• Michael Mclaren

The 3 Biggest Mistakes I’ve Made With Fat Loss (So Far..)

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

Ever since I was about 12 years old, and then being advised by a doctor to go and see a dietician, I’ve always had a fairly odd relationship with my own weight and body image.

It’s led me to going through every kind of dieting approach imaginable.

So many ups and downs. Successes and what I guess you could call, failures too.

Looking back, I made some good decisions! I also made some not so good ones. Most of which I can only really now look back with hindsight and admit that.

It’s probably only at the ripe old age of 29, that I can say with some confidence, I’m in a pretty good place with regards to that same weight and body image issue that’s caused so many problems for me over the years.

I wanted to share 3 mistakes I’ve made in that process, in the hope they can help those of you who find yourselves in a position that I myself have been in.

I don’t for one second actually regret any of it of course. Why would I?

After all, it’s those same mistakes that have allowed me to end up here, and with this platform to express and share these mistakes, that I hope can help those of you reading, that may be able to resonate with at least 1, if not all of them!

1. Hoping Temporary Changes Would Become A Permanent Solution

This is 100% why I encourage sustainable changes. Or at the very least, an understanding and acceptance that any results derived from any “extreme” protocols, may not last as long as you’d hoped.

Wine gums man. I LOVED wine gums.

I was all about sugar when I was younger. It’s almost as if that contributed to my weight issues. There is a correlation there..

Anyways, the first thing my dietician did? Essentially banned all sweets. Not good. It was that awkward stage at school where walking in with a bag of nuts was asking for all sorts of innuendos…

I was already known as the Chubby Harry Potter. I didn’t need that extra attention..

It probably does seem a good idea, even looking back, to remove the sugar from a kid who couldn’t even spell moderation, never mind put it into practice.

It was drastic. Or at least to me it was. Did I lose weight? Absolutely!

I even lost a pound over Christmas one year!

I think it fell down the back of the couch..

*crickets chirping*

In all seriousness though, the results were good!

Did they last though? Absolutely not.

1 or 2 haribos soon became 1 or 2 bags, and even though it was a full 3 or 4 years later, I was straight back to square one.

I hadn’t worked on any new habits. I hadn’t learned anything about nutrition.

I was just the same kid with the same weight problem, but with a few more spots and a crackly voice on the verge of breaking.

Before I knew it I spent the next few years, if anything, probably slightly worse off with regards to my weight. At least now having left the dietician, I actually was aware it was a problem!

Back in the day when 2 bowls of coco pops and some Sunny D were the breakfast norm..

Again, I get that I was pretty young, but this is something that still happens among a lot of us who set out to lose weight.

We set out to lose body fat jump straight into changes.

I’ve found in the many years and failed fat loss attempts since then, that it’s so much more valuable to assess your current situation exactly as it is.

Ask yourself if a change you’re about to make is something you could maintain for not just the next few months, but long after whatever deadline you had in mind.

Which leads nicely onto mistake number 2..

2. It Was All For 6 Days In Zante.

I was then a few years into my twenties, still in the midst of all sorts of insecurity about my body and weight.

My friends and I had booked, for the second year running, a week in Zante for the August of 2013.

These were still the days where I harboured hopes of one day quitting the day job and becoming a full time rep/bartender/local celebrity in Zante full time.

Because the 6 days we spent there were exactly how life would be there permanently, obviously right?

We’ve all been there..


So, the holiday itself became a big thing. The one thing that I didn’t enjoy about the previous year, was my weight.

Unless I was 3 or 4 fishbowls and 10 sambucas into the morning, afternoon, evening or whatever it was, there was no way my t-shirt was coming off.

At the beach, by the pool, or just generally walking around in the crazy heat, I’d rather sweat it out and risk heavy t-shirt tan, than face the “embaressment” of walking around topless.

Just too insecure. I couldn’t even bring myself to wear a vest!

The 2nd year, I was determined for that too change. Suddenly the 19th August became everything.

I didn’t care about afterwards.

I changed absolutely everything.

Losing body fat was essentially the only thing I cared about. And my “deadline”, was all I could see up too.

At least this time the changes were self imposed, but still, in hindsight, probably not the wisest move.

In what world did I think this shirt was ever going to be a good idea?

I gave up a lot of what I enjoyed doing.

I quit football because I wanted to go to the gym on Saturdays.

I quit going out drinking because I wanted to be “healthy” and go to the gym on Sundays.

I essentially stopped seeing a lot of friends because all we used to do was grab a Mcdonalds and head to the bookies to play on the roulette machine!

Basically, the day after we got back from our holiday, didn’t actually exist. It was like it was never going to come.

I lost the weight, went on holiday, had a great time, but came back to a different situation entirely.

