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A Coach’s Journey

Over the past year (and a bit) my health and fitness goals, knowledge, experience and lifestyle has changed a lot.

Whilst lots has changed during this time, my love for being active and trying to get my body to be able to do cool stuff has stayed constant.

I’ve never really had “looking good” or aesthetic-focussed goals as my main priority, as I’ve always tended to have performance-focussed goals.

I truly believe in performance-focussed goals as it gives you measurable, objective markers of progress.

Whereas having “looking good” as a goal can be a frustrating process as it is subjective, and more difficult to measure. Some days you may think you’re making great progress, then other days you may see some photoshopped perfection on Instagram and make your self-worth plummet instantly.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

That being said, aesthetics can and often do come as a positive by-product of performance-focussed goals – which is always nice!

It’s amazing how day-to-day you don’t see much of a change in the mirror, but then after a while you can look back and be shocked when you see how far you’ve come.

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Picture 1 was taken in April 2018.

I had just finished university and had recently competed in my last Olympic Weightlifting competition.

I never thought I’d end up with weightlifting being my sport of choice, but found a love for it through Crossfit training.

When I started university to study Sports Strength & Conditioning, I said to myself that I will focus on getting as good at weightlifting as I can as I know it will be rewarding trying to master something, and also the athleticism that comes with weightlifting is really transferable to any physical pursuit – so that’s what I did!

At this time, I was the strongest I’d ever been, trained in the gym 5-6 days per week for 2 + hours at a time and ate a lot of food.

Looking back at my physique, I was eating a little bit too much that was supporting a little bit of excess body fat that wasn’t actually contributing to my weightlifting performance, however I always justified the extra food (and quite often high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods) with “I’m doing it for the #Gainz” – hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Picture 2 was taken in September 2018.

I had lost 5 kg at this point since the first picture and was at my lightest and slimmest since I was about 16!

After finishing university, I went away travelling for 4 months with my awesome girlfriend for a much-needed break from structure, exams and university coursework!

My priorities had completely changed at this point – I was not doing any gym training WHATSOEVER, and was just out having fun: surfing, hiking and exploring some amazing places all over the world.

I knew I wasn’t training at all, therefore I didn’t need to eat anywhere near as much as I was whilst weightlifting. I also thought that from a professional perspective, I was coaching a fair few people at the time through weight loss, so thought I would actively do it myself for a little while for me to better understand the process.

I was also way more active in daily life – which gradually led to me becoming a very slim Jim!

Picture 3 was taken a few months ago (August 2018).

Since returning from my travels, I have started a new job here at Fortitude which I absolutely love!

I’m active, I get to spend my time surrounded by like-minded people and get to help improve people’s lives everyday. What a privilege!

Now that I’m starting to reach the end of this, there’s a few really key points that I’d love to share about my journey, as I believe there is some really valuable insights for those of you reading this:

  1. I now strength train in the gym between 2-3 times per week for about 1 hour each time on average. Compare that to the 10+ hours I was spending training back when I was weightlifting, and you may be surprised as to why I’m in better shape now, even though I am in the gym less than a quarter of the time!

The role lifestyle and nutrition have outside of the gym is HUGE! So many people believe that spending loads of time in the gym will solve all their problems, when in reality, you spend the majority of your time outside of the gym. Spend your time really making some changes there and you will see tremendous progress!

Be as active as you can, eat a few less calories than usual, include a protein portion in each meal, eat lots of fruit and vegetables and do activities and spend time with people you enjoy!

  1. To build muscle you don’t need to do anything fancy in your training. You need to strength train consistently and gradually progress the weights and reps you do over time. Building muscle is also a VERY slow process so don’t look at your gains in the mirror as a marker of your progress – you will be disappointed at how slow it is.

In order to keep things interesting, focus on increasing the weights you’re lifting to ensure progression and muscle building over time.

  1. Do what you ENJOY. I make time for hobbies: surfing, climbing, paddle-boarding, golf. I also still eat foods I enjoy – I just don’t go crazy on them and completely binge. Thankfully, I don’t feel the need to as I’m not actively restricting “bad” foods (whether something is bad or not is dependent on context and dosage in which it’s consumed but I’ll save that for another post).

These are what have worked for me, and I completely appreciate that what worked for me may not work for you.

However, hopefully those of you who have read this far have taken a few really valuable insights away to potentially use in your own journeys.

Happy training guys!

Isaac

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