'I Swapped Maccas For Meditation And Lost 50kg In The Process' - Men's Health Magazine Australia

‘I Swapped Maccas For Meditation And Lost 50kg In The Process’

Joseph says shedding the mental roadblocks was his real achievement.

From 6 coffees and 4 Maccas runs a day to 6-inch subs (sans sauce) and 4 weetbix a day, Joseph Daoud, Director of Its Simple Finance dropped 50kg naturally, but says shedding the mental roadblocks was his real achievement. 

The entrepreneur says fighting the urge for instant gratification in a world that is becoming increasingly designed for ‘convenience’ hasn’t been easy, but daily meditation and re-prioritising his long term goals has been life changing.

Here’s how he did it.

Before my weight loss journey, my lifestyle was quite sedentary and unmotivating. I was very overweight, I held zero accountability to myself and I was only getting worse and worse. Unfortunately I went through much of my adolescence with undiagnosed ADHD, matched with a lot of confidence issues so I would look for quick rapid things to be able to give me quick dopamine hits to make me feel good about myself. This led to an addiction with fast food, surfing the internet, video games, cigarettes and sometimes even pokie machines. I would get larger, and not hold myself accountable further, with my waist increasing all the way up to a size 44. 

I had a great environment and upbringing, but I just could not shake the habits and addictions that I had grown accustomed to. 

I was on a heavy diet of fast food daily. My breakfast would often be a coffee and a cigarette, followed by quite usually KFC for lunch, McDonalds for a snack and then Oporto’s on the way home for dinner. If we ever did have a healthier option, I would somehow make it worse. Sandwiches would often be a meatball sub with southwest sauce.

The exercise pattern was quite vague. I was a basketball player growing up; really good. But unfortunately my weight gain didn’t allow me to progress any further than where I was, and the more weight I put on the less I wanted to train. More and more, I’d play less and less. Once a week quickly became once a month, which turned into never picking up a ball. 

I would try to be low carb, and by mid day I was so hungry I thought my stomach was going to eat itself. I signed up to a gym…more than once, but that would quite often just be an expense in the bank account and a visit every 8-9 weeks to remind myself that I still had a membership. I was really in a rut. 

But I’m a big believer in pattern shifts, and pattern breaking, so without even realising it I basically went through a massive change. 

We had a family trip booked overseas for my sister’s wedding, and I departed Australia weighing 131kg with a size 44 waist. I was seated in economy and half of my arse had to be shared with the poor sap that sat beside me. It was really depressing.

However, once I landed in Lebanon that’s when everything changed. Being separated from my regular routine I began dropping weight in a dramatic fashion. I wasn’t performing any miracles, but by changing environments I was forced to not eat my everyday supply of fast food. I also began working out whilst I was overseas. It was summer over there, so there was a lot more sunlight. I would spend most of my day either doing mountain walks and jogs, and whenever we would go to the city I would go to the gym with my brother. Six weeks later, when we finally left, I was 119kg and my waist had shrunk down to roughly a 40.  

Don’t get me wrong, I had massive fast food withdrawals and when I landed back home the first thing I did was go through McDonalds drive through. However, upon eating, I really became disappointed in myself. For the first time in my life, I had lost and not gained weight. I really said to myself “Come on Joe, you’ve already lost 12kg, let’s see how much more you could lose,” and the burger didn’t really taste that great anymore. 

So my initial transformation was in the second half of 2009. I was addicted to losing weight, and this soon became my dopamine hit, and not necessarily a healthier headspace. 

My daily plate had the following: 

4 weetbix with skim milk and honey

2 sandwiches with a high protein low fat type of meat

For 6 straight months.

My daily exercise: 

5 weights session every week

1-2 cardio sessions 

That was it; unfortunately I didn’t realise that I was undereating, and I was not putting on muscle, or gaining shape but rather consistently putting my body in starvation mode. So whilst I was skinny and tiny up top I still had a size 34 inch waist by the time I was 79 kilograms and a lot of belly fat around my midsection. This really started to mess with my brain and cause body dysmorphic disorder and I began to question things like “will I ever look good”. 

I really floated between 82kgs and 90kgs for a long period of time, but then I bulked up to 98kg. I just thought that this was going to be my life moving forward, and that I’d be better off to be large, broad and bulky than to be “skinny fat”. So I was starting to overload myself with proteins and fats, but at least I was working out consistently so my body wouldn’t pack on the kilograms again.  

Workout regime quickly became:

German Volume training 


a 4 day workout plan involving Chest/tri’s, Back Bi’s, Shoulders and Legs with minimal core work.

It wasn’t until a couple years later when I began working with Jade Spooner and Amal Wakim of EQUALUTION that I really learnt how to take care of myself.

Amal had been hounding me at the gym (she and I went to school together) to jump onto her nutrition plan, and I had told her time and time again that I would just do my own thing. Little did I know that she was plotting with Jade in the background to get me to jump on with them convincing herself daily that “she was going to get me” 

Amal finally convinced me to start using a flexible diet plan of 2400 calories and Macro splits of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, 30% fats and my body responded dramatically. The fat that I thought would always exist around my belly begun tightening up. I didn’t have a 6 pack, but I soon had a 14 pack. 

