Golf Monthly editor Mike Harris lists the products that have helped him on his weight loss journey
20 Products That Helped Me Lose 5 Stone/70lbs And Get Golf Fit
Since my teenage years I’ve always struggled with my weight. I played a lot of sports but I also loved my food and in my teenage years developed a taste for alcohol that has stayed with me all my life.
As I got into my 20s and 30s I played less sport but ate the same and drank more. I became what’s known as a ‘contented fatty’.
Looking back at pictures of ‘fat me’ I can’t believe I was that overweight; but at the time I didn’t think it was affecting my health and certainly not my ability to play golf.
At the start of 2017 I decided to do something about it. Motivated by a bit of a mid-life crisis, a desire to be around to walk my daughter down the aisle when she gets married and knowing that being more mobile, flexible, fitter and stronger could not only improve my golf game but also help prevent injury (definitely more of a factor as you get older), I committed to losing weight and getting fit.
The figures from the body composition scales show where I started and where I am now. In March 2017 I weighed 18st (111kg) and my body fat was 30%. Fast forward to 2020 and I now weigh 13st (82kg) and my body fat is 10.5%.
I turned 50 in August and I have never felt fitter – both physically and mentally – and I know that’s helped my golf. I’ve increased my flexibility, picked up swing speed and stayed injury free. Being on top of my fitness and nutrition has also helped me deal with a demanding (but very enjoyable) job and deal with some huge challenges in my personal life – both of which a few years ago would have had me reaching for a beer, glass of wine or a whisky (or maybe all three) as my go-to coping mechanism.
So here are the 20 products that really helped me on my journey. I’ve selected them with golf in mind but many have a much wider application for anyone wanting to feel better. I’m lucky to have a garage in which to store all my exercise equipment but most of it (bike, bench and vertical climber aside) could easily be stored in a cupboard and used in a small space at home.
One thing to say up front is I’m not an expert in exercise or nutrition but I have taken a lot of time to understand the science of nutrition and learn about exercises that build cardiovascular fitness, increase flexibility and increase strength in the key areas that will help power my golf swing.
There are some amazing content creators out there who help make exercise and nutrition really accessible content – links are below check them out. Knowledge is power so take the time to learn.
I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way. I’ve also had lightbulb moments that have helped me get past plateaus and ultimately to a place where I feel in command of my fitness and nutrition
Finally, this is also an open invitation to get in touch and ask me any questions about my journey. You can email me at email@example.com or follow me on Twitter @MikeHarrisGolf where I post a lot about golf and fitness.
If I can do it, so can you!
20 Products That Helped Me Lose 5 Stone And Get Golf Fit
I’ve been a member of a gym for three years and that commitment definitely kick-started my journey. But for much of the Covid pandemic the gym was closed, so the home exercise gear I had already accumulated really came into its own and I’m now at the point where I’m about to cancel my membership and just workout at home.
SportsTech SX200 Indoor Exercise Bike
I’m not, and never have been, a runner. I have an old ankle injury from my football playing days that flares up when I run so I use this spin-style bike for my cardio work.
It’s not the cheapest model (although it’s also not the eye watering price of a Peloton or WattBike) but it’s really very well constructed.
The 22kg flywheel provides a smooth ride and the comfortable seat means I can happily spend an hour-plus in the saddle with the iPad or phone on the stand watching YouTube vids or my football team (Everton FC) let me down. I alternate long rides with HIIT (high intensity interval training) sessions that I’ve found a very effective weight loss and fat burning tool.
Like all spin bikes the resistance pad gets dried out to a point where it squeaks. So, to help lubricate it, I use this WD40 Silicon Spray every month or so and it sorts the problem.
UK Buy Now at Amazon for £529
Apple Watch Series 6
Despite being a huge Apple fan and having never used anything other than a Mac for work, it took me a long time to get on board with the Apple Watch. But I now couldn’t imagine being without it.
It has so much functionality to track your exercise and it motivates you to do more. Everything from heart rate readouts (important for HIIT training) and reminders to move, to the ability to at a glance check progress against your goals. Plus you can swim in it, have fitness competitions with friends, play music from it. The list goes on!
What’s more, it’s even great for golf; until I got it I’d never been able to wear a watch for golf as I found it cumbersome but I don’t even notice I have the Apple Watch on. As an extra benefit as an Arccos user you can get yardages and mark flag positions – so you can leave your phone in your bag during the round.
