- Name: Geoff Beckett (ask him anything on Talk)
- Height: 5’9″ (176 cm)
- Job: Flight instructor
- Age: 40
- Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
- Highest weight: 242 lbs (110 kg) – June 2015
- Lowest weight: 202 lbs (92 kg) – Nov 2015
We are so excited to bring you Geoff’s story as he’s an authentic MAN v FAT success story. As we speak I’m finalising plans to have him stuffed, mounted and displayed in the lobby of MAN v FAT Omnicorp HQ. Needless to say that if you want to have a chat with Geoff, he’s on TALK. So, welcome Geoff! First off let’s discuss the issue that work played in you gaining weight.
I have been around this weight loss – weight gain circle three times now. My initial weight gain occurred once I left the army in my mid twenties. I hated PT in the army and once I left and it wasn’t compulsory my weight did the obvious and went crazy. I’m not sure what weight I was while I was in the army but I would guess around 80-85kg. I remember after about 12 months of being out I was knocking on 100kg. That was the first time I did Body For Life (BFL). I lost all the weight I had gained and then some.
Once I stopped BFL which is a strictly no-alcohol plan, I started back with drinking. This lead to weight gain. Pretty soon I was back to 100kg. I did the BFL program a third time. This time I didn’t stop the drinking and while I lost a lot of weight I didn’t do as well as the first time. It wasn’t too long before I was back to an inactive life style and I put on all that weight again and then some. At 110kg and 40 in June this year I did BFL for the third time.
So to answer the question why I ended up in the position I needed to lose weight – the insidiousness of inactivity mixed with consuming alcohol.
Tell us about Body For Life – how does it work? Would you recommend it to others?
Body for Life is a twelve week programme created by a weight lifter and body-builder Bill Phillips (the book can be found here). It focuses on restricting your calorie intake over the 12 weeks and also building up your muscle with a set programme of exercises. The authorised foods are the usual stuff: salad, veggies, sweet potato, brown rice, lean meat, fish. You also have one portion of protein, one portion of carbs, and as much veg as you want per meal and you eat six times per day.
A portion was roughly the same size as my fist. I did not stray from this list for six days and on the seventh I had a day of cheat meals, which is built into the programme. Although I should point out that while I was cheating I seldom ever had more than a normal day’s calories. After the first week I started an alternating exercise plan of weight training one day, cardio the next. The cardio was HIIT training lasting 20 minutes and the weight training alternated between upper and lower body and it lasted for 45 mins. Those familiar with BFL will know the drill. I didn’t use supplements until after the twelfth week.
What made you decide to change this final time?
When you have come from fit to fat you notice the way people treat you changes. It’s very slow, but fast enough to notice. You think that you must be going crazy because you’re not used to it, but you definitely notice it. Besides this there are also the negative effects of your general health state. You’ll know what I’m talking about; unable to tie shoe laces, needing a run-up to turn over in bed, reflux, poor gastrointestinal efficiency, smacking your gut on door frames/tables/people, getting gas. These things are horrible enough but being looked at and treated like you are a second class citizen is the worst.
For me the breaking point was seeing a picture of myself that I almost couldn’t recognize. There were other things like being called “Big Boy” or when the topic of obesity or being fat brings smirks and sideways glances in your direction, followed by the inevitable embarrassment. You never consider yourself as fat when you come from fit. Your mental image is usually of that fit young bugger you think you look like! I also lost a good mate last year and while it was an infection that took him, he was well over 300lbs and that weight prevented him from surviving. That caused me to take stock of my health and while it took a while for the penny to drop he was never far from my mind.
You’ve been through the loop three times with BFL. What is it that made you feel it was different from the times before?
I honestly felt like this time was the last chance. In my head I was fighting against all those people that I thought doubted me. Every day I woke and thought “Screw you all! I’m doing this and any of you who doubt me can go to hell!” It worked! I got angry, I got very angry at times. I visualised all the things that I blamed for why I was the way I was. Myself, my choices, the naysayers, the people that treated me without respect. I put all that negative energy into effort and resolve.
It was a little hard at times to channel that energy without it overflowing and for that I later took time out to apologise in person to people I thought I may have upset. That was an important step for me, because I would normally be very easy-going and so I felt like I was seeing a side of me that I had never seen before. But I think the process taught me that I’m more important than I ever thought I was. I learned that I have to put myself and my own beliefs first or it would result in a loss of self-worth and that would lead back to the way I was.
How was the journey? Straight-forward or were there a few plateaus along the way?
