Here is the real start of my transformation back in about 2010 but really we have to go back even further in time to really understand MY story of fat loss. Right back to my childhood. I have only just realised the impact of how my childhood and personality has shaped my current life. I remember seeing a picture of myself on my Grandads 80th birthday. I remember the cake as well, 80 candles on it, lets just say the fire alarm went off, haha! Anyway we all had to get dressed up for this occasion in our dinner jackets and ties to make a big day of it. I remember the feeling of what I would call now – embarrassment at my body, I was a sportsman, I was meant to be in shape! However, like many young men my age I didn’t know anything about nutrition, I just ate because it tasted good and up until then I had got away with it. My genes aren’t extraordinary, my parents aren’t ripped 365 days of the year, they are average for this country (average in stature exceptional in their love, guidance and belief in me). It was then that I realised I was one of the statistics, an overweight child. Ouch that’s got to hurt! It was then that my interest in training grew, nutrition came later. I thought to myself, I need to up my activity, I need to do more! In simplistic terms I realised that if calorie output was high then I could lose a bit of weight, look better, girls would like that, I would get better at sport and life would be good… So I got down the gym, and I hated it at first, I was weak, chubby and people would still take the mick out of me for a long while yet. My nicknames at school were ‘Piez’, ‘Pocket Battleship’,’ Le Roux’ (a 21stone South African prop), ‘Fatty’, basically anything around being overweight. Now I’m not complaining, I could hide behind the fact I was a very successful youth sportsman so I brushed it off, but deep down its probably the reason I got into training and nutrition, TO BETTER MYSELF!
After a while I got stronger and before long I was one of the strongest. Now again, I have to state by no means do I have great genes, I just got in there, did the same thing over and over again and took the weights up slowly but surely, I went on a few runs too (I hate running!) Over time an older boy a few years above me took me under his wing, Nick Wood (currently a prop playing for Gloucester Rugby), Nick taught me a few things, namely that he was a f’ing strong guy and that if I wanted to play professional rugby (at the time this was my dream) then I needed to get ALOT stronger. He probably to this day has no idea that he is a reason that I initially connected with the gym, so thanks baldy! Around this time, I also made the connection between eating healthier and cleaner too, not less, just cleaning it up. So out went the chocolate and sweets, the empty calories and in came peanut butter sandwiches… At least there was a bit more protein in there and some good fats. Chips and fried food was out and rice and root vegetables became staples. And guess what… changes happened! I got leaner, meaner, fitter, I started playing even better in all my sports, changed positions in a few sports as my pace and power improved. It was AWESOME, why? Because I saw the RESULTS, and the difference it made. It all culminated in girls starting to pay attention to me too 😉
I was hooked, hooked on exercise and then the love for nutrition came later. I started University and was pretty much doing sport and training with a bit of work on the side, the more my passion grew the more I invested time in learning about training rather than my human biology course. One was practical application; one was quite frankly boring classroom based lecturing with little to no application in the field. I found myself trying to apply the theory to practice but as a student I didn’t have access to lab testing equipment. It was in one of my holidays from University I enrolled on a 3-month personal training and nutrition course. It blew my mind, ironic as now looking back I feel sorry for any of my original clients as had I known what I know now I could have got them better results in a much shorter time frame. But I was passionate about changing peoples lives for the better, I was passionate about exercise and hugely passionate about nutrition and what it could achieve. I also learnt a lot about people! People are so different from one another, physically and mentally. I found techniques that worked for some just didn’t resonate with others. It took a long time to distinguish between different motivating factors, but one thing I realised quickly was that I had a knack for emotionally connecting with my clients so that they wanted to change and felt a resounding want to listen to me and let me help them, let me help them achieve the things they wanted, they let me help them change their lives. From that time until now I still maintain I don’t change people’s physiques, I help THEM change their physiques. That’s much more powerful, because they then realise that THEY changed, THEY did this and that they have the power to control their result.
Skip a few years through trial and error of different programs, education and then I found myself on the Poliquin Level 1 and 2 Certification, if there is one cert that changed everything, my whole outlook, it was that course. I was away for 14 days, I shared a room with a fantastic strength coach Marco from Serbia (who by the way can inhale carbohydrate and I swear it goes into his little toe), but I was surrounded by like minded, dedicated, knowledgeable businessmen and women who actually treated personal training and strength coaching with respect and made decent careers out of it. Up until that point it was all a bit of fun, now I was passionate and serious. That course was taught by 3 incredible coaches. Andre Benoit, John Connor and Derek Woodske, it was the one course that took my knowledge to a completely new level, inspired me to spend countless hours learning in my spare time, inspired me to spend most of my income on more courses and learning, taught me to seek out the very best people in my field and learn from them, and to make friendships and links with people far more knowledgeable than me, to learn from all fields, training, nutrition, business, psychology. I was a different coach when I came back from Copenhagen, and my business soared because of it. I was able to translate the passion now into good results, better results, it allowed me to design better programs and better nutrition advice.
