- Name: Darren Cole (find him on TALK here)
- Height: 5’5″
- Age: 34
- Location: Long Eaton, Nottingham
- Highest weight: 280lbs (127kg)
- Lowest weight: 160lbs (72.6kg)
- Plan: Sensible eating and calorie counting
When you realise you need to lose weight your default option is to go down the stereotypical diet and exercise route – you know, nibbling on lettuce leaves and celery and killing yourself in the gym even though it’s the last place you want to be. You might end up losing weight, but you’ll also be miserable and are more likely to give up, which is why it’s much more effective to find something you enjoy like our Amazing Loser Darren did.
Darren, how did you get to the position where you needed to lose weight?
My lifestyle was a typical modern, sedentary one and I would overindulge in food that was bad for me. I had no awareness of portion size or how many calories were in the food I was eating – what I used to think was one portion of things like cereal, pasta and rice was actually about four.
How did being overweight affect you?
I would get out of breath just climbing up the stairs at home and being so out of shape meant I struggled to play with my son. I could never find clothes that fit and this led to me having no confidence in how I looked, which made me socially awkward.
What made you decide to change?
The decision was based mostly on my mental state rather than my expanding waistline. My commute to work took me an hour in heavy traffic and I’d arrive feeling stressed and angry, seeking comfort in food – bacon and sausage cobs at work or the biscuit tin at home.
My brother-in-law suggested that I cycle to work instead and though it was hard at first and took me the same time, I really enjoyed being out in the fresh air. I was arriving at work and at home with a sense of achievement and mentally, I was in a much better place. A side effect of this was that I was steadily getting fitter and starting to lose weight, so then I started to look at what I was eating.
What made it different from the times before?
I had tried following diets before, but found them hard and confusing, which was very demotivating. I had also been a member of a number of gyms to get fitter and thinner, but I struggled with my confidence, convinced that people would be staring and laughing at the little fat man jiggling, so I would always find excuses not to go.
But this time I was doing something I enjoyed. I had always cycled as a child and teenager, but learning to drive took away the need to cycle and so I stopped.
How did you do it?
I was lucky to rekindle my old love of cycling and now I am hooked. I have seven bikes and more kit than most bike shops (according to my other half). I started extending my rides to work and home and also started going out after work and at weekends.
In 2013 I signed up to complete my first Ride4Sight event, a 200 mile 3 day ride from Newcastle to Nottingham in aid of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT). That was when I started training hard and since then it has really snowballed.
Being an IT professional, I like my technology and using a diet app (MyFitnessPal) on my phone has really helped me manage my food intake. I still have the food I enjoy, but I make it a part of a balanced diet. This way, if I know I will be eating out in the evening or having a treat meal (e.g. a takeaway), I’ll have lighter meals and snacks at other times of the day, and I’ll try and fit in some exercise too.
I was lucky to rekindle my old love of cycling and now I’m hooked
What did you eat over the course of an average day?
Breakfast: Extra large bowl of cereal followed by bacon butties
Lunch: A couple of packets of sandwiches, crisps, chocolate bar and a fizzy drink.
Dinner: Kebab and chips
Snacks: Chocolate, crisps, biscuits and fizzy drinks.
Breakfast: Brown toast
Lunch: Pasta salad and fruit
Dinner: Fish and rice
How was the journey? Straightforward or were there a few plateaus along the way?
The journey hasn’t been easy and I still have a few more pounds to go. These last few pounds seem to be the hardest to lose and I have hit a kind of plateau at the moment.
How has life changed now you’ve lost the weight?
Life has completely changed. I am fit, healthy and look good (which has cost me a fortune in new clothes). I can now keep up with my little boy and he’s keen on diet and exercise having seen me on my journey.
Who helped you the most, and who got in the way?
My fiance Charlotte and my son Alex have helped the most by being there every step of the way with love and support. The only person that can get in the way is yourself and at times I would, but my family would always pick me up and drag me around.
Life has completely changed since I lost weight – I am fit, healthy and look good!
What surprised you about losing weight?
All the positive effects it has had on my life, health and happiness.
If you could go back to the person you were at your heaviest, what would you say to him?
You don’t need that extra helping, and get off your arse!
You’re Prime Minister for the day, what one law do you bring in to help others who are obese?
I would make food and health education mandatory at school to allow young people to grow up with the tool to make smarter choices with food and exercises rather than wait until their 30s like me. I found throughout my journey that education about what a healthy portion size is and what a healthy balanced diet is so important.
What else should we know about your weight loss story?
I have started competing in cycle racing for a team called RPD Racing. I have five top 10 results and 1 win to my name and I am making progress up the tiers of amateur road racing, which hopefully will allow me to race against the top domestic pros in the future.
I’ve now completed two Ride4Sight challenges for CHECT and I am currently involved in planning the third which is in September this year, covering 200 miles in 2 days. Donations to this great cause can be made via JustGiving here.
I have also written a couple of blogs and been interviewed for my team’s website. You can check out some examples here.
What three things do other fat men need to know about losing weight?
- You will only succeed when you are ready to do it for yourself
- The adjustment to eating better isn’t easy as bad food is so easy. Just stick to it and don’t punish yourself for having pizza, chips, etc., just remember to balance it out with better choices.
- Changes don’t happen overnight, but if you stick with it one or two bad days will not derail the whole process.