Following these simple steps helped me lose 20lbs – this is a story of a middle aged man who was fed-up having a middle-aged spread

Garfield in DenialLike Garfield™ many of us are in denial about our weight. This is a story of my personal journey from being over-weight to becoming a healthier version of myself and it’s not about going on a diet.

Think about this for a moment, when did you last weigh yourself, do you know your exact weight? Chances are we’re split 50:50 between knowing this but it’s not just knowing what weight we are, rather what weight we should be.

This comes down to our body mass index or BMI, which is a measure for human body shape based on an individual’s mass and height. Before we go any further, if you don’t know your weight, please go and weigh yourself now as it’ll help in a moment.

Right, now that you know your current weight, let’s work out our ideal weight. Before I started to lose weight, I was 14 stone, 2.5 lbs (198.5 lbs) so we’ll use this as our example. I’m 48 years old and had developed what is often referred to as a middle-age spread. In my own mind I was probably half-a-stone overweight, so around 7 lbs. The NHS have a handy BMI Calculator so let’s go and see what weight we should be.

The Calculator asks for your gender, age, height & weight and can be used for either an adult or child. So, using my data as our example;

  • Age: 48
  • Height: 5ft 10.5in (179cms)
  • Weight: 14st, 2.5lb (90kg)

Next, you’ll be asked to describe your activity levels. Oh, that’s easy, I’m active because I go on a bike ride every Sunday. Er, wrong! Apparently that’s classed as low levels of activity.

So now to the results. My BMI (at this stage) was 28 and I’m not only over-weight, I’m nearer to being obese than I am to a normal weight. Obese, me? You’ve got to be joking. Bit of a shock this one.

My ideal weight range is between 9 stone 5 lbs and 12 stone 9 lbs and a daily calorie intake of 1900-2500 kcal.

This meant that I was at least 21.5 lbs over-weight, more than three times what I originally thought. Wow! Time to take action.

Height Weight Chart © NHS

Height Weight Chart © NHS

To find out your own BMI, just click on the following link, which will open in a new window so you can come back to this page – BMI Calculator

Here’s a quick exercise for you. When you’ve worked out how much over-weight you are, go to the supermarket and lift that weight in potatoes, bags of sugar or whichever food source you prefer!

In my case, this was ten bags of sugar. Heavy isn’t it? Well that’s how much extra weight you’re carrying with you, and it’s completely unnecessary. For me, all my extra weight was on my front, I had a big tummy. One of the consequences of carrying this extra weight on my front, was that I had a bad back. It was like carrying a small rucksack with me all the time (on my front) filled with a mid-week shop.

How I Lost Weight Cycling

Okay, to be completely fair, this isn’t just about cycling but as that’s my passion, it’s where I centered my efforts. My weight loss journey is about four things;

  • Mind – change the way you think about eating, it’s a new lifestyle, not a diet
  • Body – more exercise
  • Soul – eat the right foods
  • Support – the love of a great family

Men don’t change their minds, consciously, their wonderful wives subtly do that for them, subliminally – crafty buggers! I’d never been on a diet, never had to, or so I thought. There are probably a few thousand diets available and you may have tried one or two, or three or four. The point is, that diets are, for me, the wrong focus. Yes it’s about what we eat but being on a diet is seen as a bad thing, something negative, a yoke around our necks. It’s no wonder that we don’t enjoy being on a diet and often give up on them after a short while.

Left to my own devices, my dinner plate would probably be a big pile of meat (me-man!), half a field of potatoes and a tiny portion of vegetables, unless I was cooking for myself and then I’d probably not have bothered with the veg. Cricky, how bad is that when you write it down. Before you judge me, just think of your own meals. Despite using extra large dinner plates for my man-mountain style dinners, I often found myself snacking between meals. Looking back, it’s hardly surprising I was over-weight.

Food & Drink

So, what did I do about it? First thing was to cut down portion sizes for dinner and stop eating potatoes completely. Look at it this way, if a meal consists of one-third meat, one-third vegetables and one-third potatoes, then removing the potatoes has just reduced the meal size by one-third. However, in order for you to consume enough calories to live (!), increase the amount of veg. Yuk, veg, I hear the children cry. Trust me, you’ll learn to enjoy it. Try different types of veg and cook them in different ways, steam and roast as well or instead of boiling.

