Three motivations of a bodybuilder

Nathan, our resident fitness man, shares what motivated him to prepare and compete as a bodybuilder earlier this year.

So far this year has been extremely busy for me! With the birth of my baby daughter on Christmas Day last year and the start of some new business ventures you would think I had enough on my plate. However, after winning on my bodybuilding debut last May, I’d been bitten by the bug and wanted to get back on stage again!

Competing in a bodybuilding or physique competition requires a long and extremely strict dieting phase, lots of cardio and a lot of intense weight training. This is to reduce body fat as much as possible whilst maintaining muscle mass. It’s physically hard and extremely mentally challenging. Exhaustion, extreme hunger and bad moods are all part and parcel of the process, not to mention the extra time that needs to be dedicated to meticulously preparing meals and training in the gym. It’s all-consuming and easy to give up.

Nathan with his 2015 1st place trophy

I want to share with you the three factors that kept me motivated during my prep:

This is the only ‘selfish’ reason I have for competing. It’s not possible to complete a successful competition prep without it. I have a huge passion for training, the way it makes me feel and the self satisfaction I get from accomplishing my goals. I absolutely love that sense of achievement and empowerment.

I’m a personal trainer. My accomplishments, image and knowledge all help promote myself and my work. With a recent supplement sponsorship and the launch of some new online business ventures it was important to me to ‘prove my worth’ and increase my profile and credibility in a very competitive industry.
I really want to be someone that my family can be proud of. It’s important for me to show my children that anything is possible if you want it enough and you work hard enough for it. It was also important for me to prove to myself that I could complete this prep with a good element of balance. Competition prep can very easily take over your whole life. It happened to some degree when I competed last year, so I wanted to maintain a good prep/life balance this time around.

These three motivating factors helped push me through the toughest and darkest days of prep, and despite a last minute decision to change the category I was competing in, I managed to take first place and win!

Nathan with his 1st place trophy in May

I try to apply this same way of thinking to other aspects of life. Focus on what you want to achieve, set your goal, put into motion a plan of action and use sources of inspiration to motivate you. With dedication and hard work, anything is achievable!

Nathan is a Personal Trainer in Essex sponsored by MyProtein. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


‘Everyone has an amazing future ahead of them’: Scott McGlynn


Scott McGlynn is a celebrity blogger from South Wales. In the short
memoir, Out, he writes about growing up and learning to celebrate his
identity and sexuality. It’s a story that will resonate with anyone who’s
experienced bullying, teasing or self-doubt.One
small part of Scott’s story is almost identical to mine. I
too looked up ‘gay’ in the dictionary after hearing it as a
slur against me on the school playground. Except the dictionary I
used was quite an old one, and defined gay as being happy. What a beautifully
poetic truth that’s turned out to be.

I asked Scott more about the book and the message he hopes people will take
from it.

Why did you want to write your book?

I always enjoyed writing and love blogging on my own
site. Someone suggested I write a book and I knew it was the perfect
time to help others going through coming out and getting bullied.

How does your book differ from others about including coming

Everyone has a different story to share. Everyone is different. Mine is a story
anyone can relate to for being bullied, whether it’s for being gay, hair
colour, size.

What’s your top tip for anyone inspired to write their story?

If you’re writing a book about your life be honest and go into
detail. People say ‘it must be hard to write about what happened
to you for the world to see’. It was emotional bringing up memories from the
past, but I knew it would help and support others.

In your book, you say you didn’t report school bullies as that would
only give them more power. Do you think action on bullying in schools
is better now?

I hope so! A lot of young people get cyberbullied now through
social media, which wasn’t part of the problem back in my day. It’s upsetting
to me that people sit behind a computer just making comments about other

What impact do you hope the book will have?
I want to let people know if you’re getting bullied or you’re going to come
out, everything will be ok! Everyone has an amazing future ahead of
them. You have an amazing future. Don’t allow people put you

The book ends with your engagement. Congratulations!
How is your future looking?

