After working from home for 18 months, our editor decides to do something about his fitness.
I knew I needed to do something after a family photoshoot. I’d won some time with a professional snapper at a school silent auction and was excited to finally have some proper pictures of the four of us to frame and put up at home.
Because it was one of those fancy studios, they invited us to look at the pictures on a large TV screen (to make us more likely to buy them, which totally worked). What I saw upset me. I’m not big big, but I was only happy with shots that had been taken from slightly higher up. In all the other photos, I marvelled at the beauty of my wife and two daughters and secretly raged at my double chins and the way my cheekbones folded into my eyes.
I was already disappointed that I was back in the larger waist jeans and that I was starting to look like I had cleavage through my jumpers. In short, I was overweight and I wanted to do something about it.
The problem is, I have zero willpower. I make endless pledges to go on a fitness drive, stop eating sweets and be teetotal for a bit. And it never works. Or it works for a day or so and then I stuff my face with the chocolate biscuits I forgot were in the back of the cupboard and realise that a whisky on the rocks is the only thing that will help me cast off the day.
I needed accountability and I needed structure. In short, I needed to write about it.
So that’s what I’m doing. But how to go about refashioning a mildly obese 45-year-old dad? First stop was wellness company bio-synergy. Its founder Daniel Herman recommended I take one of their DNA tests in a bid to help me discover what would genetically work best when it came to my health.
The results, which came in an incredibly comprehensive 192-page report, were good, according to Daniel. I have a highly increased response to sugar and tend to be a worrier rather than a warrior. I have an increased risk of stress affecting my sleep and causing me physical symptoms. And I need more B6 and selenium in my diet. What’s more, all that yo-yo dieting was proven to be objectively bad for me. bio-synergy recommended a steady calorific intake.
With that information in hand, I needed a guide to help me through the process. Ed Djafer, creator of EDFIT, allowed me to join his group programme. Ed (pictured below) is a 13-year veteran of the fitness industry and father of two boys. One of his primary skills is helping busy men in their forties ditch the dad bod so they can become stronger and have more energy and focus. Through an app and on Zoom, I meet with Ed and some like-minded souls every week to talk about different aspects of fitness and diet, mostly focused around mindset.
Ed is not some terrifying PT – though his muscles do scare me – rather a gentle hand pointing you in the right direction. He helpfully provided me with a spreadsheet of exercises I can do at home or at the gym and is not overly prescriptive. Nothing is banned, he doesn’t try to dazzle you with made-up fads, it’s just about moderation, intake versus output and a positive outlook. Each week, he adds another step to the programme, so it doesn’t become too overwhelming.
I did sign up for a gym. Daniel recommended swimming and The Marlow Club, my local fitness emporium, has a pool. In fact, it has lots of stuff, including one of the top three bowls of porridge I’ve ever eaten (it needs to be thick, okay?). But it’s a great environment and while there are some ripped folk there, you also see plenty of middle-aged people like me desperately trying to stave off entropy and get rid of that double chin.
I’ll admit, the first three weeks have been tough. I haven’t done as much as I should have done. I drank some whisky and ate too much chocolate cake and praised myself for walking 13,000 steps because I walked back to the station rather than caught the bus.
But the building blocks are now in place. I’m watching some of the recordings Ed has been making. And I’m scouring the class schedule at The Marlow Club.
I’m afraid I’m too shy to post my before pictures, but I got my wife to take some. If I get to Christmas and look markedly different, then perhaps I’ll change my mind and show both.
For now though, I plan to update my ‘journey’ as I experience it, in the hope that by making it public, I, well, can’t get out of it. I hope you’ll indulge me.
There is a reason beyond narcissism for me doing this. The Men’s Health Forum says 67 per cent of men are overweight or obese and blokes my age are twice as likely to have diabetes as women. We’re also more likely to eat and drink all the wrong things and not do enough exercise, which leads to, well, nothing good.
In other words, this is a public service, ha ha.
Watch this space.