How Mark Adjusted His Mindset, Learned to Meal Prep, and Lost 65 Pounds.

“Here’s another example of the power of meal preparation.”

Meet Mark: a busy father who does construction planning in England. He’s also a nerd who fancied himself a drink or two over a warm meal from the pub.

All well and good, until Mark went to his doctor for a check-up.

The report back? Not great.

Mark’s blood pressure was too high, his cholesterol numbers weren’t good, and he needed to lose weight.

This is bad news indeed.

The thing is though, Mark didn’t need a note from his doctor to know his habits were becoming destructive – he experienced lots of pain daily and overall felt miserable.

Clearly things couldn’t continue as they were, so Mark decided he needed help.

I’m proud to say that Mark reached out to us for guidance and through our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program adjusted his nutrition and adopted a consistent workout practice.

Today, Mark has lost 65 pounds and is no longer in pain. The work paid off.

How did Mark change his nutrition?

He learned to meal prep, a key characteristic in pretty much every single success story Nerd Fitness has ever run.

But you don’t need to hear it from me! Let’s bring in Mark and learn about it from him!

HOW MARK LEARNED TO MEAL PREP, LOST 65 POUNDS, AND LEVELED UP HIS LIFE

Steve: Hi Mark! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.

I’d love to hear from you about your past – Can you take us through a typical day before you started your journey with Nerd Fitness?

Mark: I’d be up at 5am for work, then nip into Starbucks to grab two sausage cobs (sandwiches). I’d finish work at 5pm, then visit the local shop on my way home for more junk food and probably beer.

Once back at my place, I’d sit and watch films, play games, or read till late.

Then the next day: wash, rinse, repeat.

Steve: That’s an easy pattern to find yourself in: fast food before work, work itself, and more fast food and beer for dinner. I’m sure many Rebels can relate to leaning on junk food for meals.

Was this your first time trying to get in shape?

Mark: Not at all. I have tried so many different times over the years. At some point or another, I tried just about every “diet.”

I would find a program, commit 100%, and stick to it for a few weeks. But inevitably I would fall back into bad habits and abandon the effort. Until a new program would catch my fancy. The pattern would then repeat again.

Until recently, working out was something that I could never keep consistent. For example, I’d try to go to the gym in the evenings. All would be going okay, then a long day would inevitably come about and I’d skip the gym.

One of the many benefits of my Coach, Jim, is he lets me know it’s okay when bad habits emerge. We are all human. A slip up here and there is okay, but with consistency comes results.

Steve: That’s great to hear you say that, and Jim is 100% right! It’s what you do “most of the time” that matters.

It’s one of the reasons we have our motto “Never Two in a Row.” Missing a workout is okay. But if you miss two workouts in a row, it becomes very easy for it to become three. And once it’s three, it becomes very easy for it to be “never.” Then you’re plain just not exercising.

Was there a specific moment you decided to ask for help?

Mark: There was. I went to the doctor, and my numbers weren’t good. Blood pressure, cholesterol, weight…everything was bad.

The signs were there before my report though.

I was also miserable and in pain. The food I was eating was causing severe indigestion. I was also suffering from gout, which made simple things painful. You wouldn’t believe how painful a duvet resting on a foot with gout can be.

At the weight I was, everything was difficult.

Even sleep was a chore, as I’d wake myself up snoring.

There was also the realization that I looked bad. I was dressing in clothes that were comfortable and I’d given up on my appearance.

Steve: Yikes. I’m sorry to hear about the pain you had to endure. Plus, no one likes to receive bad news from the doctor! I’m just glad you used the incident as a jumpstart to try something different.

Can you talk to me a little bit more about “consistency?” It’s something you mentioned before.

Mark: Yeah, one of the most important things I’ve learned is that I’m a morning person.

So, Coach Jim advised me to go workout before heading into the office.

As soon as I switched my workouts to the morning, everything clicked in place. I’m in and out of the gym before 6am, ready for the day. That has been consistent for the last year.

