Darren, 35, wasn’t happy with how he looked and felt, so he decided to take charge of his physique
When I left school I was a skinny kid so I joined the gym and got some newbie gains. But life gets in the way, and I stopped training and lost my shape. The realisation came when I was on holiday with my wife and kids last summer. I was just sitting on the beach thinking, I look awful. I never thought this would be me. I don’t think I realised how much back fat or stubborn fat I had.
I felt unhappy with what I’d let myself become and I just thought, this stops now. There’s no way I’m going to let this ruin the rest of my life. My daughter was starting school in the September and I didn’t want to be fat when I dropped her off on her first day.
I was in a car accident several years ago and I’ve got issues that I’m still dealing with now, so I was worried because I didn’t want my injuries to prevent me from completing the plan. I’ve got early stage carpal tunnel syndrome, which means I haven’t got a lot of grip strength, and I’ve also got bursitis [when the fluid-filled sacs that cushion your joints become inflamed] in my shoulders, which I’m having physiotherapy for. But I bought some straps and different hooks to help me lift – I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.
I loved the plan for the first session. I loved the way it was structured and by the time I had done the first week I felt like a different person. I had bought a load of new clothes to take on holiday that hid my fat but within three weeks of starting the plan most of them were too big for me.
My mood was the biggest change. I think I had sleepwalked into how I felt. When my daughter was born she had chronic reflux so she couldn’t sleep. Every 45 minutes she was awake being sick and that happened for about nine months. That took its toll and that was probably the first time I put weight on. Then I got into this position where I always felt like my batteries were about to run out. Everything felt like a chore. Doing the plan felt like someone has put some new batteries in. Now I’m constantly buzzing, I feel happy and everyone has been commenting on it. The New Body Plan community on Twitter has also helped. I follow the lads that regularly post and it gives you a sense of belonging.
Because I was on such a high by the end of the first week I thought, right, this is going to be me now. This is how I’m going forwards – not just for the eight weeks but for the rest of my life. Yes, I’m the one who has had to lift the weights but I’d give the credit to the plan because it is what incentivised me to make the change.
There were a couple of sessions where I trained at about nine o’clock at night after work and I didn’t feel like doing it but I told myself, if you don’t do it you’re throwing the week away. I needed a day between sessions to give my grip the chance to recover so if I missed a session then that week would spill over into the next week. I felt like there would always be an excuse not to train so I made sure that, no matter how I felt, I just got in there and did the workout one way or another.
My advice to anyone thinking of doing the plan is to embrace it and enjoy it. Doing a body transformation programme can be quite daunting, especially if you’re new to training. But it’s such an enjoyable process and when you’re getting results doing something that you enjoy, there’s no better feeling. Just stick with it and the results will come.
I feel fitter now than I’ve ever felt and I’ve done it doing something that I’ve loved. I feel better at work and I feel energised all the time. I feel like a young lad again in terms of fitness and how I feel in my everyday life. I knew I was heading towards my 40s out of shape and I’d almost resigned myself to it. But now I’m not going to be that guy. By the time I’m 40 I’m going to look a million times better than I did when I was 20.