When Simon Thomas’s wife, Caroline, got sick, he got serious. “It was the hardest thing we had encountered as a family,” says the 40-year-old police sergeant from Llanelli, Wales, UK. After years of making great family memories—but also putting on weight—Thomas knew he wanted to be at his healthiest to take care of his wife and children. The fact that his father had recently passed away from cancer further pushed him to get back in shape as he approached middle age.
Thomas had been fit as a kid, playing rugby with the local team. He loved the sport and the competition, but he married young, and as his family grew, he stepped back from the pitch. He lifted weights until he was 24, and even had an older brother who pushed him to train. But eventually, with his responsibilities as a husband and father, staying fit became less of a priority. Less physical activity, combined with a diet including frozen food and take-out, meant his weight crept up. At 5’8”, he was over 200 pounds, and estimates he was at 24 percent body fat.
After Caroline recovered, doctors told her she should change her diet and try to exercise. Thomas decided that he’d be supportive, right there next to her. “To some, I didn’t look obese,” he says, “but I felt it.” He was self-conscious about getting back in the gym, but inspired by his wife and father to get into the best shape he could by age 40.
He started weighing his food and using MyFitnessPal—basically learning about how his body responded to his diet. “I had never eaten peanut butter,” he says. “Now this is a regular in my diet.”
He also started trawling the internet, particularly YouTube. There, he discovered Jeremy Ethier’s Built with Science channel, and started using the videos to train with. He started training with the program three times a week while his kids were in school, then bumped it up to four. A private Facebook group gave him a place to ask advice and find support.
He dropped 28 pounds to hit his goal weight, then bulked and cut again, winding up at 172 pounds after six or seven months. He’d cut his body fat to around 12 percent. “At 40 years old, it was the best shape I believe I had been in,” he says. Now he’s bulking up again, planning for an upcoming vacation.
“I feel great,” he says. “I know how my body works. I know how my body reacts to calories, macros, and certain training.” He feels more self-aware, and certainly he and his wife are more active; she’s done marathons and even double marathons.
“You have to have a goal,” he says. His was to get in the best shape possible by 40, and he stayed motivated seeing the changes in his body as he progressed. Give yourself a motivating target, he urges. “Have goals and stay the journey.”
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