Brian Boye was too good at his job. On the outside, everything looked sharp. As executive fashion director for Men’s Health, he knew how to camouflage his excess pounds.
“I wore sweaters and loose clothing” he says. “I untucked my shirts when I wore blazers, and I chose colors and patterns, like black and vertical stripes, that helped me look lean.”
Brian’s problems had begun two years earlier, in 2012, after a health crisis landed him in the emergency room.
“I was sure I was having a heart attack,” he says. He wasn’t; in fact, tests revealed that his coronary artery was spasming, a serious but treatable condition called Prinzmetal’s angina.
“It really freaked me out,” Brian says. “I started spending more time on the couch and binge-watching Top Chef, The Amazing Race, and Orange Is the New Black.”
Around the same time, his workout buddy moved to Bangkok, and with him went Brian’s motivation to exercise.
For two years he made excuses. He was too busy to hit the gym, too rushed to eat well, and too immersed in his job to care. But that changed in April 2014, when he stepped on a scale during a visit to his cardiologist’s office.
“I was 30 pounds overweight,” Brian says.
In an instant, he became a statistic—one of 69 percent of Americans who are overweight or obese—and found himself at risk for a range of new health problems, such as coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes.
“It was brutal,” Brian says. “I felt embarrassed and ashamed.”
For the first time in two years, he also felt motivated. It took six months, but he lost the weight, put on muscle, and became a man he was proud to face in the mirror. Here’s how he did it—and how you can too—by the numbers.
1: Number of scales Brian bought to track his weight
People who weigh themselves often are more successful at dropping pounds, according to a study in PLOS One.
And recording your weight can help you be more mindful of what you eat and drink, says David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., a Men’s Health weight-loss advisor. Brian keeps a log on his refrigerator.
45: Duration of Brian’s spin classes, in minutes
“A friend suggested that I try Soul-Cycle,” Brian says. Now he goes twice a week in addition to cycling outdoors with friends on weekends.
“That camaraderie is hugely beneficial to weight loss,” says BJ Gaddour, C.S.C.S., creator of Men’s Health StreamFIT. “The more social you make fitness, the more likely you are to be consistent.”
60: Duration of his boot camp sessions, in minutes
Military-style workout classes, like Barry’s Bootcamp (which Brian attends twice a week), focus on intense total-body intervals.
“Combining resistance and cardio continues to be the gold standard for lasting fat loss,“ says Dr. Katz. Plus, group training inspires plenty of friendly competition, so members always give their all. (For a friendly and competitive workout you can do at home, order The Men’s Health Body Battle DVD. It’s a whole new way to experience a group bootcamp, without leaving your house.)
500: Volume of his daily meal-replacement shake (in ml)
“I combine apple, kale, spinach, ginger, and lemon,” Brian says. The nutrients and fiber curb hunger for hours.
“Calorie-controlled replacement shakes are a time-tested way to lose weight,” says Mike Roussell, Ph.D., author of The Six Pillars of Nutrition. “They also cushion you against those times when you have less control over what you eat.”
12: Number of miles Brian runs every week
“I always listen to music when I do cardio—it makes the miles go by faster,” Brian says.
It also helps him push harder. “Music not only moves the soul but also lowers your perceived rate of exertion,” says Gaddour. The key, he adds, is to play tunes that inspire you. “The right song can give you a burst of adrenaline when you need it most.”
90: Percentage of weeknights he cooks at home
On the rare occasions when Brian does eat at catered events (which he attends almost every evening), he fills up on vegetables and protein and skips the sauces and rolls.
“Eating out can take away dietary control,” says Dr. Katz. “So it’s important to have an eating strategy or to make sure you have food waiting for you at home.”
14: Number of days it took him to drop the final 10 pounds
Brian followed a clean-eating diet created by Burn & Build Body in Manhattan.
He restricted his carbohydrates and calories; emphasized fruits, vegetables, and fish; and drank a pea-protein smoothie daily in place of a meal.
“Being overweight is like wearing a weight vest,” says Gaddour. “Lose the vest, and you’ll feel like a new man.”