Deryk Clark is living a familiar story to many people who have tried to lose weight: He'll gain 10 pounds and then lose 10 pounds; gain 10 pounds, lose 10 pounds. He's munched on protein bars and gone on cleanses, but he's now trying to stay focused on eating healthily and staying active - consistently. "The challenge now is trying to change my lifestyle for the long term," says the 44-year-old project manager at a Toronto-based software company.
"I've done a bit of yo-yo dieting over the last five years or so. I'll lose 10 pounds training for a mountain bike race and then it creeps back on when I stop training or the race is over. It's not a huge amount, but on my frame, not being a tall person, it certainly makes a difference. In the past I did a half-baked weight-loss regimen where I ate meal-replacement bars. I also tried a couple of cleanses. The last time I did one was about a year ago. By the end of it you want to vomit at the mere smell of elderberry."
The biggest challenge
"Is not being tired. My wife and I have three kids, who are 2, 4 and 7. Balancing a busy schedule with the kids, and both of us working, makes it hard to find the energy after we've put the kids to bed to go downstairs and get on the bike. Finding the time to exercise is hard. I find it's very seasonal. Losing weight and staying active is a lot easier in the summer. And there's just a lot more comfort foods like lasagna in the winter."
The current plan
"I joined a weight-loss challenge run by a site called fortylicious.ca that my friend runs. Getting involved in a group challenge helps with motivation. It's something you can track. I'm also cutting out bad habits like eating cookies at 9:30 at night. Stopping the grazing is one of the big things I'm trying to do, and cutting down on carbs. Also, my wife and I bought a spinning bike for our basement in November. I try to get on it two or three times a week for a 40-minute spin. It's a great workout."
"To be around 180 pounds. My weight fluctuates from around the 178-pounds mark to 190. As soon as I hit the milestone of turning 40, I found that good diet or exercise by themselves aren't enough. You have to do both. I've lost about six or seven pounds since I got the spinning bike. I haven't had hockey yet in the new year, so we'll see how that goes. Usually we go to out afterward and order chicken wings and French fries and a couple of pitchers of beer. It's very hard to resist. You get about 10 per cent of the guys reaching for the carrots and celery on the wing tray."
How it's going
"It's going really, really well. It helps that my wife is pretty active. She runs marathons and half-marathons, so it's good to have that influence in the house. It feels really good to be exercising regularly and eating better. It's a good baseline to have in your life, knowing that you're on top of your health. You can focus on other things and not have to worry about that extra weight that you're carrying."
This interview has been condensed and edited.