Sonnie Yousefzadeh-Bindra knew that he was due for a lifestyle change when his normal morning commute of standing on the subway became a taxing endeavor. The 31-year-old London man had a brief spat of weight training in his 20s, but besides that, he never had much experience in the gym.
“I was very unfit, did not exercise at all and had become very lazy,” he says. “Maybe I had a bit of ‘size’ to fill my clothes, but that was all body fat as I came to realize.”
Before he started his transformation, his daily meals consisted of a latte and a pastry for breakfast, some sort of high- calorie and carb delivery food for lunch—and to top it off, either McDonalds, Shake Shack, or something similar for dinner.
Plus, when the world shifted into lockdown in 2020, Yousefzadeh-Bindra’s busy lifestyle compounded into poor diet habits that made him gain even more weight, and he couldn’t stand how it made him feel.
“I had an unhealthy relationship with food,” he says. “I think like many others, lockdown made it worse being in so inactive and idle. I had placed so much emphasis on my work that I forgot how important it is to look after number one.”
So, when it all became too much to bear, he signed up for a transformation with an Ultimate Performance gym in London that helped him get started on the road to better choices and the body he’d always wanted.
“During my transformation, I had 3 personal training sessions a week,” he says. “Each were full-body workouts described best as German Body Conditioning. The idea was to lose fat and build muscle as efficiently as possible. I supplemented the full body workouts with 30 minute cycling machine or 30 minute stepping machines in the week.”
Towards the end of his weight-loss transformation, Yousefzadeh-Bindra often found himself integrating HIIT workouts into his routine to help shred his arms and abs even more. Like many others who are just getting back into working out, he quickly found himself enjoying the process.
“At first, coming to the gym was a chore, but then, it became a lifestyle,” he says.
He also began to find enjoyment in doing additional exercises throughout the day whenever he could find the time in his busy schedule—and even began to count his steps.
But as you probably know, real body transformations require a strict diet to get the best possible results. With the help of his trainer at UP, Yousefzadeh-Bindra was able to make drastically improve his diet by eliminating high- calorie and carb foods like takeout and delivery.
“I stopped having takeaways and cancelled my subscriptions—very key,” he says. “I started on meal prep services that helped ensure I was having the right amount of calories and macronutrients. I began to become aware of the food I was eating from a calorie point of view and make better choices.”
Having food prepared with the right quantities and nutrition helped him maintain his diet even though his schedule was as busy as ever. For people who don’t have the time to prepare food themselves, meal prep services can be a great option to ensure healthy eating.
During his transformation, he substituted all of the bad foods that made up his old diet with high-protein, low calorie foods that helped fuel his body’s essential functions. For breakfast, he would often drink a protein shake and a homemade latte—turning away from the high-carb pastries. Then, for lunch and dinner, he’d dig into one of his prepared meals that contained just the right mixture of protein, fats and carbs.
Yousefzadeh-Bindra’s trainer at UP, Chris, was instrumental in holding him accountable and making sure he didn’t fall of the diet wagon.
“I also learnt how important it is to have a good trainer who will provide accountability,” he said. “I can’t stress how important constant communication is key in achieving these results. Diet plays such a key role in your body composition and you need someone who can monitor that constantly.”
Having a trainer also helped Yousefzadeh-Bindra tackle some of the psychological challenges of consistently working out hard. One of his favorite pieces of advice from Chris: connecting the mind to the exercise.
“When you can connect your mind to the exercise rather than just push aimlessly at the weight, you will achieve better form and likely lift more,” he says. “Form and time under tension are also so key. It’s much better to have a lower weight and do it properly as you will see better gains—lose the ego!”
Yousefzadeh-Bindra has his diet and his workout aligned just how he wants it, and he’s seeing the results too. He’s down nearly 30 pounds in just over 3 months, and things are look up on all fronts.
“Now that my diet is better, and I’m more fit, I have so much more energy,” he says. “I have better concentration and work more efficiently. Arguably, the work I do is getting better and better, and outside of work, I have more energy and will happily walk to more places. I feel fresher and younger.”
This interview has been edited for clarity.
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