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43 Year Old Dad Bod to Fit Bod: The Transformation Journey Back…Begins

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It’s been four years since I last set foot in a gym. Let’s just say that a life-changing event happened, and suddenly, everything was different. Let’s leave it at that.

This series of articles documents my journey to getting back into shape as a 43-year-old married man with two kids. As a self-employed individual, I have the flexibility in my schedule to train, although it will require adjustments, including cutting down on sleep. Rocking a dad bod that deeply concerns me (and that is no exaggeration, particularly considering I was in relatively good shape up until my late thirties), recent positive changes in our lives now allow me to commit to training, eating right, and reclaiming my fitness. 

This article is for both women and men, as I firmly believe that both women and men follow the same principles of nutrition and training, regardless of your experience in the gym or with nutrition.

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With what we have been through, my wife and I know full well that to make the commitment and stick to it, there has to be the financial capacity to do so.

I have yet to find a super-cost-effective protein source to give me the daily targets of protein that must be eaten in order to re-composition my body

The natural order of things is that an improvement in mental well-being and all-round happiness is a natural by-product of getting physically fit and healthy. 

The change in diet from eating shitty, sugary, and processed foods to whole foods with a lot of protein, vegetables, and good carbs increases natural energy and negates the afternoon crash associated with sugar and simple carb sources.

Now I do have a number of years of training and nutrition experience, so I do not need the services of a personal trainer and so on. The plan and series of article updates I will be writing about will be the most practical and healthiest way to finally stick to a transformation for anyone reading this.

This is not about getting on stage and competing. This is not about dieting to point that I cannot function in my everyday life. Bodybuilding is not my career, nor do I long to do competition prep for myself or anyone else. This is about healthier lifestyle choices with food and the discipline to stick to a plan.

 I do not have a specific goal weight or body fat percentage target in mind. I do not have a time deadline either, so it takes as long as it takes. My big motivation here is just to get fit and healthy and document the process to show it can be done, how it was done, and how long it took.

If this series of articles can inspire and help even one other person, that will be a fantastic result, but what I am doing is for my own health and longevity with my beautiful wife and kids. Smoking is the one thing I am not ready to give up, I am not a big drinker so alcohol is really a non-event in our lives, but in phase 2 (the calorie deficit and “cutting phase, alcohol will be an absolute no-go)

The pictures below are of my wife in competition. This type of cutting phase is absolutely not on my radar, but a good indication to our readers of what the body can do.

A few Pics of Ana Hancock

1. Preparation

For phase 1, simplicity is key. Extreme measures are not part of the plan; rather, I aim for sustainable changes that can be maintained indefinitely. Crash dieting is out of the question; I prioritize maintaining my sanity throughout the process. While I haven’t measured my body fat percentage yet, it’s safe to say I’m starting from a hefty base. Meal prep is essential, especially for those with busy schedules. Personally, I prefer to plan and measure my meals on the go. Working from home has its perks, one of which is that my wife, who’s also on this journey with me, is an excellent cook, making meal preparation a breeze.

The goal of phase 1 is to focus on muscle gain, with any fat loss being a bonus result of increased protein intake and heavy lifting. More muscle equates to a higher metabolic rate, making subsequent phases easier and yielding quicker visible results.

For most, I would suggest this route, unless you are to be married in a couple of months and need to do something extreme for the wedding dress or suit.

Tracking calories

This will give me the base for the rest of the transformation as I can see from my weight and measurements whether I need to up the calories or drop, and play with the carbs intake. I use the MyFitnessPal app for this (I have no affiliation, just find this to be the easiest). Please be aware this is not 100% accurate. It tracks your carbs, protein and fats accurately in grams but somehow their formula allocates a little too many or too little calories for each. You can subscribe and download my free calorie calculator here.

Prioritizing protein intake

  1. Cut all sugar completely; no sugary drinks, chocolate (candy), or any other processed sugar, other than scheduled cheat days which are Sundays. Phase 2: This will be scaled way back.
  2. Cut out dairy from my daily coffees and switch to almond milk.
  3. I will be eating a fair amount of vegetables, namely cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, and salads.
  4. Protein will come from ground beef, chicken breast, egg whites, and steak.
  5. Fats from the protein sources above, double cream yoghurt, peanut butter, and occasional cheese—if it fits into my daily calories.

First meal after 12 p.m. daily. This is not true intermittent fasting as I will be having sweetener with my coffees. This will be monitored and adjusted according to my hunger and recovery. After 2 weeks of phase one I adjusted this to my hunger so I would be having a protein around 10 a.m., mainly biltong (Jerky) or egg whites.

