Real-Life Successes: How I Lost 4.5st

34-year-old Andy Corrie shed 8in from his waist to get the job of his dreams - and ran a marathon in the process


Posted: 23 September 2005

Profile

NAME: Andy Corrie
AGE: 34
SUCCESS: to lose 4.5st and become his village’s retained fire fighter, running a marathon in the process
HOW HE ACHIEVED IT: overhauling his service-station diet, and following a structured training programme
TYPICAL DIET - THEN: breakfast: coffee; lunch: no formal meal, but all day snacking on crisps, chocolate bars, pasties, more coffee; dinner: pizza and garlic bread, chilli and chips or large takeaway, plus family bag of crisps in from of TV after dinner.
NOW: breakfast: porridge or muesli with skimmed milk, green tea or wholemeal toast and peanut butter; lunch: packed lunch such as pitta bread with tuna and salad, low fat yoghurt and fruit, plus extra fruit to snack on; dinner: rice or pasta with vegetable and meat or fish, plus lots of water all day long. Crisps, chocolate and takeaways are a once-a-week treat.
TYPICAL TRAINING: a long run, a tempo run and two steady runs, plus two gym sessions each week.

When Andy Corrie (RW member 3Legs) moved up from a 32in waist trouser to a 34in, he didn’t dwell on it. The move up to 36in went unmentioned, as did the one to 38in. But when he came home from a shopping trip with a 40in waist pair of jeans, something snapped.

“I thought, enough is enough,” he says. Overnight, Andy revolutionised his eating habits. It started with breakfast the next day: he actually ate something before leaving the house – and vowed to quit eating junk food.

As an area manager for a series of petrol stations, it wasn’t easy. Spending all day in the car, he habitually got by on coffee and chocolate bars during working hours, before going home for a family-sized bag of crisps and a huge plate of dinner. By swapping to unrefined carbohydrates, protein and plenty of fruit and vegetables, Andy went from 16.5 stone to 14.5 stone in four months.

“I was looking and feeling better,” he recalls. “And while I was enjoying my healthier diet, I wanted a healthier lifestyle.”

It was around this time – in the autumn of 2003 – that Andy saw an advertisement for a retained fire-fighter – someone who would be a ‘reservist’ fireman – for his village on the Isle of Man. It was his boyhood dream job – he longed to apply, but knew he would have to be fitter to pass the physical test. In a safe, scenic environment like the Isle of Man, running was the obvious solution. Andy found a 2.5-mile circuit, and set off at a gentle pace. He made it barely a hundred yards before being reduced to a walk. It took an hour to complete the circuit that evening, but he got home unbowed. He set himself his first running target: to build up to being able to complete the circuit without having to walk.

“The first month or two it was tough building the mental and physical strength to continue,” he says. “The key to getting through was having goals to work towards, and seeing my fitness improve and size reducing.”

Having devised a run/walk programme, Andy began combining exercise with healthy eating, and sent off his application to the fire service. He had been running for about a month when he was called to do a physical assessment, including a bleep test. To reach the next part of the selection process, he would need to complete seven steps in the test. He managed five.

It was a hard knock-back. There was no way of knowing when the opportunity would come around again. Luckily for Andy, he had a boss that was not only a keen runner, but knew just how to get him motivated. With the judicious use of the phrase ‘it may be beyond you, but...’ he had Andy signed up to do a 20K race in Brussels with him the next spring.

“I didn’t want to make a fool of myself, I wanted to run the whole way,” says Andy. Armed with a Runner’s World half-marathon training schedule, he set himself a target of 2:30, and promptly modified it to sub-2 when he realised how fit he was getting. On race day, he finished in 1:52, just seven minutes behind his boss.

Almost inevitably, Andy found himself lured into entering the 2005 Flora London Marathon. At a trim 12 stone (he is six foot tall) and in 32in waist running shorts, he completed the 26.2 miles in 3:53 – half an hour quicker than his boss.

“I soundly thrashed him,” chuckles Andy. “I was overjoyed, it was one of the best days of my life, up there with my wedding day and when my kids were born.”

Now that his weight is stable, Andy knows that a pizza on Friday night does no harm, and that it will be burned off on Sunday morning’s long run. He keeps strictly to his regime during the week, and permits himself to indulge over the weekend. He drinks two litres of water every day, to make sure he doesn’t mistake thirst-signals for hunger ones.

Not long after the marathon, the Manx fire service started recruiting once more. Full of running-inspired confidence, Andy applied again. When it got to the bleep test, he sailed through. Since May 9, he has been the retained firefighter for his village. He even won the Dads’ race at his daughter’s school sports day, and is making sure that all three of his children accept exercise and healthy eating as part of normal family life. And, just in case he loses motivation, he’s got two different outfits in his wardrobe to remind him how far he’s come: his firefighting kit, and an unworn pair of 40in waist jeans.

