Why I’m Getting Fit At 40

The journey to get fit and in shape at 40. One I chose to do off my own bat, not for promotional purposes or for anybody but myself. My web guy got himself in the best shape of his life, and that inspired me to do the same. So thanks Alan Harte!

Firstly, to be perfectly clear, I certainly don’t walk around looking like this day to day. This came from a good starting point where I was training in the gym 3 days a week and had a good level of activity before I embarked on this 11 week journey. I played 5 a side once a week and tag rugby once a week and have a boxing coach once a week, all on a very enjoyable and social level.

This is probably more activity than most.

So what was the difference I hear you ask…?

Mainly diet and intensity of my sessions.

I realised I was drifting through the weeks leading up to Christmas and wasn’t particularly proud of my body.

The Irony is not lost on me.

I spend my time keeping others accountable, but somewhere along the line, I stopped keeping myself as healthy in terms of diet as I could.

Training and exercising generally has never been my problem. I love it, it’s my happy drug.

So in January, I called up Darragh (one of our trainers in CPT) and asked if he fancied doing a fitness shoot with me to keep us on the right track. He jumped at it and here we are. I was delighted to have a partner in crime to bounce ideas off, as he’s a knowledgeable guy.

So we set a start date of Jan 3 and booked a photographer, Jim in Fitness Photography Dublin, to take our photos on March 20.

The important part of embarking on a journey like this for me was:

  • Plan the crap out of it but, take imperfect action now
  • Set specific goals
  • Workout what you need to do to achieve it, who you need to be to do those things
  • Tell people for accountability
  • Go all in i.e. commit to it

It all started with meeting plenty of people in the industry who have experience in this field, as it’s the best place to start in my opinion. I met Jenny Mayberry a former pro body builder and school mate, Christian McAlinden a current body building champion and guy I used to coach rugby and Alan Brennan a buddy and body composition coach from the area.

Like with everything in life, I like to explore people (in the knows) opinions I respect or have the required knowledge and experience on topics I want to learn about. Then I find my own path. We are all different, especially when it comes to our body responding to nutritional protocols and methodologies.

In this case especially, Darragh a 28 year old with a different body type that responds better to high carb and low fat, where I am 40 and prefer fasting, and using a higher fat and lower carb protocol. The one common macro nutrient we needed in abundance being protein for recovery and muscle maintenance/growth.

One thing is for sure and I want to state again is, nothing comes easily for me in terms of fitness/fat loss results, I’ve always had to work that bit harder and do that bit more than most, even from my rugby playing days. But that’s life and I just get on with it.

Here is the list of how my training went each week, but also this schedule changed week to week, depending how my body felt.

My training week looked something like this:



Flexibility/Mobility and upper body push


5 Aside Football





Cardio Hiit



Upper body pull


Tag Rugby



Fasted Walk







Arms / Core



Fasted Cardio / Family Walk

Late Morning

Circuit Style Tabata


10,000 Steps / Rest

Quite a lot, I know.

Most would say I over train, but any less and my results are poor. I know my body and I know the level of commitment I need to give to get results.

My diet started off at nearly 3000 calories per day and gradually reduced to 2200 on the final weeks leading up to the shoot. Water was 4 litres of good quality per day, minimum.

I had many ups and downs along the way. I lost no weight for a consecutive 4 week period which drove me crazy, but patience and perseverance served me well and kept me going.

My mind tried to tell me that this was pointless and was like “Why are you doing this?” and  “You’re the professional and you aren’t losing weight”. Knowing what I know about how the mind works now, I can shut these thoughts down pretty quick and come to expect them.

I made a ton of mistakes along the way.  Letting my mind tell me that eating sugary foods (mostly jellies) post training would be fine (they are for some), but not me. I fell into the trap more than once.

I most likely dropped my calories to lower than they needed to be, especially on my double training days.

My total weight loss was 14kg. I started on Jan 3 at 125kg and got down to 111kg on March 20 in the 11 weeks.

I had plenty of speed bumps and curve balls chucked at me through the 11 weeks. We can always tend to let excuses get in the way and let them beat us, but whatever it is, it’s an excuse at the end of the day and we have to be stronger than them if we commit to what we’ve committed to and want to achieve what’s important to us.

I had to spend an emotional long weekend clearing out of my deceased father’s house in the UK. Yes travelling, airports, emotions flying around wanting to comfort eat. The usual excuses. But I committed to this.

I had a 7 day retreat to Lanzarote to navigate around with 16 hour work days. It meant joining a gym over there for a week and escaping in the afternoons for an hour to go work out and do hill sprints first thing in the morning most mornings before the guests woke up at 6am, when I really didn’t feel like it, but I committed to this.

Having two young kids waking up and awake here and there in the night, not allowing for full recovery after sessions meant I was tired a lot of the days, but I committed to this.

My wife eating chocolate and biscuits on the couch next to me at the weekends was a challenge, but I committed to this.

Having a battered body from nearly 20 years of Senior rugby, meaning it has taken its toll, so I had to alter my sessions to accommodate this.

I saw these as challenges, not excuses. Maybe an easier way to reframe them for people moving forward.

By the end of week 9, mentally I was feeling quite tired and it became a struggle to maintain the level of intensity in the gym and to make all my sessions. Considering I trained on my own, all but once, (I did a great session with Darragh when our diaries allowed it).

I think I did ok.

Most of my carbs came from fruit and vegetable, with the exception of post training when I used Rice cakes and jam, Potatoes, Quinoa and Buckwheat.

My protein sources were chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, beef and edame beans. My fats came from fish, fish oils, avocado, olive/rapeseed oil and nuts and seeds.

Keeping in a calorie deficit i.e. burning more than you consume and keeping ingredients clean is so so important when reducing body fat. One without the other is not the best approach.

I had a Carbohydrate refeed 4 times over the 11 weeks. This is when you eat more Carbs to stop your metabolic rate dropping  and slowing results.

I had Nobo ice cream twice (lemon flavour). Sushi 4 times (Carb refeed) and two Indian takeaways where I had BBQ prawns with biryani sauce and a couple of tablespoons of rice.

Key Takeaways (excuse the pun J)

  • I learnt so much about my body, especially how I react now to training stimuli compared to how I did 5 years ago, when I had a real point of motivation to get in great shape i.e. rugby.
  • I learnt I don’t move enough every day despite my workouts. I was only getting 2000 steps some days and 10,000 daily steps is now the goal moving forward.
  • Learning to track your calories for a week or two is important. I tracked my calories and macro (Carbs, Protein, Fats) and realise I was eating too high carb, too high fat and not enough protein. A recipe for slow results.
  • I made sure to take out most types of dairy for the most part, no wheat, gluten, no processed foods and a large increase in my vegetable intake.
  • Accountability is so important. If no one is looking over your shoulder or you haven’t committed to something that you are accountable for, it’s not easy to stick to what you committed to.
  • Consistency is key. Training on the days you are supposed to train, sticking to your training plan. More importantly I have no doubt, is consistency with your diet. It is the difference between getting some results and getting great results, I was somewhere in the middle of not getting it 100% right. My commitment, application and consistency was there, but learning what my body responded to, took time.
  • There will always be challenges on your journey, highs, lows, up and downs, but the most important thing to remember is why you started your health and fitness journey and who you are doing this for…i.e. YOU!
  • It will only benefit the people around you, to have you at your healthiest and happiest.

If this inspires one person to do something for themselves, that will make me happy.

As always, look after number one first and watch everyone around you who you care about, benefit.

Yours in fitness







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