Getting started

In 2022, I hit my heaviest weight of 146kg (23 st/321 lbs) and felt unhappy with how I looked and felt. However, I didn’t know where to start, and the thought of going to the gym intimidated me. I had tried diets like Keto and Slimming World with some success, but I couldn’t sustain them, and I always gained the weight back.

After a lot of research, I realised that there were not shortcuts, and I needed to focus on two things to reach my goals in a sustainable way: being on a caloric deficit and starting to exercise.

The science below is obvious, but it’s very much the magic rule to weight los, and the key to getting results. It’s worth going through the thought process before jumping in.


Swimming had always been something I enjoyed, so I decided to start there. I committed to something that felt sustainable – going twice a week and slowly worked my way up to longer and more intense sessions later. I also started to walk more.

Even a 30 minute walk was more beneficial than sitting on a chair.

I was terrified of entering a swimming pool, and of taking my shirt off in front of others, and this had been going on for years.

One day in August 2022 (7 months ago at the time of writing this) I just decided to bite the bullet and do it, and was surprised that first of all, nobody really cared and also most people at the gym actually didn’t look any different from me.

I was cured within minutes of being there and couldn’t believe I let the fear keep me away from doing this for so long.

There is no question that exercise is essential for good health and wellbeing. It can improve your physical health, mental health, and quality of life; I have experienced most of it within weeks of starting my journey; this is what I experienced first hand:

Physical health: my cardiovascular health improved – my resting heartrate is the lower it has ever been, my ECGs look far better, my lung capacity dramatically increased (especially considering I’m an ex-smoker), my blood pressure is lower, the bloods came back with normal cholesterol levels.

Mental health: I’ve found that it instantly helped reduce my stress and anxiety, and has been an effective treatment for depression; within a week, it was very like like night and day.

Weight management: Exercise is an effective way to manage your weight. It can help you burn calories and fat, and build lean muscle mass. Regular exercise combined with a healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight.

Better sleep: I used to sleep 3-4 hours a night; since exercising, I fall asleep faster, and have improved the quality of my sleep. I sleep regularly at least 8 hours per night now.

Caloric deficit

With regards to nutrition, it took a bit more understanding; I looked at my BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and used this as a starting point. The BMR is essentially the minimum amount of energy you spend just existing. There’s a decent calculator here. Mine was estimated at about 2200 kilocalories/day. See what yours is.

The math of weight loss can then be kept simplified. A pound of fat yields about 3500 kilocalories. If you eat more than your BMR (and were theoretically completely inactive), anything you eat that takes you above your BMR causes your body to store fat. Anything less, will be burned by your body as energy. So to be guaranteed a caloric deficit, I would need to eat less than 2200 kilocalories a day.

I calculated that I needed to be on 1500 calories, which would take the caloric deficit to at least 700 calories per day, which means I would lose one pound of fat every 5 days, give or take.

Obviously you’re not completely inactive, so anything you do above this being active will burn more calories, and speed up the weight loss.

In terms of nutrition, not all calories are created equal; 1g of fat represents 9 kcals, 1g of carbs or protein represents 4 kcals. As I didn’t want to feel like like I was starving myself, I decided give up calorie-dense foods like fat and refined sugars, and focused on proteins, vegetables and less dense carbohydrates like rice.

Because I’m exercising, I would also need to increase my protein intake; when you exercise, you cause micro-damages to your muscles, which is what the soreness you feel after exercising is. Protein is used to rebuild muscle.

For instance, chicken breast as a protein source was a good candidate with 25% protein and the rest being pretty much water (which is why chicken breast is the go-to to most bodybuilders).

Foods like rice and pasta are a lot denser and it takes less to get more carbs out of them, so would need to eat less of those to get the same amount of calories.

Protein also tends to keep you full for longer and doesn’t cause spikes in sugar levels.

After some research, I came up with the following macros in terms of what I would need to eat in order to keep a balanced diet: 45% protein, 10% fat, 45% carbs. Check out this macro calculator if you need help with this.

At this point keeping track using an app like MyFitnessPal became very important.

I didn’t cut carbs or fat out altogether because that would cause hormonal and sugar level problems, but I did cut out anything that contained refined sugars. Otherwise, anything was game.

I set my goals and religiously ensured that whatever I’m eating, I’ll weight and accurately log it.

Interestingly, swimming for 30 minutes at a slow pace burned (for me) about 300-500 kcals. So just by going swimming twice a week, I would burn an extra 1000 kcalories a week. That’s one pound of fat a week. Admittedly, the burn continues after exercising, but this shows that exercising alone isn’t enough to cause a dramatic fat loss – but rather most of the fat loss will come from nutrition. Exercising however, has a lot of health benefits that ought to be considered.

This was my starting point in terms of nutrition; I have gradually altered the above to match my own needs, and listen to my body constantly. If I get muscle soreness, I focus on eating more protein. Getting that much protein from diet alone can be difficult at times, so (hint) protein isolate shakes will be your friend. I’ll do a separate post on nutrition.


I lost most of my weight initially (and still) through nutrition – I set my goal to 700 calories fewer than my calculated BMR, ensuring I would lose at least 1 pound of fat per week. I added exercising twice a week focusing on light cardio, ensuring that I started being more active.

I made sure my diet incorporated enough nutrients by looking at macros – 45% protein, 10% fat, 45% carbs by weight. I tracked everything religiously using MyFitnessPal.

The results was that I lost 30 Kg / nearly 70 pounds in 6 months and I haven’t felt I was starving myself.

Bottom line

At first, it wasn’t easy. I struggled with cravings and the temptation to give up, but I reminded myself of my goals and kept pushing forward. As the weeks went by, I started to see progress. I had more energy, my clothes fit better, and I was feeling more confident in myself.

As I became more comfortable with swimming, I started to incorporate other forms of exercise into my routine. I began lifting weights and doing cardio workouts, and soon enough, exercise became a regular part of my day.

Of course, I still faced challenges along the way. There were days when I slipped up and indulged in unhealthy foods, but I learned to forgive myself and get back on track. The key was to stay consistent and never give up.

Today, I am proud to say that I have lost close to 35kg (so far) and have completely transformed my health. I no longer fear the gym and have a much better understanding of nutrition.

The key for me was to set realistic goals, staying consistent, and not be afraid to ask for help when needed.

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