John's Weight Loss Success Story
John (aka Buckenhiller) Weight Loss Success Story – Weight Loss Resources

Advice from his doctor plus a desire to regain his previous mobility and flexibility meant John was determined to succeed with his weight loss. Read about his 16½ kilo weight loss journey to improve his health.

John's Weight Loss Success Story

John, Age 66, Height 1.72m (5ft 8in)
Start Weight 86kg (13st 7½lbs)
Current Weight 69.5kg (10st 13lbs)
Goal Weight 70kg (11st)
Weight Lost 16.5kg (2st 8lbs)
Working to Rate of Loss 0.5kg/1lb per week
Time Taken 23 weeks

About John

I am a retiree with wide practical arts and crafts interests (e.g. drawing, painting, sculpture, furniture making, and building).

We have a 2 acre smallholding which involves an amount of "upkeep" so I remain fairly physically active.

I am a married man living with my wife of nearly 40 yrs. We have 3 children all in their 30's but who have all left home well over a decade ago.

Therefore they are not relevant to my eating and drinking habits (except when they visit and drag me off to the pub!)

I am now retired from my profession as a chartered civil/structural engineer, having spent a working life principally in design and management with an international engineering consultancy.

The work did involve a considerable amount of entertainment/functions/overseas visits which in turn involved "corporate eating".

The work was essentially sedentary although it also included elements of site based outdoor activity (but less of this in the latter years).

"However I'm not sure that I would place a primary culpability on this for my gradual weight gain, as I consider the following events to be the primary culprits."

I used to be one of those "naturally thin" people who boasted that it didn't matter what I ate, drank or did by way of exercise.

My weight stayed around 70 kg and my waistline around 800-860mm. I was pretty active in a "normal" sense (i.e. I am not a committed athlete) as I was always "on the go".

When not working, my main activities involved DIY projects (e.g. 3 major house renovations). From the age of 16 to the age of 49 I smoked a pipe almost continuously.

"My eating habits were very sporadic, usually involving no breakfast, sometimes also involving no lunch, and then a pretty substantial evening meal."

I drank consistently but not excessively, usually not at lunchtime unless "unavoidable".

Two major events then occurred relevant to my weight.

Firstly at 49 years old I gave up smoking. My doctor (presumably intended as encouragement) said that I might "gain a few pounds – but not to worry they would eventually drop off again". 

I gained about 13 kg over 6-9 months and it never did "drop off" in the slightest.

(Incidentally I found giving up smoking then a quantum level more difficult than I have subsequently found limiting my eating – if that is any consolation for past smokers embarking on a weight loss programme).

Secondly at the age of 53 I was diagnosed as Type 2 Diabetic and over the last 13 years have been treated with a gradually increasing medication regime involving tablets and latterly insulin by injection.

Over this period I put on a further 3 kg, mainly because of "snacking" in the evening.

It is known that the diabetic medications are appetite promoters and that weight gain under such treatment is common.

Tell us how your weight has affected you

I don't think that my weight has affected my lifestyle very seriously except in the sense that we all slow down a bit as we get older, don't perhaps walk as far and get out of breath a bit more readily.

Certainly there is nothing that I wanted to do that I have been prevented from doing because of my weight.

Others perception of me does not seem to have been affected.

What has been your main motivation to lose weight?

The "foreground" motivation was advice from my doctors that, as a result of the diabetes, progressive deterioration of my physical condition was likely as I marched towards my 70's, and that action to mitigate diabetic progression would be a good idea.

Losing weight would be an important component of such a regime.

"The "background" motivation was just a feeling that I would like to regain some of the mobility and particularly flexibility that I had enjoyed years ago, and maybe even build on this to start a bit of a fitness regime."

And even further "background" I detect a bloody minded challenge to myself to see if I could do it!

John before

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Which tools and resources on WLR do you find most valuable?

I'm afraid that I only use the food and exercise diaries on WLR.

These provide me with the raw data from which I have developed my own analytical techniques in relation to progressive weight loss, waistline reduction, and diabetic medication variations.

"Developing and maintaining these have, I find, been the principal day to day motivator keeping me going."

