Anthony McKinsen, 31, from London, shared with Men’s health how driving indoors during a pandemic starts a healthier lifestyle.
I’ve always been in good shape and I’ve been going to the gym since I was 16 years old. But after I left university, I struggled to maintain the level of fitness I had when I trained a lot in boxing. For the past few years, I’ve set – and then failed – resolutions to get back to a certain weight and reduce my body fat to a level where I can really see my belly again.
I didn’t pay enough attention to my diet. I would often overeat on the weekends, usually junk food. And although I was quite active, looking back, I did not train in the gym as intensely as I thought.
The turning point came in early 2020, which looked like it would be the third year in a row that I would not have reached my New Year’s resolution. I felt frustrated and started looking at what I was doing at GM and wondering if I had been training wrong all this time. I thought that given the time and money I spent for 15 years in the gym, I should be in great shape, otherwise what was I doing there?
I did some research, bought the two UP fitness books about the diet plan and the design of the exercise plan, and made some adjustments to my routine and diet. But it wasn’t until after the lock in March, when the gyms closed, that I was really forced to make changes and focus on how I trained and what I ate to ensure I could still progress while training at home. I decided to use the money I saved for a gym membership to try out the UP Fitness’ LiveUP coaching program.
I lifted weights 4 days a week, following the days of my chest, back, shoulders and legs. I’ve been doing the same workout for months and I haven’t seen any change, so I would feel like I have to do this just to maintain the body I had, which means I sometimes lose motivation and see it as boring. work. I hated cardio and never did it unless I was training for something specific, like triathlon, and until I started cycling to work out, I wasn’t able to every day.
The key changes in my training include training less frequently with greater intensity, which gives me enough time to recover. I also changed my workout split to full body workouts and started adjusting all my exercises. And I’m usually more active every day, striking 12,500 steps a day without the need for special cardio. My program changes every month, which makes it interesting, and I make sure that I improve my performance in each session and leave the gym, knowing that I could not work harder.
I thought I was a healthy eater, but in retrospect I was consuming too much protein (2 shakes a day) and constantly feeling bloated. I’ve been cooking during the week for a few years now, but I regularly ate between protein bar and nut meals, and then derailed on the weekends with pizzas and curries. I now eat four well-distributed meals throughout the day and do not eat breakfast at all, as they satiate me. I measure my food based on the portion size of food groups, which makes it easier to keep track of my macronutrients and also allows me to be flexible when I’m out in a restaurant. I’ve learned so much about building a sustainable, balanced diet that doesn’t rely on calorie counting, and how to combine nutrition with exercise to get the most out of it.
I lost 15 pounds in 11 weeks during the lock, falling from 173 to 158 pounds. Then I started to gain muscle mass. I feel much healthier and stronger. I also look forward to every workout a lot more and I really enjoy every workout and the progress I make. And I’m not done yet: my next goal is to try to build more muscle, although I find that gaining weight, once turned off, is actually a much slower and more difficult process than losing it in the first place!
My biggest piece of advice is to make sure you’re making progress every week: you should leave each session knowing you can’t do more. No deception of form and no distraction. You also need to structure your diet so that you can stick to it. It should be durable enough so that you do not feel the need to cheat on the weekends. Finally, consider investing in a good trainer, even if it’s only for the first few months to get you on the right track. This is a drop in the ocean compared to all the money you can spend on a gym membership.
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