Benjamin James / Transformation

Benjamin James' amazing MAX'S Challenge transformation

  • Before
    82.8kg
  • After
    79.4kg

Details

Height

176 cm

Program

Lean - Intermediate

Reason to start The Challenge

Challenge number 6! Did the mass program last challenge for the first time and had some great results which I want to build on. Signed up again for the accountability to keep me on track before our next baby arrives in January when no doubt I will be seeing a lot less of the gym for a while! Here to continue bettering myself and hopefully help plenty of others along the way.

What did you like most about The Challenge?

The community aspect of the Challenge is phenomenal and really helps you stay motivated, stay focussed and get through the tough times when you're hangry, sore, exhausted and wanting to dive face first into a bag of chips. The accountability of signing up and putting up a photo of yourself in your undies also helps you stay on track as you want to see consistent improvements as the weeks pass by.

What was the hardest thing about your Challenge?

I think the mental aspect is probably overlooked as being the hardest part. Most people fail if they haven't identified a really solid reason WHY they're signing up and want to change. If you can keep that one reason in mind the whole time you can stay focussed on reaching that goal when the training gets tough, you're exhausted, you're craving foods you know you can't have or you're not seeing the results you want.

What impact has The Challenge had on your life?

I'm in the absolute best shape physically that I have ever been in and with that comes an all time high in self confidence. I enjoy eating the healthy meals, look forward to every training session and I've met some amazing people and seen some incredible transformations along the way.

What would you say to people who are thinking of doing The Challenge?

You won't know how amazing you can be until you take the first step and sign up. Even if you've thought about doing it just for a moment, just do it. It will change your life forever, guaranteed! You'll never look back, just take a look at some of the ordinary people transforming into extraordinary people!

Anything else you would like to tell us about your Challenge?

I started off in what I considered OK shape but still managed to lose 3kg of fat mass (including the fat around my organs dropping to just 2 grams in total!), drop to 10% body fat, gain muscle in almost every muscle group and proudly fall into the 'athlete' category according to my final DEXA scan. The Challenge has changed my life and it will do the same for anyone else committed enough to sign up and see it through.

Journal

  • Benjamin James
    28 Nov 2017
    7:20 AM

    What a ride and I can honestly say that I'm 100% satisfied with my results. I may not have ended up as big or shredded or muscular as other challengers, but this is the best condition I have ever been in for my body and that's all we can do as individuals. There is always room for improvement, however, I know with absolute certainty that I did everything I could possibly do to reach my goals over the past 12 weeks, I was mentally rock solid especially towards the end in sticking to the nutrition plan, I trained like I wanted to be the best trainer in the gym, and I actually really enjoyed myself throughout the challenge and didn't stress about my results or get frustrated when things weren't quite going to plan. Setting myself the goal of making the top 10 all those weeks ago, whilst at the time I kind of thought there would be no chance in hell that I could actually make it, gave me the mentality that I had to do everything that a champion would do and that to be one of the best I had to train, eat, recover and live like one of the best. It kept me so focussed on succeeding and meeting my goals and gave me so much drive that it made the whole process quite easy because there was simply no way I was going to fail at it. Looking back now that was the best moment of my challenge because of all the benefits that followed. Every time I wanted to eat something I shouldn't I would think 'would the other top 10 challengers eat that?' and any time I wanted to take a bit more rest or use a lighter weight in the gym I'd think 'how hard are the other top 10 challengers training right now?'. Although it was all mental games with myself it did the job and got me to where I am now. Literally couldn't be happier and no matter what the final result is I'm still thrilled with how things have played out. I never joined the challenge to win or place in the top 50 or top 10, but it would be a kickass reward for the effort I put in and it'd be something to remember forever. That's just about it folks, everyone has done so well and I can't wait to see more transformations as the days go on until the winner is announced. Good luck everyone!

  • Benjamin James
    26 Nov 2017
    8:38 AM

    AND WE ARE DONE! Just putting my final photos on the computer now so I can pick out which one I'll use for my after photo. Bloody hell what a great past 12 weeks! Yesterday I didn't do a thing, took it easy, did some chores around the house then went with the family to the beach for the afternoon to relax and get some sun. Then had a freaking amazing works burger with a handful of chips even though I was yet to do my final photos but my god it was incredible! Woke up feeling great this morning and jumped straight into photos and although I haven't had a look at them on the computer yet I think I will be very happy with the end result. I remember in previous challenges feeling like I had to pump up for ages and take a million photos flexing my life away to get the right one but this time I've really done all the hard work and am in much better shape so hopefully that's captured in the photos. The mirror always seems to look better than photos but fingers crossed its paid off. I'll go check out the photos and be back for once last journal entry.

  • Benjamin James
    24 Nov 2017
    5:14 PM

    I'll probably hit this point again at the very end of the challenge but my god I'm proud of myself for sticking to my guns this challenge. I could probably look back at my early journal entries and see where I spoke about not believing I was capable of making the top 10 or 50 because I was starting out in decent shape and wouldn't make a very obvious physical transformation because I didn't have much weight to lose, but then I had a complete change of mindset and decided that I WOULD make the top 10! In the back of my mind it was still pretty unrealistic, but as time went on I just kept believing I could make it and that belief got stronger and stronger to the point where I started thinking well why the hell not?! It made me push so much harder in the gym, made sticking to the strict diet easier because I didn't want to let myself down and eventually it just grew into a real winners attitude. I started thinking train like a winner, eat like a winner, resist temptations like a winner, be a winner and it's made the challenge so enjoyable being so overly positive about it like that. Even if I don't make the top 10 or 50 or 1000 it doesn't matter because the mindset got me to where I am now and I am absolutely bloody thrilled with what I've achieved. I am without a doubt in the absolute best shape of my life and couldn't be happier!

  • Benjamin James
    24 Nov 2017
    5:08 PM

    My Flex Friday photo that blew my mind!

  • Benjamin James
    24 Nov 2017
    5:08 PM

    Basically the end!!!!!!!!! So after my dead to the world Wednesday I bounced back remarkably well yesterday despite having even less sleep than the night before! Still hit the gym and busted out a rip roarin' full body session with heaps of reps and supersets til I could sweat and gasp for breath no more. Nutrition remained on point all day and I made it through my shift no problem. Today, Friday, was my last training session for the challenge! I can't believe it has come to an end and a massive part of me is actually a bit sad about that. The challenge has kept me so consistent for the past 12 weeks (and the 12 weeks before that for the previous challenge) and I have put absolutely everything I had into my training and nutrition so that I could be happy with my results by the end. I took a photo in the bathroom at work last night and was absolutely blown away with what I saw. I think I have just about reached the image I had in my mind of exactly what I'd love to look like one day, and that day is here! I shared it in the facebook group and was met with loads of positive comments which just confirmed the amazing amounts of hard work have paid off. I'm so thrilled! I'm also so happy seeing so many people finally feeling really happy and proud to be themselves. The challenge is changing lives by the day and the positivity and enthusiasm is incredibly infectious at the moment. Today I woke up early (again!) and decided to try my hand at a fasted workout just to try and blast that last bit of fat. It didn't feel great because I felt so depleted, but hopefully it did what I hoped it would and helps me look my best for final photos which I think I'll now do on Sunday rather than Monday (because we have blokes doing our rennovations coming on Monday and I can't exactly be posing in my undies with them wondering around!). So having a bit of a carb loading day which I'll also do tomorrow and it feels gooooo-oooood to eat carbs again! Just need to make it through the rest of the shift now and I can start my celebratory weekend!

