Tim Ford from Sydney recently completed IM 70.3 Sunshine Coast in 4.33. in 2010 he completed his first triathlon, an Olympic Distance in just over 4 hours.
MaccaX News’ Jo Baxas interviewed Tim on his journey so far.
Was there a defining moment when you decided you needed to change your lifestyle?
Tim Ford: In the lead up to my first triathlon I got pneumonia and when I had an x-ray the doctors were concerned that I had an enlarged heart. They sent me to have a heap of tests done and it honestly scared the shit out of me. I was only 24 and already having heart issues. I was told that I had high blood pressure and cholesterol. I think that plus the struggle I went through at that first tri really made me realise I had to do something.I also know the guy isn’t very popular but reading Lance Armstrong’s book “Its not about the bike” motivated me to get moving a lot more too.
I think the main thing for me was that I never lost weight to lose weight. I did it because I wanted to ride faster and run harder.
Were you big as a child or were you a sporty kid?
TF: I was actually a super skinny kid. I played a lot of sport both soccer and cricket right up until I was 20. My whole family were very sporty and I actually spent a lot of my youth playing sport with my younger brother. He was that kid that you know that was good enough to play in the age group 2 years older than him. Some of my best childhood memories were playing cricket with my Dad, Uncle and Brother on the same team. Things changed when I turned 18.
So take us back to that pic, 2010, your first triathlon and Olympic Distance.
TF: That day… I don’t understand how it is possible to feel so proud and so humiliated at the same time. Everything went wrong, I had to take of my wetsuit about 200 meters into the swim because it was too tight (no surprise looking at that pic) I rode maybe 15kms with a flat tyre and had no idea. I physically could not run. One of my best mates, Robert Woolley had signed me up for the race as a birthday present and this guy is fit. He stayed with me ALL DAY. I remember looking at him about 5 kms into the run and saying “with God as my witness I will never do this again!”. My wife tells me that at around the same time the guy on the microphone had started making some less than flattering comments about me. She immediately set him straight! That’s my girl! The most vivid memory I have of the day was one of the officials coming to me and Rob and asking if I was on my final of four laps on the run and the look of shock on his face when I told him I was on my first.
How were you feeling at that point?
TF: As I came out of the water I vomited twice. Legs cramped and I thought what the f**k have I gotten myself into here. I am in big trouble. I was determined to finish and I don’t really remember ever considering pulling out. But I know that I was ruined when I came out of the water. It was going to be a long day. You know the most shocking part and the reason I shared that picture is that I never realized I was that big. I knew I was overweight but assumed I was well built or something. Why did I decide to wear lycra?????
What changed after that first race?
TF: In a nutshell… everything. I really meant it when I said I wouldn’t do another triathlon. But I knew that I had loved the bike leg. After that race I started going bike riding with my mate Rob every Saturday. In fact I spent a lot more time with him. I think in hindsight he was making me move without me realizing it. We would meet at 6am ride and then spend most of the morning walking around Sydney and then go to the gym together in the afternoon. I got a new job with a big pay rise and the first thing I did was go and buy myself a proper bike. I started going to that job early so that I could get home early and go the gym. The best part was I was enjoying it. I was doing it because I wanted to become a better cyclist.
How long did it take to lose the weight?
TF: I really consider my weight loss journey to have begun in earnest in January 2011. I dropped from somewhere around 120+kgs to about 85kgs in roughly 4 months. The rest came off over the next 12 months. After that I learnt to control my weight around races etc. I am 183cms and I sit very comfortably around 78-80kgs but can also drop down to 75 if needed for a race.
What’s your secret to this stunning weight loss? Did you follow a specific plan?
TF: This is the question I get asked a lot. Lots of people like to think there is an easy answer or a secret. There really isn’t. I burnt more calories than I consumed every day. I never starved myself, I started to make smarter choices. I love burgers so we found lean low calorie turkey burgers. I love pasta so we found pasta recipes where the sauce was so good you didn’t need too much pasta. But most of all I became active. I think I eat more now than I ever did. Until the start of this year I have never followed any sort of plan. I am now coached by Ben Hammond and it is the first time I have ever followed any kind of plan. I also remember that once I started noticing the weight loss how motivated it made me. I mean I had tried what I thought was everything before. I think that life just got in the way. Instead of eating take away we insisted on cooking for ourselves. It really was just simple things. I will also say that without my amazing wife I don’t know whether I would have managed. Her support and willingness to try all of the new recipes and for me to stop cooking some of her old favorites made it much easier.
How do you think your life has changed?
TF: I spend a lot more money on clothes now… It has changed my life to the point where I see those old photos and it doesn’t even feel like me. I have cycled in some amazing places and done things I never thought I would. It has introduced me to people I probably never would have met and to be honest, it saved my life. I know that if I didn’t change I would have continued to get bigger and bigger and while I would have lived a brilliant life but it would have been short.
I look at what I have achieved in triathlon too. That first race took me 4:05 to finish for an OD. I am now getting close to going under 4:30 for a 70.3. It baffles me but it also makes me wonder what I am capable of.
What made you join MaccaX?
TF: So as I mentioned I considered myself a bit of a cyclist who ‘dabbled’ in triathlon. Then I got some random book called “I’m Here to Win” written by some Aussie triathlete called Chris McCormack. Well after reading that book I decided that I wanted to be a triathlete who dabbled in cycling. I started to geek out on this Macca bloke and signed up for newsletters etc. When I got notified about MaccaX it was only a matter of where is my credit card and hurry up and take my money!
What’s the best thing about the group?
TF: The best thing is the other members (Sorry Macca and Azza). I have made some really great friends from this team. I love going to races and automatically having a network of people who you automatically have a connection with. I love the motivation I get from them. I hope the other members feel the same way I do but there is something so uplifting knowing that while you are out there battling away there are people who genuinely care how you are going and people who understand what your results mean. I love my Mum but whenever she asks how I went it is always followed by “Is that good?’”.
The other thing I love is just being able to geek out on all things triathlon. Only this week I met up with one of our newer members Gavin Richards to talk triathlon and hook up some training together. I love it!
What would you say to any overweight people reading this?
TF: I am extremely normal. I work part time, study law full time and I never thought I was going to lose weight. If I can do it ANYONE can. I had no trainers, no team of nutritionists, just me. I also think it is important to find a reason to do it. Don’t just lose the weight for the sake of it. Otherwise once you have lost it what is the reason to keep it off? While it may seem impossible at times, or hard, it can be done. But I would also say to them, don’t stop there. It is one thing to lose weight, but don’t let the fact that you were overweight limit who you are now. Constantly challenge yourself to go beyond what you think you can because trust me, after losing weight the rest is easy.