A Personal Experience from One of Our Members: A Health & Fitness Journey
One of Beckwith Health Club’s members, Warwick Dale, shares his journey to a healthy and fit lifestyle.
With an amazing effort and focus on nutrition and lifestyle, Warwick reshaped his life and is feeling the benefits of it every day!
A huge well done to Warwick from the team at Beckwith Health Club and a big thank you for choosing our gym to work on your fitness goals!
Guest Blog: Warwick Dale’s Fitness Journey
Most people in England are overweight and I was one of them. In fact, a shocking 64% of us are overweight! The below graphic looks at the average BMI per age category in England. Based on this from Parliament.uk, there is a gradual deterioration in health and weight from our youth through to our forties. For those interested in calculating their BMI (Body Mass Index), click here.
When I saw this graph, I thought: how could I be one of these people? I know what is good for me, don’t I? How can there be so many of us who are overweight?
This is about where I was at the start of 2020. Overweight, unhealthy, and lacking answers as to how I had been stuck in this situation for several years.
For me, the trigger for me to find a way out of my situation was being prescribed medication for coronary heart disease prevention and Type 2 diabetes. These newly prescribed medications were on top of my lifelong asthma medication. I decided that something had to change.
And change it did! What if I told you that after two months of following a new lifestyle, I was able to stop taking medication for all three of these conditions? If you are interested in pursuing a new lifestyle, I’ll tell you more about how I achieved it…
Research and Learning
While I’m not a medic or nutritionist, I am an engineer and I like to understand how things work, or what makes them stop working – and my body was dysfunctioning.
I decided to set about researching coronary heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. As I can be quite sceptical, I was searching for scientifically-backed evidence, rather than an unrealistic quick fix or further medication.
Having waded through the volumes of material online, I’ve detailed below a summary of my key facts and findings. There are quite a few of them and they might sound abstract, however, they enabled me to design my new lifestyle.
We evolved over millions of years and for nearly all this evolution, consumed very few grains.
We evolved over millions of years and for nearly all this evolution, consumed only seasonal unrefined sugars.
Chemically speaking, carbohydrates are chains of sugar.
Our blood naturally contains very little sugar.
When we eat carbohydrates (including sugar), our insulin spikes and our body converts the carbohydrates to fat.
When the insulin spike crashes after eating we feel hungry, even though we may actually have large amounts of fat stored.
Having evolved with seasonal and/or few carbohydrates, modern daily consumption (and daily high insulin) ultimately impacts our ability to process blood sugar and so blood sugar often becomes elevated (this is what occurs in the case of Type 2 diabetes).
We function in two hormonal states and we can only be in one at any time. These are the feast state (laying down fat) or the famine state (burning our fat).
Our metabolism is higher in the famine state.
Polyunsaturated fats are highly processed and need to be homogenised into solids.
Saturated fats are natural, with many being solid at room temperature (e.g.coconut oil, lard, butter).
Polyunsaturated fats are more oxidative than saturated fats and oxidised fats are found in calcified arteries.
Cholesterol is more complex than the media portrayed good and bad cholesterol.
The body makes cholesterol – only some is dietary.
And most importantly: you cannot outrun a bad diet.
Turning Facts & Research Into Action
It would take a while to dissect each of the above findings in detail. I believe it would be more relevant for me to detail my fitness journey and my new understanding of my health, from February to September 2020, based on these findings. For awareness, the above statements are not directly sourced from a healthcare professional.
Fitness Journey to Good Health: My Success
I began changing my lifestyle gradually. It took a couple of months to notice the effects of these changes and after four months, I noticed I was feeling more active and mentally alert. It was as though I had turned the clock back and I was ten years younger!
Here is an extract from the BMI graphic I shared above.
I felt successful: I had managed to move from the ‘Obese’ to ‘Normal’ categories in only 7 months. I’m now in the 27% group! But achieving good health is not all about weight.
QRISK3 is the risk calculator GPs use to assess the risk of coronary heart disease. Among other things, it uses a cholesterol to HDL (high-density lipoprotein) ratio. Here’s what QRISK3 said about my risk of coronary heart disease with my old lifestyle compared to my new, healthy lifestyle.
In February 2020
So far so good! Through understanding and applying my new-found knowledge I had taken my Healthy Heart Age from 63 to 49. That’s 14 years taken off my Heart Age! This improvement was thanks to a combination of several factors:
Putting T2 diabetes into remission (reducing blood sugar by 30 to 40%)
Reducing cholesterol to HDL ratio (reduced by 15 to 30%)
Lower Body Mass Index (reduced by 10%)
Lower blood pressure (Systolic reduced by 7%)
The one measure which changed substantially is my triglyceride levels (that is, fat). QRISK3 does not take triglycerides into account. However, they are similar to the cholesterol to HDL ratio it does use. The positive news was that my triglycerides, which had been high since their first measurement in 2017, were now reduced by almost 60%!
Studies have shown the existing links between high triglycerides and cardiovascular disease (see here) so I was very happy with this result!
Reflecting on my Lifestyle Changes & Fitness Journey
Like many others, when it came to improving my health I had tried the standard “move more eat less”
approach, which did not work for me. I had also tried to focus my diet on the recognised healthy options but also saw little to no results from this. It took me almost a decade to realise how much my weight and nutrition had affected my body.
For reference, below is the government’s Eatwell Guide. Guides can be problematic because of everyone’s innate differences, making it difficult to establish the same standard of eating well. For example, there are 28 items in the Eatwell Guide’s graphic below that I avoid.
The biggest surprise to come from my lifestyle changes was the loss of my asthma symptoms. I was able to stop relying on medication to treat this, which was an incredible benefit from my new and healthier lifestyle.
Joining Beckwith Health Club
After losing weight and improving my health through changes to my lifestyle, I joined Beckwith Health Club. It was at this time I felt motivated to improve my physical fitness, which was a choice for me rather than a necessity. While I was only a member of the gym for three weeks before the lockdown interrupted my efforts, I’m looking forward to returning!
Get in Touch
I’m now helping others who find themselves in a similar situation to me earlier this year. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org (@FullonLife2) and we can arrange to talk through your experience and fitness goals. There is hope!