Thank you! My finance and I are slowly planning our wedding and have
the same ideas for it which is great! We’ll be getting married very soon. Until
then, I’m busy touring and talking about the book.

Out is available to download and buy now from Amazon. You can follow Scott on Twitter @ScottyMcGlynn.


Looking for another great book to read? Check out my suggestions from ‘My Gay Bookshelf‘.



Will Matt be King of the Peaks?

Later this month, Matt King from Essex will be taking on the
Three Peaks Challenge. It’s a race against the clock to climb Ben Nevis in
Scotland, Helvellyn in England and Snowden in Wales all in 24 hours. I found out more about Matt’s motivation for such a big challenge and how he’s been preparing.

Why are you doing the
Three Peaks Challenge?
Giving to charity is
a big deal. I don’t think enough of us realise how good we’ve got I, so I’m
climbing the Three Peaks to support The Sailors’ Society. It’s going to be a life changing challenge. I wanted to
push myself to change my lifestyle and some bad habits I have.

Who are you climbing
the peaks with?

My colleagues Ellis
and Lauren are also taking part and will be key to me actually making it
through the day. We’ll probably want to throw each other off of the mountains
at some point, but their support is going to be essential. Right now, the
encouragement and generousity of my friends and family is also the only thing
keeping me sane.

Have you been
preparing for the hike?
Yes, but probably not
as much as I should have been! We’ve stepped up training over the last few
weeks, walking up and down the famous Leigh cliff steps during our lunch break
and going on longer walks. I’ve also cut down my smoking which has been tough
for me. My goal is to quit before the climb.
What will be the
highs and lows of the day?
The muscle pain and
fatigue is going to be the worst thing. Three mountains in 24 hours is a
stretch for a hiker, let alone me who’s never hiked a mole hill. But I can’t
wait to get to the top of each mountain and feel an inevitable sense of
achievement. Descending Helvellyn as the sun rises will be a moment I’ll never
to forget.
Which peak will be
your favourite to climb?
Ben Nevis will the
most fun, because it’s the first and we’ve got a strategy in place to give
ourselves a strong start. It’s a race at the end of the day! Helvellyn will be
amazing because we’re doing it in the dark and Snowdon to finish will probably
be the hardest, but most rewarding. Each have their pros and cons.

Lauren, Matt and Ellis

Why are you supporting The Sailors’ Society?
The Sailor’s Society help seafarers
across the globe, by providing financial, spiritual or physical aid. The money
we raise will help communities in the Philippines who are still recovering from Typhoon Haiyan that hit the islands in 2013. They’re building homes, fishing boats
and medical so the islands are better prepared for any future disasters.
Spinnaker Global where I work is a recruitment
for firm for the seafaring industry and it’s great to support a cause so close
to our work. We’ve had small fundraisers like bake sales and Woolley Hat Day in
the office, to bigger events like abseiling down the Broadgate Tower last year. But the Three Peaks is definitely our biggest challenge so
It’s definitely a
very physical challenge. Have you always been an active person?
Yes, but what I do has changed over time. In primary school I was playing
football and horse riding, then I was sprinting and long jumping at secondary
school. I kind of lost playing sport when I was at uni in Brighton but was still
walking everywhere. Now I’m living back in Essex and go to the gym, doing plyometrictraining, spin classes and swimming. It just makes me feel better about myself, physically and mentally.

What challenge might
you do next?
I’d like to do a
marathon, but I hate jogging so that might not be for me! If I enjoy the Three
Peaks, another hike outside of the UK could be really interesting.
What’s your top tip
for a gym novice?
Just know that
everyone else is there for the same reason you are. Everyone is looking to
improve an aspect of themselves, whether it’s cardiovascular fitness or losing
weight. I still have to tell myself that people aren’t watching me work out and
judging me for not being able to lift as much or run as long as them. The initial
fear of judgement worries people, but everyone is there to improve.
Ellis and Lauren will be taking on the Three Peaks on Friday 17th June. You can
sponsor them as they raise £5500 for The Sailors’ Society on their JustGiving

‘Grayson Perry: All Man’ Review

There’s a big ‘no man’s land’ in British masculinity. In ‘Grayson Perry: All Man,’ the acclaimed artist treads some of that vast area, to meet men and create artwork that reflects their identity. He journeys alongside the communities of a mining town in County Durham, a housing estate in Preston and the financial City of London. The conclusion in the third and final episode seems somewhat inevitable: ‘Men need to look to the future, like feminists have been doing for decades’.

