Brandon Newman, 24, shares his weight loss and body transformation journey with Men’s Health.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had an obsession with fitness: it has always been the light that has kept me on the straight and narrow. I’ve had many dark moments in my life, from being depressed and addicted to various substances, to nearly taking my own life in 2020. I was also diagnosed with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) after I left the British Army, which resulted in medications that affected my bone health, and anti-inflammatory steroids with horrendous side effects including severe acne. At the time everything seemed pointless. This went on for many years until finally I found a medication that keeps it under control and gave me my life back. I think experiencing these hardships has ultimately given me the greatest perspective on how short life is, and over the last two years in particular, I’ve been making some big changes in my personal fitness.
I’ve always been a “follow the science” kind of guy and looked at what is working for those who lead the industry. So for many years I had a push-pull-legs workout split and used to smash six days a week in the gym, however I ultimately found that was too much from both a mental and physical recovery standpoint. I started doing full-body workouts instead and ended up loving it, since I hate dedicated leg days.
I’ve tried lots of different diets throughout the years—paleo, low carb, intermittent fasting—but again, what I’ve realized works for me is the IFFYM (“if it fits your macros”) approach. I also use a spreadsheet that calculates weekly weight gain/loss and calories that I enter each day. The best diet is one that you can put up with and enjoy for the rest of your life.
I’ve never worked with a trainer, everything I’ve learned is self-taught from calorie counting to exercise routines. There is so much free information out there that essentially means you don’t ever need a trainer. I got fit simply the way every other person gets fit; consistency and just making good behaviour choices that reward you in the long term. A good workout program with progressive overload, and tracking my calories and macros.
The most difficult part of this journey for me was right at the beginning, when I decided I didn’t want to look like that anymore, and I realized I had to start being responsible for the choices I made every day. That’s hard because you know how easy it is to go home, relax, and choose the short term buzz over your long term wellbeing. So those initially weeks where you have to start saying no to the things that were your feelgood habits is the hardest. The brain becomes a rebellious child. But if someone asked me was it worth it, I can say without a doubt, yes! When you start doing right by yourself for long enough, you having a buzz that just can’t be recreated with drugs or short term eating. I now feel the enjoyment of food to its fullest because it’s balanced.
I lost a total of 32 pounds, dropping from 195 to 162. For me, the biggest difference I noticed in my transformation was in my face: I keep being told how different I look now. Although, of course, noticing a bicep vein is a nice touch as well. Aside from the physical results, I also have more confidence, feel like I’m better at my job, and overall have a stronger sense of discipline and self-worth.
I’m nowhere near finished, either. I’m currently in a cut phase while getting ready for a trip to Ibiza, as I’d like to be leaner for that. Then, when I’ve proven to myself that I can do it and I’m feeling confident enough, I’d really like to start a YouTube channel and some fitness-related social media, so I can help other people do the same.
My advice for anyone who is starting out where I was, is to try to put yourself in the best position to make the changes you want. If you hang around pubs and nightclubs every Friday and Saturday but want to be something else, you need to start by putting yourself in the right environment. Everything becomes easier when you don’t have to constantly say no to things. You start when you decide you want something different for your life. Do what you need to do for yourself first. You can’t help or love others until you love or help yourself.
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