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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 May 2018

From fat to fit: Results after a month of hurt

As our lifestyle writer gets measured to see if he’s made any progress despite setbacks, the day of reckoning has arrived 

A higher metabolism means faster weight loss and more consistent health. Getty
A higher metabolism means faster weight loss and more consistent health. Getty

It’s the end of my fourth week on the Lower Back Fix programme at Iconic Fitness in Dubai Marina and, if you’ve been following previous instalments, you’ll be aware that there have been a few bumps along the way. That said, I’ve begun to notice increases in my strength and stamina, and Mrs H is starting to see improvements in my physique. She’s a firm believer in brutal honesty, so for her to say I’m getting slimmer is a big deal.

However, it’s time to get on the scales in front of my coach, Hannes Loubser, and let him loose with his pincers and tape measure for some factual evidence of my progress – or lack thereof – over the past month. My first measurements were enough to shock me into action – my sedate existence over most of my 46 years has resulted in me being out of shape, unfit and experiencing horrible pains in my lower back. My waist-to-hip-ratio was 1:1, putting me in what Loubser refers to as a “high-risk health category”, as this measurement is a reliable indicator of overall health. Ideally it should be 0.8:1.

He prods, pinches and measures, writing numbers in a book that he then puts into a computer programme that works everything out. He says the areas he’s targeting on my torso with his pincers, which squeeze the skin and measure the amount of fat under it, will give the “worst possible results”, which he’d rather go by than some areas that tend to paint a rosier picture.

The news, he says, is excellent. Despite the recent setback, there was good consistency for the rest of the month and he says the results might have been even better if I’d had an unbroken run at it. Anyway, some numbers:

My chest circumference has decreased by 1cm to 116cm, which is half of what it should ideally have done. My waist is down by 4cm, which is more than expected, and my hip measurement is down 2cm, which is in line with what Loubser said would be ideal. This means my WHR has dropped by 0.02 but that’s still not enough for me to be out of the danger zone.

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Read more of Kevin's fitness journey:

From fat to fit: Staying the course when one is sick

Sorting out the diet one week at a time

Getting started with the first workout

Facing the hard truths

Sedentary with sciatica, it’s time for a fitness fix

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Thighs? Those squats are paying off, as they’ve grown by 3cm to 58cm, while my calves have (unusually) dropped by a centimetre to 36cm each. My biceps, in a relaxed state, have decreased by 3cm but remain the same when flexed. “That’s great news,” says Loubser. “The difference in relaxed-to-flexed is increased, which means your strength is up and you can recruit more muscle fibres. More muscle fibre recruitment means higher potential lean mass gains and this in turn increases your metabolism, which is a challenge for any middle-aged man. A higher metabolism means faster weight loss and more consistent health.”

As for my weight, I’ve put on 400g. “But as I’ve mentioned so many times before, you can’t just look at the scale,” he says, knowing I’ll be miffed about it. “The lean mass, body fat and desired fat loss will tell us the whole story.”

My body fat percentage is down by 2.61 to 27.99 per cent, which Loubser says is an ideal amount of loss for a month’s training, while my lean mass has gone up by three per cent to 69.12. “That’s almost 3kg of muscle mass gain. This is why you have lost centimetres but the weight on the scale hasn’t changed.

This is a lot of muscle gain in a short time – you have reacted well.

“I need to mention, though, that one cannot increase 3kg every month. This number will decrease, so its important we increase the discipline of healthy eating habits and increase your training intensity. You have gained a lot of muscle mass because your body isn’t used to training, so it’s ‘made up for lost time’ in a sense,” Loubser explains.

So, in summary, I weigh more than before I started, but I need to lose 3kg less fat. These numbers show that hard work does pay off, after all, and that it isn’t too late for me to get from fat to fit.