Peter, a 36-year-old portfolio manager from Bridgehampton, New York, shares how training three times a week and changing his diet helped him lose weight and build muscle.
I’ve always been physically active; I enjoy going to the gym, but also rock climbing, biking and skiing. However, my ability to train really declined during COVID, as I didn’t have access to a gym during the first six months of quarantine, and many of my outdoor activities were also off-limits. This was the longest I’d ever gone without training, and I was shocked by how quickly my body deteriorated.
Prior to the pandemic, my diet was generally quite healthy, but without a normal routine, it worsened significantly. I found it much harder to avoid pizza, pasta and unhealthy snacking, all of which contributed to feeling worse.
After six months of quarantine in the Hamptons, I needed a change and moved to LA, where I met Eddie Baruta, a senior trainer at Ultimate Performance Fitness. We started working out (socially distanced and outdoors) three times a week in the UP gym, focusing mainly on strength training and full-body workouts. I supplemented this with up to 60 minutes of cardio on other days. Being back in the gym was motivating in and of itself. Then, on non-gym days, Eddie would frequently check in and hold me accountable when it came to my cardio and diet plan.
I began tracking every meal and snack to ensure I was hitting my daily calories and macro goals. I more-than-doubled my protein consumption, kept high-carb meals to a minimum, and drank 120 ounces of water every day. I also reduced my alcohol intake, but didn’t eliminate drinking entirely until the final two weeks of the program.
I’d had plenty of trainers before, but Eddie was by far the most detail-oriented and motivated one I’ve ever worked with. He tracked each of my workouts as well as calories, macros and water intake, and was meticulous in helping me perfect my technique in each lift before going heavier with the weights.
When I started training with UP, I weighed 187 pounds and had around 20 percent body fat. Over the course of the 11-week program, I lost around 8 pounds, most of which was during the first two and final two weeks. The real results were in my composition: my body fat dropped down to 8.9 percent, and I gained 14 pounds of lean muscle.
There have been other benefits, too. Within a few weeks of getting back into the gym and adjusting my diet, I felt drastically better; my sleep improved, and I had a lot more energy during my workday. I just feel generally much better on a day-by-day basis; and I’m enjoying my improved strength.
My focus is now on getting stronger. Eddie and I are still training three times a week virtually, working towards some immediate strength goals in deadlifts, bench press, squats, and pullups.
If you want to improve your fitness, my advice is just decide to do it. And don’t get overwhelmed focusing on the end result. Working with a great trainer can certainly make it easier, but self-motivation and consistency are the most critical things in making a real change.