Why do People become Overweight

How Do People Become Overweight?

How To Break The Cycle

It doesn’t matter why someone is overweight or what type of person they are. Anyone can get in shape. Being big boned is a myth and yes genetics and some medical conditions have a huge effect on how easy it is to get in shape, but if someone didn’t make the wrong food choices they wouldn’t be overweight. I want to reiterate that point, anyone can get in shape. Your genetics and some medical conditions have a huge effect on how easy it is to get in shape, but if a person had a good diet and exercised they’d be slim.

Losing weight isn’t necessarily about the number you reach, it’s about the journey to it. For example if I have a client that was 25 Stone and has lost 5 stone so far. They will feel amazing, they’ll be in the best form of their lives and will be full of confidence, smiling, have new clothes, full of energy and will be beaming. They will still be overweight however. The very next person that comes through my door on their first day meeting me could be 20 stone and feel terrible about their body shape, have little or no self-esteem, wear clothes they don’t like or fit and be very unhappy. And yet, they are both 20 stone?

What’s the difference between the 2 clients? They are both physically the same, but emotionally and psychologically they are worlds apart.

Losing weight isn’t about the weight or body fat % you’re at. It’s about doing something to change your self-image and emotional state and how that makes you feel. It’s about the daily or weekly rewards and boosters to your state of mind, that you get from the sense of satisfaction knowing you exercised to the best of your ability, knowing you worked hard at your diet, knowing you didn’t take the easy option when you could have.

The improvements to your self-image will come from the positive comments others give, the new clothes you can now wear, knowing you don’t have to dread social situations anymore because you “can’t find anything to wear”, being able to tangibly see how much fitter you are, being able to attract the opposite sex more easily, having more confidence, being the head turner at your Christmas party, feeling sexy for your partner, being able to play football with your kids, living long enough to see your kid get married, losing those man boobs, being able to wear something other than black, being able to go to the beach on holidays – the list is endless.

Being fit and healthy feels great, getting there is hard work sometimes but it is so worth it.

You will of course have bad days, days where you slip up or didn’t do as well as you could have. You’ll have lots of “Fat Days” where you feel bloated. If you’re taking steps to get in shape and are having a few setbacks, it’s no big deal. Your options are to get back on track again and make more progress or start moping around and spiraling back to where you started or worse. Was that a nice place to be?

Was spending hours finding something to wear that fit you and you felt comfortable in, fun? When overweight you usually only have a few items of clothing that you wear. I used to spend ages trying to find something to wear and pretty much always wore the same huge rugby or soccer jerseys, as they were the only things I felt comfortable in.

I believe that people who go back to their old bad habits do so because it is a familiar comfortable feeling not because they liked being overweight. I think it’s because you’re familiar with the feeling you get from comfort food, it’s an instant fix of sugar that lifts your mood for a few minutes and you usually know it will. It’s a familiar feeling you’ve known for years and are accustomed to.

Eating healthy food can be just as nice, sometimes nicer but there’s some uncertainty, you’re not sure it’s going to satisfy you so you reach for the familiar junk foods. It’s a bit like listening to a sad song when you’re feeling down. Why do we want to feel worse? Why do we not listen to a happy song or look at some photos of a time when we were happy? I think it’s because listening to that song will guarantee a familiar feeling that feels “safe” even if it’s a negative feeling. Anyway it’s something to think about…

Comfort food might taste good for a few minutes but being fit and healthy feels great all the time.

Setbacks can be made up, never focus on the days you slipped up, focus on all the others you did well. Every day since the one you decided enough was enough, is a day in the complete and utter opposite direction to the one you were headed. Slow progress is progress nonetheless.

The Key to Losing Weight

There are plenty of tips and helpful recourses available to anyone who wants to lose weight. In my experience pretty much every diet that’s ever been invented works, a lot aren’t realistic to stick to but they all essentially work. Some diets work better than others but they all essentially work. Diets in the long run usually fail as they generally don’t teach the person realistic long-term healthy eating habits. Take the cabbage soup diet for example. Do you think drinking cabbage flavored water, instead of eating a burger and chips will make you lose weight? Of course it will. The cabbage soup diet is like most diets out there and is a calorie restricting diet but in a days or in a weeks’ time, you’re going to eventually go back to your old eating habits and will probably end up getting more out of shape than before.

