I’ve never obsessed about my weight.
I lead a fairly active lifestyle. I’m fortunate enough to be able to run 4 to 5 times a week, averaging between 30-40 miles outside training blocks and have completed distances from parkrun to ultramarathons.
I’m happier, healthier and fitter than I’ve ever been yet my BMI classifies me as being overweight.
I know I am.
I know losing a few pounds wouldn’t go amiss. It would improve my health as much as it would benefit my running – yet I’m not one for fad diets. I never have been. I enjoy food, I have a good relationship with food and the idea of cutting out the things you enjoy in life just doesn’t sit right. Yes, moderation is key – but as a runner, and I’m sure many runners would agree, a treat at the end of a run becomes way too familiar and in most cases, undoes any calorific benefits you’ve earned through exercise. Run an ultramarathon – order a Chinese. Run a Marathon – order an Indian. Run a 10k – order a Pizza. Run a parkrun – Fish n Chips it is then – you get the idea. Rewarding yourself with treats soon becomes a habit and habits are difficult to break.
I was introduced to Maegen Fitness Lifestyle – a 30 day lifestyle programme aimed to encourage, motivate and create lasting health and fitness changes. I’ll put in a disclaimer here – Craig – who runs the programme is a mate, a very good mate – he was the best man at my wedding so was I more inclined to give it a go? – of course I was. I want to see him make a go of this, it’s his passion and he has the personality and drive to make it succeed. Would I have given it a go if I’d seen a regular ad online – in all honesty – probably not.
The premise is that it is a lifestyle programme where you are held accountable for four key areas; food, workouts, steps and sleep. It’s as simple as that. There’s no magic wand, no short term goals, it’s about making small lifestyle changes which are both manageable and sustainable. For £30/month you benefit from daily check-ins, live Q&A sessions with nutrition and fitness experts, bespoke workouts designed around your goals and weekly constructive feedback updates – the programme has all the resources needed to improve your lifestyle.
At the start of the programme I weighed 87.9 kilos with a BMI of 27.7. Granted, I’d piled on a few pounds over Xmas – who doesn’t – but I was running approximately 30 mile weeks to maintain fitness levels. I was also training for the ‘Country to Capital Ultramarathon’ which at that point, had yet to be cancelled.
I had some key races in the diary this year- Covid permitted – and was keen to get into the best possible shape – both physically and mentally. The running had been going well, injuries were holding up and by focusing more on strength and conditioning – as well as improving my diet – it would give me the best possible chance of achieving my goals.
Below is a brief diary on how I got on with the programme, broken down into the 4 key areas:
January – Week 1
- Weigh-in: 87.5 kilos
- Running Miles: 37.6 miles
- Maegen Workouts: 5 workouts
Workouts: – In hindsight, I went out way too hard in the first week, running every day as well as fitting in 5 workouts – allowing for zero recovery time. I suppose I got caught up with emotion of it and trying to run before I could walk. No harm done, no sign of any injuries but I recognised that I’d need to scale things down a bit if this was going to be sustainable. After all, this is a lifestyle programme, not a quick fix. Maegen Workouts consisted of the following:
- 1 to 10 to 1 Push-ups and Weighted Front Squats (10kg)
- Timed (20 mins): 3 Burpees, 5 Ground to Overhead with Weight (10kg)
- 30 rounds: 3 Burpees, 2 x Stair Climbs
- 50-40-30-20-10 Sit-ups, Ground to Overhead (10kg)
- 50 Burpees, 100 Alternate Lunges, 50 Burpees
The main thing I noticed after the first week of workouts was how much work I needed to do on my upper body – and a lot of work at that. Push-ups and Ground to Overhead with modest weight (10kg) were areas I really struggled with but great to do in the first week to set as a benchmark. It gave me an area to focus on and something I discussed with Craig in the weekly feedback session. Popular running exercises such as Burpees, Lunges and Sit-ups I felt a lot more comfortable with.
Food: – Probably my biggest nemesis in terms of my overall health. I enjoy my food! With small children in the household, we tend to cook fresh and healthy meals yet portion control and the (more-than-occasional) take-away do need to be monitored. As I’ve stated above, I’m not one for fad diets – giving up the things you enjoy in life is never going to motivate me. What I liked about the Maegen Lifestyle philosophy is that it promotes the 80-20 rule – so nothing is out of bounds. Moderation is key, allowing for the occasional treat. Another positive motivator is the checking-in aspect. There is a group Whatsapp chat where you’re encouraged to share pictures of what you’re eating, useful recipes or any other nutritional advice which add value – which in itself, positively shames you into declining that takeaway as you’re accountable to the group. Witnessing everyone else’s decision making, healthy food options and workout achievements motivates you to do the same – you’re accountable not only to yourself but to the group.
Steps: – A minimum requirement of 8,000 steps a day are encouraged – something which is easily feasible if I go for a run (approx. 5 miles with my gait) but challenging on rest days, especially with work and homeschooling. I found myself inclined to do more ‘family lunch walks’ or a late night runs to get the steps in – whereas I’d normally be sitting behind a desk or in front of the television.
Sleep: – OK, I get the importance of sleep – allowing your mind and body to recharge but with 3 young children, this was the hardest area to control – most of the time it was literally out of my hands. I made the conscious decision to go to bed earlier, especially after a hard workout or long run and I was averaging 8+ hours a night. Bliss.
January – Week 2
- Weigh-in: 86.5 kilos
- Running miles: 49.3 miles
- Maegen Workouts: 2 workouts
Workouts: Another big week of exercise, although predominantly running miles. I’d started off the week with a 30 mile day – running a morning trail marathon with friends before heading out on the evening for a 3 mile cool-down run with my son. I’d then followed this up with an easy 30 minute turbo session on the bike the following day and a steady 3 mile run in the evening. I felt great. Maegen Workouts consisted of the following:
- 5 rounds, 1 min rest after 4 sets: Floor Press, Plank, Goblet Squat, Russian Twist
- Timed Ladder (20 minutes) – Ground to Overhead (10kg), Weighted Sit-ups (10kg)
My first Maegen Workout of the week consisted of a group zoom session organised by a few mates who were also participating in the lifestyle plan. It was a tough session – although the accountability of doing it as part of a group helps you put in maximum effort for greater rewards.
The second session I did alone – and it was tough – in particular the weighted sit-ups but glad to have got it done.
Food: I was still craving sweet and savory snacks – my usual go-to snack between meals – but resisting the temptation and opted for fruit or nuts instead. Ruth had also bought into the programme so we were cooking fresh, healthy meals with plenty of vegetables to replace the usual carbs. The food was tasty so it never felt like a chore or the feeling I was missing out. Portion control still needed some work but I was aware that I was burning additional calories due to the increase in exercise, both whilst running and workouts.
Steps: 8,000+ steps achieved all week – running and daily walks as exercise for both myself and the kids.
Sleep: A bit hit and miss this week – a mixture of late nights, aching muscles and unrestful kids. Going to bed at a reasonable hour though.
Group Zoom Q&A on Nutrition with Mike Catris from Kratos Nutrition. Some really interesting points in terms of training and nutrition – something to think about during and post exercise, especially my long runs. A valuable source of information.
January – Week 3
- Weigh-in: 85.6 kilos
- Running Miles: 39.6 miles
- Maegen Workouts: 2 workouts
Workouts: Another good week for exercise in general covering just shy of 40 miles running with a tough 18 mile hilly, trail run thrown in on the weekend. I also managed to do two tough Maegen Workouts slotted in on my rest days. After the first week I’d finally got the balance right and opted to do 5 runs a week with two workouts in between. This would be more sustainable long term. The two workouts were both done online via Zoom – one on Wednesday with a few friends and a larger group session on Saturday morning organised by Craig. The Maegen Workouts consisted of the following:
- 5 Rounds, 1 minute per exercise: Lunges, Ground to Overhead (10kg), Sit-ups, Tuck Jumps, Mountain Climbers
- 100 x Shoulder to Overhead (10kg), 3 Burpees every minute; 10 Reps of 5 Press-Ups, 10 Tuck Jumps, 15 Sit-ups
Food: I’m a fairly driven person. Both exercise and food are under my control and once I set myself a target then I try and give it my 100%. The cravings for sweet and savory snacks was diminishing – they do say habits take 2 weeks to break – and I was eating a more healthy, balance diet. I was still having the occasional treat but it became evident that the ‘kids’ sweet box was still full 3 weeks after our monthly shop – and there was me blaming them in the past for getting through them too quickly – apparently it wasn’t them after all! Ruth was also playing her part – 3 weeks into the New Year and no sign of a take-away – under normal conditions that would be unheard of.
