My body transformation journey
We all like a good fat to fit story don’t we?
I never thought I would be writing one, but then I never thought I would get to 17st ( 108kg/238lbs) either!
I was very sporty and never had a weight problem as a child. This all changed once I entered the world of work. At 16 I left school, and left behind a world of being part of school rugby, football, and cricket teams. The world of playing out in the woods after school, and seemingly running everywhere.
When I started work in London, I was a trim 10st and 5ft 11, so I looked and felt pretty good physically.
This was all soon to change. Working in Central London in the 1980’s, was a time of great adventure for a 16 year old. Wall Street the movie came out, and with it started a lifestyle of alcohol fueled days and eating to excess. Tea break was coffee and a donuts (yes we had tea breaks in the 80’s), lunch was big baguette sandwiches washed down with 2-3 pints of lager. And “afternoonsies”…..another pastry. Rinse and repeat, every day.
You get the picture. Unhealthy eating , no exercise, and a desk job meant I also had very little movement during the day. This resulted in fitness levels through the floor, and my weight went through the roof.
After 10 years or so of this, my weight now sat at around 14 stone, so a 4 stone increase in 10 years. This continued through my 30’s and by the time I met Maria, when I was 35, I was well and truly stuck in a rut. I wasn’t obese, but unfit, and a lot of bloke – although I squeezed into size 36″ trousers. My collar size was 17.5 inches. A new relationship meant long lunches accompanied with a pint. Often eating out after work, which mainly consisted of pub style burger and chips type meal, or 3 course dinners out. Our favorite was Italian. Bread and prawns to start, pasta for mains, and a stodgy desert coupled with wine. We also shared a bottle of red pretty much every evening after work – and thought nothing of it. It’s only a couple of glasses each after all, right?
My weight crept up another notch and I was now around 15st, sometimes creeping over. By the time I reached 40, Maria was pregnant and I quickly embraced her pregnancy cravings, joining in happily! At my heaviest I reached 17 stone. To some this may not sound like much, but I actually started getting out of breath running up the stairs.
I joined a gym, but had no clue what to do. I couldn’t really stick at anything. So here I was, early 40’s, overweight and seriously unfit. I suppose at that time I was in a bit of denial. Maria, who had not long given birth, was also in a pretty unhappy place weight wise. But we had a new baby, a lot of family stuff going on. I had zero motivation to make any changes.
This continued for years – both Maria and I went through fad diets on and off. We joined a running club for a while. We both had a personal trainer for a bit. We went through a phase where we went swimming. But it was all half hearted, with no clear goals and no real motivation. Silly diets, like the Cabbage, the Cambridge, Slimfast, all made an appearance in our life now and again, when Maria now and again decided to “get on it”. I knew she wasn’t happy with how she looked, but I didn’t think she was fat or overweight. But as you do, I jumped on whatever diet bandwagon she was on. We would always lose weight, and then just put it back on. Nothing was sustainable, nor did we remain consistent enough.
This all changed when I reached 48 . Maria announced that she had enough of the yo yo lifestyle, once and for all. I didn’t really take much notice. Since we had dallied with fitness and weight loss on and off so much, I didn’t really think this time would be any different. However, Maria was on a mission. When we went on holiday, she sought out hotels with gyms, so she could do the program the trainer had given her. I was slightly shocked if I’m honest! When we got back from holiday, she continued sticking to the routine. She was training 3 times a week, eating better and was really making progress. I could see the changes. I looked on with some discomfort. Here I was, almost 50 years old , with a fit wife, 12 years younger than me. I felt like I was being left behind.
To start with with, I dug my heels in a little, it all felt a little threatening. And to be frank, I didn’t know if I could be as committed. But watching your partner change in front of your eyes is massive food for thought. One day we had a conversation, and Maria managed to convince me that maybe personal training would work for me too. I was quite against the idea at first, as basically I am quite mean when it comes to spending money on myself. All I could really see was the cost aspect. So I fought against this idea and instead joined a local gym to try and get in shape myself. After a few weeks it became apparent this wasn’t going to work. I had no direction, structure or accountability. It failed miserably.
Finally I had to bite the bullet and I engaged with a PT and started training 3 times per week. Although it was painful at first, both mentally and physically, after a few weeks it started getting easier. Regular, structured, coached exercise sessions, combined with a healthier diet, soon meant that my fitness levels started increasing and my weight started dropping.
My 17st start weight was now dropping weekly and after a year was down to around 14st. I was enjoying my training, and my food choices had improved dramatically.
It was around this time that another breakthrough happened. I was looking for a career change and whilst talking with Maria one day she suggested that as I seemed to be enjoying the fitness world so much, and I was a good with people, maybe a career in fitness would be a good idea?
I quickly embraced the thought and decided to study to become a fully qualified Personal Trainer and Nutritional Adviser. I decided against a traditional job in a local gym, as the hours were too inflexible. I started training clients out of my home, or at their home. Living in a small village, word soon got around and my client base started to grow.
Being of a certain age myself, I realized I really enjoyed working with more mature clients – mostly ranging from 40 to 70. I found that once you get to a certain age, you have different priorities. Of course we still want to look great, but health & staying (or getting) strong are much stronger motivations. Because who wants to end up with a knee replacement or not being able to tie their own shoe laces? Bottom line is, my clients want to work with someone they can relate to. Not a ripped 18 year old looking to push them to lift maximum weights or kill themselves with cardio.
A lot of clients of my clients have movement restriction, or injuries and it’s very rewarding when we can overcome this with bespoke training plans and specific eating regimes.
As my business grew, and my knowledge and experience improved, I was naturally staying fit myself. After all how I can I teach someone to do something I don’t? So I lead by example.
I have just turned 56 and am probably the fittest I have ever been in my adult life, which feels absolutely great. After doing Crossfit for some time, I dabbled with Calisthenics which was enjoyable, but currently doing a bit of everything. Strength training is definitely important at my age, so I lift weights regularly. Maria keeps me on my toes – we try and train together so I tend to follow what she is doing as I really don’t mind – as long as I’m moving!
I also have to remain healthy and control my blood pressure due to finding out later in life that I have a kidney condition called PKD. Polycystic kidney disease is an inherited condition, causing kidneys to enlarge and lose function over time. So eating a low salt diet and maintaining a healthy weight are important. My goals nowadays are simply around maintenance of my current weight, and ensuring I keep mobile & strong.
I would love to hear yours. Is there anything you are struggling with?
If you want to share your own story feel free to get in to touch – we would love to hear from you!
Wayne is a Nutrition coach & Personal Trainer specialising in the over 40's age group. Wayne also runs The Next 40-Mantor Project, an all male group helping men to alleviate stress and take control of their masculinity. www.thenext40.co.uk
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