Rewind to the start and the series opens with timeless image, as Perry stands ringside at a cage fight. Moments later the violence Alex shows as a fighter is replaced by his martyrdom image, wrapped up in a towelling sarcophagus to sweat out the pounds ahead of a weigh in. Perry observes, learns and eases himself into the ritual and continues with the same sensitivity for the places and people he meets throughout the show.

Grayson Perry talking to cage fighters
It’s the self-realisation on camera that makes for an intriguing watch. The first two episodes focus on areas that show the male identity is in crisis: suicide and crime. He meets Thelma, whose son Daniel died from suicide aged 30. ‘Sometimes I think men don’t even know when they are sad’ comments Perry, a sentiment echoed by Daniel’s friends in the pub. Seeing their response and gratitude for the ceramic pot Perry made, inspired by Daniel and the community, is a joy to watch as creator and subject share the art together.

Yet it was the final episode, following men of the City that most captivated me. It started on the traditional noisy trading floor of London Metal Exchange, before showing a more modern City at work. The transactions, trading and technology are quicker, and the buildings shinier but the aggressive male identity hadn’t changed. As one ex-wife said, the ‘sensitive masculinity’ of the City men today was just a slick veil over the same power and aggression.
‘Object in Foreground’ (2016) by Grayson Perry
This led Perry to create the most controversial work of the series: a giant ceramic cock. And the bankers didn’t like it. While the mining and estate communities engaged with the art created for them, and used it to reflect and open themselves up for exploration, the City workers rejected it and defended themselves. ‘You haven’t been derailed from what you wanted to see’ said one. ‘That’s because I haven’t been derailed’ replied Perry. Perhaps there isn’t the same male crisis in the City. But the continued inequality of financial growth shows something’s not right.

No other artist could front such a beautifully shot documentary, and it’s given me a taste to watch Perry’s previous series for Channel 4. The portraits created doesn’t speak for every man, and the overarching generalisation of male aggression and one-upmanship didn’t resonate with me. But the need to look to the future, to see the old communities and old masculinity aren’t totally working now, is a message for everyone to answer.

You can watch all three episodes on All4.


The Facts of My Life: Bongo Ben and CJ Sax

This weekend, We Are Fstvl returns to Upminster with 50,000 dance music fans enjoying headliners Fatboy Slim and Steve Angello. LoveJuice will be there too with their usual mix of international DJs and live musicians, creating what you might call an ‘augmented club music 3D’ sound.
I caught up with LoveJuice regulars Bongo Ben and CJ Sax who finished their own UK club tour last month. They’ve perform everywhere from their hometowns in Essex and the London Olympics to Ibiza and Dubai. Here’s the facts of their lives.
Bongo Ben
My bongos bring so much more than just a sound. They keep me grounded and focussed on my goals. Without them I wouldn’t be able to perform and do everything else that comes with it.
When I first got into percussion I had no music background or experience.  I was a small time promoter, saw a percussionist playing in a local club and straight away loved the sound I heard. A week later I bought a pair of cheap bongos and started practising. A drummer friend of mine gave me a few pointers to get started and also my first booking in early 2010.
You’re only going to get where you want through sacrifices and compromises. I was in a boring, poorly paid 9 to 5 job for a bank but I settled for it to work in the club industry at weekends. I was playing for no fee in order to get my name out there. Every musician has to make sacrifices and compromises throughout their career. You just have to weigh up whether the end result will be worthwhile.

My job is to lay down my creativity to compliment the DJ and bring that extra energy. It’s unique as nearly every party is different, with different genres. You play off the DJ and the crowd’s atmosphere. There’s not many jobs you can define like that.

