped immensely
A partner Ursula who was on a similar journey. Though her culinary delights made moderation even more demanding.
A stay at home during Covid
A stationery exercise bike

The Start:

They say there are two good days to plant a tree …50 years ago and today and given you probably didn’t get that done 50 years ago then today is the next best day.
Likewise, with your health journey –pick your day in the next few …. don’t delay for an upcoming birthday party or a holiday imminent etc. etc…. there is always something on the horizon …but they are never a good enough reason to prevaricate.

Step one and what worked for me thereafter:
1. Weigh yourself
2. Record that weight
3. Set the target date and weight—document somewhere or in your memory.
4, Get started: Count the calorie intake daily and on this with Declan’s advice I used ‘Fatsecret ‘very user friendly app for a not too competent technophobe.
5. Use exercise to deplete the net calorie count per day. Walk/cycle/run or other and measure the burn.                                                                                                                                6. Weigh regularly
Let the scales become your friend
For comparison weigh at same time of the day…. last thing at night or first in the morning…. the funny thing is you could regularly be up to 2 lbs. lighter in morning than the previous night. The body is consuming away at energy while you sleep. I found up to 2 lbs. difference in morning especially if I had say burned calories on bike the previous evening.

Give up sweets almost completely –e.g. one or two ginger nuts versus previous consumption of one or two packets.
For me with an obsessive tendency –the only way to cut down on the sugars was not to have the option in the house.

Don’t eat first thing –sometimes we eat toast and marmalade immediately when we arise. Not because of hunger. but because it’s what we’ve always done.
I had perhaps a cup of tea and a morsel of toast or no toast
Some light breakfast could follow at ten am—maybe Weetabix and some small amount of fruit to liven it up like a couple of prunes or blueberries.
For lunch at one – look to kippers /tomatoes / anchovies etc. rather than heavy ham and cheese sandwiches or hot food. If eating bread keep the potion small.

For tea at six enjoy a portion controlled meal.
No supper. but if hungry at bed time. a full orange is tasty with less than 70 calories and the hunger is gone.

Other observations
Why ask your heart to carry around an extra one or two stone everywhere and every day?
Imagine a rucksack full of say 14 by 2lb bags (forgive use of the imperial measurements) of sugar on your back. you’d complain and rightly so

Stop snacking –it’s a habit. not done to reduce hunger, there is no hunger.
Snacking can also be due to boredom. Reduce the boredom – walk/run/paint/write instead.

You will find

Becoming aware of calories you won’t consume as randomly as before – a can of beer shouts 180 calories to you and that equals 20 minutes of serious work out on the bike. By consuming less haphazardly you will enjoy your meals with a great passion. Weetabix and blueberries never tasted so good.
Or once you have realized that you can make a ginger nut last for four or five bites to savor it all the more.
If you do a heavy 300 calorie session before your evening meal –you will be less likely to sit down and eat an overload.

Don’t wait to be motivated to start.
Motivation follows action. Not the other way round!
If you need convincing. start the exercise even when not motivated and allow yourself to stop after 3 minutes or 300 yards if you still feel the same …. likelihood is you will continue as in that short time motivation has kicked in after action.
On the bike I constantly refer to or look at the calorie burn or the minutes gone –others will take an opposite tack.
Sometimes I use old CD’s with 70’s country or disco music to pass the allocated time…but I’m not suggesting or advocating (for the general public) a return to either CD’s or 70’s music.
I found being the lone ranger the best way to set goals and measure progress…with 2 exceptions … a partner who was on the same type of journey and a sounding board in Brussels who believes what he preaches (we hope).
Others may find being in a group an easier way to lose weight or improve general well being.
As I like order versus chaos –I work best with specific times for meals /exercise / rest.
Having a specific time for exercise cuts out a lot of indecisiveness and prevarication. You could set up an appointment to meet yourself on the exercise bike at a certain time. As you wouldn’t cancel a preset meeting with anyone else. Fulfill that meeting with yourself.

Be good to yourself. Lavish in praise for the following
 Starting the process
 Continuing the process
 Making progress
 Getting up after a fall and multiple falls
 Being you

Once the goal has been reached –stick to a healthy living plan.
Be prepared for poor performance days’ / despair days/ some fleeting pangs to eat more.
Weight loss as advocated by some magazines and gyms can be sensationalist and a costly short term aberration …get advice from someone who incorporates it as just one key element of good health with a happy heart and a store of energy to compliment it.

Why bother to take on this new lifestyle….

  • Its great fun with a terrific sense of achievement during and after the process.
  • It’s healthy and long term beneficial – it feels great.
  • Your mental health will benefit measurably from the immediate adrenalin post exercise to the feeling of wellbeing that comes from a task well done and a target achieved. This point cannot be over stressed.
  • Remember any time of your life is a good time to look after your physical and mental health ….so now …whatever age that happens to be for you is the right start time.
  • There’s a reason why you are considering the change. That’s your answer!

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