Marc is a 44-year-old magazine production editor from north London
Why did you want to lose weight? I was getting married and wanted to look my best. I called it Operation: Wedding Suit. When you’re young, you can pretty much eat and drink what you like and get away with it, but as the summers roll by you have to start looking after yourself more.
How much did you tip the scales at? I was nudging the 15-stone mark, though I like to think most of it was my hair.
How old were you when you decided to make the change? I was in my mid- to late-30s. I knew I’d need a personal trainer as I’d never been much of a gym-goer and wouldn’t know how to use the equipment. Most importantly, however, I knew I lacked the self-discipline to see it through otherwise.
Where did you find a personal trainer? It’s not difficult – they’re everywhere. Wherever there’s a gym you’ll find one (or three or four). With me it was easy because there was a gym under the building where I worked. I just summoned up the courage one day, went in and had a chat with them. By the time I walked out, I had a PT.
Was it expensive? Yes. Bespoke services like personal trainers don’t come cheap but as with most things, you get what you pay for. I saw it as an investment. I had two 45-minute sessions a week right up until a week before the wedding.
What exercises did you do, exactly? When I started it was very basic. No weights, just working my core using my own bodyweight as resistance – mainly because I wasn’t fit enough to do anything else. Also I initially wanted to take things slowly because I’ve had a bad back, which would occasionally flare up. But as time went on we introduced all kinds of whistles and bells.
Did you do anything else outside your two sessions? Yes, I’d do some cardio on weekends. I started with a gentle lap around my local park and, by the end, I was doing 5-8km runs.
Did you change your diet at all? Not much. I’d always eat a healthy evening meal at home, but I’d be snacking during the day. Tea and biscuits are my weakness. My focus was more on exercise. I did try to drink more water. But drinking tea and coffee doesn’t count, apparently.
How much weight did you lose? Approximately 14kg in 20 weeks.
Did the weight stay off? Unfortunately not. By the time I’d got back from honeymoon, it felt like I’d put it all back on again. And although I wished I’d kept it up, I found it difficult to motivate myself to start exercising again.
Do you have any tips? A protein shake gives muscles the fuel they need to heal and grow.
Daniel is a 33-year-old consultant who lives in Berlin
What made you decide it was time to lose some weight? To be honest, it was pure vanity. I just wanted to look perfect on my big day.
What sacrifices did you have to make? No sweets, no bread and most of all, no ice cream. That was the hardest thing, because I love ice cream. I cut out all sugar and even fruit, and I switched to vegetables and higher-protein foods such as chicken, fish and red meat. Lots of it.
What exercises did you do and how often did you do them? I trained three times a week on a resistance programme, and once a week doing high-intensity interval training [HIIT]. It’s important to do enough so it makes a difference, but you don’t want to burn out.
What did your resistance training consist of? My trainer trying to make me exercise and me resisting. No, seriously, there were exercises like deadlifts, dumbbell squats, dumbbell presses, and things like standing hammer curls and hip thrusts. All formulated so you work every part of your body in turn.
How did you choose your trainer? Everyone’s different, so you need someone who’ll personalise and tailor a training plan specifically for you. If you want to make rapid progress, not just any training will do. You have to approach it in the right way and be disciplined. Somebody who can read your body language – someone to know when you’re fatigued and about to give up so they can give you that bit of extra stimulus and encouragement is vital. A personal trainer with some nutritional knowledge is a bonus. Otherwise you might want to consider employing the services of a nutritionist, too.
Did you ever play any sport when you were younger? No, not really. I’ve never been into sport.
How much weight did you lose? I lost a total of 15kg in just over three months, which I was really happy with.
What was the most difficult part of losing all that weight? Finding the time to fit everything in was probably the most difficult part. And then there was the tiredness afterwards, and especially on weekends. I was just so exhausted. I also struggled with the diet change initially, but with a few decent recipes this could be improved. I just didn’t pay that much attention to it. I was too tired.
What food did you miss the most? Ice cream.
Did you keep the weight off after you got married? No, regrettably. My job kicked up a gear and would often end up getting in the way. Unfortunately, these days I don’t have enough time to train or even watch what I eat. I sometimes get to do a workout on the weekend, if I’m lucky.
Do you have any “insider” tips? Keeping track of your progress with a smartwatch or app will give you the incentive to run that extra mile.
Damion is a 36-year-old teacher from Nottingham
Why did you decide to lose weight? Pure and simple, I spent a lot of money on a suit for my wedding and it didn’t fit. I also wanted to get a bit slimmer so I could take my shirt off in the summer and not have my stomach flop over my waistband.
Why not just take the suit back to the shop and change it? Funny you should ask that. It never crossed my mind. Thinking about it later, I think I subconsciously knew it wouldn’t fit me, but I needed something to aspire to.
How much weight did you lose? A total of 10kg in 16 weeks.
How did you do it? I’ve never been much into exercise. You don’t need to be to lose weight. I find that careful eating will do the trick over time.
What foods did you cut out? I started with the obvious – junk food, bread and all the nice sugary things. It wasn’t very methodical, and I gave in to temptation occasionally. You just have to be sensible about it.
What did you eat more of? Fish, chicken, rice and vegetables. Where possible, I went for fresh food and avoided the processed stuff. I didn’t restrict myself to salad.
You did no exercise at all? I never went to a gym, but I walked a lot and I tried to get a couple of 30-minute jogs in per week. No more than that. I always jogged in the evening, after dinner and before bed, I really don’t know if that made a difference or not, though.
What advice would you give to someone trying to lose weight in a hurry? It’s easier than you’d think. It’s just a matter of calorie control. The best tip I can give is to eat smaller portions. If you look at the amount the average person eats for dinner, it’s ridiculous. You don’t need that much. Cut it in half. You get enough so you won’t feel hungry and you don’t get that awful bloated “full as fuck” feeling.
What was the worst part of the weight loss? I didn’t miss the burgers or fries or anything – I felt much better without them. But I had insane cravings for steak and potatoes.
Did you stop drinking alcohol? Not completely, but I stopped going out as much. Instead of going out almost every night for a few beers after work, I only allowed myself one blow-out a week. But I made sure it was a good one.
Did you manage to keep the weight off? No. After the wedding I didn’t need to fit into that suit any more, so I let myself go a bit. The minute you let that happen it’s very hard to get back into it, especially when you’ve achieved what you set out to do. I never exercise these days, but even though I indulge occasionally, I’m still off the fast food.
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