I looked in the mirror and saw a guy staring back at me who was seriously out of shape. I started to think my best years were behind me.
A few years back I was starring on Coronation Street, playing Sam the Stripper, wowing TV audiences across the UK when my character got his kit off in the Rovers Return. I won Rear of the Year and I was in great shape and at the top of my game.
Fast forward to 2013 and I had let thing's slip and approaching 40 (next year) I didn't like what I saw in front of me or on paper.
Waist 37in, weight 14st 6 lbs, and at height 182 cm. This gave me a Body Mass Index BMI of 27.65, which wasn't far off being obese (30) according to the NHS.
This poor diagnosis was due to the combined effects of slower metabolism, several months of inactivity due to injury, a chocolate addiction (sometimes 8 bars a day) and the odd night or two out on the vino.
So I decided I had to do something now, before I hit 40.
The Plan. I reckoned if I stuck rigidly to a ultra low sugar, low fat diet I could get in shape quickly. I tried this approach for five days at which point I caved in and scoffed two family packets of chocolate digestive biscuits. Total calorie intake - around 4000, outcome- back to the drawing board.
It was obvious to me I had to be more realistic on the diet front. Clearly I couldn't live like a monk my whole life. So I decided to be quite strict throughout the week and not put so much pressure on myself at the weekends. If I wanted to eat junk food I would, but I devised a "Payback" system for my bad days.
If I'd had junk food or snacks I would have to find time on my days off to either go to the gym or go for a run. For example, a big glass or wine or a chocolate bar would have to be "paid back" by a 20 minute work-out session. I did rather a lot of extra sessions during the next 9 weeks.
The diet. I cut my carb intake right down after mid-day and replaced it with slightly higher fat intake, like whole eggs or fattier cuts of meat.
I made sure I had my fruit/natural sugars in the morning and ate greens a few times a day. Added to this I drank as much water as possible most days, between 3-4 litres and I would eat little and often, with never more than 3 hours between meals. That way the cravings don't drive you mad.
The Work-Outs. I went for two high intensity sessions for 20 mins in the morning and evening. These can be done at home, so there are no excuses. Prisoner squats, pushups, Jumps, Swiss-ball leg curls, Pullups or chin-ups, and sit-ups. You can see the full list of my work-out and diet here.
I would push myself hard because you won't get results otherwise on these High Intensity sessions. Sorry, there's no escaping the fact you've got to work at this bit.
In the past when I've tried to get in shape before I normally get seriously bad muscle aches and pains by the second week. So I took Forza Tri-Creatine Malate and Acid Rain Amino Acid supplements to aid muscle recovery and new wonder supplement Forza Garcinia C, a natural and stimulant free plant extract from a South Asian pumpkin shaped fruit. It sounds bizarre I know, but it really helped with the cravings and occasional lack of energy.
It's not easy. I have literally had to nurse myself though this whole thing and treat myself like an adult teaching a naughty child. If I slipped up on the plan (which I did several times) I compensated with additional work-outs. After a while I didn't want the chocolate bar because I couldn't be bothered to do another 20-minute workout.
Nine weeks later and I was in good shape again. Waist 28, Weight 12st and BMI 23 which is a healthy weight. I know I'm going to put a bit of weight back on every now and again, I'm so not perfect, I'm not even that disciplined.
Modern diets are all very complicated these days but it all boils down to this. Calories in vs calories burned. If the number coming in is bigger than that going out, you are going to be putting on weight. So with my "Payback" system it might make you think twice about that glass of wine at night if you know you've got a 20-minute run around the park needed to burn it off.
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Your body burns twice as many calories breaking down whole foods (especially those rich in fiber such as oatmeal and brown rice) than processed foods. <strong>More from Health.com:</strong> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20475957,00.html" target="_hplink">Best Superfoods for Weight Loss</a> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20439830,00.html" target="_hplink">Ditch 5 Pounds Without Trying</a> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20516825,00.html" target="_hplink">Fat-Proof Your Life</a> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rob-qld/2889140143/" target="_hplink">Rob Qld</a></em>
Protein has a high thermogenic effect: You burn about 30 percent of the calories the food contains during digestion (so a 300-calorie chicken breast requires about 90 calories to break it down). <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/candyb/4508323051/" target="_hplink">Candy Beauchamp</a></em> <blockquote>CORRECTION: A 300-calorie chicken breast requires about 90 calories to break it down.</blockquote>
Rich in calcium and vitamin D, these help preserve and build muscle mass -- essential for maintaining a robust metabolism.
Drinking four cups of green tea a day helped people shed more than six pounds in eight weeks, the <em>American Journal of Clinical Nutrition</em> reports. Credit EGCG, a compound in the brew that temporarily speeds metabolism after sipping it. To up your intake, keep a jug of iced tea in the fridge. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mukluk/297498668/" target="_hplink">Dan McKay</a></em>
One cup packs 35 percent of your daily iron needs -- good news, since up to 20 percent of us are iron-deficient. When you lack a nutrient, your metab slows because the body's not getting what it needs to work efficiently, says Tammy Lakatos Shames, R.D., co-author of <em>The Secret to Skinny</em>. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/emiline220/4343406017/" target="_hplink">Emily Carlin</a></em>
Capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their kick, heats up your body, which makes you melt additional calories. You can get it by eating raw, cooked, dried or powdered peppers, says Lakatos Shames. "Add as much cayenne or hot sauce as possible to soups, eggs and meats." <strong>More from Health.com:</strong> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20475957,00.html" target="_hplink">Best Superfoods for Weight Loss</a> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20439830,00.html" target="_hplink">Ditch 5 Pounds Without Trying</a> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20516825,00.html" target="_hplink">Fat-Proof Your Life</a> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/krossbow/6261630907/" target="_hplink">krossbow</a></em>
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