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Mission Impossible?

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Ben Dirs | 08:40 UK time, Tuesday, 12 April 2011

At university, a girlfriend once told me I had the body of an out-of-shape circus strongman. Relationship and physique-wise, things went rapidly downhill from there. A couple of years later, while lounging by the pool in Tenerife, a girl I was attempting to woo told me I reminded her of a darts player. "Oh yeh, which one?" I enquired. "No-one in particular," she replied, "you just remind me of a darts player."

Sad to reflect my Salad Days were over almost half a lifetime ago, figuratively and literally, and that the cruel barbs of females were not the Pavlovian, lettuce-conditioning shocks you might have expected.

That I finally decided to take action was partly down to my BBC colleague Tom Fordyce, who told me of a man who works wonders with the minds and bodies of England's elite rugby players - and many more of Britain's top athletes besides.

This man, said Fordyce in hushed tones, can tailor athletes to specific sports, specific events and specific positions, all through the prescription of the correct foods and correct exercise. He can build athletes up and, like some nutritional Michelangelo, he can chisel them down. "What's more," said Fordyce, "he reckons he could do things with you."

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While this sounded intriguing, it still took what I will euphemistically call a 'minor trauma' (oh, go on then, I'll give you a clue: DEPMUD TOG I... ) before I asked for this guru's help: there is, as anyone who has suffered a 'minor trauma' will tell you, only so much leaning over the balcony, chain smoking and staring wistfully into the middle distance a man can do.

Enter Matt Lovell, top sports nutritionist, a man many of Britain's elite athletes would give their lucrative footwear endorsement to work with and someone who reckoned he could get me ship-shape in a month. Before he met me, that is...

Employed by the Rugby Football Union, London Irish and Tottenham Hotspur, I think it unlikely he has seen the like of me before. Not unless Jonathan Woodgate spent most of his time injured down the Seven Sisters branch of Tennessee Fried Chicken. As a supportive friend said when I told him of my plans: "He's a nutritionist, pal, not a miracle worker."

There will be those reading this and crying “vanity project!” And, to a certain extent, they would be right. Fact is, I would rather look like a middleweight boxer than a darts player. Let’s not get too cocky, a super-middleweight will do.

But the real aim of this series of blogs is hopefully to prove that miracles do happen and that the principles that go into making our elite athletes elite apply to us, too.

Jonny Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson, fuelled by nutritionist Matt Lovell, kicks the winning goal at the 2003 World Cup

These are the same principles that boiled England hooker Steve Thompson down from a high of 22st to a fighting weight of 17st 8lb. "The game is getting faster," he explained, "and I had to get lighter. I have never been as fit as I am now." And principles which Jonny Wilkinson, who has worked with Lovell since before England's World Cup triumph in 2003, says allowed him to reach his "true potential".

"How you look after your body and yourself goes a long way towards defining who you are and what you are about," adds Wilkinson, who holds Lovell in such high regard he wrote the foreword to his book.

Wilkinson is all about kicking last-gasp goals to win World Cups, so I guess you could say Lovell, the man who fuelled him to such heights, is a World Cup winner as well.

When I drop Lovell an email, he seems genuinely excited - as a vintage car enthusiast might be excited at the prospect of doing up a Ford Capri that has been rusting away in a barn for 25 years. He pings me over an exhaustive questionnaire, which includes the poser: "Do you have a fear of impending doom?" I didn't, but after answering 369 questions relating to my health, I suddenly do.

We meet in Lovell's London office, surrounded by bottles of potions and pills. "We work with lots of the athletes who will be competing at the 2012 Olympics," he tells me, "and the time that separates first and last in the 100m can be measured in hundredths of a second. Every single thing they do, every single day, matters.

Ben Dirs

Dirs doing his best impersonation of the man who lost everything - except his beer gut

"But one of the most rewarding things about my job is working with people like you. You don't really exercise, you smoke and your diet is poor. It's about turning you round, giving you a new lease of life, getting you back on the rails."

Surprisingly, getting me back on the rails does not involve a crane but it does involve a surprising amount of food. Four meals a day, every day. No carbohydrates - which means bread and pasta are out - but mountains of greens, "just like grandma told you".

