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Amien Phillips – Winner Men’s toning

Amien Phillips (Amien-net), Cape Town

Winner: Men’s toning category,  Sleekgeek “12 Week Comeback Kid challenge” (1 Feb – 25 April 2012) 

In his own words …. 

What is this SleekGeek everyone is talking about? It’s a great initiative founded by Elan Lohmann and initially aimed “to get SA geeks off their asses and into shape”, now it’s open to everyone really. I decided to take up the latest 12 week challenge which started on 1 Feb 2012.

In a nutshell, about 70 of us paid R500 to enter the challenge & at the end of the 12 weeks, the one who effected the biggest change in their bodies would take everyone’s R500 in their category.

Thanks to Giovanni  Ghignone &  Virgin Active SA for organising us 3 month memberships which I believe was valued at +R2000 and immediately made the challenge value for the money spent from the very start! Admittedly, I didn’t quite take advantage of this as I made the mistake of registering at the Century City VA which was a little out of the way for me, but still went when I could.

I first discovered SleekGeek after seeing Christopher Mills’ transformation back in December 2011 and this truly inspired me to see how a little bit of effort & change in diet could make a big difference in just 6 weeks! Immediately I looked into it and saw another challenge was coming up, giving me a month to do some research and put a plan together.

I knew the challenge would be fun and competitive because when geeks do something, they usually do it really well 😛 The motivation by the group has also been amazing with constant helpful tips from everyone. The biggest motivator I think for everyone was seeing Jonathan Allen-Barret’s amazing results from real hard work and dedication.


I decided to accept the challenge for various reasons, some of them:

  • When I looked in the mirror I felt disgusted to see what I’ve turned into
  • I wanted to lead a healthier lifestyle
  • Aimed to inspire others and;
  • Prove that losing weight is NOT impossible, and can be achieved with sufficient effort & minimal cost
  • Needed a distraction to get thru some personal things
  • Meet new friends with a similar outlook in life
  • The money. 🙂


Firstly I don’t profess to being a health specialist or even know what I’m talking about at all, but I can tell you what I’ve done that has worked for me and it may or may not work for others. What I have learnt from all this tho, is that losing weight involves 3 areas, Diet, Exercise, Sleep and that the MOST important area is Diet.

Being a guy that likes simplicity and all things that require minimal effort (some call it lazy), I knew this was not going to be easy. I didn’t have any goal weight in mind and my only goal was to lose the belly by the end of the challenge.  I did some research on training programs and soon discovered that there were just too many out there with so many conflicting views and that different programs worked differently on different people. So I decided to take the basics and just do what I thought would work with what I have and see how it goes for the first few weeks.

1. Diet

Mother’s cooking certainly wasn’t conducive to getting into shape, and since I’ve never really cooked before, I had to take on an additional challenge of preparing my own meals. I came across an eating system called the “Zero Willpower Eating System” by Michael Chang which basically advised to prepare all your meals for the week on 1 day, stick them in tupperwares & freeze them. It made things very easy when I got hungry, I’d just take out and warm. And when I knew I was going out for the day, I’d warm up two meals, stick it in a coolerbag and take it with so that when I needed to eat, it was warm & ready.


My meals were very simple, they’d be the size of a first & a half. They consisted of 1 portion each of protein (grilled), veg (steamed) & low gi carb (brown rice). Proteins usually consisted of chicken breasts, lean ground beef (mince), norwegian salmon, tuna, ostrich burger patties. All these were grilled and I just mixed up the seasoning a bit to give some variety. I also played around with brown pasta for a week, but I preferred to just stick with the brown rice. For breakfast I had Weetbix with a sliced banana. If I felt snacky I’d chew on some biltong, nuts, provita or have a low fat yogurt.

If I was out during the day or night and had no meals, I’d just a get quarter Nandos chicken breast (nothing else), I’m fortunate to live near a 24 hour Nandos and it’s my favourite take out meal anyway 🙂 I did have a few cheat meals as well tho, about once or twice a week for birthdays or when I’d eat out, but I’d still have the lesser of the evil meals available.

The only liquids I had was water, about 2.5L per day, more when I cycled. I stayed away from coffee for the first 8 weeks, but then when I had my 1st cup after, I discovered my normal 2 sugars were suddenly too sweet and had to drop to 1.5. I’ve had a cup every day since.

The first few weeks I paid more attention to my diet than exercising just to get that area in order and was very strict about it too. I think that diet is the most difficult part of getting into shape, but when preparing the meals is so easy and having them accessible immediately, it makes it very easy to get into the routine.

I didn’t take any supplements other than a multivitamin (Vital Multitime Gold), My Omega 3 source I got from the Salmon & a lesser extent Tuna. No expensive protein shakes, protein bars, fat burners, all in all I think this was a very time & cost effective way of doing things. I spent on average only about R150-R180 on food for the week and only took 2 hours to prepare.

