Lockdown left professional chef Matthew feeling like he was stuck in a rut.

He got into bad habits eating junk food and drinking beer every day during the coronavirus pandemic. Some days he was eating up to 5,000 calories and barely moving.

The 33-year-old was gaining weight uncontrollably, and he could see and feel the effects of it on his body every day.

Not knowing the first thing about weight training and needing the accountability of a professional trainer, he came to Ultimate Performance to overhaul his health and get educated.

With a goal of getting a physique like Jurassic Park star Chris Pratt, Matthew lost 12kg and achieved the results he wanted.

But more than that, he built a lifelong knowledge of training and nutrition that will keep him in shape for good.

“The physical change in my body is just ridiculous! It’s above and beyond what I wanted.

“I’m astonished by it – just waking up, looking in the mirror, and my partner every single day saying, “You are looking amazing”. It’s great!

“But the return on investment for me is the education. The U.P. experience is invaluable. It’s something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.

“I now know how to take care of myself. Because I’m a chef, I can apply the nutritional knowledge when I’m creating meals. It’s nice to pass on the information to everybody else as well.”

Here Matthew talks about the factors holding him back from losing weight, how having accountability helped him achieve his goals, and what he learned from his 19-week transformation experience.

What was diet, lifestyle and training experience like before you started at Ultimate Performance?

My basic training routine before U.P. was nothing. I’d been at the gym a couple of times, but understanding what to do on the equipment was next to nothing. I had a personal trainer at one point for like a day to try and show me how to do things, but they’re just not interested. They’re not bothered at all.

My diet was just awful. My partner is half Italian, half Indian, so our diet at home is just a lot of carbs. It’s just pizza, pasta, curries, naan bread, rice. A veg curry is the best you’re going to get. So yeah, not the best.

 

What did a typical day look like for you before you started at Ultimate Performance?

On a workday – say it’s Monday – it’s wake up, maybe I have some Pop Tarts, so just sugary carbs. I’d have a coffee – probably three or four coffees in the morning.

Breakfast, a couple of sausages just on the fly with some hash browns. Again, just dirty food. That’s if I had time to eat it.

Lunchtime, again, we had a lot of naughty-type food, like deep-fried chicken and things like that, which would be on the menu. So deep-fried chicken, even if I had it as a salad.

I’d get home, and then for tea, it might be a take-away pizza or Chinese. On average, I’d probably be having anywhere between four to eight cans of full-fat beer a night – not like Bud Light. Just every night. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were even bigger blowouts. I wouldn’t even realise it because, throughout lockdown, it just became a norm to have constant drinks.

When I came back into work, I was like, “Oh, it’s Monday. Yeah, we always have a drink on a Monday”. So my mentality was, ‘Let’s have a couple of beers’. The next thing you know, I would have about 1,500 calories in beer a day, on top of all the dirty foods. I’d be well into the 4,000- or 5,000-calorie mark, and each day it was just increasing and increasing. It affected me mentally and physically.

 

Did it ever cross your mind at one point that if you keep leading your life as you used to, where will it lead to in the future?

I looked at myself and the amount of weight that I’d put on already – it was probably in six months, I had easily put on over a stone. At the rate I was going, I would have probably been 14 or 15 stone by December. That is just not sustainable at all. My partner didn’t even notice I was putting on too much weight because every time I was around her, I was breathing in and trying to make myself look a little bit better. But there’s only so much you can do.

There was a time where my partner noticed it. She just said, “You’ve put on a little bit of weight.” I was like, “It’s fine. Look, I’m going to commit to it. I’m going to 100% commit to it, and I’m going to lose it all.”. She laughed at me, and I was like, “No. That’s it. You’ve done it now”. So that was a trigger point for me. I was like, “Right. I’m just going to nail this, and I’m going to nail it as best as I can”.

What was your motivation for signing up at Ultimate Performance?

I think the final straw was when my partner said, “You ain’t going to be able to commit to losing weight.” I thought, ‘I’m going to do it. I’m going to nail it’, but in my head, I knew she was right. I didn’t really believe I could do it alone, either.

U.P. is just underneath my office building, so I see it every day. I see the people going in and out. I see everyone being happy and nailing targets. I just thought to myself, ‘I haven’t had a target in a long time, job-wise, life-wise, in general’. Because of the past couple of years and even before that, I was floating through. I didn’t have the drive to go for something again.

As soon as I started thinking about it and thinking, ‘All right, what if I just said I’m going to lose X amount of weight and I just go for it?’. That triggered something in my brain to be like, ‘This is exciting again. I’m ready to go for this and nail it’.

 

What was your ultimate goal? What was your actual figure goal?