I most admire percussionists Shovell and Pav. I’ve always been a fan of M people, which Shovell was a part of. Saxophonist Lovely Laura is also fantastic, for her humbleness and professionalism as much as her music.

My parents are my role models. They’re both very different. I’ve tried to take each of their strongest attributes and use them for myself in work and everyday life. The patience and support of my Mum and Dad, my fiancé and everyone else around me has let me make the most of each opportunity.
CJ Sax is the younger brother I never had. We bicker, banter and embarrass each other but when it comes to a gig we will bounce off each other and combine our sets to make the best atmosphere possible. It’s not about knowing when or how to play during a set, it’s about knowing when not to play.
Be humble, be kind and associate yourself with people from all walks of life. Appreciate those that are different from you as you will always learn something.
The harder you work, the luckier you will get.
Follow Ben on Twitter and Facebook

CJ Sax
‘Do better than yesterday, everyday’. It’s not all pool parties and international flights. I was practising for three hours a day after school for my grade 8 saxophone exam. Working hard at my trade is still essential now.
Keep active and keep busy. The more productive you are in the day, the less time you have to worry about stress and other problems. I play football to stay fit and see my friends. Some people think my weekend schedule is too busy to do that as well as performing but I catch up on my sleep during the week.
My role model is Spurs legend Ledley King. He had career-preventing injuries and still managed to play top-flight football every week without training.
I ran the London Marathon for my Dad, who has Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Our relationship has inspired me to live my life as best I can, take the opportunities I’m given, always be grateful and not stress over life’s small problems.
The health and happiness of the ones you love is all that matters. Trust in the path God has given you. Everything has a purpose and grows you as a character. It’s not always easy to see, but will be clear in the long run.
Do a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

Follow CJ on Twitter and Facebook

‘The Sugar Tax won’t work’

This Spring a ‘sugar tax’ was introduced by the UK government on some fizzy drinks to try and tackle the growing problem of obesity in the UK. But the problem with the tax is it won’t work.
Why? Because sugar alone cannot make you fat.

If you are in a ‘calorie deficit’ (that means consuming less calories than you are expending through your daily physical activities) then you won’t gain weight, regardless of how much of those calories are made up from the sugar you eat.

Granted, sugar can spike insulin in the blood, but insulin spikes alone don’t cause weight gain. Excess calories do, and although a diet high in sugar isn’t particularly ‘healthy’, having the odd cake or can of Coke isn’t going to do you much harm. In fact it’s more likely to be detrimental to your dental health than make you fat.

It all comes down to moderation. Sugar shouldn’t make up a large proportion of your diet, but there isn’t a need to cut it out completely. Rather than demonising food groups and taxing food types in an attempt to solve a problem, educating the public properly on nutrition is the only real way to reduce the growing obesity epidemic.

Do you agree or disagree with Nathan? Let us know in the comments below or tweet him @NGBarn84. Nathan is a personal trainer and UKBFF Men’s Physique Champion 2015. He’s competing this month in Birmingham and London.


How did the Marathon Men do?

You might have read my interviews last week with Edd, Tony, Scott ahead of the London Marathon. On Sunday, I was cheering them and another 38,000 runners on their way from Tower Bridge. Here’s how they got on.

Rev Edd completed the marathon in 5:02:32 (5 hours, 2 minutes and 32 seconds). So far he’s raised £3301.20 for Christian Aid.

‘I had a tough run with food poisoning but I feel great to have done it! A big thanks goes to my wife, who gave me the strength to go on.’

Tony with his brother and Mum

Tony finished in 4:14:36 and raised £2006.20 for the British Heart Foundation. He’ll be running the Hackney Half Marathon in just two weeks time.

‘I set out at a relatively comfortable pace, tucking in behind the 4h15 pacemaker and ended up following him the entire way round! I’m so chuffed to have completed my first marathon and even happier to have smashed my fundraising target. As for my plans going forward, I’ll definitely be entering more marathons in the future!’

