November Men's Fitness article - Daniel Wheeler from Fat to Fit

My name is Daniel Wheeler and this is the story so far…

As of today, the 7 page ‘fat loss transformation’ feature in Men’s Fitness has gone live in the shops and my story is officially on the shelves. It’s a pretty surreal feeling…

Below I have detailed the full interview that, due to space restrictions had to be condensed, so I wanted to give you the “full picture” on my journey.

November Men's Fitness article - Daniel Wheeler from Fat to Fit

The interview was conducted with Joe Warner – Deputy Editor at Men’s Fitness.

At what point did you first realise that you needed to do something about your weight? Was there a lightning moment when it all dawned on you?

Yep! April 4th 2010. I was standing in my shower having a wash when I realised that I could no longer see my feet – let alone anything else. It was at this point I hit an emotional and physical ‘rock bottom’ moment. I then realised that I was so unhappy with my body, my state of mind and in general my health, that it was really starting to effect other areas in my life – my relationship at the time to name but one. My weight and unhappiness was ultimately the main cause for ending a 6 year relationship. Being obese had really taken its toll on every aspect of my life… I had to change!

How had you gained so much weight? Why do you think it had happened/spiralled out of control?

Emotional stress – 100%. At the time I started putting on weight I had just been kicked out of my house through family tribulations. This was a real low point in my life, which at the time I had two things to turn to help me through it – my friends and food. My friends had always supported me throughout and I owe them so much, but food was something I could always turn to for short term happiness. Food seemed to fill a void within me that had been created from my personal stress. Whenever I got emotional about something, family stuff or had a bad day, there was always a pizza in the fridge, or a kebab on order. That, also coupled with being in a very loving relationship, at the time, got me to be extremely complacent with my body and I felt that I didn’t need to “bother” any longer.

The fatter I got, the more unhappy I got, so the more I turned to food for that ‘quick’ void filler which made me happy. Needless to say that, at the time, I didn’t realise that it was the food that eventually became the root cause of my misery.

What was your first step on the road to weight loss?

Having hit rock bottom, I had to mentally get my head right first and start a complete fresh in my life. This ultimately lead to me being single, changing carrer paths and moving house. I had to find a ‘new me’.

Once all that was done, and again hitting more low points on the way due to the drastic changes in circumstances, I could then focus on my body. I looked in the mirror and realised that I had a mammoth task ahead of me. I stood on the scales and saw 22stone 6lbs looking back up at me… it was like looking up at Mount Everest.

fat daniel wheeler

I then had to set myself a goal… A goal that was so extreme it would be almost impossible to reach. I had to do this mentally, as I’m a person who likes a challenge.

The next day I went to work and told people that in 3 years time I will be on the front cover of Men’s Fitness – no joke. That was, and still is, my current life goal. People then laughed at me, insulted me, and effectively told me it would be impossible to do so.

It was that evening, after coming home from work, I went for my first jog around the block…. I got to the end of the road and almost had an asthma attack! Having asthma certainly didn’t make this journey ANY easier.

Where did you get your initial advice/guidance from?

Initially I turned to various magazines, websites and friends. The initial issue I had to overcome was education. It quickly became apparent that crash diets, marketing gimmicks and the ‘fat loss pill’ weren’t ever going to work or even existed. In the fat loss world, marketing is the number 1 source of confusion and inaccurate information. You cant lose 5 stone in a week, you cant get abs with an electronic pulse machine while watching TV and you almost certainly cant swallow a pill that is going to ‘shred fat fast’.

I knew I had to seriously educate myself. Unfortunately, to begin with, I thought I knew it all and tried all of the above to no avail. I spent hundreds of pounds on products that didn’t work, pills that did nothing and starved myself to the point of literally fainting in any attempt to lose fat. When you are as fat as I was, you become so desperate to make a quick change – the reality is that it takes time and this was the biggest factor I had to mentally overcome.

I then stumbled across the website of Greg Plitt, who is someone I owe 90% of my  mental determination too. He is a massive inspiration to me and it was through his site that I realised fat loss was about hard work and science.

I then started my own education path and pursued my qualifications in personal training and nutrition.

Talk me through what happened over the following months – what lifestyle changes did you make in terms of food/training etc?

The first 6 months were totally pointless, looking back. I tried the celery diet – it was here where I fainted whilst out shopping having eaten nothing but celery for 4 days. I tried the carrot diet – the cereal diet – the 1 meal a day diet. Trust me…. I tried them all. All failed miserably. To begin with I would drop a large amount of weight, which I now know was water weight, but you just cant sustain stupid crazy diets like that. The body needs nutrition! I then ultimately put all the weight back on, plus more.

