Q&A with the Hairy Bikers

Si and Dave discuss how they started to shed the pounds - and offer some tips on following in their footsteps...

How did you feel after Dr Roy’s analysis of your body fat percentage?

SI: I was gutted, but so much more as well. It was a complete and utter reality check. I felt the image on the scanner was utterly hideous - and that image was me, encased in fat. It was a very graphic image that will live with me forever.

DAVE: It was a wake-up call for me too. I always knew I could be a bit on the greedy side; I love cooking and eating and there in front of me was the evidence which I would have been daft to ignore. I could see visually where the fat was lying, basically all around my internal organs. I was a fit fatty, but for how long? I came away inspired to do something about it. I was an apple shape and I was a blooming big apple.

Do you think men have a completely different attitude to eating healthily and calorie counting to women?

I think lots of men have an ostrich-like mentality regarding their health and general appearance.
Dave Myers

SI: I think lots of men have a sort of special relationship with food – a sort of macho approach. Butch. “Me? A diet? Are you joking?” That’s a cliché, but I think lots of us men aren’t that good at investing in ourselves. We pour ourselves into our kids, wives and jobs, but we forget about ourselves. The thing is to realise that by investing in yourself - your health and so on - it is for them. You’ll be around a lot longer. Being dead before your time is no use to them.

DAVE: I think lots of men have an ostrich-like mentality regarding their health and general appearance. There is always tomorrow. When we started this project a few of our friends scoffed but then the floodgates of interest followed. Everyone had their silent worries about size if they were overweight.

Good food and good health are consumer choices. Barrow, where I live, is a traditional town that still has some heavy industry, but the jobs are more sedentary than in our fathers' day. Our local gym is one of the busiest in the country within the chain. Men are starting to take more care of their health and still be real men. As a man in my gym says, he wished he had lost his weight and started to exercise before he had his heart attack. Now he lives with the worry.

On this new healthy regime, what did you miss the most?

SI: Drink. I’ve missed having a relationship with alcohol - wine and beer are something I relied upon as a treat. I drink less now - but appreciate what I do drink, more.

DAVE: I really missed cheese. One night I sat and ate a guilty wedge of cheddar, but it meant a bit of penance the following day. Once we both made the decision early on, we mutually supported each other and got on with the job in hand. The fridge was emptied of temptation, but was soon replaced by my family!

As the diet progressed, the delight in seeing the pounds drop off outweighed the temptation. And yes, like Si, booze. The bloom on the outside of a glass of beer poured at the end of the day... I missed that first taste. But I know I will be able to return to the food and drink I love but with more control once I have reached my goals.

What did you enjoy the most?

SI: I enjoyed being more analytical about the food I ate. We set ourselves a challenge as cooks to re-work recipes that we loved and make them less calorific. The dishes needed to be great tasty food first, but less fattening second. It was a challenge, but the process made us better cooks.

DAVE: I loved re-engineering the dishes we all love that dieters have to run away from. The Masala-coated spatchcocked chicken we make early on is fabulous. The paella that I cook on the beach is as good as any that I have ever had. We create decent low calories pies made with pizza dough; they are a great fill up but within your allowed calories.

I also loved doing my sessions of training. Once I shed some weight the exercising became easier and, dare I say it, fun. My energy came back by the bucketful.

How has it changed your approach to food and fitness?

SI: Well, as I’ve said it made us think more about the food we put in our mouths. The fitness aspect was challenging at first because, as you’ll see in the film, I start out with negative feelings that stemmed from experiences I had as a large child.

However the benefits of getting fit and enjoying it were quick, and the more often you exercise the more evident the results become. When the physiology of your body changes you get this great boost of confidence and energy that spurs you on. Give it a go and I promise it's worth the effort.

DAVE: We have both learned a lot about food. We have cooked for years now and full time for nearly a decade, but I think our food on a day-to-day basis will change.

I still want a curry on a Friday night and maybe a steak and kidney pudding at the weekend but not all the time. Flavour does not necessarily mean calories and as good cooks we have made this work. Our families love the new style of recipes too.

I can't ever see a time again when I won't go to the gym or ride my push bike, I simply feel so much younger and fitter. In the words of Cher, "If I could turn back time"! Well I think we have, by a good few years!

At the end of the journey...

What is the most memorable moment you will take with you from this experience?

The feeling you get from just taking control is fantastic.
Si King

SI: Well, it’s been a big cathartic journey. The most important thing for me isn’t a single moment, it’s been something from the whole trip.

It’s the way my family has supported me. They’ve been incredibly supportive. The revelation was realising just how much they had been worrying about me. The most memorable moment was the fact that I'd lost nearly 3 stone in just over 3 months and still eaten well.

