- Name – Tony Cowards (feel free to ask him any questions you want here)
- Job: Stand-up comedian and comedy writer (GQ said he was “the best joke writer around”)
- Height: 5’9″ (175.3 cm)
- Age: 41
- Highest weight: 198 lbs (89.8kg)
- Lowest weight: 160 lbs (72.6kg)
Click here to watch our chat with Tony, or see it at the bottom of this article.
Here’s a good one for you – have you heard the one about the fat comedian? Sorry Tony, how did you end up needing to lose weight?
The lifestyle of a stand-up comedian is really not geared up for healthy living, being on the road often leads to late night snacks of Ginsters pasties, crisps and chocolate bars. This combined with getting up late, feeling lethargic during the day and doing very little exercise isn’t really a recipe for staying in shape.
When I was at my heaviest I constantly felt tired and demotivated from doing anything, whenever I was bored I’d go to the kitchen and find things to snack on. My emotions were all over the place too, I often felt really unhappy without any specific reason. I started struggling to fit into lots of my clothes and whenever I saw pictures of myself on stage I was shocked at how big I looked.
Did you find that it was starting to impact on your act? Did you get any fat heckles?
Check out Tony’s video to hear his answer to this one! Don’t forget to subscribe!
What made you decide to change?
It was while on holiday in Bali, we were staying on a resort with amazing facilities, so I swam every day and went to the gym most mornings. When we got back to the UK I wanted to carry on what I’d started and really get into shape. In terms of diet I did one of my own devising – the classic “Eat Less, Move More” diet. I simply ate less food and did more exercise.
So when you say you ate less, what do you eat on a daily basis now?
I generally have porridge for breakfast, or occasionally a fat-free yogurt, then a fairly light lunch (soup or a pitta bread “sandwich”) and pretty much whatever I want for my main meal in the evening, although I do still keep an eye on the calories and try to minimise them if I can e.g. choose a “healthy living” or “low fat” version if I’m having a ready-meal. I do still snack, KitKat Chunkys and packets of mini Cheddars, but I try to make sure that I have those after I’ve burned the equivalent amount of calories. I also make sure I drink one fruit smoothie (250ml) per day and try to have at least one piece of fruit, generally a banana.
How did you make this diet successful compared to others?
I’m not sure. I know that’s not much help but for some reason this time I was able to keep it going long term rather than getting bored after a couple of weeks. I guess it was down to me setting myself some proper goals and a workout schedule. I used, and still use, EA Sport Active 2 on the Wii, which has a nine week fitness programme along with Wii Fit which I use to weigh myself every morning and do additional exercises and yoga.
One of the big things was realising when I was eating out of boredom and making sure that when that happened rather than go to the fridge I’d go out for a walk with the dog or do some exercise, anything to stimulate my mind and body and stop me from grazing.The important thing was not to throw in the towel and to make sure that I redoubled my efforts whenever I had a minor set back.
Any tips that you learned from losing the weight?
It’s been relatively straight-forward once I got into it, I found that by setting myself little goals, for example going out for a walk and thinking “Right, I’m going to do two miles this time.” The competitive instinct in me kicked in and then I’d want to keep pushing myself a bit more each time.
There have definitely been plateaus though and periods when I’ve put weight back on but the important thing was not to throw in the towel and to make sure that I redoubled my efforts whenever I had a minor set back.
How do you feel life has changed now you’ve lost weight?
On the plus side I feel so much better, I have more energy and I feel happier, on the minus side most of my clothes no longer fit me! It really surprised me how much healthier losing weight would make me feel, both physically and mentally.
If I could go back in time I’d tell myself to get on and do it. Thanks to my job I’m “time rich” so there’s no excuse for not devoting some of that time to getting fit and active.
You get to make one new law to help other people lose weight – what is it?
I’m not sure legislation can really help but, I guess, regulating standard portion sizes might help, I often feel that a lot of restaurants favour quantity over quality, they pile your plate full of food giving you the illusion of “value for money” when often it’s just cheap food with little nutritional value and human nature means that we are under pressure to clean our plates even when we’ve eaten enough.