'Life-changing' is a term bandied about freely these days – but for UP client Ed, his body transformation journey truly was.
The 24-year-old London business analyst was severely overweight when he started at UP and would over-eat on takeaways and often drink 10 or 12 pints of beer on a night out.
The former rugby player weighed 21 stone (137kg) and was unhappy with his weight, the way he looked, and the effect it was having on his health and even his outlook on life.
He explains that his weight had impacted his gregarious, out-going personality and he hated going shopping or out anywhere in public, preferring to stay at home playing video games.
But after a previous failed attempt to get back in shape, he was finally determined to change his lifestyle for good and claw back his health and fitness.
What a difference a year can make. Now Ed is almost unrecognisable from his former self after losing more than 82lbs (37.4kg) with some real hard work in the gym with the help of his world-class UP personal trainer.
"UP has given me my life back," he says. "I have lost roughly 30% of my bodyweight in the last 12 months; I think this is the most obvious change, but the biggest change for me is how much I have changed my attitude and approach.
"When I came to UP, I was lethargic, apathetic and generally miserable all the time. Now following the last year, I am upbeat and proactive; I enjoy walking rather than taking the tube, and I am much happier in my own skin."
Ed's incredible determination and hard work on his UP training and nutrition programme has brought him truly amazing results. His weight has dropped by nearly 40kg, he has cut his body fat down from over 40% to 16%, and he has gained control of his diet to be able to eat healthily.
He tells the inspiring story behind his transformation journey and how fitness and nutrition has changed his life…
Why did you come to UP in the first place?
I have always been a big chap; I played rugby throughout my school career, and I thought this kept me in good shape and my size was mostly muscle.
Following the end of my rugby career, I began to gain weight and went from 115kg to 137kg. While I was around 125kg, I joined a gym and managed to lose about 10kg. Without any coherent guidance on food, I found my progress stalled, and I began to lose interest in the process.
I felt out of my depth and without realising it in my final year of university I put all that 10kg back on and then some more to finish up at 137kg.
My dad has always been a great supporter of me losing weight to avoid some of the health problems my nan had later in life; particularly limited mobility, but diabetes was also a concern.
I thought I was fine, but I wanted to be a bit leaner for aesthetic reasons. The first time he ever approached the issue was when I was 16 and 16 stone; we set a target of trying to be lighter than 100kg. Obviously, I failed. He had even begun going to the gym as a form of encouragement and ended up getting into excellent shape himself!
In December of 2015, he approached me and mentioned that he had seen an advert, in high life magazine, for a PT gym based in London that specialised in a full-spectrum approach to fitness and particularly weight loss.
He told me later that this was the last time he was going to bring it up because he found my constant cycles of failure too emotionally draining.
I hated being so fat, and despite my constant self-denials, I despised going shopping, walking around in public, being in public or being on public transport; in all honesty, I was happier in my room playing video games out of the public eye.
Being 40%+ body fat meant I was always tired and always hot and sweaty; I hated feeling like that, and I couldn’t cope with it, it was easier to be an agoraphobe. My personal life suffered, and I lost my gregarious personality.
I have never been afraid of hard work and looking at the UP website I learn that UP would do everything for me except the hard work; I felt that this was a place I could excel at.
I was able to put my trust in my trainer Ben’s many years of knowledge about nutrition and weight lifting, by leveraging on his skills I was able to effect a transformation on my physical and mental state through the liberal application of hard work.
What was your diet like before you came to UP?
Hell, this is embarrassing to even admit. Quantity, significant quantity.
My parents were always a really positive influence providing lean meat, plenty of vegetables and a decent carbohydrate option like sweet potato or brown rice; I cannot fault them for trying.
Outside the house I would happily eat savoury delights like pasties and baked goods particularly; I was never much of a chocolate person.
At university, my diet took a significant turn for the worse. It was inconsistent and frequently consisted of takeaways for one – curry, rice and naan; fried chicken was a pretty constant companion and let's not forget the Two for Tuesdays (I don’t think it is designed with one consumer in mind). My gluttony was expensive and definitely solely caused my explosive weight
I also drank a huge amount of beer, wine and spirits; I was proud of my capacity for raw spirits and would regularly consume 10 to 12 pints on a night out. My favourite story was doing 15 shots of absinthe one after the other in the student union; disgraceful behaviour and I'm glad it's behind me.