Following Level 1 & 2 I then went on to study the Biosignature course, I’ll say now, it’s a tool, but I don’t hang my hat on it! But it is a really useful tool for providing people with indications of where they can improve their diet, their lifestyle and look at alternative factors that COULD be causing unwanted fat storage. Its principles are just as well documented as most fat loss tools. The 12 site analysis has given me a greater degree of understanding hormones, nutrition and its effect on the body. However as with any system it’s not perfect, but it is a tool in the tool box to get better results for my clients. At the end of the day no amount of supplementation (which is basically what the Biosig promotes) will work unless you change the basis of the diet that got someone to their “current state” anyway. That’s why nowadays I use it as an assessment method and then use it to track things from a nutritional standpoint. Again though, the Biosignature gave me the kick up the butt to learn even more on the nutritional front, it made me seek out people to learn from, like Ben Coomber, Phil Learney and various other people. I also took away from the course that in order to succeed you had to read. In fact… read a lot around the subject! In fact, after my first Biosignature I concluded that in order to learn something every day I had to read an article based on training, nutrition or lifestyle EVERY day, without fail. Something that still holds true today. I also met some great friends in the industry through doing Biosignature.
The results started coming thicker and faster by me utilizing the new methods I’d learned but it was far from the finished article. My body changed a lot in that time after those courses. I was starting to blend together people’s principles and also was coming up with my own methods of doing things. That’s the wonderful thing about strength and building a body, there is no ‘one’ way, so you have to experiment and be open to change. It must have been around 5 years ago when I decided that Body Composition was my main goal. Body composition was a nice idea but Rugby had always been the main focus in my training and nutrition up till this point. When I started to learn from some of the best coaches in the world. To name a few, Charles Poliquin, Tom Crudgingdon, Ben Pakulski, Ben Coomber, Phil Learney, Mark Coles, I started to become fascinated by how these top coaches worked and explained their methods. It was also then that I realised in order to learn from these people you had to spend money on it! The value of that money though has meant I was able to learn enough to consider opening a facility of my own.
Me playing against London Wasps in my trademark pink scrum cap!
My own knowledge and commitment took me at my best to 89kgs at around 10% body fat being under the watchful eye of Tom Crudgingdon at Body Development, which was over the period that myself and Em got married and then jetted off on honeymoon. Then after that came a phase of training and nutrition that saw me getting up to 94 kgs at around 12%, a 2% rise in body fat for that amount of weight gain is pretty good. Then I started Crossfit when we opened Priority 6 which brought me down to 87kgs at around 12% so I lost a fair amount of muscle probably due to the demands of the sport of fitness, but I was aerobically and anaerobically fitter. It’s amazing how when you change your training and the demands made on your body, how it can adapt to its’ new surroundings. You can learn a lot from experimenting on yourself. Due to the competitive background I had come from it wasn’t long until I was drawn in by the competitive element of Crossfit. I’m going to state here that I was 100% NOT ready to compete, I was learning new skills daily and due to my nature there was no way I was going to do a scaled competition, in fact there weren’t really any options for scaled comps in the UK like there are now. Within 6 months I had my first injury, my shoulder (bursitis and impingement). Most people would blame the sport, I don’t, I blame myself. I was an idiot, I thought that I could just turn up and do techniques that people take years to master, with brute force and little regard for my welfare (a little bit like on the rugby pitch). I went straight into teaching myself the Olympic lifts, rings, gymnastics etc without going through the progressions and allowing my body time to catch up with my head! That would be my biggest piece of advice to anyone looking into competing in Crossfit. Listen to the coaches, and FOLLOW THE PROGRESSIONS! It will make you far more efficient in 1/2 the time, with a much less risk of injury! I then had a freak injury of hitting a door frame with my hip bone which set up 4 months of bursitis in my hip. Although I had injuries my time doing the sport of crossfit was not wasted. I learnt loads, I had great fun, I got to compete with and against some great people and it gave me an understanding of the demands of that type of training as a way of staying fit and healthy. We won the Oxbridge Throwdown and put on a fantastic event, came first in a few qualifiers for Battle of Britain, and then had the bitter disappointment of seeing the first wod of snatch and overhead squat come up at the finals. Came 23rd in The British Championships (again dropping down the pecking order due to a snatch workout). I also learnt a huge amount by going to these competitions about the nutritional demands of a Crossit athlete, something that has been instrumental in a few new ventures.
