Craig Jackson

Vital Statistics Before Current
Age - 35
Height 5ft 10 -
Weight 11st 6lbs
10st 7lbs
Body-fat % 16.6% 11.8%

Thanks to the power of CrossFit and a MuscleFood diet, Craig Jackson has transformed his body, his condition and his life!

It all started in December 2015, when the unhappiness about his physical condition reached its peak. His mood was adversely affected and he wasn’t getting sleep because of it. But the moment he bought a GPS running watch and took to the roads, everything changed.

Working hard for cardio gains, he improved his performance, but a knee injury cut the exercise time down significantly. This is when he found his true love – CrossFit.

Since then, he has been working hard towards being able to complete a Human Flag. With CrossFit being such a HUGE exercise trend amongst our Muscle Foodies, we had to find out more!

Craig Jackson

Interview with Craig Jackson

Hi Craig! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, and congratulations on making it to a year on your fitness journey. Can you tell us the full story of your transformation up to now?

Back in December 2015 I wasn’t happy about my weight, general mood and my sleep was incredibly poor.  I read that exercise can help with sleep problems so I decided that I would take up running.  I bought a GPS running watch and took to the roads. 

I found it incredibly difficult to run and mainly walked and just managed a loop of 1.9miles.  But with consistency being the key to learning something I committed myself to running 3 times a week, for around 20 - 30 minutes a time.  Quickly, I stopped needing to walk and eventually after around 2-3 months I was able to run nonstop for a distance of 10 miles. 

Over the course of my running I realised that my body was adapting well, even at an age I thought was past any significant physical change.  I wanted to try and complete a Spartan Super run and a mud run so I thought maybe I should try some bodyweight stuff, to prepare for it.

I booked the obstacle course runs and after a bit of YouTubing I started learning some really basic calisthenics e.g. push up and pull ups variations etc.  I purchased a pull up bar, did dips in the kitchen using a worktop corner and bought a suspension trainer. I committed to training with calisthenics for 30 minutes on the days between my running.  A push session one day and then a pull session the next. 

Craig Jackson

In May 2016 I picked up the Complete Calisthenics book and started to try and condition myself to work towards some of the more intermediate calisthenics moves and I started reducing my running days and increasing my workout days. 

At the end, I hit a wall and felt I wasn’t progressing much (or so it felt), I also injured my knee so couldn’t run or cycle. 

Exercise took a slow down, so I needed to find something to get me going again, which led me to CrossFit at CrossFit Spitfire in Norwich. This reignited my passion for exercise and I believe increased my leg strength, which put my knee problem right and improved my core. This meant I could progress a bit further in the calisthenics workouts.

In September I completed my Spartan run, even with a twinge in my knee and felt good about that achievement, as there were a lot of physically demanding obstacles to complete.

Over the 12 months I focused on what I ate.  Tried to eat when I was hungry and not needless snacking, consumed the recommended protein for my body weight and tried to keep within my calorie allowance.

What inspired you to start changing for the better?

I felt like something was missing, I always felt tired, unmotivated and couldn't ever get a decent night’s sleep. I wanted to feel fitter and wanted to do it before it was too late.

Tell me about your life before the transformation.

Life before getting into shape was different.  As I said I had a sleep problem which felt like dominated my life. I was quicker to get stressed and anxious. I also seemed to be a bit grumpy.  The biggest difference was I really found day to day life a bit boring, which in turn made me not very motivated.

Craig Jackson

Did you focus on one big goal to achieve, or did you split it into separate smaller goals to make things more bitesize?

My goal hasn’t changed, as it has always been to be able to do a complete planche and human flag.  I still have a way to go, but from not being able to do anything, I can now do some progressions that look quite good.

Also, my aim as I went through this was to keep it simple.  I wanted to exercise regularly but not have to spend hours at a time training.  So, my focus was the intensity in a workout so a 'how much could I do in 30 minutes?' approach.  I would rest for 30 seconds and no more between exercises. 

I focused on what I ate but still allowed myself to have the odd treat but not like I used to and treated myself frequently every day.  I found new treats that were healthy, which made things easier.

Now let's move onto the food part of this interview. What was the thinking behind building your meal plan?

