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‘I lost 13st in 7 months after booking trip of a lifetime and I did it without fads’

When Sam Tyler booked the trip of a lifetime to travel around south east Asia, Australia and New Zealand, he couldn’t wait to jet off to a hot climate.

But before he left, the then 19-year-old knew there was something he had to tackle.

At 28st, he was severely overweight and thought it would be uncomfortable to travel at his size.

“The second I booked my year abroad, I booked my gym membership,” Sam, now 21, tells The Mirror.

“I thought about flying all over the place and the heat, and I knew it would be uncomfortable. Before, I’d made sporadic attempts to try and lose weight but with this in the back of my mind, I knew I’d do it.

“I’d spent so much money on travelling and I wanted to make sure I’d enjoy it.”

Sam, who works for a supermarket, joined a gym just up the road from his store in 2019 after booking his flights. He also looked at changes he could make to his diet.

He said: “I was eating normal home cooked meals before, but I ate massive portions. Things like spaghetti bolognese and sausage and mash. I ate a lot of pasta.

“I used to snack a lot as well. I love a bit of chocolate and sweets, and I used to drink a lot of beer.”

After deciding to change his lifestyle for good, Sam says he “didn’t want to do fad diets” and instead cut down on his daily calorie intake.

“I started tracking my calories and ate less. What I did eat was stuff that would fill me up more,” Sam explained.

Every day, he ate a protein bar for breakfast and usually had a salad for lunch, using MyFitnessPal to track his calories. He also cut down almost entirely on snacks.

For dinner, he’d continue to eat home-cooked meals, but he drastically cut down on portion sizes.

“I was still eating a lot but it was food that filled me up for longer,” he said.

He also made sure he went to the gym five times a week, come rain or shine, usually after his shifts at work.

“I did purely cardio, it was always cardio in the gym,” he said.

And a week after he started his fitness journey, he had lost seven pounds – which spurred him on to keep going.

After first cutting down on calories in early September 2019, Sam says it wasn’t until late October that he really started to see a difference in himself.

He recalled: “I was at my friend’s sister’s 21st birthday party and loads of my mates saw me and said, ‘Oh my God, you’ve lost so much weight’. That’s when I started to notice.

“Every time people said stuff like that, it made me want to lose more.”

While lots of people like to attend weight loss groups for the support, Sam preferred to go it alone after an unsuccessful attempt when he was 16.

“My favourite thing to do was smash out an hour in the gym while listening to music.

“The progress was constant. Every week I could run faster or for longer. It made me feel so much better about myself,” he said.

By April, seven months after starting his weight loss journey, Sam had lost a phenomenal 13st.

“My clothes were falling off me. I was looking in the mirror and couldn’t recognise myself,” he said.

Sadly, Sam’s year of travelling has been put on hold due to the pandemic – but it hasn’t stopped him keeping the weight off and at 6’3 he now has a slender 15st 4lb frame.

“I still go to the gym four or five times a week and I eat less,” he said, adding he doesn’t need to track calories so religiously anymore after learning more about nutrition.

“I walk pretty much everywhere and play tennis and football once a week,” he added.

Sam’s top advice to anyone else wanting to lose weight is to give yourself something that will motivate you, like he did with his trip abroad.

“It could be a charity event where people sponsor you – like a Tough Mudder or something,” he said.

Sam is planning his own extreme challenge to push his body to its limit, aiming to try the 3 Peaks Challenge next summer and hoping to reach the summit of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon within 24 hours.

But his big trip abroad is still top of his list as soon as he’s allowed to travel – and he hopes he’ll be able to go sometime soon.

He laughed: “I’ve got my little plan.”