Sunday, 17 July 2016

Post 15: Owyn's Success Story

Hi Guys,

Here’s Owyn’s success story: he's been following the advice from this blog for a few weeks now and has seen some great results.

Before we get this show on the road, I want to congratulate and thank Owyn. When someone goes away and tries out the methods described here, it really makes me happy and I feel genuinely touched. I am putting this information out there so I can reach as many people as possible, and help them to reach their health, fitness, and life goals. What’s great about Owyn’s story is that he see’s the big picture. He allows himself to indulge once in awhile but has also made some small changes which have had big effects. Let’s get into the meat of this then! (grass-fed meat, of course…)

How much weight did you lose and in what amount of time?

So far I have managed to lose about 7 pounds in 3 weeks (“yusssssss” - C). As a result of changing my breakfasts and lunches to salad options. I primarily drink water but have found you can still treat yourself to beer, etc., (within moderation of course). I also Improved my sleep slightly by going to bed about half an hour earlier than normal. I also continued my 2 trips a week to the gym for 30-40 minutes of cardio. This rate will probably slow as my body adjusts but I am happy to have found an effective way to lose weight that works for me.

C: Awesome job, dude. Owyn’s made simple changes, sprucing up his breakfast and lunches, getting some more sleep and switching to water. This is an excellent step. Often times the most insidious claims by advertisers is that because it is 0 calories, it is healthy for you. How many times do you actually see a thin person drinking Diet Coke? He’s also told me (separately) that he’s switched over to green tea from tea with milk. This is another small change which really helps due to the polyphenol content of green tea, which feeds healthy gut bacteria. He’s right that his rate of weight loss will slow, since you at first lose excess water weight your body carries, but he’s set himself on the right trend, which is essential. To continue his gains in the future, he could easily swap his cardio out for some weights or some HIIT.

What was the biggest change you made?

The biggest change I made was getting my snacking under control with a good alternative (almonds) and paying proper attention to when I was actually hungry. I was pretty terrible with my snacking before and consistently bought cheap biscuit / chocolate packs. Even trying to buy healthier multipack snack options could result in me eating a few within a short amount of time, due to them not really doing anything to fill me up.

I decided to replace the biscuits and chocolate with almonds, as I had heard they were a good natural food option that filled you up. I found a pretty good snack bag from Tesco's, which is only £2 and now easily lasts me 2 weeks. I only need to eat a few when I feel peckish and then am able to put the pack away without feeling the temptation to eat more. Compared this to when I went and bought a £1 bag of chocolates, which would be gone in an afternoon.

C: Another simple change with a far reaching effect. Eating sweets and chocolates actually makes you crave them even more! If you’re having trouble with cravings, check out my article on dealing with them here. Owyn has chosen a sensible way to manage his cravings and pretty soon they will go away entirely.

He touches on a couple of great points too. One, he chose a whole food which packs a micronutrient punch. This is excellent, and satisfies his body because he’s feeding it true fuel when it needs it rather than processed crap.

Two, it doesn’t cost the earth to eat healthily. Like he says, it only cost him £2 for 2 weeks of snacks! When you compare that to £1 on chocolate a day, you’re saving over 85%.

I encourage Owyn to keep up this practice, but he could expand it by using different types of nuts (supermarkets stock many different types at the same price). He should also try and keep them as fresh as possible by storing them in an airtight container in the fridge.

What were the other changes you made?

Apart from the change to my snacking I changed my breakfasts and lunches to salads. My breakfast had been either generic cereal or toast for most of my life, so after seeing the Cowlean blog post about healthy breakfast options I decided to give "The Fancy Pants" a try. I found it a really tasty alternative but realised I wasn't a good enough cook to consistently keep up with the salmon part of the meal. However,  I needed a meal ready in 10mins to eat in time before leaving for work on weekdays, so I decided to rework the meal to what my local Tesco's could provide. I ended up with a meal consisting of a bed of lettuce or rocket/spinach, cucumber, half an avocado and a bit of light mustard and honey dressing over the top. I started trial testing this meal for my weekday breakfasts and found it was a good and tasty  and kept me full until 12-1pm. Having the same meal for breakfast is starting to become a bit bland, so I need to explore some variations to this meal to help keep me interested.

As I work just off of Oxford Street the amount of different places to eat is crazy. Therefore, you can easily find yourself having a lunchtime meal which consists of way more food than you should be having at lunchtime. In order to save money, most of the time I would buy meal deals from either the nearby Sainsbury's or Tesco's, but even though I used to pick "healthier" options in their pasta salads, these would still be 20-30% of your daily recommended food groups. Instead, I decided to revise these choices by picking the actual healthy option of the chicken salad, which has a much lower daily percentage across the board. As well as ditching any soft drinks and purely sticking to water.

