I have recently completed a 12 week training and nutrition programme (online coaching) with M10 Fitness, and I decided that I would write up my experience of the past 3 months for anyone considering doing the same. Everyone I speak to seems to be most interested in the results, so here are the comparison pictures. The left images were taken on the 20th February 2014 a few days prior to starting, and the right images were taken on the last day of my programme on the 18th May 2014.
At the start of the programme I weighed in at 206 lbs (93.5kg / 14 stone 10 lbs), and at the end of the programme I weighed in at 189 lbs (85.7kg / 13 stone 7 lbs). That’s a loss of 17 lbs over the 12 week period, which is an average of nearly 1.5 lbs per week – although the changes weren’t quite as linear as that! Now people might say I’m pushing my gut out in the first photo or something, but believe me, I was trying to look my best in every photo! I didn’t want to look bad. I also tried to take my photo in the same place, same lighting, with no fake tan or anything else to deceive anyone. These photos were taken for my benefit as a comparison and I wanted them to be as close as possible for easy reference.
Discovering M10 Fitness
I stumbled across M10 Fitness on Facebook via a post that was shared on a friends timeline. I glanced at some of their latest posts and I found them well written and scientific, and UK based (Nottingham). Being a big fan of people like Ben Pakulski, Layne Norton and Jim Stoppani, they ticked a lot of boxes for me and I started following them with interest. More recently they started posting before and after pictures of their clients, all of which had really impressive results for short time periods. The seed had been planted.
At the start of this year I realised that although I had been training hard and slowly progressing with my strength, the consistency to my training was not what it should be. This was partly due to extreme workloads and just being generally busy with life, but also I had no clear goal of what I was training for. Additionally, my diet was good during the week but was pretty sloppy over the weekend. As a result, I gained weight (not the good kind!) and my physique was slowly becoming soft and flabby. I really noticed this at the start of February after some photos were taken, and my first thought was “who is this fat guy in the picture”? Time for a change. I decided what I needed was structure and a complete programme, and that it was time to consult with experts.
I considered a few places locally, but M10 were always at the back of my mind. I did some more research, and decided to take the plunge and sign up to the 12 week online coaching. Immediately I received a welcome pack via email, which contained 2 fairly detailed questionnaire’s. The first was about your goals, previous training history and experience, as well as questions about nutrition. Before starting you needed to track what you ate for 3 days, which I understand but I wanted to start straight away while I was “pumped”. The second document was a medical questionnaire which included questions around food intolerances and sensitivities. I can have a lot of problems with lactose and wheat so I was glad these questions were being asked. Finally I had to take 3 pictures of my front, side and back which would serve as the starting reference point. The scary thing is, when I first saw the photos I actually thought “they don’t look too bad”. Now I am almost ashamed to put them online!
Once I sent everything off I got assigned to a coach called Ben. I had a few questions regarding the diet and he got back to me very quickly which was great, as it meant I could get everything I needed from the supermarket and start prepping for my meals. Unfortunately, there is no real substitute for preparation; if you don’t make your meals in advance you won’t be able to buy food with the right ratios of macro nutrients in a ready to eat format. Plastic tubs of food became very common place, as did monster cooking sessions where 5-10 meals could be made at once.
I found the diet very hard at first. I have a sweet tooth (to say the least!), and left to my own devices I will eat the worst kinds of crap you can imagine. Haribo, cakes, jelly beans, skittles, you name it. I am however very aware of this, and by eating things that are more naturally sweet like apples, pears, pineapple etc I can normally suppress any kinds of cravings combined with a little will power. The M10 diet did not contain any fruit, so in the first couple of weeks I was like a crazy person. All I was doing in my free time was thinking about what I would eat if I wasn’t on a diet. My daughters 1st birthday was in between week 1 and 2 of the plan, and my wife and mother in law had made a load of cupcakes for everybody. I have to say that I felt properly miserable when I was watching everyone eat them while I was eating some beef and vegetables out of a tub, but I kept my end goal as motivation and I did have a feeling of accomplishment later that day knowing I had stuck to the plan. There were times when this didn’t happen which I will go into later.
During the first phase of my plan, I had a macro nutrient split for each meal but I didn’t have any example recipes – just a list of foods that I was allowed on the plan. This meant a bit of thought was needed on how to put this together. As such I made some mistakes which Ben corrected. In the following phase he provided some example meals which made things much easier to follow, as well as introducing me to some great recipes with Meridian nut butters!
