The end is near……….

It’s come about quick but the end of this documentary is creeping up on us. As I write this blog it’s only eight days until I fly out to Dubrovnik in Croatia.

It says a lot that a lot of the things at the start of this programme which felt quite new and strange such as eating healthily and exercise have become the norm so I don’t really have that much interesting to tell you.

And that ladies and gentleman is what they call in the journalism word ‘hooking the reader in with the first couple of paragraphs’!

Actually come to think of it, I do have some stuff to talk about. Namely in the shape of clothing. Am I going to give you my top tips to look good this summer? Am I balls.

But I was trying some holiday clothes on which I bought for a trip to Mexico last October and was shocked and kind of pleased to find that most of them are too big for me.

I say pleased. I mean it shows how my body has changed since I plumped it up in Cancun, but it also means I had to go out and buy a load of new stuff for Croatia.

To demonstrate how I looked then, here’s a photo by Chichen Itza. One of the wonders of the world. I mean it’s good but there’s only so much excitement you can get from looking at a massive temple while sweating your nuts off.

My excitement at being in the presence of a wonder of the world

My excitement at being in the presence of a wonder of the world

The shorts I wore last year were a 36” waist and the other day I tried some on that were 32” and they fit me alright. I ended up buying the 34s though mainly because the 32s showed off too much errrr definition below my waist.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bragging about my junk but they were just tight bloody shorts. I realise that this is some of the most boring stuff I’ve written about in this blog, but it’s been a slow news week.

All in all, it’s good that I’m having to buy different clothes and I certainly feel more confident. I might even throw in a couple of cheeky vests. I’ve never been a vest man, but I’m packing more in there than a load of chest hair and moobs this year so why not.

In case you were worrying, they will be strictly for holiday purposes. I refuse to become one of those vest bellends you see at the gym or at worse, on a night out. I live in Leeds, not Marbella.

While we’re on the subject of shorts and what not I might aswell share a story from this week with you.

I was sat at home the other day playing computer games in my gym shorts, having not long got back from a training session when the door went.

You know as soon as the door goes in the day, you think it’s either two things charities or Jehovah’s Witnesses and tend to hide (as a disclaimer to this, I do charity work so I’m not panning them).

I answered the door to see a sweet old lady. Immediately she said: “I’ve got the wrong house”. I felt like replying: “Too bloody right you have because if you’re gonna tell me not to celebrate Christmas, you can do one. This gaff will be a bloody grotto come December.”

But no she wasn’t there to preach, she was looking for her friend and had the wrong house. All was well, then as she left she looked down at my prosthetic and said: “Oh and you’ve got a bad leg and I made you get up.”

Rather than educate this lovely lady on my ability to walk and indeed my new-found nimbleness thanks to my training, I joked:

“Yeah. It’s gonna take me half hour to get back to the sofa now.”

She didn’t laugh but I did ironically for about half hour after. Well least you got a decent anecdote from this blog if nothing else.

I’m on the final straight to Croatia now so I’m gonna cane it at the gym next week and lets hope my final weigh in and body fat measurements go well. Otherwise the joke will be firmly on me.

xx

The problem with chinos………………

I’ve got just under three weeks until I fly out to Croatia and the good news is that when I weighed myself this morning I was 12 stone 9 lbs which takes my total weight loss so far to 19lbs.

I can’t believe I’ve nearly lost a stone and a half and I’ve still been drinking, albeit only vodka, lime & soda. Obviously I don’t mean drinking like sitting on a park bench or in my house necking vodka, I just mean socially. Thought I’d make that clear.

Would I have lost more if I’d gone teetotal for the last six weeks? Maybe. But I don’t think I could’ve stuck to it if I’d cut everything I enjoyed out of my life. I’ve realised I’m not going to get rid of my belly completely before Croatia, but it was always gonna be a big ask when I only had nine weeks. Would’ve been nice to finish the documentary with a six pack to show off but then it would’ve been nice if I’d spent my life being able to do a handstand but I can’t and I’m ok with it.

I’m happy with what I’ve done so far and it’s nice to have so many people telling me how good I look. Everyone keeps saying I look great and I’ve done really well and a frequent comment is “you’re not going to pile it back on after are you?”.

There is a genuine concern that I might get plump again soon as the camera is turned off and I do one to Croatia. Basically people are saying I shouldn’t go back to how I was before.

Which begs the question – why is it when you lose weight everyone says how great you look but nobody was telling me when I was plump that I looked like shit?!

Why did nobody tell me?! I kind of had an idea but I definitely won’t be going back to being a chubby funster now.

I do look back on photos and footage of myself from before I did this diet and cringe because I didn’t look my best. I feel the same way about photos from January as I do with this photo with my brothers when I was 17 where it looks like there was meant to be a seventh Brooker brother somewhere but I’ve eaten him.

There aren't that many pictures of all the Brooker brothers together, which is a good job for me judging by this one!

There aren’t that many pictures of all the Brooker brothers together, which is a good job for me judging by this one!

In my defence I was still recovering from surgery on my leg which hampered my mobility aka left me in a wheelchair because I couldn’t use/be arsed to use crutches. But I was a porker. The worst thing is at the time, I was trying to attract women. I couldn’t figure out where I was going wrong. I now have an inkling it might have been the XL football shirt/glasses/lack of any sort of haircut combo.

On the whole, I’m feeling very positive and all that now. I like being in better shape apart from the fact all my clothes are too big for me. I bought a pair of chinos two weeks ago that are too big now. Ridiculous. Serves me right for buying chinos. I will be happy when they go fully out of fashion because they’re the worst things to wear at a urinal on a night out. One splash and you look like you’ve wet yourself and you then have to endure the uncertain five minutes where you’re waiting for it to dry before anyone notices. It’s a weekly stress at the moment.

But yeah the only negative thing recently has been my clothes being too big and for a little bit I was struggling to go to the toilet. I don’t really want this blog to be about my toilet activity but basically because I’d changed my diet so dramatically my bowels didn’t know what was going on. To use a football analogy, I had some players I wanted to leave the club but they wouldn’t.

They now have. All is good in the world. Ironically this situation was remedied around the same time Arsenal got rid of Squillaci, Denilson and Arshavin who had been hanging around like deadwood for too long. There has been a long standing connection between my bowels and my football club and I’m sure that will continue.

On that note I might aswell finish this blog. This week will be the usual combo of training at the gym four times and trying not to eat crap or drink beer.

x

Eat less, move more

I knew before I started this programme that the thing that was going to help me lose weight, keep it off and get toned was by going to the gym.

I’ve had personal trainers before but because I don’t really have the conventional ability to lift weights and use machines, they kind of didn’t know what to do with me.

It was either that or they just thought “not even lifting a few weights can sort you out my chubby little amigo”. I prefer to think it was the former.

With that in mind it was important to make sure I had the right trainer for the seven or so weeks I was planning on caining it up the gym.

My mate John from school had been saying to me ever since I started working down in London that he would train me at the gym he worked at in Oval and get me in shape for my TV work. He told me it wouldn’t be that difficult to get fit – “eat less, move more”.

It was a generous offer, but I kept making excuses. Too busy, too far to travel (I live in Waterloo so if you know London you will realise how lazy that is). But ultimately I just couldn’t be arsed with it. Which is strange because I did want to get in shape.

But John kept saying he reckoned there was circuits he could adapt for me and I remembered that as soon as I signed on for this documentary. To be honest I didn’t want any other trainer.

I’ve known John since I was 11 and he looked out for me at school –  the odd dead arm aside, which is par for the course. When we would play Wembley doubles (a football game for those who don’t know. Basically teams of two all pile in and gradually a pair gets eliminated) John would go with me when in all likelihood I wasn’t exactly first pick.

Did I mind? Did I balls. I liked football but I was pretty shit and if I was someone who wanted to win, I wouldn’t of picked me. But John did and I would stand by the goalline to tap it in. A simple job, which I like to think I did effectively.

But life in an all-boys secondary school is an entirely different documentary. Back to the battle against the chubb. I knew John would be a great trainer for me because he knew my limitations, wouldn’t be afraid to get me to try stuff that might not work and most of all because he wouldn’t have any of my complaining when it got tough.

I’ve been training with John for three weeks and I’m starting to see results. He works me hard and it’s been successful so far. As this picture below shows. It was taken after I had finished a circuit of sprints on the cross trainer, pushing John in a body pad across the gym and back and doing some jumping-back-and-then-up move (it has a proper name I can’t remember).

The face of a man who is absolutely knackered

The face of a man who is absolutely knackered

I mentioned before that due to certain limitations with my ability to grip and lift, I was always dubious how much I could train. A lot of our early sessions were a bit about trial and error but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was pessimistic about what I could do, none more so than with the bicep curl. I’ve never had biceps really and knew I could use the machine with my left arm but my right arm, which is shorter, was out the game. I said this to John and below you will see the solution he came up with.