  • Benjamin James
    22 Nov 2017
    9:30 PM

    4 days to go: so when I said recently that I hadn't felt tired and lethargic and run down...well it all came in one huge wave today and kicked me in the face all day long. I did end up going to the gym after work last night (this morning) which meant I was on the treadmill at 1am when I really should have been asleep. I thought it'd be OK but I got woken up after only a few hours sleep and it was all bad from there. All day I've felt so unenthusiastic, tired, hungry, wanting to eat shit food, exhausted and totally over everything and that was BEFORE having to spend the next 10 hours at work!!! It has been an immense struggle, but with just over 2 hours left in the shift at last the end is in sight. I'm putting it down to the low carb week before a slight carb up starting Saturday for Monday photos. My god I'm looking forward to that! Shame those carbs can't just be donuts and cookies though. I've also had shocking mind fog today, forgetting things, doing things completely wrong, losing things...I think the sooner the day ends with my head on the pillow the better. Only good side to the day has been abs still looking great (that'll always bring back a bit of positivity!) and despite feeling horrible I've still stuck to my diet plan and even did some fasted ab work this morning. Let's go eat some steak!

  • Benjamin James
    21 Nov 2017
    4:31 PM

    5 days to go: Hit a big session of back and biceps this morning and worked up one hell of a sweat! I'm also embarrassed to talk to people when I'm like that, but they can probably tell I'm on a mission because I'm absolutely gassed at the end of each exercise. Working a 2pm-12am shift tonight but have already planned on sneaking in a quick run on my way home. Probably not ideal just prior to going to bed, not to mention the fact that it will be 1am, but it's just another potential fat blasting opportunity, especially given I probably won't get a chance to train tomorrow morning before work. I'll only do half an hour or so but hopefully it'll be enough to eek out a bit more fat. Feeling pretty good still. Keep reading how others are feeling so run down and lethargic at this point having been on a calorie deficit for a while now but I've been doing it easily and I'm not sure if that's because I'm taking in more carbs than I need (which shouldn't be the case as it's been 50g oats in the morning, 1 cup of rice at morning tea or lunch and 100g sweet potato occasionally at lunch if I had a carb source at morning tea) or maybe I'm just used to it now and firing efficiently. Whatever it is I am currently in the best condition I've ever been in. That's in terms of overall muscle mass and shape, vacsularity, abs (one big indicator) and how I feel overall. Looking forward to seeing what my final DEXA scan says (which I've booked in for the Monday mroning after the challenge), even if it shows I've lost a little bit of muscle, I'm thrilled with my results so I won't be deflated by it.

  • Benjamin James
    20 Nov 2017
    3:48 AM

    Wouldn't have a clue what my weight was at the moment. Unlike previous challenges when I've dieted hard and probably lost a fair bit of muscle whilst also looking too skinny, this time I seem to have preserved a lot more muscle and dropped fat relatively quickly. Being very strict with the diet has no doubt helped me with that and this is the most strict with the diet I've ever been over my 6 challenges. It's also the hardest and heaviest I've trained abs so those 2 factors have definitely helped me get to where I currently am. Not to mention I have had absolutely impenetrable focus and mindset from day 1, knowing what my goals were and just sticking to my plans. Being so focussed on a goal (summer on its way certainly helps!) made keeping cravings at bay quite easy and in the gym having the goal of out training every single person I see in there every session has made me train like a beast. I've just found the challenge so enjoyable being so on top of my game, despite hiccups and speed bumps along the way. Bring on the final week!

  • Benjamin James
    20 Nov 2017
    3:42 AM

    THE FINAL WEEK!!! I've just enjoyed the final weekend of training for the challenge as I won't be training next weekend when the challenge ends to make sure there isn't too much inflammation from the training before final photos. Unfortunately I'm awake at 3am on a Monday! Maybe once again its the excitement of knowing I was already waking up early for a training session but 3am is way too early to be wide awake! The past 3 weeks have been amazing for changes! You really do have to trust the process because your body suddenly snaps into ultimate fat burning mode and the results just keep coming. I can happily say I've got 24 hour abs now without flexing they're just there! And I can't get enough of it because it's what I've worked so hard for!!! Recently I've been adding in fasted cardio where possible on my days off, and on work days when I can't train at all my nutrition has been perfect. In the gym I have been a hurricane, busting out all those sets back to back with only the 30 seconds rest and pushing harder and harder every session to make every rep count. It has definitely delivered excellent results and despite being on lower calories, I've not been feeling fatigued or running out of gas at all during the training sessions besides my lungs burning. I've also been smashing through my sessions in record time leaving me more time for additional ab work which I think has also helped my results. I'll keep it as close to perfect as I can with the diet this week and put in as much effort as I can to melt down as much fat as I can for the last 7 days but most of the hard work has been done now. I know I can continue to get even better results once the challenge is over so I'm going to keep the diet and training the same post-challenge throughout summer with the addition of a few treats here and there when I want them but really I haven't been struggling at all with the diet (a few cravings here and there) because my goal is so concrete!

  • Benjamin James
    14 Nov 2017
    8:22 AM

    Apart from feeling a bit worn out, my training has been sensational. Adding in the cardio has made a huge difference, probably why I've never seen amazing results in my previous challenges even though I've had some really good results. Leaning out a lot now and yesterday 2 people asked me if I was a personal trainer, and that wasn't even at the gym! Feeling very positive with 2 weeks still to go and have a mini plan for the remaining days to ensure I get in enough training and cardio sessions as well as a couple of days break before final photos to ensure there's minimal inflammation. Also very inspired by other people in the facebook group at the moment sharing their proud moments putting on clothes that haven't fitted them for years or buying new clothes because their old clothes are far too big now. It's great to see those who have stuck strong and not given up being rewarded with results. it's a pretty simple equation though, put in the work and get the results. If you drop the ball and start to let things slide your final product will be a reflection of that. It all just comes down to your mentality, mental strength and how much you want it. Certain external factors will always try and screw you over, but you just have to deal with it the best you can.

  • Benjamin James
    14 Nov 2017
    8:18 AM

    12.5 days to go because I'm already in to day 72 but it feels like today could go on forever! So exhausted, definitely a bit run down and not really feeling overly enthusiastic about work, but we must push on! I tossed and turned relentlessly on Sunday night and would have barely accumulated an hour of sleep throughout the night. I could tell that a bit of stress had caught up with me and I am definitely feeling it today. I know I'm run down right now from a combination of very intense training as I'm trying to eek out every last bit of fat over the final few weeks of the challenge, a bit of work stress, a bit of home stress and a flaw of mine in getting flustered when I'm trying to juggle too many things at once and life outside of work at the moment has definitely been a bit of a juggling act. Listened to a podcast about cortisol this morning and I realise I'm not giving me body a chance to stop freaking out. I definitely don't take enough time to just stop and chill out. We all need to do it and most of us probably don't! So I've tried to take it easy this morning and just make my way through the day without getting too worked up. I just need to get home, go for a relaxing walk not an exercising walk, breathe the fresh air and then get a good night's sleep. Thank God we've booked a short trip away too at the end of the challenge as I really feel like I need a break at the moment. I'm loving the challenge and my results lately have been fantastic and I really couldn't feel better about where I'm at physically at the moment but mentally and for the sake of my body I need a life stress detox and some serious unwinding time. So I'll do the small things to keep it contained until the end of the challenge when I can reward myself with some feet up time.

  • Benjamin James
    9 Nov 2017
    5:02 PM

    17 days to go: Working afternoon shifts this week which means I don't get to bed until after 1am. The little fella then wakes up at 6am and it's not easy to stay asleep with all the noise he makes so I was up before 7am and looking and feeling quite ordinary. Didn't feel like doing much but the thought it my mind was to do as much as possible to get the best results by the end so I made my way to the gym. Surprisingly unenthusiastic about it too, but I put that down to not enough sleep and the fact that it was leg day again (ALREADY?!!!) and my calves are still absolutely killing me. So the motivation was not there. Jumped on the cross trainer to warm up and slowly I got into my groove. Once I'm warming up and have my music playing I start going into battle mode with the mindset that if I'm going to look different to everyone else in the gym then I have to train differently to everyone and I have to do things that others won't. Before I knew it I was smashing through my sets of incline leg press, hamstring curls, stiff legged deadlifts, horizontal leg press finished off with kettle bell swings and within 50 minutes I was done, absolutely knackered and pouring out sweat but I got it done and I was pumped! Felt amazing afterwards because I knew I'd done something I didn't want to do and knew it'd push me closer to the end result that I am working towards. Set me up for a pretty good day so far too. Feeling good, feel positive, veins are popping everywhere and I've seen a massive change in the past 2 weeks since halving my serving of oats for breakfast and replacing my cup of rice at lunch with 100g sweet potato and no carbs at dinner. Those changes have resulted in dramatic changes in bodyfat already so now I'm really pumped to finish strong. In saying that I would bloody love a Snickers and a Dr Pepper right now!!!!!