With my clients I try to educate them to make the right food choices, help them with finding the right motivation, give them the resources they need and share my experience to achieve lasting results. Losing weight essentially comes down to:

1. Motivation
2. Determination
3. Knowledge
4. Time

1. Motivation

Finding the right motivation is key, something big enough that’ll get you out of bed at 6am to exercise, something that motivates you enough to spend an extra few minutes making a healthy meal when you’ve had a long day. A motivation that’s not time based, like a holiday or wedding. A motivation that’s time based gives you the subconscious excuse to go back to your old routine once it’s over. The motivation should be about you and not to please someone else. It’s got to be a decision for you to change your life for the better and stop putting others ahead of you – put yourself first. You’ve never heard of anyone that lost weight and felt worse have you?

Being in good shape won’t solve everything, however apart from all the obvious benefits you know already like reduced risk of heart disease and cancer etc., it will:

• Improve your self worth
• Improve your confidence
• Improve the view you have of your physique
• Increase your mood and energy levels
• Improve your health & wellbeing
• Change your life for the better

My motivation to lose weight was a combination of being sick of having low self-esteem, not fitting into clothes and not attracting the opposite sex.

Goal setting is essential to staying motivated but don’t get caught up in the weighing scales, body fat % or clothes sizes etc. If you miss a goal, reassess and reset it. Never focus on the one or two goals you missed, focus on all the ones you reached, but avoid making excuses. One tip that I sometimes use is to measure an overweight person in a unit of measure that they aren’t used to. For example if you’re used to kilograms, weigh yourself in stones & lbs. That way it’ll just be a number getting lower and you’re less likely to get caught up in it.

Anyone who follows my Facebook page will know that one of the motivational techniques I have is by using bags of sugar to motivate clients as they lose weight. Telling someone they lost a kilo this week is good but giving them a bag of sugar to hold so they can tangibly see and feel how well they did, works much better. When they lose 5kg or more I make them wear the extra weight in a backpack while they warm up, they always leave the studio feeling great and I try to time it at the end of the week so they’re motivated over the weekend.

When I got fit I remembered back to meeting a cyclist in a hostel in Australia who was cycling from Perth to Sydney, it was the same weekend the woman gave me a lift as it happens. I remember thinking how is that even possible? I never got to speak to him more, as I had to leave the room as he smelled really badly. But it stuck in my mind so when I got fit, I wanted to see if it was possible. It began to inspire and motivate me, so in April 2009 I set off from Perth alone and on my bike. 4400km and 6 weeks later I finally made it to Sydney. It was a great adventure but was pretty grueling and really taught me that anyone can do anything if you’re motivated enough.

2. Determination

Determination to get in shape and stay there, all boils down to how much do you want it? If you’ve finally reached the point where you’ve had enough and are really truly ready to put your best effort into getting in shape – then you can’t fail.

Remember pretty much every diet that’s ever been invented works and will stop you gaining weight. Pretty much every exercise regime or sport will burn off the existing body fat you have. The only thing stopping you getting into shape is your determination. The determination to make a salad instead of a pizza, to go to the gym for 30 minutes on the way home after a long tiring day, to stop yourself moaning about not having any clothes to wear and doing something about it.

My determination came from hitting rock bottom and I was determined to lose weight. I knew I couldn’t stay the way I was. Cycling across Australia there was no way I was going to fail. My determination was too strong. I hurt my knee on the 2nd day couldn’t stand out of the saddle for the entire 6 weeks and for the 1st week was cycling with one leg at an average speed of 9kph. Your body may tell you, you can’t do something but if your mind is strong you’ll show your body you can do anything.

Getting in shape happens gradually and takes weeks to see visible results and unfortunately life gives us distractions and opportunities to make excuses hourly. Anyone can make excuses but not everyone takes them. Only by being determined can those distractions and excuses be overcome.

3. Knowledge

Once you’ve got the right motivation and are resolutely determined to get in shape, knowledge is your next important step. There are many ways to get help and learn how to lose weight and get fit. Some work better than others but all are better than continuing the way you were.

There are countless books, online articles, exercise clubs, sports, gyms and personal trainers out there that can help, my advice would be to choose a busy or popular one. Lesser-known or extreme diets, well established personal trainers that aren’t busy or run down gyms for example, should be steered well clear of. If you’re thinking of going “on a diet” remember this – there is no diet that will do what healthy eating does.

Budget shouldn’t come into it, there are many cheap alternative forms of exercising, free or affordable information on diets and most good personal trainers should offer a free assessment where they explain how to get in shape.

