Men who have struggled with obesity often share similar vices – a nice, frosty, calorie-laden beer being a common example – and this week’s Amazing Loser Roger Smith is no exception. Like his American Dad namesake, Roger’s other great vice besides booze was junk food, but unlike Stan’s alien pal, Our Roger didn’t so much defecate gold as regurgitate golden arches. While this wasn’t the catalyst for change, it was symptomatic of the sedentary, convenience-food-driven lifestyle in which so many of us find ourselves, and to which MAN v FAT Football offers an alternative…
- Name: Roger Smith (ask him anything on Talk)
- Location: Bridgwater, Somerset
- Job: Shopping Centre Manager
- Height: 6′ (182.5cm)
- Age: 47
- Highest weight: 235lbs (107kg)
- Lowest weight: 201lbs (91.2kg)
- Plan: Calorie Counting (MyFitnessPal)
How did you get to the position where you needed to lose that weight?
The biggest reason for me getting overweight was the complete lack of attention I paid to my size. Even though I knew that my clothes weren’t fitting me properly if at all, it just didn’t register as a problem so I did nothing to change it.
[blocktext align=”right”]” I didn’t even know that parachutes had weight limits”[/blocktext]
What negative experiences did you have of being overweight?
At first I would have said it was mainly comments made by family and friends regarding my size but on reflection I was struggling to do basic things like walk up the stairs without being out of breath and even putting my socks on and taking them off was something that made my heart pump that bit harder.
What made you decide to change?
On a very rare visit to the gym I decided to weigh myself for about the first time in six months and whilst I knew that 107kgs was too heavy, it wasn’t until I converted it to 16st 12lbs that it struck me how overweight I was.
I remember saying to myself that enough was enough and that my wife and kids had actually been right every time they have moaned at me or taking the mickey out of my weight and size.
It was about two weeks before my 47th birthday and I realised that with a mainly office-based job, with two cafes on site for a choice of general unhealthy lunches and very little-to-no exercise, I was basically turning myself into a recipe for diabetes – a very common condition among my profession, for all of the reasons just stated.
What made it different from the times before?
Whilst I had previously tried to do my bit by joining the gym a couple of years ago, it was more about getting my heart pumping than it was about my weight really. The only time I had ever previously dieted was in 2005, when I realised I was half a stone too heavy (then 15st) to take part in a charity skydive I had organised.
Call me naïve but I didn’t even know that parachutes had weight limits! On that occasion I just ate like a rabbit for a month and lived off salads, so unsurprisingly the weight just jumped straight back on almost the moment I landed back on terra firma and started eating ‘normally’ again.
How did you do it?
Two days after that visit to the gym I saw a piece on our local newspaper’s website about something called MAN v FAT Football and thought it would be a laugh, so I registered without too much thought of what was ahead of me.
I was asked to take part in a local radio interview a day or so later where they also spoke to Ben Gallon and I started to see that this could be a bit more than just a Monday night kick about. In preparation for the radio interview I spoke to Shan and he really struck a chord when he rightly said “We all know why we’re overweight. We put too much in and don’t do enough to burn it off” which is something I have repeated at every opportunity when talking about this whole process.
Using MyFitnessPal just made something click in a brain that had been indoctrinated with the “what’s measured is managed” motto throughout years of retail and property management, and because I could see the number of calories I was consuming for the first time in my life, I actually took notice of what I was eating. I quickly realised that although I “thought” I didn’t eat much crap, I could easily go through a pack of biscuits with a cup of tea and that having a full bowl of Frosties* (other sugar-coated cereals are available) for breakfast might not be the best way to control my weight.
[blocktext align=”right”]” I used to drink 5 or 6 pints, but now I know one pint is the equivalent of an iced doughnut and even at my worst I wouldn’t eat 5 or 6 of those!”[/blocktext]
I only drink nettle tea at home, so now I only drink it at work as well – you wouldn’t want to dip a bourbon biscuit in nettle tea, would you? I like it pretty weak, so it just tastes like a warm juice drink. I don’t ever leave the teabag in long enough to get too strong a nettle taste because then it is a bit much to be fair!
I cut right down on bread and now probably only eat in a week what I’d have happily had for lunch before! The only other conscious decision to limit anything was cheese. I love cheese; Cheddar, Smoked Applewood, Stilton, Brie, Camembert, Edam… basically just cheese! I never really knew what a “slice” of cheese was, it had to be a great big chunk of it or it just didn’t count! Now I can take it or leave it and will have a nice slice and be satisfied and not need to keep going back and having more, and more, and more… you get my drift right? I love cheese!
What did you eat over the course of an average day?
The Dark Side (Before):
- Breakfast Full bowl of Frosties/Rice Krispies with loads of sugar, half a pint of milk (at least) 2 slices of toast with loads of butter.
- Lunch Any variety of meat/cheese based panini available (no salad) or sandwiches with thick bread (often 4 slices) packet of crisps, cup of tea with – on a good day – half a pack of biscuits.
- Dinner Full plate of whatever the family meal was but mainly loads of potatoes, meat with the fat on etc. My wife would give me bigger plates than the rest of the family to fit it all on!
- Drinks Lots of tea/coffee. Bottle of beer at home in the evening.
- Snacks Biscuits with every hot drink whilst in work (around four times a day) chocolate bars from on site newsagent – usually the special offer big bar for £1 size or sometimes three bars for a pound offer!
