Amazing Loser Andy McGowan
This week’s Amazing Loser Andy managed the incredible feat of maintaining his weight loss throughout lockdown, despite the stress of being busier than ever and adjusting to working from home. In fact, his good habits and sustainable way of losing weight meant that despite having less time to exercise he still managed to come out of it 1kg lighter than his last MAN v FAT Football weigh in. Here’s how he did it…
Name: Andy McGowan
Location: Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk (but part of the Cambridge MAN v FAT Football league)
Occupation: Head of carer services for regional carers charity Caring Together
Height: 5ft 10
Highest weight: 102.6kg (16st 2 / 226lbs)
Current weight: 72.4kg (11st 4lbs / 158lbs)
Weight lost: 30.2kg (just under 5 stone)
What led to you becoming overweight?
I had changed job to one which wasn’t as active and I had got into lazy habits (lots of take-outs) and consuming more calories than I had realised per meal/day. I had a new baby which meant that bad habits became even easier. I’d often do portions for 2 of us which should have been for 4.
What negative experiences did you have of being overweight?
I was having an increasing number of health issues – from gallstones to increased fatigue/tiredness. I would often have to stop on the one-hour commute home because I was too tired. My clothes were getting too small for me too, even though they were the biggest clothes I’d ever had.
What made you decide that you needed to lose weight?
Last summer I was in and out of hospital because of issues with my stomach. The doctors couldn’t figure out what it was but suspected it was to do with my weight. I was spending weeks in hospital and missing out on valuable time with my son and so I knew I had to do something if I wanted to see him grow up and to be able to be there for him.
What did you eat before you lost weight?
Breakfast – 2 slices of toast, a large glass of orange juice and then a Mini Roll on the way to work (the way I looked at it, I would have had one for lunch so didn’t matter that I had it at breakfast).
Lunch – Sandwich, crisps, popcorn, chocolate bar, yoghurt, biscuit
Snack – Chocolate bar, biscuit
Dinner – It would vary but it was around 900-1000 calories a meal. I also had take-out 3-4 times a week.
Had you tried to lose weight before? If yes, what made this time different from the times before?
Yes – I managed to lose weight ahead of carrying the Olympic Torch in 2012. This time around I didn’t just achieve weight loss through exercise – I did it through changing what I eat as well, so that if I don’t have as much time for exercise, the weight doesn’t just pile back on.
What method did you use to lose weight?
This time around it has purely been through calorie counting and recording my activity through my smartwatch. When I was trying to lose weight, I would consume on average 1600 calories a day – I’m not great with fruit/veg or salad, so focusing on the number of calories being consumed was key – and this is what has helped keep the weight off during lockdown.
What do you eat now?
Breakfast – 1 slice of toast with Pro-Activ spread, a small glass of orange juice
Snack – Banana, 1 52 calorie biscuit
Lunch – Sandwich, small chocolate bar (70-95 calories), low-calorie crisps (around 70 calories)
Dinner – About 500-600 calories a meal (e.g. sweet and sour chicken, curry with low fat sauce, turkey breast steaks, new potatoes and vegetables)
Now I’ve lost the weight and am wanting to maintain, I aim for around 1900 calories a day (which is equal to my calories burnt)
What was the hardest thing about losing weight?
The hardest part was moving away from bad habits and resisting temptation when there were cakes in the office or when it came to the traditional takeout on Friday. But by allowing myself to have treats but ensuring that I remain with my calorie target, it was sustainable.
How has life changed now that you’ve lost weight?
I feel so much better in myself and have got much more natural energy (which has been vital given sleep has been somewhat disrupted thanks to a 2-year-old in the house!)
I’ve not had any more health issues since joining MAN v FAT Football. I’m able to spend quality time with my boy and love a kick-about in the garden with him now. I feel better about myself and am in the smallest clothes ever (I’d have never thought I’d have been ordering my Liverpool champions shirts in a medium!)
How was lockdown for you?
In my job, lockdown meant that work was much busier working from home and so I spent most of my day behind a laptop in video calls/replying to e-mails – therefore controlling my calorie intake was key to making sure I didn’t pile the pounds back on!
I’m really proud that despite not having the time to exercise, and not having my weekly football to dive about in goal, I’m actually 1kg lighter than my last MAN v FAT Football weigh-in – I wasn’t wanting to lose weight, I just wanted to maintain where I was.
I’m looking forward to re-joining my teammates (and showing off my new Liverpool champions shirts!) but lockdown has shown me that I can keep the weight off, even if I can’t exercise regularly. It just shows that the change is sustainable for me and I can still have treats and keep the weight off.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to lose weight?
Definitely find what works for you and don’t feel like you have to starve yourself! I still get to enjoy the odd take-out and odd treat – I just make sure I track the calories and off-set them somewhere else (or get out and do a bit more exercise).
Find a strategy that is sustainable – I would recommend trying to avoid lots of weight loss in a really short space of time and then putting it back on again really quickly (the yo-yo effect). Celebrate the small wins – every kg lost soon adds up!
What three things do men need to know about weight loss?
- It can change your life for the better
- Find the way that works for you
- You can lose weight without giving up all the nice foods in life and starving yourself!
What is the best thing about MAN v FAT Football?
It’s definitely the team spirit and knowing that how I do on the scales directly affects how my team do on the pitch. I may never be the scorer of lots of goals on the pitch, but it’s a great feeling to know I can help the team to the top of the league on the scales.
It’s really motivated me to lose weight – as soon as my team starting winning games based on the scales, it gave me that buzz and I soon wanted that top scorer spot, and to win the league – all of which I achieved in my first full season. It also kept me focused because I was determined not to cost my team. It also got me into the habit of tracking what I ate, so now counting my calories is just part of my daily routine.