It also involves an awful lot of exercise, two or three times a day. "Lifting something, getting out of breath, just making sure you get a sweat on," says Lovell, blissfully unaware that I haven't lifted anything since circa 1999, when I was a furniture removal man in Sydney and Stan, the Maori man-mountain who owned the van, would develop sudden migraines when it was time to unload.

Then there is the organisation and planning - and I'm not big on organisation and planning either. This is a man who once turned up for a flight out of Auckland 12 hours early, only to fall asleep at the most inopportune moment and miss the plane.

Lovell furnishes me with meal ideas and exercise regimes, before loading me up with supplements - fish oil capsules, vegetarian tablets, magnesium and zinc pills - and sending me back onto the big, bad, fast food-infested streets of London.

I indulge in one last fry-up, before the clearing of the decks begins.

Lovell tells me to expect withdrawal systems during my week-long preparation. They begin to kick in almost before the last triangle of fried bread has passed my lips.

What magnificent fried bread; what magnificent chips. If I were still allowed to do such a thing, I would put a fag out in the middle of my egg for the picture-perfect ending.

When I get home, I realise I've forgotten to ask the $64,000 question: any chance of a six-pack? "That will take six weeks, I'm afraid," Lovell texts back. Six weeks it is then. I've been well and truly sucked in.

Sucked in so far, all you can see are my toenails. Chipped and mangled toenails, with a yellowish hue. Not in six weeks, though. In six weeks, they will be sturdy toenails, white toenails, the colour toenails are probably supposed to be.

It is not going to be easy. My brain has been married to an abusive body for far too long. Or is it the other way round? But rest assured, you can always rely on your friends for help. "You never know," I text a mate, "it could take years off me." "What, can he make your hair grow back as well?"

Ben Dirs will be writing a series of blogs over the coming weeks, hopefully charting his rise from fat man to fit man.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about - or on the sofa - at 


  • Comment number 1.

    The Chive do this better. Chive on!

  • Comment number 2.

    Gosh Ben you are a hotty.

    Good luck with the challenge, can't wait to see the same photo in six weeks.

  • Comment number 3.

    Don't listen to anyone who has a problem with you blogging about this Ben; I wish you the best of luck. It'll be painful but try to enjoy it if you can- it'll be seriously rewarding come the end.

  • Comment number 4.

    i didnt know you had moobs.....

  • Comment number 5.

    Go for it. It would be good to know how he gets your general fitness back up.

  • Comment number 6.

    Good luck Mr Dirs - love the photo! You look a bit gangster.

  • Comment number 7.

    fatbobmuz - Many thanks. Would you like personal photographs?

    brooksyd - Neither did I until I saw this photo...

    the-bowlers-holding - My brother took about 100 photos so the trick was trying to get one that made me look as bad as humanly possible. I think we chose wisely...

  • Comment number 8.

    Haha, considered making a generic post mentioning licence payers money, just so others wouldn't bother...great blog Ben, and great idea - have often wondered how much difference these regimes could have on mere mortals, but what will be more interesting is whether or not they're feasible for people with lives to do. Looking forward to reading about it!

  • Comment number 9.

  • Comment number 10.

    Are you going to give up the fags, Ben?

  • Comment number 11.

    Good luck ben...I have a question though, ultimately how much would this consultation cost for the everday man on the street???????????

  • Comment number 12.

    I think I remember throwing that sofa away.

    Can you be a bit more specific about what the regime entails? I'm in similar shape to you and need to fend off a mid-life crisis. A health obsession might be just the ticket.

  • Comment number 13.

    Good blog Ben.

    I'm in a similar position in that I'm getting married in 8 weeks and I too need to lose a bit of poundage (about 10 lbs). God knows how I'm going to do I wish you luck!

    What sort of breakfast are you eating if you can't have carbs?

  • Comment number 14.

    Good idea Ben, I look forward to the regular updates.
    Suitably inspired, it's time I shifted some timber.
    I'm wary of some expert advice though, as the guru's often contradict each other and their plans are often very specialist so it will be good to see how you get on.
    Good luck.
    I will be tracking my progress here -

  • Comment number 15.