Of course the various other tools will work for others but for myself I don't use the helpdesk, the interactive forums or the chat rooms.

I have read one or two of the success stories but more out of curiosity than for motivation, but I'm again sure that these are important for others.

Why do you think WLR has helped you lose weight where other diets have failed?

Since I haven't tried any form of diet before I haven't had a failure, but here are a summary of my thoughts on diets and dieting and how the WLR database has provided invaluable help.

  • For me, and I suspect the vast majority of others, being overweight is essentially a mental problem. I realise that there are medical conditions that cause weight gain, but even here I believe that the mental component is a substantial one.
  • Of course the excess body weight, the "odd" body shape, possible high blood pressure and breathlessness under exercise, are all real enough and physical but they are consequences of the problem, not the problem itself.
  • The problem is that the brain has developed (for whatever reason) the habit of telling the other relevant body functions that we must eat and/or drink when in fact we have no need for the sustenance.
  • For me therefore the "solution" has to be primarily about "reprogramming" the brain to behave properly, and as a consequence take in only appropriate calories resulting in a reduced body mass. You could say – "get the head right and the body will follow"
  • So it follows that, for me, any form of "meal replacement" dieting that focuses on fooling the body into thinking that it has satisfied a proper need is doomed to failure in the long term for two principal reasons. Firstly it does nothing to "re-programme" the brain – indeed it tacitly accepts that the hunger is legitimate and must be satisfied, and secondly, unless one is reconciled to eating "polyfilla" as a dietary component for the rest of one's life, the short term weight loss regime does nothing to develop the establishment of new lifelong habits.
  • By character I prefer not to follow a path determined by others, but like to find my own way. So I seek a process whereby I determine what I am going to consume, when I am going to consume it, how I am going to monitor the results and what action I am going to take to maintain my resolve. That way it is my programme and I remain in control throughout. Any discomfort is self inflicted and therefore much more tolerable.
  • Calorie balancing is of course the long term key, but for me it is essential to achieve this with a diet of "normal" foodstuffs, and with a "normal" flexibility of dietary choice, so that new habits can be established (albeit with reduced quantity intake during the weight reduction phase) which will carry through as a lifelong regime.
  • For me to determine and implement a dietary regime that will achieve these goals with the food and drink that I decide suits me, I need access to relevant, reliable and accurate information in a practical form. This is what is provided by the WLR food and exercise databases.
  • "Reprogramming the brain" and establishing new habits for me has three elements.

1. Meal distribution

It is conventional to think in terms of "3 meals a day".

I have found it much more useful to think in terms of eating/drinking six times a day with a small morning (elevenses), afternoon (tea) and evening (supper) snack to supplement the main breakfast, lunch and dinner.

These intermediate snacks may only be an apple, or a cup of tea and a biscuit, (or in the evening an extra glass of wine!) but recognising them as legitimate occasions to "have something" often avoids the dreaded hunger pangs developing during the longer periods between main meals and it avoids the "guilt" associated with "illegitimate consumption".

Years ago in childhood my mother would exhort me "don't eat between meals because it will spoil your appetite". My advice to myself now is "do eat between meals because it does spoil my appetite"!!

2. Quantity

It then follows that I need to establish how much I should expect to "normally" eat at each of these occasions.

"Normally" doesn't mean that I should organise myself to slavishly and accurately adhere to a given calorie count at each occasion, because on the contrary I want to retain a high degree of flexibility and "impulse" on my eating and drinking, but rather it's in the nature of the "par" system of golf scoring.

A "par" calorie allocation is a good way of keeping tabs on the ups and downs of each mealtime but working to an eventual total, either for a day or perhaps for a whole week, that achieves the overall calorie allocation.

So for instance in my case now that I am on a "maintenance" daily allocation of 2100 calories I am working to my "4.5.9 rule".

"This is shorthand for 400 calories (breakfast), 500 calories (lunch) and 900 calories (dinner) with three 100 calorie snacks in between."

So if I fancy a "full English" breakfast at say 750 calories I have it, in the knowledge that I will probably only have a cup of coffee at elevenses, 350 calories at lunchtime, and 750 calories for dinner, so still achieving 2100 total for the day.

Alternatively I might "roll over" an excess to the next day.

