Darren Glenister

Body Positive

28th December 2018

Traditionally, New Year is the time to lose weight, get fit, eat healthily… you know the drill. Four Optima colleagues got ahead of the game, and on 5 November began a 12 week transformation programme that is already delivering results. Jill Glenn shares all…

I hardened my heart against the very idea of #AFitterMe… until I talked to Darren Glenister, whose brainchild (bodychild) it is. I’d heard plenty about this 12 week programme on the grapevine and the one thing I was certain of was that it was going to be hard – and definitely Too Hard For Me.

After all, how else was he getting the results I was hearing about? Here were people losing two and three stones in three months… and keeping it off, or losing more; here were people willing to expose their ‘before’ photos voluntarily on the #AFitterMe website, so proud were they of their accompanying ‘after’ shots. Sure, it looked great – but challenging. Way too challenging.

And then I met Darren, and everything he said made sense. He has all the right credentials: 20 years as a fitness practitioner and physiotherapist, with experience in the military, professional sport and private practice – but, even so, a couple of years ago, his children pointed out that he had a ‘jelly belly’. Galled, he set about researching the best way to change his approach to health and fitness, which is how the #AFitterMe principles were developed.

As a regime, it’s all about making small, and not-so-small, changes, and sticking with them. It’s about eating what – and when – the body needs in order to ‘fuel and burn’: restricting carbohydrates to a certain time, for example. It’s about mindset, too, and eating vegetables and drinking green tea and plenty of water. It’s about steps and circuits (a workout by any other name). There are seven ‘rules’ to be followed each day.

Won over by Darren’s enthusiasm, four of us from Optima Magazine signed up: three cheerfully and one (not me) after some coercion. We’ve all kept to the rules, pretty well, and the advantage of having three colleagues treading the same path means a] far less chocolate around the office; and, b] always having someone on hand or at the other end of an instant message to offer advice, encouragement or a stern word. There’s plenty of this in the official group, too, with recipes shared, clarification sought and given, and not a little dry humour. And comments from Darren, or DG as he likes to call himself, that vary from motivational to stern. Each day, from late afternoon onwards, the app pings regularly as people ‘tick in’, to declare that they’ve met the daily targets. It’s both irritating (when you’ve still got a few thousand steps to go) and galvanising: who wants to be the last tick of the day?

#AFitterMe does take over your life in some respects. For the first few weeks I felt I was thinking about nothing but food – but I was eating well, and enjoying everything, and I’ve never yet felt deprived. At the same time, it’s not too intrusive; you get weighed four times in total, and the ‘circuits’ can be done anywhere: at home, in the office (behind closed doors!) or at a gym. It’s tough for the time-poor – you need a good couple of hours walking to achieve the minimum 12,500 daily steps, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to add these in. And yes, I have been known to walk up and down my hall for 30 minutes at 11pm in order not to waste a day. Six weeks in, though, I can honestly say that 12,500 steps feels like nothing. Yesterday, I hit 18,000. And you do get a couple of rest days a week.

At our first official weigh-in, three weeks from the start date, between the four of us we’d lost nearly 18lb. Admittedly, one of us had only reduced by 1.5lb – but she’d been on a seriously celebratory anniversary holiday in the interim, and, frankly, losing anything counted as a win.

We’ve all lost more since. Technically, we’re not supposed to weigh ourselves at home, but old habits die hard (Darren, don’t look at me like that…) and the pounds are falling away.

There’s Christmas to get through, at the point of writing, and New Year – but with the nine week weigh-in on the horizon early in January, followed by the final reveal a few weeks later, I’ve no intention of blotting my copybook. In any case, the odd bad day is easily remedied. This is a long-term change, not a short-term fix. It’s about how you feel, not only how you look.

‘Darren is an inspirational guy and tells you what you need to know and not what you want to hear’, says one testimonial on his website. I’ll tick that.

For more information go to www.afittermedg.com

Look out for the Optima team's final report on their #AFitterMe experience in the 9 February magazine, after their last weigh-in…

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