Let me start by saying this. This article will not tell you how to drink whisky all the time and lose weight. There is no healthy way to drink alcoholic beverages and get fit. Consuming any type of alcoholic beverages daily will result in health problems, that is a fact! I will simply tell you how I changed my lifestyle by keeping my whisky drinking/tasting life and got fit. I lost 80 pounds and I am just writing this to be a motivation for those who need it. This won’t necessarily work for everyone.
For those who don’t have time, I will sum up everything here. Simply, I have been working out for the last 230 days, every single day! All the food was made at home, with the healthiest possible products, I mean butter, olive oil. We ate homemade bread, pizza, pasta, and desserts too. I lowered the amount of alcohol intake to a healthy level. Mostly tasted new whiskies, kept it at a glass if I liked it a lot. It is all about balance, just like a very good whisky.
For more details, scroll down.
I have never been that person who loves to spend hours at gyms. I occasionally did it so that I could lose weight or just train to eat. As you can imagine, I enjoy fine dining and fine drinking a lot. I played some football in past, rode a road bike which I had to stop after an accident. (I realized that I was living in Istanbul, which is not a bike-friendly city at all.) In the last 10 years, I experienced a period of heavy diet and exercise, which went on for 6 months. I was following a form of the Dukan Diet, which I wouldn’t do again.
I make my living talking about whisky. I am a whisky brand manager by day and I write on here when I am not doing my day job. Both require a joyful dancing around good whisky. The temptation is high and it has always been. That’s why before Covid-19 hit the world I had an utterly bad lifestyle. During a work trip to Seattle in February, I felt some physical disorders and I decided to work on my weight. I decided to buy a Peloton bike which was supposed to motivate me when I am not traveling. I liked biking and I felt like it would be a good option.
The bike came on March 10th, a few days before Shelter in Place in California. I weighed 258 lbs on that day! I am a 6 ft tall guy, which makes my Body Mass Index (BMI) 35, which puts me in the ‘Obese’ category. This was sad! So I started to ride…
I didn’t take any before and after photos but found a photo from March 12th, my third day of training.
What is a Peloton Bike?
This post has no affiliation or promotion related to Peloton. I am just writing my own story. I learned about the Peloton Bike first time from our good industry friend Jessamine McLellan. I remember she told me that it was a game-changer. A Peloton Bike is a stationary bike with a huge tablet-like screen that offers you cycling, strength, yoga, meditation, and various classes on-demand and live through a subscription membership. It is also known as an expensive workout toy. However, I just decided I should do something and this sounded like the best option so I ordered it. I started with 30 and 45 minutes rides. It became the cornerstone of my journey!
How much weight did I lose?
The first week I lost 6 lbs, in a month I lost 14 lbs! This gave me the motivation to train longer, in a variety of rides, and most importantly eat healthier, I will come back to that in a bit.
Now, after a little more than seven months into the pandemic, I have lost 80 pounds, which equals 36.5 kg! I am at a weight that I don’t remember when I was at before, but I feel awesome.
How did I train?
I started my workouts with 30-45 min rides until my legs remembered what they were actually made for. It wasn’t long before I started doing at least 45 minutes of rides every day. From HIIT to hill climbing, I was loving it! Being able to find a class every moment was the key to my motivation. The only necessary thing was to get my body on that bike. Plus, I am a former engineer, so metrics give me so much fun! I love to see what I managed in numbers. If you want to see all my workouts in 6 months I am adding it as an Excel file here. By April, I was riding at least an hour a day and I also became a Power Zone rider which improved my fitness drastically. What Power Zone rides made me understand is how I can keep my mind and my body focused for longer time of periods, how I can answer the need of power for that ride. It eventually improves your fitness and you can monitor this improvement with a test called FTP where your maximum power for a certain amount of time is measured.
For a better understanding of Power Zone Training, please check here. All PZ trainers in Peloton are great. Thanks to Matt Wilpers, Denis Morton, Olivia Amato and Cristine D’Ercole for their guidance throughout my journey. Power Zone makes you follow different style rides in time which make you stronger and you can track how you develop with a test called FTP. The following are the Functional Threshold Power Tests (FTP Tests) I have taken in 6 months. You can see the immediate response of my body.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 also created a shortage of dumbbells and weights in general. I could get a set of dumbbells only by July and I started working with the strength instructors.
