Yesterday I hit the goal weight I set myself last year. I wasn’t expecting to. I came in from a show I’d done locally, it was a late one and I just wanted to get into my pyjamas, pour myself a large gin and wind down. I stripped off, stepped on the scales and there it was: 18st 6lbs. I’d made it, I’d lost 7 stone (or 100lbs or 45 kg if you’re on the fun side of the ocean) in just under 12 months. The Olympic gold medallist Mo Farrah, winner of both the 5000m and 10,000m not to mention champion of Quorn, is 7 stone.
This time last year I’d been 25st 6lbs (356lbs), preparing to get married to the woman of my dreams and hating how I looked in the mirror. I wasn’t in control of my body, the very idea of it was a crazy concept, up there with becoming a harmonica playing teen pop star or the economy not crumbling once we left the EU. Now here I am having lost 25% of myself, like a lizard escaping a predator only I was running from cake.
(A year apart, photo on right by the incredibly talented Michelle Huggleston)
This is how I did it, why I did it and what happens next.
First off losing weight is hard. I do not wake up every day, weigh myself and find that I’m a stone lighter than I was the day before because I binge watched the new series of Orange is the New Black while pounding cream filled doughnuts into my mouth and washing them down with litres of cola mixed with melted Ben and Jerry’s, that doesn’t happen. Losing weight is hard. However if someone out there reads this and the whole Ben and Jerry’s thing has worked for them please get in touch because a) I want to go into business with you and b) I miss the taste of ice cream.
Secondly I have huge restrictions on my diet. There’s two whole categories of food I can’t eat, there’s an entire meal course that I now consider hostile territory, certain parts of supermarkets I have forbidden myself to enter.
Thirdly I am obsessed. I weigh myself multiple times a day to see how exercise and food affects me, I think about it constantly and I need constant reassurance from my wife that she will not leave me for a larger man. I am obsessed. Weight loss has replaced an entire part of my brain that was previously filled with interesting hobbies, alright maybe not interesting but they occupied my brain long enough to stop me thinking of my inevitable death and the ever present entropy of the universe. In no way is this obsession healthy but the other option is me getting so big they’d have to cut the front of my house off to get the lifting helicopter in and I’d lose my security deposit.
Let’s start with the basics:
- No carbs
- No sugars
- No alcohol
- No sweeteners
- 3 hours of exercise every day
I already know what you’re thinking “you said you couldn’t wait to pour yourself a large gin, gin’s an alcohol, what are you holding back Purchase?! Is your real secret gin?!” and my reply is “No, I wish. Though gin can aid in weight loss if it’s all you’re consuming. In fact you’ll lose 100% of your weight when your liver bursts, you die, freed from the mortal coil and left to float around as 10 watts of electricity. That’s a different diet known as the ‘my life has fallen apart’ plan”. The real truth is I don’t follow all the rules all the time. Life is long and blocking some of the joy you might feel in it is stupid, if I want a slice of cake or a large whiskey I’ll have it, I just won’t eat two whole cakes and a litre of Jamesons. That’s what Christmas day is for.
Here’s the diet this is mostly based on – Link – but really it’s bits of lots of different things that make sense and have been repeated in any weight loss literature.
Also forget the bullshit the government funded in the 60s, doctors recommended smoking and amphetamines back then so unless you want your diet to be clubbing in Ibiza during the 90s the information isn’t relevant.
1. No carbs
Carbohydrates, carbs, Los Carbodiablos, Carboroneys. The filler of the culinary world. Carbs are the things you use to pick up and hold real food, they are the profit margins at any restaurant and they are food you can make by pouring a boiled kettle into a plastic tub. You eat way too many of them. Victorians used to eat an entire loaf of bread each every day, Americans add sugar to them because diabetes is too slow on it’s own. Strictly speaking it’s not no carbs, it’s low carbs. You can’t really have zero carbs without hating everything about your life and starting to have dreams about bread, the toast nightmares still haunt me. What you’re looking for is not eating any food with over 6g per 100g of carbohydrates or 6%, that’s it. Don’t eat bread, rice, pasta, cake, waffles, pancakes or quinoa.
Replace the carb part of your meal with protein or vegetables. As long as you’re not eating carbs or refined sugar you can eat as much natural fat as possible. Meats and cheeses are your friends now, you can deep fry the shit out of most meals as long as you use natural fats like coconut oil or lard. Yes I said lard.
2. No sugars
Sugar, the devil’s marching powder, child cocaine. Followers of Kali in the cult of Thuggee would kill entire villages of innocent people for a spoonful of it just like the children at a soft play area. You can’t avoid it, your body needs it but you control where you get it from. “Where can I get it from Chris?!” I hear you cry “You’re so handsome and strong” oh stop it you. Vegetables and tiny amounts of fruit you get it from veg. Eat veg. Veg. Veg. Don’t eat biscuits, chocolate, sweets, jelly, cake pops, any sweet drinks or edible underwear. You don’t need it, it doesn’t do anything for your body, it makes you feel like crap, you’re worth more than crap. Eat fruit but really limited amounts. Eating fruit will slow any weight loss down. Vegetables are much more nutritious than fruit and you can get most of what you need from them, if you want fruit eat berries as they’re the best of the bunch (PUN INTENDED)
CRAVINGS – At this point we should talk about cravings. Giving up carbs and sugar will make you hate yourself for months. Advice books and dieting professionals say it’s weeks which is absolute bullshit. The cravings will last for months, you have to push through it. It’s awful. The first few weeks you’ll have headaches, tiredness and loss of memory, it’s super fun. Once you get through all that you’ll sleep better, fit into more clothes and discover that foods have flavour beyond sweet or not sweet.