The first 12 weeks went blockbusters. I lost over a kg per week. Starting weight was 110kg and I finished on a little over 98kg. I had a rest week and lost another 1kg just doing some light jogging every second day. At this point I selected a weight training program from the internet and downloaded an app for my iPhone and set about trying to get rid of the remaining 7kgs. My goal of 90 still seemed a long way off.
After two weeks of the new program my weight loss plateaued and I became incredibly frustrated and then worried I had done some kind of damage to my metabolism. After several weeks of worry and a few neurotic MAN v FAT forum posts about it I eventually started to drop the weight again. What I know now was during the time my weight had remained stationary I had increased my calories quite a bit. Effectively and without knowing it at the time I was bulking instead of losing weight. But the result a few weeks later, once I twigged and made some changes, was significant muscle and strength gains which then later translated into some really great weight loss figures which I’m still enjoying today!
How has life changed now you’ve lost the weight?
I have more energy than I could possibly need for a day. I wake up every morning with a clear head, hungry as heck, and looking forward to the meals and exercise. During times of stress prior to June I would rely on a couple of rums and a bag of empty calories, we used to call them crisps, to take the edge off the stress. Now I use the gym. I love the gym now. If I don’t workout I get salty.
I have found people treat me very differently now I’ve lost the weight. I have been incredibly humbled by how many make a special point of stopping me and telling me how great I’m looking. A few still treat me strange but now instead of thinking it must be me I can see the truth which is that it’s their own misery that makes them like this. I feel sorry for them, because guess what the common denominator with them all is? Yep, they’re all obese or at least well overweight. I recognize the hollow look in their faces.If I look at each of the times I “fell off the wagon” I can see that the same factors came up.
I think it’s fair to say that you’ve been on the yo-yo rollercoaster with your weight – how are you going to protect yourself from a future recurrence?
I think that the answer to this question would make me a very rich man! If I look at each of the times I “fell off the wagon” I can see that the same factors came up. The two main factors were alcohol and stress. Perhaps there isn’t much I can do about the latter but now I have proven to myself I can control the booze, as I’m nearly six months dry, I feel that I am in a stronger position.
It’s the combination of stress and alcohol that has us eating 5,000 calories in a day while sitting on the couch drinking beer watching sport. Life will always have plenty of curve balls to throw at us and as long as know how to look after myself I’ll be fine but let’s face it, one day I’ll need to intervene again but hopefully it will be before I get too far gone and if I do, I know what to do.
How did you find out about MAN v FAT?
Simple: I googled man and fat! I was feeling a little delicate one day like I was tempted to go on a bender and throw away all the hard work I had put in. Something happened that got me feeling very hopeless and I was getting very frustrated. I read through a lot of the posts and information and found that I was among my people. The same thoughts and self-destructive patterns that caused me to be so unhealthy in the past were staring at me from the other posts I read. I thought “…yeah these blokes will understand what my problems are…”
If another guy is reading this and feeling that they share the problems you had, how would you tell them to make use of MAN v FAT?
Squawk up. Put your thoughts down on the forums. Say what is on your mind. No matter what it is, either someone else has experienced the same issue, or at least you can simply get it off your chest. MVFIA is obviously a great way to be accountable for the month too.
What has surprised you about losing weight?
Honestly, how fast and easy it was to lose. I know a few people reading will be swearing at me right now, but I honestly found the journey to be a lot easier than the previous times. I was never hungry in the early months. I ate six times a day, so I never had even so much as a gurgle from a hungry tummy.
The other funny thing about losing weight for me was that during this time I was wearing the same uniform at work. The weight loss was very much hidden due to my baggy pants and jersey. Shortly after finishing the the first 12 weeks I went out to a house party with my colleagues from work. I got there late and walked inside and wondered why the heck everyone was ignoring me! “What have I done? Why are they just looking through me like I’m not even there?” Well, they didn’t recognise me! I saw them everyday at work but here I was standing in front of them in slim-fitting jeans and a shirt, they had no idea who I was. When they each started to recognize me it was priceless. Lots of man hugs!
What else should we know about your weight loss story?
During this time I have largely kept to myself. I’m not one of these people who has to look disapprovingly at others eating bad food or offer all my , “I’ve just stopped eating rubbish and lost lots of weight” hypocritical views. I certainly haven’t turned into a crusader of healthy living, but I found people gravitated toward me and want to change. I offer them any and all advice I can give them, but I always tell them that they have to make the decision to change. Bill Phillips calls it “crossing the abyss”. It’s that mental step that needs to be made and unless you make it, it won’t happen. You need to find your reasons for changing.
As with all our Amazing Losers and their weight loss before and after stories, Geoff is on Talk, where he is happy to chat through anything you’d like to know. It’s all free and it makes up the world’s biggest social network of men who want to get and give support around weight loss.