The towel round the wrist bicep curl - coming to a gym near you soon!

The towel round the wrist bicep curl – coming to a gym near you soon!

Something as simple as a towel around my wrist and pulled down to provide resistance has enabled me to work both my arms properly. Three weeks in and I am fitter, lifting more, pushing more and quicker at the cardio exercises. I can only pay credit to my trainer for the job he has done.

I’ve got three and a half weeks left before Croatia and while I know I won’t lose my belly completely in time, I’m confident I will be in the best shape I’ve ever been in out there.

At which point, I will drink a load of beer, eat a load and John will have his work cut out again when I get back and want to get in shape before the next series of Last Leg.

xx

An insane workout

I know I was banging on about all the nutty fad diets at the start of this blog, but it’s doesn’t take a genius to work out that the key to getting in shape over the next five weeks is to exercise loads and eat healthily.

 

I’ve managed to get the diet on track – apart from the nuts debacle (see previous blog, no please do. The more views, the more I get paid. Only kidding……………..sort of). So yeah apart from the nuts, I’ve managed to get my nutrition pretty much sorted.

 

I’m hardly eating any carbs and pretty much my diet consists of fish, chicken, vegetables and salad. I’ve never eaten so much broccoli or spinach in my life. I remember Popeye used to eat spinach but I always thought he was a bit of a nob so I’ve avoided it most my life.

 

But anyway, now is the time to nail it in the gym and hopefully start to get myself a bit more toned. I’m realistic and know that I’m not going to get a six pack in the next five weeks but I just want to get some more definition.

 

I’ve never been one for exercise classes. And I say never been one, I mean I’ve never been to one. But last Monday I lost my exercise class virginity. I did some research into exercise classes and home workouts, and I got sent a load of stuff through about this workout which started in America (standard) and is called Insanity. If you’re wondering what it is like, the giveaway is in the name!

 

The marketing for the workout tells you that if you follow the programme for 60 days you will get yourself in amazing shape. This is something that a few of these exercise classes and home workouts do, so obviously with something that promises results so quickly, I was sceptical.

 

However, upon trying a DVD at home and then going to the class, I can definitely say that doing the workout four or more times a week will get you in shape. It is mental and easily the hardest exercise I’ve ever done.

 

Basically you are on the go all the time. One minute you’re doing high knees, then squats, then straight into an American football-style drill shuffling from side to side, then you’re down on the floor again planking. It’s crazy but it works. How I wasn’t sick is beyond me.

 

The best thing about the class was that while everyone is at different levels, you don’t feel like a plum for falling behind. The instructor Liz was really great with me, as obviously I didn’t have the dexterity or ability to do some of the moves, but she always helped me find an alternative. It’s not about doing the moves in unison, it’s about doing them at your own pace. Basically you’re competing against yourself.

 

And even though it knackers you completely, you get a bit of a rush after every circuit. And even though you know you’re gonna get exhausted again, you kind of want to go again. It’s a bit like when you have sex when you’re hungover and have a headache. You know if you do it, you’re gonna feel a bit sick and your headache will be worse. But you do it anyway because you know for a few seconds, you will feel quite good about yourself.

 

You may relate to that, you may not. There are loads of exercise classes and DVDs out there and this is just one that I tried, and could see that it might work. But anyway………….I will leave you with a photo of me sweating buckets at the class. Lovely.

 

Trying to attempt some high knees. I failed.

Trying to attempt some high knees. I failed.

 

A handful of nuts……………

Last Wednesday I turned 29, which felt a little depressing because I’m getting older, and also because it presented me with the dilemma of what do I do to celebrate?

Normally I’d be all over going out for some food and then drinking a load, but obviously I couldn’t do that because it would just undo all the good work I’d done to shift the chubb.

I will come back to that in a minute, but the day itself was mainly taken up by filming for the documentary. I got to interview Men’s Fitness contributing editor Joe Warner, who himself had gone on a 12-week fitness plan to get in the shape of his life to be a cover model for the magazine. It was good to speak to someone who had gone through an intense programme and seen the results.

Speaking to Joe, made me realise that I simply don’t have the time to get in cover model shape, but with six weeks remaining I have enough time to get in pretty good shape. A lot is made of the media influencing people and of these quick fix diets which seem so attractive to those who want to shift some weight.

