Six-week Dadbod challenge: It's all gone pear-shaped... in a good way
Trainer Pat Henry continues to put our writer through his paces
Week four left Dave Robbins in a slump, until trainer Pat Henry changed up his diet to achieve the ultimate cleanse.
On the Camino de Santiago, there is a long, flat stretch in the middle between Bourgos and Astorga called the Meseta. It's featureless and hot, and you just put your head down and get through. There is no shade, no view, nothing to break up the days.
Week three of my lose-the-dad-bod exercise and diet programme was my Meseta. The enthusiasm of the first two weeks was gone. The novelty of shopping for low-GI food had worn off. I even began to resent washing my exercise gear every day.
I could now get through three sets of the 18 exercises in under an hour. The hour's cardio workout was becoming manageable. But another three weeks of this? Could I bear it?
Small things helped me to keep going. The camaraderie of the other gym members, for instance.
Pat Henry's gym is small, and often the four or five members working out at any one time get talking in a relaxed way, breathing permitting.
The talk this week was of the members' Christmas party (which seemed to have been a great success), of what was happening on RTE's Operation Transformation and of the gentle sadism of the Henrys, père et fils.
Then there were my test results. Pat had recommended getting certain blood tests, and the results came in this week. During Week One, I had my cholesterol, testosterone, thyroid and prostate levels checked.
"Should we write about these?" asked Pat.
"Why not?" I replied. "My waist measurement, fat levels and metabolic age are already in the public domain."
In fact, the week before, a friend had leaned over to me at dinner and confided: "Gemma is very worried about your visceral fat."
"Who's Gemma?" I asked.
"Friend of mine. She's a nutritionist. She says you should see a doctor immediately."
I hope Gemma is going to be okay about my other results. Testosterone levels are good, thyroid fine, levels of PSA (prostate specific antigen) low, but cholesterol high-ish at 6.8 (should be five).
It was at my lowest moment that Pat decided to mix things up. He'd done it before, when he changed the exercises in week two. Now it was the diet.
"Do you eat pears?" he asked last Wednesday.
"Sure," I replied.
"Good," he said. "I want you to eat only pears for one day. Very ripe pears, almost on the turn. It's like a cleanse. Pears are very easy to digest. It'll rest your system," he explained, before confiding that, back in the day, he'd once lived on pears for over a month.
On the basis that you could probably stick anything for one day, I agreed. Pear day was Saturday. And it wasn't so bad. I could have my breakfast as normal, but then could have only pears until breakfast the next day. I ate, or slurped, maybe 10 pears during the day.
I can't say it was life-changing. It did, however, change my perspective on certain things. On Saturday night, we went to see The Big Short. Suddenly, I was aware of every piece of food in every shot of that movie.
Compared to the continuing hell of the dumbbell exercises, pear day was almost peachy. And it paid off on weigh-in day yesterday. Another two pounds lost, visceral fat down, several inches lost off various parts. I am also seven years younger, according to the magic weighing machine in Pat's gym.
I can't wait to tell Gemma.
Pat Henry says: 'Keep an eye on your hormone levels when embarking on a fat loss journey'
With Dave perfectly on target, I noticed that his upper body bulk is starting to disappear from around the neck, back and shoulders, giving a more athletic look rather than the bulky upper body physique.
For those following at home, you now should be at three sets of 20 repetitions with a target time of 45 minutes.
Dave also had a complete blood analysis, testing PSA (prostate specific antigen), thyroid hormone level, testosterone and cholesterol. We recommend this course of action from the beginning just so it gives us a clear picture of what the condition and balance of hormone is. With men for example, when we reach over 40, hormone levels can change, and symptoms can include increased body fat, low sex drive, getting emotional, and just lacking in energy and life force.
This happens especially when there has been no activity for many years. The body can get a very soft, rounded look. This can be, again, down to unbalanced hormone levels and possibly producing too much oestrogen, which is the female hormone.
With Dave, his levels were good - 21 out of 30. The only level which was high was cholesterol which was 6.8 - way too high, his should be no more than 4. But within a few weeks and a big change of diet, I'm sure we will see it going down.
It's wise to monitor all levels of essential body composition, which eliminates reasons why body weight is not dropping down at a more efficient rate.
Other causes of weight not moving can be poor sleep patterns. If you are constantly waking up during the night, the body cannot recharge and recover hormone balance.
We have now moved on to three sets which are completed in 45 minutes. So from now on, three sets of 20 repetitions of each exercise with five minutes of cardio after every set, no breaks, just go from one exercise to another.
Last week we shocked Dave's body with a few different exercises. Now we shrink the gut by going one day on an internal cleanse with soft pears. We recommend having your normal healthy breakfast and then eat only very soft pears until the following morning. The pears must be soft, if hard it does not work.