Get Lean, Mean & Healthy Bootcamp – Interview to Inspire

Firstly to all of you out there following  the ‘GET LEAN, MEAN & HEALTHY BOOTCAMP’ – what can I say.

You peeps are bringing it.

If you followed the eating guidelines, workouts and tips then you are now 1 week healthier and moving every day to a fitter and leaner you.

I’ve been delighted by the positive feedback received on the facebook updates. The enthusiasm and motivation with which so many of you have grasped this challenge and taken action to enhance your health and wellbeing is inspiring and I’m sure infectious to everyone around you.

So onward into week two with more workouts and tips to come on the Facebook page.  Earlier last week Brett shared some of his delish recipes (see the Clean Eating Recipes post) to keep you nourished and sane whilst still following the 3 main bootcamp eating rules.  Which are??? Anyone???

  1. Avoid all refined sugar
  2. Eat real food (i.e. not processed rubbish – if you need a chemistry degree to read it then you shouldn’t eat it)
  3. Avoid all grains

We will share some more recipes with you again soon but I want to put some focus on food rule number 1: ‘Avoid all refined sugar’ and the power of positive change in your body and your health.  Honestly if the only change you made out on this bootcamp was to cut out processed sugar you would notice a difference.  I cut sugar out of my diet 8 months ago and have never looked back.  My skin is better, I stay lean pretty effortlessly and still feel fueled and energised – if anything that 3pm energy tip/sugar craving I used to experience has all but disappeared.

However, I write this blog and could be accused of possibly being a bit biased.  So I have another ace card up my sleeve to get across the power of ditching processed sugar.  I have a colleague where I work who I have watched literally shrink in front of my eyes over the past 12 months.  His name is Aaron, a lovely guy and although I’ve never worked with him, l I’ve seen him around the office for years and said “hi” in passing. He’s always been quite  a large guy, however the change in Aaron now to the Aaron of a couple of years ago is like night and day.  He looks amazing and a picture of health.

I couldn’t help but one day  in passing  congratulate him on how great he was looking and ask him what changes he made.

The answer? – Well he didn’t follow a fad diet or go to any desperate measures I can tell you.  It was a pretty simple change.  Aaron’s weightloss secret was …. ditching the sugar.  Anyway, don’t let me convince you – let the proof of the pudding (hmm prob not the best analogy) come from Aaron himself as he was kind enough to let me interview him.  So here it is along with some before and after pics.

Re-reading Aaron’s words from this interview I feel so inspired, and actually a little emotional, in a good way, at the amazing positive changes he has made.  I will always be emotionally boosted, motivated and delighted by seeing real life people taking positive action to to transform their health, body and life for the better.  Aaron has lost in weight more than I weigh. Crazy eh, crazy in a good way and hopefully a boost of motivation to all you boot campers / blog followers.  Enjoy.

This is Aaron…….before…..and…..after.  


1.You look really awesome and have pretty much shrunk in front of our eyes – do you know how much weight/ size you’ve lost and if so are you ok to share?

 Hi Lotty and thanks for the compliment.  It’s been quite a neat year for me personally and although I haven’t really noticed the change day to day, I’ve been reminded of it by friends and family and the need to buy some better fitting clothes a couple of times during the year.  As far as sizing, I’ve gone down around 6-7 sizes in suits and jeans, and still find the range too broad in many clothes to know where I fit.  I used to wear a XXL or XXXL in t-shirts and now seem to fit most Medium sizes.  As far as weight, I’ve lost over 55kg during the year.

2.What changes did you make to lose the weight?  (You mentioned you gave up sugar was there anything else you did differently too?)

There were two significant changes I made this year.  The biggest change was to cut out everything that had a high content of processed sugar.  People always ask me what I mean by that, and to be honest, I’m not sure myself.  I still eat things that contain some sugar like cereal and bread etc., but it was the obvious things – coke, lollies, icecream, chocolate, cake.  Funnily enough, most of these things were almost a daily part of my diet.  Now I try to get as much natural sugar as I can handle from fruit, so the big fruit salad with Greek yoghurt on it in the evenings has become a regular thing for me.
The second change I made was at the gym.  I had been a regular at the gym for many years, but had always spent my time focused on strength training.  I decided early in the year to ditch the weights and just do plenty of cardio, because I was interested in walking a half marathon with a friend and thought I should probably try this ‘fitness’ thing out.  Also, weights made me hungry and I would always eat something when I got home.

