“They say that life begins at 40, but so, sadly, does middle-age spread. And my middle was spreading faster than butter on a hotplate. ‘Oh, but you’re tall enough to carry it off,’ people would reassure me whenever I voiced concern. Yet while it may be true that long limbs and cunningly selected clothes can disguise a multitude of midriff sins, when the tops came off for the first photo shoot any words of comfort rang a little hollow.
“Shocked by the pictures, I resolved to coax the muscles I’d last seen sometime in the early ’90s out of retirement. My status as office OAP earned me a plan that wasn’t too prescriptive diet wise and didn’t put me through quite the same hoops in the gym as my younger colleagues. But it was still no stroll on the treadmill.
“Each session commenced with a series of basic moves – press-ups, pull-ups, lunges with weights and squat-jumps. These were more demanding than I expected, but with a bit of grit I completed them. Next came isolation exercises, and I also squeezed in at least 20 minutes of cardio work twice a week.
“Diet wise, I banned the two Bs: beer and bread. I can’t say a weekly half-bottle of white wine was any substitute for pints of foaming ale. And if I eat any more muesli in the morning instead of my usual buttered toast I’ll probably turn Swiss. But having seen the final pictures, the self-restraint has been worthwhile. My abs may not be rippling but they’re no longer jiggling, and that’s a weight off any 40-something’s mind.”
“When the ab gauntlet was thrown down, I was the first to grab it. I’ve exercised constantly for the last 10 years — mountain-bike racing, kick-boxing and weight-training — and I’m known to my friends as the ‘fit bloke’. But even with what most people consider an active lifestyle, I’d never managed to develop the six-pack I was after.
“I needed to move up a gear, so I hit the weights harder than ever, and cycled to and from work. It seemed to make a difference in the first week, and I was feeling confident. Then, midway though my new-found routine, the misery started — my weight went up, my body wasn’t changing and I felt like quitting.
“Why? Well, they say Guinness is good for you, but not for a six-pack! After kidding myself that I had cut back, I decided the black stuff had to go completely. My overall diet was fairly good, but I had to get serious with my nutrition to make a big difference. For more nutrition tips, go to http://www.nutria.co/. I cut carbs from my diet after lunchtime, and survived on a high-protein evening meal.
“I trained for five days a week in the gym and kept cycling. I know this may sound drastic, but if you want serious results you have to face the fact that it takes serious action. I needed to shock my body to make the difference, and it worked. I managed to swap my six pints for a six-pack, within the six weeks. Plus I feel fitter and healthier than ever before, and I have a strange urge to take off my shirt at the slightest hint of sunshine.”