• Ollie Horsfall

Insanity: A Decade-Long Journey

Updated: Mar 28

I haven't weighed myself recently, actually, I haven't weighed myself since I started Insanity (Round 4) I didn't start the working out in order to lose weight, but in order to feel better about my self, and be happier when I look in the mirror. I am, I'd estimate I've lost around 20kg (3.1st) since last year. I'm considerably fitter, and in some ways I have a bunch more energy.

If you don't know what Insanity is, I'll lay it down for you thanks to webmd.com:

Insanity is a total body workout that requires no gym or equipment. You exercise right at home, using your own body weight for resistance. The program is based on a fitness method called "max interval training." In traditional interval training, you exercise at a very intense pace for a short period of time, and then rest for longer periods in between. The idea is to increase your aerobic fitness level while burning fat.
Max interval training has you work as hard as you can for 3-minute intervals, with 30-second periods of rest in between. According to the Insanity web site, exercising at this extreme intensity level will help you burn up to 1,000 calories an hour.

I started Insanity back in 2010 after seeing the infomercial. My first round was relatively successful but the dietary requirements for it were expensive at the time and not as easily accessed as they are now.

So my results, a clear as they re here, weren't quite the best.

I've always struggled with my weight, a factor of genetics and too much eating. Strangely I've also always enjoyed fitness, it just used to be very difficult as I was so unfit. I used to go up and down like a yo-yo and I always wanted to be better, but the bad habits always got in the way. I'd argue not much has changed in that regard, other than the fact I'm more willing to stay committed now, a learning curve that took 8 years to noticeably improve on.

As you can see on the 60th day of my first round, I am still overweight, though much improved on where I was. I saw something to be proud of, but my face is one of someone still vastly unhappy with how he looks. (I think I was trying to look cool)

My next round that I managed to complete came in 2014. I have just broken up with my first and only long-term relationship. One that lasted 5 years and included a civil partnership. I decided to, in my most infinite wisdom set the goal to 'Be desired, not the one desiring'.

I had grown tired of being the guy who had crushes on, what felt like, the unattainable. Why shouldn't I become unattainable? Whilst vaguely deluded, it was a goal and I was ready to achieve it.

This time I was doing Insanity in order to focus on myself. My happiness. Something that had probably taken a backseat to fixing a broken relationship that unfortunately was never going back to the way it was.

I started dating again and very quickly met someone new, which was a problem in of itself: I didn't know how to be alone. Insanity in this case was being used as a crutch just as much as a new relationship.

I miss this T-Shirt

I was taking a selfie after every workout at this stage on Instagram to keep myself honest and to see the progress:

The new relationship broke up 9 months later. It wasn't a great relationship, if we had been honest we were friends who slept together and didn't really try beyond that. He broke up with me , and it was definitely the best thing he could have done for the both of us. Though at the time it was the first time I had been rejected by someone I thought I loved.

This was the same year that I was removed unjustly from playing Emmett in a production of Legally Blonde (I would have been great by the way), unfairly dismissed from my job of 2 years. The break-up actually came first and the roll down-hill was long and arduous leading me to attempt suicide.

This time Insanity was a distraction and a false start, I was doing it to get fit for the show. Then when I was removed from the show it had no real purpose, so, due to a yet-to-be diagnosed illness I fell on something I've never actually openly stated before: I started to make myself sick after eating. I recognise now that I was trying to control a part of my life that I had no control over. If I ate whatever I wanted I could just be sick afterwards and it works just as well as Insanity without all of the physical effort.

That's twisted. I want to make that clear. This was a product of isolation and sadness and not of anything else. I was never going to be happy when I looked in the mirror because no matter how I looked I was going to feel empty regardless. 2015 I managed to keep up Insanity for a month and then I gave up, however I still managed to lose a significant amount of weight in one of the most unhealthy ways possible.

After an already rough year I moved into a fairly nice house with a crazy woman for a landlady. I was a lodger and as such I was basically under the thumb of someone looking to replace her own child. She didn't understand my need for isolation and would also come into my room while I was out. Not okay. I was still very much being sick at this point and secretly, though signs were of course there and I think she knew. I was in a messed up way. I was a crazy boy living with a crazy woman - not a good mix. So I decided to go away for the weekend - I came to Prague to see my friend Will who I had not seen for 4 years since we had worked together.

In turn Will introduced me to Petar and that sparked the beginning of a now four-year long relationship. Case in point:

Petar was being purposefully mean to me this evening. (It didn't last)

Why is this relevant to Insanity? Well this lead to me getting diagnosed as clinically depressed and starting medication in order for me to start getting better. I was too ashamed to tell anyone about my eating disorder but it started to subside as soon as I had someone to care for. I was cast in two shows and I started writing a play that Petar started writing music for. TEARS.

