Here’s a quick Q&A with Jacque Jacquin, our men’s transformation 1st place winner in the latest 8-week Ultimate You Challenge.
- Give us a short history of your journey to health and fitness before the challenge.
Three years ago I was 20kgs overweight, unfit, unhealthy and seriously couldn’t be bothered by it. After some encouragement, I decided to go on the latest fad diet: the famous Banting Diet. I mean, who wouldn’t like Banting? So I started… I lost my first 10kg or so without a stitch of exercise even though I considered myself pretty active. I then started running and within a couple months I was really enjoying it and then winter hit. One evening I stepped in a pothole that I didn’t see in the dark and tore ligaments in my ankle. From then I refused to run in the dark so I joined the gym to run on what I refer to as the Dreadmill (BORING!!). I did that twice and gave it up as a bad job but was now stuck with a contract. So I started attending Virgin Active’s GRID classes and absolutely loved it. After a year I was attending up to 6 classes a week!
- What prompted you to join the ULTIMATE YOU Transformation Challenge?
At the beginning of this year I decided I needed a goal, by this point I’d lost 20 kgs and was very fit, but needed to aim at something. So I set my sights on The Warrior race and there after decided I wanted to work towards an Iron Man triathlon in 5 years time. I did my first triathlon and after nearly drowning, I actually did really well finishing in the top 1/3 of the field.
Unfortunately I injured my knee in September and was told I couldn’t run or ride until the end of the year. At this time I was also going through some personal turmoil and was really just over it all. The UYC came up and one of my GRID coaches recommended that I enter along with them. They said I should focus on building lean muscle mass and stay away from the type of training I was doing, which happened to be predominantly cardio based. I didn’t bite at first, but on the last day before heat five the final sale came up. They sent me the link and I figured that I had nothing to lose so I entered the challenge and we signed up as buddies.
- Give us a quick overview of the training and exercise plan that you followed during the challenge.
We discussed the recommended training style for my body type and for what I wanted to achieve. Considering I was a firm believer in cardio and a big fan of functional fitness, she gave me a program that incorporated a series of different types of training styles, from drop sets, to super sets, straight sets, all with cardio accelerated intervals. This somehow felt a little like GRID, just with fewer people.
Little did I know that a week into the challenge she would injure their shoulder and pull out, leaving me with a diet and training program I was all new to. Interestingly though, two weeks into the training and eating what I thought was poison, people were asking me what I was “taking”. This was a huge motivator considering I came from a group exercise background, I hadn’t lifted weights in a gym in easily 10 years, and suddenly it was working.
I ashamedly had to admit that she was right (she made me say that).
- Give us a quick overview of the nutrition and eating plan that you followed during the challenge.
Then the BIG debate (or shall I say argument) on food happened… I was shocked… After 2 years of solid Banting I was now going to eat what I thought was “tons” of carbs. I was sure I was going to get fat but she assured me I wouldn’t. I was not happy, typically thinking carbs=fat. But she said the right carbs would be fine and then asked me if I trusted her, and I politely just said yes. We started off reintroducing small portions of carbs to my meals, a mere 50g of carbs in 3 of the meals per day. The first three days I complained to that I wouldn’t be able to eat this way much longer, “too much food”, “I’m too full”, in her words ” blah blah”. Nevertheless a week later I was starving and begging for more food. To which she just smiled and increased my portion sizes. I think we did that three times.
- Did you take any supplements during the challenge, or anything else that helped you achieve your results?
For the next 8 weeks I ate and and trained like a man possessed. It was a great distraction from my personal rubbish. Between my cardio, weight training and knee rehab I spent about 3 hours a day in the gym. I went from eating two large LCHF Banting meals a day, to 6 well balanced, highly nutritional meals, most with CARBS (I still cringe at the thought). I was also taking protein and using BCAA’s and glutamine to help me with recovery and maintaining muscle mass.
In hindsight, I realize how my pre existing idea of nutrition and training was suited for a certain stage in my journey, but had I not changed it and stepped out of my comfort zone, both in diet and training, I would still have looked like my before picture.
But somehow it all came together and I’m super grateful for the results that I achieved. Even if I hadn’t won, I would have been a winner.
- If you could give 3 pieces of advice to future challengers, what would they be?
My advice in a nutshell:
Listen to professional advice especially if you’re inexperienced and new to the game.
Preparation is everything, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” – especially when you’re tired and cooking at ten ‘o clock at night.
What works today, may not work tomorrow, so step out of your comfort zone and try new things.
If at first you don’t succeed, try doing what your coach told you in the first place!
- What did you find most valuable about your experience?
The most valuable lesson I learnt was that whatever your goal is, it needs to be accompanied by the correct training to achieve your goal, the correct nutrition to sustain that training and the right mindset to stick it out.