My transformation story by Carl Parnell

I was always chubby throughout my childhood and teenage years. My parents were amazing, but I was a picky eater and they wanted me to be happy so they would feed me whatever I would eat (which was a very limited selection of chips, pizza, sausages, chocolate crisps etc). I don’t blame them of course - they just wanted me to eat something and as a strong-willed individual I had my own mind and choices. I just chose to eat like that.

As a result of the weight I gained I had confidence in myself but never my body. I remember hating swimming time and I dare say I never took my top off outside. I enjoyed playing football but after the game it was really hard to find a corner in the changing rooms to myself so I could hide as I changed.

I yoyo dieted all the time. I would read magazines which only ever promoted the newest way to lose fat and look like a cover model, or I would listen to people (Who I now know didn’t really know what they were doing either!) and tried what they suggested. I was open-minded but I was wasting a lot of time and money. Of course, as you can imagine, I lost a bit of fat here and there and then put more back on.

It was a vicious circle.

My dad passed away in 2010 and that hit me hard. Food was a thing I used to make myself feel happy and the loss triggered a period of comfort eating which caused me to balloon up to 98kg! I knew that food was important for fat loss and gain, but I never realised the consequences that such a short period of time can have for your body. I pretended to myself that nothing was wrong - It’s amazing what baggy clothes can hide.

Then in the summer of 2012 my then 4 year old daughter said to me “daddy you look like you have been pumped up with a bicycle pump“. It seems relatively innocuous but that really hit me hard. I had always felt like I wasn’t really trying as hard as I should but this lit a spark; I knew I had to change my outlook to food and fitness.

I joined a gym and, of course, bought a ton of magazines. I tried a few different restrictive diets based on shakes or cutting things out, because after all – that’s what you do. I lost a little weight but never saw the huge change in my body shape I wanted and felt like I deserved after suffering so much. This deflated me and again I put a bit back on. I’d tried everything and didn’t get anwhere - I didn’t know where to look, who could help me and what to do.

Then I saw an article on MuscleFood transformations pop up on my Facebook. It was Daniel Wheeler. He had been where I was and he had changed. This inspired me and got me thinking. If I can’t find anyone to help me, I need to educate myself and be that person that others can find to help them.

I first went to a small gym which offered group coaching and nutritional education – I made a lot of progress but their approach was (as I now know) far too extreme for where I was mentally at the time, so after a period of illness I had to look elsewhere. This put me back but also made me even more determined to find the right education I needed.

I saw Body Type Nutrition online, read up about what they were all about and what I could learn and decided: This sounded just the knowledge I wanted and the format I needed. I signed up for the initial Foundation Academy in 2015 for the 6 weeks of basic knowledge that I needed. At the time I never thought I would stay for another 2 years to go through everything else they had to offer!

I started putting into practice what I was learning about food and how my body worked. Taking photos every Sunday (I still have them). I was noticing a huge difference pretty much straight away in how my body was looking and foods I was enjoying. I actually had a few vegetables on my plate as I had learnt how important they were to me and how I could find ways to enjoy them – bare in mind that this was quite an achievement as I had never tried so much as a baked bean until I was 21! It wasn’t just my body I was seeing change in though. My confidence had risen, I was looking at others more with a friendlier outlook, I wasn’t as down or angry as much and my wife and daughter said I had changed in a good way as a person. A real life changing experience!

Just starting with what are calories and macros was a real eye opener for me. I had never thought what was in a piece of food. This was the breakthrough moment. A little piece of knowledge but a life changing one; I know if I hadn’t been able to work out what I needed to eat in a numerical format I’d never have been able to change and sustain this change how I have. I learnt also that a diet shouldn’t be restrictive or cut out any foods completely. It seems obvious, and everyone ‘knows’ that a diet should be sustainable, but until you really hear the ins and outs it can be really hard to believe that the answer isn’t to just diet as hard as you can.

"I used to think I was too old, too overweight to change".

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This was massive for me: I learned how to make a healthy food plan that anyone can do, that is sustainable day to day, that allows you to enjoy meals out with my family and that really does change your life.

Working through the courses and gaining more and more knowledge from different angles and people really helped me in my all round knowledge and keeping me thinking of ways to improve my body and mind.

After they saw my progress, others would say to me “What have you changed? You look so much healthier. Can you give me some tips?” This is when I knew that all that I’ve learnt needs to be used for others.

My interest and motivation were through the roof, and so while I was still studying with BTN I applied for my level 3 personal training diploma. A lot to do at once, I know, but I was determined.

I have now qualified the Body Type Nutrition Academy to become a Nutrition Coach, I am a level 3 Personal Trainer and I couldn’t be happier - But BTN have also helped me appreciate that there is always more to learn, so I am still gaining knowledge through as many courses as I can do. I believe you should never stop progressing yourself.

I am really excited for the future. I have met and affiliated with some amazing people and companies, gaining even more knowledge and inspiration along the way. I even had my own article on MuscleFood Transformations and in Mens Health online magazine USA!

I now run 2 adult Boxercise and circuit classes a week, I have personal training and nutrition clients, and I also run a children’s Boxercise class. On top of this I’ve been able to go into schools - helping children with their health, fitness and knowledge. This is a real passion for me as I know what it’s like to be overweight as a child and most of my life. In the future I see myself spreading my influence and helping more people find a sustainable and enjoyable way to change their health and perspective, I write local magazine articles for now but I would love to go wider with this and teach practical advice that everyone can do – I believe that this is too hard to find.

I can’t wait to see where life takes me and how many people I can help change bodies, mind and confidence not just in themselves but others around them aswell.

I used to think I was too old, too overweight to change. But I know with education, determination and consistency that you can pretty much achieve anything that you want in life.

I went from 98kg – 68kg and from a 39inch waist – 30 inch waist in my mid 30s, and I can’t thank BTN enough for how they have helped me to do that.

Good luck with what goals you have and please contact me through any of the addresses below. I would love to help you in any way that I can.

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