3. No alcohol
Come on seriously? You want me to explain this? Just do what everyone does up until the point you discovered that you were tall and menacing enough to be able to pass for 18 and don’t drink alcohol. You can have clear spirits like vodka and gin but I found it slowed the process. I find sometimes this rule needs to be broken as life is a never ending procession of idiots testing your patience so sometimes you’ll get home from work and someone will have been a dick at the office or you’ve been stuck in traffic or you met your ex and they’re doing better than you or it’s a Tuesday so you just need a strong double followed by a stronger double and an exceedingly long sigh. That sigh weighs 3lbs, sometimes gin is the only way to get it out of you.
Also drink a fuckload of water, your body loses weight quicker the more water you drink. Don’t drink more than 4 litres a day though or you’ll drown yourself.
4. No sweeteners.
Aspartame is cancer, don’t put it in your body. I know it’s an obvious thing to say but people still smoke. This one isn’t in any of the diets I’ve read but it’s something I found helped. You’re going to crave sugar so badly that actual medical professionals compare it to heroin addiction, there will be times that if someone hands you a baby and that baby smells of icing sugar you’ll have to stop yourself from licking it. Your first thought is to replace the sugar with sweeteners, DON’T. All you’re doing when you sub in sweeteners is prolonging your sugar addiction, you’re making yourself want sugar for longer. Best thing to do is just tear off that plaster, arm hairs and all, by going cold turkey. Sweeteners have also been linked to causing diabetes as they do shit to your body that sugar does but then you don’t get the sugar so your body over produces insulin. Yay.
You don’t need them. Eat parsnips, they taste like gingerbread when deep fried.
5. 3 hours of exercise every day
This sounds extreme. In your head you’re seeing an exercise regime to rival any body builder, athlete or Marvel film star. You don’t even know what the machines you need to use are called or what they do but damn do they look scary. 3 hours a day! Some of us with children don’t even sleep that much! 3 hours! 180 minutes!? Impossible!
You know what I do? I walk everywhere. I walk 8 miles a day. That’s pretty much it. Other than some stomach exercises because I want that to shrink faster that’s it. Walking. Find the time now or die earlier.
Increase the fat
Right well this sounds wrong but it’s an important part of what I do to lose weight. I eat a lot of natural fat rich foods. If I want a snack I’ll have clotted cream, we have full fat milk, lots of butter, basically anything that Gillian McKeith hates I now eat. For this to work you need to increase your natural fat intake, this is harder for vegetarians but there are options available to you. Your meals should be vegetables, proteins and fats. Also nuts, eat nuts.
Right that’s it, you’ve got the info I’ve got. Go forth and subtract, or not, up to you really.
Why I did it
I’ve been big my whole life. Up until the age of 25 my weight matched my age. I come from a family where eating is seen as a replacement for feeling, every occasion is marked with a meal and over indulgence. It’s your birthday, you eat cake! It’s Christmas, we have 15 boxes of chocolates and a table full of food for 3 people! It’s Tuesday and you’re feeling a little sad so here’s an entire pizza, 30 mozzarella sticks and a tube of cookie dough. It was so ingrained into me that I replaced everything with eating. Sad, happy, disappointed, bored, everything. It defined me. Also it held me back. When you’re 25 stone you’re at the point where either you’re happy with who you are and that’s great or you’ve given up and you don’t care what happens to your body. Guess which one I was. My body wasn’t my own, it was a thing my mind lived in and I assumed it would kill me some day. When I got married last year I was the biggest I’d ever been, the wedding was perfect and I was the happiest I have ever been in my life but when I looked at the photos I was disappointed in myself. That wedding was my future all in one day but if I wasn’t careful I wasn’t going to be there to experience all of it. It’s terrifying to have the perfect family and think about them at your funeral, I was doing that while looking at the happiest day of my life.
It wasn’t just that though. 3 seperate agents had said how I looked was preventing them from signing me. They all said exceedingly similar things “Your material is excellent, your stage presence is great but we just can’t sign you looking like that” and of course when I got that rejection I would get sad and eat a packet of biscuits.
Also food is an addiction, the way I was using it was an addiction. Food was escapism as much as drugs or alcohol or sex is for other people. I wasn’t facing my problems, I was eating them and the more problems I ate the more they piled up. The only thing that can be solved by eating it is getting caught with marijuana when a policeman pulls you over.
Since I started this I’ve slept better, thought faster, been more active, been so much happier and focused. My relationships have got better, I’m more positive. I don’t think it’s because of the things I’m eating, I think it’s because I’ve taken control. Like a younger brother finally being accepted by his older sibling with a Nintendo, I’m in control.
Also I can now buy clothes in normal shops. Going from a 4XL and 44 waist to an XL and 34 waist means I can now order things online, I get why you thin people talk about shopping so much, when you’re not choosing from either a giant black tshirt or a giant dark blue tshirt your world opens up. I totally get sales now!
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
I’m going to try and get down to 16 stone. It’s an arbitray number but as I haven’t been 16 stone since I got my provisional driving license it’d be lovely. Also my wife has told me that I’m not allowed to be any smaller than 16 stone, it’s already a little jarring for her to be able to get her arms around me it would be traumatic if she could lift me up and carry me up the stairs when I fell asleep on the sofa.
I am not the man I was when I started this, mathematically I’m 25% less than the man I was but mentally I’m 150% of who I was. I still doubt myself, I still fail, I still berate myself even when I’m succeeding but I don’t hold it over myself like the sword of Damocles but made of cake. I am more confident, I feel like I’m worth something and finally I feel like I look good. Last week my wife asked me if I thought I was ugly and I said yes I did, she was surprised because she didn’t think that anyone thought they were ugly. I thought I was ugly and it was something that came between me and the world, it was a grudge I held. Now I get it, now I feel like the guy I am in my head. I worked hard at this and it shows on my face.
Which makes a change from it being custard.