    Good luck with it all Ben, I admire any man in his mid 40s taking up such a challenge.

  • Comment number 16.

    WozzaTT - Not been smoking at all during the week, which has made it far easier than it would have been otherwise, although not going to lie to, I fell off the wagon at the weekend. Still, got to be realistic...

    IllPhil - Naughty, that's my mum and dad's sofa... I will be expanding on the detail in the next blog, which will be going up in a couple of weeks. Briefly, it's two loads of exercise a day - bike, rowing, running, weights - with four lots of meals. No carbs, loads of veg, fish, chicken etc. To be honest, and as Matt Lovell, admits, it's not rocket science...

    stevej - To be honest, I have no idea. But the point is, follow this series of blogs, and you won't need a consultation...

  • Comment number 17.

    By the sounds of things, a few people going to be shadowing your progress Ben, so the more detail the better I reckon - these boards will feel like a KFC Anonymous Support Group in a fortnight...

  • Comment number 18.


    you already have the looker of a boxer...

    ....the one who lives two doors down from me and keeps barking all night.

    Good luck to yourself and Stan in moving that awful sofa...

  • Comment number 19.

    Great idea Ben. But don't stop blogging after your 6 weeks. Even if you do achieve the 6 pack, I'd be interested to see how long you manage to maintain the new healthy lifestyle. Best of luck anyway. & can I suggest you replace the pic of you on your byline with the one of you on the sofa with the fag & pint. Class.

  • Comment number 20.

    Don't get me wrong. I loved that sofa. Probably too much which is why I'm here asking questions.

  • Comment number 21.

    I have to admit, my favourite part of this blog is the link to the Oldtime Strongman blog, amazing!! Great background knowledge BD!!

  • Comment number 22.

    (PS Where has Fordyce gone? Nothing from him in almost 6 weeks!)

  • Comment number 23.

    Great article. Will definitely inspire people (me) to get in shape for the summer. Good luck pal

  • Comment number 24.

    Bit disappointed by your photo. You look in pretty good shape to me. Hardly any beer belly and moderate moobs .

  • Comment number 25.

    As the laziest person I know, I wish you all the best. I’m going to have to quit the booze and fags soon and get my ‘arris in gear. Pass him my number…

  • Comment number 26.

    First, thanks for all the support, I feel a little bit emotional...

    Quick_Single - Will try to provide as much detail as possible in the following blogs. The second blog will outline what the regime entails in more detail, as well as my struggles with it. Or otherwise, as the case may be. I'm already some of the way in and changes are happening...

    0darroch - Fordyce has been otherwise engaged - he is the proud owner of a new baby boy.

  • Comment number 27.

    @jamesbaker1979: I'm guessing eggs feature highly as a breakfast food on this regime.

    Good luck Ben! (And, in an off topic way, congrats to Fordyce :) )

  • Comment number 28.

    Haha Dirs good luck fella, I get the feeling this guy's gonna need more tricks than Harry Potter to sort out that physique but good to see you giving it a shot. Looking forward to following the progress as well, the blogs are always very enjoyable.

  • Comment number 29.

    Good luck Ben, great opportunity.
    Look forward to reading the blog updates.

  • Comment number 30.

    Good luck Ben. I had a similar reality check following a visit to the doctors in August last year. I was told I was very unfit, two stone overweight and needed to do something about it. Went running the next day, and have been at least 3 times a week ever since.

    Basically, I make sure I get up about 25 minutes earlier than I normally would and go for a 20 minute run down the street and back. Easy, free, and going before work means I don't spend the day coming up with excuses for not going. I lost the two stone within three months and have plateaued at a weight that allows me to eat what I want as long as I keep up the regular exercise. No six-pack, but much healthier and fitter.

  • Comment number 31.


    1) Lift weights
    2) Follow lifting with cardio, build yourself up slowly
    3) Eat healthily - only carbs after workouts

    You can lose 2lb per week like this!

