Belly Off: Henry Coppens
Exercise and a restricted kilojoule intake are the fountain of youth.
NAME HENRY COPPENS
OCCUPATION CHEM. ENGINEER
TIME REQUIRED 9 MONTHS
WEIGHT BEFORE 94KG
WEIGHT AFTER 72KG
Having represented South Africa internationally in triathlon and duathlon disciplines in the past, I never had a problem with my weight. Then I moved onto hiking, and after I completed all the local mountain ranges, I tackled famous peaks such as Kilimanjaro, Elbrus and the Canadian Rockies. Unfortunately my work leave only allowed for one climb per year. In the interim, I did little else, apart from the odd jog and MTB ride. The result was that my weight gradually crept up to 94kg.
I’d always had a keen eye for men’s fashion, and the chance of enjoying it receded as the weight soared and years sped past. After successfully summiting Aconcagua in Argentina in 2007, I discovered on returning that I had lost four kilos. The climb proved that with exercise and a restricted kilojoule intake, weight loss inevitably follows. I decided that if I wanted what I had in the mid-Nineties, I would have to embark on a proper training and nutrition strategy.
With an appropriate diet and a rigorous exercise regime of running and spinning, I managed to reach my goal of 72kg in nine months – from 30 to 16 percent body fat. However, I looked like a turkey with dangling folds of wrinkled skin around my neck, girth and arms. A kind friend of mine suggested the gym. This, he said, would replace some of the remaining body fat with muscle. For the next six months I worked out three times a week, which reduced my body fat to 11 percent with no weight gain.
People now guess my age at between 35 and 45. I have found the fountain of youth! I now wear a size 28 or 30 jeans, down from 36 or 38. I can pull off skinny jeans and other trappings of high fashion with confidence. An unexpected benefit is that my eyesight has improved markedly. I can run an eight kilometre time trial in 36 minutes. I can ride my MTB up Northcliff Hill four times in less than an hour and I can out dance anyone at a club, but none of my peers want to party anymore!