DAVE: The most memorable moments have been the moments of achievement - as the diet kicked in in week two I lost over 4 kilos, nearly ten pounds.

My clothes started to fit better. I have always loved clothes and have lots of clothing I bought without trying on, and had to leave in the wardrobe. As the weeks passed I got into them all, and indeed some were too big. Walking into a posh shop and buying a well-fitting designer suit off the peg was a great moment.

In the Bod Pod I found out that I had lost an amazing amount of body fat, and I was told that I could stop taking the blood pressure medication I was on. It was a small dose but not having to take the daily tablet is great.

In food terms, I loved the creativity. In my home town we went out delivering takeaway food, food that tasted as good as the regular takeaways, some of our new Asian recipes are brilliant. Best of all, my wife can get her arms right around me.

What’s been the best advantage to losing weight?

SI: Feeling better about myself. It’s not self-obsession, it’s just self-interest. I didn’t really know I felt unhealthy until I didn’t, and then it was amazing. I’m still overweight for now, but I’m working on it and not feeling lethargic makes anything seem possible.

DAVE: I look down and can see the family jewels again! Seriously the best thing is being able to change your life in such a short time. It may sound melodramatic but it's true.

Coming off medication is the best thing that has happened for both of us. There is no downside; the only thing is I am spending a fortune on clothes that before the diet I only dreamed of wearing. Some of my wardrobe monsters are making a re-appearance... wait till you see them on the telly.

Most people who diet put the weight back on. What do you think you will do if this happens?

SI: I really want to keep it off and I feel motivated to do so, but if I do put some weight back on I know I can shed it again. I've got the tools now with the low-cal recipes we've created so I know what to do.

DAVE: I don't think, I know. I will always monitor my weight. Before this show I never weighed myself. I was a complete scale-aphobic. Now there is nothing to fear. If the weight creeps up I will cut back until I am in the acceptable zone.

I am a lifelong, food-obsessed cook, and I won't be counting calories every day. Si and I haven’t become different people - we still love great food but now we know what to do: a portion of excess followed by a slice of sensible eating washed down with a gallon of the exercise that I have learnt to enjoy.

What goals have you set yourself going forward?

SI: To lose another stone. It’s not unrealistic either. I want to keep up the exercise, the training and the bicycle. Riding a bike so much during the series was a revelation. Dave and me are still the bikers we were before, but a peddle every now and then is a laugh.

DAVE: My goal is to keep the weight off, maybe lose a bit more. Roy set us a goal of losing two and a half stone - well, all but a pound I lost three. This puts me at the same weight as I was when I was twenty five.

I want to carry on with the exercise, to tone up and get fitter. Guess what - there appear to be a few baby muscles starting to pop up. I don't want to be a slow, somewhat sickly middle-aged man due to being too fat; life is too precious to risk it for an extra portion or five of ice cream. I want to keep the weight off and still enjoy my food and drink.

What was the first indulgent treat you had once you reached your goal?

SI: Home-made bread and a slurp of great olive oil to dunk my bread into and a large glass of red wine. EPIC!! A little of what you fancy does you good.

DAVE: My first indulgent treat on reaching my goal was a pizza, in Spain made with Serrano ham and manchego cheese with a couple of pints. Oh, it was good.

Funnily enough, the next day I was back having my dieter’s breakfast of beans on wholemeal toast, no butter and a couple of slices of lean ham. I have eaten what I want, but honestly I have managed to get my head around the size of portions that I used to eat.

I managed to get into my Italian jeans that I bought twenty years ago and have been unable to wear. I bet my daughter I could - and she lost big time. My other indulgent treat... skinny jeans: cheap, cheerful and totally inappropriate! Iza my stepdaughter said that if I start buying tight v-necked tee shirts she will disown me.

And finally - what would be your words of advice for other men who are looking to follow in your footsteps?

SI: Take a look in the mirror and decide if you’re happy with what you see. Me and Dave did and we decided we had to change. Invest in yourself and do yourself and your loved ones a favour.

The first decision, deciding to make changes, is the difficult one, but the feeling you get from just taking control is fantastic.

DAVE: Be honest with yourself. Such a large number of us are obese. Si and I were no exception. We have proved that by taking yourself in hand for three months you can turn things around.

The spare tyre can be banished. Your knees will stop aching. Your zest for life comes back. 3 stone is a lot of lard to carry - it is amazing how quickly your body forgives you for the strain it's been under if you simply eat less and do more exercise.

You can change if you want too. If we can do it so can you.

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