But after the British Championships I then decided it was time to really see what the limits of my personal body fat quest were, I was still recovering from the hip and the idea of the photoshoot came into my head and bang that was it! Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable!
The 12 weeks of my transformation were guided by a friend of mine from Code Fitness in Newark but the result is a combination of hard work and knowledge gained from years of grinding out reps, learning about food and nutrition and being able translate that onto a plate in an interesting and varied way. I would not have stuck to the plan if it was chicken and broccoli! So here’s how I managed to do it:
Changing my training every 3-4 weeks
– I’m a fairly fast responder to programs, but I also get bored of the same training program quickly unless something changes.
Put my headphones in.
– For me this was a must in this 12 week process, I couldn’t have any distractions. I’m a robot. Think, brick wall, run through it, kind of robot. But I have to take myself away from the distractions. Music helps ME do this. The other reason for this, I ‘suffer’ with ADHD. I was on Ritalin as a child. What this means is that I find it VERY hard to concentrate on the task at hand, even more so if I’ve got distractions. My brain works at 1000 miles an hour, I flitter from idea to idea, thought to thought, task to task. It’s why I constantly go over my own writing too. The headphones center me, they stop me from being distracted, otherwise I would never get to the end of the session!
Worked for every rep.
– I had the mindset of every rep counted towards my transformation. This kept the focus and made me work on every rep, if it wasn’t a good rep, I would redo that set until I was satisfied each rep was perfect.
Studied how to get the most out of each training session.
– I study ALOT, I wasn’t a NATURAL learner in school, I was easily distracted, but once I found training and nutrition, I can ignore anyone while I learn about it. I love the subject, I am fascinated by it, every element of changing a physique excites me. Passion for a subject means that it is not work, it is pleasure. Every step of the way I was learning and experiencing something new on the 12 weeks.
I’m a great cook. I’m not blowing my own trumpet. I love food, I love how combinations go together. My first job was working in a restaurant/ pub. I was a pot wash, and I loved every minute of it. The chefs quickly realised I liked helping on the food front so they used to show me how they put things together, they let me do prep for service, even let me cook occasionally. I learnt ALOT about food, watched countless hours of food tv and LEARNT about food. That has given me the skill of knowing how to make tasty food, in healthy way, well that’s my spin on it. I recreated dishes but a healthier version of it! I can’t take all the credit though, Em was very accommodating and when I was coming back from work at 6,7 and 8pm she would have made my macros up for me, and is genuinely a gifted amateur cook herself.
I varied my meat. Hugely important! Each food has a nutritional profile, if you eat the same food you get the same nutrients, develop intolerances and dependent on the meat it might not be high enough in certain amino acids.
Quality over quantity. The leaner the meat the less of it I needed to hit my protein goal. Take mince for example. 5% vs 20% fat mince, the price per g of protein is actually fairly close, but most people think they are getting a deal on the higher % fat meat. In actual fact you would need more meat to hit your protein goal and therefore the cost is sometimes or can be higher. That’s why I choose high quality rare meats, they are leaner and the cost worked out virtually the same per g of protein.
I learnt new recipes. In our house we are ALWAYS looking for new recipes, Em is great at finding new things to try, it takes the boredom out of it, and you just have to educate yourself on the values of the ingredients to know how much CHO, Protein and Fats are in things. But if you know food then you’ll have an idea anyway!
We played with flavors. Spices, combinations, they all create a different tasting dish!
We got excited about food. We used the process to get excited about different meats, veg, carbohydrates. It was fun to try and vary our diet more within the framework of a photoshoot prep.
We organised. I cooked 2 times a week and that’s it. BULK cooking is imperative; it takes the thinking out of it. Slow cooking was a godsend. Burgers again were a staple. Once you have your main bits of food made, the veg and side dishes are easy!
Other tips that really made a huge difference in the last 12 weeks that I suggest, anyone looking to really knuckle down and transform themselves needs to INVEST in:
A 3 tier Steamer like this one:
These things make veg prep EXTREMELY simple, put it in, turn it on, 12 mins later its done… no boiling water, no waiting for things to cook etc. Put it in leave it alone, get one with other things.
