An evolution of form.
The gym and I have had an on/off relationship since my mid 20s. I had been through various fitness fads and achieved a quality form when I was around 28 or so (and, according to Men's Health, men reach their muscle mass peak at 30). My body responded well to the gym then, with my youth still in full swing and my metabolism in its prime.
Throughout my 30s, however, the gym became more of a ‘nice to do’ than ‘must do’, and I suppose I’d say that I was casually keeping fit. I’d visit the gym once or twice a week, if at all, just to keep some kind of form. It was clear that my aging body wasn’t reacting as quickly as it used to and it became more of a distracting effort to see disappointing results.
The real eye-opener happened after my relocation to the UK in 2011. As one might expect, with this move came an entirely new way of life. New job, new food, new day-to-day routines. It was challenging to get into a rhythm with my constant traveling for my job. Additionally, I was struggling with a relationship at the time which completely repressed, if not mostly destroyed, my confidence and self-esteem. So for almost two years, I did not prioritise staying fit.
At the beginning of 2013, I was at my lowest. I was on the cusp of turning 40 and certainly out of shape and overweight (see the photos directly below). My relationship was drowning me, my self-esteem was gone, and I no longer felt like the person I used to be. I had lost my spark, my energy, and was entirely not myself. So within the first few weeks of 2013, I began a bold transformation that would change my life for the better.
A renaissance of body and mind.
First and foremost I mustered up the courage to end my relationship, and finally felt liberated. This gave me the confidence and self-assurance I needed to turn my attitude around and I celebrated turning 40 in February of that year with tremendous positivity. Then I began a regimen of seriously hitting the gym and overhauled my diet. Ever since the summer of that year, I’ve remained committed to keeping fit and have refined my health focus. Another motivator has been the aging process: after turning 40, I began to notice my friends aging, my parents aging, people I looked up to in my youth aging. It became apparent to me that in order to remain and feel youthful, I needed to invest in the only body I have. This is something that is front of mind for me all of the time now.
Now I’m fully committed to keeping fit and focusing on my health. On average I hit the gym four to five times a week, and I spend about 75 minutes there during each session. In recent years I followed a push/pull workout routine, focusing on pushing muscles (chest, triceps, shoulders) on one day, and pulling muscles (back, biceps, abs) on opposite days. In 2018, I changed my routine and now focus on muscle groups (chest/shoulders one day, arms another day, back/abs other days). As part of this new routine, I've reduced my overall weights and increased my receptions. I incorporate squats, leg-presses, deadlifts, and other leg exercises into my program. I frequently walk or cycle to the gym and of course walk everywhere around London, which rounds out my activity.
Clearly there are thousands of exercise programs to explore. If I were to offer advice it would be to do research, give some different routines a go, and then see what works for you. As long as you have good form and know what muscles groups work together, you'll likely get into a rhythm that works for you.
I monitor my workouts through an app called Strong, and I’d highly recommend it. Tracking your workouts and progress is essential. The app is integrated with HealthKit in iOS, and of course works wonderfully with Apple Watch, which I also recommend. I enjoy following gym trainers and fitness sites which I find motivational and inspirational. Check out Nathan McCallum, Milestone, Buff Dudes, and Andrew Tracey. In terms of nutrition, I use MyFitnessPal, which is another fantastic app that's so useful to track your daily calorie intake. It too syncs with HealthKit and Apple Watch, and has been a key tool to helping me transform my body. I'm not fanatical about my nutrition, but I do monitor my overall calorie intake which has the biggest impact on my weight, size, and definition. If you want to lose weight and monitor your overall nutrition levels, MyFitnessPal will do the trick. The best part is that once you use it for a while you'll become very aware of your overall calorie intake and empowered to make better food choices.
I also weigh myself weekly using a digital smart scale, which is insanely great to monitor not just weight, but also muscle mass, water, and other factors. The app also syncs with HealthKit and MyFitnessPal. Use smart technology to your health advantage!
Celebrating the physique.
Now that I'm in my mid-40s, I certainly plan to maintain my current form and remain focused on my fitness goals. Ever since my serious transformation began in 2013, I’ve invested in capturing my form through photographs, either taken by others or through ubiquitous selfies — all of which have contributed to my body positivity. It's fulfilling to showcase your hard work and have it reward you with positive self-esteem. As my confidence has grown, so has my courage, comfort, and interest in nudism. I've enjoyed having artistic nude photos taken as part of my body transformation as well as exploring naturism with Luis. I've come to appreciate this freedom and the intimacy, vulnerability, and connectivity it brings — especially living in Europe which doesn't stigmatise nudism the way America does.
Speaking of nudism, I am very fond of beautiful and provocative photographs of the male form. If you wish to review a collection of these that I find attractive and inspiring, you can visit my Tumblr, where I have a set of images tagged accordingly. Much like this website you're reading right now, my Tumblr is best experienced on a desktop platform with a large display, since viewing it in the Tumblr app or through the Tumblr dashboard ruins the layout and visual intention of the site. Because of Tumblr's policies regarding what they consider to be 'sensitive' content, you'll need to jump through some technological hurdles to view the page: Get a Tumblr account > Login through your browser on a desktop platform > Turn Safe Mode off > then revisit My Tumblr home page).
In closing, if I were to give anyone fitness advice, it would be to:
Realise that it's never too late to transform yourself and your life;
Take care of the one and only body you've been given;
Stay motivated even when you feel the need to give up;
Always strive to be proud and confident in your own skin; and
Don't be ashamed to show off all of that hard work. After all, you've earned it.
Want to chat more about fitness? Let me know.