    Breakfast without carbs means eggs - omelettes, scrambled egg in the microwave (don't worry about fat content). Alternatively get yourself a blender and have a milk, banana, and frozen fruit smoothie!

  • Comment number 32.

    Will you post the programme/regime he has you on?

  • Comment number 33.

    Good luck Ben, really looking forward to hearing about your efforts :) Also, can we have another clue about the acronym please, it's driving me nuts trying to work it out... x

  • Comment number 34.

    @ Liz - try reading it backwards... ;-)

  • Comment number 35.

    Read it from back to front Liz and you'll get there, tempted to put a smiley face at the end of that but it then looks like I'm revelling in someone else's misery and I would never do that, not to their face anyway

  • Comment number 36.

    I am an idiot. Thank you both. *Hangs head in embarrassment*

  • Comment number 37.


    It'll be interesting to see how many other people are inspired by BD's efforts. It's ideal weather for getting outside to do some exercise now... says he sat at his desk unfortunately.

  • Comment number 38.

    Liz - Come on girl, get a grip. Although, I should also say, thanks for your kind words...

    Adamant - Probably not the full shebang but I'll give you a good idea of what he's got me on. As I say, bit weird at times, but hardly rocket science...

  • Comment number 39.

    Good luck Ben, I would also like to wish your friends and family all the luck in the world, when your lack of carbs results into uncontrollable rage.


  • Comment number 40.

    Ben - I went from 18.5 stone to 14 (60lbs lost!) over this last year or so 1) to do london to paris cycle ride and 2) for my 4yr old daughter (I was so unfit I could hardly play with her - I hated it - every weekend was a wheezing enditement of me being a poor daddy)

    stick with it: it'll change your life.

  • Comment number 41.

    Also Ben, could you please provide us with a current Tale of the Tape… Height, Weight, Body Fat % etc

    Just for scientific “before and after” reasons of course.

  • Comment number 42.


    I have always found your blogs funny and interesting (how I would have liked to have been with you and Tom in France for RWC 2007!), and this is a great topic so I'm looking forward to seeing the results. I did a dry Jan for the first time this year, changed my diet and hit the gym and have lost 1st 3lbs, but more importantly have toned up and feel much better. I hope you get similar results.


    P.S. Congratulations to Tom.

  • Comment number 43.

    For the purposes of scientific comparison, do you have an identical twin brother who could set about doing the exact same exercise regime but without all the pills and special diet to see whether they're actually doing anything (particularly the pills)?

  • Comment number 44.

    Ben - you're absolutely right, my grip has been gotten.

    Dunc - thanks fella, at least we're together in our idiocy :)

  • Comment number 45.

    As someone who has witnessed the usual Dirs regime over the past five years - often from inside the same campervan - I'm both pumped and a little bit scared by Project Rebuild Dirsy. Will a man in many ways defined by his fags, moobs and fear of exercise be the same character when you take those pillars away? He's already bought a bike off me, a sentence many thought impossible. Good luck, Benjamin - and even more good luck to Matt Lovell...

    Ps thanks for the Young Fordyce congrats. It looks like a Chinese Dirsy. Which worries me.

  • Comment number 46.

    Good luck mate; I'll be following your blog with interest.

  • Comment number 47.

    the program costs £37 i think:

  • Comment number 48.

    My tale of the tape before I started was height: 5ft 10in (I'm assuming that won't change); weight 13st 6lb (I'm hoping that will); body fat percentage 20%.

    I should at this stage point out that Matt Lovell strongly suggested I have a check up with my GP before I started, including a blood test, just to make sure my body could cope, which I did. And a physio friend of mine was adamant I knew how all the machinery worked in the gym - and strongly suggested massage every week.

    In short, you can try this at home - BUT BE CAREFUL!

  • Comment number 49.

    Dirsy - not sure if you're aware, but Jonny Wilkinson's fitness record int he last 6 years is shocking, in no small part down to his frankly stupid training regime. If you are getting injured for 8 months at a time, it's a clue that you can't handle yoour training regime. You can have all the cardio in the world, but if you are working your muscles too much then it won't matter. There is such a thing as being too in shape.