  • Benjamin James
    8 Nov 2017
    8:56 PM

    18 days left: aaaaaaaand my calves are still absolutely crippled from a couple of days ago. Tried to get up to pee in the night and fell back into bed because they seized up. My god it's horrible. But at the same time quite satisfying. Probably not quite letting them recover much either because I've been enjoying the incline walking to finish off my workouts for a good slow burn. Trained back, biceps and abs today and once again feeling bloody fantastic and feeling like my final result will really show the amount of effort I've put in to the challenge. It's been the most focused I've ever been and I'd say I'm also in the best position I've ever been in terms of knowledge and knowing exactly what I need to do to get results. Weeks and weeks ago I set myself the goal of making top 10 knowing that there were some top 10 finishers in the last challenge that started off the challenge looking like they'd just finished a challenge because they already looked so good and didn't have much weight to lose. By setting that goal I decided I was going to put in every ounce of effort I had in me and not be defeated by negative thoughts thinking I had no chance (which has held me back in the past 4 challenges because I always thought you had to have a lot of weight to lose to show a decent transformation). So I've had a really positive change in mindset (and that's coming from someone who is already exceptionally positive in life in general) and I think having the facebook group and forum posts to stay really focussed on the challenge and really positive and supportive to everyone else doing it has taken my whole challenge experience to a new level. Can't wait to see the final result now, it will most definitely be the absolute best shape I've ever been in and no doubt I'll be the happiest I've ever been. CAN'T. FREAKING. WAIT!

  • Benjamin James
    6 Nov 2017
    3:19 PM

    20 days left: sweet Lord MY LEGS! I'm sure a few people are saying the same thing today but holy moly, they were in agony before I'd even left the gym which signals a whole lotta hurt for the next few days. Also did abs and some steep-arse incline walking just to suck any remaining life and happiness out of my muscles before refueling. Feeling EXCEPTIONAL though! Things are starting to do that very late surge towards the finish line so I'm seeing good things in the mirror, feeling positive about my final results and finding it a bit easier to stay on track knowing there are so few days left. It's looking like another very early start tomorrow to fit training in, but in a way I like the 4am starts on my days off because it's a guilt free 2 hours in the gym before I have to take on any dad or husband duties once back home. Just back from grocery shopping and can't wait to eat all the good stuff I picked up. I also might have picked up a few treats if they were on special for the post-challenge celebration pile that's slowly accumulating in the top corner of the pantry, but I won't look at them for another 3 weeks! If you're reading this I hope you're feeling good about the final run to the finish line. If there's a part of you thinking you might not see the results you had hoped for by the end, why not give it you're absolute best and 100% for the next 20 days and see what you can achieve? Don't come this far to ease off right at the end. Even if you still have a way to go overall, finishing strong now will set you up for continuing to work towards your goals after the challenge has finished. Don't have any regrets by the end, it'd be a waste of the past 10 weeks!

  • Benjamin James
    4 Nov 2017
    10:54 AM

    22 days left: been at work all week basically except for when I took Wednesday off (which was awesome) but have been very prepared with my meals so it's been easy to stay on track. Haven't been able to train each day but did manage to squeeze in a somewhat rushed but very intense chest and shoulder workout yesterday which made me feel a whole lot better about the week. Will see if I can squeeze in an abs session as soon as I get home tonight, that'll make me feel that much better about the working week too. I've been pretty close to perfect with my nutrition but can still tighten up the tiniest bit by skipping the tiny additional things I seem to eat at dinner when I'm sitting down with my son and he's wasting perfectly good and delicious food! I want to be able to say at the end of the challenge that I did everything possible to get the best possible results. I know I haven't been able to stick to the training plan even close to 100% but that's just my life. I'm never going to put my family a distant second to training, that wouldn't make any sense but I think the balance I have at the moment is good enough to still produce good results. Still getting inspired by the instagram and facebook group posts of everyone's progress, we are so close to the end now so those who had stayed strong so far and really starting to see the results they've worked so hard for.

  • Benjamin James
    1 Nov 2017
    1:18 PM

    25 days left: woke up at 2am and then dozed on and off before finally giving up on sleep at 3:30am and getting ready for a very early gym session. Started with a walk and then smashed back, biceps and abs and followed it up with a super steep incline walk for a warm down. Then came home and had to unload a pallet of more than a tonne of tiles for a bathroom reno so I've counted that as my second bit of cardio for the day plus my spine destroying workout for life. Why is it that its so easy to get up super early when you're excited about the gym but it feels like you're stuck in concrete when your alarm goes off on a work day! Feeling really good at the moment. Still very conscious that every little thing I do to make a difference will add up by the end of the challenge. Trying to keep in mind to do things others wouldn't do, and I kept Janet's tip in mind of pushing for 1-3 more reps even when you're absolutely dead and found most times I was able to get it done. There's only time for beastmode now, don't want a single regret at the end of this challenge as I've had regrets at the end of every single challenge I've done so far, even if they've only been minor. I'm looking at 4 days of work from tomorrow which means no gym unless I can get away quickly or convince my wife she doesn't need help with the kid (which wouldn't be true!). I don't know how people with kids do it! I'm either at work all day (up at 4am and not home until 5:30pm) and by the time I get home my wife needs help getting dinner, bath, bedtime sorted for the little fella before I have an hour or so to prepare for the next work day and then bed if I want to get a half decent sleep. I feel too guilty going to the gym on work days because it leaves all the home stuff to my wife who is also working. And if I try to do exercise on work days after the kidlet is asleep it means I'm having to sacrifice sleep which I know isn't a good idea long term either. So I'm just doing the best I can do which is what we're all doing I guess.

  • Benjamin James
    31 Oct 2017
    10:03 AM

    26 days left: up and at it early for legs yesterday aaaaaaaaand it nearly killed me. Some of the best (worst) burning my quads have ever experienced and the 5 sets of 10 deadlifts with minimal rest in between absolutely fried my lower back which never sees that much volume. Needless to say, I hurt. If I move around in my chair at the moment I can feel it in my hammies, quads, glutes, lower back, upper back and my chest is still sore from a few days ago. Feeling good though, meals were all prepped yesterday, no sugar in the coffee, no bread (made my wife sausage sandwiches for lunch on the softest and whitest of white rolls which would have been bloody delicious but I resisted and ate plain chicken and salad instead), no sauces with added sugar or sweeteners, skipped the pasta my wife had made and had sweet potato instead and also slotted in 2 hours cardio in the form of yard work in the blistering sun. Sweated it out hardcore too. All good today even though I'm back at work. Food on track and planned out for the day: -50g oats and a scoop of protein powder whilst driving to work -egg white and vege frittata for second breaky -turkey mince, veges and sweet potato with mustard for morning tea -chicken, brown rice and veges with hot sauce for lunch -apple and protein shake with a handful of nuts for afternoon tea -dinner yet to be decided but skipping the night time carbs for now on days I don't work out. Hopefully the training, proper recovery and food prep with a few diet tweaks help get the shred on!

  • Benjamin James
    29 Oct 2017
    8:38 PM

    The final day of phase 2 is upon us and I am supremely excited about the next 4 weeks. I've put myself in a pretty good position to go all out with intense focus for the last 4 weeks to see the best results I've ever seen from my 6 challenges. It's day 56but really it's 28 days left until the end. 28 days left to be awesome! It's not a long time so that should make it that much easier to resist temptation and do as much as I can to contribute to amazing final results. I'll try to journal as much as I can as the final days tick by to make sure I'm doing everything I can each day to maximise my results. I'm sure plenty of people will have slipped up, dropped off the challenge completely, lost interest or decided it was all too hard and thrown in the towel, but to those still going strong congratulations! Let's smash out the last 4 weeks and count down to November 26 when we will be the best physical and hopefully mental version of ourselves that we've ever seen!