Okay okay, so it was a long time until I started Insanity again. In fact from 2016 to 2019 it was briefly attempted - for three days - I got a cold, and then I got depressed - my medication stopped working. THEN I was given a bunch of ill fitting medication in order to fix it by a private doctor who did a terrible job. This medication took away my personality and my drive, leading to me being on sick-leave for 3 months - leading to isolation, sadness, emptiness and guilt - none of which were conducive to making me better... that was a year of trying my best to get better and failing. I wanted to get fitter but I couldn't push myself to do it.

I gave up pretending to be happy for a while. People soon distanced themselves from me.

It's not like I was out to be self-destructing but 2017 proved to be a year where I couldn't quite bring myself together. I was working, but I was never satisfied with my job and I was still struggling with a life that felt out of my control because it was being run by other people. Other people who didn't understand or even try to. My ties to people other than Petar felt tenuous and artificial and this lead to any new relationships I formed with people being out of necessity rather than wish. So I made a decision. I ended up being off work on sick-leave due to depression for the latter part of the year and during this time I attempted suicide again. I don't think I meant to die, but I wasn't in control of my actions. Something had to change but I didn't know what. After that attempt I started seeing my psychiatrist who put me on to new medication that has since helped me a lot.

2018 was a whirlwind actually. It started with Carnival Row, which lead to a few short films, which lead to a commercial, which lead to a blink and you'll miss it spot in Knightfall. This was also the year I started DonkeyDrop Theatre in Prague with the Scratch Nights that became a main-stay of the company. I was hired as the Editor-in-Chief at a new magazine and I was feeling very accomplished - until I wasn't.

The founders of the magazine and I fell out. Poor behaviour and myriad factors including exhaustion on my part meant I was not in the right mind to really deal with the amount of work that had been laid on top of me. I was happier, sure. I enjoyed what I was doing, sure. Dealing with the manipulations of others is not my gig and it was happening A LOT.

When I fell out with them in early 2019 (February), I fell into a deep depression again. I felt without purpose - I had a plan of putting on a large scale production this year and I started to make progress towards that goal. However during this time I had also put on weight - a considerable amount.

I have no pictures of me from this time so have a cute picture of me and my dog ;)

Through writing this I've noted a pattern. Bar the first time where I was doing it in order to get fit for my wedding (to be fair this was a rough time too), I've done Insanity every time I've suffered a significant loss. It's usually a thing I use to heal myself through a rough time. I find it curious that it's something I turn to when I feel at my lowest.

I actually started with Insanity Max:30, a workout that is more condensed than the original. 30 minutes a day (not including the cool-down. I started it in order to get mentally better. To have a focus and to get my head out of the funk that had started to take over me again.

Day 1 - 60 I stuck to the calendar. It didn't matter if I was busy, I made sure I worked out. If I was ill, I worked out. If I had been out drinking and smoking: I'd work-out.

I made sure that I did everything in my power to get this ball rolling. Month 1 and month 2 were equally challenging for different reasons. I completed my process and everyone was noticing how different I looked.

Not least of all my Mum who was constantly worried that I was't eating enough. (psst... I was).

I came to the end of the 60 days satisfied that I had actually completed it. I felt my attitude had levelled up and because I was doing it only for me and not to 'Be desired' or to 'Get fit for the show', it left me with a much deeper sense of accomplishment.

2 months soon turned into 3 and then 5... I managed to keep up working out daily with Insanity Max:30 for 5 months. It showed.

However I was starting to become complacent - instead of working out everyday it felt like it was becoming routine. I was towards the end of putting TEARS on and show week I didn't work out at all.

When I came back to it, I managed 3 times a week at best.

So I made a decision.

Time to do INSANITY again. The original, the best. I was now much fitter and hopefully would be able to keep up.

Day 1 of Insanity involves a fit test, you do as much of one exercise as you can in one minute. I remember the first time I did it back in 2010 I puked. This time: no issues, I beat all of the numbers I had ever made in the past.

I am in no-way saying, by the way, that Insanity this time around is easier. It's not. I recover quicker, I can do more of the exercises without taking a break BUT I'm working harder within my new limitations.

Every time I finish a workout I feel great, even if I'm having a shitty day because I worked bloody hard at it.

The same is true of tasks I set myself in life. No longer is there a point in giving up on something because it feels harder initially. No, now I am able to get to the end. Obstacles be damned.

So (and I vaguely apologise for the gratuitous crotch in this shot), here I stand 7 month later, on week of Insanity and still pushing myself beyond my limits.

I'm able to commit now because I'm not doing it for anyone or anything else other than my self. I enjoy it. I love it even.

I know many people who have tried and not managed to get past the first week of Insanity, it isn't for everyone. It wasn't for me when I started back in 2010. I was morbidly obese, sad, pathetic and a loser.

I'm still all of those things, in some cases proudly so, but if there's anything that going over this stuff has taught me it's that I am far more capable than I ever realised, even if it took 10 years and a lot of false starts to get where I am now.

I am INSANE. I am proud of that fact.

The work out is good too.


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