I don’t fight the fact that I’ll be tired after a long day of work. When I’m off work, I’m ready to unwind for the day.

Steve: That’s great to hear Mark! Sometimes all it takes is finding your ideal rhythm for everything to sync up. I too would rather workout in the morning, so I know no matter what else happens, at least I got my training in for the day.

What are you doing at the gym? What is Coach Jim having you work on?

Mark: At the moment I am doing kettlebell workouts, mixed with deadlifts and barbell squats.  Since joining, whenever I see something in the gym I want to have a go at, Jim works it into the routine for me.

For example, I am working on pull-ups right now. We cracked push-ups a while back so this is the next big one for me.  

I’m also training for a 27-mile hike in the summer, which means on the weekends and in the week I am getting plenty of walking sessions in.

The hike is in the Peak District to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Jim is all about it and has prepared a training regimen to get me ready, which is currently ramping up.

Steve: That’s so cool man! I’m glad you’re training for a hike and a charitable one at that. We often tell people to find their “Big Why,” like an event in the near future you have to prepare for. This can be a great motivator to get those extra walks in. Smart move.

Can you talk to me a little bit about your nutrition? You’ve lost a lot of weight. What have you been doing differently?

Mark: I changed my nutrition massively.

I was eating junk food every day. And lots of it. Waking up to it. Eating it right before bed. Constant.

Today, I’ve added more vegetables into my diet. A lot more fish too. By focusing on vegetables and good quality meat, I’ve been able to reduce my overall calorie intake. All the fiber and protein helps me feel full, so I’m not constantly hungry. Which makes avoiding junk food easier.

I work away from home during the week, so I only have a microwave for “cooking”. Obviously, a limitation.

But then I discovered meal prep. Breakfast, dinner, and lunches are now prepared on my weekend. Which makes life easier and removes the temptation of impulse food buying.

There was a time during the workweek that I didn’t set foot in a food shop for nearly 6 months. I saved a fortune financially too by doing this.

By taking some time on the weekend to cook some vegetables and grill some meat, I’m all set for the work week. It’s amazing how important this has been to my success.

Steve: That’s amazing. As you’ve been sharing, I started reflecting that this is a common trait amongst all Nerd Fitness success stories.

Every Rebel who has successfully transformed themselves, including me, has done it by preparing their next meal in advance. Welcome to the meal prep club!

What’s a typical day for you like now? Workouts, diet strategy, and so on. Give us the details!

Mark: I wake at 4:20am, then go to the gym before work. I do this Monday through Friday.

At 5pm, I’m off work. I go back to the digs, but now I am usually doing something productive or reading something factual that will improve me in some way.

At 8pm, I turn all electronics off, then read for 30-60 minutes (sometimes less if I fall asleep). I’ll then meditate myself to sleep if I’m still awake.

And like I said, I’ve been consistently working out in some fashion, whether in the gym or on walks 6 days a week.

Food wise: I have overnight oats for breakfast, a pre-prepped meal for lunch (chili or curry in winter) and a pre-prepped meal for dinner.

I’m more on “auto-pilot” these days, which is great.

Steve: Creating a solid and healthy routine, then sticking to it. I love it.

As I stated earlier, you’ve obviously lost a decent amount of weight. What else has changed about you?

Mark: Yeah, 65 pounds down at this point.

I’ve gone from a 54-inch to a 38-inch waist.

There is a big hill near my home, I can now walk all the way up it and not be winded.

Just the other week, I was able to run a 5K – something I haven’t done in over two years and I didn’t even intend to do it.  

Even more importantly, I am no longer in pain.

I’ve gone from being in pain when I walk to being able to walk 10 miles without much effort and running for 45 minutes (Jim will tell you I have often said I will never run, I lied – I wanted to prove to myself I could do it, lol).

Mentally I am now sharper and in a place where I am taking care of my appearance.

Steve: I’m proud of the work you’ve done Mark, and I’m so happy to hear you’re no longer in pain.

