With my wedding just six months away, and the fear of not finding a wedding suit big enough, I agreed to try his magic. After an initial consultation that involved fitness testing and some measuring and weighing (6ft 3in and just over 23 stone, if you must know), I accepted that things had to change.
And so I embarked on The Regime, as I call it, which is essentially the GI diet and is based on the idea that complex carbohydrates (found in wholegrains, which contain fibre, so the body breaks them down more slowly than the simple carbs in refined grain) are the fuel needed for burning fat. If you’re loaded up on those, then exercising will be that much more effective.
“Not only are complex carbs a brilliant source of energy,” explains Jason, “they’re a necessity for burning fat at the optimum level.” Furthermore, they aren’t just important to the body. “They’re vital for keeping the brain working efficiently, too,” says Jason. “If you don’t have enough, the body moves into a process called ‘glycogen sparing’, which slows the metabolism down in order to save the complex carbs you do have, which can prevent fat loss and slow down brain activity.” Without complex carbs, the body burns protein instead – in other words, the muscle that you’ve been working so hard to build.
So every meal must contain a serving of complex carbs; porridge or wheat or oats for breakfast, and then brown rice, corn, wheat or barley with lunch and dinner. Because the body takes longer to absorb and digest these foods, we stay full for longer and avoid that dangerous dip in energy levels that encourages snacking.
The Regime suits men in particular because you can eat as much as you like – there’s no going hungry. You can eat as many vegetables, and as much fresh fish and white meat as you want. Lean lamb and beef are allowed once or twice a week. And, to the delight of men, you can even eat most curries. However, chocolate, ice cream and booze have to be avoided. Because of the bulky nature of the carb-based food, men take to the system better than women – and see faster results. And the results are seriously fast.
Despite the immense struggle – and I came desperately close to cheating – I had dropped one stone and two pounds by the end of my first week. This, of course, was not solely down to my new eating plan. I also had to fit in an hour of exercise a day. As I was seriously unfit, this only needed to be a brisk walk – enough to get my heart rate going between 120 and 130 beats per minute. Soon, walking wasn’t enough and I stepped up the pace.
Then, as the wedding loomed, I made a final push to reach my target weight of 15 stone. I bought a cheap exercise bike and parked myself in front of the TV, pedalling away for 80 minutes while watching Rocky, Rambo and RoboCop. With the exception of my 26th birthday and Christmas (when I ate like a starved animal), I had not cheated once.
I reached my target weight of 15 stone with a few days to spare. That’s eight stone lost in a little over six months. It was hard work, but the wedding was perfect, and the reactions of friends who hadn’t seen me for years was worth the effort alone.
At the reception, and after half a year of abstinence, I eyed the wedding buffet with suspicion. I was off the leash and could eat what I wanted to now. Instead, I went for rice-based dishes with plenty of vegetables, and only gave the desserts the most cursory of glances. It’s a testimony to how my whole outlook has changed. I have a new-found aversion to unhealthy foods and exercise is now part of my daily regime. Not only am I now down to 14 stone, I am also a better footballer than I ever was as a teenager!