Expert View

Swapping chocolate and crisps for unrefined carbs, fruit and veg sounds straightforward enough, but if you are stuck in unhealthy habits, it can be difficult to do. Andy conversion from self-confessed slob to marathon runner and fire fighter is a text book example of how sensible diet, a progressive training programme, and a worthwhile goal really work.

“It’s fantastic that Andy has made the life-changing decision to get himself in shape,” says coach Bud Baldaro. “He has already made superb progress.” As Andy has found, making friends in the local running community makes running more enjoyable, and doesn’t have to be competitive. Fellow runners can be a source of inspiration and good advice.

“You can enjoy the camaraderie of group runs, and build up a network of people to talk to and get advice from,” says Baldaro. If and when injury strikes, you will know where to go to get fixed.

Baldaro says that Andy has approached his training and weight-loss in exactly the right manner. “It’s vital to be prepared to progress patiently, and to have a sense of structure and shape to your training. You’ve got to know why and what you are doing in your runs.”

Now that Andy has decided to make running part of his life, not just a short-term aid to weight loss, Baldaro says short- and medium-term goals may help his motivation. “Goals should be both realistic and measurable,” he advises – getting fit enough to pass the bleep test to become a retained fire fighter was one such goal. While future goals might well be centred around races, it’s important not to get too hung up on times and performances in events.

“Don’t forget targets, but learn to listen to your body so you know when you need to back off,” says Baldaro. “Above all, have fun and ensure that running enhances your life and makes you feel good.”

Andy's tale is one of an occasional series of real-life success stories that we will be publishing on the website. If you have a story to share that could inspire others, why not read our guidelines for submission, and get in touch?


Previous article
Kicking The Habits
Next article
Weight-Loss Week: Enjoy Your Food

Real-Life Successes, weight
TwitterStumbleUponFacebookDiggRedditGoogle

Discuss this article

I'm thrilled that runners world have seen fit to write an article about me and give it pride of place on the homepage. I'm really just an ordinary guy and certainly have no history of being sporty or fit. If I can do it, anyone can. Feel free to post if you have any questions, discussion points etc.
Posted: 28/09/2005 at 18:32

3Legs, well done you, just read your story and much respect to you. You aren't an "ordinary guy", they would have sat on their backsides and done nothing but you've gone for what you wanted so again well done!
Posted: 28/09/2005 at 18:47

Is it true a manx cat has no tale, or is it a real cat with the tale chopped off? ;-)

Only joking 3legs, you should feel pround of your achievments, a lot of people would have given up after failing to get the firemans job the first time.
Posted: 28/09/2005 at 19:08


LOK
I like firemen

(in a respectful family man way obviously)

;-)


well done you

btw from what you said above, then
was the article a surprise one 3legs?

i kind of thought that you'd sent it in yourself ?
Posted: 28/09/2005 at 19:11

yep read the story yesterday, I was suprise that noone had started a thread sooner, I tho it was pretty amazing and very inspirational (spellin'?) too, Well Done 3Legs:-)

Posted: 28/09/2005 at 19:18

Definitely; an inspirational read 3-legs. Well done on your terrific acheivement. It gives hope to us all - well okay me at least.
Posted: 28/09/2005 at 19:29

Do you mind if I ask why you call yourself 3Legs?
Posted: 28/09/2005 at 19:34

Tks LL, I was going 2 ask 2 but wimp out!
Posted: 28/09/2005 at 19:44

Ah, so you're the fireman (mmm) on the front page!

3Legs...Isle of Man innit?
Posted: 28/09/2005 at 19:56

3-legs has connotations; plainly due to the Isle of Man logo; oh my goodness and a fireman with three legs!!! (Swoon!)

Posted: 28/09/2005 at 20:16

Thanks everyone. In response to LOC the article was based around some forum submissions I made after the FLM. A runners world writer phoned me up at the time for a telephone interview saying they were interested in my story. I hadn't heard anything since so just kind of thought they weren't going to bother. It was a nice surprise yesterday to see my story up there.

The "three legs" is indeed a reference to the Isle of Man national symbol from the flag "the 3 legs of man" and its accompanying saying "whichever way you throw me, I will stand".

Obviously there's a further connotation to 3 legs............................
Posted: 29/09/2005 at 13:58


I like firemen too.


Posted: 29/09/2005 at 14:08

me too in their shiny helmet & jacket:-)
Posted: 29/09/2005 at 15:32

ROFL!

Well done 3 legs...looking good!
Posted: 29/09/2005 at 16:35

I was once rescued from a lift by a load of firemen; I was blushing terribly as they offered to give me mouth to mouth! Hmmmmmm...missed opportunity there!
Posted: 29/09/2005 at 16:51


I've been rescued by a van full of policemen. I wasn't arrested either!!

