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Don't hide your excess fat with baggy clothes. Use these numbers to get your health back on track

October 4, 2016

Has your success gone to your gut? It did for the US MH fashion director, who set out to lose 14kg in 6 months

Brian Boye was just too good at his job. On the outside, everything looked good. As executive fashion director for Men’s Health US, he knew how to hide excess kilos. “I wore jerseys and loose clothing,” he says. “I untucked my shirts when I wore blazers, and I chose colours and patterns, like black and stripes, that helped me look lean.” But nothing could hide the lethargy he was feeling inside. Brian’s problems had begun two years earlier, in 2012, after a health crisis landed him in the emergency room.

“I was sure I was having a heart attack,” he says. He wasn’t – in fact, tests revealed that his coronary artery was spasming, a serious but treatable condition called Prinzmetal’s angina. “It really freaked me out,” Brian says. “I started spending more time on the couch and binge-watching TV.” Around the same time, his workout buddy moved to Bangkok, and with him went Brian’s motivation to exercise. For two whole years he made excuses. He was too busy to hit the gym, too rushed to eat well and too immersed in his job to care.

But all that changed when he stepped on a scale during a visit to his cardiologist’s office. “I was 14kg overweight,” Brian says. In an instant, he became a statistic – one of 69% of Americans who are overweight or obese – and found himself at risk for a range of new health problems, such as coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes. “It was brutal,” Brian says. “I felt embarrassed and ashamed.” For the first time in two years, he also felt motivated. It took six months, but he lost the weight, put on muscle, and became a man he was proud to face in the mirror. Continue reading to see how he did it – and how you can too – by the numbers.

1/Number of scales used to track his weight – People who weigh themselves often are more successful at dropping weight, according to a study in PLOS One. And recording your weight can help you be more mindful of what you eat and drink, says David Katz, a Men’s Health weight-loss advisor. Brian keeps a log on his fridge.

45/Duration of Spin Classes (In Minutes) – “A friend suggested that I try Soul-Cycle,” Brian says. Now he goes twicea week, in addition to cycling outdoors with friends on weekends. “That camaraderie is hugely beneficial to weight loss,” says BJ Gaddour, MH advisor and fitness coach. “The more social you make fitness, the more likely you are to be consistent.”

60/Duration Of Bootcamp Sessions In Minutes – Military-style workout classes, like Barry’s Bootcamp (which Brian attends twice a week), focus on intense total-body intervals. “Combining resistance and cardio continues to be the gold standard for lasting fat loss,” says Dr Katz. Group training inspires plenty of friendly competition, so members always give their all.

500/MLs Of Meal-Replacement Shake – “I combine apple, kale, spinach, ginger and lemon,” Brian says. The nutrients and fibre curb hunger for hours. “Kilojoule-controlled replacement shakes are a time-tested way to lose weight,” says Professor Mike Roussell, author of The Six Pillars of Nutrition. “They also cushion you against those times when you have less control over what you eat.”

14/Number Of Days It Took To Drop The Final 5kg Brian followed a clean-eating diet created by Burn & Build Body. He restricted his carbohydrates and kilojoules; emphasised fruits, vegetables, and fish; and drank a pea-protein smoothie daily in place of a meal. “Being overweight is like wearing a weight vest,” says Gaddour. “Lose the vest, and you’ll feel like a new man.”

12/Number Of Miles Brian Runs Every Week “I always listen to music when I do cardio – it makes the miles go by faster,” Brian says. It also helps him push harder. “Music not only moves the soul but also lowers your perceived rate of exertion,” says Gaddour. The key, he adds, is to play tunes that inspire you. “The right song can give you a burst of adrenaline too.”

90/Percentage Of Weeknights He Cooks At Home – On the rare occasions when Brian does eat at catered events (which he attends almost every evening), he fills up on vegetables and protein and skips the sauces and rolls. “Eating out can take away dietary control,” says Katz. “So it’s important to have an eating strategy or to make sure you have food waiting for you at home.”