My ultimate goal whilst training at U.P. was to learn more about the gym. For a lot of other people, it’s looking at the U.P. before and after pictures and going, “I want to be absolutely shredded”. That was not my mentality at all. I wanted to learn how to use all the equipment and have a general understanding of how my body works and learn what is that’s happening and changing? Being a chef, I’m interested in nutrition, but I didn’t understand it so much. So, to learn about the nutritional side, to learn about the training side, and then to understand it all for the future, this is the rest of my life.

It’s like a crash college course, in essence, for those who ever put weight on what you need to do to lose it. I know what my body needs and what parts of my body I need to work out. That was my main goal.

I thought losing up to 10kg was an unrealistic target for me. I thought that would not happen, but I’ll write it down as a goal anyway. I’ve done it, and I can’t believe it! My results astonished me. I’ve never looked this good in my life.

 

Did you have a figure or a body image in mind, which you aspired to reach?

Chris Pratt in Jurassic Park. If you’ve ever seen it, it’s the ‘dad bod’, almost. You can tell he goes to the gym; he looks after himself, he’s still lean. But you could tell he’s still just enjoying himself. He’s not completely shredded. It’s not a 3% body fat, but he’s happy and well-rounded. You can tell he just goes to the gym and looks after himself. I think that was my target.

 

What kind of reactions did your friends and family have to your transformation?

I’d say once my body had started changing, my mentality started changing with it. Before, I was holding up a front and acting like this happy, smiley person when I wasn’t feeling it. But now that personality actually matches my body. I am a happy, smiley person. But now my body matches it, and I feel good about my body. It’s no longer a front. I’m genuinely just a happy guy again now. It made a huge difference. It was just the drive of going to the gym, nailing it every single time.

 

Did you have a figure or a body image in mind, which you aspired to reach?

Chris Pratt in Jurassic Park. If you’ve ever seen it, it’s the ‘dad bod’, almost. You can tell he goes to the gym; he looks after himself, he’s still lean. But you could tell he’s still just enjoying himself. He’s not completely shredded. It’s not a 3% body fat, but he’s happy and well-rounded. You can tell he just goes to the gym and looks after himself. I think that was my target.

What kind of reactions did your friends and family have to your transformation?

I’d say once my body had started changing, my mentality started changing with it. Before, I was holding up a front and acting like this happy, smiley person when I wasn’t feeling it. But now that personality actually matches my body. I am a happy, smiley person. But now my body matches it, and I feel good about my body. It’s no longer a front. I’m genuinely just a happy guy again now. It made a huge difference. It was just the drive of going to the gym, nailing it every single time.

 

How did your previous training, or the limited training that you had done in the past, compare to the training at U.P.?

One of the reasons I wanted to start at U.P. was because all the clients are ripped in the way that I aspired to be. They work toward happy, good body forms. There are no massive gym-heads; 18 stone and huge bodybuilders.

Everyone’s been supportive, and everyone’s in it together. U.P. is a place that genuinely cares about the client’s results. Most commercial personal trainers typically see their clients for one hour or three hours. It’s “Hi and bye” at the door.

 

What did you like about the approach and delivery at U.P.?

The approach and delivery style of U.P., I loved it because I came into U.P. and I needed some accountability. As I said, I need babysitting through this. The previous personal trainer I’ve had in the past, you could tell they just didn’t really care. They just wanted the extra cash, and they’d probably try and keep you on it for as long as possible. Whereas here at U.P., they just want you to achieve your goals and achieve your targets.

 

What have you learnt since training at U.P., and has your confidence on the gym floor grown?

Because my time at U.P. has felt like a college course, I will finish at U.P. and go with confidence into another gym. Everyone says, “Oh, you’re signing up to the gym”. I’m like, “It’s not a gym. This is education, at the end of the day”.

That’s how I see it, as it’s a lifetime education. I feel like I can walk in any gym and know what equipment I need to use and how to set up the machinery.

 

What impact has weight training had on your fitness and overall health?

The entire health aspect side of things, I wasn’t expecting as many changes as what I’ve received. You see the pictures, and you think, ‘Oh, they look great. Look at the body’. You forget blood pressure comes down. My general day-to-day lifestyle has improved.

 

How would you summarise your experience as a whole?

It’s been professional and enjoyable. Your trainer isn’t just your trainer, they are your mate, and they care about you. Everyone else at the gym cares about you, and everyone wants you to hit your goals.

I’ve achieved my goals, and I’ve gone further than that, which wasn’t intentional. I wasn’t even thinking I was going to hit my targets at all. I put 10kg down, we’ve lost more than 10kg.  I was thinking that was never going to happen. My physical body is amazing, but it’s the overall feeling you get from being part of U.P.

 

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ABOUTOUR RESULTS

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