Saturday 20 January 2018

Ray feels and looks better, and fitting into his shirts ...

Karen Coghlan explains the starting point for long-term weight loss

Karen Coghlan with Ray Foley. Grand Canal Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Karen Coghlan with Ray Foley. Grand Canal Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Ray Foley embarked on a mission a few weeks ago to feel and look his best again. The 98fm DJ gained 4 stone over the past 18 months, after his priorities changed when two kids and a new job came along.

Ray's previous dieting attempts have been a dieting cliche - going gung ho for the first few weeks following a strict set of dietary rules. Results would come quickly, but they were always short lived.

This time I wanted Ray to do things differently. I wanted this to be a lifestyle change for Ray and for the results to be long-lasting so he never need diet again.

The slower Ray loses the weight then the more likely he is to keep it off.


According to Ray: "It took me several years to put on the weight so I don't have any expectations that I'll lose it too fast. When I do lose weight quickly, I lose small amounts and never keep it off."

Ray added that he is happy to take as long as needed to get the weight down, but "in time for summer would be nice!"

Ultimately, my goal for Ray is to beat the dieting odds, by using a habits-based approach to nutrition, involving no fads or gimmicks. Instead, provide sound nutrition advice to empower Ray with all the tools and information he needs to confidently reach his goals.

One of the first red flags was Ray's water intake - it was non-existent. The body needs water more than any other nutrient and works at its best when hydrated. By drinking a pint of water every morning and before every meal, Ray is now consistently hitting 2 litres of water a day. Next week I hope to have him up to 3.


Next up was sorting out Ray's breakfast routine - there was none. It was either a handful of nuts or a Snickers bar from the vending machine (on Fridays!). Either way, it wasn't balanced.

Breakfast should be an opportunity to eat a balanced meal to set you up for a good day. A combination of carbohydrates, protein and fats gives a sense of satisfaction from food, as well as balancing blood sugar levels.

Unbalanced spikes and dips in blood sugars can lead to insatiable hunger later on and result in bad moods and poor food choices. To prevent this, choose a breakfast that includes protein, healthy fat and some whole grains.

One of Ray's favourites is whole oats and almond milk, with Greek yogurt for protein mixed through, and topped with berries for flavour and nutrient power. In Ray's own words "I flipping love my breakfast".

Lunch and dinner are also on track. A typical day might see an omelette with a fist or two of veggies, and the focus of dinner is meat and veggies, perhaps with a side of rice.

Ray has started to notice that he eating the same thing most day. Although he is not bored yet, it's important to try fresh meal ideas to prevent boredom tempting him to stray, as well as covering all his nutrient needs.

Therefore, Ray's homework this week is to cook at least one new meal so I have given him a collection of recipes, including beef stew, sauteed salmon, Portobello pizzas, Thai turkey burgers, and a prawn coconut curry to work with.

A weak spot for Ray is the gap between lunch and dinner, where the temptation to snack on biscuits and crisps has not yet been overcome. So Ray has decided that he needs to plan for four meals a day, instead of just three.

Previously Ray was told by personal trainers that he must eat six small meals a day to stoke his metabolic furnace and to melt fat. But this was just not practical, definitely not sustainable and did not work for Ray.

Probably just as well, as there's no scientific merit to this dogmatic claim. Instead, Ray is letting personal preference be the driving factor behind his choice to eat 4 meals a day. It suits his schedule and should also help control hunger levels to overcome afternoon temptations.


A few weeks in and Ray has been finding a better balance and adopting a more moderate approach than previously.

Allowing treats on a Friday or Saturday, perhaps a Thai take-away, has proven more maintainable. In his own words "when you're allowing yourself the couple of other treats, the chocolate is an easy sacrifice."

Over the last few weeks, Ray has made very positive changes to his daily behaviours around food. These behaviours if repeated enough will soon become new habits. It is the recurrence of these new habits day in day out that will ultimately determine a successful fat loss outcome.

So far, Ray is 5 lbs down, but more importantly he is feeling better, looking better and fitting better into his shirts that had been getting too tight. Result.

Karen is a personal trainer and runs online nutrition programmes. See www.thenutcoach.com or email karen@thenutcoach.com

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