:o)
Posted: 29/09/2005 at 17:02

Well done 3legs!!

All this time I've been posting on these threads, trying to get the IOM on the map. Mind you, the amount of work you put into it deserves recognition. So a double well done.

Did you do the IOM mara or half in August, coz I was trying to see where the photo of you running was taken?
Posted: 29/09/2005 at 17:11

The photo running was from last year's Syd Quirk Half marathon on the Isle. I did the IOM half this year and last too. Although after having a lazy summer post FLM I only just cracked 2 hours in this year's IOM half. For some strange reason I prefer running in the winter so have just started up training again now that the weather is cooler.


Posted: 30/09/2005 at 12:34

Congratulations on the weight loss--you're an inspiration! Had you always been overweight or had it piled on only since you'd started working?
Posted: 01/10/2005 at 23:40

I was a bit of a chubby child and then slimemd down as a teenager. My weight remained farily stable through to my mid twenties and then just seemed to pile on over the next few years as I became a lazy, greedy, couch potato.
Posted: 02/10/2005 at 16:09

Hi Andy
I expect you were hoping this would go unnoticed by the Manx Runners ?
Have posted a little link on the forum at manxathletics.com just to make sure.....
Your story is so inspiring- and if you pop down to Laxey Surgery anytime soon you will find your article pinned up as a shining example of turning your life around!
Maria and the children must be really proud,
Well done and keep on running,
Catriona F
PS may have to follow your lead with the healthy eating before the Fireman's Runs start Thursday!!
Posted: 04/10/2005 at 21:19


TAW
Hi, just want to add my congratulations on a truly inspiring effort.
Posted: 04/10/2005 at 21:26

Well done 3-legs, your story is really inspiring and from a manxman too - putting the isle of man on the map gets a big thumbs up from me too.

I'm a manx lass too - from Douglas, still have lots of family over there and try to get home at least twice a year.

WELL DONE YOU..
Posted: 05/10/2005 at 10:04

This could be just the inspiration I need to lose the seven pounds that follow me round. Really impressed. I lost about 5 stone years ago so I now how hard it is. Well done 3-legs.
Posted: 05/10/2005 at 10:38

You must be very proud of yourself what an amazing achievement. By the way you look great in your fireman kit.
Posted: 05/10/2005 at 13:57

To Catriona (Kit e Kat),

Thanks for the support.

Somewhat coincidentally I was in Laxey surgery today at 3 o clock as a workman set off one of your fire alarms so I was there as part of the fire crew.

I was praying that the article wasn't too highly visible as I would never have lived it down at drill nights if the other guys had seen it. Luckily I don't think anyone spotted it

Would be doing the Ramsey run myself tonight but I'm at a "black tie" do instead.
Posted: 06/10/2005 at 17:47

Well done fella. I got down from 18 to 13 stone the same way, loads of running and overhauling the diet. I wish everyone could see that it may be hard work but it really is true that eating less (rubbish) and exercising more really does work!!!
Posted: 12/10/2005 at 11:36

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this article...I know its old but us newcomers still read up on inspiring posts, well done.

Just to add this is how I felt recently, I ballooned from 12.5stone to 18.5 stone over 12+years, it was also just recently when I had to buy those 40" pants /cry.  The emotional torture compelled me to act.  I joined the gym and have been actively running now for a month, I do 5K runs and my times have steadfastly dropped as i run for longer and faster each time.  In a month I am down 1stone, but its the energy and vitality I have got back and the buzz I get when i am running that keeps me going, when i read your story it was even more energising knowing that the longterm benefits are huge.  I understand my losses will get smaller but if the feelings when running and especially when finished continue I will continue running for as long as I am able......who  

 Thank you for telling your story and thank you RW for publishing it!


Posted: 29/08/2008 at 12:32

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this article...I know its old but us newcomers still read up on inspiring posts, well done.

Just to add this is how I felt recently, I ballooned from 12.5stone to 18.5 stone over 12+years, it was also just recently when I had to buy those 40" pants /cry.  The emotional torture compelled me to act.  I joined the gym and have been actively running now for a month, I do 5K runs and my times have steadfastly dropped as i run for longer and faster each time.  In a month I am down 1stone, but its the energy and vitality I have got back and the buzz I get when i am running that keeps me going, when i read your story it was even more energising knowing that the longterm benefits are huge.  I understand my losses will get smaller but if the feelings when running and especially when finished continue I will continue running for as long as I am able......who  knows maybe 10K training will start soon.. /happy

 Thank you for telling your story and thank you RW for publishing it!


Posted: 29/08/2008 at 12:32

We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member

Smart Coach
Free, fully-personalized training plans, designed to suit your racing goals and your lifestyle.