The Diet and Workout That Helped This Guy Get a 'Fight Club' Body at 40

"My big takeaway is that diet really is 80 percent of the game."

jason strimpel
Courtesy of Jason Strimpel

I’ve always been fit and knowledgeable about fitness, having done weight training off-and-on for almost 20 years. I’ve run the gamut, doing classes, working with trainers, and training myself along the way. Recently, I’d been going to the gym and eating reasonably well, but I’m also 40, so I was getting, well, “squishy.” My metabolism has slowed down. Covid lockdowns were really severe in Singapore, and I got lazy. I’d eat whatever I wanted, and I wasn’t sleeping very well. (I have two kids.)

I was skipping a lot of activity, and generally I just felt low on energy and unhappy with where I was. I decided I really wanted to dial in my diet, take things to the next level, and see if I could look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. So I signed up with Ultimate Performance’s Singapore gym.

courtesy of jason strimpel
Jason Strimpel

So the first thing we did was crack down on my diet. I got really strict about what I ate. I had always tracked my food, but I started eating far fewer calories and making sure my macros were balanced. I wasn’t very disciplined before, eating a lot of starchy carbs, peanut butter, and candy, and not getting enough protein.

I got into a much better routine. For breakfast, I had 300 grams of greek yogurt and a shake. Lunch was 160 grams of chicken breast and two hard-boiled egg whites. For an afternoon snack I’d have 500 grams of strawberries. Then, for dinner I’d have 225 grams of white fish and 250 grams of roasted pumpkin. I did that every single day. Get used to chicken and pumpkin, I say!

I also drank 150 ounces of water a day and basically quit drinking alcohol. People can really underestimate the effect of those two changes, but they make a big difference.

With all the gyms in Singapore closing on-and-off because of Covid, I quit my membership and had started running 25-30 kilometers a week, but no weight training. During the transformation, I did weight training three days per week and walked 10,000 steps per day. Again, those little things like hitting 10,000 steps daily can really have an effect.

I learned a lot from my trainer. The biggest thing was form: most of the movements I knew and had done before, but my form was off. He taught me how to do the movements the right way. We also talked a lot about diet and how food choices impact performance and react in the body.

It took me a while to appreciate leg exercises. Split squats are pretty miserable. Who am I kidding—all leg exercises are pretty miserable. I did find these the most beneficial, though. Leg exercises got my heart rate up and I would burn lots of calories. I feel much stronger now, too.

courtesy of jason strimpel
Courtesy of Jason Strimpel

Our focus was on body recomposition, keeping me at a caloric deficit to shred fat while building muscle. I lost about 5 kg (11 pounds) to a low of 80.1 kg (177 pounds). My body fat percentage dropped 50 percent to 9.5 percent. And I got quite a bit stronger, adding 10 kg (22 pounds) to my chest press and almost 50 kg (110 pounds) to my trap-bar routine. That was just in the period from November 2021 to mid-February 2022, with a two-week holiday break in the middle.

I’m obviously pretty happy with the results, but even the process became something I enjoyed. Not only did I enjoy the workouts, but I also enjoyed the challenge of eating well every day. I built food habits that I still follow today. My health markers were in good shape before the transformation so I don’t think they changed much, but I feel much more confident in knowing what to eat and having the willpower to make the right food choices. My big takeaway is that diet really is 80 percent of the game.

I also slept better, was in a better mood, and generally had more energy than before the transformation. I think drinking 150 ounces of water is a secret to feeling great more people should know. I may go through the program again in the future but for now, it’s just about showing up every day: walking, exercising and watching my diet. Fitness is a lifelong journey.

To anyone thinking about how to start that journey for themselves, I say: Just start. It doesn’t matter if you have the right shoes, or know any movements, or that it’s Tuesday. Gyms can be intimidating but in my experience, no one judges anyone. Just showing up is a huge accomplishment. Also, you can only read so much on the internet. Going through a program adds a level of accountability that’s important with hard things. Having an experienced guide can really help with your motivation. Also, know that the journey is not easy—nor is it supposed to be.

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