(Other fitness watches are of course available!)
UK Buy Now at Apple from £379
Seconds Pro Interval Timer
This is the app I use to create my HIIT sessions. I’ve used others but this is the best one. I love the colour-coded intervals which provide a clear reminder of that you are meant to be smashing it (or getting your breath back) and the countdown beeps that tell you to get ready to change up. There is a free version, but for £4.99 you get editable training sessions and other nifty features.
Atemi Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are super affordable and allow you to stretch for better flexibility and increase strength. I always keep one in my golf bag to help with a pre-round warm-up before teeing off and use them a lot in my exercise routines.
UK Buy Now at Amazon for £7.95
US Buy Now at Amazon for $5.95
Gritin Resistance Bands
I use these around my legs to add resistance to standard squats and lateral squats – both of which help create more leg strength which is crucial for generating a more powerful, explosive swing.
UK Buy Now at Amazon for £7.99
Maxi Climber Vertical Climbing Cardio Exercise Machine
This was an early investment and although it’s been overtaken by the spin bike as my go-to cardio workout it still provides a solid workout and is a great-value bit of kit. It folds up so it doesn’t take up much space. You can get much more expensive versions that allow you to alter the resistance but I add resistance bands to make it harder!
Everlast Omniflex Punch Bag
I love a good session on this, either as part of a HIIT routine or to just release some frustration after a hard day’s work or a bad round on the golf course.
This punch bag is a newer version of the one I have but it’s the same free-standing design. The main feature is the flexible ‘neck’ which is designed to absorb impact and reduce the base movement (you fill the base with water or sand).
Ultimate Workout Bench
This great-value Men’s Health-branded fitness bench has six adjustable positions including upright, flat, incline, and decline, meaning you can train your arms, abs, shoulders, chest and back. The removable front pad allows you to do isolated preacher curls that work the forearm and biceps, while the adjustable foam footrests provide an anchor point during abdominal exercises.
MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell
These dumbbells are expensive but they’re really, really good. The clever, quick-change system (just press the release button, turn and click) means you can easily and quickly adjust up and down in 2.5 kg increments from 5kg to 32.5kg – which is frankly enough for anyone other than body builders.
The system is much less fiddly than undoing spinlocks, adding or subtracting weights and doing the spinlock up again – and the space saved versus a rack of dumbbells is significant.
The Men’s Health branded ones I have seem to be no longer available (or I couldn’t find them!) but there are a number of other options with the same design including these Muscle Squad ones
UK Buy Now at Amazon for £250 per dumbbell
Under Armour Fitness Apparel and Footwear
Just as I’d wear golf-specific apparel and shoes when I tee it up, so I wear specific fitness gear for working out. There are a ton of sports brands that produce good fitness gear but for me Under Armour is the best of the best.
When I started going to the gym I wanted gear that performed but was understated and didn’t make me feel self conscious amidst a load of gym bunnies with ripped physiques. Under Armour did it for me. Black, grey and dark blue were, and in fact still are, my go to colours (but I now wear size Medium rather than XL!). The technical fabrics are lightweight, stretch with your movements, allow sweat to wick away and can be washed, tumble dried and be ready to wear again the next day.
There are a lot of great-value entry-level products that perform very well but if you want to invest a bit more the RUSH range is super comfortable and stylish while Under Armour’s ColdGear REACTOR items keep you warm without adding bulk. My current HOVR Apex 2 trainers are the best multi function footwear I’ve ever worn. Sign up to the UA newsletter and you get notified about new lines (dangerous!) but also sales often with very generous (up to 50%) discounts.
UK Buy Now from Under Armour
Massage or Muscle Guns are increasingly popular and Theragun is acknowledged to be one of the best on the market. It uses Percussive Therapy to help ease tight muscles, aches and pains. I use it pre-workout or before a round of golf to help with warm up and then if I’m feeling a bit achy after 36 holes or a big workout. The ergonomic design allows you to effectively target problem muscles and areas for immediate benefit while the Quiet Force technology means it’s not much louder than an electric toothbrush.
I have the PRO model which is the most expensive ( it has the most number of attachments and features) but the range starts at just £175 with the Mini which is very portable and can fit in your golf bag for mid round pain relief.
