My Secret to Rock Hard Abs at 42 (after suffering for obesity for 10+ years)

Many of you don’t know me from Adam, but I am the real deal. My name is Cian Foley, I’m 42, and I constantly cause people cognitive issues, because they have to double take when I tell them my age and show them how I used to look compared to now.

I am not a health freak (which is an uncool shaming term). I like good food and partying hard. I sit at an office desk all day coding for a company in tramore called NearForm. I’m a nerd at heart. I love 80s action movies and retro video games, but my passion these days is not for TV or wasting my time on video games. These days I am passionate about getting the word out there about how I beat the horrible, preventable, affliction that held me back for years. Obesity.

I keep reading statistics about the crisis getting worse and worse globally with adults my age and kids suffering terribly… people dying directly from obesity waiting for bariatric surgery. I see experts arguing and people confused by mixed messages. I see snake oil sales of junk foods, preying on people’s weakness, and heavily marketed crash diet antidotes taking advantage of the inevitable results. I also the valiant but futile attempts many people are making, working hard but getting limited results from their efforts. This all stems from a basic misunderstanding of diet that has trickled down from scandalous science.

In my opinion, which I can back-up with data, scientific reports and first hand accounts, the answer to the obesity crisis is beyond simple, and the results to date have been incredible.

The problem is simple: we are eating autumnally in every single meal and snack, which means we are constantly priming our bodies for a winter that never comes.

Appetites out of control because natural fat storage processes and gorge instincts are being triggered all day every day. A squirrel cannot out-run the short autumn it experiences so we can never out-train the infinite autumn that is the western diet. Squirrels have the luxury of experiencing winter and so emerge in spring in great shape, we never experience winter anymore and so we pile weight on year after year until obesity sets in.

The solution is even simpler: stop eating an autumnal diet all the time.

In my book ‘Don’t Eat for Winter – The Anti-Autumnal Diet’, I tease out how simultaneous carbs+fat are the problem and a recent study backs this up (without providing the fundamental why). Carbs+fat are the signature of autumn as carbs do not exist in abundance until summer is out. Photosynthesis is required to create them i.e. long sunny summer days. Combined with staple fats and fats in nuts etc., autumn has this signature, which incidentally matches the signature of human breast milk. In fact, the motif of autumn itself, the acorn, has the exact same macro-nutrient ratio as human milk and it is no co-incidence that a plethora of junk foods match this signature. I believe this is because they appeal to our autumnal instincts, which can be explained with fancy terminology describing the hormonal and chemical processes that they trigger but the core reason is that simple.

When I cut out this formula, I shed all my weight and revealed abs in my 40s, but it hasn’t stopped with me. 4 readers have recently reported colossal combined loss of over 350lbs without ever meeting me, and there have been so many other reports of weight losses from the original batch of books launched I’ve lost count of the total weight loss.

These individuals are heroes in their own stories with an external problem they had to face but did not have the tools to deal with them. Don’t Eat for Winter helped them become the heroes they were meant to be. A man who was obese from 16, now 24 years later, entering his 40s 70lbs down, changed. A father who was 19.5 stone or more, now down to 14 stone, healthier with a thrilled wife, A father and daughter team down 10 stone between them and many other amazing stories of people who have beaten the external monster they faced everyday: the western diet and the gauntlet of junk we must endure daily, everywhere from supermarkets, to petrol stations, to fast food eateries, to airplane cuisine.

Here are the three most important tenets I live by and covered in Don’t Eat for Winter:

  1. Avoid simultaneous carbs+fat where possible
  2. Exercise daily (in nature if possible)
  3. Eat a whole food, nutritious diet containing healthy fats, adequate protein and precise carbs for your energy needs.

The secret to my rock hard six pack are as above combined with 5 minutes of ab exercises daily post exercise:

  1. 1. Lower ab exercises like leg raises, plank, or ab rollouts if more advanced, most people focus on upper abs, but the lower are almost always neglected.
  2. A twist exercise for obliques such as russian twist with a band held between both hands, I don’t load with weight to avoid injury.
  3. An upper ab exercise sit ups sliding hands up knees
  4. Maintaining tight core while walking and sitting, improving posture and keeping the area toned
  5. Discipline with diet through avoiding the autumnal combo of carbs+fat and separating as far from each other as possible in my daily diet.
  6. Consistency & work, you get nothing for nothing, our bodies are designed to respond to work via adaptation… in this case the adaptation to core work is a developing six pack that is revealed through sensible nutrition.

