Thanks so much to Andrew for stepping up & joining the ranks of us Not.Biggest.Loser-types.
In 2002, at 43 years of age I had a routine company-sponsored medical examination. The liver results were a little screwy and the doctor recommended some further tests. After some more blood tests and an ultrasound, the specialist I was referred to diagnosed me with “fatty liver”, a condition where large build-ups of triglyceride fats occur in the liver cells, causing the liver to really struggle. The specialist gave me two choices; lose 20 kg (44 lbs), or have a liver biopsy. I chose the former.
This diagnosis shouldn’t have come as a surprise. I was 110 kg (243 lbs), with a BMI and body fat % of about 35. I had been like this for the previous 15 years or so.
I had been a very active junior, playing pretty high grade soccer until I was about 18. I became less active while studying at university, and after university got married to my beautiful wife who is a wonderful cook, and took up a fairly sedantary career in IT. I was stressed and worked too many hours and probably ate too much. I didn’t really exercise, other than playing with the kids as they grew up. I coached junior basketball for many years and sort of kidded myself that standing around on the court and pointing and shouting was exercise.
So, 22 years later I’m walking out of a specialist’s office with an instruction to lose 20 kg.
I walked, I rode my bike and I tried to eat better. I lost 10 kg in about 6 months. Specialist and I were both happy. Over the next 6 months, I lost a little more but not enough. Then over the next year it all went back on again (well most of it, all except a couple of kg).
It appears that the “fatty liver” diagnosis wasn’t enough of a wake-up call.
In June of 2004 I went on a two-week business trip around Asia (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore) with a work colleague. My work colleague was a female, just over 9 years older than me. The weather was very humid, we had two weekends and a public holiday to “see the sights” and to put it plainly I just could not keep up with her. I can still remember the public holiday we had in Hong Kong where we did a lot of walking around, and I thought I was going to die, I was so unfit – and I was struggling to keep up with a 50+ female work colleague. When I got home, I said to Adrienne, I have to do something about my weight and get fit.
So, I did.
By June of 2005 I had lost about 24 kg by sensible eating and increasing the amount of exercise I took – primarily walking and cycling again. I wanted to lose a bit more, but started to find it really tough, hitting a plateau – big time. I joined a gym and started a 6 month plan with a personal trainer – this helped a little, but not a lot. My trainer kept telling me I should run, but I had never been a runner, and didn’t think I could do it, as I had a history of knee pain. However, he persisted (as they do) and I decided to try – it was oh so hard at first (run a few steps, die a little, run a few more), but gradually I got addicted to running. He also told me to start keeping a training log, and every piece of exercise I’ve done since then is stilled logged there.
I bought and read lots of books on fitness and running, quickly filling up a couple of shelves on my bookcase.
I came across the Ausrun Runner’s World internet forum, and found a wonderfully supportive and friendly group of people, who talked me into my first “fun run” the 2006 14km “Run For The Kids”. What a blast! Since then I’ve run numerous other runs, including my first half marathon later in 2006, and my first and only (and very ugly) full marathon in 2007.
In April of 2007 I bought myself a new road bike and that really reignited my boyhood love of cycling. In 2008 I completed three triathlons, but have decided that I don’t like the swim leg, so I think I’ve done my last triathlon. Now I love doing some of the longer group participation rides, my favourite the 145km Great Ocean Otway Classic.
After getting down to a minimum of 68 kg, I settled on a “happy weight range” of between 70-75 kg (154-165 lbs) in August of 2005, and have managed to maintain that now for five and a half years. So, I’ve managed to go from a weight of 110 kg, down to about 72 kg, a body fat of 35% down to about 17%, a BMI of 34.5 down to 22.3, a waist size of 44in down to 33in and a clothes size of XXL or XL down to M or S.
I started blogging in January of 2006 after seeing a number of my Ausrun friends doing it. The main reason I started was accountability. I have really found that putting my health and fitness goals “out there” and tracking my progress terribly helpful in my weight maintenance. You can find me at http://ajhblog.wordpress.com
Here are some tips I published on my blog on the occasion of my 5 year weight maintenance anniversary. I think they summarise how I have managed to lose and maintain my weight.
- Exercise sensible portion control. I firmly believe this is one of the biggest contributors to our obesity epidemic – our meals are usually just too big!
- Think about what you eat. I think my mind-set change has been to think about eating a “fuelling your body”, if you think about it this way it does make you think about what you put in your mouth. Cut out the crap!
- Learn about how your body works and about good nutrition. There are so many good books out there, and so many web sites, and knowing about how your body works and what it needs to work properly for you, just helps so much.
- Don’t deny yourself the things you love, everything is okay in moderation. I can’t do without my red wine and chocolate!
- Exercise consistently. Successfully maintaining the required level of exercise is all about making it a habit. Once you get into the habit, you will start to crave it and find you can’t live without it.
- Find some forms of exercise you enjoy. This sounds obvious, but if you can find something you love doing, obviously you are more likely to do it often.
- Cross-train. Most forms of exercise will emphasise some part of your body or other, and if you just do that one type of exercise, that part of your body may tend to wear out. Finding two or three different types of exercise you like and your body will thank you.
- Log it. Keep track of how you’re doing in a training journal or spreadsheet. I have found this to be extremely helpful.
- Set goals and tell everyone about them. Set yourself a few different goals and then make sure everyone knows about them. This will make you much more motivated to succeed.
- Get good medical advice. If you get injured, or get any little niggles, go get some expert advice (this probably isn’t your local GP, unless they are a very good one). A sports doctor is a good idea as they will be very sympathetic and understanding of your deisre to stay active. I was really lucky to find Dr K., and a couple of very good physios, they got me through my knee issues.
- Look after your body. Spend time to stretch, practice self-massage (I love my foam roller), apply ice if needed and also spend time strength training.
- Go follow some blogs of some like-minded people. It is amazing how motivating and helpful, reading about and communicating with others who are on similar journeys can be. You’ll learn heaps from so many different people with different perspectives.
And lastly, thanks to all of you out there in internet-land who have been so helpful along the way, and of course a special mention to our lovely host Carla, who has to be one of the most positive, inspirational examples to all of us!