It’s not every day you get to meet a real-life hero. A couple of years ago I went on a pilgrimage to compete in the pan-American kettlebell championships at the Arnold Sport Festival in Columbus Ohio to meet my boyhood hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger. I got to spend an hour in his company and it was epic.
Today was even better, I got to spend 2 hours with a new hero of mine named Dylan Condron, an inspirational young man who against all odds won his colossal personal battle against obesity.
At the age of 19, Dylan weighed an astonishing 32 stone and 8lbs!!! Now, he weighs a mere 12 stone 13lbs. For European readers, that’s a transformation from 207kg to 82kg; and for American readers, 456 pounds to 181 pounds. That’s a total loss of approximately 19 and a half stone, 125kg or 275 lbs.
To put it in perspective, he lost a stone more than I weighed at my heaviest and I was pretty hefty weighing in 18 and a half stone. That’s an entire me in terms of mass, made of pure fat, that now no longer exists. It’s difficult to fathom it’s so fantastic.
Although this is an amazing good news story, it is not all rainbows and roses however, as Dylan lost so much body fat, he is now left with the problem of loose skin and he would love to get surgery to get rid of it so that he can lead the life of a normal young man in his 20s and not have to feel self-conscious about his body.
I met Dylan for a coffee in the Costa at Odeon cinema in Waterford, a trendy young man, very open and frank about his experiences. He was drinking a bottle of water. After I grabbed a cup of coffee, the first thing I asked him was “what was the worst thing about being overweight?” He said, “putting on my socks was very difficult, my head would nearly explode with the pressure, I was afraid to go into town too so I just stayed in my house and around the garden mostly. It used to be a real effort to get downstairs, I’d be in bits at the bottom.” At that stage Dylan wore a 6XL t-shirt that he had to order as he couldn’t find clothes in local shops to fit him.
In contrast, he said “the best thing about being a normal weight now is being able to go out shopping to get nice clothes and how they fit” and he really conveyed joy at that aspect of it, along with being able to play soccer, walk for for miles and feel good and healthy. He’s tells me that he is always active and feels great going into town now.
Dylan wasn’t always obese, he was a sporty kid having played football for St. Saviours, but somehow it all went wrong for him between the age of about 16-19. I asked him what his diet was like during that period. He told me “I didn’t eat a hell of a lot, maybe 2 or 3 meals a day and some snacks,” and out of interest I asked him to take me through a typical day of his diet back then. Here’s what he told me:
Breakfast: “I’d have a bread roll containing breaded chicken, cheese and tomato ketchup, which I might have anywhere up to 12 midday and wash it down with a coke.”
Lunch: “Sometimes I’d skip this but if I had it, it might include a toastie and a bag of crisps and a coke.”
Dinner: “Maybe a burger and chips or pasta.”
Snacks: “Probably a bar of chocolate, crisps or a coke.”
“I would never drink water!”
This sort of diet led him on a dangerous path and only for his family, he might be in a worse situation today. They were his catalyst for change, his mother was worried about him and in particular his brother Jason really motivated him to do something to turn the tide. Jason organised for him to get involved in a 12 week transformation programme at Body Shape Performance run by Derek Rowe and so Jason and some of Dylan’s other brothers chipped in the money for him to take part in it.
Immediately he saw results. He got a buzz out of the first session and knew he would continue. He went carb free initially (what are carbs?) for 6 weeks and lost 2.5 stone, now he was motivated. Another 6 weeks went by and now he had lost over 5 stone. When the programme ended, he continued his journey and managed to lose a total of 19.5 stone over the course of 2 years. That’s almost 3lbs a week for 100 weeks!!! This all took guts, determination and understanding of what needed to be done. His coach set him on the path and Dylan kept going and going and saw it through to the end just as it should be.
He found it very physically demanding, and took me through his routine of weight training performing big movements like squatting, dead-lifts, presses and so on.
During his low-carb phase it was, high protein egg breakfast with some yolks removed, chicken and greens for lunch, protein and plenty of water before and after training, and chicken/beef/turkey for dinner, again with greens such as broccoli, peas, kale etc (great natural sources of nutrients).
