Tim Iredale talks us about his reasons for adventure
In 2018 as part of #iGOoutdoors, we at GO are speaking with various people about their reasons for adventure. Each adventure is different, big or small, long or short – everyone has their own reasons for their time outdoors. In this edition, we speak to Instagrammer @Tim2Thin about his decision to utilise the outdoors to lose weight, become healthier and reach his ultimate goal of a long multi-day hike.
Getting outside to benefit your health, whether mental or physical (or even both) is one of the most common reasons that people will push themselves, and challenge themselves to go out and do more. For some, simply stepping outdoors and going for a walk could be a major lifestyle change, for others the need to push yourself to conquer challenges and beat your personal bests provides the motivation to keep you heading out regardless of the weather.
We first noticed Instagrammer Tim (@Tim2Thin) as he tagged his own walks and activity using our #iGOoutdoors hashtag. His Instagram account tells the story of his journey as he looks to eat healthier, exercise more and reach a number of physical challenges which he has set for himself. Tim began his health journey at 393lbs in June 2017.
Q. What is the challenge you have set yourself? What is your ultimate goal?
A. The Ultimate goal for me is to live a more active lifestyle, be healthy, happy and to share the outdoors with my Wife and Kids (Sam, Noah and Caitlin)
Since June 2017 I have worked toward this by overhauling my diet and changing my activity levels, knowing I had a long way to go I decided I needed to set myself challenges to focus my mind in the aim of achieving my overall goal.
The first challenges I have set myself is to walk the ancient track from Overton Hill (Wiltshire) to Ivinghoe Beacon (Buckinghamshire) known as the Ridgeway, carrying all I will need for cover the 87 miles over four to five days in mid-April. The other challenge I have set is to climb a mountain so I will look to attempt Snowdon in June with the help of my good friend Manse who is a Mountain leader amongst other things.
These are two challenges I have been putting off for years due to my weight issue, so these were the first two things I wanted to tackle first.
Q. What was the catalyst that got you started on this journey? Was there a certain point you felt something had to change?
A. I have always struggled with my weight, over the past 10 years I have had multiple successful attempts to losing weight, however, struggles to keep the weight off and over the years it all goes back on as I fall into bad habits.
From late 2016 to mid 2017 I was once again back up to 28 stone, my heaviest recorded weight. At this weight, being active for long periods of time is uncomfortable and at the end of the day your body aches, and to be honest it was starting to reduce the enjoyment I got from being out in the woods/camping.
After attending an intermediate bushcraft course with Frontier Bushcraft (which was one of the most physically demanding and enjoyable things I had done for many years) I realised to continue enjoying the outdoors I would need to do something about my weight and health. This is when I knew something had to be done, as the only other choice was to do nothing and slowly do less and less of what I love.
Q. Is this something you’ve taken on alone? Or is somebody partnering up with you along the way?
A. Initially, I started losing weight alone, but not long after my wife started to try to lose weight as well and to date has lost over two stone. I started @tim2thin on Instagram to track my journey and with that, I found a support network of others on their own journey.
Having a good support structure when attempting to change your life is an important aspect for me, I am lucky enough to have the support of my wife, family and friends. Social media has been a great place to connect with others who are on the same journey and I have spoken to people who are just starting out with weight loss to people who have changed their lives by losing weight.
Through social media I have met inspirational people who have a similar passion for being outdoors, one of those is Sandy, and Sandy will be walking with me on the Ridgeway. Sandy has walked the length of the Ridgeway in every season and has a great insight into what will be required to complete the walk.
Q. You mention that you’re a fan of camping and bushcraft, and your account shows that you’re often out walking as part of your exercise. Would you say you’ve always been a fan of the outdoors?
A. I would not say that I have had a total lifestyle change as I have always been active and eaten well (just too much of it) but I have overhauled my life to get more enjoyment out of it, the whole eating well and exercising journey is in aid of getting out and exploring more.
I have always been outdoorsy, I grew up on a sawmill in West Oxfordshire surrounded by woodlands to play in, country lanes for bike rides and fields for family walks. For the past 10 years or more I have been re-living my childhood through bushcraft (@tanktracksbushcraft) where I have connected with like-minded individuals who all share a passion for being out in nature.
Looking back I find it funny that as a child I was less than enthusiastic about going for family walks (especially on Christmas morning before opening presents) to now when I am looking forward to my first multi-day hike.
Next year I feel like it’s time to get back on the bike and find some adventures on two wheels.
Q. For others who may want to challenge themselves in a similar way, but aren’t sure where to get started – How did you begin your journey?
A. To be honest this all began when I felt there like there was only one option for me and that was weight loss surgery. After speaking to my doctor, I was referred to the hospital to start the process to undergo an operation to change my anatomy. Surgery is no easy way out but rather a tool to help change your life, so I started preparing for this.
I first started by looking at what I ate, which involved cutting out anything that we all know isn’t the best choice for us, and then putting in place systems to avoid trips to the vending machine at work or snacks from the petrol station. To achieve this I began to plan and prepare my food for the week. Lunches changed from sandwiches to flavour packed frittas, no more crisps and a chocolate bar in the lunch box but rather boiled eggs, ham and raw vegetables. The weekly dinners were planned and shopping was done on Sunday so we knew we had everything in the house, and couldn’t make any excuses. 98% of Weightloss is done in the kitchen and 2% exercise.
