Mike's Healthier Lifestyle Weight Loss Success
Mike’s Healthier Lifestyle Weight Loss Success

Changing habits and adopting a healthy lifestyle has helped Mike shrink his waist size by a massive 12” and has given him back his love of mischief and zest for life. Read his inspirational story.

Mike's Healthier Lifestyle Weight Loss Success

Mike, Age 44, Height 5ft 9in
Start Weight 18st 5lbs
Current Weight 12st 10lbs
Goal Weight 12st 7lbs
Weight Lost 5st 9lbs - Wow!
Working to Rate of Loss 1½lbs per week
Time Taken 8 months

About Mikey

When I joined WLR I was working in Recruitment for a major financial services organisation and had been on a 4 year project which involved working long hours (60-80 hours per week), and an endless round of travelling, meetings, conferences and seminars.

"My lifestyle was stressful and with a family of teenagers I had little time for food planning or exercise."

I tended to miss breakfast regularly, snack on the run and eat late. I often vegged out in front of the TV when I was at home and there was always crisps/cake/chocolate to eat.

I would go to a local social club or pub for a few pints one weekend and travel to football in London on the next and drink there too.

My alcohol intake although not huge as I didn’t drink a lot during the week was in the 15-20 units per week and would sometimes be over 25 in a single week.

How Have Family or Close Relationships Affected Your Eating Habits

I had been married for 22 years before joining WLR and there is no doubt that a settled family life led to my weight increasing.

There was always food to snack on in the fridge and chocolate biscuits in the house and we would quite often drink a bottle of wine in an evening rather than go out.

In the early years when the children were physically active then I was fitter from playing with them but in the last 3 years as they became teenagers that side of family life reduced and I stopped doing any exercise at all.

Allied to my busy work schedule I put on about 14lbs a year for the last 3 years.

"Meals were also difficult to plan as we had one daughter working shifts, one at school and a son at college."

This often meant that mealtimes were erratic and we tended to eat in shifts and at non-predetermined times.

When I joined WLR I started to consciously plan meals for my family and took more time (and pleasure from cooking).

I would plan a meal for 5 people but cook something that could be easily re-heated and re-used later to accommodate our unpredictable meal times.

Unfortunately about 3 months after joining WLR I became separated from my wife and family and went to live with my father who is elderly and had been suffering from illness for a little while.

"This gave me much more scope to shop and prepare for a healthier diet and I have taken over the majority of the cooking responsibility and take great pleasure from it."

My job certainly affected my weight in the last 4 years as it was noticeable that I put weight on as I had less time to prepare for a healthier lifestyle.

I was travelling on the train at 7.30am most mornings and not getting home until 7pm-8pm most nights.

I also did a lot of entertaining and stayed away from home in hotels and conference centres too.

I would sometimes drink 8-10 cups of coffee with milk and sugar a day (the staple diet of financial services) and when away would while away the evenings in the bar with colleagues and a beer (or 2 or 3 or 4!)

"At the end of last Summer I was given the opportunity to take a sabbatical from work for a 7 month period and I used this to great affect by planning a healthier lifestyle and to start exercising regularly; more about that below."

I am planning to start work again in the next 4-8 weeks and now feel that I have learned to keep a balance between my work/exercise/home/social lives.

Dieting History

I had never really tried a formal diet regime before.

I did a similar calorie counting plan about 12 years ago when I did temporarily get down to around 14 stone but it didn’t last long.

I have a healthy scepticism of “wonder diets” and a dislike of the WW, Slimming World type regimes where you have to be publicly shamed or embarrassed to lose weight.

I am always sceptical where the diet requires you to buy their own products or indeed where they market their own foods. There has to be a conflict of interest there somewhere?

"I had seen friends and family try (mostly unsuccessfully) for years to diet using WW and all I saw was a yo-yo effect of losing weight, coming off the diet and then putting some or all of the weight back on."

I was sure that a “diet” as such wasn’t the answer but that what was needed was a lifestyle change.

How Being Overweight Has Affected You…

I would tell myself for years that my weight wasn’t a barrier to doing anything but at the same time I withdrew from doing things.

"I was a very keen (and quite good) sportsman until my early 30’s and played cricket, squash and football to a reasonable level."

I thought that I was happy to be a spectator at these things but in reality I know now that I was just trying to convince myself that “my time had passed” to do those things.

As a younger man (18-25) I was a very social and outgoing guy but in the past 10 years I became a bit of a recluse at parties and would stand on the sidelines watching and pretending to enjoy watching my friends have fun.

I particularly remember my firm’s Xmas Conference/Party in 2007 when I pretended to have a headache in order to get away early as I just couldn’t bear to see my friends having such a great time on the dance floor.

I was just too embarrassed to try and join in.

Between October and Mid-November I joined a couple of online dating sites and was constantly humiliated by being rejected by ladies who professed not “to judge by appearance” but who would just ignore me or send hurtful replies.

