In this frank and honest account, Fat Loss Mastery Client James talks about life with Propane over the last 12 months, set backs, progress and uncovering his abs – take it away James…

We all start somewhere

I’ll start at the beginning of my “fitness” journey which began in the summer after my first year at University in 2009/2010.

I had never been in a comfortable place with my body, which I think is a difficult thing for a guy to admit.

I was one of the last kids in my age group to hit my growth spurt but at 17 I went from 5ft 6” to 6ft 2” in the space of around six months. I went from a short chubby kid to a still slightly wobbly awkward tall kid! When I started my first summer job cleaning cars at my dad’s garage, I met my new boss John. He is a 70 odd year-old ex-marine whom I still lift with every Sunday. He decided I was too scrawny and that he was going to take me to the local gym in our supposedly half-hour lunch breaks. He managed to make me spew on one of our first trips to the gym which was something he seemed to find immensely amusing. (Summer 2010 below)Skip forward to me moving back to London after the summer, and I was back at university surviving on a student budget. I joined the university gym and bought myself some whey protein believing I had to do nothing other than wander around the gym lifting what I fancied and then chug a shake afterwards for mad gainz.

Surprisingly it seemed to be working, the ‘noob gains’ as they are often dubbed were certainly visible, but there was certainly no diet plan or food management and the workouts changed on a daily basis or were often even made up on the fly.

Winging it

The first 2 years went by and the progress seemed to tail off and stagnate. In my third year I moved to Spain to study abroad for a year. I spent most of my time their bored out of my brains. So I decided that that was the year I was going to make some real progress, and funnily enough I set up my blog on Propane’s old website where a few people from my school were blogging. At the time the blogs were very powerlifting focused and carb back-loading was the all singing all dancing cure to skinniness and “hard gainers”.

At  that time I had no real idea what I was doing as truthfully, I just didn’t understand the concept at all.

The gist of it was that I wasn’t eating enough and there was no progression in my program. So I started drinking mass gainer (mutant peanut chocolate btw – it’s the most delicious drink on the planet bar none) and eating Burger King and take-out every night. It seemed to be doing something, my lifts increased throughout that year as well as my size.

Back in London for my final year at uni and I was back on a budget surviving on chicken breast and a lot of whole milk. I joined the rugby team which helped to lean me out somewhat,  but I didn’t get to the gym as often anymore with nights out, rugby games, training and just generally being broken with some injury or another. 

By the end of university I had been lifting aimlessly for 3 years with pretty laughable progress. A month after finishing my exams I started my first job back in my home city of Newcastle. The concept of waking up every day at 8am and working all day was a harsh one to face, I’m a very lazy individual. Most nights I’d get home from work and go straight to bed for 3 hours… Between the summer of 2013 and the beginning of 2016 when I started with Propane’s Fat Loss Mastery Programme, I was in the gym maybe a handful of times a month and eating takeaways and ready meals every night. Which got me to the below stage.

Enter Propane

So on the 29th of Feb last year I saw Propane’s advertisement on Facebook for their new program and decided it was time to get back into it.

I was in a fitness limbo, I had been playing rugby at Morpeth RFC but tore my ACL in the summer of 2015. I was bouncing off the walls and desperately out of shape. Initially I decided “I just wanna get massive” so I started out on the strength gain program eating 3000 calories a day. I quickly realised that what I really wanted was to see my abs for the first time in my life and to gain a bit of body confidence. So at 89kg on the 18th March 2016 Yusef and I decided to switch my goals to fat loss. Progress was very slow to begin with but it eventually started to happen. I cut down over the course of around 8 months from 3000 calories a day to 1800, we were both surprised at how low I had to go in terms of daily intake just to see a 300g loss week on week.

However, despite setbacks to my training, such as my knee operation back in October I made it to 76.2kg by the end of February this year. An almost 13kg loss.

So that chronicles my journey from skinny fat into 6 years of limbo and 1 year of solid progress culminating in a 13kg bodyweight drop. Bigger lifting numbers were a “happy accident” – Bob Ross 2016, and a bit of extra body confidence.

The hardest lesson to take from this journey which is the same cliché that you’ll hear from anybody who has gone through a transformation is that there is no quick fix, no easy route and no fad diet or training regime that will give you fast results.

Truthfully, the answer lies with self-discipline (something I didn’t think I had in me but found along the way) and a lot of hard work. Additionally I can’t understate the value of having other people around who share the same or similar goals.

Not only does it instil a healthy sense of competition but more importantly it provides the accountability needed to not quit or slack off. I managed not to fall of the wagon save for a 2 week holiday and a few weekends away visiting friends (I was even in the gym under a week after having my knee operated on). Even so the guys at Propane were there to make sure I was keeping on keeping on track when they hadn’t heard from me in a while or my nutrition tracker hadn’t been updated.

Body Confidence

The past year has impacted me a lot more than I had ever envisaged it would, mostly in good ways and more surprisingly a couple of minor negatives. I’m more happy and confident in myself than I have ever been which is by far the biggest and most important thing to come from the whole process. However, I now can’t look at food menus, cakes or unhealthy food without tallying the macros in my head, and if I can’t fit the macros in my daily intake then I won’t eat it, period. Don’t get me wrong I still ate “dirty” food; the past year has been littered with Indian takeaways and Papa Johns, but I’d always find myself researching the pizza with the least fat per slice or checking Myfitnesspal for the calories in a Madras. Sometimes it annoys me and it certainly annoys my girlfriend when I whine about wanting to eat something but can’t bring myself to do it, but I guess it comes with the territory of wanting to be lean, one downside I can willingly accept.

In addition, the discipline and hard work seems to have spilled over into my life outside of the gym/kitchen, I have found that I’m increasingly more focused, organised and disciplined in all aspects of life.

 I can’t even remember the last time I went to bed straight from work, I’ve even found the time to pick up my guitar again. Lastly I can no longer walk past mirrors like a normal person without tensing, and I still look in the mirror and pick flaws. I want still want to be leaner and I still want to be bigger, and so the journey continues!  


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