How has your diet changed since being at UP?
I do not drink with the exception of rare special occasions (maybe four times in the last 12 months) like my cousin's wedding and my holiday to Scotland; when I do drink, I avoid beer for the most part, and I no longer have the tolerance or desire to even approach my former consumption levels.
I no longer eat significant quantities of carbohydrates and would rather eat the equivalent calories in protein. I am happily on a calorie-restricted diet in the hope of leaning out the final 20lbs or so to get to a truly spectacular outcome.
On the calorie restriction, I would rather increase the quantity of food and avoid carbs. I do not eat baked goods at all and on my refeed days I crave heartier savoury meals rather than sweet treats.
What do you feel that you have achieved?
I have lost roughly 30% of my bodyweight in the last 12 months; I think this is the most obvious change, but the biggest change for me is how much I have changed my attitude and approach.
When I came to UP, I was lethargic, apathetic and generally miserable all the time. Now following the last year, I am upbeat and proactive; I enjoy walking rather than taking the tube, and I am much happier in my own skin.
I have found that I am looking forward to spending three evenings a week in UP instead of going to the pub or rushing home to play video games for hours at a time. I have a much healthier attitude to my very limited spare time.
What was your story at UP?
I have been coming to UP for a year. Originally thought that I would be good at 115kg then 100kg, and now 90kg is the target. I have learnt how much I didn’t know about health and fitness.
I have learnt quite how unfit I was when I walked in; it is only with hindsight I can recognise how terribly out of shape I was. It’s incredible to be able to look at my friends and realise I am now the fittest of all of them, not the fattest.
I am particularly looking forward to my original goal of my Caribbean holiday this April; I won’t be 'done' for it, but I'm feeling great about it.
Half way through the UP process my girlfriend of two years and I split up after having moved in; having something to do to take my mind off things definitely helped me get over it in short order and move onwards and upwards to focus solely on myself for a while in a purely positive way.
It sounds really self-centred, but seeing a vein on my bicep still makes me smile because I know how much effort I put into getting that vein visible; my trainer indulges me, but it must be annoying him by now.
I cannot believe how much of a different person I am following my ~40kg weight loss.
Sure, I spend most of my time in the gym or at work, but I feel much more outgoing and positive about my life now, and my mood is revolutionised by the aesthetic and physical changes.
I can do anything I want without getting tired or achy (except for the pendulum squat, that thing wrecks me). It is liberating to no longer be carrying around that ridiculous quantity of body fat
The second huge change is that now I am able to choose the clothes I buy instead of just getting what fits. Now if I want to buy something, but they don’t have my size, nine times out of 10 it is because they only have ones which are too big; this is a massively positive thing for me, and I can leave happy knowing that I'm not the biggest person out shopping anymore.
Even small changes in the way people treat me have become apparent. People pay more attention to me and often comment on how good I'm looking at the moment.
What have you learnt?
I have learnt that I can lose weight and that I was not always destined to be 18 or 19 stone forever. I have learnt that body composition is a fundamentally simple equation of calories in against calories out, and it is just a question of hard work to make it happen.
Learning the discipline of calorie tracking and macro counting has helped me excel in other areas of my life; eating healthily and with a good quantity of lean protein and green veg has sharpened me up mentally and improved my mood across the board.
I am a generally happier person as a result of eating better and the corresponding boost in energy I get throughout my daily life.
I have also learnt how to have things that do not fit into my diet; UP has taught me moderation. I took a more relaxed approach to tracking in December and using my experiences earlier in the year I was able to eat my dad's homemade Christmas cake and a pretty extreme Christmas lunch; I didn't gain any weight over Christmas, and I was content that I had maintained stability for a few weeks. I was reinvigorated for my 1500kcal first quarter.
What's next for you?
Given I haven’t finished my process yet I am going to be continuing to work with my trainer Ben at UP until I get to my current target of 90kg then reassess where I want to go with it.
UP has given me my life back.
I have taken up rock climbing because it's something I always wanted to do but lacked the strength.
I no longer drink which is saving me money and giving me back the days I used to spend comatose nursing a hangover.