Tipping the scales at 330 pounds, Irishman Brian McLaughlin knew it was time to take control of his weight and overall health. A native of Co. Derry, McLaughlin was familiar with the popular U.K.-based weight loss program Slimming World, and decided that after years of failed diets, it was worth a try.
McLaughlin discovered that Slimming World was less of a diet and more of a lifestyle change and an attitude adjustment towards food. He credits it for his success of losing nearly 150 pounds.
Weight was something that McLaughlin struggled with most of his life. At 14 he weighed 14 stone, or 196 pounds. At 16 he weighed 16 stone, or 224 pounds. Every year McLaughlin seemed to put on nearly a stone weight.
Four years ago, when he immigrated to New York for business, things just got out of control.
“I was living on my own and socializing with people from work. I had a good disposable income and was dining out, enjoying lots of good food and good wine with no thought or care about what I was consuming. I was living the bachelor lifestyle,” McLaughlin told the Irish Voice.
“My weight was always bad but it got significantly worse over the first couple of years I was in the U.S.”
Shortly after they started dating, McLaughlin’s girlfriend started doing Weight Watchers. He knew the point counting which is the center of the Weight Watchers plan wasn’t for him, but he felt guilty doing nothing.
“It was selfish to go out for dinners and sit and watch her eat healthy while I was eating like crap,” he said, adding that his daily calorie intake came in at roughly 7,000 per day.
McLaughlin’s mother and several of his aunts back home in Ireland had success with Slimming World so he decided he would give it a go. Now, 145 pounds later, he is glad that he did.
“Slimming World is better suited for the mentality of someone who has overate for a significant portion of their life,” McLaughlin explains. “The theory is that you eat until you are full or satisfied. In my experience, the problem with previous diets was that I had to stop eating when I reached my calorie limit.”
The program is all about choosing real foods like poultry, lean meat, fish, pasta, potatoes and fruit and vegetables that you can buy from any grocery store. These are foods that are low in calories but are filling, so when following the plan you never feel hungry or deprived. Nothing is banned outright, so you’re left feeling deprived of your favorites, but indulgences such as chocolate or wine are controlled so that you lose weight.
“It encourages you to eat the right foods, maybe not in the right quantity initially, but it gets your mind around the idea that you can still eat healthy and not be deprived,” McLaughlin told the Irish Voice.
McLaughlin offers advice to anyone who may want to lose weight and is considering the program.
“If your head is not in the right place, it can be very difficult to get started,” he explains. “Decide that you want to do it and know why. The success of the plan becomes its own motivator once you realize you can make the changes without a massive deprivation in your life. Don’t put yourself in the ‘I’m on a diet’ mentality.”
Not living to excess in terms of food and drink has made McLaughlin a much happier man.
“I still go out for nice meals but it’s not as much about the food and drink anymore, as it is about the social experience,” he explains.
Even McLaughlin’s measure of reward has changed. “Before, if I had a good week I would celebrate with an excessive meal with a bottle of wine. Now I reward myself with things I couldn’t have done before, like go on beach holidays,” he says.
A software architect for the New York Stock Exchange, McLaughlin shared his success with his company and the rest of New York when he rang the opening bell on the trading floor on December 31, 2012. It was part of an “empowering wellness” drive to promote healthy living among employees.
“I reached out to the CEO and suggested that a great reward for people changing the quality of their lives would be to ring the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange trading floor,” McLaughlin told the Irish Voice.
The CEO agreed and McLaughlin stood as an inspiration to all those making New Years resolutions to change their lifestyles.
For more information about the program, visit www.slimmingworld.com.
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore