10 Things I Learned From Getting Shredded in 90 Days During Lockdown before I Turned 40.

Credit: Brendan Ellis

It was the middle of COVID-19 lockdown in the UK, and I didn’t know my arse from my elbow.

Plans for the rest of 2020 had gone out the window and I was lost. You see, I’m someone who needs a goal to work towards & CoronaVirus has snatched those from me for this year.

It sucked.

As I lay on the sofa, I began to feel sorry for myself. This was selfish but also ridiculous. I was lucky enough to have a job, some outside space and a decent working setup. So why was I lost?

Fitness has always been a big part of my life.

Whatever I was doing; playing cricket, jolly hockey sticks or running for hours, it always gave me focus. It was that focus I lacked now.

As I picked up an old copy of Men’s Health, all I could see was the cover model staring at me with 6 pack abs and a cheesy smile.

“F you” I muttered.

But then I got carried away and thought, could I be on the cover of a fitness magazine?! What a preposterous thought. As I let it sink in, I began to question was it really that a crazy thought?

On a late May evening, the challenge was set (between me and me, might I add) to become ‘cover model ready’.

Having never modelled, been on a photo shoot or graced the cover of any magazine, I was blissfully naïve. But the challenge was set — 90 days to get “ripped as f*ck”.

This is what I learned:

1. The Mind Is Stronger Than The Body

Put another way, mindset is key. I cannot overemphasise how important this is as your mindset will make or break your success. The stronger your reasoning for taking on a challenge i.e. your WHY, the more likely you are to stay the course when things get tough.

Ultimately, it will depend how badly you want the end result.

2. Consistency is Boring, But Always Wins

Unfortunately, this learning won’t sell many eBooks as it’s a really unsexy statement but being consistent is what gets results. Yes, it’s boring I know that but it’s true. My weight fluctuated, but by staying in a consistent calorie deficit and hitting my protein number, I knew it would reduce.

And it did.

3. I’m Not Special

If I can do it, you can. I promise you. I’m not a professional athlete & I don’t have superpowers (sadly). I just applied focus, hard work and commitment. There was nothing I did that cannot be replicated by you.

The question is how badly do you want the outcome?

4. Life WILL get In the Way

I know this sounds obvious but it’s true. No matter how well you plan, something will try and derail you. It could be attending a BBQ, going to a Birthday party or having a takeaway. Where can you make a subtle change in what you choose? If you want a beer, why not go low calorie option? A normal bottle of beer has approx. 145 kcals, but a bottle of Amstel 66 has only 66 kcals.

A couple of beers, in this case, will not derail your progress but relies on you making the best choice possible.

5. Temptation is Always There

It is inevitable that you will be faced with a “F*ck it moment” — that moment where you could throw the towel in for the day, and enjoy something ‘you shouldn’t’ (Read: cake, desserts, sweets or pastries for example). You will always have people say, “go on just one won’t hurt”. And you’re right, just one won’t hurt but what happens if you have 5 “just ones”? It will begin to derail your progress.

If you have a bad day, don’t throw it away. Just commit to be better tomorrow.

6. Portion Sizes Are Generally Far Too Big

We have become used to large portion sizes. Every time you go out, the volume of food served is generally in excess of what is needed. We all overeat and so the best way to cut your meal sizes down is to use smaller plates. Then don’t over fill it!

And it reduces your calorie intake. Genius.

7. What Gets Measured, Gets Managed

Boring phrase but is very true. We often kid ourselves about the nutritional content of what we eat. We are fooling ourselves. Until you starting tracking what you eat, you won’t truly know. So the biggest learning point is, track your food and know for sure how many calories you are shovelling down your throat!

8. No Burpees or HIIT Needed

I’m not a fan of burpees at the best of times, in fact I think they are an horrendous exercise. I can promise you, I did not perform a single burpee or HIIT session. Using resistance training (lifting weights) and a few low intensity steady state (LISS) sessions towards the end of the challenge, was all the exercise I needed. You that you can get very lean without doing any.

Not one.

9. No crazy diets or training plans

From the very beginning, I promised myself I would make the process sustainable. I was not going to adopt detoxes, crash diets or other ridiculous fads. I didn’t cut out heaps of foods, I didn’t have a diet of water and air. Yes, I was more selective (more nutrient dense rather than calorie dense foods) but that was it.

I still enjoyed haribo, ice creams and peanut butter.

10. No ab only workouts

I reckon I did 25 crunches in the entire 14 weeks. That’s it. If you bring intensity to your workouts and focus on making smart food choices, you don’t need to crunch.

The old phrase, abs are made in the kitchen still rings true.

So these are my learnings, how did I get on?

I didn’t (well not yet) get on the cover of a magazine, but I have become very lean.

In fact, for the first time in my life, I am pleased with my body.

There are still parts I don’t like but I am learning to love them. This is not gloating or trying to make anyone else feel bad. This was purely to give me a focus and provide a challenge.

Final Thought

Can you do the same? Most definitely.

It will take time and effort, but there is absolutely no reason why you can’t get into the best shape of your life too.

It’s all about making a commitment and starting.

It is not about spending 100’s of hours in the gym, far from it.

I did 5 workouts a week for max 60 mins. Add in a couple of low intensity steady state sessions (LISS) i.e. cross trainer or cycling, towards the end and that’s it.

There are 168 hours in the week, it’s what you do in the other 163 that really matters.

At the end of 2019, I wondered if I could get into the best shape of my life when I turned 40 in November.

I can now proudly answer the question with a ‘yes’.

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“Data drives the world but people bring it to life.” No BS articles on life experiences, personal development, mindset & habits.

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Brendan Ellis

Brendan Ellis

“Data drives the world but people bring it to life.” No BS articles on life experiences, personal development, mindset & habits.

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