Whilst it wasn’t the main driver behind my decision to become healthier it certainly inspired me to continue on my path.

Motivation to Lose Weight

I am often asked why I decided to lose weight almost as if there had to be one particular reason.

I can honestly say that there was a combination of events that made my mind up.

"I had been saying for a few years that I was “going to lose weight” but there was never the time. In May of last year I met up with an old friend via the internet that I hadn’t seen for 15 years."

The week before we were due to meet; his wife emailed me to say that he had been taken to Papworth hospital with suspected heart problems and was awaiting quadruple heart by-pass surgery.

I went to see him the next day and was struck by how healthy he looked compared to me.

He was a very fit 46 year old policeman who just happened to have hereditary artery problems and only his fitness had enabled him to survive the heart attack.

I just knew as I waddled around the hospital grounds fetching him coffee that I would not have.

Secondly; my best friend at work had gone on a diet and when I saw him he had lost 30lbs and looked great.

"He and I were similarly overweight although he was much taller and held it better; but all of a sudden I was the only one in the office with a very noticeable weight problem."

He is a year older than me and was still playing football and playing golf and being active.

Lastly; I had started to notice some health problems that weren’t getting better.

To put it discreetly my bowels just weren’t working the way they should; I was constantly tired and often out of breath and had recently renewed an asthma inhaler prescription that I hadn’t used in 5 years.

My skin was often dry and itchy and my eyes were dull and I just felt low.

Having worked in financial services for many years and been an adviser on Critical Illness and Life Assurance Plans I also knew that I was in the danger area for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and other weight related illnesses.

My blood pressure was in the above average/cause for concern zone; my BMI was in the very obese area of the chart and my cholesterol level way above normal.

How Weight Loss Resources Helps

I found WLR by searching online using the phrase “diets for men”. I knew that WW and Slimming World etc. weren’t for me and I wanted to be able to plan things better.

"I can use IT very well; had unlimited access to wireless broadband and like most guys I am also very target orientated."

I knew instantly I found the Food Diary that I had found what I wanted. I love being able to see exactly what I was going to eat and to plan my days.

The exercise diary was a joy too and I soon bought a HRM and a wireless Speedometer/Calorie Counter for my mountain bike too.

"I have used the exercise/food diary without fail for every single day with two exceptions."

I didn’t use it whilst on holiday last July and neither did I over a 10 day period in December and New Year as I had worked hard for 6 months so I didn’t have to!

I check my goals section nearly every day to re-empathise why I am doing this and the downward track of my weight-loss graph is a great motivator.

Lastly (although not leastly) I must mention the WLR Help Team and the Forums.

The Help Team have been fabulous; I have never had a query not answered and usually promptly.

"In the early days they were very encouraging and latterly they have become part of my WLR life and I can’t thank them enough for what they do."

As for the forums…..what can I say? At first I used the Advice and Support forums (as all newbies do) to pick the brains of the old hands and the successful WLR’s and this worked great for me.

Eventually; I plucked up the courage to move to the Off Topic forum and it literally transformed my experience on WLR.

I have to mention a few friends on here that have really motivated and inspired me and if I have missed a few people off then I sincerely apologise but you are all deeply embedded in my (now much healthier) heart.

Angedoyle was an inspiration early on as was Donnyfan *bows from the waist* and latterly AndieCupcake has become a great friend and a true help to me as well as proving that WLR really works.

The OT forum is by turns, irreverent, funny, sad, mad and serious; but at the core of it is a great bunch of kind and motivated people who I am proud to call my friends (you know who you are!).

Why Do You Think WLR Helped Where Others Failed?

I can’t really speak for other diet systems but I have to say the strength of WLR for me is that it isn’t a “fad” or a “diet”.

It promotes a lifestyle and a healthy respect for food that can easily be continued once you wish to maintain rather than lose weight.

"It is easy to embed into your lifestyle and that makes it unique because its strength is in your ability to keep the weight off and to stay healthy rather than just to lose lbs."

I can honestly say that with a couple of brief exceptions I have never really struggled or hit a plateau because I rarely deviated from the plan that was set me.

On the two brief occasions I can think of that I did plateau I believed so strongly in the concept of “less calories in than out = weight loss” that I knew that I would come through it and it just made me more determined to work at it.

With a lot of help and encouragement from my friends on the forums (particularly those who had completed their own journeys) I forced my way through those periods.

Lifestyle Changes

This really has been a completely life-changing period for me. Leaving aside the obvious personal change in my relationship circumstances I feel and look completely different.

I now play squash regularly, I run, cycle and swim and visit the gym 3-4 times a week.

"I have stopped snoring (or so I am told periodically), I don’t get out of breath and my skin and bodily functions have all returned to normal."

In addition I have received a huge rush of self-confidence as the realisation that I CAN be self-disciplined enough to do this has kicked in.