I used a Personal Trainer when I decided to lose weight, looking back he wasn’t very good at all but it still was enough to get me started. Spinning classes were what I loved and burned off the existing fat I had. I remember my first ever class, I couldn’t stand up out of the saddle and had very little resistance.

I can remember going to the gym for the first time when I was about 18, I was too shy or embarrassed to ask the fitness instructor for help and I nearly killed myself running on the treadmill. I can remember walking/running for 20 minutes almost dying and at the end of the workout the machine tells me I burned 300 calories and that that was a can of cola. I can remember thinking I had 1.5 litres of cola that day and what a waste of time running was. I soon gave up.

Had I known that it wasn’t the actual exercise that was important it was the raising of my metabolism, which was the important part. It’s not about the 1 hour you work out that’s important it’s the 23 hours where you do nothing and your metabolism is raised that’s much more important. Even an hour of very intense interval training I might burn 800 calories however in the next 23 hours my now high metabolism will burn almost 2500 calories. Knowledge is essential.

A low carb & high protein diet was what helped me to stop putting on weight and I still stick to it to stay in shape. Interval training is what burned off my existing fat and released lots of endorphins that feel great.

4. Time

Given a long enough timeline I believe you can achieve almost anything in life. It might be slow progress but if you stay motivated and determined you’ve the potential to achieve almost anything. Give time, time. If you’re overweight chances are it’s been for a long time, losing the weight could take a long time too. My big belly and those man boobs weren’t built in a day, getting rid of them took time too. Remember it’s not about the end number you get to; it’s the journey to it. It’s about doing something about changing your self-image and emotional state and how that makes you feel.

For me it took a year to lose over 5 stone, it sounds like a relatively short time but when losing weight it seems like it’ll never come, patience is essential. While cycling across Australia Id planned to do it in 42 days and thankfully was able to achieve that. However Id planned that if I crashed and broke a leg etc. I would stay wherever I was, recover and then continue. My primary goal was to get to Sydney, getting there quickly was a secondary goal but if things changed I was willing to adapt my schedule, you should too.


IIf you’ve taken the time to read the whole article, thank you. There’s probably a book in there somewhere. You’ll hopefully understand I’m trying to help others get in shape as I know being fit and healthy feels great. I’m not trying to apportion blame or give excuses. I just wanted to share my experiences in the hope that it inspires or at least starts the ball rolling for someone who’s overweight. I by no means know everything and am probably wrong about lots of things but to date, this is what I’ve learned. If you know anyone that might be helped by reading this article please feel free to share it on your Facebook page or email it directly to them.

There are many underlying reasons why someone over eats or binge eats etc. From their genetics, to their childhood experiences, to a traumatic event, to a sugar addiction, but no matter the cause there is a solution.

You may never fully get over that underlying cause, but you choose what to eat and when to exercise, external factors may influence them but it’s essentially your choice…

If I can go from being so unfit that walking down the street a woman felt it necessary to offer me a lift, to getting fit and cycling 4400kms across Australia, anyone can get in shape. I’m in no way exceptional, I’m just determined when I put my mind to something I want bad enough, you can to…

If you think this article could help a friend why not email to a friend or feel free to share it on your Facebook page, Twitter or Google + using the share buttons below

author: Andy Kenny

Emer says:

Excellent article. Very insightful. Solving these issues, however, can be very tough

Debbie says:

Really enjoyed reading your articles x some home truths came to light also learnt some new things x thanks x

Susan Mangan says:

Excellent article Andy. Really well written. Have passed it onto a few people already.

Laura says:

Great article Andy and very well written. Really enjoyed reading it and hearing about your personal experiences with weightloss. Very inspiring!

Des says:

Great article Andy very honest, well written and informative

Eileen says:

Well written Andy – a lanuage the majority of overweight or indeed underweight people will understand perfectly.

Billy says:

Great article Andy. Brilliantly and bravely written giving a real insight into such an important issue. In most cases, weight control starts with motivation, then the kitchen, then in the gym.

Micheal Griffin says:

An excellent article Andy, i hope people do take the time to read it…. your advice to me, even though im in another country has been much appreciated. its true, once you have a goal and you are determined, not much can hold you back.And with your time and knowledge i am finally getting the results that i have for years been looking to get but failing!!

scooby says:

A good article Andy, struck a few chords with me too,well done.

You red my thoughts Andy….
An excellent article and I know this will help many 🙂