For me, and this may not work for you, it’s about eating healthier and on a regular basis, around every 2-3 hours. Breakfast is now about two pieces of fruit or a cereal bar, the proper ones made from whole grain oats and not stuffed with bags of sugar. I eat porridge before I go cycling as I find that works well for me through the ride and gives me energy. I wrote this cycling diet article to help with my understanding of the right foods to eat. I’ve cut out bread so this means no toast in the morning, although on big rides I may have some multi-grain or oatmeal bread on occasions. A friend has this with peanut butter but I can’t stand it.

Lunches used to be sandwiches of four slices of bread, with margarine, containing ham, cheese, tuna etc and accompanied by two packets of crisps. Instead, I now eat salads with chicken or tuna. Through the winter I occasionally had soup but often saw that the calorie content was too high so this went by the way side. I sometimes sneak in a tin of heinz beans – apparently it’s one of your five a day.

In summary;

Breakfast: Porridge (for extra energy through the morning), fruit, cereal bars but no toast
Lunch: Salads or soup (just watch the calories in some soups) and no sandwiches
Dinner: Reduce portion sizes, no potatoes, more vegetables, more salads, more fish, less red meats, no puddings, no ready meals, limited saturated fats
Snacks: Fruit, nuts, no crisps or chocolate

Drink was perhaps one of the harder things to give up, or so I thought. The first thing to go was beer, far too many calories. So no more beer. Next was wine, did you know there are 230 calories in just one glass of wine? So four glasses of wine equates to half a day’s daily calorie allowance. Wow!

I’m not a Saint so I haven’t stopped drinking, I just drink considerably less. It was actually much easier than I thought and I feel so much better for it.

Next to go was caffeine. I was drinking 6-8 cups of coffee and tea per day, because I thought I needed it to ‘get me started’ in a morning. Wrong! Once you’re through the first week or so of not drinking caffeine, you’ll realise that you never needed it in the first place, try it.

Caffeine is a diuretic (any substance that promotes the production of urine) which means it increases the excretion of water from bodies, and in turn reduces our hydration levels. I was finding that I was getting mild headaches at work and really bad ones if I had cycled more than 3 hours. So I stopped drinking tea & coffee, and the Lucozade Sports drinks with caffeine and the various SIS products that also contain caffeine. Instead, I drink more water and the blue-capped Lucozade Sports drinks, although I think I need to move onto the Lite version.

I’ve also moved onto green tea. Green tea is made from the leaves from Camellia sinensis that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing. Green tea does however contain caffeine but it’s around 70% less than a cup of coffee so it’s much better. For those that find it too bitter, try Tetley’s lemon green tea or Twinning’s lemon and ginger green tea.


Latterly, my exercise was getting out on my bike, once a week for either a one hour ride or a two hour ride if I was feeling a bit more energetic, which wasn’t every week. This meant either a 14 mile ride or a 28 mile loop. I live on the Wirral so there aren’t many hills.

I now ride a minimum of two hours every Sunday (28 miles) and a mid-week ride of 17 miles on a slightly hillier route. I try and get a few games of squash in every month too.

I’ve started booking myself in for organised cycle rides around the North-West like the Wirral Bikeathon, Wiggle Cheshire Cat, Liverpool to Chester, Manchester 100 etc. However, as a mountain biker, there seem to be many more aimed at century road cyclists than those of us with knobbly tyres.

I’m lighter and fitter than I was before I started on this journey and as a result, I’m quicker up the hills, faster along the lanes and enjoying my cycling much more.


My starting weight was 14 stone, 2.5 lbs and I’m now 12 stone, 11 lbs which means I’ve lost 19.5 lbs. My BMI is down to 25.3 which is just above my maximum target weight so I am still over-weight. However, it’s a great start and I see no reason why I won’t get to my target weight within the next few weeks.

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned how long it’s taken. This is because I don’t think that’s important. Too often, the number of weeks is taken as the goal rather than the weight loss itself. This is a lifestyle choice for me, it’s not a diet. I’m not going to get to my target weight and then have a bag of chips to celebrate. I really don’t care if it takes one, two or three months to get there, the important thing is that I’m gradually working towards my goal of being slimmer and much more importantly, healthier and happier.