Stuart Elkington is a 44 year old Londoner who three years ago made the decision to to get healthy and change his drinking. At 5’11” (180 cm), Stuart used to weigh 238lbs (108kg) but has in three years dropped to 170lbs (77kg). He is a Project Investment Manager and the co-founder of drydrinker.com. For this blog, Stuart has allowed us to share an interview previously published on Man v Fat.
Hi Stuart – you’re already a very popular Amazing Loser because you’ve given MAN v FAT readers 10% off at Dry Drinker but you’ve had a very personal story regarding how alcohol can impact on your weight. I gather that booze played it’s part in making you get fat, is that right?
It was a couple of things really, but alcohol was certainly a part. I was working hard and not making time to look after myself. I had a real lack of motivation for exercise and anything healthy. I was also really enjoying going out and socialising which always involved eating and drinking the wrong things to excess.
Was there a point where you thought – this has gone too far?
The main motivation was that we wanted to start a family and was told I needed to change my lifestyle to help do that. That was the motivation I needed. I’m pleased to say that I now have two amazing kids!
For me the big difference when I was losing weight this time was that I was really focused on a goal – starting a family. Being fat and 40 wasn’t where I wanted to be. This was the real incentive to do something about it. I had this constant feeling that I wasn’t healthy and that I felt tired all the time and basically just run down. All of those things were within my control though and I decided to take the control back.
So what did you do?
Like a lot of guys on the forums I didn’t follow a specific diet. I stopped drinking, I introduced exercise back into my life, so I was getting out at least 3 times a week. I also made healthy decisions on what I was eating and thought about all aspects of my health to include getting enough sleep and stopping smoking.
My approach was that I just went for it. I got my family to support me and took each day at a time. I just tried to believe I could do it this time. I also found a new passion in cycling which was great exercise and something I really enjoyed.
Although you weren’t doing a diet as such can you give us a picture of how your eating habits changed?
As I started to become healthier I would have cereal, toast and fruit for breakfast. For lunch I would usually be out and about with work so would have soup, salad, sushi or a sandwich. In the evening I would have a stir fry, grilled meat or pasta. I am a real snacker so I’d always eat lots of fruit and nuts throughout the day.
I have to say that it wasn’t an easy process – but I took the time and set goals along the way. As my healthy project continued I started to meet more friends who were into the gym or cycling, so I found I’d spend more time doing healthy stuff naturally.
What were the challenges then?
Being busy often made it more difficult, particularly when I was on the road and it’s not always that easy to find something healthy to eat. Also I sometimes felt that I wasn’t making much progress. It was a slow process but the I think it’s the right way to go about it. Fortunately, my girlfriend was great at making sure we had healthy food in the house and encouraging me. My friends also helped to make exercise more appealing.
Any surprises along the way?
The biggest surprise has to be other people’s reaction. So many people commented positively and tended to notice straight away. That was really motivating and helped me to stay on course when things were a bit difficult.
Talk to us about the drinking because that’s quite an extreme approach – to give up entirely.
Part of the change was that I decided to give up alcohol for a year. When the end of that year came around I didn’t feel the need to start drinking again and three and a half years later I am still not drinking, I just haven’t felt the need to. This has been the motivation and insight behind DryDrinker.com. I was frustrated with not being able to find a decent non-alcoholic beer that tasted good and I was always stuck what to drink. This was my inspiration to hunt out the best non and low-alcohol beer that we now sell online.
How was giving up drinking – any advice for others who want to do the same?
In terms of practical advice that’s a hard one. I remember my first week when I stopped drinking, I was in Italy at a wedding. Without sounding like an advert for DryDrinker.com there is something about deciding what you are going to drink and making sure you have drinks in, or you know what’s available where you are going.
That’s when I first got into non and low alcoholic beers so it helped to have something decent to drink. Thinking back to the days of bad hangovers also motivated me! Definitely getting your friends and family to support you is critical to help keep you focused. It was really hard to start with, but you just have to take it day by day.
You get to give three pieces of advice to our readers – what would they be?
Just three? Ok – number 1 – Anyone can lose weight, you just have get into the right mindset. Number 2 – Don’t be too hard on yourself, make sure you still have a treat meal once a week. Finally, number 3 – it really works to do it with someone else, whether it’s diet or exercise so find a system to support you.