How Luke Hines rediscovered his mojo post-pandemic

Like many of us, nutrition coach and personal trainer Luke Hines piled on the kilos during the pandemic. Here’s how he got his groove back.

When the pandemic kicked into gear, TV presenter Luke Hines decided to loosen the reins on his usual strict fitness and food routines – just for a month or two.

But, stuck in a tiny apartment in Sydney, and with his mental health suffering, Luke says things rapidly went downhill.

“It was like a complete spiral where once I started I couldn’t stop,” he says.

“I wouldn’t exercise as regularly and I made so many food choices I wouldn’t ordinarily make – both the quality and the severe quantity of food.”

He soon cracked the 100-kilogram mark – about 15 kilos above his usual weight.

Mentally and physically off his game

Luke says his appearance became a clear visual representation of his headspace.

“It was really confronting.

“I often believe how we present ourselves on the outside is a reflection of what’s going on inside, and I had let myself go.

“I was flabby in bits that I’d never been flabby, and I had a big tummy.”

Luke’s turning point for change

One day, as he was chasing his dog around on the beach, Luke caught himself puffing.

“I was just like, oh my God, I should not be that tired that quickly from chasing a dog,” he says.

So in the middle of this year he decided to start turning the ship around – so he could not only feel confident in his own skin again, but practice what he preaches as a personal trainer.

Setting achievable goals

Luke says he tried to avoid making a physical goal.

“I didn’t try to say, OK I want abs, I want big muscles.”

Instead he started focusing on making good food and exercise choices based on one goal: loving himself again.

He tried to ditch the negative self-talk, and remind himself that anything was possible.

The important diet factor

Once his head was in the game, Luke focused on choosing healthier food, “because you know that famous quote, you can’t out-train a bad diet”.

He made realistic goals, and took his time.

“I really knew that it was going to be a bit of a process because it was close to 18 months of putting it on, so it’s not going to happen overnight.

“I had to be really kind with myself.”

How small, daily changes make a big impact

Luke, who now weighs 88 kilograms, says his biggest advice to others is to start with small daily changes to keep the momentum going.

For instance, he might swap a chocolate dessert for plain yoghurt and berries, or instead of eating 500 grams of potato for lunch, opt for the lower-carb option of pumpkin, broccoli and avocado.

CSIRO dietitian Pennie McCoy that small, specific goals are key, such as increasing your vegetables, fitting in 10 minutes of exercise, taking your lunch to work or planning a healthy dinner.

Measure your progress with simple strategies such as a check box in plain sight on the fridge, or a food and exercise tracker, she says.

“The hardest part is getting started.”

Find what motivates you

To reboot motivation, Pennie suggests pinpointing your health goals, including the outcomes you want to achieve and where you’d like to see improvements.

“Everybody is different about what motivates them to make changes, so really understand what drives you,” she says.

A health goal might be wanting to feel more energised, to fit into a particular outfit, or just improve your overall wellbeing.

Luke’s other tips to rediscover your mojo

  • Walk as often as you can.
  • Unfollow social media accounts that make you feel crappy.
  • Make sure the company you keep reflects who you are and who you want to be.
  • Think about how you want to spend your free time – for example, do you really want to drink on weekends with friends, or would you prefer to go for a hike?
  • Buddy up with someone else who wants to make changes.
  • Don’t let one day or month of bad eating define who you are.
  • Be patient.

Written by Larissa Ham.