How I lost 10kg
I cannot give the exact reason, but a long time ago in January, in blissful ignorance of the horrors 2020 would bring, something finally clicked in my head. As the New Year’s fireworks exploded around a scaffolded Big Ben, an epiphany hit like one of those rockets. I’d reached a hefty 97kg, an impressive feat at 5’7”, I could no longer run beyond my driveway and I could feel my blood pressure in my eyeballs. So, like a total schmuck then and there I made my New Year’s Resolution. Except this time, I meant business!
How Did I get Here?
Health and fitness was part of my identity from an early age. My father always made sure I kept fit, I spent summers in his Muay Thai gym/garage doing conditioning work. At school as a sergeant in my RAF squadron I was given command over fitness and I ran a half-marathon in 1:43 at 17. At Uni I joined the American Football team and, thanks to a stellar strength and conditioning coach (shoutout to Coach Vardy), was inducted into the school of hoisting. I was just getting good as my time at Uni was over #NeverGraduate. Nevertheless, I continued my education in fitness and nutrition and I funnelled all that knowledge into training to join the Army Reserves as an officer.
The conscious decision to quit was made in 2017, I was working 9–5, training for the army and trying to start a business. I was working myself to an early grave and decided I needed to let go of one of those things. Needless to say, the army lost and virtually all of my fitness training went with it.
I was also lying to myself as I got fatter. I philosophically disagree with running, I believe it to be one of the worst exercises a human being can do. So, I didn’t do it… or any other cardio. I thought so long as I could still bench 100kg and my chest protruded further than my belly (belly sucked in and chest puffed out of course) I was fine. Eventually it all caught up with me. A defining moment was when my own brother, despite being quite familiar with my story, said “why the hell would I take fitness advice from you? You’re fat and he’s got a six pack, so I think I’ll listen to him thanks.” And I mean, he’s not wrong? Who’d listen to a fat guy about fitness? My advice was sound but even if you know your stuff, talking about fitness while looking like the Stay Puft marshmallow man is a bit like receiving financial advice from a hobo.
So, not only was I a fatty fat fat, I’d lost all credibility in something I care about. Cue world’s smallest violin.
How I Did It
Sob story over. Keeyah! Karate chop that self-pity away. We all let fitness slip for various reasons. Some of them are good reasons, some of them are our own foibles and blind spots. However, at my mid-year review this month, I currently weighed 84.9kg, 12.1kg below my starting weight. I don’t mention it to brag, but rather, it was a change in process and thinking, rather than the activities themselves, that enabled my weight loss and I’d like to share my experiences with you.
When I started I was hyper aware that I didn’t want to crash diet, studies show that among people who crash diet, including Keto diets, the majority put most of the weight back on. Sure, I could go all Jennifer Aniston on myself for a month or two and lose 10kg in a blink, but what’s the point if end up gaining more weight?
So, I started with small goals, tiny goals, the smallest goals you’ve ever seen! With exercise, my starter goal was simply “move for 30 minutes every day,” it didn’t matter whether that was a walk, run or a weights session in the gym, just move. For me, I cheated a little, I’d already started building good habits just before the New Year. I was in the groove of making a thiccc protein smoothie for breakfast and had a good workout routine going.
For the readers out there who’re thinking of replicating this exactly, don’t. It’s about building habits and those should be something unique to you. Habits don’t stick if you don’t do them regularly, that’s kinda how ‘habits’ work. It’s more important you make it easy and do level 1 daily, than to get frustrated trying to do level 10 sporadically and wind up sinking a dozen Krispy Kreme’s in self-pity.
How do you know if you were ‘better than yesterday’? You don’t, you need to measure everything. Your goals will change so the more you measure the better. For example, measuring just your weight is a notoriously bad way to measure progress, especially if you’re doing a lot of resistance work (which you should be), there’s a good chance the scale never moves at all. For those “skinny-fat” folk out there, the needle may even be going up. So, measure waist circumference, bicep circumference, food intake, running speeds etc etc. You don’t necessarily need to do this daily, but you should do it once a month. It’ll also help prevent slipping if you catch your weight creeping back up. My day is the first Sunday of every month I take stock of all my measurements. A full month is also a good length of time to actually see what’s working and what isn’t. I got some smart scales to help me take more measurements without changing anything.
This goes hand in hand with setting small goals, maybe your first task is just to get into the habit of tracking things. Don’t try and do loads of exercise AND diet AND measure all of it. Pick one thing and build it into a habit, when you’ve nailed it, you can move on.
I barely lost weight for the first two months of my journey. Now, I’m losing weight at a rate 2.5kg/month, and as I keep experimenting, I am confident that rate will improve. The key thing here is I refined my weight loss system over time (check out my previous article on improving your system). After no weight change in Jan, I decided I would take other measurements like waist circumference. When those showed minimal progress, I tried something else, namely going gluten and dairy free for a month. For the record, gluten and dairy free had no effect. It’s actually harder to diet as substitutes like oat milk are low in the fats and proteins that’re in cow’s milk. So, I found no change, but that’s great! Now I can sleep soundly in the knowledge that the portion of pasta I ate with dinner isn’t limiting my gains.
I am gradually building a list of things that work for me and things that don’t. The thing that worked the most? Cheat days. Instantly. “The Rock” level cheat days. They help keep me honest during the week — “you can have that tasty triple choc brownie on cheat day, as much as you can possibly eat, just stay the course” — and the big spike in caloric intake seems to help keep any metabolic adaption at bay (metabolism slowing down in response to reduced caloric intake). My body isn’t a temple, it’s a grand experiment and I am the scientist. Personally, I see myself as Doc Brown bodging things together until things work. It makes sense doesn’t it? We’re all different so our methods, as long as they’re based on solid principles, should be different.
If I told you there’s a system that’s easy to do and you could be losing in excess of 2.5kg/month reliably and keep the weight off, I’m sure you’d bite my hand off. I cannot give you the easy answer though, instead, the power is in your own hands. Set small goals, measure and experiment. It really is that simple. Don’t panic if things aren’t working right away, stick with goals for the time you’ve allocated (I recommend a month for most things) and record your findings. If you’re struggling to stick to goals, treat that as feedback that you’ve not built the foundation required, go smaller rather than flagellate yourself. Lastly, only compare yourself to who you were yesterday or last year, if you’re doing better then you’re on the right path. You have the agency to improve your body and stick to your resolutions. That’s how I did it anyways…
This article was written by Cameron Readman. If you’d like to know more or receive notifications for future articles, please head over to the Website and subscribe at the bottom of the page!