3.What made you make the shift and when? 

I’ve known for years that I needed to lose weight.  My parents would remind me, my sister would tell me to get a check up, and of course I knew that it was a struggle to buy clothes off the rack in a lot of stores and as much as I enjoyed an active lifestyle, it was obvious I was no runner!  One of the things I wanted to achieve was something as simple as being able to go out and jog 3km without feeling as though I was going to faint. 
 Anyway, I happened to be at home one evening and the TV was on but I was reading or something.  I heard a familiar voice but couldn’t pick who it was.  He was talking about some research into processed sugar and about a challenge he was taking on to give up sugar.  When I looked up, there was this overweight guy jogging down the beach with a bandana on and talking about how he weighed 145kg (or something like that).  And I thought, ‘wow, he weighs the same amount as I do.’  It turned out to be Peter FitzSimons and the show (60 Minutes) documented his attempt to give up sugar for a couple of months.  By the end of the show, he had lost something like 20kg and I remember thinking, ‘why not give it a try?’  I had tried low fat, low carb, low calorie with varying degrees of success, but always found that there was something I missed.  Especially the low carb diet – I love, love, love bread and potatoes!!  So I started cutting out my jam on toast, the sweet muffin for morning tea, and the coke with my lunch, and before I knew it, I was eating quite differently without intending to do anything specific except try to cut down on sugar.  All of this happened late Jan 2012 so around 12 months ago.

4.What differences do you notice in your health and well-being now (Physically, mentally, general well-being)?

Physically, it’s weird, I still don’t tend to notice that I look different and mentally, it’s the same – I think I’m still overweight because I still check chairs and things before I sit on them to ascertain whether I think they can handle my weight and I still tend to think I’m big.  I think the biggest difference is in my general well-being.  I have heaps more energy and tend to get a bit restless if I haven’t exercised in a while or am not doing something.

5.Do you miss some of the foods you used to eat?

There’s not a specific food I miss at all.  If you’d asked me before I started what I wouldn’t be able to do without, I probably would have said ‘Coke’ because I used to love a coke, especially when we have takeaways.  But I only tend to miss things when in a certain environment where I can’t find a quick and easy replacement.  Day to day, I swap things like blueberry or banana muffins for a cheese scone or afternoon chocolate bar for fruit or peanuts, but it’s when you are somewhere and the only option is sugar.  The kids love these fresh fruit icecreams that you get at the berry farms and it tends to be when you’re at a farm on a beautiful hot day and the kids are ordering their berry icecreams that I think, ‘well, there’s not really a substitute for that right now’ and that’s when I tend to think I miss sugar.  Whereas at home, I enjoy a bowl of fresh berries with some banana and greek yoghurt just as much as the kids enjoy fruit salad and icecream.  
Similar with takeaways, I’ve developed a real liking for water – but every now and then, I think a coke would taste so good with a pizza or with fish and chips.  So just in case you’re wondering, I still eat plenty of things that aren’t the best for you, but I try my best to stay away from sugar.  But even then, on some occasions if I really want to, I’ll have an icecream or a piece of cake or something that I feel like.

6.Do you enjoy your new health and fitness regime / lifestyle and do you find it easy to maintain?

I love it – not just for the enjoyment of it, but because I have more energy to do the things I really want to be doing.  People ask all the time, ‘so how often do you go to the gym?’ I usually try to get there 6 days of the week and they go, ‘man, that’s a bit over the top isn’t it?,’  but the way I look at it is, I used to watch TV 7 days a week.  That was pretty much my evenings.  So you do have to make some choices and for me, transferring some TV time into gym time was a good choice.  I get heaps of time to think at the gym and 9 times out of 10, am genuinely excited about working out.  On that 1 in 10 occasion that I’m not – I’m always glad I did as soon as I’ve done it.  
So I’m not going to say it’s easy, because sometimes you have to decide what to do when conflicting appointments come up – but as far as changing long term habits, switching from tv to gym was pretty easy.

7.You are very much an inspiration with what you have achieved. Do you have any words of encouragement or tips for others that are wanting to make a shift but not quite got off the starting blocks?

