Craig O’Brien – Transformation Story

Personal Trainer with hopes of competing in body building competition recalls his journey: Cutting body fat by 30% and restructuring his diet to shed five stone

Craig O’Brien is a 23-year-old personal trainer who works at Xercise4Less Glasgow. However, his life has not always been surrounded by fitness.

“On my lunch break at school, I would buy chippies, sausage rolls, and bags of sweets. You name it, I ate it. Every single day, Monday to Friday.”

(November 2012 to November 2013)

Weighing in at 16st and with a body fat percentage of 42%, Craig realised he wanted to do something about his appearance and finally took a step into the gym. However, after some time at the gym Craig was not making the progress he wanted.

“I had no idea what I was doing and thought all I had to do to lose weight was to do a bit of cardio. I didn’t realise how important diet was, so I would still eat allot of sweets, pizza and other kinds of junk food.

I lost a little bit of weight, but I still didn’t like the way I felt or looked, despite going to the gym for one hour of cardio every day.”

Craig felt like something had to change and it was at this point he discovered a passion for weights and started to enjoy the gym. Just a year after starting weight training as a complete novice, and learning more about training and nutrition, Craig had managed to lose three quarters of his total body fat, dropping from 42% to just 12% and trimmed down to a lean 11st.

“I still believe that first-hand experience is the best way of learning. Throughout doing the weights and going to the gym all these years, I have figured what works best for my body through experience and know what works for me and what doesn’t.”

(November 2012 to November 2016)

Having become a fitness fanatic, Craig decided to channel his weight training into bodybuilding, with the aim of competing in his first bodybuilding competition. To do so, he joined Xercise4Less, which offered more facilities and a greater variety of weights than the local club he was using.

“I joined Xercise4Less and it is when I joined this gym, I started noticing more improvements and better training.

“It has a lot more equipment and allows you to have more choice from machines and free weights.”

It is not only his body which Craig is happier with since becoming a gym junkie, it has helped him mentally and socially as well.

“I go the gym more or less every day. I see the gym as a place I can zone out from everything happening around me. Working out keeps me mentally focused and I just feel great from it.”

“I have gained so much confidence and self-esteem through my training and going to the gym is almost like a type of therapy for me.”

Craig is also hoping to motivate and inspire people through his personal training and Instagram account. 

“I want people to realise that yes, it is totally achievable to do, just believe in yourself first. Yes, it’s going to be a long journey, yes it will be hard work, but yes it will be worth it and yes it will be fun.”

Ultimately, Craig says people must enjoy and love the exercise they do and be proud of the improvements they make.

(July 2018 to March 2019)

“The way I see it is to have fun with your journey, enjoy seeing yourself progressing and be proud of yourself.

“As long as you are improving and becoming a stronger, more confident person in yourself each day then you are on the right path!”

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Q & A with Craig O’Brien

Name: Craig O’Brien

Branch: Glasgow Cambridge Street

Job Title: Personal Trainer

Goals: My own goals are to start competing next year in bodybuilding shows, so I will still be trying gain weight for the next year. My other goal is to inspire and motivate, and to show people that maybe feel less confident in themselves that as long as you believe in yourself and stay consistent with something, you can totally transform your body both mentally and physically for the better.

Before weight: 240 pounds, around 40%+ bodyfat

After weight: 215 pounds, around 12-15% bodyfat

Height: 5ft 10 inches

What motivated you to start your journey?

I was tired of not feeling happy about myself and having zero self confidence due to my weight issues. I remember watching a motivational video on YouTube and saying to myself “I wish I looked like this guy”. I decided to join a gym but was only using cardio equipment, not knowing what I was doing, but then I decided one day I was going to start doing weight lifting, and from there onward that’s when I found my passion and hobby in life.

How did exercising impact on your self-esteem?

I honestly can’t even put into words what exercise, or this whole journey with the gym has done to my self esteem. It has totally transformed me as a person, even my old friends from school didn’t recognise me when they’ve seen me recently. I just have a more positive outlook in life, and the whole bodybuilding and gym journey makes me feel that I have an actual purpose and goal in life, and it’s something I wake up to every day and pursue with a passion. 

How have your eating habits changed? What exactly changed?

Growing up the only thing I ever really ate was junk food, going out for lunch at school everyday and buying chippies and sweets, and even at home I was a really fussy eater. Years of that with zero exercise really did take its toll on my body both physically and mentally. At first when I started my fitness journey to lose weight I was a bit too strict on my eating, but now I’m a lot more laid back with it. Calories in vs calories out at the end of the day, if I want a pizza, then I’ll be eating that pizza with zero regret 🙂

What is your nutrition like now?

My nutrition is good, not great, but good. One thing I have found is finding an eating plan that you’re going to stick to long term and be consistent with. As long as I hit my protein intake for the day and feel good then that’s important for me. I mainly just count calories, I don’t count macros now, as I used to log everything I ate but that got boring very quickly. However because I’ve been doing this for so long I don’t need to log things now, but I do think that when first starting out logging food is very beneficial, just don’t get to the point where you sicken yourself with it and then get stuck in a never ending loop of binge eating due to this.

Would you recommend our gym and why?

I’ve been training at xercise4less Cambridge Street since 2016, it’s a great gym with a great atmosphere and environment, and for the price you can’t really fault it at all! It has all the machines and equipment you need.

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