There’s a great free app that connects via bluetooth to your Theragun (all models except Mini) with lots of protocols for various sports including golf and ones to target specific muscles or areas of the body. A seriously good bit of kit that can benefit golfers of all ages.
UK Buy Now at Therabody UK for £549
US Buy Now at Therabody US for $599
Decathlon Reversible Balance Station
This is a low-cost version of a BOSU ball (which stands for Both Sides Up). As the name suggests you can use it either side up with the common factor being that its ‘wobbly’ nature means it tests your balance on every exercise and means you have to engage your core muscles – which are so important in golf swing.
This Decathlon version is about half the price of the ‘official’ BOSU ball but I’ve used both and I can’t really see the difference. It came with some detachable resistance bands with handles that I don’t tend to use but which give you some more options. The number of exercises you can do with this piece of equipment is phenomenal. Hands down the best £50 I have spent on fitness gear.
UK Buy Now at Decathlon for £49.99
Decathlon Push Up Wheel Grips
Another great piece of low cost kit from Decathlon. There are various detachable elements that clip and unclip giving four uses.
The basic handles let you do deeper press-ups while the using the clip-in rounded base produces unstable press-ups which are more difficult as this engages the core muscles more because you have to work to retain balance. For a while I was struggling with a shoulder injury on my left side that stopped me doing normal press-ups. Using this device really helped take the pressure off the shoulder.
With the wheels on it turns into an Ab Wheel-style device where, from a kneeling position, you push forwards and then back to work your abs. The wheeled base also lets you place your feet on them to work your legs – although I have never done this!
UK Buy Now at Decathlon for £10.99
ENACFIRE Wireless Headphones
I love music, no more so when I’m working out and having wireless in-ear headphones allow me to be inspired by my favourite tracks but without the fuss (and frankly danger) of wires or getting sweaty ears with big on-ear headphones.
These ENACFIRE headphones have been faultless. It’s easy to pay four times more for big-name brands but these have performed superbly – I have used them almost every day for more than a year and they’re good as new. They’re sweatproof, the sound is great, they last for a good 4 or 5 hours and then charge quickly in the small compact case.
UK Buy Now at Amazon for £29.99
US Buy Now at Amazon for $39.99
As soon as you start getting into nutrition and fitness you’ll start coming across the phrase “you can’t outrun a bad diet” And while It’s true that if you constantly overeat you’ll struggle to lose weight no matter how much exercise, for me running at a significant calorie deficit (i.e burning more calories than you consume) has NOT been the answer.
Yes I watch what I eat in terms of both the quantity and quality of food I consume (MyFitnessPal has been key for me), but adopting a Low Carb diet and getting into Intermittent Fasting, where I only eat in an 8 hour window each day (normally between noon and 8pm, has been the code cracker.
Both of them directly affect my response to insulin. I’m not going to try and explain the science of it here (frankly I’m not qualified to do it or intelligent enough to precis the research), but I can guarantee that if you are overweight then your body’s response to insulin will be a key factor.
I’ve put a lot of links to reference sources at the bottom of this piece and I’d urge you to educate yourself because I believe a lot of perceived wisdoms around limiting calories, fats being bad for you and the health benefits of snacking are just not true and are holding people back from losing weight and feeling better.
The standard MyFitnessPal (MFP) app is free and a great tool for logging your food intake. But, while getting a handle on everything you eat and understanding the calorific value of foods is a key element of any weight loss plan, I believe paying £40 a year is worth it as it unlocks so many more features and allows you to get a much deeper understanding of nutrition, especially Macros.
There are 7 Macros (Macronutrients) but understanding and adjusting the amounts you consume of the three main ones – proteins, fats and carbohydrates – are key to weight loss for a lot of people, including me.
Carbs aren’t evil but, for me, limiting them – especially processed ones with high sugar content that raise insulin levels – hold a big key to weight loss. The effects of raised insulin levels are well documented and getting mine under control have been the springboard to success.
In a nutshell MFP allowed me to accurately track my carbohydrate intake both in terms of total grams (I try to keep it under 100g a day, the definition of a low carb diet) and for it to be no more than 20% of my overall Macros, with fats (good ones that help you feel full) making up around 50% and protein (for muscle building) the remaining 30%.
There are a lot of other features you get with the Premium like the ability to deep dive on the nutrition breakdown of individual foods, personalised meals plans and I do believe the more you understand what you’re eating the better the choices you make.