After 6 weeks he introduced carbs after training and told me that after his initial loss of 2.5 stone, he had a cheat meal, “I had lasagna and chips it was nicest thing I ever tasted in my life!”
I then asked him about his current diet.
Breakfast: “Now I’d have poached eggs with some bacon and maybe a slice of low-gi brown toast” (fat, protein and modest carb)
Lunch: “Chicken and vegetables with a slice of brown bread” (lean protein and moderate carbs.
Dinner: “Chicken or Beef with pasta”
… and water!!!
He told me that after he dropped a lot of the weight, he took on a course in horticulture and walked 5 miles home every day.
From my perspective it’s quite obvious that Dylan had been loading his body with a disastrous combinations of carbs and fat for a few years and he was continuously eating processed carbs and so this was an classic case of eating autumnal foods in combination with fats (and not good sources of fats either). The foods contained high fat, high carbs and modest protein mimicking the squirrel formula (50/40/10). The refined carbs spiked insulin levels making the body conducive to storing the fats. The nutrient content of the diet was also poor and drinking of sugary soft drinks instead of water also compounded the problem (it wasn’t them alone).
One thing I would stress here is that this was not Dylan’s fault, he is a victim like so many others because we’re not taught about the dangers of all sugary and starchy foods properly in school, and it’s so easily accessible too. Dylan is very aware of this and said to me “there’s should be more healthy options around, it’s still very difficult to eat well when out and about.” Now that Dylan has an understanding of the foods he eats, he has become acutely aware of the problems we face as a society. He has escaped from the Matrix against all the odds, he is an inspiration for others.
His new diet then consists of good fats from the eggs, plenty of protein and much less carbs than he ate previously. The healthy lean cuts of meat are far more nutritious and combined with the vegetables, support his body for his life and activities. It is a much more balanced diet and the carbs he eats are burned off through his activities. He now plays soccer regularly too. Based on this way of eating Dylan said “I have no bloating and I’m not stuck to my chair after eating, I have much more energy, I’m never too full, just nice and I’m never really hungry and if I am I grab a bit of fruit.” If having something like a roll now he fills it with lean breast of chicken and lettuce and onion with no fats, which again ties in with the ethos of Don’t Eat for Winter. Dylan found out what works and just went with it and the results have been nothing short of miraculous.
“I’ll never go back to the way I was because I know better now and I have too much fight and belief in myself. I have a girlfriend now and I love going down to see her in Cork on the weekends.”
Dylan told me he’s not a perfect eater and that he still has treat meals but when he’s treating himself to takeaway he still tries to choose the least fattening option so he’ll go for something less sweet and sticky with batter if going to the chinese and opt for something like chicken schezuan and boiled rice and skip the banana fritter dessert. He feels safe having a treat because he knows he deserves to cut loose after a long week and knows that he will use up the excess energy.
I first heard of Dylan’s story through an article by Darren Skelton of the Waterford News and Star. I saw his appeal to raise money for his skin operation and felt compelled to try and help him somehow. I think he deserves a leg up from us all, government, businesses, friends, family. I’m writing this blog to try and drum up a bit of support through the Don’t Eat for Winter community and my own network. Already, Peak Fitness have come in behind Dylan and gave him a year’s free membership, maybe he will be a kettlebell champion one day, who knows!
I am going to help him run a quiz on the 18th of May in Revolution, Flash has kindly offered the venue for the night and we hope to have a big raffle for prizes donated by anyone that will help him. If you can spare a prize please email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will pass on to Dylan. If you can come on the night, it will be at approximately 8.30pm and tables of 4 are €20, €5 a head. Do not worry if you can’t bring a team, just come along and we will find you one.
If you can’t make the quiz, donate a prize etc. and you want to help you can make a donation towards Dylan’s operation on his gofundme page here: https://www.gofundme.com/99rf3-help-me-get-my-body-back. Even sharing this blog post would be very helpful.
Please help this inspirational young man, he has come this far himself, he needs us to help him finish the job. He told me as we left the cafe that his final goal is to get really toned and I said, “maybe after your operation and we get you ripped to shreds, Calvin Klein will come knocking on your door!”
If you’re watching CK, there’s two ex-obese lads here that are open to a bit of part-time work LOL.