Although the idea seems to defy logic, it is possible to be fit but fat. Even when he was at his heaviest, Amazing Loser Colin took part in fitness events most of us could only dream of doing. He was in denial about his need to lose weight because of his fitness ability, and a stressful and demanding job meant that he found himself eating constantly. Colin soon realised that he needed to change when old injuries brought new problems – and the realisation that eating and health go hand in hand…
How did you get to the position where you needed to lose weight?
My job can be stressful at times and I work long hours which makes eating the right, healthy food a bit difficult. I have always been fit (a typical fit fat bloke) and in my time off I like to compete in obstacle course racing and I do extreme endurance events such as climbing the national 3 peaks and 5 peaks. For me, being fat was never about the fitness side of things it was all to do with my food habits, such as coming home and vegetating in front of the TV with all sorts of sweets and fizzy drinks!
What negative experiences did you have of being overweight?
Due to my past career in the military I have several long term injuries and problems with my joints, this all came to a head about 4 years ago when I became very ill and needed spinal surgery in order to be able to walk again. During this period I put a few stone on and developed my bad eating habits, I then found myself unable to exercise as much as I would have liked due to the pain in my back. The negative side of having gained a lot of weight was the pressure it was putting on my already damaged body and joints and I would often find myself doing runs and events and then having to have a week or two’s rest to recover.
What made it different from the times before?
Successful weight loss is probably 80% diet and 20% exercise, if your eating habits are bad then you will not keep the weight off no matter how much you exercise and no matter how good your diet is you won’t be successful if you do not exercise.
I gradually built up my exercise regime as the weeks progressed and ate the right food at the right time which is just as important. In terms of exercise, I’m not keen on a lot of the fads out at the moment such as body pump and step classes and even the extreme ones such as Insanity and T25 as I feel it puts pressure on you to complete the workout even if you are in pain or struggling. With exercise you need to find something you like doing and enjoy and just go with it, you don’t need to go out and run 10 miles a day or go to multiple fitness classes but simply just get out and move your body use more calories than you are putting in.
How did you do it?
I don’t like to use the term diet and I don’t like all the different types of diet that are currently being used by others. The way I looked at it was that what I needed was a complete lifestyle change.
The way I did this was what I believe to be the best way. I reduced my sugar intake and reduced how many calories I was having and the amount of carbs I was eating. I didn’t cut anything out completely (except fizzy drinks) as I feel that can lead to having cravings and binges, if I wanted sugar I simply looked at an alternative to chocolate such as fruit.
I like to do things which are considered outside the norm so for me the thing that worked, exercise-wise, was running. By the end of the programme it was normal for me to be running upwards of 80 miles a week, and training 2 or 3 times a day. I would often change my routine or exercise plan just so my body didn’t become used to it, which helped prevent me from hitting any plateau and I lost a steady amount each week. Even though I enjoy running it was sometimes a battle with myself to get up (especially at 4 in the morning) and go for a run or go to the gym. I also joined my local MAN v FAT Football league.
How did joining MAN v FAT football help you to lose weight?
Doing the job I do I have access to physical training instructors, dieticians and everything I need in order to be healthy but what they couldn’t give me was the motivation to do it. I felt that I didn’t need to lose weight as I could do the things I wanted even at 17 stone.
MAN v FAT Football I believe a crucial difference because my team were my motivation. I don’t know if it stems from my military background or not but I felt I couldn’t let my team down.
After a few weeks at MAN v FAT Football when I was starting to lose the weight I then challenged myself. I set my target of 84kg (185lbs) and dared myself to get to it. I didn’t think I would do it in one season but I knew I would achieve my aim at some point. What also helped was the fact that I had a reason to train as I had agreed to do a charity bike ride at the end of the season too.
What did you eat before and after you lost weight?
Before I started my journey, on a normal day I would normally eat snack type foods such as sandwiches and rather than sitting down to eat a meal I would eat throughout the day. The downside to this was that I was never full so would eat more than I needed to but that also meant I couldn’t track how much I was eating in terms of calories and carbs etc. because I was constantly eating.
Now I try to eat three meals a day (which isn’t always possible due to work) and try not to snack. I cut my carb intake down so I tend to eat porridge for breakfast with a little bit of fruit such as berries. Then I will have some sort of salad for lunch and then chicken or fish (I don’t like red meat) with fresh veggies for dinner. I try to limit the amount of fruit I eat due to the sugar content but if I want something sweet I tend to have some fresh fruit and yoghurt.
How was the journey?
The journey wasn’t straight-forward and I did struggle initially with my diet and finding what was right for me but I feel that only proves that we are all different and that weight loss is a very personal thing. What will work for one person won’t work for another. You need to find what is right for you and go with it.
Now I have lost the weight I have I have begun a new journey, that of keeping it off! This is why I feel diets don’t work. Once you lose the weight you stop the diet and risk going back to how things were.
How has life changed now you’ve lost weight?
I am now a lot fitter and happier and my body is not as sore. I did not realise how much the weight was affecting me and my pain levels
“I needed a complete lifestyle change”
Who helped you the most and who got in the way?
The people that helped me the most apart from the rest of the MAN v FAT Football lads were my family, they supported me immensely by putting up with the training regime I set myself and with not seeing me as much.
The thing that got in the way was work. I work long hours so in order to do my training I would often find myself running at 4 in the morning and 10 at night, but that’s the sacrifice I had to make.
If you could go back to the person you were at your heaviest – what would you say to him?
If I could I would have told myself to do it sooner. I think I was using my injuries as an excuse not to do it.
“It’s not easy, but it is worth it”
What do other fat men need to know about losing weight?
1. It’s not easy, but it is worth it.
2. It won’t be straightforward, but don’t beat yourself up if you gain weight, just examine why it’s happened and try not to let it happen again.
3. Don’t feel embarrassed about trying to lose weight, I get more inspiration from seeing overweight people try to lose weight than the ones that have been training for years.