"Once I got heavier, exercise obviously became harder and as a result I didn’t focus on it," he explained. "I also looked at other healthy people and indirectly out of resentment, I convinced myself that they were self-indulged and my attitude was right (which clearly it wasn’t)."
But it wasn't always like that: up until his early 20s he took part a lot of amateur sport – football, cricket, and golf - and was a solid long distance runner.
"I was quite fit and enjoyed feeling and looking healthy, weighing between 80-82kgs and doing 3-4 gym sessions a week. However, things changed when I started pulling calf muscles regularly and then I moved to Abu Dhabi in the UAE for work in my late 20s. Once my sport finished and my work took over, my habits changed and my weight gain started."
Once he hit 39, Petersen ballooned to 110kg. He wasn't exercising, he sat at a desk all day and he relied on a energy drinks for his first meal of the day.
"I’d drink Coke Zero all day and not have one drop of water. Lunch consisted of either a pie or a large serving of take-away Chinese from the food court or whatever tasty treat I could find. I knew I was getting overweight when my pants size went from a 34 inch to 40 inch. I could no longer fit into my work pants or shirts. To top this all off, I’d often have a binge drink of alcohol once a week whilst watching sport which I’m sure didn’t help."
Here, Petersen breaks down how he turned it all around.
How much weight did you lose?
I started the 28 by Sam Wood 8 week challenge at 106.5kgs and dropped to 82.2kgs. 24.3kg in 8 weeks.
What was the turning point?
There were many very good reasons. Firstly, I’d been working from home since March due to Covid and when I realised we’d be returning back to the office shortly, I thought I’d try on my work pants and when I couldn’t fit into the 40 inch pants, I knew I needed to change. My grandfather also has heart disease and his father died at 44 of a heart attack.
Midway through 2020 I got some extreme abdominal pains in my right side – almost stabbing pains. I got a check-up at the doctors and was informed that I had dense fatty liver and high cholesterol despite the fact I was already on cholesterol tablets full time already.
When I got the factual data and solid talking to from my doctor, I realised I had to make a change otherwise I wouldn’t be around to walk my two gorgeous girls down the aisle or teach my 2 year old boy how to play sport.
The defining moment was when I was covered in chocolate wrappers, potato chips all over my stomach and I’d had a few drinks when I thought to myself enough was enough. It was a Saturday night in September. I googled weight loss programs and 28 by Sam Wood’s 8 Week challenge came up which was starting Monday week and I joined immediately.
The rest they say is history.
How did you cope during the first few weeks?
The first 10-14 days were a nightmare. In particular the first week I had horrific headaches, I was extremely hungry and had cravings. It was as if I was on a massive ‘come down’ from the sugar and carbs.
This coupled with the soreness from commencing training combined to make those days pretty difficult. But I knew that if I stuck to the process I’d get over that initial struggle.
My wife was a great support and joined me in the early training sessions which included fast walks (I couldn’t run as I’d pull a calf) and she also ate the same meals I had. It became an inner challenge to maintain the process as I knew it would be something to be proud of whilst also getting me healthy again. It also gave me an outlet or interest outside of working from home during Covid and having to home school – very difficult time for everyone.
What does a typical week of exercise look like to you?
During my challenge I’d do a Sam Wood 28 minute HIIT session and I’d run 5-7kms. At night before bed I’d do push up session which included 3 sets of max push-ups and a sit up or core workout. The more I did and the stronger I got the more I enjoyed it.
Now that I’m not in the challenge, I’m running 3 times a week and doing a Sam Wood 28 minute HIIT session 5 days per week – I really enjoy it.
What is the biggest lesson/s you’ve learnt from the whole journey?
I’ve learned persistence – that if I stick to a diet of healthy eating and exercise, results happen. I’ve no longer not cravings for sugar or rubbish. I’d much rather have fruit to offset my sugar cravings.
I actually get excited and look forward to exercise and I no longer pull calf muscles – I’m actually running properly again.
What was the biggest challenge of the whole process?
My own thoughts and early on, not caving to the cravings. Once I got over the first 2 weeks and I could see results, I was into it and I wanted more.
What advice do you have for others trying to lose weight?
WATER!!!! Drink truckloads of water and stay away from sugar and bad carbs. Both cause weight. I’d say persistence and consistency is the key.