Amazing Loser – Alex Varnals – Weight Loss Stories
- Name: Alex Varnals (ask him anything on Talk)
- Job: Commercial Diver and Scuba Diving Consultant
- Height: 6′ (182cm)
- Age: 32
- Highest weight: 301 lbs (136.5 kg)
- Lowest weight: 229 lbs (103.8 kg)
What was it that led you to decide you wanted to lose weight?
My ex girlfriend wanted to drop a dress size before a scuba diving holiday we were going on and she suggested I give it a go too. Her sister was a Herbalife member and said we should try their weight loss plan. I knew I was in bad shape, but I had been overweight my entire life, so figured I would never really be able to change. A couple of weeks before trying my first Herbalife shake I had failed an HSE Diving Medical because of my BMI and knew this was a good opportunity to drop a few pounds.
How did you feel when you failed the Scuba Diving Medical because of your weight?
When I failed my scuba diving medical, it was due to my Body Mass Index (check yours here -ED) and blood pressure being too high. I was concerned that I may have to go on to blood pressure medication if I didn’t do something. This made me feel terrible. I wasn’t able to teach scuba diving without a medical so I had to do something about my health. I knew once my weight was sorted that I would have no problem passing the medical.
So what were you doing wrong that had led to that situation?
The funny thing is that I made loads of excuses for why I got to the weight I got to, but if I am completely honest, I was just lazy with food. I would eat anything that was put in front of me at any time. Whether it was a salad or a full breakfast in a bread-cake! Looking back I also skipped breakfast most days and ate my main meal after 9.00pm each night accompanied by a couple of beers or a glass or two of wine.
So how did Herbalife help you to get to your goal?
I guess the difference this time to every other attempt I had made at changing my weight was that this time I had a massive support network of people encouraging me. The Herbalife team was much more of a community than just a product to me. Many of them have now become very good friends. The support I got from my wellness coach, and many other people, meant that I was accountable not only to myself, but also people who had become my friends. Friends that supported me, rather than keep inviting me to the pub or for a curry!The way I lost the body fat was through eating far more regularly than I ever did before, usually around six times a day. I now eat every 2.5/3 hours and have at least two shakes, two snacks and a meal. But it just depends on how long my day is, I still eat at 2.5/3 hour intervals if I’m having a long day but now I have more muscle mass I need to make sure I eat the right amount of healthy fuel or protein to sustain my body.
A standard day will start with a Herbalife Formula 1 shake with additional protein and oat apple fibre around 8.00am. At 10.30am I will usually have either tuna, mackerel or chicken with some spinach, beetroot, tomatoes or broccoli. Around 1pm I will have my lunch and often have my main meal, which will consist of around 30g protein with anything from broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, spinach, salad or any type of complex carb I can get my hands on (and lots of it).
I make sure that I eat clean now and try to avoid anything processed. At around 3.30pm I will eat another snack, generally something lighter like some cottage cheese with marmite on ryvita and a Herbalife chocolate and peanut protein bar (my chocolate fix for the day…..). At around 6pm I will have my second Herbalife shake the same as I have for breakfast, but maybe a different flavour. If I am training in the evening, which happens at least three times a week, I will follow the workout with a Rebuild Strength shake (more protein). In the evening to avoid me eating back stuff I will make sure I have another snack which could be anything from smoked salmon with eggs, to more lean meat protein like tuna, turkey or chicken. Every time I eat I have at least a pint of water and at each meal I have replaced my coffee with the Herbalife speedy tea…(or Instant Herbal Beverage).
It’s interesting you talk about eating clean as one criticism of Herbalife products is that they contain a lot of ingredients and might not necessarily be described as “clean eating”, what do you think of that?
I see the Herbalife products as amazing nutrition. They fit easily into my eating plan as they’re a great balance of carbs, protein and fat. There is no way I can get the same nutrition from food in such a convenient form as I get from a Herbalife shake in 220 kcal. They work perfectly for my lifestyle. I have not gone one day without a shake in over a year now and I’m not planning to either!
How would you explain the difference in life now?
Trying to explain to someone how much this has changed my life is nearly impossible. I feel amazing every day. I have made some friends through Herbalife who will have to put up with me for the rest of their lives! I now exercise at least four times a week because I want to, not because I think I should or because someone else has said I need to get in shape, but because I know my body deserves it. If I could go back to the person I was when I was at my heaviest I would be really honest with myself and say “I know losing weight is hard, but being overweight is hard! Choose your hard! Stop making excuses, it’s your ass, no one else will move it for you.”And what about the diving, passed any medicals recently?
I have subsequently been back to see the same diving doctor and he suggested that the changes to my weight, respiratory system, fitness, body fat and overall health have added over 10 years to my life expectancy. This clearly made me feel amazing and has been a driving force to continue improving my health, fitness and nutrition.