  • Benjamin James
    25 Oct 2017
    2:50 AM

    Week 8 check in opens in 8 hours (yes I'm up and it's past 1am when I'd much rather be asleep than being at work) which means just this week to knock off before shit gets real and we head into the final phase of the challenge which means an insane amount of volume training and even less food! I took my check in photo yesterday knowing I'd be asleep during the days this week and I was pretty happy with what I saw. With more than 4 weeks to go and not yet fully converting to the lean diet plans I think I'm in pretty good shape. Abs are coming through and it's given me the confidence and belief that I can get the results I want by the end. Weighed myself the other morning out of interest and was hovering around the 80kg mark which would indicate a weight loss. Can't believe how easily I lose weight, but in saying that, I'm only really concerned about the weight I am when I do my final DEXA scan as the scales there are what I've been going off over the past 2 challenges. Going to set myself some food challenges for the final 4 weeks to try and really bring it home! -once again not buying any coffees at work -not adding ANY sugar into my diet -no artificial sweetners/Coke Zero -no sauces that aren't sugar free -no bread -no pasta -minimal dairy (yoghurt if it's still on the plan otherwise probiotic supplement in its place and only a dash of milk in my coffee on days off otherwise I'll take my coffee black at work) -broaden my range of salad/veges with my meals to ensure I'm getting varied sources of vitamins and minerals Basically just eat things my body should take in well and work my arse off in the gym for bloody amazing final results. Easy right?

  • Benjamin James
    22 Oct 2017
    7:52 PM

    End of week 7! I've been so good throughout the challenge so far with my diet and even that isn't close to 100%. Adding in little things like tomato sauce here and there, an extra bit of fruit on my oats in the morning, a handful of nuts in the arvo...I know it can all add up and in a way I think being torn between the mass and shred plans has made it a little harder to keep track of where I actually want to be. But for the last phase it will be 100% lean diet plan without any additional bits unless it becomes obvious that I'm starting to lose muscle because I've worked way too bloody hard to lose that! Hit back and biceps yesterday like a mad man because I was short on time and kicked some arse! I'd love to see how I train from an outsiders point of view, I felt like a beast and kept thinking to get the results I want I need to be doing things that no one else in the gym is doing! Lots of superseding and drop setting and static holds at the end of each exercise. I was in a world of pain but it was the type of pain that is extremely satisfying. Only had an hour to get things done in the gym this arvo so I dedicated the whole session to abs: -giant set of heavy cable crunches/weighted twists/side bends -cable wood chops without any rest between sets -superset of weighted knee raises/weighted situps -knee raise machine, 6 sets straight doing both sides and to the front Well and truly rooted by the end but felt like it was a really solid achievement and got a great pump which made operation summer abs seem within reach! -

  • Benjamin James
    19 Oct 2017
    10:14 PM

    After whinging about how terrible I feel I forgot to talk about how much of a kickarse gym sesh I had this morning! Super pumped when I woke up, good morning leading up to it, warm weather, new gym wear, everything pointing towards a good session and then I arrive and the gym is mostly empty. Another win! Chest, shoulders, triceps and threw in a heap of leg raises. Felt great despite my ongoing right trap irritation. Will have to get that looked at once the challenge has ended. It doesn't really hold me back but it's not comfortable. Got a great pump which made veins pop and muscles separate and look way bigger than they actually are! Love the illusion it creates when it's hot, you've got your supplements helping with the blood flow and you're pumped, sweating it out and gasping for breath. Felt so good afterwards and already sore from it. I'll definitely sleep well tonight!!

  • Benjamin James
    19 Oct 2017
    10:02 PM

    Day 40: OMFG I am ratshit. Spent 4.5 hours this afternoon in absolutely blasting sun at work under pressure to get a job done quickly and it has completely wiped me out. Lost half my body weight in sweat and even 3 hours after leaving the job I still can't cool down. Currently sitting in the office with ice packs down my shirt and under my legs. Unfortunately also couldn't eat for more than 5 hours but thankfully had a Max's Muscle Meal Cookie in my bag in the car and a few bottles of water which I hammered down as soon as we finished the job. My partner insisted on stopping for Guzman Y Gomez on our way back to the office which in the old days I would have justified having done such a crappy job in the heat, but I stayed strong and just bought a couple more bottle of water from a nearby servo until I got back to the office to eat my chicken stir fry and brown rice. Got to keep making those kinds of right choices if I want to see the results I want to see!! Finally starting to cool down and it's almost time to eat again. Thank god the end of the shift is near!

  • Benjamin James
    17 Oct 2017
    8:45 AM

    81.1kg

    I don't really trust my scales at home because they were significant;y different to the weight I was when I did my DEXA scan, but in comparison to my week 4 weigh in at least I'm going in the right direction.

  • Benjamin James
    17 Oct 2017
    8:44 AM

    Aaaaaand we're into week 7! Smashed out legs, biceps and abs yesterday and was completely out of gas by the end of the workout. Completely rooted! But refueled with a nice fresh salmon fillet, brown rice and asparagus followed up by one of my last few Max's Muscle Meal cookies (delicious!!!) before I washed our 2 cars (cardio for the day?) and then had a chicken stir fry with basmati rice for dinner. A pretty good menu for my day after legs. And I'm feeling it today! My glutes are sore as hell and my hammies are toight! Would love to just lie down under my desk right now and have a stretch (and then a nap) but at least I have food to look forward to in 20 mins! Have begun my transition towards the lean plan by changing my carb intake slightly from what the mass plan suggests but still ensuring I'm getting in plenty of calories to maintain the muscle I'm working bloody hard to build. A few tweaks will be a reduction in dairy, bread and pasta sticking to brown and basmati rice and sweet potatoes unless I need to use bread for the convenience e.g. eating while I drive to work. Plenty of mixed veges, mixed protein sources (less reliance on shakes) and being very careful what sauces I add. No time for slip ups for the ride home. Reigniting my Top 10 mindset which faded slightly over the past few weeks (not for a lack of trying, just more important things on my mind recently!). Any time a temptation arises or I think about adding something that's not on the plan I'll just think to myself 'other Top 10 contenders wouldn't be doing this so don't sabotage your results'. Let's take it up another level for the next 6 weeks! Just saying that sounds exhausting because quite frankly I'm buggered at the moment, but the results will be worth the short term pain.

  • Benjamin James
    15 Oct 2017
    10:33 AM

    We are almost at the half way point! Pretty excited to know we will be on the downhill slide from here, where results really start coming to life and the super strict dieting can ease up a bit. I managed to sneak in gym sessions on Monday and Tuesday this week before work which I didn't think I'd have, and then on my days off I trained Wednesday to Friday. All big sessions, all big soreness! Training exceptionally well at the moment and feeling really positive about the physical progress. Big downside was that because I was so sore I was sleeping pretty poorly. Waking up a few times every night stiff and sore and twisted and so uncomfortable and it really started to feel like I was running out of steam. I could sense a bit of overtraining and under-recovering creeping up but didn't want to believe it. Tried a few early morning fasted cardio sessions to get the blood flowing but ultimately there was something my body was telling me that I didn't really want to hear but eventually knew I had to - take a bloody day off you imbecile! I've been working a hell of a lot lately and to make up for that I train my arse off every single day I have off. In the end that added up to a lack of recovery and I think it finally came together forcing me to take all of Saturday off. Well, I still went for a fasted walk in the morning but that was more for my mental health than physical. So I turned it into a real day off, perfect timing just before the half way point. We had friends over for breakfast and I enjoyed a freshly baked white chocolate and rhubarb muffin (OK, I had two) and went out with my brothers and dad last night and had a few chicken wings, a single sip of beer and a handful of Maltesers at a movie. Still made pretty decent choices at breakfast and dinner but thought I'd take on a little extra (albeit not proper fuel!) before I start 6 weeks of the lean program to see if I can bring it all home. My focus has been a lot more on things going on at work lately than the challenge, probably just in this last week, but knowing we are hitting the half way point and after seeing my legend mate and fellow Challenger Seth yesterday plus taking a day off I'm super pumped to get back into it today! Shoulders, back and biceps in an hour and a half. Can't wait!!!

