“I feel like I’ve finally woken up and I’m living the life I should have been throughout my teens and 20s,” John Quinlivan explains.

John is a 33 year-old man based in Galway and stands before you a shadow of his former self in more ways than one. Having dropped pretty much half of his body weight and documented it on his blog and social media channels, he’s a beacon of positivity and inspiration for lots of others out there who feel overweight and unhappy.

19st v 12st

At his heaviest a couple of years ago, 19 stone, John found himself at a crossroads up a mountain – literally and figuratively. Sitting on a rock half way up Croagh Patrick stuffing his gob with a Snickers whilst smoking, he sat sobbing at the fact he couldn’t go any further whilst his friends all confidently climbed to the summit of the popular pilgrimage route. That was the moment John took control and transformed his life by putting a focus on fitness and a healthy, balanced diet. Here’s his story…

John on remaining focused and goal-oriented in moments of weakness…

“The easy part is picking a goal. The hard part is following through on it. I found having the end-goal in mind always helped, but having smaller, short-term achievable goals helped like stepping stones navigating across a busy river. I’ve slipped and fallen into the river and been dragged downstream but the sooner you get back up and find the next stepping stone, the better.”


On the bigger goals…

“If I had started off knowing I had to lose 7 stone, it would have been insurmountable. My goal was always just to get to the next half stone. It was kind of like the saying: ‘take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves’. The important thing was always to get back up as soon as possible after weakness knocks you.”

…and the smaller ones…

“Whatever your journey is leading to, start with small goals which seem just outside your reach. I bet you’ll surprise yourself! My blog was intended to be a online journal of my running journey, from overweight and nothing to my first 10K; I firmly believe my blog helped me reach far beyond the goals I had ever thought possible and it opened many opportunities to meet people and experiences.”


On quitting smoking on top of his weight loss journey…

“It was a bit of a domino-effect. Weight loss gave me the confidence to start running; running gave me the confidence to dream bigger. The day after I signed up for my first marathon was the day I smoked my last cigarette. It just made sense, why would I put all that time and effort into training when I was going to turn up at the start line with heavy lungs?”


On races and marathons…

“For me, nothing will top my first ever race. It was a 10K (hence my blog name) in Kinvara in Galway. I ran with the same friends I’d bailed on half way up Croagh Patrick six months earlier. As I turned the last corner coming up to the finish line, my mother, nana, sister-in-law and nephews plus all my work colleagues were waiting as I crossed the line in 1:01. To date it’s been my slowest 10K but the one I’m most proud of finishing.


“The most challenging run I’ve ever done was my most recent marathon. It was on the day of my birthday and it consisted of 26 one mile loops around a village in Co. Clare. It was my 3rd marathon in seven weeks and despite the wind & rain (and monotony), I pushed through it lap by lap. It was one I most definitely won’t forget!”


On what’s more important: dedication to nutrition with some exercise, or dedication to exercise with some nutrition?

“I believe it is 80% nutrition – of course exercise helps but you can’t out-run a bad diet. I’m very conscious to get good food in to me before (to fuel) and after (to replenish) a run. Fruit, especially bananas are a lifesaver as you can throw a piece in your gym bag and have it in the car on the way home from work so you can hit the road as soon as you get home. I always try ensure I get a mix of meat, fish and vegetables throughout the week. “

On Weightwatchers…

“It’s like accountability – compare it to your bank account! When you are down to your last €20 you wouldn’t go into a restaurant and order without making sure you can pay the bill at the end of the meal. I also find being weighed weekly keeps you in-line with your overall goal and allows you time to reflect on the weekly efforts: What worked? What didn’t? What could I do better? What will I change this week?


On the importance of a diet rich in fruit…

“I love fruit and try incorporate it in as many places as possible throughout the day. Banana pancakes (2 eggs, 1 banana) are a great start to the day. Chopped up a pear, berries and orange mixed with a yogurt is a great 11am/3pm snack during work. I love a lemon tea in the mornings and am often found dipping apple slices into a jar of peanut butter before a run. [need fruit for the office? we can help with that… 😇]

“I always keep a well stocked fruit bowl at home as having something to snack on stops me venturing into the presses looking for biscuits or crisps. I’ve made banana bread from my over-ripe bananas or will use excess fruit in a smoothie if I find myself with fruit close to expiry.”

On other means of keeping fit…

“I attend strength & core classes twice a week and do yoga once a week. When I started off running, a good friend told me about the importance of getting in cross-training as it is so important for preventing injuries. I also walk a lot with the dog which is a great way to clock up some extra easy time on your feet.”


John’s advice for those inspired by his progress and dedication…

“First off, I’m no different from anyone else. I didn’t go out and invest in a personal trainer, exercise bike and loads of branded sports wear – I started with my head. Mindset is so important and if I’ve learned one thing through all of this, it’s the power of your own mind. If you believe you can do it or can’t do it… you’ll be right. Believe in yourself and don’t berate or scold yourself along the way. Mistakes happen and you can’t be perfect all the time.

“I’d also recommend working in small achievable goals – Instead of signing up for a marathon, start by aiming to jog for 30 minutes first, then sign up for a 5K. If running isn’t for you, try swimming, dancing or cycling.”


You can find John Quinlivan’s blog at 19st-10k and follow him on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat (User: JohnQuinlivan).

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