    And I do normally like your blogs Ben, but I have to ask, and have to demand an answer to this questions - whats the flippin point? So you are getting fit. And? I'm supposed to care about your BMI why? I don't mean to sound callous, and if it stops your rocketing cholesterol levels then great, but honestly, is there nothing more interesting to blog about? And do you seriosuly think people will continue to relate to your slightly-aggro everyman schtick if you are a toned and supple athlete, rather than a gruff stocky boozer. This could be professional suicide. Do you really want to turn into an annoying, smug, self satisfied smoothie sipping health freak? Cos you are on the slippery slope.

    So just to balance out all the positive messages, I would like to say that I hope this experiment ends up with Ben taking refuge in a B & B somewhere in Kent, existing on pints of Quantro and Guinnes. And don't be so condesending about Darts players, they have feelings too you know. And have you seen Andy Fordham recently? Losing weight didn't do him any favours did it.....

  • Comment number 50.

    I tried to do this a couple of weeks ago, going on an extremely low carb diet and believe me its ****ing awful and difficult. Simple foods which you enjoy are all gone. If you try this at home the hot food deli at most supermarkets will become your best friends.

    Basically start the day off with scrambled eggs (I really struggled with this I hate them, so tried various different receipies to help along, settled with some milk and orange juice wth a bit of sugar).

    Dinner time tended to be cooked chicken legs/thighs from Tesco/Asda.

    Tea was normally beef with a bit of green vegables/salad. No spuds/rice or pasta.

    Sure there are a lot of protein shakes in there when Ben will complete it however I'm trying to buy a house so didn't have the resources to splash the cash on them.

    Good Luck to you and watch out for the after-gym Carb/sugar rush. Do not go anywhere near anywhere which has donuts, it ruined me.

  • Comment number 51.

    jolshopsatoxfam - Yes, but Matt Lovell doesn't do Jonny Wilkinson's exercise regime, he just advises him on what to eat.

    Far be it for me to suggest you've missed the point of this blog, but judging by the many supportive and curious posts on here and also on Twitter, most people have twigged as to what this blog is about. It's about showing that you can take some bloke with zero basic fitness and get him in shape in the space of four to six weeks. If I can do it, hopefully, readers will be inspired to do the same or something similar.

    "Slightly-aggro everyman schtick" - I do hope you're being ironic... as for darts players, don't blame me, blame the girl by the pool in Tenerife...

  • Comment number 52.

    Best of luck Ben with the programme, hope it works out the way you want it to. I was wondering though if you have any particular goal at the end of it.

    When i started training a few years ago i set myself the target of doing the Connemara half marathon in under 2 hours (which i just about managed).

  • Comment number 53.

    Ben - as you replied directly to me, therefore validating my otherwise pointless existance, I'll publically throw my support behind this venture 100% (whilst in private willing you to fail miserably).

    On a serious note though, one point that I would venture you are missing - the average out of shape reader will not have access to dieticians, personal fitness programmes etc. Would have been a more interesting challenge to see you combine efforts to get fit with a 8-6 working day, plus kids to look after.

    Essentially, as it is, you are seeking to prove that a man with nothing to do all day can get fit in 6 weeks with the help of Olympic standard dieticians and training regimes- I don't think anyone really doubts this. As much as you would seemingly like to think otherwise, in the whole grand scheme of things you are not the most unfit, malnourished and overweight person out there. It will not be a miracle for you to get fit in 6 weeks.

  • Comment number 54.

    Don't commit professional suicide, dirsy. Brilliant.

  • Comment number 55.

    was mildly interested in this blog, mainly as some mens mags promise this kinda thing every month, but then i saw the photo and felt like someone had taken one of my photos and put it in your blog!!!!! rapidly ascending the 40 mountain and tired of telling me 'you should have seen me in my twenties"!!! so will follow with interest, have tried the no carbs thing but keep tripping over them by accident and stuck with a big 'DOH' moment!!! looking forward to seeing that bantam weight body next month.

  • Comment number 56.

    Hi Ben,

    Matt's business partner here.

    Sounds like you are doing well on Matt's program

    With all this support behind you and eyes and ears everywhere that will help keep you on track.