  • Benjamin James
    9 Oct 2017
    6:57 PM

    Took my week 6 photos this morning and was very pleasantly surprised with the progress in my back! It's an area I've always wanted to see more of (you've got to be pretty quick to turn around and catch it) but until this Challenge when I started taking regular back progress shots I haven't been able to see what's going on back there. And to my surprise (and delight!) things are definitely changing! My shape and posture are continually changing which gives me a huge motivational boost going forward. Can't wait for back day now!! And to know how much effort I've been putting in and how that has translated into results feels awesome! Front shot is showing slower progress but progress nonethless. Up early before work today and hammered out chest, triceps and abs. Really kicked my own butt this morning, sweating like a melting snowman and getting a great pump now that my body fat is dropping (always gives a much better illusion of muscles hahaha).

  • Benjamin James
    7 Oct 2017
    6:51 AM

    It's now day 34! A few days away from the journal but got in 3 amazingly good sessions for chest, legs and back. Really focusing on perfect form to hit the target muscles, good contractions and hitting failure. As a result I am bloody sore! Which is very satisfying. Did a massive cook up for the week, hit my cardio and got in some great sleeps so the 4 days post night shift were very beneficial. Back to work from Friday to Tuesday though but should be able to squeeze in gym sessions on Monday and Tuesday morning before work. Then I get 6 days off!! Still on the mass plan after a bit of an up and down mindset about whether to start trying to lean out. I'll probably do 6 weeks mass and 6 weeks lean this time. Got to shred for summer!

  • Benjamin James
    3 Oct 2017
    12:26 PM

    Day 30: Finished the first phase pretty strong (albeit suffering through night shift cravings and minimal sleep) and have started off the second phase feeling good. Got an awesome 10.5 hours sleep last night priming me for a big chest, triceps and abs session this morning. Still suffering a bit of a dodgy right trap which gets me from time to time on chest day, but I've just been altering the exercises to suit me better. Great pump this morning, good focus on hitting the right muscles and completely dead by the end of it. Hit abs hard too trying to make that a little bit more of a focus for the next few weeks. Chowing down on some fish, basmati rice and mixed veggies at the moment trying to catch up here. Just took my week 5 pics so I'll get to uploading them too. Time to set some new goals for this phase. -a few diet tweaks, minimise bread and pasta and just focus on basmati and brown rice and sweet potato -starting introducing more HIIT at the end of my workouts -add a bit more meal variety -get my deadlifts up to 160kg for perfect reps It's a bit harder than I thought coming up with goals actually. Better give that a bit more thought.

  • Benjamin James
    29 Sep 2017
    9:46 PM

    Week 4 check in progress pics...seeing big changes in my back as I think the training has done a lot to improve my posture (to be honest I didn't realise my posture was quite so bad until I took my before photo from behind!). Not really sure what it takes to really start getting the back muscles firing (probably grow more muscle to start with then drop the fat?). From the front I know my stomach has flattened out a bit which is always a positive and my legs are a bit stronger now but otherwise most other areas are similar. Bit more vascular in the arms but not seeing much change in terms of chest/shoulder musculature. Those things I can work on this next month!

  • Benjamin James
    29 Sep 2017
    9:38 PM

    Day 26: worked the past 2 days so they were my rest days and I was so looking forward to a big ass heavy back day but woke up feeling quite sore and twisted. Really felt it in my lower back and hamstrings even though I was fine the night before, and despite a decent warm up I found it very hard to get going once I got to the gym. Very unlike me to feel flat in the gym but I should have known all would work out to be fine! It just took a really long time to get warmed up but still worked up to 150kg deads (early on 100kg was feeling VERY heavy) and felt really good on my other lifts. Then I crushed biceps for good measure and can already feel how sore I'm going to be tomorrow. Awesome! On the first of 3 night shifts over a long weekend (BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!). One upside is that I work one LESS hour Saturday night because of the daylight savings changeover (YASSSSSSS!!!). Other than that, night shifts suck. Did my week 4 check in photos today and am reasonably happy. Unfortunately I did let a few doubts creep in about staying on the mass plan vs changing to the lean plan because ultimately I want to be a ripped beast by the end (who doesn't), but I also don't want to end up looking too skinny like I have in the past. So I'll have to make my mind up about what I ultimately want and how I'm going to achieve that, there's no time to waste! Haven't weighed in yet so I'm not sure how that's tracking but will weigh myself as soon as I can for the check in.

  • Benjamin James
    26 Sep 2017
    1:49 PM

    Day 23 started much like day 22, an awesome sleep of 9 hours and woke up excited knowing I was training legs early. I haven't trained legs since day 18 and my calves were still incredibly sore, but I pushed through and had another great session. Got my sweat on hardcore but busted some serious arse and got a lot done in just over an hour. Made the time to catch up with mum for brunch and then went for a bit of a stroll through the gardens at the cafe we were at. A nice little time of reflection to remember that we need to MAKE time for those we love, we need to make time to pause and enjoy the world around us and we really need to make time to stop, do nothing for a while and just be. That's not always easy for me because even on my days off I always feel like I have to be achieving things in order for the days to seem like they've been worthwhile. But you get so much more out of stopping, breathing, listening to the birds singing, feeling the breeze, relaxing and just letting the world go on without you sometimes. So I took on my own advice and sat out in the sun for 20 mins on the recliner listening to one of Craig Harper's youtube talks. Perfect way to stop and relax and listen to some words of wisdom and I'm going to make a conscious effort to do more of that as the challenge progresses. Did my progress photos yesterday morning and literally saw not a single bit of difference between this week's photos and last week's. But I'm not bothered at all. I feel better about everything in general so that's my win. Hope everyone is finding the mental strength to stay on track and keep working towards their original goals no matter the state of your current progress.

  • Benjamin James
    26 Sep 2017
    1:42 PM

    Day 22 was a whole different story to the day before! Got to bed early and had 9.5 hours sleep and woke up feeling like a new person. No headache or lethargy, just excitement about training and making the most of my 2 days off. Trained chest, shoulders and triceps and as always had a fantastic session. Getting the most out of every rep of every set in every exercise, seeing good muscle in the mirror, training til I could train no more and followed it up with a great long peaceful walk with the dog in the afternoon. Also got a shit load of stuff done at home which eases the mental pressure of having an unorganised home life. I definitely don't live for the chores at home, but when they're done and things are in order my mind is a lot clearer. Also got an awesome delivery from Max's with boxes of muscle meal cookies and super shred bars for the next phase of gains.

  • Benjamin James
    24 Sep 2017
    11:01 AM

    I am nooooooooot feeling it today! Another early start for a working day and woke up feeling horrible! Terrible headache, pain behind my eyes and feeling pretty tired and lethargic. Fingers crossed I'm not getting sick again. I couldn't be?!!!!! Whatever it is, it hasn't improved as the day has gone on despite a gutful of Panadol and Nurofen. As long as the day is relatively kind to me and I'm fine by tomorrow so I can train I'll cop it. Keeping my nutrition to plan, downing water like a camel (half way through the day and already on to my 5th bottle) and managed to stay strong and pass up another delicious cappuccino this morning much to my disappointment (but a moral victory!). Got to stay strong and just make it through the day so I can go to bed!

  • Benjamin James
    23 Sep 2017
    8:25 AM

    Small victory...working Saturday day shift, late night last night, broken sleep, dying for a coffee and the guys at work are going to my new favorite coffee place. Then I remembered I had set a goal for weeks 1-4 not to buy coffee whilst at work and instead bring coffee bags from home and have them black. Saving money and sparing myself from additional calories. So I went back to my very first journal entry and saw that I had indeed made this one of my short term goals. So I declined the delicious cappuccino and I'm now having a black coffee brought from home. I also refreshed my memory of the goals I set out in the beginning and so far I've met every one of them! Good bit of inspiration for the rest of the day.