I cut out junk. After doing this, I realised it's actually quite hard to consume a lot calories if you eat clean. I then focused on the foods that would hit my required protein intake for the day (lean meats for example) and then supplemented it with a couple of protein shakes if needed. 

If I had a day where I had a little cheat (one in seven), I would maybe shave some calories off another day or just make sure I had a run or did some exercise on that day.

Craig Jackson

What are your Muscle Food favourites?

The organic meat balls are awesome, as are the chicken breasts.  Oh, and the hache steaks, the rump steaks and the burgers…  It’s all good!

How far ahead of time do you meal prep? And how do you keep yourself motivated to do so?

I normally get the meats out in the morning to defrost and prepare as I go.  My meals don’t vary that much in the way of main content but they do change on how I cook them, e.g. Spices and Sauces.

I find it easy to keep motivated as I enjoy cooking and after so long of eating pretty clean it just becomes part of your daily routine. It harder when I go out to a restaurant but I just allow those days to be treats and focus more on the following days.

I have found a bowl of porridge with a teaspoon of honey keeps those evening cravings away!

Now for your workout - do you have a favourite exercise?

Press Ups and the endless variations.  I also really like learning to handstand and handstand walk.

Craig Jackson

And one you loathe doing?

Squats.  I’ve always had weak legs and as I have good mobility I find it hard to not sit all the way down.  Which of course loses the tension required to get back up.

Let's delve into CrossFit. What attracted you to it in the first place?

Training alone at home was becoming harder to stay interesting, I had injured my knee so running wasn't happening. So, I wanted to find something that would have a great social aspect as well as something that I hadn’t tried before. 

I never really enjoyed going to a mainstream gymnasium and fancied some kind of classes.  CrossFit Spitfire had just opened on my doorstep so I thought let’s give it a try.  Loved it ever since.

Would you say it's one of the best all-round exercises you can do? And why?

I think CrossFit has its lovers and haters, but I think there are definitely great benefits that CrossFit brings.  The fact that it incorporates so many different aspects of fitness, you get to see and feel the benefits in all kinds of ways.  Cardio and Olympic lifts are top of the list. 

Also, the areas that you may be particularly weak at are compulsory if they are in the workout of the day for that day so you end up having to work on them, which is perfect as we’ve all said to ourselves “ah I’ll skip legs today,” or “I don’t fancy doing core or lower back work.”

This is great as the classes or WOD are written to bring everything together over a period of time and it just seems to work.  Obviously, having great coaches is key and I’m lucky to say that the guys at CrossFit Spitfire know their stuff inside and out.

Have you ever fell of the wagon? And how did you keep yourself motivated to get back on?

As I mentioned earlier it was in August I fell off the wagon. I felt I wasn’t progressing, I was feeling low as I injured my knee so couldn’t run or cycle. 

So, my exercise took a slowdown and I needed to find something to get me going again, this is where CrossFit at CrossFit Spitfire in Norwich came in to reignited my passion for exercise.

Quick fire! Favourite music to work out to?

It has to be old school club hits.

Favourite movie?

I don’t have a favourite movie as such but always enjoy a bit of Monty Python's Holy Grail. I did just watch Rick Froning, which was great.

Craig Jackson

Last two questions - what are your plans for this new year, and do you have a resolution?

This new year is going to be a great one.  I plan on taking CrossFit further and aim to hopefully complete a planche and human flag.

I'm going to try and focus on building strength and particularly in areas I am weak on such as legs. I want to get all the Olympic lifts I am currently learning to an acceptable standard whilst hitting some PBs.

And do you have any inspiring words for the thousands of Muscle Foodies who read this?

It's never too late to start your fitness journey. I thought at 35 I wouldn't be able progress and build muscle, but I did. My advice is to take 30 - 40 minutes out of your day to do some exercise. Focus on the intensity in those minutes and you'll find you get more done and get some great gains.

Not only physical improvement but mentally you'll feel better too. I am a believer of little and often and this is exactly the approach I have taken over the last 12 months.

Muscle Food Final Thoughts

Every transformation story featured on Muscle Food outlines that a good diet and a good workout plan are essential to achieving the results you desire. All transformation stories, exercise routines and diet plans are provided by the customer and have not been checked by a nutritionist or doctor. Results may vary for different individuals.