So how am I faring half a year down the line? Well, I don’t look like I did in the “after” picture. But neither do I look like I did in the “before” one. In the month after the programme finished, I kept up the gym four or five times a week, putting on even more muscle. But then life started to get in the way; I went on nights out I’d have passed on when I wasn’t drinking, and this had a knock-on effect on the rest of the week. People talk about sweating out their hangover in the gym – personally, I can barely imagine a worse hell, so it’s unlikely to happen.
Now I’m averaging two gym sessions a week, which is just about enough to maintain some of the muscle I built up. When I push a little harder, hitting three or four sessions a week, I find that I put muscle on far quicker than I used to. My body seems prepared for it, and my recovery times are comparable with the latter stages of the 10- weeks rather than the painful early days. The gym is no longer intimidating. I know the core exercises I need to work on to bulk up, how the machines work, how many reps I need to do to push myself.
I’ve made permanent changes to my diet, too; I’m not living without sugar and carbs, but I make a conscious decision to eat them, rather than fall back on them as the default. Protein is the lynchpin of my diet, which means when I do exercise, my body is ready to build muscle.
I try to use the weekly photographs from the programme as a way to chart my current fitness; a couple of months after finishing the programme I slipped to somewhere around week three. Now I’m closer to week six. A month’s hard work and I’ll be back to week eight or nine.
I’m healthier in other areas of my life too – I run a few times a week (something that would have been anathema this time last year) and go climbing when I can. I have a confidence in my overall fitness that will remain long after the abs have faded.
Steve completed a 10-week “total body transformation” at personal trainer-only gym No 1 Fitness. They have a new gym at Canary Wharf. For your personalized programme, email firstname.lastname@example.org