Today, 20th January 2024 is the six month anniversary of that ‘switch’ in my brain flicking over and making the decisions that have since led me to this point – Day Zero, 20th July 2023.

Once I had made the decision to change and embark on a weight-loss challenge I immediately ordered, what I thought would be my diet staple, Huel. A nutritionally complete food, providing all essential vitamins and minerals, protein, essential fats, carbs, fibre and phytonutrients. During that day I discussed my plans with Coach Ken (although back then neither of us realised the impact he would have on my journey – well I certainly didn’t know what I was getting into). He had used Huel products previously but had since switched to shakes and supplements from Protein Works due to them having a better carb profile, and (in his opinion) a better taste. And so another order was placed. The question was which would arrive first?

Friday 21st July 2023 and the start of my diet. But what would be on the menu? Lunchtime arrived and so did my first delivery of meal replacement shakes – from Protein Works. It would be another two days before Huel arrived despite it supposedly being a next day delivery. So which did I prefer? My one and only order with Huel remains in its box and my cupboard is stocked up with breakfast shakes, meal replacement shakes, super greens powders, Micellar Casein, Creatine Monohydrate, protein brownie mixes, protein pancake mixes and six different supplements all from Protein Works. A couple of weeks later I tried Huel when visiting a friend and that convinced me I had made the correct choice.

Six months on and I am just 2.5lb (1.15kg) away from having lost 5st (31.75kg) of weight.

It’s milestones like these that really make me stop and think. 5 stone of my body weight has been discarded, in just six months. That’s 28.9% less of me! I’ve gone from wearing 44-46in jeans to 32in slim fit jeans. From XXL to Medium slim fit tops, and even on the verge of Small. The gym kit I bought in September (shorts, tops, trackies) have all been discarded. A preference for loose fitting clothes in dark colours has been replaced with tighter tops in lighter colours (even white!) and slimmer jeans than I have ever worn in my life.

So what started out as a mere weight-loss journey has genuinely turned into something life-changing.

A total lifestyle reboot.

And this is where Ken really has been instrumental. He has encouraged me to push my limits. To step out of my comfort zone. To make changes and do things differently. To make good habbits. To make better choices. To create routine. To join a gym. He even suggested I should learn to swim. I did resist that one saying, at the time, that I was making enough changes and that was perhaps one challenge too many. Well, learning to swim is now one of my goals for this year starting in the Summer.

Ken has been there constantly supporting me wherever he has been in the world on board container ships – in the Far East, traversing the southern tip of Africa, in the South Pacific sailing between Los Angeles and Sydney or the Bahamas – or back home in north east England. Helping me make those changes, those choices and rebuilding a mindset to carry me forward. I’ve basically been re-programmed and as Ken himself said about me back in November 2023: “Mark is discovering a better version of himself every single day. That’s a better version physically, mentally, and emotionally”.

And, of course, there is Matty the PT.

Since joining JD Gym in Thornton-Cleveleys back in September 2023 Matt Schmid (Active4You) has been instrumental in building, not just my body but, my confidence in the gym. He understands me, pushes me and supports me. I wouldn’t be where I am now without the support of a good personal trainer, and he is really good. During our first few sessions he assessed my capabilities and worked out a plan to prepare me for what was to come. I would have been clueless on my own. Only when I was ready did we progress to the “big three” – bench press, squat and deadlift – alongside everything we do across our current Push Pull Leg (PPL) programme.

So, six months on and I’m starting the day, almost the same as I did at the beginning, with two glasses of ice cold water followed by a Protein Works breakfast shake, and the energy boost of a Grenade energy drink (these were added to my regime in November).

All food and drink is logged in the Nutracheck app with targets for calories and macros, and a focus on daily high protein intake. No processed or ultra processed foods. No takeaways. No pizzas. No sweets. No biscuits or cakes. Just protein shakes, protein bars, and fresh cooked high protein meals with chicken, turkey or beef, vegetables and fruit. No tea or coffee, no alcohol, just plenty of water throughout the day.

What has changed since six months ago?

Well, apart from losing a huge chunk of me, one of the biggest changes is the self belief that I have.

It was made clear that I would only come close to achieving my goals with hard work, commitment, consistency and discipline. Hard Work Pays Off – HWPO. Whilst that is very true it has rarely felt like hard work. Sure, there have been things that have been tough. Challenges to overcome. But overall it has been great fun. It has never felt like a chore. I’ve not regretted a single choice, and I continue looking forward at everything the next six months and beyond has to offer.

If I can do it, then anyone can – you just have to WANT to do it and know WHY you are doing it.

Two motivational quotes I came across recently ring very true:

Becoming strong doesn’t start in the gym. It starts in your head

Don’t look for motivation. Find your WHY, then NO EXCUSES will come between you and YOUR GOALS

To coin an old phrase that came up very early in my journey… I’ve Got This!

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