    In matt's plan you can eat a curry if you fancy it but you just need to have veggies with it instead of rice and a naan and a couple of bottles of kingfisher. It's not a low carb plan like the Atkins, there are lots of foods you can eat as much as you want of (veggies like salad, broocoli, cucumber, cauli, cabbage etc) and is pretty simple to follow.

    We'll get Matt to stop by and post some comments to any questions that may come up.

  • Comment number 57.


    nutritionist and dieticians are too different things. A nutritionist in the UK doesnt require a qualification, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. Now this guy Matt must be good as hes working for such big clubs and individuals but like he mentions, the stuff hes saying isnt rocket less calories than you consume and you will lose weight, etc. to be honest google could provide the same information to a general degree. i think the point of the blog is show that a little hard work and effort and its easy to shift any excess weight.

    on a personal note. i wish ya the best of luck ben. you should put up a before and after photo :P

  • Comment number 58.

    This sounds like the plot from a Kung Fu film.

    Our hero is badly humiliated (though haven't we all at some time or another?) on the battlefield and seeks out the knowledge of a renowned master in order to gain his revenge...

    I hope this blog will cover the what happens next bit, another poolside holiday in Tenerife, perhaps reminding the local totty of famous boxers?

    I just hope for your sake that it isn't Joe Bugner.

  • Comment number 59.

    I seem to have been following Matt's plan without even knowing it exists - apart from the exercise bit that is - and it's dead easy. I never eat breakfast or lunch and have hardly any carbs with my only meal of the day. I've absolutely no idea what my BMI is, although I think you'd have a job to say I was in any way either underweight or overweight but, at the age of nearly 50, I still wear the same size trousers and shirts as I did when I was in my early 20s and playing various sports on a regular basis.

  • Comment number 60.

    Hi Gavin

    Thanks for stopping by. Yep, Gavin is right - I was careful not to mention the dreaded 'Atkins' word, as there is loads of stuff you can eat loads of and I've been putting away a few sausages in the last couple of weeks (that is OK, isn't it?!) Just had a very nice Thai soup thingy...

  • Comment number 61.

    jolshopsatoxfam - "a man with nothing to do all day"? You are aware I have a job, right? Working for the BBC? A job that necessitates me getting from Romford, Essex to White City, west London? A job that involves shifts that might start at 6am, or finish at midnight? Sorry I haven't got kids though... plus, one of the points of this blog is to show that you don't really need access to dieticians, personal fitness trainers etc. I met Matt once, he told me what to do - which was all pretty basic stuff - and he sent me on my way. And I don't have a personal fitness trainer or an 'Olympic training regime', I'm just doing exercise twice a day. I do happen to have a mate who is a physio, but that was just a stroke of luck on my part.

    Rob Maldonado - "Don't commit professional suicide". Yeh, I thought that was utter genius as well, as if I'm gonna suddenly turn into some narcissistic sports pimp and never go out again.

  • Comment number 62.

    Did Matt Lovell suggest you have an ailment? Looking forward to the blogs, avoid the lahmacuns of the streets of London- continually my downfall due to their inexpensive convenience.

  • Comment number 63.

    "Eat Yourself Fitter."

    No, it's not possible. But it's a great piece of music by The Fall.
    Something to listen to, as you do the exercise that will get you there.
    You're welcome.

  • Comment number 64.

    "Eat Yourself Fitter."

    Doesn't work does it? What if you eat human brains? Hasn't done Ian Dowie any harm.....

  • Comment number 65.

    "Lovell furnishes me with meal ideas and exercise regimes, before loading me up with supplements - fish oil capsules, vegetarian tablets, magnesium and zinc pills" - if one of the objectives of the blog is to prove you don't need training regimes and dietary supplements etc, then it's odd that you have made this your first port of call, thus failing in one of your objectives.

    I personally think you've made this too easy, so therefore I feel it's my duty to try and set up some opposition and conflict ( so you can triumph over it)

  • Comment number 66.

    "Drink Yourself Fitter" ?
    Perhaps that's been Mark E. Smith's approach....

