Sam's Weight Loss Success Story

Sam wanted a healthier lifestyle for the sake of his family. Now nearly 7.5 stone lighter, he shares his weight loss journey with us and gives his tips to help others succeed!

Sam's Weight Loss Success Story

Sam, Age 29, Height 6'
Start Weight 19st 11.8lb
Current Weight 12st 6lb
Goal Weight 17st, then 14st, then 13st now 11st 11lb
Weight Lost 7st 5.8lb
Working to Rate of Loss 2lb per week
Time Taken 2 years 4 months

About Sam

I’ve been married to my wife Claire for nearly 8 years. We met at school when I was overweight, then moved together to Edinburgh for university aged 18.

Being at university was great I loved the lifestyle; we’d go out drinking, get takeaways, and generally laze about on weekends eating hangover foods and doing little else. 

"We’ve never really relied on ‘ready meals’, having both grown up enjoying home cooked meals, and so we would cook big hearty meals in the evenings."

Claire would generally cook more than me, as my speciality is what I class as “meals that men cook” such as curry, barbecues and omelettes along with putting something in the oven for 20 minutes and serving it with potatoes and peas! 

Although we ate well in the sense that we ate home cooking we certainly didn’t think about the nutritional content of our meals.

We would eat rich foods made with lots of butter, cream and wine, generally accompanied with lashings of garlic bread or bread and butter.

After graduation, I got a job with a practice in Stirling and we moved to our own house. We shared the cooking as we were both working full-time.

Sam Before

This meant that there were the odd nights that we’d get a takeaway or eat ready meals, but those days were in the minority.

Generally we still continued to eat good home-cooked meals, but had big portions, along with desserts. 

During that time I became more sedentary as I was no longer walking around the city. 

I would drive to the office and be sat all day, having chocolate biscuits and sometimes going to McDonalds for lunch. 

I’d take sandwiches, but sometimes I would “diet” by eating fruit and nothing else all day, then get home and demolish half a bag of Kettle chips and garlic and onion dip! 

Claire’s always been a size 8-10 and I always thought she could eat what she wants, (and she can to a certain extent) but she does have what I call “the full button” – she knows when to stop eating, whereas I didn’t; I’d carry on eating the crisps and dips until there wasn’t anything left!

"I got a bike through the Cycle to Work scheme after walking to a meeting with a colleague, struggling to keep up as we walked up a steep hill in Glasgow. "

I was sweating profusely (despite the cold weather) and wondering how I was going to cool down when we got where we were going. 

My first rides were excruciating.  The 3.5 miles were a sweaty blur and I stopped frequently, especially on the hilly journey home, and drank a full bottle of water each way. 

I made every excuse not to take the bike to work for the next two years, going by bike 2-4 days per week until September 2008 when my knee developed a dodgy sounding click due to DIY works brought about by the impending birth of our first baby.

"The doctor advised it wasn't much to worry about but my weight wasn't helping and if I wanted my knees to last to old age, I'd have to do something about it. "

I weighed in on the surgery scales at 19st 11lb and decided it was time to do something about it. When I got home I started researching an online system.

I wanted something that I could do as and when I had time, and not be tied to a weekly meeting.

I did a couple of 24 hour trials on WLR and decided it was the right programme for me.

I’m a landscape architect by profession. This means designing public spaces, and entails lots of time drafting plans on the computer, project administration work and time out on site. 

It tends to be a 9-5.30 job, though I do have the occasional late finish, which leads me to raid the office biscuit box or order a takeaway. 

There’s not a big social scene as we’re only a small company, so drinks after work and parties aren’t a problem. 

"We do however have cakes once a week, and one of the best things I’ve done is avoided getting anything from the bakery counter when the secretary goes to stock up."

There’s 450cals in a Tesco double chocolate muffin alone! 

Generally the office has a good outlook towards health and diet, though I have gone from being the most unhealthy person in the office to one of the healthiest.

What diets have you tried in the past?

When I was at university, I tried Slimming World and Weight Watchers.

Please comment on your experiences of trying these diets

I lost a stone or so on both the Slimming World and Weight Watchers diets, but they were diets and that’s how I treated them. 