One has to balance eventually which, for me, means every week's total has to be within 14,700 calories (plus exercise calories – but that is another story)

3. Quality

We are concerned here with quality in relation to establishing appropriate weight control.

Of course other qualitative issues such as trace elements, vitamins etc are very important, but we are primarily concerned here with calories and fats.

The constituent breakdown in the WLR database provides the information to gradually determine the most suitable foodstuffs in any category to suit your requirements best so that you can gradually, and almost unconsciously, move into good habits.

Take breakfast cereal as an example. When I started I habitually ate traditional processed packet cereals like cornflakes, or if I felt particularly virtuous, special K.

But I found that I ate considerably more than was indicated as a portion size on the packet.

So I tried various muesli options and found that I particularly liked the ones from Dorset cereals.

I found that they were also lower in calories per gram, lower in carbohydrates, (important for diabetics) and a lower GI index.

They kept me going through the morning better. So I have now switched.

Have you struggled at points in your weight loss journey? Experienced a weight loss plateau? What has kept you motivated?

There have been a couple of odd occasions when I've "blown the limits" including one celebratory meal coming in at 2200 calories, not counting the beer!!

But I've then fairly quickly recovered the situation with a few particularly abstemious days and thus I've got back on track. Continued motivation? - Bloody-mindedness.

Since losing weight can you give examples of how your life has changed?

The most important consequence of dieting for me has not been the weight loss per se, welcome though that has been, nor has it been the considerably reduced waistline.

"The most important consequence for me has been the dramatic effect it has had on my diabetic medication requirements."

When I started dieting last March I was treating my diabetic condition with 4No -500mg Metformin tablets and injecting 75 units of Novomix 30 insulin a day, split between morning and evening.

Now those figures won't mean much too non diabetics, but they represent a high proportion of the maximum medication available to control blood sugar levels and thus prevent nasty consequences.

The condition is incurable and progressive and therefore the treatment is expected to be permanent and also progressive for life.

During my weight loss programme I found that I was able to gradually reduce my medication dosage and still keep my sugar levels within the required limits.

In fact I found that I had to reduce the medication to avoid the sugar levels falling below the lower threshold.

"This trend continued until when I had reduced to my target weight I was also able to keep my sugar levels correct without the need to inject insulin at all!!"

I still take the tablets (although I tried for a short while not taking these either but my sugar levels rose too much).

Now this does not mean that I am cured of diabetes because I will always have the disease, but what it does show is the extent to which the condition is exacerbated by excess body weight and the contribution that weight control can make to mitigate the condition.

Another benefit has been that I feel less tired in the early evening. Now this may not be a direct consequence of weight loss, it is probably mostly to do with better blood sugar control, but this itself originated as a result of dieting.

Exercise routines adopted

Having reached my target weight I felt weaker and generally "out of condition".

So I joined the local gym and have embarked on a fitness programme including moderate weight training. I feel better for it and will continue.

I have also enrolled on a "Pilates" course through which I hope to strengthen my core stomach and lower back muscles.

What do you love about your body now?

I'm afraid that I have never been particularly body conscious but it's nice to have rediscovered hips as a means of holding up ones trousers.

John now

John's hints and tips

Find your own way

I firmly believe in individuality and self motivation.

By all means learn all about people's approaches and things that have worked for them. But then determine your own approach.

Your own programme is much more likely to succeed over the long term than one where you are doing what you are told.

Learn to live with "peckishness"

This is the nagging feeling that you want to eat something without a proper reason to do so. It's not mealtime, it's just that you fancy..............

Gradually train the brain to see this not as the negative feeling associated with denial, but as the positive feeling associated with getting thinner.

It's a bit uncomfortable to start with but a price worth paying for good health.

Learn to avoid "fullness".

This is the "satisfied" feeling of the full belly. The "push the chair back with a groan" moment. Don't see this as a positive feeling associated with good eating, but as a negative feeling indicating that you are getting fatter.

Get the head right and the body will follow (eventually).

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Weight Loss is easy with the tools in WLR. You can use the information on Weight Loss Resources to count how many calories you need to consume each day and how many you are actually eating.  Try it free for 24 hours.

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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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