Feel the Force Luke (i.e. now):
- Breakfast 45g Dorset Cereals “Beautiful Blueberry” muesli, Activia Fruit layer yogurt – prune flavour, small banana, glass of water
- Lunch Uncle Ben’s microwave wholegrain rice with tuna/sliced turkey breast or mackerel/sardines in tomato sauce on 1 slice of granary bread
- Dinner Fresh pasta, prawns/ salmon or chicken/turkey breast (no skin), steamed vegetables, followed by fat free yogurt with fresh blueberries/grapes/strawberries
- Drinks Nettle tea, water – around 3l a day – low/non alcohol beer e.g. Brewdog Nanny State or more or less anything from Drydrinker.com
- Snacks Ham or turkey slices (the first thing that stood out in the MvF Football handbook said replace sweet treats with protein and this works brilliantly) satsuma/apple, popcorn, occasional chocolate bar – but now I’m happy with the smaller sized bars not the king size ones!
How was the journey? Straight-forward or were there a few plateaus along the way?
To be honest it has been reasonably straight-forward. Once I had set my mind on tracking calories, something I would never have even entertained previously, it just turned the right switch in my brain so that if I could see what I was eating I could control it. I managed to lose weight for all but one week of the league and knew I had changed when I was absolutely gutted to put on 200g in that “bad” week.
Previously if I hadn’t eaten by a certain time of the day I would feel awful, with migraine-like symptoms which were only cured by eating even more crap food e.g. KFC/McDonald’s etc and usually throwing that up shortly after. It sounds disgusting, but it worked virtually every time and I would do this at least once a week if not more, but I can honestly say that I have not felt hungry at any point in this process unless I have missed a regular meal time and have not had to resort to the option above again. Now, if on the rare occasion I do start to feel a bit light-headed or in need of a boost, I will buy some turkey or ham slices and eat those for a bit of protein and it’s job done, no more problem.
[blocktext align=”right”]” I got such a buzz from realising I could take my trousers down without undoing them!”[/blocktext]
How has life changed now you’ve lost the weight?
My fitness has improved to the stage where I can happily play at least an hour’s football or squash and I enjoy going to the gym. I’m even going to learn to swim which is something that has never bothered me in the past but now I want to do it and look forward to enjoying the kind of activities that I have never taken part in before, playing in the pool on holiday. I feel much better in myself with no headaches, better posture and more confidence. This may not be a great thing for those around me because I have never been too short on confidence anyway!
My family relationships have improved too. Where previously I was constantly receiving comments/all-out criticisms about my appearance, I now hear my family talking positively to others about the changes I have made.
I haven’t been too much of a drinker, in recent years anyway, but I did like a bottle or two after a day in work and would happily sink 5 or 6 pints at the pub, but now I’m a complete convert to low/non alcohol beers. I now think of 4 or 5 pints as a good meal (c.800/1000 calories) and quite often convert a pint to the equivalent of an iced doughnut – even at my best (worst) I wouldn’t have finished off 5 or 6 of them!
Who helped you the most and who got in the way?
I have to say that joining the MAN v FAT forum has been a major influence on my weight loss. The support and encouragement available from like-minded guys who have all been in the same situation cannot be faulted in my eyes.
I have always been someone that will do things when I decide it is the right time to do them, pushing deadlines as far as I possibly can but the other really big impact has been made by my Altared Images teammates in the Bridgwater league who have been brilliant. I simply did not want to let them down when we weighed in every Monday and if any of us had a dodgy day the others always rallied around him, so thanks guys.
I have been very lucky and haven’t had anyone throw obstacles in my way, which is something that is greatly appreciated.
What surprised you about losing weight?
I don’t want this to sound crass in any way, but I was surprised at how easy it was, if I’m being honest. Once I knew how many calories I needed to stick to, my brain just clicked into a different place and controlled everything else. I keep thinking back to the “we all know why we’re overweight” conversation and that seems to do the trick to be honest.
If you could go back to the person you were at your heaviest – what would you say to him?
Get a grip you fat git!
You’re Prime Minister for the day, what one law do you bring in to help others who are obese?
I’ve seen a lot of guys mention food labelling in answers to this question and I wouldn’t disagree with any of them but I would go straight into schools and educate kids on portion sizes. Cereal bowls do not have to be full and plates do not need to bulge!
What three things do other fat men need to know about losing weight?
- Exercise is key to helping your mental health as well as your physical health
- Know what, and how much, you are eating – calorie tracking isn’t for everybody but it’s not a bad place to start.
- Get support from guys in the same situation as you – people that actually know what you’re going through. These guys should be able to offer much more relevant advice that someone trying to flog a book/dvd. [Forgive me Roger, I couldn’t resist the link! Admin.]
What else should we know about your weight loss story?
I haven’t done anything that other people cannot do, I simply chose to do it at the right time for me. It’s so easy for others to knock or criticise and even though the most well-meaning comments about my size in the past have been made by those closest to me, it was never going to change until I decided to change.
I can honestly say that I have enjoyed losing weight and have got such a buzz about things that I would have literally laughed at people about in the past – like the feeling when I realised I could take my trousers down without undoing them. I’m really proud when I tell people I have lost 20cms off my waistline so if I can do absolutely anyone can!
I’m also really proud to now be a MAN v FAT Football Coach and look forward to helping all those that join this and future Bridgwater leagues.