From Obese IT Specialist to Men’s Physique Medalist

A computer programmer from Waterford City was a medalist at the Natural Bodybuilding Federation of Ireland (NBFI) national championships in the Everyman Theatre, Cork last Saturday the 1st of September.  Cian Foley, 42, competed in the Men’s physique (short) category against 8 other competitors.

Cian Foley Side Pose: Photo by Kest

What is extraordinary about Cian’s story is that he was once morbidly obese, weighing 256lbs in 2012. Since then, he has not only managed to get his body into good shape, but into competitive contest condition weighing in at 163lbs (93lbs lighter).

A DEXA scan at Waterford Health Park last Friday revealed just 10% bodyfat:

“My good friend Dr. Mark Rowe took me through DEXA scan results. I wanted to make sure my bodyfat levels were at safe levels, and Mark was delighted with my results revealing I was in the 1st percentile for men my age, which I’m very pleased with”, said Cian.

Cian is no stranger to strength & fitness sport having competed internationally for Ireland in Kettlebell GS over the past number of years and has won 2 European (Hamburg 2015, Poland 2016), a pan-American title at the Arnolds in Columbus Ohio (2014), and a World Championships in Dublin in 2015 in the 2x24kg men’s long-cycle category.  Since then he’s shifted into physique training, a no less demanding sport.

“I really enjoyed lifting kettlebells, it made me very goal focussed and sent me down the path to controlling my weight in order to be competitive, and eventually investigating exercise/sports nutrition and nutrition in general.  I shifted to men’s physique recently because I felt I had potential with it and is in line with my goals to inspire others who suffer with being overweight/obese.  It’s just as demanding as kettlebell sport, and it really is a sport though it may appear a little more glamourous.”

Cian is  author of Don’t Eat for Winter, which he suggests unlocks nature’s little secret to losing weight.  The hypothesis is that autumnal foods are eaten in every single meal and snack in the western diet, and so human beings prone to putting on weight can never become their summer selves, as they are eternally preparing for a winter that never comes.

“I believe Don’t Eat for Winter – DEFoW, was the key to my weight loss success having me walking around for the past 30 months at a weight that was just 6 weeks away from Men’s Physique competition readiness. It is the first ‘Anti-Autumnal Diet’ with the key premise being avoiding carb+fat combos, which is the signature of autumn itself and have proven to cause gorging.  Exercise alone will not shed weight, squirrels become hyperactive in autumn but still become obese to survive the winter.  It’s the same for us, except our autumn never ends.”

“In order to get into men’s physique shape I spoke to Frank Haley toying with the idea of competing in the NBFI championships.  I was drawn to it because of it’s ethos with regards to testing for PEDs. Frank was an old school band mate, and successful bodybuilder so he graciously agreed to speak with me to discuss diet and training.  He suggested I should enter the men’s physique category and then he trained with me for a week (with an injury) and told me what I would need to eat in order to put on the muscle required to be competitive while also losing fat. It is always good to draw on the practical knowledge of someone who got to a high level in a sport.  It has been a very tough but rewarding 6 weeks and everyone is amazed with how far I’ve come in that time (including Frank, who was as excited as I was).”

Cian is a guest panelist at the Harvest Festival – Glanbia Sports Nutrition Event – alongside former Waterford Hurler Manager Derek McGrath and others next Friday 7th at 5.30pm in the Book Centre.

Harvest Festival Link:

photos by Kest Photographer

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Cian Foley is a Software Engineer from Waterford, Ireland and also a 2 time European, pan-American and World amateur kettlebell champion. Cian was a 115kg (256lb) obese 35 year old and has completely transformed into to a fit and healthy 78kg athlete through his 8 year journey of discovery around nutrition and exercise. He now competes as a natural bodybuilder at the age of 43 to prove that it is never too late to get into great shape without the use of steroids.