I dropped down to about 88kg’s, but I didn’t have a size 34 waist this time. I was a size 30! Something that I thought was completely unachievable at the time. 

I was in the best shape of my life, and I had finally achieved what I always wanted to achieve. No one could take that from me. 

This workout regime contained the following: 

Weights * 6 times a week, but strictly 45 minute sessions

Cardio 4* times a week, but strictly 30 minute sessions 

I discovered with myself that my motivation was very short term and often mood dependant. I also discovered that long term you need goal setting and habit building. This is what is going to carry you when you don’t feel like going to the gym. It’s what is going to push you when you just don’t feel like it. It’s what will energise you and keep you going. I couldn’t have achieved the level I wanted without a goal in mind, and a strong self belief that I could achieve it. But I also knew that I had to obey the law of action, where I will not reach my goals unless I absolutely put the work in. 

You can’t have one without the other, you need the original motivation to start the workout plan and build the habits and you also need something attainable. 

So I developed a steady diet of motivational mixtapes (which are found all over YouTube), that I would listen to in the morning. I would read self-help books that also revolved around goal setting. By having the motivational mixtapes fuel the habit routine and goal setting I was able to continue going to the gym even on days that I didn’t really feel like it. 

To also calm down my anxiety, I began using the Wim Hof breathing method to learn how to centre myself. I’m now also addicted to cold showers. 

To drop the initial weight took me 26 weeks. On average it was 2kg’s dropped per week.

To really stack on the muscle and get into the shape I got into took a span of 3-4 years. If I knew how to diet and take care of myself much earlier, I probably would’ve achieved these goals sooner, however due to  stubbornness, it really took me a long time to surrender to the idea of “I’m not an expert in food, and I should consult an expert to get to the next level.” 

I will always recommend speaking to a nutritionist and following their advice if you truly want to achieve your goals. 

Now, I feel unstoppable! Since my body transformation, I really never let anything hold me back anymore. I went from morbidly obese, to competing in bodybuilding competitions in the span of a couple of years. 

No one can take that from me. 

No matter what profession I’m in, I’m always going to be the guy that people turn to for weight loss advice, for diet advice, motivational tips, and I really pride myself on the fact that I created this path for myself.  

My best advice for others looking to embark on a transformation? There is no clear cut formula, what worked for me may not work for you. But if I am able to offer some advice, I can not stress enough that you need a pattern break, an environment shift and to have a sole focus on achieving your goals. 

If you want a dramatic change, you need a change of environment and I can not stress this enough to truly change your routine. 

I was really lucky, that I got to go overseas and move away from fast food, that trip was a huge turning point for me and a lot of people aren’t that lucky. 

However since then I have had injuries where I’ve put on and dropped the weight over and over again, and to re-motivate myself or recreate a transformation again these are usually my main tools: 

1. Pattern break/ Environment change: If you want a dramatic change, you have to force or will yourself out of your regular pattern and into a new one. The best one that I always use was are:

  1. Take my gym clothes with me to work or leaving them in the car. Nothing will make you feel more guilty than having workout clothes with you, or in your car and not using them. 
  2. Environment change; sign up to a gym that is outside of your local area. I don’t want to hear boohoo’s things are too far for me, if you genuinely want to transform, you should commit to it and do things outside of your comfort zone to do so. I signed up to crunch fitness in Alexandria. It was 30 minutes away from my house, it was far and I knew absolutely no one at that gym. The facilities were beyond awesome, the people in the gym were super friendly, it was super clean and it didn’t have that smell that a lot of gyms have. 
  3. Speak to a nutritionist! If you eat what you always have eaten, you will get the same results. I can not recommend Amal Wakim and the team at equalution enough! 

2. Motivation / goal setting:

  1. Goal setting: It’s so cliche but having a goal set, in your brain with a specific date will have you working like nothing has ever made you work before. I wanted to be 88kg’s and ripped by my 24th birthday.
    I wanted to deadlift over 2.5 times my bodyweight by my 27th birthday. I wanted to wear a singlet to my 10 year high school reunion. All these things brought out the best in me.
  2. Motivation: I listen to motivational mixtapes on YouTube. There’s an infinite amount. This has worked for me like crazy. 

3. Be picky with what you surround yourself with; You have probably heard before that you are the average of the 5 people you spend most time with. But you are also probably the average of the 5 things you listen to most, you are probably the average of the 5 things you watch most, and listen too most. So you really have to decide who you want to hang out with, and what you want to achieve. You can not achieve massive body transformations if you spend 3-4 hours a day playing video games, but you can probably achieve a massive body transformation if you spend 3-4 hours either in a gym, at a healthy restaurant, or talking to people about the gym. 

4. Massive amounts of sunlight and cold showers; Now this is a little bit of a funny one, but your mood shifts dramatically with more sunlight. You will be happier, more motivated and more energised by it. I can link a million studies to this. Just ensure that you’re wearing some sort of sunscreen so you have burn prevention. 

Contrasting the sun, I recommend cold showers which i’ve become addicted to. Cold showers are the epitome of becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. I can probably count on my hands and toes how many hot showers I’ve had in the last 13 years. 

By Nikolina Ilic

Nikolina is the former Digital Editor at Men's Health Australia, responsible for all things social media and .com. A lover of boxing, she has written for Women's Health, esquire, GQ and Vogue magazine.

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