Okay, real talk: NF Coaching isn’t cheap. You’ve been a client for over a year and a half. What makes you stick with it and keep investing in yourself?

Mark: I’d done the NF Academy previously, to great success. But I needed more accountability to keep things going, which is what Coaching offers.

Plus, in my busy life, I wanted to simplify my health.

Jim sets the workouts so I don’t have to worry about that. At the beginning he also gave me a lot of tips on nutrition – which saved me a lot of time and spurred my weight loss.

Outside of the gym, Coach Jim is helping me with my mental wellbeing. I’m currently going through a blip and we’re working on that and ways to get me back on track mentally. That is a side of Coaching not often talked about, I think.

Even in dark times, I can come back to what is consistent in my life: my training. Jim encourages me to keep going and to understand there will be good weeks and bad weeks.

Steve: I’m so happy to hear Jim is helping you with the mental side of things. I know many Rebels find exercise to be beneficial in dealing with depression and anxiety, so I agree with Jim’s recommendation that through good or bad weeks, attempt to make exercise constant.

It feels like you’re on a solid path to a leveled up life and I’m really proud of you.

Alright, I ask everyone and you’re not getting out of it: Mark, what makes you a nerd?

Mark: I was a gamer until my children started to beat me.

I stick to Football Manager now.

My favorite outdoor activity is geocaching. To make that even nerdier I podcast and vlog about it:

I love reading – sci-fi is my favorite genre. I fancy myself a good Star Wars novel.

When my kids were younger I would take them to see films like Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow, rather than Finding Nemo.

They asked me recently why I took them to see such nerdy films, lol. What can I say, I’m just trying to raise the next generation of geeks.

Steve: Perfect! Kudos on being an awesome dad!

Also, I love that you do geocaching. I always encourage people to exercise in a way that doesn’t feel like exercise, and using GPS to hunt for lost treasures fits that bill perfectly! Good work on finding a fun and healthy hobby!

Do you have any words of advice for somebody who is just starting out on their weight loss journey? What if they’re considering a change, but not sure where to start?

Mark: Keep it simple.

I truly believe that walking is the best way to start – once I got moving I wanted to stop feeling pain so I could move even more.  

Find workouts and nutritious meals you enjoy – experimenting with that stuff has been part of the fun for me and Coach Jim indulges that.

And no matter what: keep going.

You will get discouraged, have “fat days” and slip up… just forgive yourself and get back up and carry on.

Steve: Great advice. We are all human and we are all works in progress. Mistakes will happen. The most important point is to not lose momentum when inevitable slip-ups occur. The successful are those who don’t quit.

Mark, I’m honored you’re a member of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion. Thanks again for taking the time to share with all of us.

Best of luck and have fun on your upcoming charity hike!

THE 5 KEYS TO MARK’S WEIGHT LOSS AND LEVEL UP SUCCESS

Mark’s story has many aspects that you might be able to relate to:

  • Depending on quick and easy junk food for meals.
  • Not being able to consistently maintain an exercise practice.
  • A bad report card from his doctor.

We all have personal hardships in life: injuries, job responsibilities, dysfunctional families, etc.

What sets Mark apart is not the obstacles he had to face. We all have them.

What sets Mark apart is how he sought to overcome those barriers.

Here are 5 traits Mark displayed that set him apart. 5 traits that allowed Mark to level up his life, despite the hardships in his way.

#1) MARK DIDN’T GIVE UP

Had Mark attempted to get in shape prior to becoming a NF Coaching client?

In his own words, he had tried “many times over the years.” He even went through the NF Academy, which helped…for a while.

But Mark just couldn’t keep up the pace. He would try and work out after a long day in the office.

Sometimes it would go well.

More often than not, it wouldn’t.

Then it would be stopping by the pub on the way back home instead of stopping by the gym.

The important thing throughout it all: Mark kept trying until finally something “clicked.”

Mark now trains right after breakfast, early in the morning.