  • Comment number 67.

    jolshopsatoxfam - Yes, but I didn't say you don't need training regimes - of course you need training regimes, how do you think I'm going to get fit? I just said you didn't need Olympic training regimes, as you mentioned. And I didn't say anything about supplements either. To be honest, I'm sure they're not essential.

  • Comment number 68.

    In my experience, I've always found it harder to gain weight than lose it. But I guess that is my metabolism.

    And regarding your comments about supplements not being essential, I would strongly recommend you have take some whey protein. Not only because it is healthy and a great source of decent calories, but because in addition to weight training, it should ensure that most of the weight you lose is fat, and not muscle.

  • Comment number 69.

    Hi Ben,

    Firstly, great blog and the best of luck with your journey. Secondly, I'm intrigued about what your fitness regime and diet entails in much greater detail - hoping this will be provided in later blogs...

    As someone who has a decent level of fitness (two marathons in the last 12 months) but works long hours I always find it hard to add anything more than a 3-4 training sessions a week. Did you get any specific advice about how to cope with fatigue and when to time your training sessions throughout the day/week?

    I appreciate you're probably trying to add the first 80% to your levels of fitness and diet whilst I'm looking for the last 20% ish but I'd love the chance to get advice from someone like Matt as you have, so anything you have learnt, please pass on!

    Anyway, all the best, and keep us posted.


  • Comment number 70.

    It's the open ended nature of fitness that gets most people. You start out with an objective (in this case to get fit), you complete your objective....and then for some people it's like "alright, what now?"....just being fit is then not enough, so you need another objective - where does it end? and then they start to lose the plot and forget why they wanted fitness in the first place. Either that, or they go onto becoming total health freaks and develop lyrca fetishes.

    Fitness is evil I tell you, pure evil.

  • Comment number 71.

    Exercise can very quickly become highly addictive. Goodluck anyways :)

  • Comment number 72.

    Best fo luck Ben! Hope you reach your desired weight!

  • Comment number 73.

    Good luck Dirsy!

    Hopefully I'll be able to get a few tips off you. Need to get in shape for college reunion football match. A nice bod might help on sunny beaches as well :P

  • Comment number 74.

    Well done Ben. I did the Atkins diet a few years ago. It worked a treat... for a few weeks. I remember the buzz I got when I gave up moaning about the things I missed and started enjoying feeling better having lost a tidy amount of weight, and my moobs!
    Enjoy the experience.

  • Comment number 75.

    Just curious but will this fitness regime do anything for your rapidly receding hairline?

  • Comment number 76.

    to Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man,

    just wanna say......that is the best tag name...i love it :-D

  • Comment number 77.

    Oh and really irritating little tick - you know the one where yu close your eyes and scrunch your nose. I wonder if piles of broccoli will cure that.

  • Comment number 78.

    "made me look as bad as humanly possible"

    Hmm... ...might've strayed a bit beyond human, methinks...

  • Comment number 79.

    I'd be very interested to hear more detail of exactly what your diet is, Ben. The words "no carbs" caught my attention.

    As a recently-diagnosed Type 2 diabetic I am finding a low-carb approach works well for controlling my blood sugar. I'm very much missing those cakes and biscuits, but the fear of what they'll do to me is enough to keep me on the straight and narrow. So far.

    As almost a side-effect of this new diet, I have lost loads of weight, but I've reached a point where I don't want to lose any more. With reduced carbs I'm simply not getting enough calories, but I'm afraid of eating "too much" fat or protein (those GDAs are ingrained in my mind, I'm afraid).

    All those green veggies are fine (I'm almost growing to like them) but even mountains of them add up to precious little in terms of simple calories. Any advice?

  • Comment number 80.

    Even if the only result is that you get off the fags, it will be worth it.

  • Comment number 81.

    Can anyone tell me what a "vegetarian tablet" is?

  • Comment number 82.


    To get a real indication of how much difference all this makes we need to arrange for the reverse experiment to also be performed.

    So we need to get Jonny (or some similar specimen) to eat/drink what Ben used to, take up smoking and stop exercising.

