It can be all too easy to expect results when you switch up your diet, as well as slip into bad habits when you have a busy life. This was Josh’s fitness downfall after going from university and having plenty of free time, to a desk job that’s difficult to work around.
After watching his rugby fitness slowly slip away, he’d taken on a vegan diet to try and claim back a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that all the unhealthy habits stopped — as many will have realised, it takes more than ditching the meat and dairy to see a difference to your physique.
Feeling like his new regime was getting him nowhere, Josh joined a few others from the Myprotein office on a fitness challenge where his diet and training would be strictly monitored and pushed to the limit by personal trainers at Hale Country Club and nutritionists from Kettlebell Kitchen.
Worried that, like Josh, your diet’s not all it’s cracked up to be? Find out how he managed the highs and lows of the gruelling nutrition and training programme…
Why did you put yourself forward for the fitness journey?
Before the challenge even started, I’d already adopted a vegan diet earlier in the year — I decided to do Veganuary at the beginning of the year and had carried on from there. I’d read that adopting a vegan diet could help with weight loss. This was appealing to me as not only did I want to become vegan for ethical reasons, but also for the physical benefits I’d heard about.
Over the 9 months of being vegan, I realised that eating a plant-based diet wouldn’t automatically mean that I’d lose weight. So, I saw the challenge as a good opportunity to lose weight in a sustainable way by learning to make better life choices and begin to train properly again.
Before starting this journey, I’d been playing rugby for 15 years, but after starting to work at Myprotein about a year ago, I’d not been training in the same way at rugby or in the gym whilst I was adapting to office life. It was a great chance to start training properly again and use the products I work with on a daily basis.
From this challenge, I was hoping to lose between 10-15kgs in weight over the 12 weeks as I had gained between 8-10kgs over the course of the year through poor diet choices and lack of exercise — I hadn’t been training regularly enough or intensely enough.
I wanted to be more body confident by the end of the challenge, as well as start playing rugby again. This meant being much fitter than I was at the start of the 12 weeks, where I felt like I couldn’t play properly due to my physical state.
Tell us about your journey through the 12 weeks
At the start of the 12 weeks, I found it quite daunting to get back into the gym and commit fully to a training program. I was out of shape and couldn’t perform at the same level in the gym as I had when I was at university. This was frustrating and initially demotivating, but with the help of my PT Jamie, I knew I could quickly make improvements.
Over the final two weeks of the journey, I found it difficult to lose more weight — this was frustrating as I was sticking to the diet and training program. As a result, I started training harder and became even more strict with my nutrition.
The training over the 12 weeks got much easier as I got back into the routine of going to the gym. I started to do much more cardio in the gym than I had before which I used to hate, but thanks to my PT Jamie, I knew it was critical to help with the looking and feeling better. The nutritional side got more difficult as I thought that having a cheat meal or snack wouldn’t make too much of a difference — Jamie would shout at me when I told him this!
I began to see physical progress after 3 to 4 weeks and then again after 9 to 10 weeks — this is when my friends, family and colleagues started to notice a big change.
I really began to notice a change in my mental progress after 2 weeks when I noticed that I was no longer craving food and sticking to the meals provided by Kettlebell Kitchen became easier.
Was there anything you were surprised by?
I was surprised about how out of shape I was at the start. I didn’t realise how much weight I had put on over the 12 months of having a sedentary lifestyle and the effect this would have on my training and exercise capabilities. I was much weaker and less fit than I had been prior to starting work. I found the first weeks really difficult because of this.
The controlled meals were hard to adapt to at first — this is what often let me down when trying to lose weight previously, and it was hard to reject offers of food or to eat out with friends.
What was your hardest moment and your biggest temptation? How did you overcome them?
One of the biggest temptations that I found over the 12 weeks was saying no to food offers and going out at the weekend. It wasn’t difficult to be strict at work with my diet, but at the weekend it was hard to avoid drinking or eating off the plan with family and friends.
I found it frustrating that I couldn’t do these things as the restrictions impacted on my social life, however having the concrete deadline of 12 weeks made it easier to stick to. It was also much easier that other people at work were going through the same emotional and physical struggles, so you could always speak to someone to feel better.
Another difficult moment was not eating excessively on my birthday, which was two weeks after I had started. I realised that I couldn’t indulge on my birthday as it was so early on and I needed to make sure that I was working hard during the early weeks. I even ended up going to the gym and training on my birthday.
What kept you motivated?
Tracking my weight at the gym and seeing the gradual progress of losing weight really helped to keep me motivated.
Training alongside other people on the challenge, as well as doing group circuit sessions on Friday mornings with the whole group also helped to keep me going with my training.
Training with my PT Jamie was also a good push in the right direction and helped to keep me on track. I also didn’t want to look fat when my pictures went up on the Myprotein website, so that kept me going too.
What did you learn from this fitness journey?
I’ve learned to adopt a more balanced lifestyle and diet — rather than going all out for a short period of time and yo-yoing. It’s about opting for sustainable lifestyle choices, whether it be diet or exercise, which had a huge impact on my results.
You have to be exercising consistently and eating right consistently. I realised that I didn’t need to drastically reduce my calorie intake as this would only end with binge eating due to being hungry. By exercising hard and eating better food I found I wasn’t as hungry and could allow for the occasional indulgent snack.
What are the most notable changes you’ve experienced?
The most notable physical change is that I can now run for an hour without stopping whereas previously I would never have stayed on the treadmill for more than 20 minutes.
Mentally I am much more confident in my body and my appearance, wearing tighter clothing than I had done previously in the last year.
What one thing are you most proud of?
I couldn’t pick just one thing, but these are the three that I’m proudest of:
- Being able to wear clothes that I couldn’t wear before the 12 weeks started and also buy jeans in a smaller waist size.
- Sticking to the diet and exercise more rigidly than I ever had before on a diet.
- Losing 18kgs in weight.
Will you build any of these changes into your lifestyle?
I’m going to continue training in the gym 4-5 times a week to keep up my fitness. I’ll also continue to supplement my diet with Myprotein products as it helps me to control the amount of calories that I eat and stops me from snacking on bad food. It also helps me get enough protein in my diet to build muscle.
What one piece of advice would you give others starting out on this journey?
Try to set a start and end to the journey, so that you have something to aim towards rather than having an endless journey ahead of you. This could be a length of time, amount of weight, or a physical challenge, but having an end goal is definitely important.