Mark Tibbatts, 44, says Men’s health how he transformed his body and improved his overall health after years of sporadic training and dieting.
I guess you could say I had a mild midlife seizure. My kids are growing fast and I want to be a fit and active parent. As I hit my mid-forties, I became more aware of my health and the need to find a better balance with my work and family commitments to allow me to devote more time to my own. well-being. Before COVID, I traveled a lot for work and it was difficult for me to get into a routine – or at least that was my main excuse. It dawned on me last summer that one of the good things about this pandemic was that I wasn’t traveling, and I decided it was now or never. I had been trying to get in better shape for a while, but struggled to be disciplined and consistent in my diet and exercise. My wife knew a few people who were training with Ultimate Performance in Hong Kong and she kept showing me the results. The last straw that motivated me to get in touch was that she showed me one of these transformations after a few particularly unhealthy days!
Above all, I want to be a role model for my son and daughter and promote an active lifestyle. We are an active family and they are both involved in many sports; my son Harry is particularly passionate about sport in general. He’s only eight years old and I’ve been pretty involved so far, but for the future I’m really motivated to stay fit and healthy and set a good example for him as he gets older – and participate myself if possible! I also have two brothers and one of them also lives in Hong Kong. We’re pretty competitive, so I also gave myself a little challenge to inspire her to join UP. I think after seeing my results he was determined to try and improve on me so he signed up and also had a really impressive transformation with UP over the past few months.
I’d done weight training before, but never with that kind of focused focus and detailed coaching. When I started the Transformation Challenge, I was physically fit in the cardio sense, but not fit enough; I had 27% body fat and below average upper body muscle condition. My core was also quite weak.
The first thing we did was cut my daily calories to 1,500, the majority of which was taken from protein. I also increased my water consumption. I used to fast intermittently and eat pretty lean Monday through Friday, but on weekends I rarely controlled myself so I ate too many carbs. During the transformation, I was extremely disciplined. I weighed all of my portions and put everything in an app (much to my family’s frustration as I was always typing on the phone). I had very few cheat days too. I found it difficult to eat enough protein, so I took a daily whey protein shake and the occasional protein bar as well. I also ate a lot more vegetables!
The most important and telling lesson for me has been the impact of carbohydrates on glycogen storage and water retention in particular. In the past, I struggled with a very fluctuating weight and now I know a lot more about how my body works and how to control it. From a training standpoint, I know a lot more about how to organize a workout and target specific muscle groups. I’m still a newbie but I feel a lot more confident and productive in the gym now.
I was in the gym only three days a week, but also did light cardio on intermittent days, including 5k runs, trails, and biking. Most weeks I took the day off without exercising, but at one point I went through a routine of seven days a week and felt great about it. I enjoyed a lot of the exercises, although I found the squats and deadlifts difficult, split squats, and pendulum squats in particular. However, these exercises had a huge impact on my core strength and I noticed that my historic lower back weakness was much better. We have nothing, nothing!
As a parent with a busy career, it’s hard to find time before or after work every day, and there is a huge demand for sessions before 9am, noon and after 5pm. I was fortunate to have a supportive family and employer, and to be able to shift my work schedule to allow me to go to the gym a few times a week at less busy times during the work day. , which saves me time to be present at home as a parent on these days. Sure, I still had to get up early or train late a few days and weekends, but the flexibility at work gave me the balance I needed to maintain it and establish healthy habits.
In three and a half months, I lost around 26 pounds, went from 27% to 13% body fat, and increased my muscle mass by around 3 pounds. Aside from the obvious physical results, the most significant associated gain was cognitive function. I found that I was faster, more precise and more productive at work, and that I definitely had more energy. I also completely stopped snoring, which was popular around the house!
I had a few limiting beliefs to start with whether I could drop below 80 kg (176 pounds) and hold it. I hit 160 lbs (72.5 kg) by the end so I completely changed those beliefs and am really confident that I can keep it up. I feel a lot more in control of my health which also helps me when I just want to relax and enjoy some indulgent food or drink or rest for a few days. It doesn’t derail me like it could have done before.
I think I still have a bit of a way to go, although I would say I definitely did the hard part. But I still have a few goals and I know I can accomplish more.
My advice to anyone looking to work out their own fitness would be to find a trainer who will support you outside of the gym, as well as inside. Time in the gym is important, but the most important thing for me was having someone to make me make healthy choices when I was struggling to motivate myself. Whether it’s taking 3,000 extra steps to reach my daily goal, choosing the right food to order in a restaurant, going for a 10pm run after a long day at work, or so many other tipping points that allowed me to achieve my goal. The reason I succeeded is that my trainer Dan was there to keep me on course outside the gym as much as inside.
Plus, look beyond the cost and don’t think about it on a “per workout” basis! One big concern I had that almost stopped me was the cost of personal training. On second thought, when I look at the time Dan has set aside for me literally every day in and out of the gym, the value is so much more palatable. I couldn’t have done it on my own and realized that at my age, health is worth every dollar invested.
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