Eddie Beaton, 34, had struggled with his weight for years. He shares with Men’s Health the changes he made to his diet and lifestyle, and what kept him motivated to keep training and eating healthy during the pandemic.
As a teenager I was extremely sporty; I would play rugby three times a week and other sports at weekends. I was definitely stocky, but never fat. And like many teenagers, I did not take any real notice of what I was eating; I never had any concept of nutrition or an understanding of what was healthy. I was clueless in this department. I absolutely love food, all cuisines from around the world, and would try anything. I’m also extremely social, which means alcohol. I went abroad to university and went from playing sports five or six times per week to drinking and being extremely inactive, leading to weight gain.
I ballooned at university to what I know now was a dangerous level. This was likely brought on by eating and drinking so much socially as a way of meet people while I was away from home. I was the president of my student association, which mainly revolved around organising social activities. When I cam home from university, I had some success in losing weight; I started eating better and going to the gym regularly. However, I was still not in shape.
In my early to mid-twenties, my attempts at controlling my weight were hampered by a demanding job which involved working long hours and being away from home regularly. Things got progressively worse once I started my own business, with even more stress and nights spent working late. This was often accompanied by three day weekends with lots of restaurant food and alcohol, which ended up leading to eating takeout and a glass of wine or two during the week. I continued to slowly gain weight.
In 2016, my partner and I had our first child and the second came very quickly in 2017. This added to the difficulties in sticking to a routine. As a result, by 2019 I was 211 pounds and probably close to 40% body fat. This left me feeling unhealthy, unmotivated and self-conscious. I had always dreamed of being a very active father, and my current physical form was never going to meet that.
The contributor to my overall weight gain was a mixture of poor yoyo dieting and infrequent exercise. I remember I would always try to lose weight for the summer, leaving it too late. I would set out to lose 20 pounds, lose about 13, and it was likely I had put it on by the time I was halfway through my holiday.
I found Ultimate Performance through social media. Their message was around a ‘life transformation’. It wasn’t about losing weight for a short period of time, it was about real change. I managed to get my first consultation shortly before my summer holiday in August 2019. My thought process here was that I wanted to go on holiday having done a few weeks training, and having a set nutrition plan to follow whilst away. My goal was not to lose weight whilst away, it was actually to try to maintain my current weight. So, try to enjoy but don’t make the job harder.
That first consultation with Rom was brutal: a ‘no filter’ look in the mirror. The job ahead was gigantic. I felt like cancelling the holiday. But Rom was never negative, he reminded me that I had taken the first biggest step by showing up. His words at that consultation are engrained in me and I remember them very distinctly: “What is the fastest way from A to B? A straight line.” I had no idea that this small and obvious phrase was the key to success.
I was put on a strict diet plan that involved a caloric deficit and closely tracking my daily macros: I had a protein target and carb/fat limits. I was also instructed to be more active, mainly through ensuring I did a minimum of 15,000 steps per day. Rom was great in giving recipe tips. I’ve always been a keen cook, so the meal prep side of things was OK and I soon found ways time to make the meals more interesting.
The training with Rom consisted of very heavy weight lifting three times a week, then 15,000 steps each day and another one or two cardio sessions. The training was hard at first, especially so on my lower body and legs. The stairs to the gym were long and steep; I remember some days I would drag myself up using the bannister. I was used to the tiredness that comes with cardio, but weight training is a different type of fatigue altogether. The main things is, I did get used to it and I learned to love it!
This new regime was a real education for me and it became apparent what I was doing wrong for so many years. If you want to get into shape, the fat needs to go and the muscle needs to build. Running alone won’t achieve that. For the muscle, you need protein. To many people this is obvious, but it wasn’t to me.
After eight or nine weeks, the results were beginning to really show, but then the old habits crept back in. I thought I had lost weight and deserved a ‘break’. I would go to the pub, or I wouldn’t follow my tracker. It was the same old story, I was getting bored of the routine.
This was the start of my real ‘transformation’. Anybody can do a diet for several weeks. But what I needed was real change. It dawned on me I had to change the relationship I had with food, and my overall lifestyle. This worried me because I knew that this transformation for me wasn’t going to be a physical change, it was mental. I had to change as a person to meet my objectives.
Rom was pivotal in helping me in this area. He persisted and persisted and wouldn’t let me fail. I would have a good run, then fall off and this would repeat. However, the time I would fall out of my regime got shorter and shorter. Rom was changing my mentality, very slowly but very surely. It got to the stage where I would go out on a Friday night, but I was back on it Saturday morning no questions asked.
I started 2020 feeling really positive about my training. Then lockdown happened in the UK. This was a panic for me because I was still 22 pounds away from my target. However, the team at UP got creative and found a way. 80% of my progress was down to diet, and lockdown or no lockdown, I could determine the way I ate. The temptation was there, but the start of lockdown was an eye opener on how far I had come in my transformation. I had the mental ability to deal with this challenge.
My training sessions switched to virtual, and I continued to make progress. I spent my time weight training with resistance bands, going on long walks, and being as active as possible. We came out of lockdown in May 2020 and I had lost another 22 pounds. I had hit my target set in August 2019. I had done it in 10 months, nearly three months of which were in lockdown.
I had lost a total of 57 pounds, and reduced my body fat from nearly 40% to 17%. I was in the best shape of my life. Clothes shopping became very necessary, as none of my pre-COVID clothes fit me. I found myself going from a size XL to a Small. I looked and felt incredible.
My next goal, first and foremost, is to live in ‘maintenance mode’. This involves enjoying things but not to excess, and being aware of having a well-balanced diet and training regime. I am also keen to build a bit more muscle and go for a slightly more muscular physique.
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