As above, I was then introduced to Greg Plitt and it was he who first opened my eyes to the amount of food I needed to eat in order to lose fat. That coupled with my own education path really, metaphorically, smacked me in the face and woke me up to what I needed to do.

The following 6 months was about eating right and introducing cardio into my weekly routine. By April 2011 I had dropped 4 stone and I didn’t really even have to try that hard. One thing I learnt quickly over the following months is that the body doesn’t want to hold on to all that weight. It does a lot to try and get rid of it… when you give it the right tools to do so. All I did was change my relationship with food – stopped eating crap, started eating a LOT MORE FOOD, but the RIGHT foods and doing light cardio. It was here when I really noticed things starting to change.

When did you first notice that you were making a breakthrough?

In April 2011 I set myself another crazy challenge – a Triathlon. At this stage, cardio was a big factor in my fat loss. My fitness started to improve dramatically, so when the triathlon race day was upon me, June 2011, I was in a pretty good fitness standard to give it a crack. My weight was still about 18stone by this point but I still managed to get 7th in my age group! Mentally this was a massive break through for me. Up until this point, I had no real benchmark to compare my fat loss/fitness success against. There were 50 people in my age group for the Windsor triathlon, and this 18stone lump managed to beat 43 of them. I couldn’t have been more proud of myself. I also had a lot to thank to Justin Webb – he was my triathlon coach at the time and I owe so much to him for his support and fitness guidance. He truly is one of the few coaches I know who I can ‘hand on heart’ say is a true expert in his profession.

It was also Justin who then introduced me to weight training. He and I both knew that due to my frame I was never going to “make it” to any high standard doing triathlon, but it was Justin who first said to me “have you ever thought about body building?”. My response was obviously no, but it got me thinking. That, combined with Greg Plitt’s site, and noticing some great changes in my body shape really made me realise that there could have been something in this. I knew that if i wanted to get that front cover goal I would need to start putting on some serious muscle anyway… so I then started, my now obsession with, lifting weights.

How much support did you get from family and friends, and how important was this in keeping you on track?

More than I could ever have asked for! I have a core group of friends that mean the world to me, I class as family, and have stuck by me through thick and thin. Been there for me when I was homeless, been there for me when I was obese and miserable and are now with me today – on top of the world and in the best shape of my life. I’d like to personally take this time to thank a few friends – Terry Zarb, Michael Read, Kamran Tirmizey, Brett Williamson, Giles Eadon, Dave Bradford, Ed Boyce and my sister Stephanie Wheeler. Without them by my side I certainly wouldn’t be here today.

Michael and Kamran in particular are two people I’d like to really attribute a lot of my fitness success too. Michael is my gym buddy and he is the guy that initially got me lifting properly and for a purpose! Showing me to leave my ego at the door and lift the right amount of weight for the muscle groups. To this day he is still someone I turn to for advice and tips when days I feel I’m plateauing. Kamran, who I consider my personal motivation guru, has helped me focus my mental energy on pretty much everything over the past few years. Whether it be my fitness carer, relationship advice or my professional carer – he was always someone who knew exactly what to say and when to say it – a true success life coach I am fortunate to have on tap.

What’s your plan now? How much more can you achieve?

Well Joe, I have 6 months left to hit my goal timeframe and to get in front cover shape before I send you an email to get on the cover of this magazine. This is now my pure focus. 100% of my effort and attention is to go into getting on the front cover of Men’s Fitness. Practically i’m not convinced I can merely email you and demand my cover, lol, however I certainly plan on being in front cover shape by this time period.

I also have my own fitness website where I offer free advice on fat loss – this includes regular video blogs, workout videos, articles and recipes to try an inspire other people to start their own fat loss journey.

Once I get my first cover, hopefully with Men’s Fitness, I then plan on taking on Greg Plitt’s titles as the worlds number 1 fitness model. Another crazy challenge but if I can lose 8 stone of fat, I can do that!

Who do you have to thank for your progression?

Apart from the above list of friends who I owe so much to, there is one last person who has recently become a major part of my progression. It has been the last 3 months where my muscle gains and fat loss have really taken a new level of success. This has been down to my diet now being calorie perfect, but also my workouts being as intensive as they can possibly be. This has resulted in my body changing dramatically over the last 10 weeks in particular…

10 week progression

To get ready for this photoshoot I hired the best fitness model in the industry. Someone who literally look my workouts to the next level and helped me transform my body further. I’d like to take the time to thank Physique Elite fitness model Kirk Miller for his expertise, advice, knowledge and general additional motivation. I plan on working further with Kirk to get ready for my front cover conditioning and look forward to one day having my very own shoot with him!

Thats it… thats my story so far and here I stand in front of you a new man. A man that wants to help inspire other to make a change. A man that looked obesity in the eyes, smacked it in the face and said “NO! I WON’T BACK DOWN!”