Before the day and job responsibilities take over, Mark swings some kettlebells or picks up a barbell.

By training first thing in the morning, Mark can take comfort knowing that no matter what else happens, he prioritized getting stronger for the day.

This mindset can help you get through a day of back to back meetings and phone calls. When they’re finally done at 5pm, so are you. Time to relax back home and recharge for the next morning’s workout.

The important thing is Mark kept trying until he got it right. Mark kept going until he found healthy habits that would work for him.

Speaking of…

#2) MARK LEARNED TO MEAL PREP

Mark discovered a super, incredible, awesome, powerful new habit (is that enough adjectives? Maybe). That new technique?

Meal prepping.

I started this post by explaining that every single success story on the site contains a person who learned to meal prep. Here’s why:

Mark has a tough job. He travels for the position and is in charge of planning complex and expensive construction projects.

When he’s done for the day, he’s tired! The last thing he wants to do is grill up some fish or fry up some asparagus after a tough day in the office. It’s easy to see why some food from the pub and a couple of beers sounds more appealing than rolling up your sleeves in the kitchen.

That’s why it’s critical to do yourself a favor on the weekend: cook food for the entire week.

By taking some time on a Sunday afternoon you can cook meals for the workweek. It’s not much harder to cook 12 chicken breasts than it is 1.

Then when you come home after a long day, you really can just relax. All you have to do is “cook” your food in a microwave. This is what Mark and many other Rebels do.

Do future you a favor and prepare future food ahead of time! You’ll make your week, and life, easier by adopting this habit.

#3) MARK INVESTED IN HIMSELF AND ASKED FOR HELP

Mark hit a path in life many Rebels find themselves in: his doctor told him his health was on the wrong path.

“Everything was bad” using Mark’s words, and he knew that if he didn’t want a shorter lifespan, things needed to change.

Plus, even normal activities like short walks and sleep were becoming difficult.

Mark had hit his rock bottom.

For many folks, things continue more or less the same from there. They know they need to change but then resort back to previous habits or earlier attempts at getting healthy. The boom and bust cycle continues.

Not Mark. Mark decided he would try something different. Mark decided he would ask for help.

I’m proud Mark reached out to us and joined our Coaching Program. With Coach Jim’s guidance, Mark then created some key habits that helped him stay on target.

Mark established systems in his life, instead of relying on the temporary motivation a doctor’s report can provide.

Mark’s systems include:

Prepared meals for the week. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are already decided ahead of time.

Gym time first thing in the morning. No chance to second guess whether he’ll train in the evening. This also means that evening time becomes earned relaxation.

At 8pm all electronics are off. This helps Mark transition into relaxation and then sleep, which he’ll need for his training and work the next day.

Could Mark have established these systems on his own? Sure.

Was it easier to implement with an expert who tailored and adapted these habits into Mark’s life? 100% yes.

Many of us will reach a point where all signs point to needing outside help. When this time comes, remember, it’s okay to ask for it.

#4) MARK KEPT FINDING NEW DRAGONS TO SLAY

Mark lost weight and is no longer in pain. That’s awesome!

Is Mark done? No way!

He’s gearing up for a 27-mile charity hike! He slew one dragon and moved onto a bigger one!

This is critical.

After Mark started crushing push-ups, he put his sights on doing pull-ups! Coach Jim has created a plan so Mark can do just that.

Knowing Mark’s history, I have no doubt he’ll be pulling himself up in no time.

To keep up hard-fought momentum, you need to aim for bigger targets:

Once you can do a 5-mile hike, it’s time to start thinking about 10 miles.

Once you start doing one full pull-up, start thinking about doing 5.

Once you slay one dragon, look for a bigger foe to vanquish.

This is how you constantly level up in the game of life.

