This is the story of one of RWF’s PTs, Tim Wheatcroft. He’s been open and honest here, because, like me, he’s sick of seeing so-called reputable companies and PTs promising the world to people in 6,8 or 12 weeks. This is the change we’re talking about:
This sort of story, and the timescales and challenges you’re just about to read of, is by FAR the most common. It is rare that someone transforms in a short period of time without a whole host of other factors at play, which deserve a (shortly forthcoming) post all of their own.
Anyway, enough of me rambling. Read on.
Where it began
Up until the age of 12, I was a relatively normal child (weight wise). But after quitting football due to a knee condition I gradually got more and more overweight. Without football in my life I became completely inactive. This was always going to result in weight gain; coupled with poor eating habits such as binging a lot, a heavy carbohydrate diet with minimal protein. I got away with it as a child and while exercising regularly, but when the exercise stopped, my excess eating was resulting in fat gain which I didn’t realise was happening. I thought it was just ‘puppy fat’ as people kept telling me. When I realised the ‘puppy fat’ was not going to magically disappear as I got into my early adult years, I knew I had to do something about it.
One night I was asleep after a huge pepperoni pizza and 2 bars of Galaxy chocolate. I was awoken by what felt like a heart attack. My heart was beating crazy fast, and I was flustered and hot for no reason. Obviously it wasn’t a heart attack and probably just palpitations for some reason – but as a young guy it really made me think…do I want to be in this state for the rest of my life?
That morning, after a long hard stare at myself and realising how much I hated myself and how I looked, I decided that I wanted to start losing weight. I joined my local gym, which was an old abandoned car garage which was called ‘No Frills Fitness’ and it 100% had no frills! Very old resistance machines, old weights and the building steal framework to do pull ups on (which I obviously couldn’t do). It wasn’t much, but it was a place for me to start my journey.
So, with the way most of these transformation stories go, you might be expecting to hear that in 3 months I’d started at the gym, cut back on some food, and hey presto I was transformed into the picture on the right ^
The time between the pictures is roughly 5-6 years.
Years. Not weeks or months.
It wasn’t a straight and narrow journey where I lost a pound each week and it was easy. I was fighting seriously poor eating habits, where it wasn’t just a question of will power, but more psychological issues. For instance, the obvious – emotional eating. Eating when down, eating when tired, eating when stressed. When pretty much most emotions make you turn to binge eating, you’re going to be eating a serious amount of food whether you’re happy, sad, tired, depressed or just won the Lottery. Unless you can burn enough calories to balance it out, you’re just going to gain weight, and fast.
Eating was where the problem lied.
There were many setbacks along the way. Eating zero carbs was the first mistake. All that led to was hunger and cravings of all the foods I was trying to avoid. Binging led to more binging and would sometimes last for days, even weeks, at a time. I was taking 3 steps forward, and 4 steps back at times. Lack of knowledge meant I needed to either needed to learn how to do things properly, or I was not going to make any progress with the weight loss.
Eating plain and boring food was another mistake. I did this for a long time… no wonder I didn’t stick to it for long and always ended up going to junk food. A lot of people assume that eating to lose weight has to be tasteless. Who in their right mind wants to eat plain brown rice, broccoli and tuna? Learning to use spices, sauces and different cooking methods enabled me to eat healthily and enjoy tasty meals that would still keep me on track for weight loss. It would also leave me more satisfied, fuller, meaning I wouldn’t be craving for high sugar or fat laden treats that would push my calorie intake out of control.
Another mistake? Supplements! Protein shakes, sometimes even “mass gainers” thinking that it would give me big muscles, when it reality I just got fatter. Fat burners, CLA, HMB tablets, meal replacement shakes, pre-workouts, diet protein shakes. You name it I probably tried it. If I could have all the money back I spent on supplements that didn’t work I could probably buy a new car! It was all a waste of my time and effort. It wasn’t until I nailed the basics of food volume control, getting plenty of protein and vegetables, plenty of water and not generally overeating that the weight really started coming off.
Doing too much at once was probably up there with my biggest mistake. ‘Diet starts on Monday’ ring any bells? I would gear myself up for cardio in the morning, and then a weights session at night. By Wednesday I was knackered and lacking motivation to train, so I would skip sessions. Skipping sessions would make me feel bad and lead to me going off the rails and eating something bad undoing all the extra exercise I had done on the Monday and Tuesday. Endless circle of no results, catch 22, feel bad about yourself, binge, start from scratch next week. Sound familar? Starting off with a MANAGEABLE exercise and diet plan will serve you best as opposed to the bull-at-a-gate method every time.
Instead of detailing every other method I tried (which probably would bore anyone reading this to death), I am going to add the main 5 things I did that impacted my weight loss the most:
Cutting ‘junk’ food
There’s no need for such calorific food when a solid diet foundation needs to be in place. Rewarding yourself with a ‘cheat’ meal or binge day will likely result in you undoing all the good work you’ve done in previous days/weeks of being good on your diet. There aren’t really any ‘bad’ foods, just poor choices of quantities and frequency of consuming them.
Learning to curb the binging
Having a slip isn’t the end of the world! It makes you human. Learning to combat weak moments with moderation is vital. A Mars Bar wont make or break a diet, the same as eating one salad wont make you drop a stone. A small slip is probably likely but not detrimental…a binge with a large pizza, chocolate, wine and a beer will reinforce bad habits which has contributed to the weight gain in the first place.
Lifting heavy (and heavy is a relative term) weights
Ultimately everyone wants the ‘toned’ look. That toned look will not happen without building muscle, which 100% will *always* happen with some structured training. Resistance training with weights will have a bigger effect on muscle gain, fat loss and overall body composition than running on a treadmill ever will (if you’re reading this and want an explanation why then get in contact, we’re pretty helpful at RWF). Build muscle to not only help you burn extra fat, but also to have something to reveal when you’ve stripped the fat.
Consistency wins every time
You don’t have to be amazing for 100% of a journey, just consistently ‘good’ to get dramatic changes. Consistent progress with small changes to habits will result in long term changes and results. Unattainable short term goals will see you lose motivation and give up – who on earth enjoys routinely failing to achieve something? Why would anyone keep doing something that gets no results?
Start with two gym sessions a week. Not twice a day, every day.
Cut your portion sizes down by 10%, not 80%.
It’s nobody’s job but yours to put in the time and effort.
It’s not your families fault when they go out for food and you make bad choices.
It’s not your PT’s fault when you skip gym sessions and have a takeaway.
It’s not your genetics that is holding you back. That’s a poor excuse.
Only you can make the changes necessary to your lifestyle to get the results you want. It just boils down to – old cliche coming, but it’s true – how bad do you want it?
No one said it’s easy but I can’t describe how proud I feel when I look at my transformation. Hearing people say its ‘inspirational’ and shows ‘it IS possible’ is a great feeling and makes the years of effort I went through so worth it. I now have a massive amount of knowledge to impart on anyone I come into contact with. But their transformation doesn’t need to be 6 years like mine, and littered with mistakes, wrong turns, lies (Men’s Health magazine and supplement industry BS) and following misguided fitness ‘professionals’.
Turns out I’m now the fitness professional I desperately needed back when I started my journey. But hey, I wouldn’t be here, writing this, if I hadn’t been through all of the above.
Any questions or advice needed don’t hesitate to get in contact with us at RWF.