Currently, I am still working out every day. My rides vary from 30 minutes to 90 minutes. If I am adding strength, I tend to decrease the length of my ride. My workout schedule shouldn’t influence you, please create it with a professional and make your schedule motivate you. But, here is a very rough schedule of what I follow:
Monday– 60 min ride (30 min Interval + 30 min PZ Endurance) + Upper-Body Strength
Tuesday– 45 min ride (45 min interval or PZ) + Lower Body Strength
Wednesday– 60 min ride (60 min PZ Endurance) + Core
Thursday– 45 min ride (45 min Interval or Climb or Endurance) + Full Body Strength
Friday – 60 min ride (30 min Interval + 30 min Climb) + Upper-Body Strength
Saturday– 45 min ride (Whatever I feel like) + Core
Sunday– 75/90 min ride (PZ Endurance)
How Did I Eat?
This is where the magic happens. Don’t forget, it is all about taking in less calories than you burn. So we had to know what we were eating, thus key was to make 95% of the food at home!
Kudos to my wife here, she refused my protein-only shoutouts and led me to have a balanced menu on the table every day. I will honestly say that we ate whatever we wanted!
First of all, I kept my allegiance with tenderloin. With its low fat and deliciousness, that has been my favorite for years. What I do is, I buy 4-5 lbs whole tenderloin and cut it myself at home. I vacuum everything and put them in the freezer. Before my workouts, I place them in Sous-vide and when I am done with the workout, steaks are almost ready.
I started eating bread!! I was trying to stay away from bread at all times, but after the pandemic, like most of the world, we started making sourdough bread and now we love it! We are not afraid to eat a few slices, especially at breakfast. Thanks to bread making, we also discovered making homemade pizza, pasta and so on and ate them from time to time.
I cannot tell you what I had in last 7 months but just keep it simple. Try to know what is inside your meal. We used butter and olive oil only for cooking. 2 eggs a day at breakfast has always been my thing. I love to keep the protein high. Just don’t torture yourself and limit yourself. You want this experience to be as fun as possible!
How Did I Drink?
Let’s get to the part you all were expecting. How is it possible to lose weight when you drink alcohol? There is no magic, it was hard. My job made me travel to different cities. experience new bars and restaurants, conduct tastings, meet wonderful people sharing my passion. After the pandemic, it was all gone for a few months! And, you know what? I don’t like to drink whisky alone! So, what I did was, I stopped the urge to drink a few nights a week and after a few weeks there was no urge at all! I missed drinking with friends and I still do.
The method I followed was easy. ‘Don’t drink if you don’t have to!’ or ‘Drink it if it is special.’ So I enjoyed all the cool whiskies I have tasted, finished a couple good bottles of Champagne and some artisanal beers. Though, I ceased drinking daily beers. I haven’t drunk any lagers, and kept IPA to maybe 2-3 bottles. Sparkling wine is a weak spot and I drank whenever something good showed up.
What about whisky? I never stopped reviewing whiskies. Whenever I am reviewing whiskies, I use the professional method of SPITTING! Since I do review multiple whiskies at once, that is the most helpful way, and guess what? It also helps with the calories. I also drank whiskies, a lot of them actually. There was no way to stop me from enjoying these whiskies and more like them.
- Bushmills 28 Year Old Cognac Cask Whiskey
- The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3
- Paul John PX Select Cask
- Compass Box Rogues’ Banquet
- Octomore 11.3 / 194 PPM
- Glenmorangie A Tale Of Cake
Just don’t forget, with every ounce of whisky, you are intaking 70 calories. Sticking to spirits actually helps a lot with the numbers. What about cocktails? I do try to drink spirit-forward cocktails that have no mixers or sugar. Martini (bone dry please) is my best choice and I already love it. I often do a longer cardio session the next day if I am drinking more than usual!
After & What Now?
And here is the after! If you are following my Instagram profile, you already know how I look lately.
I have also taken various blood tests in August to see how my body reacted to this change. Luckily, I also have results from August 2019, and I have put them together.
Apparently, things have worked out for me. Ok! I lost 80 pounds but now what? Actually, the hardest part is yet to happen. Maintaining what I have become and building on with shaping my body. Losing some fatty parts, sculpting some muscles, but most importantly keeping my body healthy.
I just hope this post gave you some inspiration and motivation if you are looking to lose weight. There are a lot of ways to do it and mine was just one of them. If you need it, please see a doctor first, get a blood test and see if there are some other reasons for your weight concerns. Most importantly, believe yourself, there is nothing you cannot achieve! Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. I can’t create a program for you or tell what is right for your body, but I can give you tips and advice about responsible consumption of alcohol, Peloton bike, and similar things. E-mail is the best way to ask questions about this topic.