Exercise & fitness

How to lose weight – the hard way

30 Nov 2022 | Written by By Roger Davies
A tape measure curled vertically against a yellow background
The Joy Club member Roger Davies makes his debut on our blog with this personal piece on his weigh-loss journey…

Who am I to comment on weight loss? Why would anyone want to listen to me? Well in the summer of 2012 I started to worry that I might not be as fit as I should be. I had a vague idea that my health was not what it should be, I became out of breath just bending down to tie my shoe laces. Just a few years before I had been a member of the LDWA (Long Distance Walkers Association) and had been able to Walk 100 miles non-stop, with a best time of just over 43 hours. Now here I was unable to walk down the road without a rest. That spring I weighed myself and came in at 23st. Joyce, my wife, and I started playing at dieting and throughout that spring and summer I lost about a stone.

In mid-September I discovered a web site called MFP (My Fitness Pal) which provided help and support to constructively lose weight. I resolved to seriously use this site and sort out my weight, health and fitness. So, on 17th September 2012 I officially weighed myself and joined the programme. I was 306lbs. You register your height, weight, age and sex, the app then calculates your daily allowance of calories. Then you decide what you want to eat and when. 

The key was everything that passed my lips was weighed and measured – and I mean everything. On the site there is a tool in which you simply enter what you are eating and it calculates you the calories you have consumed. You only have to do an item once because it remembers it and the food is then on your list of regular items. These are listed under breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, snacks etc.  

The system is very simple, if calories in is smaller than calories out, then you lose weight. 

You need an accurate set of kitchen scales and measuring tools. You also need an accurate set of bathroom scales. You need a desire to lose weight and the willpower to go through with it. Then you need a support team. When things get tough – and they will – then you need someone to whisper (my wife) or shout (my new American friends from the website) encouragement.

I very soon became fanatical about measuring and logging my food consumption. Because we both love cooking our own food we were able to set up our own dishes on the app by logging the ingredients, as well as just entering proprietary brand foods, which are already in their database. It was a rare occasion to find something which is not already listed. 

Some days were easy, others were not and I soon learned, that if I failed one day, not to get upset about it but to just get on with it the next day. 

I was advised not to get on the bathroom scales every day but to just weigh myself on the same day, at the same time, every 1 to 4 weeks, whatever suited me. This is good advice, if you weigh yourself too often you can get despondent as your weight fluctuates. 

On the 24th Sept, I weighed in at 301lbs, 5lbs lost, and we were up and running. 

There are community bulletin boards on the site but it is a bit like the Wild West on there, people are advocating all the sorts of diet – some that you have heard of (and maybe tried) and many you have not. From paleo to intermittent fasting with everything in between. There are all types of people on this site, dieters, weightlifters, runners, people who have struggled with eating disorders looking to gain weight. However you soon learn which posts and posters are worth reading and trying. For me it was all about CI<CO (Calories in less than Calories Out).

After tackling my calorie intake, I focused my attention on the second part of the equation: calories out. On the 26th September I went for a walk. I walked for just under 1 ½ hours and did 1.7 miles. I was elated. (How the mighty had fallen from 100 miles to under 2) but I had walked again after ten years out of the game. I started adding my exercise to my food control.

By mid-October I was jogging; I did a 1.5mile jog at just 4mph. I know that’s only walking speed, but I was jogging. 

Time moved on and by Christmas Eve I weighed in at 264lbs (18st 12lbs) – 43lbs lost. Obviously the Christmas Spirit took over and I had to start off hard in the New Year. So on 20th January I entered the Exeter First Chance 10k race. I lined up with all the athletes in their shorts and club t-shirts and me in my baggy old joggers and a rugby shirt. Off we went. I struggled round in 1hr 17mins. I wasn’t last (I finished in front of just one young lady and I think she may have let me) and I was awarded a certificate. 

The running, walking and dieting continued and by now I was not feeling particularly hungry at any time, as my body got used to the new regime. However let’s not kid ourselves, I like a drink, and the biggest source of empty useless calories is in a bottle, so wine was now just an occasional treat. 

Remember Ci>Co you can eat and drink what you want (chocolates and wine for dinner) as long as you burn more calories than you consume. 

On through 2013 we went through various hiccups and recoveries, the weight continued to come off and my running improved. I now owned proper trainers (£130) and running shorts with t-shirts proclaiming which races I had run. 

By 9th September I weighed 195lbs (13st 13lbs) and was well on the way to my target loss of 10st. However the first really bad thing happened during this month. I discovered the joys of cruising. I came back from my first cruise and had put on 12lbs in 3 weeks. I countered this by running the Great West Run in Exeter, a half marathon, which I completed in 2hrs 06min. 

By March 2014 my weight was down to 191lbs and I was into a maintenance regime. I was being told not to lose more weight as I was getting to look very scrawny in the face and I was now in the “normal” range of BMI.  

I continued running and re-joined the LDWA. On 12th April 2014 I took part in a LDWA challenge event called The Wellington Boot, 100k over the Hills of Somerset. I finished in 22hrs 55 mins and was now qualified to take part in the next year’s 100mile event in Lancashire. 

To summarise, using the Ci<Co system I lost around 10st in 18 months and went from a couch potato who could use his stomach as a food table to a 2 hr half marathon runner and was back walking ultra-long distances. I called this blog ‘How to lose – weight the hard way’ because there are no shortcuts for losing weight. The quick fix diet doesn’t work and all the supplements and pills in the world cannot help you to succeed if you are eating more calories than you are using. 

What happened next? Well I think that had better be another blog…

Roger will continue to share his weight-loss journey with us from January. In the meantime, travel enthusiasts can keep their eye out for his ‘Cruise ship diaries’ which commences next week!

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