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Losing It


WRITTEN BY: Miguel McCann     ADDED: Mar 08, 2011  EDITED BY:Patrick Bickford



I remember the day I turned 100. Not the precise day, not even the exact year, but I remember feeling terrible as I left my parents’ bathroom after realising that I had reached triple digits. It was devastating.

I believe I was about 13 at the time. I had never been small – I have a large frame and carry extra weight on top of that – but I never thought I was that big either. Part of the reason it was so shocking, is that at that age I had not yet discovered the fascination of weighing myself on a daily basis (or several times a day as I now do) and as such my weight fluctuated significantly between goes. In fact, I weighed myself so infrequently (or paid so little attention to the outcome at least) that the only other weight that sticks in my head is 36kg (79lbs) and that was when I was much younger. I don’t doubt I had checked in between those two times but I have no memory of the results.

The situation, as it stood, was that I was not only hitting puberty but I was also gaining a significant amount of weight – a horrible combination. However, I managed to remain quite happy through it all – save a few screaming and crying fits spurred on by some less-than-welcome nasty comments. Nobody wants to weigh that much (unless it’s muscle) and much less a child about to embark on his "fun-filled" teenage years.

Yet, somehow, I didn’t change. I would even go so far as to say that I didn’t really try. I had played a variety of sports throughout my childhood, I cycled EVERYWHERE and I ate the food my mother prepared for me (which I would class as balanced and healthy), but I was still gaining weight. It almost seemed out of my control and as such, I lacked motivation to do anything about it. Don’t get me wrong, being thin would have been great but as I progressed through my teenage years, I didn’t feel like I suffered by not being thin. I had a good amount of friends and an active social life, I got a girlfriend, I wasn’t being bullied (not counting the jeers one can expect while growing up, irrespective of shape and size) and I was overall still a happy person.

Things changed when I went to college. I decided I should probably lose a bit of weight and after discussing it with people decided to embark on my new weight loss mission. I talked with my girlfriend and we came up with a routine that would hopefully see me lose some weight in a healthy, controlled way. I tried the routine for a few months and while I saw some positive results, they were not sufficient for me to want to keep at the routine and it wasn’t long before it came to halt. This was 6 years ago and I weighed 120kg (265 lbs).

Throughout the remainder of my four years in college, I tried various different routines, the most intensive being when I got a personal trainer to write me a weight loss programme which I diligently stuck with for at least 6 months. I saw no change, in fact, I saw the opposite. By the time I left college, I weighed 130kg (287lbs) and there was no sign of that going anywhere.

At that stage, I was signed up for the JET Programme (An exchange programme that brings foreigners to Japan for the purpose of teaching and internationalisation) and part of me hoped that I would maybe lose a bit of weight over here thanks to their reputedly healthier food. This was not the reason why I signed up for JET but I did think that it would turn out to be one of the many perks of coming here. However, almost two years into being here I had actually gained a bit of weight.

About 10 months ago, I decided to once again try something new. I embarked on a 10 week challenge.Unfortunately for me, I started it at a time when I was sick. Due to this sickness, I was binge eating (not because it was a condition of the illness but rather because that is my approach to being sick), the challenge wasn’t working for me. Also, I had just returned from a trip to Vietnam, where I had managed to put on weight. In short, by the end of the challenge, I was still at 132.1kg (291lbs) – far from an ideal weight.

By that time, it is fair to say that I was on somewhat of a kick, but I was rapidly hitting a slump. Thankfully, around this time, Mr Red Pond (literal translation of one of my co-workers’ names) and I were developing a good friendship. It consisted mainly of us meeting up for an hour or so every day and chatting over a royal tea. One day he told me about how he used to weigh 110kg (243lbs) – a claim which I found difficult to believe (if you saw him you would understand as he is as slim as they come). It seems that he stopped smoking 25 years ago and put on a crazy amount of weight. In an attempt to regain his former size and shape, he stopped eating lunch. I found this fascinating, and for the coming weeks I interrogated him about the ins and outs of it, finally settling on the decision that I too would cease my mid-day meal consumption.

Against some pretty fierce opposition (from concerned family, friends and co-workers) I finally stopped eating lunch on August 17th, 2010. I was worried about the potential negatives (as can only be expected) but I stuck with it. The first couple of weeks were really tough as my body was telling me to eat. Sometimes I caved but sought comfort in the knowledge that this was not a short term diet that I would be cheating on, but rather a lifestyle change which I could adapt to my needs and wants. The goal was to eat a regular breakfast and a regular dinner. To the best of my capabilities, I would not eat lunch or snack; if I needed to snack I would do so with fruit or something similarly healthy.

After about a month and a half, I had made some small losses (approx. 3kg, almost 7lbs). I was not disheartened as I expected it to be a case of slow and steady losses, so I kept going. Around this time, my friend Patrick (owner of Englipedia) asked me to run an 11km race. I laughed it off. For one, I was really unfit and secondly, I had never run for exercise in my life, outside of what was required in whatever organised sports I had engaged in throughout my life.