2. Exercise

For the first 8 weeks, I planned to go to the gym, but never got around to it, the only exercise I did was cycling as I had an Argus to prepare for in 6 weeks and this helped me get in some mileage. I did an average of 150km per week (3 rides, 30km, 50km, 70km). I lost 6kg in the 6weeks and could feel a significant difference on race day, especially having 6kg less to pedal up the hills 🙂 I also improved last year’s Argus time by 2 hours! I used a website/app called Sportstracker to track all my rides. Very handy and keeps you motivated to try and beat previous times.

After burning most of my belly with the cycling/cardio, I tried to build some muscle and tone up for the final 4 weeks. There were just so many exercise programs out there and I just decided to do the basics, push-ups + sit-ups on 1 day & pull-ups + dips the other day and alternate between these so that each muscle group would get a rest day.

I’d do these at night, about 5 sets until failure of each. I started off only beingable to do 29 proper form push-ups and am now up to 75, goal being 100. Sit-ups/crunches also started at 30 & now up to 62.

3. Sleep

Sleep is probably the easiest out of these 3 areas. Your body needs to rest a solid 6-8 hours and actually burns calories while you are sleeping provided you’ve worked out for the day.

I know this for a fact because I weighed myself before & after sleep and noticed my weight decreased by 500g-700g. Sleep is one thing I’m really good at, so it wasn’t too difficult for me 🙂


Measuring effectiveness is important too. Your routine has to be effective and change your body in the right direction. A lot of people would follow an eating plan & work out blindly, but in the end you got to be able to measure how effective it is and taking before photos & measurements are crucial benchmarks. If you do everything right, and follow it all to the T and don’t see the changes, then the workout isn’t working for you and needs to be tweaked.

To track my measurements & changes in body, I used the website recommended by Eric Chowles which is pretty handy. The graph on the right shows my weight loss progress and the spikes also shows exactly when the long weekends were!

My results after the 12 week challenge were as follows:

  • Weight: -8kg
  • Body fat: -6%
  • Waist: -11cm
  • Chest: +9cm
  • I went from a comfortable size 32 jeans to a comfortable 28 🙂

I’ve been deliberating quite a bit on whether or not to share the before photo as it makes me cringe everytime I look at it, but I feel it is important in order to see the change in it’s entirety, so here it is o_O



Summary on what I did?


  • Breakfast: Weetbix & sliced banana
  • Throughout the day: Tupperware as I got hungry (2-4 per day)
  • Snacks: low fat yoghurt, provitas, biltong, nuts
  • Liquid: About 2.5L+ per day
  • When I was out & found myself hungry, would have Nandos chicken breast only.
  • About 1-2 cheat meals a week (preferably on a day I planned to burn lots of kCals)


  • First 8 weeks: Cycled an average of 150km a week (3 times, 30km/50km/70km)
  • Last 4 weeks:
    • Pushups (5 sets) & Situps (3-5 sets) until failure
    • Pullups (5 sets) & Dips (3-5 sets) until failure


  • 7-8 hours solid sleep


Even if I do not win this challenge, I still consider myself & everyone else in the SleekGeek challenge that has seen results, true WINNERS!

After 12 weeks of eating cleaner and being more active, I feel great, I haven’t been sick this year & when I can feel sniffles come along, it disappears the next day. I can finally wear the clothes I bought sizes too small on sale last winter! I don’t intend to lose any more weight tho, but rather put on more lean muscle and be in good shape for summer 🙂

Almost every day we see ‘before’ & ‘after’ photos on the internet, on products, infomercials and it makes us very sceptical whether these things they advertise are just gimmicks or not. I’m not here to sell anything and I figured when you see the change in someone you know personally, it is a 100 times more effective and even if it would inspire just 1 person to get in shape (As Christopher Mills’ transformation had on me) , I’d consider this a success.

All I’ve done is explain how changing my routine has worked for me and I can’t say for sure that the same exercises will work for you, but I can guarantee that with SOME exercise & changing your eating habits, you will see a visible difference after a few weeks! And once you see your body changing in the right direction, this usually motivates you to keep going and working harder and before you know it, it’s part of your life.

So stop procrastinating and take action! Stop looking for the perfect set up. Start small, take baby steps in the beginning and your steps will get bigger, before you know it, you’ll be taking leaps. What matters is that you’re moving even just a little bit and with consistency you will see the results, make sure you get something done, it’s better than nothing at all. And there’s no better way to get started than to join the SleekGeek initiative on facebook!

To me the competition factor was truly motivational, not only that there was money to be won, but also I don’t like wasting money so I wasn’t going to pay R500 for nothing and would atleast want to see some results in my body. Also the members are great motivation by seeing how they are changing their lives for the better, some have stopped smoking, others losing massive amounts of weight and others getting ripped. Knowing that things are working out for them during the challenge keeps you on your toes and drives you to make sure you are progressing too. And when they are having a ‘cheat meal’, it allows you to catch up 🙂

So come along and join the next 8week winter warrior challenge!
No more excuses.

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