 I am really not a big drinker of alcohol, so this is not an issue for me. If I were a regular drinker, this would have to go.

  • Measure and capture all foods (and meals) and drinks (coffee, occasional sugar-free energy drinks). So it’s time to dust off the kitchen scale.

Training

 

Progress

  •       Before picture (vomit)
  •       Measurements
  •       Starting Weight
 

My attitude towards this is fairly relaxed but excited. I am not doing anything extreme. I understand cutting out sugar is not actually a big deal, and I do have a scheduled cheat meal on Sunday which will include pancakes, ice cream, chocolates, etc. The important aspect of this transformation is to still be pleasant to be around (although some may argue I have never been pleasant, ha ha ha) and to be able to maintain this as a lifestyle. As the weeks progress, I will alter the calories accordingly to make sure my training performance is sustainable.

I will be running a gear cycle (again, I have experience with this), the specifics of which are not important, but safe dosing for my age will be adhered to. Additional supplementation is 5 grams of creatine monohydrate and 5 grams of glutamine daily, which will aid in a little bit of strength performance and recovery (ignore the loading phase on the labels; you do not have to load the creatine; just take the 5 grams daily just before workouts). On non-training days, I have 5 grams when I wake up. I also take a multivitamin and will introduce a whey protein powder in phase 2. For phase 1, the importance of eating whole foods in a caloric surplus is crucial.

2. Week-by-week experience

Week 1: 

  • Weight 97.5 Kg
  • Daily Average 6949 steps.
  • Sugar only on Sunday; almond milk in my coffee.
  • Daily Average Calories – 1 621 (very low to gauge my body and mental response)
  • Carbs: 134 grams
  • Fats: 54 grams
  • Protein: 151 grams
  • This first week has been great. I have no words to explain just how good it feels to be back in the gym, feeling that stiffness for the next few days, and eating clean. Now I will track the progress on the weight. Hunger definitely set in towards the end of the week which is completely understandable as my body has started the process of re-composition. I will keep the calories the same for the upcoming week and then see what is happening with my weight and the measurements.
 

Week 2: 

     Weight 99.5 Kg

  • Daily average: 6602 steps.
  • Sugar only on Sunday; almond milk in my coffee.
  • Daily Average Calories – 1 764 (still low to gauge my body and mental response)
  • Carbs: 140 grams
  • Fats: 68 grams
  • Protein: 148 grams
  • Weight is up 2 kg on the scale; all the important measurements are mostly up, but there is a decrease in my midsection, which means I am putting on muscle and burning fat. The objective of phase 1 is not to cut fat but rather to build muscle. If there is some fat loss along the way, that’s just a bonus. Loads are increasing in the gym on the compound exercises. The focus is on compounds for the time being. For the next 2–3 weeks, I will increase my calories as the scale and measurements are telling me I need to be heavier, so instead of going against my body and frustrating myself, I will continue to eat up at around 2400–2600 calories per day until the scale stops moving up. But so far so good…
 

Week 3: 

     Weight 103.2 Kg

  • Daily average: 6321 steps.
  • Sugar only on Sunday; almond milk in my coffee.
  • Daily Average Calories: 2 576 (although these calories are low for an active male, the scale is still going up so no need to over consume the calories)
  • Carbs: 185 grams
  • Fats: 116 grams
  • Protein: 198 grams
  • Weight is up another 3 kg on the scale; again, all the important measurements are mostly up, but there is a decrease in my midsection, which means I am putting on muscle and burning fat. Loads are increasing in the gym, and we have now added a few circuit home workouts every other day. I will continue to eat up to around 2400–2600 calories per day until the scale stops moving up. 
 

Week 4:

     Weight 105.5 Kg

  • Daily average: 7 302 steps.
  • Sugar only on Sunday; almond milk in my coffee.
  • Daily Average Calories – 2 414 (still low to gauge my body and mental response)
  • Carbs: 124 grams
  • Fats: 102 grams
  • Protein: 250 grams
  • Weight is up another 2 kg on the scale; again all the important measurements are mostly up, but there is still a decrease in my midsection, which means I am putting on muscle and burning fat. Loads are increasing in the gym and have now added a few circuit home workouts every other day. I will continue to eat up at around 2400 – 2600 calories per day until the scale stops moving up. 
 