    The really depressing bit is that I bet they'd still stay pretty fit and brilliant.

  • Comment number 83.

    Hi Ben !
    I lost forty pounds on the South Beach diet ( a non ketosis carb managed diet like you seem to be on) nine months ago. I also re-started running and playing squash like I did year sago ( I'm now 47). I felt amazing, not just physically. That I did something MYSELF about my physical condition was really uplifting. I was proud. And It was nice buying clothes I liked rather than ones that fit that happened to be on the rail !

    I will say though despite all these benefits the diet is so blummin' BORING after several months. Eggs for breakfast every day gets really old, and there's a reason people eat so much pasta, bread and starch: it tastes and feels great. Also the regular exercise is really boring when you're not competing in meaningful sport.

    I've gone off the wagon a bit lately and put five lbs back on, but that is going as soon as I get home from holiday.

    I wish you well, feller, and will keep my eye on your blog. Reading this has inspired me to go back ON the wagon., And watch out for boredom with the diet kicking in !

  • Comment number 84.

    Ah congratulations to Mr. Fordyce! I'll let him off the lack of posting then ;-)

    I'm loving the image of a 6-weeks-later Ben Dirs becoming an exercise-crazed loon, professional suicide committed, career down the drain, but with a beautiful six-pack. You have been warned Dirs, beware.

    And I can't believe this incredible hypocrisy: you say that you want to go to a nutritionist, get all the advice and the plan, then tell us all that advice and the plan so we can do the same program without the expensive trip to the nutritionist.....then you do just that?? My god man, how can you live with yourself.

    Yours disgustedly.....

  • Comment number 85.

    Lets take a man.. call him Jols shop at ActionAid.. or something equally as worthy. Let me describe his attitude as utterly pathetic and neutered. A pointless man of no standing or capacity who achieves little and leaves the Earth a waste of everything because he is scared and afraid. 'Oh but I have a family' he cries... blah blah blah... so does the rest of the world. It's not an achievement. Please sit on a bonfire. Thank you.

  • Comment number 86.

    Good for you Ben! I await future postings with interest.

    Do you think though that the DEPMUD TOG I trauma may have had less to do with your physique and more to do with your terrible taste in lampshades (behind you in the photo)? :-)

  • Comment number 87.

    Will be really interesting to monitor your progress via your blog. As a very active sports person and trainer, i find that dieting is by far the hardest aspect of training. Perhaps hearing your struggles and how you dealt with them will give me some ideas!
    If you would consider doing a little piece on the supplements you used during the time, it would be very interesting. I find a lot of clients have limited, if any knowledge on exercise and diet supplements, let alone when and why they need to take them.
    Good luck, can't wait to see the gradual results!
    Word of advice, get other people to evaluate your physical progress, it sometimes becomes hard to notice appearance changes on yourself when you see your reflection multiple times a day!

  • Comment number 88.

    jolshopsatoxfam's moment of enlightenment will occur in the seconds after Ben Dirs slots home the world cup winning drop goal.

  • Comment number 89.

    why dont you:

    cut out booze, fags and fatty foods
    excerise more

    thats what everyone else does and guess what, it works.

  • Comment number 90.

    Ben .. good luck to you mate .. I have embarked on a similar thing .. staring with the couch to 5k running programme (I'm now on week 4) coupled with periodic weekly cycling and cutting down on bad carbs .. even the ale .. which I love.

    It isn't easy .. I'm almost 56 now and I gone from area schools 400m champion and playing 3 games of rugby a week at 17 to doing almost stuff all exercise these days.
    I hoping to not only stem the tide but turn it too.

  • Comment number 91.

    Great work Ben, I for one am thoroughly enjoying your Mission Impossible blogs. I’ve also found them pretty motivating. Keep up the good work, and keep blogging it. I am almost a week into the intensive phase, and after pretty bad carbohydrate craving and lethargy at day 3, I am now feeling better than I have in a while. I will be interested to hear how your transition to the next stage goes. Also I am having trouble sleeping occasionally, I would be interested to hear Matt’s comments on that.

    Oh, and how is that 6 pack coming on?


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