How this London graduate shed 7 stone without cutting out his favourite foods
It's amazing what you can achieve when you set your mind to it.
Londoner Nick Owens is concrete proof of where hard work, dedication and commitment can get you.
The 25-year-old graduate weighed more than 20 stone when he decided to make a change to his lifestyle, his health and his physique.
Since deciding enough was enough, the London financial planner has shed an incredible seven stone and halved his body fat to around 11 per cent.
The best part of Nick's transformation was that he didn't have to completely cut out his favourite foods to get in shape.
He took a more long-term, sustainable approach to transforming his physique - doing it slow and steady rather than trying to lose as much weight as possible quickly, something which can often result in rebounding and piling more weight back on afterwards.
He started his transformation after coming back off holiday where he had one final 'blow out.'
“Just after university I was due to go on holiday with my parents that summer and was extremely self-conscious, always a t-shirt on the beach person," he said.
"Just before I went away, after a few weeks of graduation celebrations and summer barbecues, I realised I weighed more than 20st.
“I decided I would have a final blow-out whilst away and then I would seriously address my issue when I was back. I had always been in denial about my weight. It was something never discussed with friends and was a conversation I always looked to end quickly when my Dad brought it up.”
One of the first things that had to change was the types of foods he was eating.
He cut down on sweets and fizzy drinks which he used to eat all time at University and replaced things like baguettes and chips with grilled chicken and vegetables and curries with samosas and naan with protein-packed tuna and beef steaks for dinner.
Interestingly he didn't cut treats out completely which made the diet more enjoyable and therefore more sustainable and more likely to succeed.
He said it's still possible to enjoy the odd treat and some of his favourite by 'flexible dieting'. This means having a calorie target for the day and just ensuring you meet your goals for protein, fat and carb intake for the day. So if you enjoy a burger at lunch it mean cutting back at dinner so you don't exceed your daily calories.
“I am really into my cooking so every meal at home was always fresh but pretty excessive," he explained. "This on top of regular takeaways while at University and a diet of Lucozade and Jelly Tots to get me through exams was always going to be disastrous.
“I read an article about flexible dieting and gradual improvement rather than a short term fix. This is what appealed to me most as it allowed you to eat what you liked within much broader guidelines, aiming to meet certain macros which can be changed should you go for a meal out – an ‘unhealthy’ treat isn’t considered a sin.”
“Nowadays I still look to eat what I previously enjoyed by finding lower fat/carb alternatives. My favourite meal, which is now a breakfast regular, is the protein pancakes with banana and peanut butter. Given the freedom of flexible dieting, my meals can be whatever I want really, within reason of course!”
Another big change was starting weight training - something he'd never done before - but it was part of the diet and fitness regime he followed to the letter in LDN Muscle's Cutting Guide.
The training plan in the guide switches between high rep, low weight training one week and then high weight, low rep training the next.
Nick followed this closely and then to keep his programme fresh and interesting, he added in exercises which were similar but different to try something new.
For cardio to help create a calorie deficit and keep him burning off fat he did three aerobic sessions a week.
One High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) session with sprinting or rowing, one Low Impact Steady State training (LISS) session on the cross trainer or bike and then one HIIT/Tabata class per week.
"I went through stages of trying more but found myself burning out half way through the week, especially trying to fit it all in around full time work," he says.
"I am very easily distracted and needed to keep things different to avoid getting bored and remain motivated but I think if you follow the fundamentals of the training guide then adding your own twist or variation is fine, if not encouraged."
He started training regularly over an 18-week period before Christmas 2015. Then after enjoying a week of festivities he got straight back on the horse and cracked on with another 18 weeks of training
He now weighs just 13st and his body fat measures an impressive 11 per cent - leaving him with abs for the summer.
“During the second half of the guide my body fat percentage was falling quicker than my actual weight for which I can only encourage people not to use scales as the sole measure of how they are doing.
“The biggest motivator came when I started to see visible change and other people would then compliment you or make a comment. Whilst motivation from other people does help, it is definitely more of a personal challenge."
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