Everyone’s been trying to get into shape for summer, Topman included. We took our junior editor and resident guinea pig Jacob Corner and put him on Six3Nine’s 12-week transformation course to show you what industry-leading fitness and nutrition looks like and how to recreate it at home. Here’s how it’s went:
Being thin your whole life is for suckers. If you really want to make an impression on people then carelessly put on some weight in your mid-twenties and then lose it all really quickly. I’ve been submerged in such a deep deluge of complements over the last three months that only the pool noodle of my now grotesquely over-inflated ego has been able to keep my head above water.
That might come across as conceited but here’s the thing: it’s easy to write an honest article about being fat. There’s nothing funnier than someone else’s self-loathing. But writing about being thin is altogether harder without coming across as a complete narcissist. Whatever. I’m going to lean in to it. I’m in the best shape of my life and getting there was surprisingly easy. Here’s how you can do it too:
Go On A Massive Diet
This is where you’ll make or break it. I go into much more depth about this here but setting up your own diet is surprisingly simple. When my trainer Dan Price created my diet plan, he first worked out roughly what my ‘maintenance calorie requirements’ were, which is how many calories I would need to be eating to simply stay the same weight. You can do the same using an online tool like this one. He then subtracted 500kcal calories from this figure and designed a meal plan around the foods I liked to fit these requirements. For me it was this:
Breakfast: Porridge w/honey
Morning Snack: Greek Yoghurt w/honey
Lunch: Chicken Salad
Afternoon Snack: 3 x Babybell Light
Dinner: Chicken Salad
It was cheap, it was simple, and I ate it pretty much every single day for three months. Is this diet realistically sustainable for the rest of my life? Definitely not, but it did get the job done. At the end of the day working out and designing a diet plan is pretty easy but actually sticking to it? Not so much.
Stick To The Plan
As a man who has made countless plans in his life and stuck to roughly one of them, me handing out this advice is a bit rich. But having a plan and a deadline worked for me and I think it could work for you too. 3 months is an achievable amount of time to stay laser focused on one thing and avoid the temptations your friends, colleagues and family are going to constantly offer you throughout the period of time you’re dieting. Every time you say no it gets easier and easier to keep saying it. Just keep that end date at the front of your mind and don’t let anything put you off, no matter how good that Colin The Caterpillar birthday cake looks. Also tell EVERYONE YOU KNOW. Failing at something nobody knows your doing is pretty easy to do, but eating a big old slice of cake in front of a whole office that knows you’re on a diet is mortifying.
Also, nothing focuses the mind quite like having to get your kit off in front of your colleagues for a photoshoot and then send it to the entire Topman database and fire it out across our social media. So that’s an unfair advantage I had.
I never thought I was a ‘gym person’ before, so I never went to the gym. Having now gone consistently 3-5 times a week for three months, I feel comfortable there and like I know what I’m doing. I use it as a stress spigot in the same way that I used to use the pub and honestly it’s a far more effective one. It’s improved my mental health, it’s given me a whole new hobby, and I feel happier and healthier now than I have done for years. I think we can all be ‘gym people’, it’s just about knowing what to do when you get in there.
However, what exercises to do and not to do is a far more complicated subject than I’ll be able to cover here and one that I’m totally unqualified to comment on anyway. Instead, I’ll push you in the direction of a few pieces we’ve done with the expert personal trainers at Six3Nine and let them educate you:
… speaking of personal trainers.
Get A Good Personal Trainer, If Only For One Or Two Sessions
If you’re just getting started then a good personal trainer is worth his or her weight in gold – it’s not just that they’ll be able to tell you what to do and why you’re doing it, it’s that being accountable to someone else will help pull you through the tough times. It’s a lot easier to let yourself down than it is to let someone else down. Also, a part of it is just having someone tell you how great you are and how well you’re doing, which is always appreciated. Most of my mates just took the piss.
If you do get a personal trainer, be careful who you pick. Just because someone is fit doesn’t mean they know how to tell other people how to get fit – the best teachers are not always the most dedicated or talented practitioners. What was so good about Dan and the rest of the Six3Nine team was that they approached my fitness and diet as a part of my life, not my whole life. The right trainer will create a health regime that’s sustainable – you might be trying to get as fit as possible in a short space of time but there’s not much point in doing that and then putting all the weight back on again as soon as you’re finished.
My biggest worry right now is that I have to go into the rest of my life without a personal trainer. It’s daunting because it brings up the spectre that I’ve outsourced my willpower, that I’ve got fit by proxy and that now, without that safety net and support network I’ve enjoyed, I’ll fall back on old habits. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
A Few Things To Watch Out For
- I’ve become a terrible narcissist. Not that I wasn’t before but when you’ve got into shape it becomes less funny and more unattractive. The simple act of brushing my teeth in front of the mirror in the morning has gone from half hearted daily ritual to a shot for shot recreation of that bit in Silence of the Lambs where Buffalo Bill is getting changed.
- A word of warning: As much as you might want to become a fitness evangelist, telling all your friends they should go on a diet goes unappreciated. Unasked for dietary advice is the unsolicited dick pick of conversation.
Here’s the money shot. When I showed this to a member of senior management he said my before photo looked like ‘the stoner friend in an American teen comedy’. Pretty harsh.
My point of comparison for my shape pre-personal training was always a T-Rex, in as much as I had a thick torso, big legs and skinny arms. Losing this weight (28% of my body fat!) has brought me back into a natural proportion – my shoulders are wider than my gut, like they should be. And I’m really proud of this achievement. I committed to a plan, worked really hard and achieved this in a little over three months. The only downside has been my newfound vanity but, you know what? There’s worse things to be than vain. And overweight is probably one of them.
I can’t stress enough how much of this I owe to the Six3Nine team and my trainer Dan Price in particular. If you’re unhappy with your weight, unsure what to do in the gym, or just want to get a bit fitter, be sure you get in touch with them before anyone else.