Scott finished in 4:51:16. He’s raised £720 so far for Havens Hospice, which will doubled by a donation from his employer.

‘I’m just relived it’s done! It was a great experience and the crowd were amazing. I’m glad I completed my second marathon and beat my time from last year!’

Ben with his sister Millie

Ben ran the marathon in 5:21:49. He and teammates have raised around £10000 for Breast Cancer Now by running the marathon. Over the last fives years, they’ve now raised almost £65,000.

‘I’m still in shock that I actually managed to get round, and I’m definitely feeling it now! But the  reaching the end was one of the best feelings ever. It was emotional. I crossed the line crying my eyes out!

I don’t think I could’ve done it without the support of my friends and family, and the whole crowd along the way. The event really wouldn’t be the same without them. I’m really chuffed that we’ve raised so much money. It’s only right for me to carry on, do more and raise more.

To anyone out there considering a marathon: do it. It was hands down the most rewarding experience of my life.’


Four simple ways to kickstart your fitness journey

Starting a new fitness regime can sometimes seem like a daunting prospect. Even the word ‘regime’ sounds intimidating. However it’s very simple to make minor changes in your day to day life that can have a hugely positive impact. These changes benefit your health and fitness, and help your motivation to continue towards a healthier and fitter lifestyle. Here are four great starting points. They sound ridiculously obvious but hopefully they’ll make you focus and start, or restart, small.

Nathan will be blogging about health and fitness for The Men We Are

Drink water
Don’t just add more water, only drink water. Our bodies depend on water to survive. Every cell, tissue, and organ needs water to work correctly. An easy way to do this is to keep a water bottle or glass on your desk. It also gives you a reason to get up from your desk every hour and refill.

Schedule physical activity

It’s too easy to find an excuse not to exercise. The busyness and stress of modern life wears us down, so much so that sometimes just the prospect of exercise itself seems exhausting. Combat this by planning ahead and scheduling regular physical activity into your day, whether it be a morning jog or a lunchtime gym session. Make it an appointment that has to be attended, not something that only occurs when you have ‘spare time’.

Prepare your lunch
Whether you’re still in school or work full time, everyone should be preparing a packed lunch. It saves money, ensures you make healthy, fresh choices and keeps you on target in a nutritional sense. Save time and make your lunches in bulk, with enough sandwiches or salads to last a couple of days.

Cut down your alcohol
I understand the temptation to unwind after a hard day or the social pressure to be at the pub or drinking at parties. But save your liver and cut out weekday drinking. You’ll be cutting out a lot of excess calories too!

This is first blog post from Nathan is a personal trainer in Brentwood, Essex and sponsored by MyProtein. Every month he’ll be sharing some easy health and fitness tips. Got questions? Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


Marathon Men: Ben

Ben, a student in Brighton, is far more comfortable on the rugby pitch than the running track. But then love – and loss – opens our eyes to new challenges and opportunities. 
Ben training with his eldest sister Millie
This is your first time running a marathon. What’s made you sign up?
I made a promise to myself after my crazy family first started running marathons for charity that I would run my own one when I turned 21. It is so far out of my league that I am completely and utterly terrified but at the same time I don’t think I’ve felt this excited about something for a long long time.

Who are you running for?
I’ll be running for Breast Cancer Now. Breast cancer is what took both my beautiful Mum and her Mum away from us. My family have raised over £55,000 so far during the last five years and anything I can do to add to that I’ll be proud of.

How have you enjoyed training?
I definitely feel like my training has been easier because I’ve done it alongside family members who’ve run several marathons between them. I’ve been able to somewhat plan my training a bit better and running with family and friends definitely makes it more enjoyable.  Running with someone is so much easier than running on your own, even if you run in complete and utter silence. The support of having someone there keeping you going or vice-versa really can make a difference.

How does running make you feel?
I’ll be honest, I’m not a natural runner, you only need to look at me to see that! However, I have actually enjoyed the training for this marathon. At times it felt like my body was going to collapse I doubted myself thinking ‘what have I got myself into?’. But the sense of achievement when you finally crawl home and realise that you’ve just covered 18 miles or so really does make it worth it.

