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Success story: Through thinking about his drinking Richard has lost 20kg

February 2011

RichardRichard was always very active when he was younger but as a young adult he slipped into some bad habits, which resulted in him putting on weight. He was in the swimming squad from the age of seven, until he graduated high school at 18. This meant that he was swimming at least four times a week and, as a result, he was slim, fit and healthy.

After leaving high school Richard developed some bad eating habits, and started drinking alcohol. He had stopped exercising regularly and he became unable to maintain his weight. "At my worst I was 87kg, I'm 169cm tall. My physique had seriously altered over time from what I was used to. I found that my unhealthy lifestyle had become habitual and I needed to do something to turn it around."

In 2007 Richard went to London for a couple of months. He took the opportunity to make some changes. "I found that the change in my circumstances made it easy for me to start a fresh routine. I gave up drinking and jumped back into the pool."

Richard says he didn't know the facts behind why drinking is unhealthy for you and he had never considered how many calories were in a pint. "It was simple. I knew drinking was bad and that alcohol was a contributor to my increasing waistline. I started by giving up big nights out completely and I cut back on the number of nights I'd have a drink at all, from about three nights per week to just one."

The biggest change in Richard's drinking habits was that he really started thinking about what he was drinking and why. "Drinking is such a social thing to do, so you feel obliged to say ‘yes' to a drink with a mate, meeting people in the pub and spending nights out in bars. I just started thinking before I said ‘yes'. I'd ask myself if I really felt like a drink before I agreed to have something alcoholic."

While in London, Richard took positive action to turn around all his bad habits. "As well as starting swimming again, I started walking a lot." When deciding how to get from A to B Richard would consider how long it would take to catch a bus, and how long it would take to walk. "You often end up getting to your destination faster when you walk anyway. So it's a win-win situation."

When he got back to Australia Richard had dropped down to 75kg. In order to keep up momentum, and continue to lose weight, he went on a diet for three months. Over this time he cut out all alcohol and was eating healthily, which gave him the motivation to continue exercising. By the end of the three months he had lost a further 7kg and was down to 68kg.

"Now it's all about the routine. Setting myself up so I have habits in place and making sure I'm working towards a lifestyle that is actually sustainable."

"So many people take it too far. If your goals and expectations are too high it will be impossible to maintain. At the moment I work on a day-by-day basis: so if I'm offered a drink and I really fancy it I say ‘yes', but if I don't feel like it, or if I'm conscious that I've had a few drinks already that week, I say ‘no'."

Like many others Richard is doing FebFast this month. So he has totally cut out alcohol for the month of February. "It's going really well. I'm out of the habit of drinking regularly, so it's not hard to cut it out totally for a bit. I do miss the occasional glass of wine though."

"It may sound a bit boring, to be cutting back on drinking as a guy in his mid-twenties, but for me it was a necessary part of getting back the levels of health and fitness I once had. You think that it will be really hard, but you get very used to it surprisingly quickly."

Richard's tips:

  • Think about whether you really want a drink, don't let autopilot drive these decisions.
  • Eat well.
  • Do something physical every day, you will feel great .
  • Don't be fooled by all the myths surrounding diet and exercise. It's simple, being active and not drinking or eating too much makes you feel much better.

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