Health

How I Got This Body: Kirwan’s Executive Chef Declan Horgan Shares How He Lost Nearly 150 Pounds and Beat Type 2 Diabetes

How I Got This Body: Kirwan’s Executive Chef Declan Horgan Shares How He Lost Nearly 150 Pounds and Beat Type 2 Diabetes
Declan Hogan in June 2017 (left) before his weight loss, and right, in spring 2018. Left photo courtesy of Hogan. Right photo by Jennifer Chase Photography.

Want to be featured in How I Got This Body? Whether you lost weight or gained it, got toned or gained muscle, I want to hear from you! Email me at kolsen@washingtonian.com.

Who: Declan Horgan, 41, executive chef at Kirwan’s Irish Pub 
Lives: the Wharf
Height: 6’3″
Start weight: 475 pounds
Current weight: 330 pounds, and I’m slowly working on it day by day.
How long it took: The initial transformation took around six months.

Turning point: I got type 2 diabetes and was shocked that I had let myself go.

How he felt before he made the change: I felt horrible, unhappy, and had no confidence. Everyday was a chore.

What inspired you? Wanting to live the American dream and look good doing it. I’m a single Irish man who is easy on the eyes now, and can cook as well, with a voice like a lullaby. Also mainly I didn’t want to die. Once I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I said enough is enough, and I changed everything in my lifestyle.

Horgan, before coming to the U.S. in 2015. Photo by David Cantwell.

Exercise: I used to walk a friend’s dogs, which was great, and slowly but surely I began to exercise. I worked 12-hour days and went walking in the morning and at night. I have a tibial plateau fracture in my left knee which is put together with two bolts, two plates, and 14 screws, so running is difficult. At 475 pounds, walking is also hard. But I kept on chipping away. Now I cycle for two hours every morning and walk when I can.

Diet: I began eating less throughout the day. No more sodas, no more take-out, no more eating late at night. I drank more water. I cut out all junk food and replaced it with real food. Now I watch what I eat and don’t eat after 7 PM. I drink way less coffee and have a little honey in it instead of brown sugar. I eats lots of fruit and vegetables and don’t eat as much red meat. I eat chicken, fish, broth soups, and salads.

Fave splurge: If I cheat, I love drunken noodles.

Horgan in Paris in 2008. Photo courtesy of Hogan.

How he feels now: Unstoppable. I got rid of my type 2 diabetes in seven months. I quit drinking and smoking so, along with the weight loss, my overall health is awesome. I have way more energy now. I wake up at 6:30 AM every day and start my routine. I’m a big guy at six feet, three inches, and played a lot of rugby when I was younger. I did a lot of weight lifting. Now I’m starting to get my shape back and my strength is off the charts.

Newfound body love: Ah, yes, for sure. I love it now and it loves me back.

Workout wisdom: Do what feels right for you. Have a serious talk with yourself. Don’t give up—changes will happen. Don’t keep looking at the scale. Keep thinking of the benefits and don’t let anything keep you from reaching your goal.

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

Want to be featured in How I Got This Body? Whether you lost weight or gained it, got toned or gained muscle, I want to hear from you! Email me at kolsen@washingtonian.com.


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Kim Olsen
Associate Editor

Kim Olsen joined Washingtonian in 2016 after moving to DC from Pittsburgh, where she earned an MFA in nonfiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in Alexandria.