I'll briefly talk about my dinner situation and why I decided to not really change it. I currently live with 2 university friends and we do group dinner meals together pretty much everyday. These are mostly cooked from scratch but we vary the meals a lot so they aren't really healthy options in comparison to purely another salad type meal. Therefore, I decided to not make any changes here and instead focus on the rest of my daily intake.

C: That’s totally fair!

It’s clear that through the changes Owyn made he has been getting some great results. As long as he is happy with them I would encourage him to stick with his current practice and see where it will take him. If he reaches homeostasis and still wants to push further, then we can work on incorporating more changes into his diet and exercise regime, such as cutting out grains completely, using HIIT as described earlier, or incorporating intermittent and/or bulletproof fasting.

As far as variety goes, the post with The Fancy Pants can be found here, where there are two other recipes he could use (hint hint ;-) ). It also pays to remember that you can form a healthy meal pretty much anywhere and anytime by combining a healthy fat, a protein source, and two portions of vegetables. For example, you could buy a big green salad, an avocado, and some deli meat/fish from a supermarket and create a salad on the go at any point. I don’t want to make it seem like every meal should be a salad though! You can always just combine different whole foods to make a meal, for example eggs, bacon, and a couple of portions of veg.

Something to acknowledge from Owyn’s words is that he didn’t feel hungry until midday, which is exactly what we’re aiming for here. For people eating cereal or toast for breakfast, your blood sugar is going to shoot up and then crash, at which point will be in an emergency and say “where’s the food gone!?”, leading you to crave more sugary and unhealthy foods.

Was it difficult to make the changes?

My motivation for making these changes and sticking to them before the results started to show on the weighing scales was my friend Tom (the writer of this blog). I've been keeping up with his amazing health and fitness progress for a while now and saw the success of what he was doing. I didn't find it very difficult to make these changes once I quickly realised that the food I was now eating was still enjoyable, kept me full, and doesn't cost that much more compared to buying bread, milk and cereal.

C: Why thank you! I personally find that motivation and execution are often the dividing line between people and their goals. People already know what they should be doing, but they need someone there alongside them keeping track of their progress and picking them back up again if they fall down. It helps to act as a role model for these changes yourself too. So if it helps people achieve their own visions for their life then I am more than happy to help them with it.

Do you think the changes are sustainable?

I think they are. This is due to the fact I have been trying to effectively lose weight for a while but barely have had much success through relying on cardio and swapping to drinking water. Where as 3 weeks on I have proven to myself what I need to do to lose weight without having to change my gym routine or eat food that I don't enjoy.

C: I’ve had this experience before too. Often you just need to find the right key for the door you were trying to open, and it is effortless. I love what Owyn says about enjoying his food too, and it shows that you don’t need to be miserable to be healthy.

Do you feel and/or look different?

It’s hard to tell without having taken a reference photo of myself 3 weeks ago but in general my energy levels seemed to have improved. Seeing the results first hand through regularly checking my weight greatly boosted my confidence in the changes that I had made and motivated me to keep going.

C: To be honest, most people won’t be showing any abs in the first 3 weeks! The initial effects will be on weight, water retention and hence waistline, bloating, energy and skin condition. It’s important to track your progress frequently though, because you need to get feedback on how you’re doing. To work out how regularly you should track yourself, you need to assess how you’d be affected by a negative measurement. Would you take it as feedback and change the way you approach things in a sensible way? Or would you give up and go back to your old ways? The closer you are to the former, the more frequent you can measure your progress.

Any closing thoughts?

Overall I did find I have been able to have the occasional beer or unhealthy food. So there is still life beyond the green salad but I now approach these unhealthy options in much greater moderation. I also pay more attention to when I have had them and how to compensate the rest of my daily intake because of that. I found that it hasn't taken much effort to make the breakfast, lunch and snacking changes that I did. While also not really paying attention to the specifics and the raw data that the blog posts can provide but still reaping the benefits of the advice from following Cowlean and seeing the results pay off.

So thanks for all the help and advice so far!

C: I want to take a moment to thank Owyn again and especially for taking the time out to write this piece. He’s really got it down, and I think Owyn’s going to see a lot of success in the near future. Good luck :)

If you would like your own success story featured here then feel free to contact me over social media and we’ll work on putting something together. You can write freely, or alternatively, I can send over a few questions to get your creative juices flowing. So this forms the takeaway for this week: get off your butt, get doing, then get writing, and send it over!

Until next time,


  1. Great work! You employed a lot of successful strategies: substitution, moderation, community (eating with friends), variety, and habit-building. Keep up the good work!

  2. Congrats Owyn! Like you said, you can still enjoy a beer (and a life). Better to enjoy those things with a foundation of energy and vitality too!