|Andy Coley 2010|
By Coach Cj Swaby
There are few people that inspire me. Those who do, you'd probably be surprised who is on my short list. Generally they are not Fitness Guru's, Celebrities, Nobel Peace Prize Winners. They do not interest me. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. People who have the ability and the character to turn their life around and overcome not only the odds, but more importantly themselves. People who act as a torch to light the path for others to show that it is possible. What you believed could not happen is in fact actually very doable. Andy Coley is one such person. I had the pleasure of meeting him on a course recently. I was impressed and inspired by his story and his achievement of losing over 6 stone, and cultivating a healthy lifestyle. I hope you will be too.
CJ: So Andy, you've managed to lose a considerable amount of weight recently. What is your story and how did you do it?
AC: I have been "large" for years and years, mostly due to stress eating and a complete lack of regular exercise. I had tried various diets from the cabbage diet to slimming world with a mixture of success from 1-3st lost since about the age of 20. My size was something that bothered me and at the start of 2011 I finally decided that enough was enough and I started going to "bootcamps" run by George "Topsy" Turner of Innovations Fitness based in Portsmouth.
Topsy is an ex Navy Personal Trainer who I was introduced through a friend. I turned up to my first session at the start of Jan 2011 and paid for a block of 10 sessions at the outset, so I was committed! The first session was a car crash as I'd not eaten or hydrated correctly beforehand and I spent about 25 minutes with stars in my eyes nearly falling over. With some advice on what to eat for the next session I came back and got on much better.
The classes are great fun and being one of only a couple of blokes in a class of 20 wasn't a bad reason for turning up too! Gradually with Topsy's help plus going to the sessions twice a week, by August I had lost nearly 6st and felt fantastic. It was also Topsy's stag do then and I wanted to make sure I was fit for that as we went up to Scotland for an active boys weekend away! The Sessions are indoors in the winter and outdoors from Spring to Autumn and are always different each time.
From September 2011 onwards I started to get out and jog, building up to a 5k Santa fun run which I did in December in a time of 33mins, without walking once. Through 2012 I've been doing 10k races, the first one in Feb and then others in March and May. I did the May one in 58mins which was fantastic as I wanted to finish in under an hour. I'm now building up for the Great South Run in October which is 10miles which I'm going to run in under 90mins.
CJ: What was the key turning point for you, when you thought "enough is enough and I have to do something about it?"
AC: At the end of 2010 I seperated from my wife, we'd been married for 11 years and things had been rocky for a while, various issues peaked and we decided it was best to split whilst we were still able to be friends. I moved out of the house and back in with my parents, that December I saw myself in a picture from Christmas Day (at just over 23st) and realised how large I was and that was the turning point, after all, I now had all this time for me so I took control of myself.
CJ: Now that you've lost all that weight and created a healthier lifestyle, what has been your biggest challenge to maintain it?
AC: Now I'm in a much happier place, being very busy on my courses has definitely taken some focus away from the exercise and I've been having to get it back into my schedule. I'm always at bootcamp twice a week though other sessions (like jogging) have been harder to slot in. Maintenance is definitely key to you keeping motivated. Over the last few months I've put a few kg back on (having gotten down to 17st) so have to get back to cutting out some of the stuff that's crept back in food wise and stop finding the excuses not to loose the next 10kg. Also weirdly I still see the large "me" in the mirror, perhaps as I see the change so gradually every day, my old clothes and the comments of friends whom I've not seen for months plus the scales makes me know how much I've changed, plus photo comparisons of course!
CJ: What impact on your life has this change had?
AC: Amazing impact in my life, I feel so much healthier and fitter now than I've ever been, I'm smaller than I was at the age of 18 (I know as my scout uniform stashed in the cupboard is too large) and that this is part of my life forever, one that contains fitness and exercise. Fortunately I've always been confident although this has made me even more comfortable in my own skin.
CJ: Have their been any downsides to your transformation?
AC: Yes, having to spend a fortune on new clothes! (44in waist down to 36in - XXXL clothes down to XL etc), the charity shops have been doing great business from me :o) although it's a downside I'll readily take.
CJ: How important to you is it to have the right people around you to support your transformation?
AC: Absolutely a million percent essential, I'd never had come as far without the support, inspiration and motivation from Topsy and with the help of my friends from Innovations Fitness. We help each other during the sessions and outside of the sessions, most of us use the Endomondo application which is great for giving peptalks when people are out running or exercising.
CJ: Who has been the single biggest inspiration to you along your journey?
AC: Topsy for sure!
CJ: For someone who is in a similar space to where you were all those months ago, What would Andy's Top 7 Weight Transformation Tips be?
AC: Here are my Top Tips
1) You can do it, really believe it, set a positive goal and make it in gradual and sustainable stages. I simply lost 1-2lb a week to loose 6st (I find that visualising 32 bags of sugar and wondering how I was even able to move whilst carrying them each minute of each hour of each day for years as a pretty good motivator to keep going)
2) Get a personal trainer or join a socialable circuit class which motivates you, I've joined so many gyms and find them lonely and boring.
3) Work out and communicate with people outside of the classes, make the experience of loosing weight fun!
4) Check out potential class websites and on facebook and you'll see how good the interaction is between people that go.
5) Use a phone application like Endomondo which enables you to track your workout/progress. This also gives you motivation from friends and family along the way.
6) Stay fit, healthy and above all positive
7) If your legs hurt see a physio or get a sports massage and check your trainers are right, it makes a massive difference having the correct kit.
CJ: Andy, I understand you have some pretty interesting plans for the future around weight loss and health, what are they?
AC: Yes as well as than continuing my own journey with fitness and improving myself further with longer runs (half marathon next year for sure) I have been learning NLP and Hynotherapy and I am going to use these new skills to motivate and help others who want to the same changes. I plan to run seminars, bringing together trainers, nutritionists and motivational speakers so that people have the help and support I've had in an accesible way.
Any of us can loose weight - we all know that, dont we? We just need to indentify what it is that is really holding us back from making the change, I've seen so many wonderful people make dramatic and positive changes that have made the difference and I know we can all do it. Whatever your reason is for exercising from loosing weight to fitness to running a marathon, set your goals and Believe, Commit, Succeed (to use the tagline from Innovations Fitness)!
CJ: Andy, its been a pleasure and thank you for your time.
AC: Many thanks Cj and I know that you are an inspirational trainer yourself, everyone you work with is better for the experience :)
Andy Coley is the Director of Website Design & Marketing company Sussex Net
Topsy is the Director of the successful Health & Fitness Company Innovations Fitness and is based in Portsmouth.