A young man from Cork, Ireland, weighed 301 pounds (approx. 136.5 kg) at his heaviest. He shrugged off his size for years until a trip to Miami brought a series of humiliations.
It became the lightbulb moment for him, making him realize that he needed to change his ways.
To start shedding pounds, Conor Hegarty, 24, a management consultant, adopted a diet and lifestyle overhaul, including a gym regime, running, and meal preparation. Not even lockdown could slow him down; after 10 months, he had lost an incredible 42 percent of his body weight.
Conor now hopes to continue his transformation by toning up even more. He wants to run his first marathon in June 2022.
Conor told Men’s Health that he remembers always being heavy. Yet his weight gain “crept up” on him slowly.
“I just didn’t have the knowledge of food or the motivation to do anything about it,” he told the outlet.
“If I did do something, I would crash diet for a couple of weeks, which would then end with a binge-eating day and after a while I would be even heavier than when I started my diet.”
Then everything got worse at university; drinking culture and late-night fast-food takeaways dominated Conor’s social life.
He quit sports and started working long hours. Starting the day with a full Irish breakfast and separating large meals with high-calorie snacks, Conor piled on 55 pounds (approx. 25 kg) in less than 18 months, reported Men’s Health.
Finally, on a trip to the United States in November 2019, Conor realized his morbid obesity was no laughing matter.
“I have never felt more ashamed of myself than when I was in Miami,” he told Men’s Health. “The men and women all look great … My friends all wanted to go to a pool party, but I couldn’t go as I didn’t want to take my shirt off in public.
“Then we had a connecting flight, and had to run about half a mile through the airport. I couldn’t catch my breath, and had sore shins.”
The last straw was not fitting into his seat belt on the airplane. The switch had flipped.
Conor launched headfirst into a lifestyle overhaul in January 2020, first noting his Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) in order to calculate his true calorie needs. He started with a 200-calorie deficit.
His rationale? Slow and steady wins the race.
After adjusting, Conor reduced his calorie intake again, quitting treats such as alcohol, lattes, “cheat days,” and the dreaded takeaways of his former life.
“I prepped meals twice a week, and wouldn’t deviate from my meal plan for the whole week,” he said.
“You know yourself and your vices better than anyone else … Pre-plan your meals in a way that suits you.”
When it came to exercise, Conor had company. He and a friend signed up for a 12-week transformation program at their local gym, and Conor found the endorphins worked wonders. After exercise, he no longer craved junk food.
He also discovered his fears of being ridiculed by fitter gym-goers were unfounded.
“Rule number one of the gym is: Nobody cares what you look like, they are too busy looking at themselves,” he said.
Yet six weeks in, the pandemic forced the gym into temporary closure. Determined to continue his journey, Conor started setting an early alarm, working out at home, and running. He endured sore ankles, knees, and shins to slowly build up his frequency.
Soon, he was running five days a week and playing soccer, crediting the endorphins—and the break from screen time—for an improvement in his mental health. He even started sleeping better; no longer morbidly obese, Conor stopped snoring.
He started tracking his progress on Instagram, and before long, his fitness and weight-loss diary became a source of inspiration for others.
Conor’s core advice is to start with small routine changes.
“The only way to lose weight is to be true to yourself,” he said. “If you are over-eating or under-training, you have to be honest with yourself, or else you will not see results.”
Today, he says, he is not the person he used to be.
“I used to stand with a hunched back and my head always facing the ground … I was completely and utterly lacking confidence,” Conor told Men’s Health.
“Now, I stand upright, have a smile on my face and have boundless energy. I have really started living my life again!”