Like of millions other people around the world, Carlos Oliveira was no stranger to weight gain and low levels of activity during the pandemic. After joining a gym and hiring a trainer to get back in shape, Oliveira shared the surprisingly simple steps that helped him lose more than 70 pounds and get into the best shape of his life.
During the second lockdown in the UK, I was feeling really low: I’d been drinking too much, not watching what I came, and generally sitting around the house. I’d had a personal trainer before, but at that point it’d been about two years since I’d really been in the gym. My weight had crept up from 95 kg (209 pounds) to more than 115 kg (253 pounds). My clothes no longer fit and I felt lethargic, totally low-energy.
As someone who has always struggled with my weight, I felt like I’d worked really hard to get to where I could feel relatively good about myself, only to see it all slip away. I was snappy with my wife and kids and I can see now that it was really because I just felt frustrated and unhappy with myself.
I felt like I needed something to kick-start me again and provide some accountability for what I was doing to my body. A friend of mine had been through the Ultimate Performance process a couple of years previously and so I reached out to her to ask if she would recommend it. I got a resounding “yes,” so I signed up with Ultimate Performance’s Manchester gym.
Pre-transformation, I actually don’t think my diet was terrible. Breakfast would be a bowl of cereal with milk and a couple of pieces of toast with peanut butter. Then for lunch, I’d have something like a tuna wrap, and dinner would have been whatever my wife was making for the kids—pasta, fish pie, lasagne, all pretty hearty (and carby) stuff. The big difference is that with dinner I would probably have had a couple of glasses of red wine with maybe a large glass of whisky in the evening.
During the program, I got very clear guidance on revamping my diet, with calorie and calorie and macro targets for training and non-training days. The biggest change was really reducing carb intake and ramping up the protein. Eggs, chicken, and tuna were pretty much on the menu every day in order to hit my protein target of 175g per day.
So I’d start the day with greek yogurt with berries and honey, followed by a mid-morning bagel with three scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. I’d have chicken stir fry for lunch. For dinner, I had a meal prep service that offered a range of main meals around the 500 kcal mark and all with fairly balanced macros eg (50g carb / 20g fat / 30g protein). And if I wanted to snack, I’d have something high in protein, like cooked chicken pieces, low-fat cheese, or a tin of tuna.
I trained at UP three times a week. The training was generally strength-based, working my full body in each session. Outside of UP, I was back to playing football a couple of times a week post-lockdown and also trying to get a ride in each week on my turbo trainer over the winter.
I got used to some new moves in the gym, too. Pendulum squats really challenged me, with a combination of strength and endurance requirements that make them feel pretty rough. Walking lunges go in that bracket too. Chin-ups are also tough, but beneficial; I struggled to do three reps when I first started, and by the end was able to do weighted sets and really saw the benefits in the definition of my back.
I think the biggest thing I learned in the gym was quality over quantity. We would do six or seven exercises, with three sets of each in the eight to ten rep range. He really focused on getting the correct form for each movement and ensuring that every rep counted.
From a food perspective, it was really just about hitting things simple and making sure I was my macros. I pretty much gave up alcohol entirely over the transformation and generally didn’t go down the “cheat meal” route. Even if I was eating out I would try to make the best choice I could.
Over eight months, from September 2021 to April 2022, I lost 35 kg (77 pounds), getting down to the 83 kg (182 pounds) mark. My body fat dropped from around 40 percent at the beginning to nine percent. It’s hard to know just how much muscle I already gained, since some of it was there, just hidden by fat.
This transformation has definitely been about more than the physical benefits. I’ve had to throw away my entire wardrobe. I bought new clothes that I previously would never have thought I’d be able to fit into. Whilst it’s not great for the wallet, the boost to my confidence has been huge.
Being happier with myself definitely has a big impact on both my work and home life and my general energy levels are so much higher.
My family and close friends knew that I was training, and definitely noticed and commented as they saw the weight begin to come off. However, I think everyone was shocked when I shared the photos from my shoot on Instagram—to be honest, I was pretty shocked myself when I saw them! When you are so focused on the path in front of you and taking those small steps, you can really lose track of just how far you’ve traveled. That’s one good reason to take pictures.
I genuinely feel like the hard work really starts here. My biggest goal right now is to keep my weight stable. I’m into a solid routine of self-training three times a week. Once I feel established and stable in that, I’d like to start looking at building more muscle with a focus on my arms.
I think success in a transformation like this comes down to being honest with yourself about whether this is something you really want. You have to want it. If you do, and you are willing to commit to the process and follow the program, then you will astonish yourself with what you can achieve. —As told to Jesse Hicks
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io