For someone who made his name five years ago with a food and fitness empire based around shedding body fat, Joe Wicks – aka The Body Coach – has a remarkably different perspective on life now.
“My Lean In 15 brand was all about physical transformation and how you’re going to lose weight,” Wicks admits. “But as time has gone on, I’ve realised that the most important thing is the mental health benefits of exercise.”
The 34-year-old now has two young children, Indie and Marley, with wife Rosie Jones. “When you’re younger, it’s very much about body image and looking a certain way, but then I started to realise I exercise to feel good, to have energy, to be better with my kids and more patient,” he explains. “Do it for yourself, change your mood – that’s the important message that people don’t often think about.”
30 Day Kick Start Plan is Wicks’ ninth book in five years, and he’s been a constant online presence throughout 2020 with his virtual PE lessons – for which he was awarded an MBE in October. With so much exposure, you might think we’d have reached ‘peak Joe Wicks’ – but it’s hard not to be endeared by his genuine enthusiasm for getting people healthy.
To be clear – his latest book isn’t about encouraging a crash diet. Wicks doesn’t think anyone can “transform their life in 30 days”, he says. But he believes you can start good habits and feel some momentum. He sees 30 days as a “nice, manageable timeframe” to start your journey to wellness – “with the hope that it’s going to have a longer-term effect on people’s mental health”.
Wicks has realised if people want to permanently change their life for the better, looking good is “not a big enough motivator”.
“In this book I talk a lot about how exercise is going to make you feel, how it’s going to give you more energy and change your mood,” Wicks explains. “And by focusing on that and focusing on sleep, goal setting and all these emotional things, I believe that is a really positive way of transforming your life.”
These are extras to the main event of the book: 100 new meals. “I’m really proud of the recipes,” Wicks says – but it was an uphill battle coming up with his 900th lot of new ones.
“It’s getting harder and harder, because it is difficult to come up with really new, creative ideas,” Wicks admits. “I’m always thinking about making comfort food healthy, so burgers, pizzas, pies and things. Yes, it’s getting more challenging, but I still love it.”
So why has Wicks’ food won so many fans? “The truth is my recipes are very basic, they’re very simple and quick,” he says. “I think that’s the reason I’ve sold so many books, because you know with me you’re getting a really simple recipe that you can follow at home.”
You won’t see any overwhelming details about calories or macros in this book. One of Wicks’ biggest criticisms of the dieting industry is the “pressure to not only cook really healthily and exercise, but you’ve also got to track your calories and know your macros and all this stuff”, he says. “I’m healthy and fit and I’ve never tracked my calories. I don’t know how much I eat, I just know if I eat three meals a day, and I don’t eat loads of chocolate and junk food, lay off the booze and have a few treats, I just get leaner.”
Wicks doesn’t want healthy eating to be about “depriving yourself on this really restrictive, low-calorie diet”, he says, “yeah, it works and you can lose weight, but it’s miserable, and you’re soon going to regain the weight.”
You will probably shed some pounds if you follow Wicks’ new plan, but that’s not the only side effect. “It’s more that you’re going to feel happier, you’re going to wake up feeling more productive, and you’re going to look forward to doing it,” he says.
30 Day Kick Start Plan: 100 Delicious Recipes With Energy Boosting Workouts by Joe Wicks, photography by Andrew Burton, is published by Bluebird, priced £18.99. Available now