Irish man blogs his way slim: 'I blogged my way to dropping over seven stone'
Keeping an online diary of his dramatic weight loss helped John Quinlivan stay motivated, and introduced him to others on a weight-loss journey
The saying 'A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step' is one I'd heard a hundred times but I'd never understood.
In August 2013, I was the only person out of a group of 26 from my work that failed to climb Croagh Patrick. I didn't even get half-way up when I knew my body just couldn't do it. I weighed 19st 2lbs, I was a smoker and the only time I ran was to the front door to get the takeaway off the delivery man. That was when I took my first step into Weight Watchers and four months later (and three stone lighter), I was a changed man. That was when I took my second 'first step' but this time in a pair of runners.
I joined a local 'Zero to 5K' group in Oranmore and very quickly discovered my love for running. Similar to when I joined Weight Watchers, I had so many questions about running pace and hydration, so I started a blog as a way for me to capture my own thoughts and concerns, triumphs and discoveries along the way.
Blogging was so insightful as it gave me a channel to get my thoughts and goals out of my head and "on paper" and it also connected me to an incredible network of like-minded, supportive people who had the same interest. I became very good online friends with Olivia (who runs The Skinny Dolls Journey) and we'd talk about everything from the ProPoints in our favourite chocolate bars to struggles and challenges we'd faced.
I ran more and more. I quit smoking. I started cycling. I lost seven stone. Each step along the way posed a different challenge and it's all documented on my blog. There were ups and downs in every challenge and my story was no different. I believe 100pc that weight and fitness are not destinations - they have no finish line. I've surprised myself over and over with my ability to focus solely on a goal only to find when I cross the finish line there, I have set myself another goal further down the road to chase.
My blog is called '19st to 10K' as it was originally meant to document my journey to running my first 10K. What happened when I hit the 10K? My goal became to run a faster 10K, then a half-marathon, then the full marathon. I started cycling and ended up cycling the 180km of the Ring of Kerry in a single day. Losing weight and getting healthy has given me so much. I've made new friends through blogging, running, cycling and Weight Watchers. I have so many great memories, I've seen and done things I'd never dreamed of.
While it's true it is not the mountain we conquer, it's ourselves, I've also learned that the view and personal achievement from climbing whatever mountain I've put in front of me has been far more rewarding than anything I could have imagined. Weight Watchers has worked for me as it's given me a framework to keep myself accountable to the one person that it matters to, me. Blogging gave me a way to connect with so many others that have conquered or faced the same challenges I faced.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step which can be terrifying to think about as a whole, so break it up into smaller manageable chunks. Don't think about writing a full book, write a page. Don't think about the three stone you need to lose, aim for the first half-stone, or even just the first pound. You don't start running by doing a marathon, so try light jogging for 15 minutes. Take the first step and I promise you'll surprise yourself.
Don't restrict/remove anything from your diet - absence makes the heart grow fonder and I've found this particularly true with food. I still eat pizza, pasta, bread, crisps and chocolate (just in moderation).
Think of your ProPoints like money in your wallet - you wouldn't go into a restaurant and buy food you can't afford.
Track on the go using an app, it's so much easier to log what you have as you go as opposed to trying to remember what you had later in the day.
Don't be too hard on yourself - slip-ups happen. Don't ruin a week because you had a bad night. Don't throw away a month because you had a bad week. Don't "wait until after Christmas/summer holidays/Patrick's Day" to start… start now.
I never had time to plan or prepare what I was having.
Breakfast was often skipped or if I stopped at a petrol station on my way to work it could be a hot breakfast roll or a pastry.
Lunch again was always 'on the go' either from the local shop (a deli roll and wedges) or if we went out I'd have a dinner at lunch-time.
An afternoon chocolate bar from the vending machine at work.
A bag of crisps in the car on the way home.
My dinners were always healthy and filling as my other half is the cook but my problem was everything else I had between meals.
Having a plan and putting aside a few minutes to prepare has changed everything.
I have a number of staple breakfasts like overnight porridge oats or beans on toast.
I also keep a box of cereal (Weetabix or Porridge) at work for the mornings I'm running late, I know there will be something for me at work.
Last year I started making soup - I cannot believe how easy it is. I prepare a batch of soup over the weekend and portion it off and freeze it. It means I always know I have soup on standby.
I limit snacking by keeping fruit at my desk.