Michael, 44, from Amsterdam, shares his body transformation journey with Men’s Health.
My turning point came when I was invited to go wake-boarding with a friend. Not only could I not fit into any of the wetsuits for rent, but I couldn’t even stand up on the board. I was so sore and tired after the first few tries. I had to quit for the day. Up to this point in my life, I had never attempted a new sport/activity and failed! So, I was very disappointed. Additionally, my friend had commented when I was trying to get into a wetsuit that they don’t make wetsuits for short chubby guys. It hadn’t really hit me until that moment that I was indeed quite chubby. So I decided to sign up for a transformation with Ultimate Performance’s Amsterdam gym.
I had taken weight training in high school, and had several short periods of weight training on my own in the last 10 years or so, but it had been at least 5 years since I had stepped foot inside a gym. Before starting at my fitness journey, I often felt low energy even with a good night’s sleep. I also noticed that I could not run very well at all. Like, my legs just wouldn’t move the right way to run properly. I wanted to get in shape and start living a healthier lifestyle, but I just couldn’t find the motivation.
Daily meals during the diet phase were based around macros—protein, carbs and fats—with a calorie limit. I’d start with eggs, veggies, avocado and chicken or beef for breakfast, varying the veg and egg format to keep things interesting. Omelets, scrambles, fried or poached eggs would be the base, then I’d add different veggies and some form of fat and protein. For lunches, meal prep was key. My wife and I joined at the same time, so we made Sunday afternoons our meal prep together time. We’d choose our meals for the week, go grocery shopping and work together to make it an easy process. Dinners are usually a nice helping of good quality protein like lean beef, chicken breast or white fish, with roasted vegetables. UP also provides recipes for seasonings and marinades to cook with that are within the macro goals.
Workouts are three hour-long sessions per week, and they are good sessions. My trainer Aaron custom built workouts for both my wife and I based on our goals and what we wanted out of the program. He had me doing two days of full body workouts with metabolic training at the end of each session and an upper body workout on the third day, as one of my goals was to build my chest and shoulders. One particular exercise that I found extremely challenging was split squats, but within weeks, I was noticing fat loss and definition in my legs, as well as my daily cycle to and from work getting easier.
Aaron really helped me to learn how to eat, train and live healthy. Instructions for grocery shopping, meal preparation both for individual meals and weekly meal prep, the importance of sleep habits and rest days, and proper training techniques all came together for me and enabled me to start seeing results quickly. One particular thing was how easy it meals actually is to create healthy, filling with just a little effort.
Over 17 weeks, I lost a total of 17.4 kg (38.3 pounds) and 15.5 percent body fat! When my family came to visit in December 2021, I hadn’t seen them in over a year. I met my parents at the airport and they looked right past me, they didn’t even recognize me. Receiving compliments from them and seeing how amazed they were at my transformation really boosted my feelings of self-esteem and made me proud of the hard work I was doing, which in turn contributed to my confidence in many areas of my life. My work life has improved with more focus and energy during the work day, and the workouts are a great way to burn off some of the frustration that comes with any occupation.
Having reached my weight loss goal, my next target is to gain muscle mass and improve my weights in all my exercises, but mostly focusing on squats, as this is an exercise I have struggled with.
The best advice I can give someone that wants to start a journey to better health is to find a program that they think will work for them and commit to it 100 percent. Don’t make excuses for yourself to skip workouts or have cheat days; put in the work every day, and before you know it, you’ll be seeing results which will in turn push you to work harder! Go to the workouts, follow the diet plan, get up and do the work even when you don’t want to, especially those days when all you want to do you is sit down and grab that tub of ice cream. And most of all, enjoy the process of changing your life for the better.
One thing I really need to stress is the importance of having a good trainer to get you started and motivated. Aaron has been instrumental in my transformation, motivating me to keep pushing, teaching me how to eat to lose weight, eat to maintain and eat to gain. He was tough when he needed to be and understanding when I was struggling.
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