I guess one thing is to make sure you’re doing it for yourself.  In a way, I wonder if I would have started earlier if people hadn’t pestered me about it for so long.  Know what motivates you and do something that you are comfortable with and ensure it’s sustainable.  On the flip side, don’t give up anything that puts it into the ‘too hard’ basket.  If I really want sugar, I’ll have it – but I’ve found that there are so many things out there that I enjoy that have no sugar – fruit, coffee, cheese, nuts, etc. Also, while you want this to be long term, don’t make it so long term that it doesn’t seem achievable.  If I had said that I’d give up sugar for almost a year, I probably would have never given it a go.  But when I thought I’d try it for a couple of months, I was able to chunk it down.  Once you start, even something simple, you’ll find that you naturally want to make other changes too.  Just don’t try to make all of the changes at once.  Just pick little things every few weeks – like increase water intake, don’t eat too much in the evenings, start walking or going to gym etc., etc.

8.What’s your typical day food and fitness wise now and what was it before?

I think I eat more now than I used to, but a standard day was probably as follows; 
Wake up and eat lots of toast with peanut butter and jam – 4 to 6 pieces.  
Go to work and order a coffee and muffin.
 Lunch was whatever I felt like (good or bad) but usually with a coke.
  Mid afternoon was a visit to the vending machine – a coke and some nuts or chips or chocolate bar.
  Dinner was whatever was prepared at home – maybe another coke.
  Then I would go to the gym and work out with weights.
  Come home and eat some ice-cream and fruit.

Now I tend to do as follows; 
Wake up and go to the gym for some cardio – I started doing morning workouts in Aug when the guys at the gym suggested I reintegrate weights as I was looking like everything was hanging off me. 
  Come home and have some cereal with fruit and milk and some yoghurt – usually weetbix or rolled oats.  
Go to work and get coffee with eggs on toast. 
Mid morning I grab a banana or a cheese scone.  
Lunch tends to be some sushi, a bento and a miso.  I eat heaps for lunch. 
  Afternoon tea is some fruit, some nuts and maybe a roll with a banana in it.  
Get home and eat some cheese and crackers and some fruit and nuts (and maybe some cereal) or hummus and pita bread
.  Dinner is whatever is prepared at home (curry, pasta, meat and vege, pizza) and then weekends we still have takeaways on 2 nights.  
Then have some fruit and Greek yoghurt.  
Go to gym for a light weights workout.  
Come home and have some more fruit and yoghurt

9.What’s the best thing about being the new you?


Definitely the energy, I’m barely ever tired now.  I love to get up early and get things done while most people are still sleeping.  Also I like the fact that I can now jog (albeit at a snails pace) a few km, which means I can keep some form of exercise up wherever I go.  But some of the other activity I enjoy like tennis as so much more enjoyable.

10. Any other top tips , info you want to share re your journey, nutrition, lifestyle etc?

Yep – be yourself and just try and make it work for you.  Don’t worry if you have a bad day or can’t make all the changes you want to make.  Just try to make long-term habits that will pay off over the long term.  I would never have been able to lose this much weight in a short amount of time, so it’s good to know that one bad day or a short holiday isn’t going to put me back to where I started, but just have some short term goals.  Some of mine were really simple.  The first was to have no sugar during the week and to get under 140kg.  That’s because starting is the hardest thing and you have to have some quick wins.  But after that, I just kept making stuff up.  I thought my end goal was going to be getting to 118kg, as that was the lightest I remember being when I was 20 years old and feeling really fit.  However, somehow I got there really quickly and didn’t think I had needed to put that much effort into it, so I just kept making new goals of running a couple of km on the treadmill, being able to do press ups (which I couldn’t), having less fat% etc.  Also another tip is don’t deprive yourself.  And talk to people about what you’re doing – you’ll be surprised how many people have got similar stories to share or can help you on your way.  Good luck to you and all the best for 2013.

Aaron pic

Aaron now – fit, healthy and a total inspiration.

8 thoughts on “Get Lean, Mean & Healthy Bootcamp – Interview to Inspire

  1. wow! great job Aaron- very inspirational. i like how the small goals added up & here you are today- looking & feeling fab! way to go!

  2. When I walked past you the other day and had to double take to recognise you that is really saying something. This is an extremely inspiring article. Fantastic result mate.

  3. I went to a USA Preaching school with Aaron back in 1993 and can vouch for his gentle and humble nature. He was a large guy back then so when my daughter showed me your site with his photo I literally did not recognise him. This is truly a wow moment. I am in need of a change myself, this is really encouraging.

  4. Well done Aaron – you have achieved an outstanding goal. well done and congratulations on the new healthier you.

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