Those sacrifices I’d made, all in the name of this deadline, had unfortunately had an effect that lasted well beyond “D-Day”.

I’m all for having a strong “Why” and powerful reasoning to doing something, and committing to that, but I went beyond that.

It was almost a case of sacrificing TOO much, and not considering anything beyond what I was working towards.

Looking back the main thing I take from this, is to realise that even the biggest of events, or situations that make losing fat seem like a case of “life and death”…… aren’t.

There comes a bit of trying to manage your own expectations, which leads again, nicely onto mistake number 3..

3. My “Dream Physique” Would Solve EVERYTHING.

This probably seems a bit extreme, but as little as 2 years ago, this is exactly the situation I found myself in.

If you’ve ever lost a load of weight previously, then you might find this feeling familiar.

It didn’t matter how much weight I lost through my mid twenties. It was always going to take a lot longer for those feelings of self confidence, and in a way, self validation, to come along too.

I’d not long moved from Gala to Manchester, and was changing in almost every way, on a daily basis!

But, something still wasn’t right. Despite anything I was accomplishing, there was still something missing.

The self confidence. The feeling of validation. It wasn’t there despite everything.

2 or 3 years of looking a bit better wasn’t ever going to completely reverse the previous 15 or so years of insecurity. And that is definitely one thing I can empathise with to anyone who’s felt this way.

So, I made a decision. A decision to enter a bodybuilding competition and take things to a level I never would have thought imaginable in years prior.

I felt I needed too. That feeling of confidence just wasn’t going to come along without it.

I didn’t care what I’d achieved up to that point. All I did care about was that I still didn’t feel any less self conscious about my weight or how I looked.

This had to change. And the route I chose to gain access to that “dream physique”, was deciding to step out onto the stage at Bodypower 2017. I was never bothered about “placing” or how I’d do up against other guys on the stage.

All I was thinking of was that once the fake tan had worn off, I’d be confident. I’d feel valid.

I’d feel happy.

A 15 year obsession with getting in "shape" finally realised. But not much else followed.

Within 30 seconds of stepping off the stage and realising I could go back to not having to weigh out coconut oil, I quickly started to doubt that would be the case.

There was just this overwhelming thought that stuck out. That thought was, “is that it?”..

All those days and weeks and months, to get to a physical shape that SHOULD make me happy.

Yet, I was stood there just waiting for it to come along and hit me in the face.

Basically, everything I thought this would do for me, didn’t materialise.

I’d always thought the worst thing was to NOT hit your goal. Whereas it was as if here, I felt WORSE for actually achieving the goal, for it not to provide what I’d expected it to provide.

This has nothing to do with bodybuilding or the approach it involves. This was all about me and my expectations.

In hindsight it seems so naive to assume that because you can see some abs or fit into smaller clothes, you’ll suddenly become happy.

I was essentially left with nothing except a really warped relationship with food and exercise.

Looking back, it was a mistake to expect this goal to provide everything I thought it would provide.

Whatever picture comes to mind when you think of your ideal body, I now always encourage some level of caution with what you expect it do for you.

You can train, eat and sleep like the best of them, but there’s still always that prospect of it not really solving much else apart from allowing you to fit into some smaller clothes.

I learned the hard way, that confidence and fulfilment, don’t necessarily come from being “lean”.

Sure, it can help, but, more so during the process.

It comes from the learning and embracing of the journey.

Something I completely missed the point of.

To Wrap It Up

There you have it.

The 3 biggest mistakes I’ve made regarding fat loss (so far!)

I’m sure there’s another 1 or 2 waiting for me down the line.

Like I mentioned earlier though, I don’t regret any of these. They’ve all helped to shape the outlook I have now.

The outlook I use to help clients, as well as look after myself regarding body image.

This isn’t intended to create any fear or anxiety around the possibility of making these mistakes, not in the slightest.

This is simply an opportunity for me to share.

Whether you find it helpful, or just interesting, both are fine with me.

Take from my experiences what you can, and apply it in anyway you feel you need to, to your own goals.

The main takeaway I get from all of these looking back?

Maybe the bulletproof confidence we’re all searching for with regards to fat loss, doesn’t actually exist?

Maybe the confidence and fulfilment comes from something much bigger and broader, and the wins & losses experienced whilst getting in shape and dropping some clothes sizes, are FAR more important and impactful, than the end result.

To wrap it up swiftly, I’d have to say, I’m now ok with both.


356 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

F**k It. I’m Still Buzzing For Christmas.

Yikes.. Imagine someone had said this back in April? Back when we thought we were 2 weeks in to a 3 week lockdown. Bless us. We didn’t know any better. But it’s November now. The marzipan is on the sh