  • Benjamin James
    23 Sep 2017
    7:50 AM

    Day 19 was my birthday! Up at 5:30am for a long walk (what better way to start the day?!), out to breakfast with my little family (no sugar in my coffee, no pancake stack like I would usually have and wanted!) and then off to the gym for a heavy back session. Felt very strong and upped my deadlifts to 150kg. I've done up to 190kg in the past which was good for the ego but as I get older I don't see the need to go too heavy and risky injury. I hate the thought of being off training because of an injury so I'll just continue to slowly build it up again and see where I can get to safely. Very pumped after the session and really starting to feel the changes happening. Went out to dinner and stayed strong and cheat meal free, no beers, grilled fish and veges with no chips, and a healthier raw dessert made from nuts, seeds and dates picked out by my very supportive wife who knew I wouldn't eat a proper birthday cake. All in all a fantastic day, felt great and still feeling very focused.

  • Benjamin James
    21 Sep 2017
    12:24 PM

    Day 18: after a very solid night's sleep I was up and pumped for leg day. Big bowl of oats with blueberries and pears plus a coffee and pre workout and I was ready to rumble! And boy did I do a number on myself. If anyone was wondering if I had a rain cloud over my head pouring down on me they would have been close to correct I was that sweaty! But I worked my arse off knowing I usually can only hit legs once a week. Stopped off for a bit of shopping for meal prep since I've got the day off and found chicken breast on sale for $5.99/kg!!!! Stocked up big time plus I went to Aldi for a change after some of the other challengers had posted pics of awesome bargains they'd found in there and I was amazed at how good some of the prices are! So I have a kitchen bench completely filled with amazing food right now and a whole afternoon to make some goodies from it all. Currently downing a rather excessively sized t-bone steak with asparagus and sweet potato and feeling body awesome. Amazing weather outside, feel positive, have been having the most awesome time with my son lately (it's a rare dad's the favourite phase) and the spirit of the challenge community is keeping me so motivated and inspired! And I see that people are actually reading these journal entries and giving me the thumbs up! If only I knew who you were I'd love to support you back. I did suggest to the challenge team on the forum a change to enable us to see who is following our posts, hopefully that comes in sooner or later. But thanks for reading, sometimes they crap I go on about is probably a bit lame but it's good to get the thoughts out sometimes. Hope things are going well for you in the challenge no matter what is going on around you at the moment. Every day is a chance to be better than you were yesterday so stay strong and train hard and keep working towards that goal that inspired you to start in the first place! Oh and I felt like a beast on the leg press today having to strap an extra 30kg worth of plates to the stack!

  • Benjamin James
    21 Sep 2017
    12:12 PM

    Day 17: grabbed 4 hours sleep after my night shift and then tried to get going for the day with a shoulders and abs workout. Had a great workout but definitely felt the lack of sleep as it dragged out a bit longer than I wanted because I was lacking energy. Still managed to put in a very solid performance though, felt strong and very satisfied by the end of it. Nutrition was good all day and then hit the hay early.

  • Benjamin James
    20 Sep 2017
    3:43 AM

    Saw someone else post a week 1 to week 3 pic so I put one together and it wasn't until I did that I realised there IS progress! When I compared my week 2 to week 3 pics there didn't seem like much change but when you look at where you started and where you are currently at you can see that things are clearly working. Bit of slow progress around the middle but that's probably to be expected after only 2 weeks and whilst being on the mass plan. Belly flatter in the side view and arm looks a lot more impressive but I think that's probably just the way I was standing originally, but I'm happiest with the change in shape of my back. Not as rounded/slumped in the back and shoulders now which hopefully is a result of the weight training improving my posture. No idea if my weight has changed as I'm not big on weighing myself anyway and only really care if I can see physical changes or feel the fit of my clothes is different. Definitely glad I started taking weekly progress pics to see the changes happening gradually.

  • Benjamin James
    20 Sep 2017
    2:36 AM

    Day 16 is in the bag! Finished a night shift and finally got to bed at 7am. Woke up a couple of hours later and despite knowing I needed more sleep couldn't get the thought of a sneaky gym session out of my mind. So much so that it overpowered any common sense thoughts of getting more sleep and had me jump out of bed, grab a banana and a protein shake and head out the door. I know how important sleep is, but I still couldn't push the thought of training out of my mind enough to fall back asleep. So away I went and did a quick chest session. Quick but intense and I'm feeling the DOMS now. Managed to quickly get home and have a feed and still have enough time to squeeze in a power nap before having to get up and start preparing for work. With 3.5hrs still to go in my shift I'm somehow still quite awake despite the short sleep. The rest of today will be the same. Grab a couple of hours sleep and up and to the gym to try and get back into a normal routine again by the end of the day. Nutrition still on point despite it being night shift where I would normally buy coffees and chocolates to stay awake. Withstood another offer of a coffee tonight so I'm still going strong and haven't bought a coffee still this challenge!

  • Benjamin James
    19 Sep 2017
    2:56 AM

    Only included the back progress shot because all other angles looked pretty much the same. Not a huge difference here either but it feels like things are working overall. the best part about the progress photos this challenge is that I don't feel the need to flex to make the photos look better. I want to look great without having to flex as time goes on plus it makes the photos so much quicker! Squeezed in a nice walk with the dog before trying to grab a quick nap this arvo before work. Having done my workout this morning and gone for a slow paced walk out in the sunshine and fresh air I'm amazed how much better I feel at work tonight. Far more alert and haven't got the yawns yet. Still 3 hours to go until my 6am home time though.

  • Benjamin James
    18 Sep 2017
    11:21 AM

    Sitting here demolishing a stack of french toast (3 slices of bread, 6 whole eggs, handful of blueberries and a couple of pieces of pear) having just done a really awesome back and biceps workout. Felt really strong today despite a short sleep because I was up before 7am for an appointment and only got home at 1am! Felt really good though, helps that the weather is really bright and warm currently. Took my week 3 pics so just uploading them now to see if we've made any changes in the past week. Feeling really good about my challenge so far, have been eating to the plan, working as hard as I can in the gym whenever I can get there (can never make all the prescribed training sessions but I still feel like I'm doing enough when I can get there) and feeling very positive still. Also got a new burst of motivation from the forums last night realising that Matt Polglase who came in the top 10 last challenge started off in amazing shape having just completed the previous challenge. So that's another reminder that just because I don't have a huge amount of weight to lose or I'm not in bad shape to start with, that if you work hard enough you can still aspire to reach the top 10, aim high and make it! I guess I just have to work super hard with my diet and training to produce some good physical progress and hopefully along the way I'll continue my new found uber positive and motivated mentality that will help get me there. No issues with aiming high if it gives you that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to target.

  • Benjamin James
    17 Sep 2017
    9:42 PM

    Day 14, 2 weeks down! Haven't been feeling that motivated at work the past couple of days because I think this never ending virus I've had is still lingering in the background really dragging me down. Luckily my nutrition has still been spot on and I made the time to go for a nice long walk in the sun this morning before work so that actually turned me around a bit. Already noticing changes and I actually think I'm at risk of looking a bit skinny if I keep going the way I am - impossible to believe considering the amount of food I'm eating! But I've noticed my arms have become extremely vascular in no time and the veins on my lower abs are showing again which is usually my sign that I'm getting leaner. It's early days so I don't want to risk losing any muscle so I'll try to take in a little more food and see what happens. Definitely not getting fat with all this food though! Won't get home until around 1am and then have to be up at 7am for a check up to see how my dental surgery went. Stitches will be coming out finally so hopefully I can start to eat a bit easier. Won't be loving the shorter sleep considering I've got a night shift tomorrow but in a way it's a bonus because it means I'll be at the gym early. Well, it's almost time to eat again and count down to the end of the shift. Happy to see week 2 behind us

  • Benjamin James
    15 Sep 2017
    8:26 PM

    Further to my previous journal entry about being insanely motivated and positive at the moment, I'm noticing that all that positive energy is really manifesting itself into things all around me at the moment. From the tiniest thing like getting all green lights on my drive to work (unheard of!), having random people smile at me while I walk the dog, getting the last parking spot at work, to more awesome things like going to Rebel Sport today to use a gift card I've been carrying around forever and finding the training top I've been wanting for a while on sale, but not only that, also on the additionally discounted rack even though the exact same item was still on the rack elsewhere full price?! So I ended up only paying one third of the actual price *fist pump* I really believe that if you put enough of the good stuff out there you start getting it in return and it definitely feels that way at the moment.

