Tracking His Macros Helped This Guy Lose 30 Pounds and Get Shredded Abs

Michael Shen went from feeling lethargic and taking afternoon naps to being in the best shape of his life.

courtesy of  michael shen
Courtesy of Michael Shen

I was one of those guys who goes to the gym off and on, never really consistently, who then got frustrated that I never really saw the results I wanted. That went on for a few years. I was borderline overweight, and I’d often feel lethargic during the day, even when I wasn’t exerting myself. I really doubted myself, as far as believing I could be disciplined enough to get to a genuinely athletic level of fitness.

When I saw some before and after photos of Ultimate Performance gym customers, I got inspired: It looked like the investment I needed to make to get where I wanted to go. I signed up with their gym in Singapore, ready and eager to get started.

I started with some pretty drastic changes to my diet—I needed them. I cut out fried food almost completely and cut down on my late-night snacking, which used to be chocolates, ice cream, and cereal, depending on my mood. (Now, when I do snack, it’s healthier fare like zero-calorie Jell-O, whole-grain tortilla chips, low-calorie ice cream, and broccoli puffs.) I went from heavy lunches and dinners of take-out, with lots of mindless, routine snacking, to carefully calibrated meals of about 500 calories each.

That was the most important change: I just started paying attention to the number of calories I was consuming. Knowing what I had to do to get to a caloric deficit—burning more calories than I was eating—made me “selfish” about what I put into my body, food-wise. I’d eat about 1500-1700 calories a day, which was easy to track with the UP app. My trainer taught me a lot about tracking macros, and introduced me to new, healthier food options, like those zero-calorie snacks.

courtesy of michael shen
Courtesy of Michael Shen

I’d work out two or three times a week, combining weight training with running. My trainer helped me focus on my form, with proper breathing and bracing to prevent injury. I hadn’t trained my legs much in the past, and doing pendulum squats really challenged me. But bringing that much-needed focus to my legs also helped me understand the importance of working every part of your body. Building that muscle mass helps with your overall metabolism.

Over 15 weeks, I lost more than 15kg (33 pounds), and around 13 percent body fat. My lifestyle has completely changed; workouts are just part of my daily routine now, and eating right is just something I do without having to think about it. Even after working out in the morning, I have much more energy throughout the day—I don’t have to take an afternoon nap anymore! I’m easily in the best shape of my life, and that’s really boosted my overall confidence, too.

courtesy of michael shen
Courtesy of Michael Shen

People have definitely noticed. They were shocked to see my before and after images. You can tell, though, just by looking at my face that I’ve slimmed down. I’ve really got those “face gains.” The challenge now is keeping myself disciplined and preserving all the progress I’ve made.

Looking back on all the years I spent inconsistently working out, I realized how important it is to have a reason to improve yourself. You need a mental anchor that you can always return to when things get tough or you feel like you want to give up. Or even when you’re just not feeling that motivated—you need a “why” to spur yourself onward. Once you’ve got that, it’s so much easier to make the investment in yourself.

Finding that deep-seated motivation also helps maintain discipline and consistency. That was what I needed to transform from someone who wanted to be fit and athletic, to someone who actually was. I honestly think anyone can do it, if they come in with the right mindset and a strong sense of why they want to change. From there it’s just a matter of putting in the work.

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