Cian Foley, BSc, Pg. Dip, QQI Sports Nutrition Level 6, is a former world and european kettlebell champion and currently NBFI Men’s Physique Bronze medalist. Formerly 18.5 stone, Cian is now a <12 stone lean exercise enthusiast.

Why has nobody noticed this about The Food Pyramid?

The food pyramid below (visit here to access original pdf files) changed in 2016 and now has fruits and veg at the bottom, which is great.

I don’t want to be overly critical of it but do you notice anything strange about the bottom 2 rungs?

It recommends 5-7 servings a day of the bottom rung, and 3-5 of the second (up to 7 for boys and men up to 50).

Analyse the foods in that second rung: bread, cereal, pasta, potatoes and rice. Potatoes harvest between summer and autumn, and are non-indigenous, grains similarly require a good summer and pasta and bread are derived from it. Rice is non-indigenous too.

On the bottom rung we have some great foods, but I worry about orange juice and bananas as both are non-indigenous and high in sugar/starch.  I’m less worried about apples, yet they are autumnal too.  Berries are summer fruits typically.

What have all of these foods got in common? 

They don’t exist in nature all year round!  Typically sugary and starchy foods require lots of sunlight to produce, it’s a process called photosynthesis, which we all learn about in school.

“Green plants absorb light energy using chlorophyll in their leaves. They use it to react carbon dioxide with water to make a sugar called glucose. The glucose is used in respiration, or converted into starch and stored(my emphasis) Oxygen is produced as a by-product. This process is called photosynthesis.” – BBC GCSE Bitesize

Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy into chemical energy that can later be released to fuel the organisms’ activities (energy transformation). This chemical energy is stored in carbohydrate molecules, such as sugars (my emphasis), which are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water.” – Wikipedia

Basically, foods rich in sugar and starch come into existence in nature in summer and  become abundant in autumn.  This is a direct result of the sunlight the plants are exposed to.

In autumn, creatures like squirrels put on weight as a result of this in a knock on chain reaction, preparing them for winter.  Their diet changes and they become hyper-active, yet bulk up quickly for winter. They lose it when resting over the winter, happily living off their body-fat.

I believe human beings have a similar abilities, as it was recently discovered that we can develop brown adipose tissue (BAT) to protect us from the cold of winter. It’s main source of fuel is white adipose tissue (WAT), the jiggly stuff we don’t like to have too much of, which must develop first.  Therefore, I believe it is the additional variable of abundant carbohydrates, in conjunction with fat in the diet, that triggers autumnal instincts within human beings.  Our base instincts to survive winter are invoked, and we are guiled into overeating such foods as they are hyper-palatable for one main reason: survival! This has been shown to be true in recent studies of cafeteria diets, and can affect us in similar ways to drugs.   Squirrels obviously go nuts (pardon the pun), some of which are very high in carbs and fat (e.g. acorns or oak nuts), at this time of year because of similar chemical triggers within them, it stands to reason we would be affected based on our evolutionary heritage too having shared similar eco-systems and foods.

Basic logic would suggest to me that we shouldn’t be eating up to 14 servings of foods that only exist in nature in summer/autumn every day of the year and I’m surprised so few people are aware of this.  I propose the food pyramid become more dynamic and take into consideration our evolutionary heritage and our sensitivity to seasonal triggers.

If we exposed squirrels to an infinite harvest, the same way we are exposed, I wonder how obese and sick they would  become. We know squirrels and bears become pre-diabetic in autumn and reverse it in spring. I suspect if their autumn became infinite like ours we might find a large portion of their population would become unnaturally obese/overweight and suffer from related conditions like diabetes etc.  Look at our world, with so much obesity, and with diabetes continuing to rise, and all sorts of other related health concerns, is it any wonder that this is happening when we are living in a constant autumnal state?

If us living in an eternal harvest  isn’t bad enough, it is compounded by the fact that we have all sorts of processed derivatives which are energy dense and nutrient light.   I term this the infinite autumn, on steroids.

Let’s address this and consider the seasons more in our daily diets.  My own approach, known as The DEFoW Diet, is to eat seasonally on a daily basis i.e. a spring meal, a summer meal and an autumn meal (modified slightly). I also have occasional treats and I think the food pyramid is correct about limiting junk foods to 1-2 times a week (maximum).

This seasonal approach has helped me lose 90lbs and maintain my weight in the ideal range for years.  I am in full control of my weight in my 40s having struggled all my life because I now understand what was going on.  I was eating for winter all of the time.