With two young sons and his wedding date looming, morbidly obese 31 year old Ray Adamson aimed to do just that. And we’ll get to find out the results of his journey next Monday when a new four-part documentary series Saving Ray airs at 8pm on TV3.
It promises to be compelling TV, because Ray, unlike most of us, had many obstacles to overcome to make the life saving changes.
In a very dark place mentally and weighing twenty-nine stone, it became clear to Ray that without drastic behaviour changes he would probably not live to see his boys reach adulthood.
Saving Ray chronicles Ray’s plan to lose three stone before his wedding and ten stone overall – working with a team of professionals with the same goal – to give Ray the skills to change his own life.
A team of experts including a therapist, dietitian, trainer and physiotherapist help Ray on the road to wellness with therapy and a grueling fitness plan with the result that for the first time in many years, he turned his back on the foods that were slowly killing him.
Sláinte sat down for a chat with the show’s dietitian Lorraine Cooney who talked to us about what’s involved for someone wanting to lose weight like Ray.
Her first point is that people need to stop the cycle of yo-yo dieting. According to Lorraine, it’s far better to lose 1lb and keep it off for a year than lose and gain the same 10lbs over and over again.
‘Behaviour change is key’ says Lorraine, who advocates a 15% weight loss over six months as a realistic goal for someone struggling with severe obesity (a BMI of more than 35).
‘With Ray, we started with a 5% weight loss goal over 12 weeks and the key is to set small realistic goals which you can reach and then maintain. It is just not realistic to announce a goal to get down to a BMI of 25 when you have a large amount of weight to lose particularly as it will seem impossible and many people quickly give up.’
Lorraine gave us some pointers which aim to help everyone embarking on a weight loss programme:
Keep a food diary
‘It’s essential because everything you eat is there in black and white and you won’t miss out the time you ate that one little biscuit or that extra portion of potato. Crucially, research has found that dieters who kept a food diary managed to lose double the amount of weight compared to those who did not.
Set realistic goals
‘It’s really important to clarify what it is you want to achieve. For instance, in Ray’s case one of his goals was to maximise his vegetable intake, which he managed to do. So it’s important to make a realistic goal that is achievable for you.
Weigh yourself weekly
There is debate about whether it’s a good idea to weigh yourself every week but Lorraine believes stepping on the scales can help you spot if your weight is creeping up. ‘If you abandon the scales, you might be overeating and before you know it, your weight has crept up by half a stone. It’s far better to notice a pound or two going on and do something to address that weight gain before it gets out of hand.’
Be aware of your emotions
Lorraine points out that it’s important to be aware of your emotions such as loneliness, stress and boredom and the effect they might have on your eating habits. ‘In Ray’s case, he had very poor coping skills so we worked on that which helped him get his emotions in order and that in turn helped him eat better.
Realise you are going to have difficult times
It’s worth acknowledging that your road to better health will not always be plain sailing and Lorraine believes it’s best to adopt the 80:20 rule to your weight loss programme. ‘Accept that you are going to have difficult times but also realise that you can’t put your life on hold either and you have to find a way of living and eating that fits your life.’
‘It’s very hard to lose pounds and keep it off – the most important thing is to maintain the changes you have made. It will strengthen your resolve to continue with your healthy lifestyle.’
You can catch the first episode of Saving Ray which airs on Monday 15th of September at 8pm on TV3.