READER REPORT:

I lost 18kg in 140 days

MICK O'MALLEY
Last updated 12:00 08/02/2013
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MAN WITH PLAN: Mick O'Malley

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I finally did it. I have abs and it only took me 140 days. I'm feeling great so I thought I would share how I did it.

I'm 187cm tall and am now 87kg. I'd never been a skinny kid. My mum's cooking was too good and I had a Cookie Time (or something just as awesome) every morning tea during high school.

As a result I was a pudgy kid, about 100kg in 6th form (Year 12), which affected my fitness and never allowed me to excel at sport. When I got to 7th form (Year 13), I realised I'd had enough and started running. My first year of university I started going to the gym, and when I started flatting for the first time, a combination of self-inflicted poverty and a new love of biking allowed my weight to get down to 90kg.

Then I met a girl, got some disposable income and started putting the weight back on. I got lazy and ate mall food for lunch. My career took me to a job where I couldn't bike to work anymore. On September 18, 2012, I weighed 104kg and decided enough was enough.

I've always been a bit of a nerd with spreadsheets. I saw how much weight my parents lost by measuring their weight on a daily basis and changing a few foods in their diet. So I decided to get really retentive and record my weight before breakfast and before sleep.

I also decided to weigh and record all the food I ate, and the type of food. I also worked out the amount of calories I was eating. I did this for two weeks without trying to lose weight just to see what my diet was like. I also worked out how much my food was costing me, because I wanted to see the real cost of eating healthy.

Over the first two weeks I learnt a couple of things. My weight went up over the weekend because of drinking and eating sandwiches. I ate a lot of apples, which while being healthy in moderation, actually adds a lot to your daily food intake and calories if you eat five a day.

I made the decision to limit my drinking, minimise carbohydrates and try to keep my food intake to less than 2.2kg and 1800 calories. I allowed myself to exceed that limit on special occasions, but I was pretty good at staying below the target. The first few kilograms were shed simply by making those corrections. I only felt hungry for about a week and then my body adjusted.

Minimising my bread and pasta intake was hard but it really made a difference. Obviously saying no to lollies, beer and ice cream sucked, but you've got to make sacrifices. I also decided to stay away from processed foods and things with artificial sugar as I have an unsubstantiated theory those things inhibit the liver from processing body fat.

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Once I got my diet sorted, I started exercising again with running and biking. The first few weeks were hard, but unsurprisingly it got easier once I got myself out the door.

I started shedding the weight really fast. Now, 140 days later, I am healthier than I was at my peak at 21 and I'm feeling great. 

I'm not a trained sports physician or dietitian, but analysing the last 140 days I have developed a few theories:

 

  • Even after I cut out beer and sandwiches in the weekend, I still usually gained weight over the weekend and lost it again on Monday.
  • Understanding my cycles of weight gain and loss allowed me to not get upset when the line moved upwards.
  • Stress seems to be a key driver for weight gain and loss. Monitoring your weight and seeing the results on a daily basis gives you a sense of control which helps alleviate stress. 
  • It takes about six weeks to keep a good habit or break a bad habit. If you can get over that six week hump, you have a chance of making it.
  • On a per weight basis, bread is a lot more fattening than you think.
  • You don't have to eliminate the junk food completely. I had about 14.5kg worth of junk food over my 140 days. I just became very aware of its effects and this encouraged me to minimise it.
  • Allow yourself one guilty pleasure so you don't go crazy. 
  • Don't lower your calorie intake too much or you go into survival mode and your body tries to process every single calorie that enters your body. This makes you both hungry and inefficient at losing weight. I found targeting about 1600 calories and 1.8kgs of food worked for me.
  • Don't under-do the protein. I ate a lot of meat to keep my protein up. Meat is expensive, but it seemed to be the most effective means of delivering protein.
  • Keep doing what works. I'm still measuring my weight and food, although now my targets are 2.4kg and 2100 calories so I don't lose muscle.
  • Cut back alcohol intake.

 

If you want a copy of my spreadsheet which shows all the food I ate and more statistics about what the food did, contact me through my website www.generationx.co.nz.


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