Slow cooker like this one, the bigger the better really, ours is 6.5L.
Again you can put stuff in, turn it on, leave it alone, come back in 8 hours and it’s a wicked meal that you haven’t really had to do anything to produce. You can do whole chickens, legs of lamb, shoulder of pork etc. GET ONE!
Bulk buy coconut oil, you are going to use a lot more fat in your food, MCT oils are the way to go. Buy Cold Pressed Organic coconut oil in bulk before you run out, or you get bankrupt by the supermarkets. We get ours from amazon.
Changed my Supplements
EAA’s and BCAA’s instead of Whey
For more information on that one have a read of my previous blog here:
I made sure I had my Greens every day
Not the pond water ones that end up rock solid in the back of the cupboard for 6 months after one gag-infested serving. Nope! We sourced Priority Greens based on a taste and nutrient profile. There actually isn’t a better product on the market.
Need to succeed!
I had a burning desire to succeed in my transformation, perhaps it was the photoshoot at the end, perhaps it was because I needed a new focus due to stopping the Crossfit competition side of things. I’ve been a competitor all my life so maybe that had a part to play too. But I think the main driving force was just pure success, I really WANTED to succeed so I could say I had done it. I wanted to be able to look back and say I had done everything I possibly could. This mindset is old but new with me. I have a VERY active brain, FULL of ideas. You wouldn’t believe how many training, nutrition, business, family ideas I have on a daily basis. I am a huge dreamer, I think big. I don’t talk about some of my ideas, because I don’t know how to implement them but I sure knew how to get the transformation done – so I wasn’t going to let it not be the success it was!
The results, I was pretty happy with them.
I have seen what I am capable of when I truly put my mind to the task. I enjoyed the challenge. Would I be in a rush to go to that low body fat % again… Probably not and especially not in the dam WINTER! Having that extra layer of body fat really does make a difference to you feeling the cold! And I want to remain married!!
So what is next? Get back up to 94kgs but this time at 8% body fat and maybe get in front of the camera again. I’d like to see the difference at that sort of size and percentage. It would be an interesting comparison and it will be equally hard to get there. The nutritional demands, the recovery demands and the training demands will be sizeable. But I’ve got the knowledge, the systems and the people around me to succeed so there’s nothing really stopping me.
So what does this all mean for you?
- We all have our personal struggles and barriers, in order to get through them you need someone else to help you. There’s no enjoyment in doing it alone.
- Knowledge is power. I have a LOT of knowledge, but there are people out there who have more knowledge, people that were willing to help me achieve my goals and hold me accountable.
- I had a deadline. That was the first thing I did, book a date in which I had to succeed by. It is amazing what you can achieve when you have to do it by a certain date.
- The story is powerful. I have told you mine, I love to be part of peoples stories, it drives me to be able to help them change their story. Stories are incredibly powerful!
- Even with a 2 year old (we all know or can guess how taxing that can be), a still infant business in terms of Priority 6, a wife and a social calendar I was still able to get in the best shape of my life.
- I have the methods on the training and nutrition front to help you succeed but what I also have is the practical knowledge of how to make it all so much simpler. AS I have eluded to above in my story I had certain things in place that allowed me to succeed, they took the percentage of failure down and increased the chance of success. That’s what you need to do. Perhaps you just need the guidance on how to do that.
- There is a tried and tested system, that’s been constantly added and improved to over the last 8 or so years #theOCmethod that finally I’m ready to share, selfishly I wanted to keep it for myself. A little like Gollum in Lord of the Rings, it was my precious and I didn’t want to share it until now. Now it’s a system we use at Priority 6 to get results.
That’s it, ramble over, I truly hope you enjoyed the story. If you want to get in touch and learn what’s involved in #theOCmethod then drop me an email via the link below. Also if you want any links or hook up to where you can get any of the things I mentioned in the story above again just get in touch. One leaving thought though, and I truly believe this. Don’t compare yourselves to others, we are all different, we all have our faults, strengths, weaknesses, stories, and pasts. Don’t seek perfection as it will be a lonely road, seek the enjoyment of the journey, be amazed by your own progress and learn to love the journey. Train with intent, focus and drive. Socialise after your training session. Eat good nutritious and colorful foods.
I’ll leave you with my favorite shot from my photoshoot, something that I had in my head that I wanted to get. A pic of me and my boy, having a pose down
Links and email: