My Fitness Journey

Part 23: Almost Hitting Target

Chris Brophy

When I set off on my fitness journey on August 1st last year, I never imagined that I’d be almost hitting target within a year. Actually, I didn’t really set targets from the outset. I was just doing any old exercise and hoping I’d lose “some” fat, whatever that meant. It wasn’t until a few weeks in that I set goals and I have to say that I’m pretty  close to it now, but I’ll reveal the end-of-June stats in just a moment.

As you will recall from my last article part 22, I’ve been doing 15 minute workouts these past couple of months and I’ve actually found them to be more beneficial than the 25 minute “steadier” workouts I’d been doing earlier in the year. I’ve learnt that exercise can be more effective if done “harder” over a shorter period of time such as 15 minutes, than doing steady workouts over half an hour.

So this past month (June) I have been blasting my muscles with 15 minutes of mostly weights-focused exercise, five days a week. No weekend workouts, just Monday to Friday. However this past week or so I’ve made two tweaks. The first being that I have bought a bench, so now do many of my exercises on there, using a mixture of barbells (BB), dumbbells (DB) and kettle bells (KB). And the other being that I have doubled the workouts to 30 minutes. So I am not doing half an hour of steady workouts… I’m doing 30 minutes of high intensity heart-pumping workouts.


What did the workouts involve?

On Mondays, I’ve been focused on the upper body doing 3 sets of:

BB Bench Press, Bench Fly, KB Triceps Extension, DB Bent Over Row, DB Shrug, DB Alternating Shoulder Press, DB Biceps Curl, DB Single Arm Row, DB Alternating Hammer Curl for my arms. And then hitting the abs with… Sit Ups, Press Ups, Plank / Side Planks, Scissors, Crunches


On Tuesday’s I’ve given my upper body a day’s rest and focused on lower body with 4 sets of: 

BB Deadlifts, BB Zercher Squats (which were hard!) BB Overhead Lunges, KB Swing Arounds, KB Russian Swings, DB Shrug, DB Calf Raises, Leg Extensions and more.


On Wednesday’s I would repeat the upper body workout and on Thursday’s the lower body workout, but then on Friday’s it was time for the full body workout. This is a 34-minute session tackling all muscle groups, and boy is it tough. I’ve never sweat so much! It’s a mix of upper body, lower body and heart-pumping cardio. Two sets each of:

BB Bench Press, BB Bench Flye, Bench Leg Extension, KB Triceps Extension, DB Calf Raise, DB Single Arm Row, DB Biceps Curl, DB alternating Hammer Curl, 1 Minute Rest, KB Sit Ups, Press Ups, Plank / Side Planks, Scissors, Crunch, BB Deadlift, BB Squat, BB Overhead Lunge, KB Russian Swings, 1 Minute Rest, Speed Skipping, Mountain Climber, Burpees, Body Weight Jump Squats, Sprints, Knee Thrusts, Straight Out Punches followed by a 90 second rest before repeating the set again!


Boosting the Weights

My Bench

My Bench

When I first started lifting weights last November, I was only lifting dumbbells of around 5 kg each. They were too light for me, and that probably explains why my fitness results flatlined for a while… I just wasn’t challenging myself enough. It was too easy. I didn’t bother with weights for a few months, in fact, I lost focus completely for a couple of months, just doing any old exercise that took my fancy. I had no structure in place at all.

It wasn’t until April this year that I discovered the 15-minute workouts in a book I bought at a motorway service station in Yorkshire. It was that very book called 15 Minute Weight Loss from Men’s Health magazine that changed the way I worked out for the better. It made me realise that if I pushed myself hard enough for 15 minutes a day with “challenging” weights and tougher cardio routines, it would be more beneficial to me than doing half an hour of easy-peasy less challenging exercises.

By the end of April I was amazed at the way in which my body was visibly changing. Yes the scales were showing impressive numbers too; I was losing weight, but you could really see my body changing with your own eyes. By the end May I could see my waist line shrinking further and my abs/pecs developing nicely, looking a lot more toned than I was pre-April when I wasn’t focused on the 15-minute weight-loss sessions.

When June arrived and I realised I was only 2 months away from August 1st (my 1 year fitness birthday shall we call it), I realised that I had to step things up even more by doubling the session to make it even harder. Yes it was harder, especially because I was taking a high intensity 15 minute workout and making it a 30 minute high intensity workout, rather than a 30 minute steady state plod… which is exactly what I’ve been talking about avoiding above.

Last week, I did 15 minute high intensity training and lost 2.2lbs. This week I doubled the training length to 30 minutes of high intensity training and lost 1.6lbs, which is around half a pound less. I did however eat two lots of ice cream early in the week and went out for a heavy “carvery meal” last Sunday, so expected to have gained weight this week.

I think the fact that I doubled the sessions and had two healthy shakes a day every day last week helped prevent the abs turning back in to flabs! I’d just like to say how difficult it is having two shakes and one main “solids” meal a day. I’ve had my stomach making noises only an old rollercoaster would make this week. The creaks and cracks were driving me crazy, but I avoided the snacks as much as possible.  If I felt hungry I’d reach for the fat-free Greek yoghurts in the fridge which contain a mere 57 calories anyway!

I’ve now gone from lifting just 5kg in weights to over 20kg in the space of a few months.


What results have I seen in June?

Chris Brophy 11 months into my fitness journeySo in a nutshell, June has been a fantastic month. I couldn’t be happier. Let’s look at the stats.

Overall Body Weight

August 1st 2016 – 231 lbs (that’s 16 and a half stone!)

July 1st 2017183 lbs (that’s 13 stone 1 pound)

That’s a loss of 48 lbs in total (almost 3 and a half stone) and means I am now only around 11 pounds away from my target. My target is 172 lbs, as that would shift me in to my “healthy” zone, but I’d like to drop just a little below that maybe to 170 lbs. That way I won’t feel too guilty about gaining the odd pound or two here and there.

This time last year I was wearing 2XL shirts and shorts. I tried them on the other day and I’m not kidding, you can now fit two of me in to one leg on those shorts. In my forthcoming article on August 1st this (which will be my 1 year of fitness celebratory post!!) I will publish photographs of my progress each step of the way during this journey and include photos of those horrid 2XL clothes. It’s hard to believe that I am now in ‘mediums’. The two XL shirt looks like an 8 berth tent!

BMI

This has gone from being 33.1 to 26.3 in the past 11 months!

Body Fat

I went from being 18.1% to 15.4%. According to my app, I have a healthy amount of overall body fat. However, my eyes are telling me that I have just an inch or so of flab around my waist to shift, so I expect that percentage to drop a little more over the coming weeks.

Body Water

My target body water percentage is actually 55%, and I am now at 55.1% in the healthy zone. It started at 52.7% last year. So I am happy with this figure.

Visceral Fat Rating

This relates to how much fat I have lingering around the belly area. Of all the body fat I have, most of it is now lingering around the waist. My butt has shrunk (glutes!) and my upper arms aren’t fat any longer. My facial fat has almost gone, so now it is mostly lurking around the belly. The visceral fat rating should be around 9 for somebody of my age and height, but I have taken this down from 18 to 12. I am confident that by the end of August I shall have reached my target.

Muscle Mass

When I started on my fitness journey, I had very little (visible) muscle if I’m honest. My face was extremely round, my upper arms were flabby, and I certainly didn’t have pecs or abs showing. In August last year, my body contained around 130 lbs of muscle whereas now I am carrying around 142 lbs. So the fat has shredded and toned muscular look is very visible indeed.

Neck

It’s hard to believe that this time last year I was wearing shirts with a 18.5″ neck. Today, the measurements were 15.6″. That’s almost 3 inches of fat gone off my neck!  In fact, this time last year you couldn’t even see a neck. It was just a revolting round face on chubby shoulders!

Chest

I’ve gone from a 44 inch chest to a 39 inch chest in the past eleven months, meaning I have lost 5 inches in total.

Waist

This has dropped from 45 inches to 36.2 inches, resulting in a loss of around 9 inches from my waist area.

So in a nutshell, my losses/gains are as follows:

Fat: lost 48 lbs so far
Muscle: gained 12 lbs
Neck: lost 3 inches of fat
Chest: lost 5 inches of  fat
Waist: lost 9 inches of fat


Chris Brophy Fitness Progress August 2016 & July 2017

Chris Brophy Fitness Progress August 2016 & July 2017

I have one more post for you in a couple of weeks from now before my BIG one-year-of-fitness celebratory post on August 1st 2017. I have already started writing this article and am very excited to show you my results of being 12 months into this amazing fitness journey. I also have one big surprise for you a month from now, but I’m keeping that one quiet for the moment.

Thanks for following my blog, and if you’re on a fitness journey please drop me a line and let me know how you’re getting along. Maybe you’re thinking of losing weight and fighting fit but lack the motivation to get going. Whoever you are, whatever you’re doing, please say hi. It’s always lovely to read you emails. Or you can of course comments below.

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