Week 5: 

     Weight 104.2 Kg

  • Daily average: 6 385 steps.
  • Sugar only on Sunday; almond milk in my coffee.
  • Daily Average Calories: 2 546 (still low to gauge my body and mental response)
  • Carbs: 227 grams
  • Fats: 98 grams
  • Protein: 189 grams
  • Weight has now come down a kg. And my midsection has gone up a cm. The load in the gym is about 80% of where I was 4 years ago, so the progress has been good. 5 weeks of calorie surplus have resulted in good gains in lean muscle and a loss of fat. Phase 2 can now begin. This is the real fun!!!! 

 

3. Exercise and Diet

Exercises for gym sessions are as follows:

Session 1: Back, Shoulders, Calves, and Biceps I alternate the exercises.

  1. Deadlifts
  2. Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  3. Seated Cable Rows
  4. Dumbbell Front Raises superset with Seated Bent Over Laterals.
  5. Lat Pulldowns.
  6. Side Laterals superset with Face Pulls.
  7. Then Biceps giant set of Straight Bar curls, Alternating Dumbbell Curls and Alternating hammer curls

Exercises for Session 2 as follows:

Legs, Chest, Calves, and Triceps

  1. Flat Bench Press
  2. Squat
  3. Inclined Dumbbell Press
  4. Leg Press
  5. Seated Pec Deck
  6. Leg Extensions superset with Leg Curls
  7. Lunges
  8. Donkey Calf Raises
  9. Seated Calf Raises
  10. Cable Straight Bar Pushdowns superset Overhead Rope Extensions.

 Diet

Ground Beef and rice or potato (white) with broccoli or green beans

Chicken breast and rice with green beans and mushrooms

Double cream plain yoghurt with some peanut butter.

Sundays included some candy and chocolate, ice cream, and a braai (BBQ) or a roast.

4. Reflections and Learnings

I started phase 1 by trying to force my body into dropping weight with my calories set relatively low. The last 4 years of really poor eating basically forced my body into holding and using the now vastly improved calories for building and recompositioning. Couple this with the training, and there was virtually no way to lose fat or weight sustainably while keeping my sanity. After 2 weeks, I had no choice but to really up the calories and wait until the scale and measuring tape started to level out and then I could begin the first 6 – 8 week leaning out phase (cutting)

5. Looking Ahead

Phase 2 becomes a little more serious than Phase 1. There needs to be accuracy and a clear plan for the daily calories. I have put the daily meals together, and for the first 2 weeks there will be no cheat meals. How to measure the drop in calories vs. how I am feeling and whether my training performance is affected is fairly nuanced, which is why virtually all people sign up with a personal trainer. The thing with reducing calories is that it does not have to be extreme. The same approach will be applied throughout this transformation as was in Phase 1. I will monitor the scale and my measurements and continue to reduce calories – or increase slightly if necessary, depending on those variables. 

Once I reach a point where everything normalises, I will then start Phase 3, which will be another calorie surplus phase. And this will repeat until I am at a point where I am completely happy with my shape and mental well being. 

6. Measurements

MeasurementsWeek 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5
Height: Just under 6 ft 2

97.5 kg

214.95 lb

99.5 kg

219.36 lb

103.2 kg

227.51 lb

105.5 kg

232.59 lb

104.2 kg

229.72 lb

Waist97 cm | 38 in97 | 3897 | 3897 | 3897 | 38
Mid-Section / Love Handles 106 cm | 41 in103 | 40.5101 | 39.8100 | 39.4101 | 39.8
Chest116 cm | 45.6 in119 | 46.8120 | 47.2122 | 48124 | 48.8
Neck39 cm | 15,3 in42 | 16.542 | 16.542 | 16.542.5 | 16.7
Right Quad60 cm | 23.6 in61 | 2464 | 25.265 | 25.666 | 26
Left Quad60 cm | 23.6 in62 |24.463.5 | 25.265 | 25.666 | 26
Right Calf40cm | 15.7 in40 | 15.742.5 | 16.742.5 | 16.743 | 16.9
Left Calf40cm | 15.7 in40 | 15.742 | 16.642.5 | 16.743 | 16.9
Right Biceps38 cm | 14.9 in40 | 15.741 | 16.241 | 16.242 | 16.5
Left Biceps38 cm | 14.9 in39.5 | 15.541 | 16.241 | 16.242 | 16.5
Right ForearmN/AN/A33 | 1333 | 1334 | 13.4
Left ForearmN/AN/A33 | 1333 | 1334 | 13.4
ShouldersN/A130.5 | 51.4135 |53.1140 | 55.1144.5 | 56.9

 

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article, Please subscribe and stay up-to-date with All-ThingsLife.com

Please feel free to leave a comment. See you again in a few weeks with an update. Ciao for now…

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