What are you looking forward to about the day itself?
It’ll be a good feeling when I meet the rest of my family across the finish line. I know I’ll probably be a bawling baby shortly after because the best feeling will be the sense of accomplishment.

Do you enjoy running by yourself?
Running can be great if you’ve got a lot on your mind. It can really clear your head and help you if you’ve got difficult decisions to make. I used to run with music however my step-dad told me he finds listening to music a crutch of sorts. You’d find yourself keeping in pace with whatever the beat of the music was however that’s not necessarily the right thing for your body.

Do you need to make sacrifices to train for a marathon?
It actually surprised me how much of a commitment running is, you really do need to allocate time for it. My uncle would be up and running at 4am because he literally wouldn’t have time if not then. I’ve still managed to maintain a social life whilst I’ve been training. The only thing that’s really been a sacrifice is I haven’t played rugby since Christmas because I didn’t want to risk an injury.

What’s your top tip for a new runner?
Make sure you invest in a pair of proper running trainers or you’ll only be hurting yourself. Don’t worry about distance or time when you begin training, it’ll all come together in time anyway. I’ll try to keep running after the marathon for general fitness I think, next year is going to be my last at uni so I’d like that particular season to be my best yet.

How have your family and friends supported you so far?
My family have always been supportive of one another in everything we do and I know my sisters are always there if I ever need a phone call. The best way people can support me and rest of my family running the marathon is to donate! Leave a nice message too, my plan is to read all of the sponsors the night before the marathon for a bit more of a push to get round.

The loss you live with and the sad deaths of your Mum and Dad is tragic. How has it shaped your outlook on life?
I’ve had some really really low points, losing my mum was horrible but losing my dad very nearly broke me. I wasn’t myself for a long time and it took me a while to get back to who I am. I’m not one to think ‘everything happens for a reason’. I don’t want to think that way. No matter what, you have to make the best of any situation.

I’m constantly questioning whether or not they would be proud of me and the only way I can convince myself is to constantly push myself to do better. I wouldn’t call myself a religious person but I know that my Mum and Dad will be cheering me on during the Marathon somewhere.

Ben and his family are running for Breast Cancer Now, who fund research into prevention, early detection and effective treatment of breast cancer. You can sponsor them on their Virgin Money Giving page or leave a good luck message in the comments below.


Marathon Men: Scott

The depth of the crowd running the London Marathon this Sunday will be matched by a depth of motives. Maybe they’re taking part for the love of running, for a new challenge or to raise money for a favourite charity. Scott, a Corporate Banker from Benfleet in Essex, is running for all three reasons.
Scott with his medal from last year’s London Marathon

This is your second year running the London Marathon. What’s brought you back?

I enjoyed the challenge of running it last year and now I want to beat my personal best this time round.

What’s been your highs and lows of training?
It’s good to relieve stress after a long day at work. Running allows me to gather my thoughts and reflect on things. Getting injuries and illness can be demoralising after training hard but you need to stay positive and work on recovering as soon as possible.

How much of a commitment is it to train alongside a busy work life?
It is difficult to get yourself up for training but you need to stay focused on the end goal. It becomes a challenge when you have had a long day at work but you need to force yourself out there!

Who are you running for this year?
I am running for Havens Hospices, which is very close to my heart as my late Godmother passed away comfortably because of their amazing support.

What other running/sport achievements do you want to fulfil?
I would like to do a marathon in another country. Maybe NYC will be next!

How have your family and friends supported you so far, and what’s the best way people can support you?
Family and friends can provide support by encouraging you to train but ultimately you need to stay focused on the end-goal yourself.

Scott is running for Havens Hospices. They are ‘making every day count’ for the adults and children with life-limiting illnesses and their families. Like many in South Essex, my family have been helped by Havens before. You can sponsor Scott on his JustGiving page or leave a good luck message for him in the comments below.