Once the food had been taken care of and I began to get used to a new routine, I started increasing my activity. First I began adding steps into my day wherever I could, parking further away from the office, getting away from my desk every hour and heading outside for an hour-long walk every lunchtime. Getting a Fitbit to keep track of my steps has pushed me from an average of 5000 daily steps to an average of 15000 steps a day.
Again preparation and planning is the key, my work bag now carries a cheap set of waterproof trousers and a coat, along with hat, buff and gloves so I have no excuses to not go for a 2.5 mile walk at lunch.
Everything can be done in stages, make small changes but make them last a lifetime. Whenever I start to stray and fall into old habits, I reset the clock and start again with the basics. Once the foundations are in place you can build on these and look at doing more activities outdoors or in the gym.
Q. How is your challenge going so far?
A. I am 8 months in and I am 7 stone down, from 5xl clothing to XL/2XL. Walking 15,000 to 20,000 steps a day and feeling strong in body and mind.
Setting myself the challenges such as the Ridgeway and Snowdon helps me push harder in the gym, in my head I feel the more I do in the gym, the more doors open to the outdoors. Each rep of weights, step on the Stairmaster or mile on the treadmill makes it easier to walk the Ridgeway or climb another step on Snowdon.
Recently I have had a weekend walking in Dartmoor and a navigation course in the Peak District, which have been made easier and more enjoyable by losing weight and improving my fitness.
My mind is currently on the Ridgeway challenge and I have a plan for the coming weeks to put myself in the best possible position for my first and last step of the walk. I am feeling confident that I will give it my all and complete the 87 miles.
Q. Have you noticed any other health benefits other than weight loss to have come from getting outside more?
A. I have always believed getting outside has been at the core of wellbeing, a time to re-centre and re-focus. Simply going out for a walk can be energising and calming, especially useful on a stressful day at work.
When you get out of your comfort zone you start to believe in yourself and understand what you are capable of. This has built confidence within me, which I have found has followed me into my everyday life and something in the past that may have caused me to stumble, I can now take in my stride.
There is an amazing community of people who enjoy being outdoors and connecting with them can inspire you to explore more, often in ways you had not thought about. Meeting likeminded people often leads to strong friendships who will be there to get you out camping in the hard times and laugh with you in the good.
Q. Outside of the obvious health benefits, one of your Instagram posts mentioned that you struggled to find outdoor clothing in your size from shops and had to special order online – has the weight loss opened more possibilities for you?
A. At my largest, it was very difficult to find good outdoor clothing that fits and allows me to utilise the layering system to stay warm and dry, apart from ponchos it was almost impossible to find waterproof in high street shops. Often times turning to online shopping it was hit an miss if something would fit and often it was less than ideal.
Now I can walk into stores such as GO Outdoors and try on outdoor clothing from several brands, the first time I was able to do this I had a massive smile on my face as I walked out of the door with a new Berghaus fleece.
It’s not just clothing that I am now fitting into, other areas that you might not even consider like sleeping bags have always been an issue. In the past, I would struggle getting a comfortable good night sleep without an overly large bag. As I have been reducing in size so has my pack, being able to drop the weight opens up the possibility of longer trips.
Q. Your Ridgeway challenge is coming up in April, did you have a weight loss goal in mind that you wanted to hit before taking on the challenge? Or was it a case of getting yourself into a healthier place to be able to enjoy it more.
A. Though I am obviously losing weight, I have never had a goal weight in mind for my weight loss journey the process has been more about getting healthier. I have had to plan my years activities in advance to fit with family and work life, so April is the date I will attempt the walk, regardless.
I feel pretty confident and ready to go right now. When planning the walk with a friend who will be joining me, we settled on April being the best time to give it ago as it should not be too hot or cold.
I hope to be able to complete the walk, but even if I fail I am sure it will teach me something about myself.
Q. What advice would you give to anybody who is thinking of challenging themselves to change their lifestyle in a similar way?
A. Starting is the hardest thing to do, but it is the best thing you can do for yourself. Find something you’re passionate about, something that you have always wanted to do and use that to drive yourself
If you have something you can hold onto you can use that image to focus and push yourself, you will amaze yourself with what you can do.
There will be ups and downs, so be proud of what you have achieved and don’t be hard on yourself when things are not going to plan. It’s not about staying on plan 100% of the time, it’s about how fast you get back on the plan when you go off track.
Fall in love with food and create a good relationship with it.
Q. Finally, you upload some of your healthy meals to your Instagram page – what would you say is your favourite?
A. I love a good Instagram food post, there are some creative people out there, diet food doesn’t have to be boring food.
For breakfast I love what I call the ‘Not So Full English breakfast’ – crispy bacon, eggs, beans, mushroom, tomatoes, spinach and avocado with a good cup of coffee (local roasted freshly ground beans). Do this right and you can enjoy this for around 500 calories, whats not to like?
Lunch box – a Cajun style frittata with spicy sausage, onion peppers, garlic and spices.
For dinner I like something packed with punchy flavours, pulled pork taco, Chili Con Carne (just ditch the rice). The Tom Kerridge Lose Weight for Good cook book has been a massive inspiration on this front.
Look for high protein and low carb meals, fill them with flavour and you won’t feel like you’re on a diet.
Make sure you give @Tim2Thin a follow on Instagram to keep track of his progress, and perhaps his journey will help to inspire your own.