Bryant Manning was plagued with sleep apnea and an unhealthy blood pressure that threatened his life and livelihood. Here’s how he made changes to get into his best-ever condition.

Single Dad

My story is quite simple. I’m a single dad who’s raising a teenage son with special needs while being quite busy as an IT professional. To alleviate the stresses of cooking dinner at the end of a busy day, the convenience of fast food became commonplace. Being in a sedentary occupation, few calories are burned and stresses are high. Despite not being aware of my expanding exterior, I blew up to 244lb as a 46-year-old man with concerns about blood pressure and sleep apnea. This left me chained to meds and a sleep apnea machine.

Changing Mindset

The most important thing was accepting I didn’t become overweight and acquire poor health overnight, so why would I expect the weight loss to be an overnight change. A very wise man said that you have to love who you are while making changes to who you want to be. This applies to everything in life, but it’s especially true with weight loss, which demands one step at a time, one day at a time. I wasn’t comfortable with exposing myself to a gym full of fit people, so the home program was perfect for me. It was everything that I needed because it was highly supportive of my level of fitness, challenged me, provided guidance by toning down the intensity and there was never a shortage of words of encouragement. I cannot stress enough that it is impossible to outwork a poor diet. I tried and failed miserably. Despite doing great with my workouts, the weight did return. My focus finally changed to eliminating processed foods and tons of refined sugar with whole foods. These changes to my daily schedule served as a springboard to a fitter future.

My Training Strategy

During my transformation, it became clear two types of programs spoke to me in a practical way. The completeness, functional premise and inspirational motivation from Focus T25, Insanity Max 30, Insanity Asylum 1 and 2, P90X2 and P90X3 set the stage for my fitness longevity (even as an older guy). As a consequence of logging my time with these programs, I’ve extended to training that prepares me for century bike rides, half marathons, triathlons and my current quest for Ironman. I now rotate resistance training, HIIT, endurance and sprints weekly and teach yoga every week. My mantra is balance with all things. The main principle I follow is to always lead with body weight with strict movements and follow up with weights to failure.

My diet

I focused on eating high quality protein, moderate healthy fats and low carbohydrate foods. This also included intermittent fasting for 20 hours a day, five days a week then doing 16 hours of fasting a day, twice a week. These were offset with a 4-6 hour eating window once or twice a day. Overall it’s ketosis-focused with low carb consisting of less than 25 grams net carbs and 10 grams of sugar daily.

There is no counting calories, or macros but there are also no cravings for poor foods. For my protein I focus on grass-fed beef and lamb, pasture-raised chicken, wild-caught fish and organ meat. I found nuts and seeds are fine for snacks, but only have a handful per serving because they pack a lot of good calories in small portions. The fats I eat are mostly avocados, coconut milk, butter, heavy whipping cream and cheese. When it comes to carbohydrates I stick to salad, potato, fruit and leafy greens.

Key Transformation Hacks

1. Food is fuel

I know it can be so delicious we tend to bask in all of its pleasure and forget that our bodies need the nutrients. Fuel for your workouts for recovery and for life – bask in all its glory from time to time.

2. Be more active in life than in gym

Play basketball/baseball/soccer with your kids, plan hiking trips at national parks with your friends and demolish your child in a push-up challenge like I did with my teenage son. Live life.

3. Minimize stress

Try a yoga class, tai chi, prayer, do mindful meditation or go for a walk. Keeping your stress hormones only for emergencies, like running from that bear at the national park, will provide great health and peace of mind.

Advice to Others

It was a shock to realize how widespread the current societal norms are (prevalence of highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates and mechanisms that support sedentary behavior) to drive the demise of potentially healthy people. Whether your goals are to lose weight or increase performance, lead with a focus on having a well-balanced foundation of being healthy. I, like many others, thought that losing weight/increasing performance and being healthy were joined at the hip, but they’re not mutually exclusive. My future plans are to continue with science-based courses, research and better understanding of the underlying causes of health-degradation to support my future clients to live long and active lives via health coaching.

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