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How to get a little fitter every day

Many aspiring athletes start their fitness adventure with big ambitions. Big plans to move mountains immediately are fun, but not necessarily feasible. Men’s Health asked two athletes with completely different lifestyles to share their tips for not just getting fit, but staying that way. Dwayne Zandvliet, 29, is a new father with a passion for football and fitness while 22 year old Antonie Lokhorst is a full-time content creator and does callisthenics.

What does your life look like now?

Dwayne: "I'm a father of two daughters - which can be challenging at times, as I work four days a week in construction - and I'm also an active content creator. On top of that comes football and fitness. Sometimes it is a bit of a puzzle, but it usually works out well. My goal is to make the transition to fulltime content creator in the coming years.”

Antonie: “Sometimes I am extremely busy and then there are periods when I have more time. That's kind of the life of an online content creator. Fortunately, I always manage to organise it in such a way that I get around to the things that are really important —) like taking good care of myself.”

How did you get started in fitness?

Dwayne: “I was really into football and training at the gym on the side, but when I stopped training, I had to find something else to do to keep fit and have fun. From that moment on, I started setting real goals to gain weight and I really got the hang of it.”

Antonie: “As a child I played football, water polo and basketball. When I was a bit older, I discovered cycling. This was the first sport that I really got into. But when I went to the gym after getting my personal trainer certificate, I felt like an outsider — because I looked like a cyclist. People only listen to what they want to see. So I decided to do 90 days of strength training. That went so well that I never stopped. 30 minutes a day was good enough.”

Where do you get your knowledge from?

Dwayne: “In the beginning, I always went to guys who were older and stronger. They had more experience and helped me to really go flat out in terms of intensity. That's how I learned all the principles. But you are never too old to learn, I think. That is why I have been working with a personal trainer again for the past two years. He also helps me to keep pushing myself further, and to develop my knowledge.”

Antonie: “I followed a training for fitness trainer level 2. The rest I supplemented with a lot of reading and especially doing it myself. Especially the latter really gave me a lot. I keep experimenting every day to stimulate myself.”

What is your secret to achieving your goals?

Dwayne: "Without discipline and willpower, you're nowhere. Starting is very easy. You just go to the gym with the intention of losing or gaining weight. But the key is to stick with it. You have to take small steps and keep at it. Ask people who know how they do it. Stay curious to learn more. This also prevents you from going on automatic pilot.”

Antonie: “Things easily get stuck in my head. So I have an agenda and I diligently write down what I have to do. That is a list of 20 things a day. But I do use it to keep an overview. Because I notice that if I don't train for a while, I feel less good. Then I can't enjoy other things as well. My head doesn't feel right, and so my energy doesn't either.” "Counting calories fits in with a goal, but not with my lifestyle."

How do you tackle it in terms of nutrition?

Dwayne: "I find nutrition the most difficult. I can give it my all in the gym, but I still struggle a bit with nutrition. I can still get more out of it. But I always watch the carbohydrates and proteins. Carbohydrates help me get enough energy, and eating enough protein provides the right building blocks for muscle mass and recovery. I usually eat very clean for 3 months and then I relax a bit. That's my balance.”

Antonie: “For years I tried to eat everything to gain weight. Without knowledge, at that time. I just followed what I saw on the internet. By chance it went well for me. Because I kept talking to people about how I could do better. But I never focused specifically on calories. I think if you're really going to count calories, you need to have a goal. So gaining weight, losing weight, or doing top-level sports. But for a casual, sporty life, that's really not necessary for me.”

Do you also use supplements?

Dwayne: “Yes, because I find nutrition difficult, supplements are the way to make gaining weight a little easier. You can get your protein from food, but a protein shake after training helps me a lot - without having to think about it. In the morning I also take protein powder through the ground oatmeal, with a bit of dextrose for quick energy - a sort of homemade mass gainer. And I'm also a fan of creatine and pre-workout, to perform even better in the gym. With that, I can really go for it.”

Antonie: “I want to have a high intake of protein because I do a lot of sport. And because I like protein shakes, I always take them. I also take fish oil to keep my heart, vessels and brain healthy. I don't take real mass gainers, because I already get my macros from my daily diet. So nature provides me with the basics and a few supplements complement that. That way I am 100 per cent sure that I am safe.”

Is your busy life a challenge?

Dwayne: “Yes, finding energy and time is sometimes difficult. All the time I can find, I use for sports. Especially during fatherhood. People said that it would disappear when I became a father, but I find that I need those moments to stay sharp and energetic. So I would advise all future fathers to keep going. If sport is important to you, don't just let it go.”

Antonie: “After a few years of working out, I started a quest to find out what fitness really is... in the beginning you have your 5-day split, but there is so much more than that. Nutrition, meditation, working on yourself. Reading articles and continuing to develop yourself is super important. Both for your progress and for your pleasure.”

Will you keep doing this forever?

Dwayne: “Many people see fitness as a burden. But for me it is a form of relaxation, even though it is very intensive. I can put my energy into it, but it also gives me energy. And satisfaction. I notice that I become very lazy and inactive if I don't keep training. So I invest energy to get even more energy. So I'm going to continue forever”

Antonie: “Yes, I will definitely continue. I started with fitness and now I'm mainly doing calisthenics. Maybe it will be something else later on. You never know how it goes. I try to keep stimulating myself with sport. That also gives me more space for other things. Tonight I am having cocktails, but I have also been training. That is my balance”