  • Benjamin James
    15 Sep 2017
    8:15 PM

    Day 12: have hit my weights and cardio goals for another week! Up at 4am for a 5am chest and shoulders workout which was awesome. Despite giving up a bit of sleep, training at that time of morning when the rest of the world is still asleep just feels good. Home to a mountain of french toast and also squeezed in another long walk with the dog in amazing sunshine this morning before having to go to work. I am waking up with so much enthusiasm for everything at the moment. I've always been a very positive person but this round of the challenge just feels different, I've never been this inspired and motivated! I think it really began when I decided that top 10 would be my goal. It's a crazy and possibly unrealistic goal, but when I saw a few in the top 10 (both Max's and Maxine's) from the previous challenge started off in quite good shape and still made it I suddenly believed that it was possible for me too. I'd always just assumed I couldn't make it because my transformation wouldn't be as dramatic as those who had a lot of weight to lose, but I'm undergoing an awesome mental transformation at the moment too and loving everything about it. Already seeing physical changes with not even 2 weeks down, not even remotely tempted to cheat on the diet, no cravings, just 100% focus on my goal now. Loving it!

  • Benjamin James
    14 Sep 2017
    2:38 PM

    Photo from yesterday morning, definitely not as puffy in the guts which is good otherwise chugging along pretty much the same (but hey it's been 1 week!). Crushed the leg workout this morning and got my sweat on hardcore! I'm like a melting snowman on leg day but it feels great despite it probably looking a bit like a biohazard to other gym goers. Currently eating the whitest dish I think I've ever eaten, 2 fillets of white fish and a cup and a half of white rice. Delicious (eye roll). But if it does the job that's all that matters. Feeling great again today. Woke up way too early and lay in bed wondering why I wasn't still asleep when afterwards I thought it would have been a great opportunity to go for an early walk. But I'll take the pup for a spin around the block this arvo and get some blood flowing in my already 80 year old grandpa feeling legs after this mornings workout.

  • Benjamin James
    13 Sep 2017
    11:47 AM

    Oh yeah! Just got a nice surprise delivery from Max's - my Community Award prize from the last Challenge. Stoked to receive the new Max's shaker and very excited to try the Vanilla Anabolic Night which I was JUST about to order today! More gains to be gained today!

  • Benjamin James
    13 Sep 2017
    11:41 AM

    Day 10: woke up with that impending feeling of getting sick yesterday and today was even worse. NOOOOOOO! It can't be happening again. So I'm just living it complete denial today! Jumped in the shower straight away, took my vitamins, had my breakfast and raced to the gym. Had a massive back, abs and biceps session (probably a little too long in the gym though) which felt bloody great, pretty energised and it's a strangely warm day today so there's just a great summery feel in the air. Very motivating for the summer body! Felt amazing by the end of it, very enthusiastic and very positive about another week of the challenge. On my way home I saw an old lady had fallen on the footpath and no one was around to help her plus there was nowhere safe to pull over so I pulled up forever up the road and ran down to see if she was OK (short burst of cardio right there). The poor thing had split her eyebrow, grazed her knee and smashed her glasses and was bleeding everywhere. Thankfully she was feeling alright so we waited for the ambos to come and check her out and patch her up and I was back on my way. Something unexpected there but glad I was able to calm her down and call her husband while we waited. Always good to put some extra goodness out in to the world! Got home and took my week 2 photos which are showing some signs of change and then took on Tanya Lowe's french toast recipe which made a massive plate of post-workout deliciousness! I'd normally drown my french toast in maple syrup and slather it in bacon, but a sprinkle of cinnamon and some blueberries and it was pretty damn good. Going to rest and recover today (actually who am I kidding I'll probably end up doing chores), soak up this amazing day, eat, eat and eat and count down to legs tomorrow morning!!!

  • Benjamin James
    11 Sep 2017
    3:28 PM

    Day 1 of Week 2!!! I did manage to get out and do that cardio yesterday so I met my weekly goal! Walked the little guy in the pram for an hour and a half trying to get him asleep and then keep him asleep. Beautiful weather though so I was really happy I did it. Literally jumped out of bed today despite it being 4am on a Monday! Feeling so enthusiastic about every aspect of this round of the challenge! Super busy at work today but still managed to fit my meals in mostly despite a long job going over my usual morning tea break and a slight detour for my colleague to sit in at KFC and eat his favorite 15 hot and spicy chicken wings for lunch!!! I slammed a mass shake in the car park while he filled his guts with grease (although they did look and smell pretty amazing, I'm certain they wouldn't sit well in your stomach). Quick food check for the day so far: -breakfast 1: 100g oats and protein powder in a shake driving to work (spilt it everywhere in the car!) -breakfast 2: vege fritatta with 1 piece of wholemeal toast (instead of 2) -morning tea: mass shake -lunch 1 (earlier than normal): curry mince meatloaf with 200g sweet potato and spinach (amazingly also spilt this all over my lap and the floor) -mid-lunch snack: apple -lunch 2 (later than normal): 200g chicken breast and a cup of rice (couldn't fit in the veges) -drinks: 4 bottles of water so far today Sounds like a fair bit of food doesn't it? It's a workout in itself but if that's what needs to be done to add some muscle I'll give it a red hot go! Have a great day peeps.

  • Benjamin James
    10 Sep 2017
    1:24 PM

    So I've managed 4 weights sessions and 2 cardio sessions this week. Still need 1 more cardio session to meet my weekly goal so it'll either be taking the dog for a walk again or I might count the housework and doing the lawns...is that cheating? Dog walk is probably more appropriate especially to get some blood flowing into these legs again! Nutrition has been great too. So all in all a very positive week 1 and looking forward to hitting it hard again starting tomorrow for week 2.

  • Benjamin James
    10 Sep 2017
    1:24 PM

    So I've managed 4 weights sessions and 2 cardio sessions this week. Still need 1 more cardio session to meet my weekly goal so it'll either be taking the dog for a walk again or I might count the housework and doing the lawns...is that cheating? Dog walk is probably more appropriate especially to get some blood flowing into these legs again! Nutrition has been great too. So all in all a very positive week 1 and looking forward to hitting it hard again starting tomorrow for week 2.

  • Benjamin James
    10 Sep 2017
    1:21 PM

    Day 7: So I did manage to get to the gym yesterday and had a brilliant session of chest, shoulders and triceps, not even a hunt of being held back by yesterday's surgery. Felt amazing all day, energised, positive and my appetite was still there despite eating being very difficult. Today was legs and it was a struggle! I was much, much stronger this time than in my first legs workout, but I pushed so hard on back squats and deadlifts that by the time I hit leg press and just managed to finish that I was so drained, so dizzy and so dead that I couldn't do a single other exercise. It meant I skipped a significant amount of exercises in the plan but I was at total muscle failure so I don't think it would have been beneficial. I did realise later that I hadn't eaten all of my breakfast (very distracted this morning by a sick baby, sick wife and a tornado scene of a house) so I'll make sure I never get that wrong again. Feeling bloody great! Did some meal prep last night - baked sweet potato, curry mince meatloaf, cooked up 2kg of chicken breast and I'm currently baking a frittata for work breakfasts. Feeling prepared and very happy with how the first week has gone. Already feeling leaner and less bloated despite the amount of food I'm eating. And still incredibly inspired and motivated by all the posts on the forums and in the Facebook group. Really loving this round of the Challenge, probably the best I've felt out of any previous Challenge!

