Dade Freeman
Photographer & Trainer


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Time for a change

It is July 11th 2013, I am rapidly approaching the big four-oh, I weigh 17 stone and I am not happy in myself, something has to change. Could Insanity be my saviour?

I have always been a big boy, and losing weight has never come easy, but then again I don't do easy. Back in 2000, I qualified as a Fitness Instructor, and that was the only time I would say I have been in any kind of shape (though round is a shape, right?!) However, after fours years working in a gym, I left and never set foot inside a gym again. That was ten years ago!

Finally ready to sort myself out, I knew I didn't want to go down the gym membership route as I don't find them very inspiring and I know I need to be pushed (especially in the beginning). From my personal training days, the kind of Bootcamps and Boxercise classes I used to coach, and from practising Tae Bo, I knew what type of workout I wanted - not one I put together, as I knew I would go easy on myself. So, what was around that would push me in my own home without breaking the bank? I found a workout called Insanity - the name alone almost had me, then I saw just how hard it was and I knew this was what I would need if I were to make any kind of real progress before my 40th or, better yet, by Christmas (or, knowing me, preferably by the end of the first day!) Getting fit is as much a mental game as it is physical, and once I had decided to get fit, that was it!

This post comes with a health warning!
This workout is not for everyone, it is a 60-day high-intensity, high-impact, interval training programme, so if you do embark on the Insanity Workout make sure your joints are up to the stress. What I particularly like about it is the fact I didn't need to go out and buy gear to do it and, better yet, it incorporates Speed, Agility and Quickness training (or SAQ), with a combination of sports workouts and martial art moves - a perfect all rounder :)

I am aware that many of these kinds of fitness programs can over-promise and fail to deliver but, from experience, I know that within twelve focused weeks you can make some major improvements - it's about habit breaking and habit forming. Having got the Insanity DVDs, I ditched the biscuits (that was the hardest part), but if I was going to make the changes I so desperately want and need, then sacrifices had to be made, especially when XL shirts were getting tight.

People may not think it, but being a photographer requires a lot of energy and stamina. For example, while shooting a wedding, you lug your gear around all day, walk miles and you put yourself in a whole manner of positions to get your shots. This summer, I had been finding the process much tougher than it should be and to make matters worse I was sweating more than normal, which is never attractive but is especially unwelcome when you are working with clients.

So to do this workout you must be committed - it's called Insanity for a reason! Just kidding. Here are a few of my post-workout shots - as you can tell from my expressions, some days were slightly easier than others.

My training was nearly derailed after I sliced the tip of my middle finger open polishing a knife on a product shoot. Even though I had to have five stitches to 'make it better' I refused to stop training even for that day, because I knew that missing it for just one day would lead to another and another so, perhaps foolishly, I continued.

I really liked Week One, probably because it was new, I didn't know what to expect or what exercises were coming, and even though it was tough, it kept me interested. However, doing the same routines for six days a week for four weeks in a row did start to bore me just a tad, especially hearing the same words every time. So I was looking forward to Week Five when a new set of training programs started. You can see below what my Week One fitness test scores were - not bad. When it came to doing the test at the end of Week Four, I chose not to look at my scores, so I didn't really know if I was on target or not. Instead I just kept going. I actually felt that I had done worse but surprisingly, when I did compare my scores, this turned out not the case! And as you can see below, I improved A LOT between day 1 and day 60. :)

Day 1 Fitness Test:

  • 80 Switch Kicks
  • 35 Power Jacks
  • 65 Power Knees
  • 20 Power Jumps
  • 5 Globe Jumps
  • 10 Suicide Jumps
  • 10 Push-up Jacks
  • 35 Low Plank Obliques

Day 30 Fitness Test:

  • 100 Switch Kicks
  • 50 Power Jacks
  • 75 Power Knees
  • 34 Power Jumps
  • 10 Globe Jumps
  • 16 Suicide Jumps
  • 20 Push-up Jacks
  • 49 Low Plank Obliques

Day 60 Fitness Test:

  • 108 Switch Kicks
  • 55 Power Jacks
  • 110 Power Knees
  • 43 Power Jumps
  • 11 Globe Jumps
  • 24 Suicide Jumps
  • 33 Push-up Jacks
  • 59 Low Plank Obliques

There are of course days when you just wish you didn't have to work out, but those are the days you need to push that little bit harder and in the end you will be glad you did. Having said that, across the whole program I have only missed four days - two collided with long working days, another was down to my knee injury and the last because I knew I wasn't in the right state of mind to workout, so it would have been pointless. But when I did work out, I shed blood, sweat and tears!

The 'recovery' weeks, didn't really seem to let up that much, but they did offer a different set of exercises and core workouts. Part of me was looking forward to a new range of exercises and stopping the repetition of what I had been hearing on an almost daily basis. Week Six began and it very nearly killed me! And I had thought the first four weeks were tough! One major point of concern was an old knee injury which had now flared up due to the impact and pounding it had taken over the past few weeks, so I bought myself a knee support to ensure it didn't get worse. However, with only two weeks to go, my knee was REALLY feeling it, sometimes the next day it actually hurt to walk. What to do - stop or keep going? I decided to keep it up, but I modified the jumping exercises where possible.

One thing I will add is that this exercise regime was done without calorie counting, protein shakes, fad diets, crazy weight loss pills or any other nonsense. Instead I changed my eating and drinking habits - no more cakes, beer or pop and instead, lots of salads, protein, water and fruit, so I was simply a little more choosy about what I ate. Don't get me wrong - I did have the odd glass of wine and Digestive biscuit, but moderation is the key ;)

Of course, all this hard work means nothing without changing my mental state to a more positive one. This is much harder because my negative voice takes some drowning out, but it is a process I am working on, and hopefully I will be able move myself away from the bi-polar spectrum.

So did I achieve the fabled beach body? No, I'm not a ripped mass of bulging muscles, but my waist has gone from 48" down to 44" and my weight from 17 stone to 15.5 stone, (a loss of about 21lbs)! I am not too dissatisfied with the weight results bearing in mind muscle weighs more than fat (per square inch), so presumably if I had swapped one for the other then my weight would actually increase, but my shape and tone would change. I can happily report my jeans are now too big for me, my old T-shirts fit me again and my belt needs a new hole.

Was it worth it? Yes. It was the kick start I needed, I now have a holiday to enjoy and when I return I will continue with the healthier eating, positive thinking and start an exercise routine. After all ,what do I have to lose except weight?!

So like the man says - DIG DEEPER.