My sister did SW with me, and we would go to the weigh in meeting then get fish and chips on the way home as a treat or consolation! 

The thing about both of the diets is that they didn’t teach me about the balance of calorie input and expenditure.

There were red days and green days, free foods and things that weren’t allowed.

WLR has taught me how many calories are in specific foods so, for example, I can make a judgement about how eating a portion of chips for lunch would affect my daily total, and if I was over my allowance, I’d have the knowledge through the database to recoup those calories through exercising. 

Exercise is actively encouraged by rewarding activity with extra calories.

"This was and still is a big incentive to keep moving, to take the stairs instead of the lift, to walk to the shop instead of driving. "

It all makes a difference, no matter how small the change is, it’s a change for the better.

Tell us how your weight has affected you

I’m unsure if I was too blind to notice, or people were too polite, or if I’ve effectively blocked out bad experiences of when I was obese.

I can’t remember it adversely affecting me professionally for example, but I do remember the confidence issues that arose from being so overweight. 

It did affect me socially, I can probably count the number of times on one hand that I went swimming during the years when I was obese.  

"I remember feeling especially self-conscious during holidays abroad with Claire. "

I would sit around the pool in long shorts and a t-shirt despite the blistering heat as I didn’t have the confidence to sit shirtless unless I was in the water, and even then I would enter and exit the water as quickly as possible, rushing to cover up again as soon as I could.  

I’d also wonder why Claire was with me, she’s always been petite, and I felt like a great big blob.

Sam's Stats
  Start Current
Weight 19st 11.8lbs 12st 6lbs
BMI 38 24.1
Waist 44" 32"

What has been your main motivation to lose weight?

My main motivation was the problem with my knee, which has now gone, and I wanted to start on a healthier lifestyle before the birth of my daughter, Iris. 

My mum had just had a double knee replacement and a gastric band so it felt like a glimpse into the future if I didn’t do something. 

"I also didn’t want to be a fat parent, struggling to keep up with my children, or making excuses as to why we couldn’t do things such as going for long walks as a family or playing sports together. "

I didn’t want their life experiences to suffer due to my inability to balance my food intake. 

I also knew that the way I was eating was unsustainable and that it needed addressing, I think the birth of our daughter gave me a solid reason to do something I’d been putting off for a long time.

Sam Before

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

Without doubt, the best things about WLR are the food and exercise diaries. 

They give me the ability to control my eating habits, without them I find it hard to see how I could’ve made the changes I have made. 

The benefits of using the diaries is that you learn to be honest with yourself about the amount of food you’re consuming in relation to the amount of food you need to either lose weight or maintain

"I found quickly that I wasn’t starving when I started to restrict my intake; instead I was eating a normal amount of food rather than scoffing a load of extras that made my daily calorie consumption rocket. "

I also find the support on the forums invaluable. Whenever I needed help, it was there immediately and in abundance.

The thing to remember is that someone on there will have been through whatever you’re feeling or stressing about, and they’re always there to help. 

I also post up my weight on weigh-day, it’s another way to be honest with myself and understand what’s gone right or wrong that week. 

It’s also a great way to get support and to support others through their good and bad times.

Have you purchased or used any products/fitness equipment that have helped to reach your goals?

I bought my first bike before I started on WLR and for the first year I used that as the way of gaining exercise calories. 

I’d push harder every time I went out, aiming to burn as many calories as possible, and gained fitness, getting faster and enjoying it more and more each week. 

"I also decided to commute by bike every day, which is something I’ve stuck to religiously. "

I occasionally take the car if I need it for a specific reason, or if I’m ill, but generally I cycle to work every day doing a minimum of around 10 miles. 

The love of cycling has progressed to a major hobby, I now have 3 bikes: the original hybrid, and two race bikes, one for winter with mudguards, and a light one for summer. 

"I now cycle around 100-150 miles per week, including a 60 mile club ride with my bike club at the weekend. "

I’ve also been competing in the Stirling Bike Club time trial series.  I came 9th in the 2010 series in my attempt at racing.

Sam Now

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

The reason WLR has been so successful is that it’s given me the opportunity to understand what I was doing wrong before.

