When Kevin O’Connor was about 12 years old, his mother sent him to the corner shop near their home in London to buy bread and milk. As he walked in, a row of magazines caught his eye, one fitness magazine in particular promoting a huge headline: “Even at 39, you can still have six-pack abs!” Even at 39, you can still have six-pack abs!”
Though a seemingly random memory, the title stuck with him throughout his teenage and young adult years. Every birthday, he would make it a goal for the future and didn’t need to achieve it until his 39th birthday.
“It seems strange, but it makes me think that I have years to go before I change my ways.” He said.” I think 39 is the magic number to do something about my healthy habits and my weight.”
O’Connor knows he has a lot to change. He was 5’8″ tall, weighed 220 pounds, drank heavily and ate a lot of junk food. In his 30s, O’Connor did make some big changes on his way to his ultimate goal of “six-pack abs” – most notably, he quit drinking and became a vegetarian, two major shifts that still apply today.
These efforts contributed to his weight loss, but it wasn’t until he was 38 that he remembered that childhood commitment the most and realized he was running out of time. He realized he needed to do more to actually get on a healthier track – and, of course, gain those six-pack abs.
“I was going to the gym, but I wasn’t eating right, so I ended up just being the fat guy at the gym,” he recalls.” I would work out and then come home and have loads of calories, like I had consumed that much. My daughter was born in 2017 when I was about to turn 39 and I realized I hadn’t kept my childhood promise to stay healthy at 39. I was disappointed in myself, so I said enough is enough.”
O’Connor didn’t want his daughter to grow up with a dad who was out of shape and prone to getting winded while they played. He poured his renewed effort into moving toward overall health – and those shredded abs were an added bonus.
He started using MyFitnessPal to track his food and became diligent about the calorie count of everything he ate. He especially appreciates the extensive database that comes with the premium version, as it makes the process much easier.
O’Connor’s biggest shift was finding the real “why” for his goals, he says. The cover of that magazine wasn’t enough to spark change, but wanting to fulfill a childhood promise and providing enough energy for his daughter were the two driving forces that kept him focused.
“Once I knew why I was doing it, it was easy to go to the gym and track my food,” he says.” It makes these things a habit that feels as normal as brushing your teeth or getting dressed. If you don’t have a ‘why’, then you’re just dieting, and those rarely work. Your ‘why’ gives you motivation and action.”
It also helped him finally get the six-pack abs he’d dreamed of since he was a kid – a goal he achieved before he turned 39.
His wife, Emma, joined the effort, equally diligent about tracking her food through MyFitnessPal. They each lost about 70 pounds, and doing it as a family was another big push, he says.
These days, he still tracks his food through MyFitnessPal and is more focused on keeping his macros balanced the way he likes. Because of his success, he’s eager to help others do the same. He started a Facebook group and program called Calorie Sniper to help members lose weight by shifting their mindset, using MyFitnessPal and increasing exercise.
“I’ve got the body I want,” he says.” But more than that, I’ve got the life I’ve always wanted.”