Knowledge is power – Amazing Loser Ian Coles

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This week’s Amazing Loser Ian did what we like to encourage everyone to do when embarking on a weight loss journey – get stuck into the whys and hows of weight loss. By learning as much as he could, Ian has made an impressive change that has led to him losing over 80lbs. Knowledge is power, after all.

Name: Ian Coles

Location: Cardiff

Occupation: Unfortunately redundant and desperately searching for work!

Highest weight: 121.4kg / 19st 1.6lbs / 267.6lbs

Current weight: 83.5kg / 13st 2lbs / 184.1lbs

Weight lost: 37.9kg / 5st 13lbs / 83.6lbs

What led to you becoming overweight?

A number of things really. I would say the biggest defining factor was comfort/emotional eating to make me feel ‘happy’. I can also be lazy so this led to me consuming a lot of fast food and snacks.

I’d get a hit of happiness from the taste, but it’s very fleeting, so it leads you to consume more. When I left to go to university I suddenly had the freedom to eat what I liked, when I wanted, without any judgement and it all went downhill from there.

What negative experiences did you have of being overweight?

It’s been a horrible cloud hanging over me my whole life. From being embarrassed when ordering uniform sizes to hating being in photographs.

It’s affected my confidence a huge amount, I’ve never felt ’normal’. It’s especially horrible when you’re out clothes shopping and they simply do not cater for your size. It’s not a feeling that I’d wish on my worst enemy.

What made you decide that you needed to lose weight?

I first got the proper urge on my partner’s birthday, a day when I consumed two three-course meals in one day. I thought enough is enough, I knew in my mind that it couldn’t continue but I wasn’t really sure how to do something about it.

What was your diet like before you lost weight?

I think the best example to use, and it’s the one I remember the best, is the lunch I had on the day I got introduced to MAN v FAT. I went to Burger King and had a discount voucher from the back of a bus ticket to get a small meal (burger & chips) for £1.99. I didn’t think one would be sufficient, so I bought two and ate them both.

What method did you use to lose weight?

The first thing I did was learn. I just learnt about calories and the basic science/maths behind weight loss. I then used MyFitnessPal to track calories for a short while, but I found this quite restricting as it didn’t really allow you to track homemade food accurately, and when I do something I like to do it as accurately as possible.

With the info, and going through weighing food, like cereal, to understand portion size, I was able to find a routine and take a portion of free choice out of my diet. With this routine, I was able to find a system that saw me consistently losing weight each week.

Technology has played a huge part of my journey, having a smartwatch and smart scales has meant that I have been able to accurately keep up with where I am and this has kept me accountable – knowledge is power.

What do you eat in a day now?

Back when I was working, I would have the same thing every day. A porridge pot for breakfast (approx 210 cals), a ‘healthy’ ready meal for lunch (400 cals) and then a treat afterwards like 3 Jaffa Cakes (150 cals). This gave me a good budget to have an evening meal and be more relaxed on days that I wasn’t in the office. I was also extremely active, burning about 1,000 ‘active’ calories extra every day which helped.

What did you find difficult about losing weight?

Fighting the urge to give up after a difficult day or week when things haven’t gone to plan. It’s a mental battle with yourself to keep yourself in line, and no one else can make that happen. You only fail when you give up is easy to say, but really hard to follow.

How has life changed now that you’ve lost weight?

My life has changed immeasurably, my eating habits have completely changed along with my attitude towards food. But it’s the simple things – being proud when you see yourself in a photo or going into a shop and going straight for the ‘medium’ section.

Are you managing to maintain your weight loss? How difficult is that?

I hit a healthy BMI 18 months ago and the last 18 months have been the most difficult. Naturally, I treated that moment as a finish line and then when I reached it there was a huge urge to relax and regress. I really struggled to find a new routine and to adapt to my new goals.

It was the hardest part of the journey and something I’m still struggling with today. I’ve made massive changes to who I am, but the old me is definitely still inside there.

How was lockdown for you?

Really tough. I lost my job because of COVID and at the time of writing, I’ve applied for over 100 roles but just received rejections. It’s having a big impact on my mental wellbeing and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel yet.

It’s had a huge impact on my weight. What with being at home, my routine went out the window and I quickly put on 3kg. I couldn’t let all my previous hard work go to waste so I made a huge effort to adapt and make changes so that I could manage.

That led to a new plan, which has seen that 3kg come off along with a little bit more.

You like to run – how did you start running?

I started running about 8 years ago, in an effort to get fit and healthy, but that fell away quite quickly! Now that I’ve made some long-lasting lifestyle changes, I run a lot.

I set myself a challenge to run every single day, and at the time of writing, I’m still going! I’ve just hit day 141 and I’ve passed the 1,000-mile mark. It’s just a way of making sure I keep active, and it allows me to work towards a goal.

Running has given me something which I can push myself at, achieve goals and improve myself. You don’t need to worry too much about technique so it’s really just about the frequency in which you do it and you will get better.

It’s also great for headspace as you can’t do anything else while running apart from think.

We often hear from men that they want to get into running, but don’t know where to start. What tips would you have for them?

Don’t put any pressure on your yourself to do any distance or duration. The hardest part of ANY run is getting out the front door, as it’s so easy to create barriers for yourself. If you get out the door you are winning, and then if you’ve done 500m or 5km you have overtaken anyone that’s sat on a sofa.

You’ll always regret not going for a run, but you’ll never regret going for one. The feeling after going for a run knowing you have done it is brilliant.

You’re also a MAN v FAT Football player. How has it helped you lose weight?

Being part of a club where everyone is in the same boat gives you the structure and information to succeed. I wouldn’t have succeeded without MAN v FAT Football, it’s that simple.

My teammates have played a huge role in my weight loss. Having a group of people there to support you, share your success and keep you going was a big, big factor for me. They are legends, every single one of them.

What three things do men need to know about weight loss?

  1. The science and maths behind losing weight is actually super simple.
  2. There’s lots and lots of false information out there. Don’t get lost in misinformation.
  3. A bad day or week is just a pause – you only fail if you quit.


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