#5) MARK IS HAVING FUN ALONG THE WAY

When it comes to getting in shape, I always advise people to do three things:

    1. Eat real food: 80-90% of weight loss rests on this. Mark preps his meals for the week to reach this goal.
    2. Strength train: a strong nerd is a healthy nerd. Mark lifts heavy first thing in the morning for this one.
    3. Find an exercise you love and do that often: all movement is beneficial, so move in a way you enjoy. Mark does this by walking, hiking, and geocaching.

For those not in the know, geocaching is a modern day treasure hunt where participants use GPS to hide and find containers called “geocaches” or “caches.”

Go out, hide something in a cool spot, then go online and then others where to find it!

Geocachers get to explore the world in a fun and unique way by hiding and finding secret containers.

Getting in an extra mile during a hike is easy if you know there’s treasure around the next bend!

Plus, if you recruit a friend as Mark does, you have a treasure hunting buddy to share in the spoils.

Find movement you enjoy and do that as much as possible:

Like ballroom dancing? Perfect! Sign up for a class.

Like LARPing? Great! Polish up your armor.

Like treasure hunting? Sweet! Download an app and get started geocaching!

I know it’s cliché, but getting in shape really is a lifestyle adjustment. Meaning this isn’t something you do for a week, a month, or even one year.

It’s something you will do for the rest of your life.

For this to work, you need to enjoy the journey ahead.

If you hate jumping on a treadmill today, you won’t be doing it a month from now. So do something else instead that makes you excited to move your body.

It’s a message I really strike home in the video “Want to get in shape? Think in days and years, not weeks and months”

We are not making temporary changes, because they will only create temporary results. We are making permanent changes, so our transformations will be permanent.

For that to work, you need to enjoy the journey. If that means hunting for buried treasure, go grab a compass and a shovel!

HOW TO GET RESULTS LIKE MARK

I’m super proud of what Mark and Coach Jim have accomplished.

And if you’re still reading this, I want you to know I’m proud of you too.

You’re still reading, which means you’re still trying (see #1). You found your way to our strange corner of the internet and you’re part of the Rebellion.

I’m so happy you’re here today.

We’ll continue to be here for you tomorrow, next month, and years from now.

No matter where you are on your journey, I would encourage you to think about what made Mark successful:

  • Don’t give up. Keep trying, keep reading. But try something different! If you can’t seem to get to the gym in the evenings, try going before work. Maybe you’re more of a morning person like Mark.
  • Learn to meal prep. Weight loss is dependent on what you eat, so learn a few moves in the kitchen (here’s an article on batch cooking chicken). Start with planning your dinners for the week, then scale it up from there.
  • Ask for help. Some people can completely change their lives on their own. Most can’t. If you have access to someone who knows exactly what to do to help, reach out. Most of us need a Yoda to become a Jedi.
  • Slay new dragons. As you progress in your fitness journey, pick new challenges and opportunities. This will help you keep up your momentum so you don’t slip into bad habits.
  • Have fun. Embarking on a change that makes you miserable is a sure fire way for future abandonment. This is a lifelong journey, so discovering things you enjoy is critical.

If you related to Mark’s story, perhaps with doctors advising lifestyle changes, maybe it’s time to ask for help.

Depending on your situation, I’d love for you to check out our 1-on-1 NF Coaching Program and decide if it’s something you’d like to learn more about.

Whether or not you’re interested in coaching, you can still get started right now:

You can start bodyweight training TODAY.

You can adjust your nutrition TODAY.

You can start to build your guild TODAY.

Here’s what I’d want you to take away from Mark’s story:

I hope to hear from you six months from now with a great success story that we can add to the hall of heroes that have inspired millions around the globe!

If you have any questions for Mark, please share them in the comments!

Lastly, if you have any meal prep tips or suggestions, leave them in the comments too!

For the Rebellion!

-Steve

PS: Special shoutout to Coach Jim, who helped Mark level up his life. Jim is our head male trainer, master of Beast Skills, and all around awesome dude. We are lucky to have him on Team Nerd Fitness.

If you want to see if we can help you too, check out our 1-on-1 Coaching program. We’d love to talk to you, no matter what you end up deciding.