 It’s easy to hear “don’t eat this, eat that” when I was on other diets, but I knew that anyway… or at least I think I did. 

"WLR puts the calorie and nutrition content into an easily understandable form, and the database provides a quick and easy way to record your intake. "

It’s taught me how to manage what I’m putting into my body, with what I’m putting out in terms of daily exercise and general calorie expenditure. 

I treat it like a bank balance; I always need to be in credit.  If I go “overdrawn” I need to repay the balance to get back in the black. 

The forums have provided support at the point of need, giving me encouragement and reassurance at times when I’ve felt my resolve weakening.

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

I’ve struggled at various points along the way. 

The first plateau I had was a very slow rate of loss, about 6 weeks after I’d started. I stuck with it though and eventually I started losing at the same 2lb per week rate. 

"I’ve kept my motivation by continually focussing on my goal, and looking at how much weight I’ve lost since starting on WLR. "

Other WLRers on the forums have also been great at motivating me when I’ve struggled.

On the run up to getting chartered last year, I decided to maintain at the weight I was for a period as I was struggling to combine family, cycling, work, revision and calorie control. 

Since the start of 2011, I’ve regained my enthusiasm to lose, this is mainly driven by a desire to lose the rest of the fat that I’m carrying, and also to improve my power-to-weight ratio on the bike.

I started cycling to help me lose weight, now I’m losing weight to help my cycling!

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

My life has changed drastically since losing weight. I no longer fear anything that can be done physically as my fitness has improved beyond my expectations; my resting heart rate has gone from 68bpm to 52bpm. 

I no longer sit on the sofa every weekend; instead I’m out on my bike enjoying the countryside

"I no longer fear summer, I used to get sweat patches under my arms and sweat profusely during any form of exertion; I can now wear grey shirts for work without fear of those tell-tale stains! "

We’re now expecting our second child and the comparison between my lifestyle before we had Iris to now is huge; my life has completely changed, I’m fit, healthy and in control.

Exercise routines adopted

I’ve started exercising on a daily basis. All of those recommendations the government makes about doing 30 minutes of exercise per day aren’t far off the mark.

I usually do about 75mins per day, (up to around 4hrs at weekends) but that includes training time on my bike. 

A daily routine that I could build into your life is crucial.

I don’t like gyms, I see it as dead time away from my family and away from normality, I wanted something that would get me fit whilst productively taking me from one place to another, which is where the bike came in.

What do you love about your body now?

I love that I can wear lycra without fear of being embarrassed by my lumps and bumps as I know that they’re now in the right places!

"I love going into shops, or ordering clothes on line and knowing that a medium will be a good fit. "

Going from XXL clothes and 44” waist to medium and 32” waist is really, really satisfying.  

I can now shop wherever I want rather than sticking to the one shop I knew that would do semi-fashionable jeans in my size for a bloke in his late 20’s.


  • I love going down the aisle on trains and not having to turn sideways, bumping into everything.
  • I love that I can get on my bike and cycle 100 miles without any preparation other than taking the right food and drink with me. 
  • I love the fact that I’m now also in proportion with Claire, no longer dwarfing her with my bulk. 
  • I also like that Claire sometimes moans at me for being too bony when she wants a cuddle on the sofa!

Sam's hints and tips

  • The best tip I ever got during the first week on WLR was always, always, always be honest with yourself and stick to the calories WLR gives you then you will lose weight. 
  • Use the Weigh Ins board to publish your weight every week whether good or bad; you’ll get support whatever the result. 
  • I would encourage people to exercise every day, and if you’re not confident going to the gym like I am, look for something else such as walking or cycling to work. 
  • Use your time productively, time spent walking is better than time spent in the car if you’re making short trips.  It can also mean that you can afford to have a biscuit with your afternoon cuppa! 
  • Don’t ever be afraid of posting something up on the forum, someone will always give you support, normally there will be a lot of it, all with great advice, remember that lots of people on the forum have experienced what you’re experiencing.  Never have any shame in expressing how you feel, if it helps you to confront your food problems then it’s worthwhile posting.
Sam Now

Useful Links

If you're interested in cycling blogs, then you can follow Sam as he writes about his cycling experiences.

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