I’m treating this documentary as an education and from speaking to Joe, John my trainer and everyone else, I’ve realised there are no quick fixes. That point was reiterated by one of the Men’s Fitness models David Godfrey who I spoke to after Joe. In order to get in shape and keep it off I need to maintain these lifestyle changes and keep with them. For the next six weeks, that should mean no alcohol. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

So rather than go out and get smashed and eat a load of pizza, I had a meal of salmon and vegetables washed down with lime and soda water. Just writing that sentence makes me a little sad, but at the time I thought that was how it should be.

I say at the time because the next day I had to go to the doctors for a check up and when I was weighed I found out that I was now 12st 12lbs. That was another six pounds off in a week and a half, making my total weight loss 1st 2lbs in nearly three weeks.

I had kept off the weight loss from the cayenne pepper and maple syrup diet and lost some more, despite going out the previous Saturday and at the BAFTAs. With that in mind I thought a few drinks after the Channel 4 Comedy Gala on Saturday wouldn’t hurt me. I went off the vodka wagon in a big way.

Despite still struggling to knock the booze completely on the head, my diet was still good. No carbs, no crap. Easy. If I got hungry I had been advised to have a handful of nuts. I had been doing this but it never really worked. I felt cheated and maybe I had been given bad advice. Then it occurred to me the other day, just what I was eating when I had a ‘handful’ of nuts…………

One of my handfuls of pistachio nuts

One of my handfuls of pistachio nuts

Of course I had been failing to take into account that I have small hands and actually having two nuts might not fulfil my appetite, even with my significant weight loss.

Despite turning 29, it’s still evident I am a bellend. But now I’m nearing 30 I’m thinking of myself a bit like Robin van Persie, getting into my prime after years of being unfit.

If you don’t like football, that will have been wasted on you. If you do like football, you will know I’m talking complete crap.

xx

Starting to see some results!!

Pretty much all of you will be reading this for the first time and wondering why I’ve apparently been writing it for a couple of weeks without telling anyone about it.

Basically we’ve just been waiting for everything to get signed off, but we’re well underway now so welcome to Alex Brooker: Man vs Fat.

Cut a long (two-week) story short, I’ve started filming a documentary for Channel 4 which will investigate the growing obsession among British men with their weight while focusing on my own journey to lose the chubb in the eight weeks before I go on holiday to Croatia with my mates at the end of June.

I’ve always been chubby and I’ve decided to get myself in shape and until the show airs in the summer, I will be keeping you updated through this blog.

What have you missed? Two weeks ago I started my new fitness regime by going on a diet for a week, which consisted of six glasses a day of this rank concoction of cayenne pepper, maple syrup, lemon juice and water. The weight fell off, 10lbs of it to be exact. That was the positive aspect of it, the negative was it made me ill, I had the hump and I was ridiculously hungry. You can read more about it here.

The challenge for me after was to see if I could keep the weight off. Obviously I had an empty stomach after a week so I was convinced I pile it all back on. The guide to this little seven days of doom dictated that you must ease back into eating. To spend a couple of days on soup before going back to solids. Did I listen to that advice? Did I balls. If I’ve forced myself not to eat for a week, there’s no way I’m going to spend a minute longer feeling like crap.

I eased myself back in by eating some fruit, yoghurts and a salad. Which when you think about it was pretty healthy anyway. The upshot of that diet, is my stomach has shrunk and I’ve now got more resolve when it comes to food. I went to my favourite chicken outlet last Wednesday and ditched the chicken pitta, chips and coleslaw for butterfly chicken, ratatouille and salad. Granted it’s still fast food, but a healthy one at least.

Last Wednesday was also significant in that it was the first day of my training regime with my personal trainer and mate from school, John. I did some fitness tests which included running 1km, failing miserably at some press-ups and doing an average amount of sit-ups. There was also focus on a lot of squats and leg work. The outcome was that I’m not hopelessly unfit but there’s a lot of work to do. The great thing about my training with John is that he knows me and knows that I can’t use all the weight machines properly. I know there’s not a great market for tailored machines for people with one arm shorter than the other, so I’m not bitter. But John has devised a regime which will enable me to work all my muscles equally and get into the best shape I’ve been in.

From Tuesday, I will be training with John at least three times a week and more on my own so that I can achieve my goal at the end of June which is pretty much not to be as fat. Simple.

I’ve also been using an app on my phone which tracks my food diary every day and monitor my weight loss. I think I’m getting very obsessed with it. I’m literally scanning barcodes of everything I eat and counting calories all the time. I went out with the lads to Sheffield on Saturday. No drinking beer anymore, just vodka, lime and soda and even then I was worried about how much I was having. Granted I still had a load and fell asleep in a bar, but I was worried for a bit.

