Gary Nicholas

Gary Before & After.png

Could You Tell Us A Little Bit About Yourself

My name is Gary Nicholas, I'm 52 and I run Calso Fitness Club, in Bromley, Kent.

I love to keep myself fit and get a buzz by giving myself fitness goals/challenges. I also love competing in X-Training Fitness Competitions, sadly a few niggly injuries have stopped me from competing for the past year.

My favourite exercise is step ups on a box; and just before christmas last year, I decided to have a go at 5,000 non stop step ups. My mission was to do this on a box 5 risers high (14"), holding 10kg dumbbells in each hand. I was not allowed to stop OR rest at any time, or use anything to aid my grip. My target time was 3 hours. After 2 failures, I managed to complete my mission in a time of 2 hours and 52 seconds, in which I am extremely proud of.  *Coaches note - Gary is crazy*

When and Why Did You Decide To Do A PhotoShoot? 

To do my step ups I needed to lose some weight, so that I would be lighter; I lost just over a stone and this helped me to achieve my goal. But I also had to eat loads and fuel my body the best way I could to keep me strong and to give me enough energy.

As soon as I finished my step up challenge, I kept eating healthily, but I also started eating all the christmas junk too. This soon took it's toll on my body as I started to gain the weight back rapidly.

I wanted to start a new challenge straight after Christmas to give me another kick up the ass, this was going to be a timed 1 mile run for time. I wanted to do my speed mile, lift as heavy as I could and work around the injuries I had; which was a bad lower back and a shoulder.

But one week into my training, i felt good and over-cooked it by going too fast and ended straining my calf muscle; this pissed me off big time.

I then had no goal/challenge and felt sorry for myself; I carried on for the next few months eating lots of good food and far too much bad food.

It was now just over 10 weeks before my 52nd birthday and I looked in the mirror and said to myself, "what the fuck have you done to yourself, you're better than that". I wasn't a mess, but I needed to look and feel better than I did.

I decided to give myself 10 weeks to do a photo-shoot, as this would be on my 52nd birthday. I hate having my photo taken, but I thought if that didn't motivate me, nothing will.

I am a motivated person, but we ALL need a coach to help us and guide us.

I saw a photo of a lady called Chris Jesnick, who was an ex-member of my gym, where she had transformed her body from overweight to amazing. I read her testimonial and was really impressed with how she did it. I thought if Chris can do it, I can do it. So I tracked down Chris's coach, Paul Standell.

Paul set me up on a flexible eating plan, where you can eat kind of what you want as long as you keep to your calorie and macro allowance.

I had never counted calories to lose or gain weight before.

Previously I had said to myself that I didn't want to calorie count in case I got freaked out by the numbers. I didn't want it to become an obsession but at the same time if that was the best way to get there then I was willing to give it a go.

Once my daily calorie intake had been worked out, I was given a deficit; which gave me a final total of 2084 calories on training days and 1884 on non-training days.

How Did You Find Working With Body By Control

Once you are set up and you know what you are doing, it is down to you. YOU have to put the work in, Paul helps guide you but ultimately it is up to you. If you are stuck or struggling, ask, he will help. I had to weigh in daily and track my weight, I also sent photos and body measurements every couple of weeks also to keep me in check and on target.

The hardest thing for me was the training programme, as we had to modify lots of exercises because of my injuries. I tried my hardest to stick to the plan and work around the exercises I couldn't do. My brain wanted to go heavy, unfortunately my body was saying, you're injured and you have to be careful. I listened to my body.

How Does This Compare To Other Preps You May Have Done Before?

I had never done anything like this before, although tell a lie, as boxing is my main sport, I had had to lose weight most of the time for each fight. But because I was physically boxing for hours at a time, nutrition didn't feel like such a big thing. We would do anything to lose weight, ie; sweat suits, saunas, training cardio for hours. I can remember one time when I had a an important fight coming up, I went out clubbing and got hammered. I knew I would be in trouble the next day on the scales and my trainer would go crazy, so I ended up putting a on sheepskin coat at 3:30am and just skipped for an hour! Thankfully, I made the weight the next morning, phewwww. The discipline was always there from my army background.

What Advice Do You Have For Anyone Thinking About Doing A Photo Shoot or Prep?

10 weeks wasn't long enough, I was and still am happy with what I achieved in such a short space of time, it sure made me work and kicked my ass, which is exactly what I needed. For me to get leaner, which I would have liked, I think 16 weeks would have been about right.

So it's all about how much overweight/underweight you are and how lean you want to get or how much weight you want to gain.

You must be honest with yourself and your coach, if you really want it to work. You have to be committed and give it 100%, if you don't you will fail, it's that simple, after all if it was easy everyone would be walking around BUFF! But if you stick to the rules and the process you will get there.