  • Benjamin James
    9 Sep 2017
    5:39 AM

    Day 4: didn't have the best sleep again after the arvo shift but woke up energised enough to get to the gym for back, biceps and abs and finished strong with 10 mins of HIIT on the cross trainer. Slowly building up my HIIT duration as I'm not used to it and it still kills me, but as long as I'm progressing i'm happy. Just visualised the week 12 abs over and over and over and it got me through. DAY 5: Another late finish at work last night meant yet another short sleep unfortunately and lucky for me today was a few hours of dental surgery to fix an infected tooth that has spread a massive infection into my upper jaw and almost all the way to my nasal cavity creating a huge hole in the bone. It all stems from a tooth I broke as a kid 17 years ago and had been eating away at me (without me having any idea) for years. The positive to come out of the surgery was an epic nap under sedation! And the problem hopefully being fixed. Biggest downside, I couldn't eat or drink any water from 12:30am until 2pm Friday which is horrible for my gains! No physical activity allowed either today but to be honest I was so buggered it was the last thing on my mind. Thought I may not be able to train Saturday either but I think I should be OK as long as I don't feel drowsy still. Mouth still very swollen so eating might have to be steak and chicken free for a while until I can chew properly. It won't hold me back for long though, day 6 come at me!

  • Benjamin James
    6 Sep 2017
    7:06 PM

    Day 3! Took a day off from the gym because I'm just starting to feel a little run down, getting too little sleep and working night shifts with a heap of work building up plus I'm so bloody sore from Monday's workout that it was a good chance to give my body a rest. Did take the pup out for a walk of only about 35 mins but it was in beautiful sunshine and fresh air so I felt pretty good and already looking forward to tomorrow morning's gym session. Diet back on track today with thankfully no jobs at work screwing up my routine! As I wrote that a job just came in but I'm already face down in my dinner so they can wait! Had a few cravings today but it was easy enough to fend them off with plenty of water and a few approved snacks. It is actually working out well not being able to eat all the food from breakfast some mornings because it means I can eat it later in the day. Motivation still sky high and only have 1 more weights session and 1 more cardio session to do before I've met my weekly goal. I'll end up doing more anyway but it's good to know at least 1 goal has been met in week 1!

  • Benjamin James
    6 Sep 2017
    10:50 AM

    Got my before photos done and much like everyone else it's not the easiest thing to put out there but it's good for accountability. Getting sick right as the last challenge finished didn't lend itself to staying in top shape unfortunately, but there were also plenty of indulgences which are a thing of the past for the next 12 weeks! Plenty of areas for improvement. No flexing or sucking in this time so I plan on making some great improvements at every check in. Day 2 training went well, chest/shoulders/triceps. Didn't have time for cardio afterwards due to work so I'll squeeze it in to day 3 which is a day off the gym. I'm suffering crippling DOMS in my legs which feels awesomely terrible so a long walk is on the cards to get the blood flowing. Eating timings were all over the place due to jobs at work but I still managed to eat semi-regularly and get in most of my food even though it wasn't as organised and well timed as I usually like.

  • Benjamin James
    4 Sep 2017
    6:00 PM

    Having been horribly sick with the flu and taking 10 days off exercise I can't believe how much my fitness has suffered in such a short time. Today's workout was a real struggle, and it felt like I have taken a massive step back since the end of the last Challenge. However, I know how to get back to where I was and with my goal of increasing my cardio significantly this Challenge I know I'll be a lot better equipped in a few weeks. Leg workout for day 1 was back squats, front squats, deadlifts and leg extensions. Had to cut my session short because we had an appointment for a 20 week scan for our new bub (finally excited rather than terrified after seeing it's little face today!) but still managed to include half an hour cardio walking the dog so I was satisfied with the day's exercise anyway. Nutrition has been perfect so far too although I've already wanted an extra coffee and a soft drink but it's been water, water, water (and toilet, toilet, toilet all afternoon!). Spent a bit of time on the forums and in the facebook group too, loving the day 1 enthusiasm everyone is sharing. I'm on a bit of a positive high today after a great father's day, seeing our new bub's face today and plenty of goodness from everyone's day 1 stories. Great start to the challenge!

  • Benjamin James
    4 Sep 2017
    3:26 PM

    So it's day 1!!!!! Haven't had a chance to do my before photo yet but hopefully either tomorrow or Wednesday before work I'll be able to get it done. Feeling supremely enthusiastic this time, amazingly even more so than in previous Challenges. Finding the amazingly supportive and encouraging facebook group for the challenge community has really given me a boost and a secret weapon for success. Seeing everyone putting their before photos out there to be accountable has been really motivating, so best of luck to everyone giving it a go! I'm going to be a beacon of encouragement and positivity this Challenge! That's nothing different to previous Challenges, but I really feel like I've got plenty to give with my experiences over the past 5 Challenges, and I love seeing people working hard towards a goal and in the process becoming a better and happier version of themselves. The positivity can be infectious and I believe you get what you give, so let's all be awesome to each other and get it back in return.

  • Benjamin James
    1 Sep 2017
    8:46 AM

    Something that I have thought when doing every previous Challenges is that I would never be in contention for the top 50 etc because I never start the Challenge in such a shape that would reflect a dramatic transformation. However with the Challenge just passed I noticed quite a few people who started off in quite good shape still made the top 50 and even the top 10! In fact some people started off quite obviously with some solid weight training behind them (some even looked like their before photo could be their after photo!) so I guess really anyone can still aim for the top 50 and top 10 so I shouldn't let it hold me back time and time again. I don't know really what I can do specifically to improve my chances of finally making a top 50 but I'll certainly no longer just assume that I've got no chance. It's not the be all and end all for me, but it would be a nice reward for all the hard work put in over the years. So I might tentatively add top 50 to my overall goal. I still feel like there's no chance but I might as well aim high!

  • Benjamin James
    1 Sep 2017
    6:49 AM

    Overall goal: -continue from last Challenge by adding another kilo of lean mass (more would be great!) whilst reducing bodyfat. I ended the last Challenge at 13.8% bodyfat so I'd like to see that drop to at least 12% Goals for weeks 1-4: -at least 3 training sessions per week -at least 3 cardio sessions per week -not buy coffees at work! -not justify adding things that aren't on the plan because I'm 'bulking'

  • Benjamin James
    1 Sep 2017
    6:36 AM

    Well I'm back for my 6th challenge and as excited as ever! Joined by close friends who I have done the Challenge with previously as well as my younger sister who is doing it for the first time. I have a second baby on the way (due to arrive after the Challenge ends) so I feel like this will be my last hurrah for a while before having to dedicate a lot more time to daddy duties over training. I've also just come off the worst case of the flu I have ever experienced. It has basically wiped me out since a week after the last challenge until now. Totally exhausted and depleted, unable to do any form of exercise, ate poorly because I either wasn't hungry or was just grabbing whatever was convenient because cooking was too much effort...I will never take my health for granted again! I was so envious of anyone living a normal healthy life during that period, so I'm determined to have an extremely healthy next 12 weeks! Whilst I have seen some fantastic results over the past few years, I'm still not entirely satisfied. There are always areas I think I can improve and I still get envious of some of the results other people achieve in the 12 weeks despite knowing it's not good to compare yourself to others. In past Challenges I have been brilliant with my training intensity (however due to work and life in general I can never fit in all the prescribed training sessions) and pretty good with the diet (90% I reckon, although I eat very well in general anyway) but have never paid as much attention to cardio as I know I should (again blaming time constraints and the feeling that I owe my time to my family more than cardio on top of my training). So for this Challenge I'm going to try and do things a little differently to what I've done in the past. Make changes to see changes! Whilst following the training plans I will make sure I leave enough time for cardio at the end of my sessions (HIIT probably). If it means dropping an isolation exercise here and there I'll make that sacrifice as long as I start doing my cardio! I'm also going to try and be a little more social with my training by planning sessions with the others doing the Challenge. This can kill two birds with one stone by having a catch up whilst also getting shit done! Finally, I'm going to try and continue on the mass plan (which I did last Challenge) but even cleaner (I justified a few diet 'modifications' last Challenge because I was bulking). I'll try to put taste aside a little and eat for fuel knowing the results in time for summer will be so worth it. Time to set some goals in my next journal entry...something I've probably failed to do properly in the past.

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