After Sheffield on Saturday, came the BAFTA TV Awards on Sunday night. Champagne and beer on tap but once again I shunned the beer. I was tempted to shun the champagne too, but any ridiculous notions of that finished when Channel 4 picked up the award for the Best Sport and Live Event. Being part of that award winning team and being lucky enough to go up on stage with some of them to get the award was the best moment of my life. In the last year I’ve gone from never being on TV to being part of a BAFTA award winning production.

Enough of all the emotional talk though, how drunk did I get after? Very. I drank a lot of champagne. Did I feel bad the next day for being a bit lax on the diet? A bit. Do I still feel bad today? Absolutely not. It’s not that I’ve gone beyond caring it’s that I saw the photos from Sunday night and remembered the last time I’d worn that suit at the Royal Television Society awards at the end of March.

One the left below is a picture from the RTS Awards, on the right is one from Sunday.

Left (Me on March 20), Right (Me on May 12)

Left (Me on March 20), Right (Me on May 12)

Now you can see what the fairly boring title of this post is all about. I’m starting to see some results from this regime. Long may it continue, or at the very least for another six and a half weeks.

xx

(P.s. If any of you have interesting stories about your weight loss journeys, this blog, the twitter site and Facebook page is the place to tell me all about it.)

Maple syrup and cayenne pepper can do one

So it’s all over and done with. I’ve finished the cayenne pepper and maple syrup diet. I thought on Friday that I wouldn’t be able to finish because I’d lost all faith in the diet. I was annoyed, I couldn’t sleep, I felt nauseous, I’d given up and completely lost faith. I’m sure this is how it felt to be a Tottenham fan before Gareth Bale got good.

Worst of all, I had the shakes and a temperature and thought that would be my lot for this diet. No weight loss is worth getting that ill for. The juice just wasn’t worth the squeeze (get it?!). But I got back to Leeds, weighed myself and I’d lost half a stone. In five days. So like any child who starts to get their own way, I thought I’d shut up whining.

Fortunately I got better over this weekend, although by the final day on Sunday aka yesterday, I’d stopped putting the cayenne pepper in the drinks. I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. I will never have cayenne pepper again. I used to use it when cooking jambalaya and other spicy food, but I’m knocking it on the head now. I’ve got no time for it. I’m a paprika man through and through from now on. The same goes for the maple syrup. I had never had it before last Monday and I will never have it again. The lemons are exempt from this resentment.

This week I’ve learnt that I had more willpower than I thought I had. I’ve dieted before and never stuck to it and only been half as hungry as I was this week. I think it was a good exercise in self control even if it was all in all a stupid idea to do the diet. It made me ill and I still think even with training, that some of the weight I’ve lost will go straight back on so it’s not really a true reflection.

Which brings me conveniently along to my final weight at the end of the diet. Last Monday I was weighed at the osteopath clinic and weight bang on 14 stone. As of 8.30am this Monday morning, I weigh……………………

Weight on 6 May: 13st 3 3/4lbs (Loss: 10 1/4lbs)

Weight on 6 May: 13st 3 3/4lbs (Loss: 10 1/4lbs)

When I looked at that photo again, I was a big fan of it. Firstly because it makes my bicep look big in the shadow and secondly because it is the proof that I lost 10lbs in a week, yes that’s right 10 BLOODY POUNDS.

That’s more than I thought I would lose. I genuinely thought half a stone at best and at one point this week I convinced myself that I’d lost sod all. But I’m realistic at the same time. I know that I will put some of that one soon as I eat. And I definitely know because I just ate a low fat yoghurt, drank a small glass of orange juice and ate two small pineapple chunks and weighed myself. Had put 3lbs back on. The highs and lows of weight loss!!

As my mate Col has just reminded me, weighing myself everytime I eat is stupid and I will just torture myself all week so my next weigh in will be next Monday. My goal is ideally to lose more but I have to be sensible and going back to solid food might cancel out the training I will start doing. If I can stay the same or not put on more than three or four pounds then I will be pleased.

I will never do the Cayenne Pepper and Maple Syrup diet again. Yes I am lighter for it, but I wrote off a week of my life to do it and I genuinely think for someone who is used to a good intake of calories, it is too extreme. Although it makes me think I could do that 5-2 diet quite easily where two days of the week you have like 500 calories. That may be an option later down the line.

This week it’s about building my strength up and on Wednesday I start my training programme with John. I bought a new gym t-shirt and shorts yesterday, so I’m gonna look like one of those gym bellends who has all the gear and no idea. Brilliant.

Speak soon.

xx