What Did A Typical Week Look Like For You During Prep?


A typical week for me involved making sure I prepared my food. I found the hardest part was when sitting on my ass doing paper work, I found this is where you get the munchies. Although I made good food choices, the temptation to eat too much of it was always there. My Fitness Pal is a must.


Training was always going to be a bit tricky for me, I have had a bad back and shoulder for a long time. Going heavier on my weights was hard to do as a lot of exercises I simply couldn't do. I wanted to build more muscle, but had to do a lot more volume of repetitions, this did work but was extremely tiring sometimes.

How Important Do You Think It Is To Have A Supportive Team Around You?

Having a group of people around that help share one anothers experiences, whether they're high or low, was hugely helpful at keeping my mind focused.

What Do You Think You Did Well And What Would You Try And Improve Next Time?

I felt I gave it 100%. On the the bad days I had I would make up for it the following days to get back on track. The whole experience has been a great learning curve for me.

One day I had a massive blow out and had put on a considerable amount of weight, the next day I trained 6 times to take the weight off to get back on track, in which I did.

*Coaches note - Gary is still crazy and that is not a recommended approach - it can actually make another binge more likely, as you may get caught in a binge, over restrict, binge again cycle*

It was tough and by the end of it I was exhausted, especially on photo shoot day. But I still enjoyed having the photos done.

I would like to have another crack at it and do another photo shoot, the question I have to ask myself, do I wait until I am better (injury free) so that I can lift heavier and put on more lean muscle or do I go for it again and do what I did this time, but give myself a longer time frame.

The flexible diet plan is a great way to lose or gain weight and add lean muscle, providing you stick to the guidelines, you will get results. Knowing how many calories you're downing a day is the best thing I have learnt in a long time; it sure makes you aware of what you are putting into your body.

I will continue to eat well while having a little what I fancy every now and then. I weigh myself once a week and if I get over 80kgs, I'll take action and cut my calories to get back to 80kg.

There are so many diets out there and while they may well work short term, once you stop them, and certainly if you don't know how many calories you're eating, the weight can soon pile back on. It's easy to find yourself back at square one again or often worse.

But was it worth it - absolutely! 

A Coach's View

I agree with most of Gary's assessment - really he would have needed another 8-10 weeks to get where he wanted to go. However considering he had never done anything like this before, he was not to know that. And it's not like we could change his birthday, so the goal was the goal. He dropped 12kgs in 10 weeks which is pretty damn aggressive so really there isn't much more we could have done given the time frame. So in that sense it was a successful 10 weeks. 

If we'd had longer, we would have looked to lose weight more slowly in order to preserve Lean Body Mass, this is especially important for someone with the injuries that Gary has because the training has to be modified quite a lot. 

Gary has an almost psychotic focus and ability to suffer through something. This is no doubt a useful trait, but as with all trait's it has it's Mr Hyde. And we can see this in his choice to perform 6 training sessions to compensate for a slip up!

I'd like to note that while this behaviour is understandable and very common, becoming overly restrictive and aggressive with the calorie deficit and expenditure actually increases the likelihood of another binge. Which drives the need to further restrict and/or train more. Which again makes it more likely that they will binge again...again. And this is how disorders steadily arise, in other words, from the need to escape the guilt, or shame that felt from a bad decision. 

I would encourage you to try to reframe the issue. Ask this question instead; what bunch of circumstances led me to binge in the first instance, and can I stop those coming up? If I cannot stop them, do I have strategies in place so that I can makes better decisions when they inevitably come up?

For Example

I was out for 6 hours on my feet without food with my friends in a shopping centre where there are lots of delicious, sexy foods around and my friends are eating them in front of me:

  • Can I make sure that I'm only out for 3 hours at a time so that I don't get overly hungry?
  • Or can I take food with me so that I can make a good choice for my goals?
  • Or can I buy food out that fits my macros and calories? If they went to McDonalds can I go to M&S?
  • Do I need to be there in the first place?
    • Depends on how far into prep you are in my opinion. 
    • Am I there for a special occasion, a friends birthday for example?
    • Or am I there when I may be unnecessarily risking a binge if I'm far into a prep and my hunger is out of control?
  • Can I encourage my friends to help me rather than hinder me?
    • Depends on the above again
    • If it's there birthday then no!
    • If it's just a Saturday and you're nearing a bit target, then possibly

These are all better ways of addressing the error than partaking in behaviours that may exacerbate the issue. 

All in all, Gary did a really solid job in the short time frame we had, and I for one would like to see what he could do if given an appropriate length prep. Nice job pal.