My name is Dave Fowler, I’m six feet tall and 175lbs. I would describe myself as being in excellent shape for a 41 year old and in good shape for a man half my age. I have a flat stomach and a good amount of muscle, but I’d say I’m more lean and athletic than bulky.

I run three times a week mostly for fun and just to keep in shape but I also do the odd competitive 5K or 10K just to challenge myself.

I don’t have a gym membership so I’ve developed a few great body weight routines that I can do wherever I happen to be. I change the routine regularly so that I don’t get bored. They don’t take that long to do, and if I’m really pressed for time I can break them up throughout the day.

My diet consists mainly of fresh foods. I eat plenty of fish and white meat along with salad and bean dishes. Fresh fruit and veg is always available for snacks. The food is attractive to look at and being based on a Mediterranean style diet it’s very tasty..

I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible and if I’m forced to eat them, or if I sometimes choose to eat them (and I do from time to time), I try to keep my intake to a moderate level.

My approach to health and fitness is casual and fun and centred around leading an enjoyable lifestyle rather than a punishing and demanding routine. I find this helps me to stick with my plan.

I have an abundance of energy all day and just feel so much better physically and mentally. I feel much less stressed and far happier.

My friends and family all comment positively about my appearance and lifestyle. It’s great to receive such compliments and it certainly gives a boost the way I feel about myself.

I wasn’t always like this though. In January 2009 I was overweight by about 30lbs sporting a belly and a big old pair of love handles. 30 lbs might not seem like much but the extra weight was enough to exacerbate a back problem, which in turn affected my sleep.

The roll of fat was just ugly and unhealthy. It was unappealing to look at and irritated me every single day.

My eating habits irritated me too.

I wasn’t a gluttonous overeater, but more of a casual overeater. I didn’t really notice it happening at first but then I stopped and had a good look at the quality and quantity of food I was eating. It wasn’t totally horrendous but it could have been so much better but for a few small changes.

I ate what my family ate. And my family ate what I chose to feed them. I felt guilty that I was feeding my children so much processed food, mainly through what I thought was convenience, but it turned out that convenience was another word for lazy.

Claiming that I didn’t have enough time to cook properly or exercise was a lie. The truth was I chose to use the time to do other things.

I was fat and lazy, and if I didn’t do something, I knew I could get into real trouble.

One night as I sat at my computer typing a blog post, I felt the discomfort of my belly hanging over my belt and the waistband of my jeans cutting into my hips. I felt drowsy after eating a stodgy dinner and had a craving for sweet food – and of course I gave into that craving.

There and then, I decided that I would take responsibility for my situation and make the necessary changes. I wasn’t going to waste time with self-recrimination, I was just going to get on with it.

When I woke the next day I set about making immediate changes.

I realised that I needed to make nutrition a major focus for the day. Not just for me but for my family. I also knew there were other important things I needed to tackle like running the household and managing the finances.

When I thought more about it I realised that these were all interlinked, which made my decision much easier.

I resolved that until I’d got this area of my life under control I was going to ditch casual TV, computer games and other time wasters. I didn’t eradicate TV from my life but I was very selective about what I watched.

I overhauled my online life too and I hoped that my friends would understand as my replies to their emails and other messages weren’t the long winded cyber hugs I used to send their way, but instead, quick one liners with a big smiley face.

They were brilliant. They understood that I was trying to build a better life for myself and were very supportive. In the end it turned out that my communication with friends and loved ones was much improved – because after I’d done all the important things in my day I was much more relaxed and that shone through.

Changing my priorities in this way was great for my family life too. Rather than detract from my time with the children it increased it. I involved the children in as many aspects of the process as I could.

Budgeting, grocery lists, planning and preparation were turned into a family experience. The children helped with the cooking and as a result they tended to eat better because they had made the food themselves.

I hope they will also follow the example I set for them with exercise. They couldn’t do all of it with me but I tried to include them when I could.

I got them to count out my push-ups on the living room rug and they’d try to copy what I was doing. In the evening when I put my running shoes on for a quick blast around the block, I’d hand them a stop watch and ask them to time me. I then got them to mark the time on a chart and we plotted a graph together.

The whole experience was a massive boost to their education and self esteem. When they eventually grow and leave home I know that they’ll be able to fend for themselves. They’ll be able to cook, they’ll know how to exercise and how to look after their finances – and this is something I’ll treasure in years to come as I watch them thrive.

The truly great thing about it is I should live long enough to see it.

My lifestyle transformation was a slow process as I learnt how to cook from scratch and learnt how to organise my time and my kitchen. Exercise was difficult to begin with but after the first two weeks I really started to enjoy it, and actually found myself looking forward it.

It was largely a matter of trial and error – and there were plenty of errors – but my setbacks didn’t deter me.

Well, it’s January 2010 now and over Christmas and New Year I put on 4lbs in weight. I’m not at all worried though, as my plan allowed me to be more relaxed and I know it’ll only take me two weeks to deal with the excess – and then I’ll be in great shape again.

Who knows, I might even be able to drop from 10% body fat to 8% by the time I go on my summer break and look fab by the pool :) .

I’m proud of myself. I’m proud that I didn’t let another year slip by without achieving my goals.

Here’s to a great 2010!

Dave.