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
One of the things that helps me keep my insulin levels under control is Apple Cider Vinegar. I have a tablespoon with water first thing in the morning and then another in a drink with lemon juice and sparkling water later in the day if I’m in need of something refreshing but that isn’t sugary and won’t raise my insulin levels.
I use the De Nigris brand, which is available from my local supermarket but I couldn’t find it online; however Braggs is recognised as top quality and more widely available. The brand is not important but whichever you choose it does need to be 100% organic and contain ‘the Mother’ – which is basically all the good stuff.
UK Buy Now at Amazon for £6.95
US Buy Now at Amazon from $3.83
The Turmeric Co – Turmeric shots
The benefits of turmeric centre around its primary bioactive substance curcumin, which is a powerful polyphenol with anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to increase the amount of antioxidants our body produces.
I have found it really helps with post-workout muscle soreness, aches and pains – all of which I have felt a reduction in since starting to take the shots. I also think my sleep has improved. Sleep is so important for recovery and feeling refreshed and ready to work out again the next day.
There are three versions, original turmeric, turmeric and ginger and my personal favourite turmeric and beetroot. The taste wont be to everyone’s palette and at £2 a shot it might seem quite pricey but there are often deals and discounts with some good savings on offer if you buy in bulk.
UK Buy Now at Amazon for £27.95 (box of 9)
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder
Getting adequate protein in your diet is key to building muscle and maximising the benefits of strength training. Protein powder is an easy way to ensure you’re hitting your daily goals. There are many protein powders out there; Optimum Nutrition (or ON as fitness folks call it) seems to be recognised as a market leader.
My favourite flavour is Vanilla Ice Cream – and the bigger the pack you buy, the cheaper the per serving price. I like it with Greek yoghurt and a combination of berries, All Bran, chia seeds and pecans or walnuts. It’s a tasty treat that helps lock in the gains.
UK Buy Now at Amazon for £23.95
Optimum Nutrition Micronised Creatine Monohydrate
Another popular ON product; Creatine monohydrate is a supplement which has been highly researched and shown to support muscle strength, power and size when combined with high-intensity activities. It’s recommended that you ‘cycle’ Creatine – in other words, you don’t take it all the time or else there’s a risk that your body stops getting the benefits. As with the protein powder it’s all about maximising the returns from your hard work.
UK Buy Now at Amazon for £12.69
Xellerate Nutrition BCAA tablets
I take BCAAs after I have lifted heavy weights but am not eating for a while (ie while I’m in the fasting window) to help stimulate protein synthesis but without taking anything (ie a protein powder) that would break my fast.
BCAAs also help muscles recover faster, reducing soreness and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which I suffered with before discovering them. Alongside the turmeric shots and using the Theragun I have found I now rarely get sore muscles. The 1000mg tub contains 425 tablets which is enough for 141 days.
UK Buy Now at Amazon for £20.97
Brew Dog PUNK AF Alcohol Free Beer
I love beer! My Twitter profile pic is me having a beer at a bar in St Andrews. It’s my go-to drink but not only is it calorie laden and carb heavy, but if I have a couple I get a taste and it often leads to more, and then maybe some wine and perhaps a whisky or two after which, my discipline around what I eat (and sticking to my fasting window) tends goes by the wayside. The next day I then feel sluggish and am less likely to have a good workout. In short, lots of downsides!
So I try to limit my drinking these days and I’ve seen and felt the benefits. However there are times when I really fancy a beer and rather than it being all or nothing the new breed of alcohol-free beers like BrewDog’s ‘PUNK AF’ and Shipyard ‘Low Tide’ do the job of making me feel like I’ve had a cold one but without the negatives. You’ll need to try a few to find one you really like but they are a million times better than they used to be!
UK Buy Now at Amazon for £23.99 (pack of 12)
Links to great Exercise and Nutrition content providers
Nutrition, Intermittent Fasting, Insulin Response, Low Carb, Apple Cider Vinegar, HIIT exercise and Strength Training
Dr Rangan Chatterjee
- Podcast with Satchin Panda on Time Resticted Eating
- Podcast with Prof Tim Spector on Nutrition and the Myths of Snacking
Golf Fitness experts on Twitter
- Jamie Greaves @JGGolfFitness
- FitForGolf @Fit_For_Golf
Resistance Band workouts
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