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Andrew Sweeney: “How I Completely Transformed My Body With Simple Research”

By Lovin Media

May 5, 2019 at 7:48pm

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I was the chubby kid in school that was picked on for being overweight.

I was an emotional eater not knowing anything about nutrition - just that the food made me feel good. For my confirmation, I had to get trousers with an elasticated waistband as regular fits didn’t suit me. “It’s just puppy fat” is what I heard on numerous occasions from the older generation. Thinking that I would “grow out of it” gave me some hope, but the years following, a combination of the wrong food choices and emotional eating meant I never did grow out of it

Portion size was a huge problem for me. I have a big appetite so growing up being told to clean your plate really didn’t help the situation. I would eat a bowl of pasta that now looking back would be enough for a small family. My staple diet in college was the classic chicken fillet roll with a bag of crisps and chocolate bar and on the weekends it was a rotation of takeaways. One week it would be pizza, the next KFC and so on. I would then polish off a share size bag of chocolate before I even sat down to watch a movie. So yes I may seem health conscious now but I definitely was not always like this.

So what changed all that?

Well, there were a few moments that kicked me into gear, I call these my trigger points. I’ve been called every name under the sun but when a rugby coach tells your dad to lock the fridge it hits home.

This was one of my first triggers. I felt as though I let my dad down - “How could he be proud of me when I look like this?”

So that summer I spent two hours in the gym every day. I had no idea what I was doing but I was doing it.

I’ll never forget the look on my coach's face when he saw me at our first training session back after Summer. But unfortunately, just like any crash diet, the pendulum swung back to old habits and I put the weight back on. I was able to manage it while playing rugby in school but college was a different story. Freshman 15? More like freshman 50! I had reached my worst point after a J1 in Chicago. I had been working as a chef which was probably not the best place to work given my appetite and emotional eating habits.

Now obese and going through a break up I really started to think about health. With the industry flooded with teas, shakes and pills selling the six-pack dream I bought into it all. From fasting diets to fat burners I tried everything. When I felt my heart about to explode out of my chest I knew I had to revert back to basics.

After years of yoyo dieting I started to do more research, I knew what didn’t work because I had tried it all so now I needed to find what suited me. With a better understanding of training and nutrition, I have been able to sustain a healthy lifestyle while still enjoying the foods I love. I recently left my job to work in the health and fitness industry full time. One thing I found difficult on my journey was trying to learn from someone on Instagram who had a six-pack basically since birth. I couldn’t relate to them. My goal is to help people with with a similar story to mine. People who are struggling with their weight, who are lacking in confidence and want to build a better lifestyle.

The benefits of looking after your diet and fitness go way beyond the physical.

The emotional benefits far outweigh the physical in my opinion. I was tunnel visioned into only thinking about the physical washboard abs. But when I started to lose weight the emotional benefits are what drove me further. I had a 38” waist since I was 10 years old, so when I finally got into a 32” a few years ago it boosted my self-esteem. I was more confident in my body, I was proud knowing I have accomplished something I had set my mind to. I used to be so self-conscious when in groups, waiting for someone to point out that I was fat and have everyone look and laugh. In my previous job, I was tasked with presenting in front of hundreds of people, something that the old Andrew wouldn’t have been able to do. The physical benefits are great don’t get me wrong, but the emotional bounce you get is priceless.

It takes an emotional event to change our direction.

I changed my habits gradually. I started by focusing on the foods I was eating and getting an idea of how many calories I was consuming. When I started to track my foods I learned a lot about my body. What worked well and what didn’t. One of my issues growing up was portion size so tracking my meals really helped me out of overeating. I wasn’t as accurate about tracking my exercise as I was with food because exercise was normal for me, although it didn’t look it. I started in the gym when I was 13. When the puppy fat wasn’t coming off it was my second home. But you can’t out-train a bad diet. When you realise how long it takes to burn off the takeaway you will think twice before eating it.

So what did I do to transform my body?

After a lot of research and BS filtering I studied the science behind the caloric balance. If your energy in is less than your energy out, fat loss will occur - it's simple as that.

So I put it to the test. After a few calculations I set myself a calorie target for the day along with a macronutrient split (Proteins, Carbs and Fats). I tracked every bit of food I ate, consistently eating in a calorie deficit. Combining this with weight training, I was able to lose over fifty pounds. I still ate the occasional pizza and bar of chocolate but it was more controlled. There needs to be a balance with tracking. The more accurate you are the less consistent you will be. I got so obsessed with being accurate I would be picking out the grains of rice to bring it down to the serving size I wanted. I now have a healthy relationship with it. I always recommend people track their food for a week to see what they are actually taking in.

Think of it like going to a petrol station with only ten euro in your wallet. You don’t squeeze the petrol pump while staring into space.

My six-week summer shred with Lovin starts tomorrow, and I'll be sharing meal plans, workouts, and even cheat meal inspiration to help you get in shape for summer.

This plan is suitable for anyone who is looking to feel better both in their body and mind. The workouts will get more advanced as the weeks go on and the food plan I have designed has a healthy balance of wholefoods with a few treats thrown in along the way. This six-week plan can be your stepping stone in the right direction. It’s all about finding the right sustainable path for you after, and BALANCE.

You can fit alcohol and pizza in for sure but if you eat a pizza followed by a heap of pints and order a garlic fries on the way home you may slow your progress. I don’t believe in restricting anything as the day you do you are setting yourself up for failure. If you enjoy a drink and pizza, then have a drink and pizza. But know that if you eat more calories than you burn you will impede your progress. I have included a cheat meal each week in the food plan. They are meals that I order when I am out. You have to be able to go out and enjoy yourself and not just be restricted to a meal plan.

This plan that I have created especially for Lovin readers will have 6 HIIT workouts all under 30 minutes which can be done anywhere with no equipment. It will kickstart your day and not erase all the hard work you put in leading up to the holiday.

 Think of this plan as training wheels, when you take them off you have to find the balance. Adherence is the key to maintaining a healthier lifestyle so what I learned over the years is to not restrict any of the foods you enjoy. Ask yourself - are my current eating habits impacting long term consistency? Most importantly, make sure you enjoy the journey.

Andrew Sweeney's Six Week Summer shred starts tomorrow (Monday May 6) on Lovin.ie

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