Worried that starting an all-out fitness and diet plan could ruin your wonderful relationship with food? It’s a concern for many of us out there who aren’t necessarily unhealthy, but like to indulge every-so-often.
If you think your love of delicious dinners could be getting in the way of that six-pack, though, you may have considered taking on a lifestyle change, but wonder whether you could make it to the end without a meal out every week or so.
To prove anything’s possible, Aaron took us through his 12-week journey to peak fitness. The workout highs, the early morning lows, and the missed mince pies are just some of the parts that added up to some serious results at the end of a tough 12 weeks of a strict diet and exercise routine.
If you’re wondering how you could make it through 3 months without eating out, read on for Aaron’s transformational advice…
Why did you put yourself forward for the fitness challenge?
I’ve always wanted to try and get into shape, get abs, but like most people never really invested the time into finding the right guidance to do it or had a good enough reason to do it. Having the prepared food from Kettlebell Kitchen, Jamie Bantleman as the personal trainer, supplements from Myprotein, and several of us doing it all together, seemed like the perfect circumstances to commit 12 weeks of my life to doing it. Fortunately, I didn’t have any holidays planned in the 12 weeks planned so timing worked out perfectly.
Tell us about your journey through the 12 weeks
The first video I took was after my first PT session on Day 1. I felt so sick! Jamie pushed us all really hard throughout the process — I think we needed a kick into gear on the first day. Eating well and sleeping early was easy for the first 3-4 weeks and made me feel good, healthy, and like it was going to be an easy 12 weeks — it wasn’t.
I soon realised that I wasn’t going to have much of a social life through this journey. Strict diet meant no dinner parties, no going out to try new restaurants, or even just old favourite restaurants with friends. There was also no alcohol on nights out, but I stuck to the programme like glue. I’m a competitive person, so I wanted to end the programme with the best results.
After about week 7-8, the 5.45am starts to get to the gym early enough really started to take a toll. Coupled with long days in the office, it was hard to balance the two. However, I really started to see the difference in my body at this point. My abs started to show, and this was a big motivator.
Hitting the 10,000 steps a day was a big commitment too. I’ve now seen every inch of road within a few miles of my flat – lots of new little shops and restaurants I didn’t know existed that I’ll be revisiting!
What was your hardest moment and your biggest temptation? How did you overcome them?
Food. Food, food, food. Calorie deficit was part of the plan and I wanted to eat everything. Everything looked tasty all the time. There was even a point where I felt like I wanted something sweet so much that I decided to have just one mouthful of cake. After chewing it for a few seconds, I felt so guilty that I spat it back out! For the last 3 weeks, I was craving mince pies. They’d started to pop up everywhere in supermarkets and shops, and so the first thing I ate after the photo shoot was a mince pie (or three), but I managed to resist until then!
What kept you motivated?
It was so motivating to do the programme alongside other people. We’d compare pictures along the way, discuss how we were all tempted, and talk about when we were going to the gym. Having people to support you along the way was a big bonus.
Added to that, my girlfriend joined me on late night walks around the block, sometimes even until midnight just so I could hit my 10,000 step mark — that made the daily goal a lot easier to manage and there were even times where she would drag me out to hit the goal when I didn’t want to go.
Josh and I, who also took on the challenge, for the last 2 weeks had a step competition — whoever did the least steps had to buy the other dinner after the 12 weeks. We’re both competitive, and this was a huge motivating factor the last 2 weeks.
We both averaged over 18,000 steps per day for the last 2 weeks. We both had an app which we could see each other’s daily steps to keep us going, but on the last day of the competition we decided to un-sync our apps so we couldn’t see each other’s steps for the day — flying blind for the last day of the competition.
I ended up doing over 31,875 steps that day, Josh did 32,174 steps though, I ended up winning overall on total across the 2 weeks. Can’t emphasise enough how much the people around you can keep you motivated.
What did you learn from your fitness journey?
I’m amazed at how quickly the human body can change shape just from a healthy lifestyle, I didn’t think I would change shape so much in such a short space of time. I’m definitely still going to the gym, and will keep going — I’m really enjoying the lifestyle of waking up in the morning and going to the gym and I also feel better for it.
I’m much more aware of good fats and bad fats, as well as good and bad sugars. I wouldn’t have considered myself nutritionally ignorant before, but I certainly know more now. It also makes me think about the business and how much more we need to invest into educating our customers in the right ways to get the best out of their routines and diet.
Also, although this sounds like a real advert plug(!), I genuinely would have struggled to get the nutrition I needed without protein powder. For the macros I needed to hit, I would not have wanted to eat that much food/pure protein, so it was incredibly convenient having protein shakes to get what I needed.
What are the most notable changes you’ve experienced?
The obvious change for me is physical, I had to get 3 extra holes added in my belt because I lost 4 inches of my waist in the past 12 weeks. I bought new jeans in week 6, and they’re too loose for me now! I thought mentally it might have been more challenging, but felt myself well motivated by those around me, so I suppose I have a great support network!
What one thing are you most proud of?
I’m proud of how strictly I stuck to the plan. I know you could do a plan with a cheat day every couple of weeks or something along those lines, but it was great to aim for perfection. I did have 1 day where I had to really cheat and eat something way off diet, but didn’t stray as much as I could.
Will you build any of these changes into your lifestyle?
I’m in the best shape of my life for sure! I will continue to do it all with moderation. I’ll definitely introduce things back into my diet, but I intend on balancing out my social life with a much healthier way of living, so here’s to hoping I maintain my shape to some degree!
What one piece of advice would you give others starting out on this journey?
Commit to 10,000 steps strictly from day 1. The steps alone are not enough to achieve your goals, but the whole mentality towards them certainly is. Getting home from work, feeling tired, but still getting back outside and going for a 1-hour walk to complete your 10,000 steps for the day, or waking up 30 mins earlier so you can walk outside or on the treadmill in the gym in the morning — that mentality, commitment and the sense of daily achievement when you hit 10,000 will keep you on track, you’ll feel self-motivated.
Take Home Message
Aaron managed to strictly stick to an incredibly tough diet and exercise routine, and the result he achieved are certainly impressive. If you needed proof that a little commitment and turning down a few naughty indulgences could get you results in such a short space of time, then this most definitely takes the biscuit.
Enjoy reading about Aaron's fitness journey?
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Becoming A Desk-Job Bodybuilder | Neo’s Fitness Journey
How one man got to competition level despite a full-time desk job.
Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.
Evangeline has taken part in competitive sports since a young age. As a qualified RYA Dinghy Instructor, she understands the importance of proper nutrition for fuelling extreme and endurance sports, especially due to her experience in Team GBR Squads and captaining and coaching her University first team.
In her spare time, Evangeline loves running – especially marathons. On the weekends, you’ll find her taking on water sports or hiking up a hill. Her favourite evenings are spent taking on a HIIT session or squats in the gym before digging into some spicy food and a ton of vegetables – yum!
Find out more about Evie's experience here.