Michael James

Yes we are all judging his choice of underwear here...

Yes we are all judging his choice of underwear here...

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your history?

I’m Mike and I’m 28 years old. I’ve got a busy job that involves shifts, including nights, which can make “eating healthy” a little tricky at times. 

I’ve nearly always been interested in sport having been a county level swimmer, played a lot of rugby and to this day enjoy playing squash. I’ve also trained in the gym for nearly 10 years now. 

I also love food. Which was great when I was bulking. However, that meant cutting wasn’t ever a fun time for me and as a result, it never happened. 

Then came Body By Control…

When and why did you decide to work with Body By Control?

I had just finished extensive training for my job, which involved staying in a hotel 5 nights a week for 4 months. This didn’t leave much room for a healthy lifestyle and really restricted my gym progress. Naturally, my already non-ideal body shape had taken a turn for the worst and needed sorting! 

Due to loving food and hating the idea of cutting down calories and eating dry chicken, lettuce and broccoli every day, I decided to speak with Paul. In the 10 years of gym life I have tried most of the different diets out there; from 40/40/20 to Keto and everything in between. It was time to get a regime which made sense and actually worked, but more importantly, one that I could actually stick to and make progress with.      

How would you describe your experience of prep with Body By Control?


Different people have different amounts of experience when it comes to fitness, and Paul recognises this. Because of this, you don’t feel belittled. He will talk to you on a level that you understand, whether you’re a novice or not. There’s nothing more frustrating than someone explaining something to you that you already know, so it’s nice to have someone that will recognise when you know what a certain exercise is, or how many calories are in a gram of fat and speak to you at a level that is applicable to you. 

Once the basics were covered and I knew exactly what I needed to be doing, in and out of the gym, Paul could pretty much leave me to my own devices, which suited me to a T. As long as I was making progress in the gym, and my weight was steadily coming down, everything was “golden.” Unsurprisingly the results followed soon afterwards. 

I’ve also never wanted to be so shredded that you could see every muscle strand in my ass! Paul got this and was able to tailor my program to obtain the results that I wanted. 

How does that compare to previous times you may have attempted to get into shape?

Previous attempts have never really gone well for me. The problem with most previous attempts was my knowledge of dieting, or perhaps lack of it!

I’ve always loved bulking. Eating a shed-load of food in order to gain muscle, what could be better! However, when it came to losing the weight, I couldn’t stick with cutting the calories. I’d tried the short-cuts, like Keto. But it never really worked, because I couldn't stick to it. 

When trying to diet before, I'd had no idea what calories or macros I should be aiming for or really what I should be eating. As a result I wouldn’t see the change quickly enough, so I would drop even more food out, increase the amount of cardio I was doing and end up losing most of my hard eaten muscle! In other words I looked too skinny with no definition. This was not the plan!

This was different with Body By Control as it allowed me to diet in a way that was sustainable, in a way that I would be able to stick to and get the results I wanted at the same time.   

What advice have you got for anyone thinking about doing the same?

That said, prepare for sacrifices. It doesn’t come for free. As Paul is fond of saying "To change you have to change, after all".

Track your food and really be honest about it. At the end of the day, you’re only lying to yourself and it’s you that won’t see results because of it. My Fitness Pal really was the answer to this. Once you get into the swing of weighing and scanning things, it becomes second nature really quickly. And you can't unlearn what a portion size looks like once you've weighed it and tracked it a few times. 

Stick to the Training Plan. Making improvements in the gym shows progress, makes you feel better about yourself and keeps that hard-earned muscle from wasting away. 

Have a target in mind for where you want to be. As the old cliche goes "If you don’t know where you're going, any road will take you there".

Here's a couple of extra considerations if you decide to get very lean:

 You WILL sometimes get Mind-Fog. Also known as Brain-Fuzz. You WILL sometimes get snappy with your loved ones. So be mindful about that. They’re also part of your transformation, don’t forget it. They have to deal with you not going out for meals, being irritable and generally not socialising. Take them for a big burger as a thank you when you eventually reach your goal.  

Eat as much food as possible for your calories. 

What did a typical week look like for you during prep; from a food, training and lifestyle perspective?

I work shifts. This was initially a struggle because we had to try and fit 4 training sessions into a week, but the shift pattern didn’t follow a weekly pattern. So, with Paul’s help, we managed to fit training in and around my shift pattern, making sure I was able to train 4 times a week; 2 upper sessions, 2 lower sessions and 0 cardio. Result!

Food was pretty flexible. IIFYM for the win! As long as I stayed within my calorie and macro goal, food was fair game. This meant if I had a long shift ahead, where my work colleagues were busy eating junk-food, I could prepare for this by having a lighter lunch, allowing me to eat pizza as a treat with them. 

Towards the end, I started doing some walking to keep my activity level up, but other than that, there was no formal structured cardio. 

All this meant that I wasn’t in the gym for hours a day, leaving the rest of my life fairly untouched.

How important do you think it is to have a supportive team around you?

Support is a necessity. The support network around you will tell you you’re making progress when you feel like you're not, help answer questions you think are stupid (which you've probably asked before but wanted to check!) and help keep you on track when that tub of ice cream is screaming at you from the freezer!

Get your family and friends on side. They’re the ones that will be with you through the toughest parts, when you’re hangry and irritable. You don't want them trying to lure you away from your goal. 

What do you think you did well and what will you look to improve next time out?

I can proudly say that I didn’t miss a gym session for a whole year, including leg days! This meant I kept improving in the gym. 

I was also pretty obsessive about tracking food and very, very rarely went over my calories. There were a few times that I went on a binge, but this happens to the best of us and Paul was pretty clear that an occasional one is no big deal and certainly nothing to worry about.

I would put the walking into my regime sooner to keep my energy expenditure up. The further I got into losing weight, the more lethargic and lazy I got, so keeping my movement up was important. Walking was a great suggestion from Paul and really helped as it wasn't too tiring or stressful.

Ultimately, my main suggestion would be to get on board with Body By Control now, it’ll save you months, maybe years of wasted time trying fad diets and workouts. Use the tremendous amount of knowledge available to you here and sign up. You won’t regret it. 

A Coach's View

This took a year to get into place. In that time Mike never missed a session (to my knowledge!), became able to Squat without knee pain and actually enjoy training his lower body. All of those are wins in themselves, but the thing that really impressed me as a coach was his unerring commitment to getting there. That doesn't mean there weren't struggles and difficulties to overcome; there were. It means that he looked at those as obstacles as things that weren't insurmountable, merely things that needed strategies to overcome. Each time we met one, I laid out the options ahead of him to tackle them, along with their pros and cons, he then thought about which solutions best suited him and then went and applied it successfully. This ability to be honest with himself is rarer than you would think. But without it, it's basically impossible to coach someone effectively. It's like trying to piece a jigsaw together without all the pieces. 

Mike works shifts that look like this:

Two Mornings, Two Evenings, Two Nights, Four Days Off. Rinse, Repeat.

This is certainly not an ideal situation as his body never really get's into a set rhythm and that can play havoc with his hunger and energy, without even mentioning finding the right times to train. But is it insurmountable? No. Not even slightly. It's just harder. But that was never going to change for him, he loves his job. So he accepted that he had to find a way to make it work around his reality rather than hoping for some ideal perfect fantasy scenario. Too many people I encounter are waiting for the perfect moment and bunch of circumstances to occur in order to get started. They're Waiting For Godot

Mike is a great example of getting things done by accepting and dealing with his reality. That's the thing I'm proudest of him for doing. 

Oh, he also needs to invest in better underwear...it needed to be said.