I was a very bad nail biter for my entire life and always had horribly bitten fingers and torn nails.

"Half way through my period on WLR I stopped this habit after 40 years because WLR gave me the confidence that I could."

I went to my sister’s wedding in December and danced with my son and daughter and my siblings, nephews and nieces for the first time in living memory.

My sister told me that I was a completely different person at her wedding. I was happy, smiling and looked full of fun (mischief I think she called it!); the way I had used to be.

I now shop for nice clothes and recently treated myself to my first ever Levi Strauss 501’s because I knew they would actually look good.

Even my kids have noticed because my eldest two took me out at Xmas and bought me nice clothes and enjoyed making me model for them in shops like Next and Fat Face (Yes ok I can do that joke too!) which I could never have done before.

I have the confidence now to accept an invite to try Salsa dancing and to join a swimming club and I intend to try skiing too. I also now enjoy (rather than endure) walking and cycling etc.

In addition I have discovered that I am becoming attractive to the fairer sex and this has has led to me recently gaining a lovely new girlfriend!

Exercise Changes

Exercise is to my mind absolutely crucial to this lifestyle choice.

Whilst the calorie counting would doubtless have worked anyway there is no doubt that exercise has accelerated my ascent to full fitness and helped me achieve my goals quicker.

I started by cycling to my local paper shop rather than take the car and expanded my route until I was cycling 15-20 miles an hour every day or so.

After 6 weeks I joined an excellent gym with a pool and the Trainers there were very helpful in setting me a sensible weights and CV program which I followed religiously.

"Recently I have used a Personal Trainer there too and with his help I have upped my performance and got rid of some more body fat."

Additionally in the beginning I used the stairs at work instead of the lifts; ignored escalators at shopping centres and stood instead of sitting if waiting for someone/thing.

I took every opportunity to increase my metabolism and to burn calories.

In order to really embed this exercise culture into my life I recently joined a squash club and have also have also enrolled in the Great North Run which takes place in September; this will give me another goal to aim for too.

"When I return to full time work it is important that I have a social life that will encourage me to keep fit and active."

I found that one of the best things I did was to buy a HRM early on and to use that at every opportunity to keep track of the calories burned.

Body Changes

I love a lot about myself and my body too now.

"In particular the colour in my eyes has returned and they are now much bluer when before they became a bit grey and lifeless."

I love that my chest sticks out further than my stomach and that for the first time since I was 19 I have definition and tone in my arms and legs.

I love best though that I can breathe deeply and easily and do the active things I like to do best without waiting for the heart attack. (My female friends like my thighs and bum! lol)

  Before After
BMI 37.9 26.6
Body Fat 33.6 18.5
Chest 48in 41in
Waist 48in 36in
Hips 45in 35in
Blood Pressure 145/92 134/85
Fitness Level 31 (poor) 41 (good)
Cholesterol 6.9 3.9

Mikey's Tips

When asked what I did or what helped me the most to do this I usually have some stock answers.

Firstly; you have to do it for yourself and no one else. Forget about partners, friends and children; by all means use them as a motivator (I would like to be healthy to play with the grandkids etc.) but they are NOT the reason for doing this.

"If you don’t like yourself enough to do it for you then you won’t be able to sustain it."

Secondly; I treated my week like a bank balance. If I wanted to go “overdrawn” with calories one day (A Saturday at the footy with a burger and 4 pints of beer say) then those calories had to be repaid within 2 days (A hard session in the gym on the Sunday etc.).

If I was planning a weekend away with friends where lots of alcohol and food was expected then I would workout all week to bank excess calories to “pay” for it.

"I never thought about “bad days” but only “good weeks”. If I wanted chocolate or a pizza or a beer then I had it; BUT I had to pay the price in someway by cycling or running or swimming to earn it."

A “bad day” is easily beaten by 5 or 6 “good days” and I use my history chart to keep track. I tend to use it on a rolling 7 day basis and as long as I am under or level for the current rolling 7 days then things are fine.

This does though mean logging EVERYTHING I eat; and I do mean everything. If you don’t count it you are only cheating yourself.

"This journey needn’t be rushed either and too many people I believe think they have to see instant results."

They say that they “must lose a stone in a month” and yet if their goal is to lose weight permanently then it doesn’t matter whether it takes one month or three.

8 months have flown by and even if I had only done half as well I would still be nearly 3 stone lighter and permanently so and surely that is the whole point.

"Lastly; I use visualisation to keep me going; you need to see your goal clearly in your mind."

What will you look like, what will you wear, where will you go etc?

I also keep a “fat” picture of me on my phone which I look at most days to remind me how NOT to live my life again; which I won’t!

Mike Now

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* Note: The success stories published on Weight Loss Resources are written by WLR members, past and present, telling their own stories in their own words. As you will see if you read more than one or two of them, everyone's story is different and they have reached their success from a variety of starting points and lost weight at varying rates. Individual results may vary.

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