Steps: Averaging over 8,000 steps a day – finding it a bit tougher on ‘rest days’ but it encourages a brisk family walk at lunch. Win win.
Sleep: Binge watching ‘The Fall’ boxset when the kids go to bed probably isn’t the best idea as I found myself up to the small hours on a couple of occasions. The good news as least was that the kids were sleeping through – I just need to discipline myself a bit more.
Group Zoom Q&A on Workouts with Mike Holmes from Second City CrossFit – another really interesting session which focused mainly on CrossFit (that’s his background after all) and weights but could be adapted for running. Again, another interesting Q&A session with some useful points for consideration.
January – Week 4
- Weigh-in: 85.5 kilos
- Running Miles: 46.3 miles
- Maegen Workouts: 2 workouts
Workouts: Another productive week in terms of running miles and Maegen Workouts. Long back-to-back runs on the weekend – made tougher due to the snow – set me up for a good week of training and a couple of gentle recovery runs kept the legs turning over. The Maegen Workouts consisted of the following:
- Time (20 minutes): Ground to Overhead (20kgs), Press-ups (x3)
- The 100 Workout – 100 Burpees, 100 Press-ups, 100 Sit-ups, 100 Squats
The first session – another group workout via Zoom – was a well balanced workout and good to be done as part of a group. The second session was by far the hardest session I’ve done to-date and a true test of mental and physical resolve. In all honesty, it’s the kind of workout that I’d either put-off or try and take shortcuts if I wasn’t being held accountable to the group. It was tough.
Food: Definitely my worst week for healthy eating – which coincides with the end of the month and the need to do a monthly shop. I wasn’t craving unhealthy snacks – and left the kids sweet box alone – but the lack of fresh fruit and veg meant meal times weren’t as healthy as they had previously been – with the odd processed meal thrown in. Something to consider going forward.
Steps: 10,000 + steps achieved on most days due to the amount of running miles I’d put into the week.
Sleep: Still averaging over 8hrs on most nights, helped mainly by the lack of the early commute to work and the kids sleeping through – probably down to the afternoon walks and more fresh air.
So, that’s it – after 4 weeks of healthy living, bespoke workouts and improved sleep, I felt great – not just physically but also mentally. I’d managed to maintain my weekly mileage in addition to a couple of Maegen Workouts and I felt stronger – in both body and mind. My diet had improved, without giving up the things I enjoy and we were eating healthier as a family. There was also the social side of the programme, I’d reconnected with old friends – as well as meeting new like-minded people – and enjoyed the group workout sessions via zoom. The consistency and challenge kept me motivated – more so knowing that we were in this together.
In the 4 week programme I lost 2.4 kilo’s – not a massive amount – but it felt sustainable. Averaging just over 0.6/kilo weight loss per week felt healthy. It’s not a short-term crash course diet where you lose a lot of weight in a short period of time, only to pile it back on – plus some – over time. As a group with 24 participants, there was a combined weight loss of over 55 kilo’s in the 4 week plan. That’s pretty awesome in itself!
It’s a lifestyle programme whereby small changes lead to long terms rewards.
I feel like I’m invested in this now. I’ve signed up for another month and invested in some additional kit. The weights are getting heavier, the workouts are getting harder but the rewards are greater – and the challenge and motivation to succeed is just as strong.
Drop me a message or comment below if you’d like any more information or if you have any questions…