Me running is a  but the short of it is that I finally caved and signed up. I started running and I sucked. HARD! I stuck with it, as I had a goal, but it was slooooooow starting. whole other story

Much to my surprise, even though I felt like running was taking a lot of effort to get into, I noticed that I was dropping weight at a previously unseen rate (an average of 1kg, 2.2lbs, per week). Upon realising this, my motivation to run soared. Could this have been what I needed to do all along? Would I finally reach a "healthy" weight?

As of writing this, it is March 2nd, 2011 and I am proud to say that I am down around 15kg (33lbs). It has been 6.5 months since I stopped eating lunch and 5 months since I started running. I now weigh around 117kg (258lbs) and seem to be losing it at a pretty consistent pace. At first it was not noticeable and I only barely saw some changes in the way some things fit me. Now however, students, co-workers, friends, family and even casual acquaintances express their shock, happiness for me and surprise at my changes. I am at the lowest weight I have been in over 6 years and hopefully it will keep dropping.


Although it may seem far away, and although it will undoubtedly become more difficult as I lose more weight, my goal is to get below 100kg (221lbs), which would put me at the lowest weight since I became a teenager. Obviously getting lower still would be awesome but what I have learned from all this is that baby steps are important and that I have to not look too far ahead to what I might accomplish because as my mother has been telling me as far back as I remember: "Don’t count your chickens before they hatch!"









Old Comments:

  • (Jan 23, 2012) Jed said: Yes, do not skip meals. Its a long story but its best to have regular meals and reasonable exercise.
    I am not a fan of running, but if you do it doesn't have to be fast running. A gentle jog is fine, as you can go longer and its mentally easier to do.
    For me I have found that Japanese food is pretty good (eat more tofu instead of red meat but you don't need to do away with it all together) and do ots of walking. I also do exercises every morning 1st thing, only for about 15 minutes
    Of course you should cut way back on things like ice cream, chocolate and another thing.
    We in the west are bought up to have the main meal at night (dinner) but this is not the best!
    Esp as you get middle aged. It should be turned around. Breakfast should be the biggest and dinner the smallest
    anyway my 2c worth
  •  (Jan 17, 2012) jeisensei said: Congrats on the weight loss. I have been going back and forth loosing and gaining weight in Japan. I started off bigger than you were when you got here and now I am hovering around the mid-ninties (kg). My goal is to get to the 70s so I decided getting at least part of the way would be my new year's resolution this year. It is too cold to run here so I am doing wii fit for an hour a to an hour and a half every day. So far it is working like a charm (along with the common sense of not over eating). Let's がんばろう.
  • (June 16, 2011) andrew said: Interesting.. I would have to agree with the previous comment calling your decision to skip lunch an eating disorder. I was shocked to read that you took up this advice, but even more shocked to find that your story didn`t end with your decision to break this strange habit. You should get some serious help from a qualified health expert.
  • (June 15, 2011) Tina said: Wow, that is amazing progress! I weigh about the same as you did before you started running. I've been looking for something that will take the weight off that I can stick to. Personally I hate running, and I really hate sweating, but I recently discovered a podcast for the Couch to 5K program and had been thinking to give it a try. They have you walking and jogging in intervals and you build up to running a 5K run at the end of several weeks. Hearing your story is motivation to get my butt into gear! Thank you so much for sharing! Do you have a blog? I want to follow your progress!!!
  • (Apr 21, 2011) Becca said: Just to clarify:
    -If you skip meals, then your blood sugar surges (when you eat after the long break)
  • (Apr 21, 2011) Becca said: It's good that you're making an effort to improve your diet and your life.
    I struggled with my weight, and I've lost over 80lbs, 20 of those in Japan. At first I gained a little weight here, and it is all about being proactive and choosing to live a healthier lifestyle. Japan won't just make you healthier; you still have the same eating patterns and issues as before you came here. I don't condone skipping lunch though. Skipping meals is verging on eating disorder. In reality, eating regularly keeps your blood sugar levels up, and your metabolism burning fat more efficiently. If you skip meals, then your blood sugar surges, and your body has to produce more insulin, over time this could result in insulin resistance and diabetes. That's why so many obese people develop diabetes, fad diets and binge eating mess up your hormones. So, if you aren't eating from the morning until the evening, you're messing up your hormone balance, which may make you lose weight now, but it's not a healthy long-term approach.
  • (Mar 14, 2011) Chris B. said: The primary factor in weight loss, for those without thyroid issues or other factors that are unrelated to habitual factors, is exercise and diet. Eating healthier, eating less, and eating to maintain your metabolism at regular intervals will take you very far.
    However, eating only solves half the equation. The other half is keeping a good exercise regimine to build muscle to help burn off the fat and kickstart your metabolism. Without exercise, your diet's effectiveness is stifled.
    A third component is adequate rest. But the above 2 trump that. Weight management requires constant monitoring and attention, but the end result's very much worth it. And if you need a rule of thumb to follow regarding diets/weight loss, if you're asking yourself "Should I really be eating this?...", just drop it.
  • (Mar 11, 2011) Melvin said: Awesome, keep up the good work. Keep running till you can't run I say, but as for my self, "I hate running".
    If you have not noticed it earlier, let me say that you make a good writer. Think about it, I would definitely buy your book.



This page was last modified on Monday, October 27, 2014 09:46:51 AM