Falling off the wagon
Yeah I fell off the wagon a few times; but I got straight back on again afterwards. I also came clean about it to Ben (most of the time!) like some kind of naughty kid confessing to doing something wrong. If I hadn’t been honest and Ben thought my weight hadn’t changed, he might make changes to my diet off incorrect information. If you’re not going to be honest with your trainer then what is the point, right? He was pretty understanding, although he did tell me to focus and tighten my diet up.
A few people said that I chose one of the worst times to sign up to M10 because of all the “events” that were coming up. During my 12 weeks I had my daughters birthday, my wife’s birthday, Mothers day, a leaving party, a staff night out, Easter… the list goes on and on. There was practically something every week for the first 7 weeks. However, there will always be excuses and there will never be the “perfect” time to start. I had a goal in mind, I wanted to start working towards it straight away.
Over time my discipline on my diet has improved, and I just try and stay in the right mindset. At a recent visit to a restaurant, when everyone I was with was ordering burgers and fries, I had steak and broccoli. Instead of cheesecake for dessert, I just had a black coffee. To be honest I quite enjoyed my meal, and at times I was watching them eat the cheesecake and just thinking about the huge amount of sugar and fat (and maybe drooling a little…).
When I first saw the training plan Ben had created for me, I thought it seemed pretty easy. It was 4 sessions per week, and it was split into push and pull days. However when I started, it kicked my ass. The short rest periods, paired exercises and slow eccentric portion of the exercises (I love the time under tension) meant I had to use lower weights than I was used to. After a couple of weeks I started getting into it and progressing both with the weight used and the rest periods.
One issue I had was that some of the paired exercises were a little impractical at my gym. It can be a busy place, and equipment can be on the other side of the building – so I ended up doing some of the exercises sequentially. As such I will have lost out on some of the benefit, but at least I was getting it done. I also tried attending the gym at more unsocial hours to get it when it was quieter, which worked well with my work schedule. Because of having a busy day job, I was generally training at either 6.30am or 9.00pm.
I also realised just how much things like work could interfere with my training. On a few occasions when I had to work late, I thought it would be so easy to just go home, eat and go to bed. Because I didn’t want to miss a training day, I was forced to make the time to get my training in. I’ve realised that you can almost always find a way to do this. I think I only missed one training session during the whole 12 weeks, and that was because I stopped after 10-15 minutes when I had flu like symptoms.
Cardio and interval training got added with my new plan at the 8 week mark (along with a very nice 5 day split – more what I was used to!) and I actually really enjoy doing this. Aside from the fat loss benefits, it makes me feel really fit and healthy. I performed nine intervals of hill sprints in my final week and I was just enjoying the feeling of the fast recovery between sprints. At this point however I was now in the gym 7 days per week, so it was getting pretty serious!
I picked up a few injuries during the plan. Thankfully nothing to stop me in my tracks, but enough to have to modify some exercises on occasion. I think training every body part twice per week was a shock to my system at first, and I started to get tennis elbow. It was weird sensation, as I could lift a relatively heavy weight i.e. a 75kg bench press for 15 reps with no pain, but then if I held a door open for someone it was agony! As such I minimised some of the direct tricep work for a period, and it slowly improved. Now it’s barely noticeable. I also picked up a shoulder injury, and I’m not even sure how. I just woke up one morning and it was locked in place, so again I just had to modify when appropriate.
I’m really pleased I was assigned to Ben, although I have no experience of any of the other trainers at M10. However Ben seemed to understand my goals, he was very informed and was motivational, and I trusted him when he said it was time for the “next tweak” to the diet or training. During the first 3 weeks of the plan, I could see changes on the scales but wasn’t really noticing anything visually in my appearance. As part of the online coaching, I needed to send off a training log, food diary and photos each week so he could asses my progress, and he assured me he could see some improvements week by week. The photos are actually something that I will continue to do from now on. It’s only when you compare the photos that you can really assess your progress, it’s not something you can do from memory. I don’t remember being as fat as I look in my starting pictures for instance!
Ben has helped me get some great results, but I want to keep progressing. This is just the beginning, and I believe that Ben can help me get to the end goal.
A lot of my friends and family have been impressed by what I have accomplished, and they ask me about M10 and if I would recommend it. The answer is of course yes, and in fact I have recommended them to several people; however it comes with a slight caveat. You need to have a goal, or a focus or something to motivate you through the 12 weeks (or more!). It’s hard work, not just physically, but it’s also demanding of your time and even your finances (not from M10, but your grocery bills, supplements etc). Additionally, I’m a fairly experienced gym goer and so I know how to work out and how to use correct form. You may need help learning the program either from a personal trainer, or by doing check-ins at the M10 gym in Nottingham. Not everyone will be able to stick to it to get that consistency you need to achieve the results. But if you’re ready to make a change, then you should certainly check them out.