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‘The Umbrella Academy’ Star Tom Hopper on Struggling With Self-Image

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Tom Hopper has actually created a profession out of being actually the created British bruiser. Towering at 6’5” over his onscreen coworkers in Black Sails, Game of Thrones, and The Umbrella Academy, the past rugby gamer is an uncommon kind in Hollywood. An examined impressive star, he’s located themself among the brand new best delicates in the activity globe.

“Growing up in that group sporting activities atmosphere, I truly react to a problem,” mentions Hopper, over Zoom while on embeded in Vancouver.

So when the difficulty is, claim, be actually a hulking knight or a best SAS soldier, Hopper learns like he’s going to battle. Doing that for a years has actually been actually a unique knowing adventure for the increasing celebrity. Not merely actually, however also emotionally in giving with assumptions coming from themself—and every person else.

Now Hopper is planning to discuss what he’s found out with others, each on social networks and with projects with providers he counts on—like Viome—which assists enhance intestine wellness through readjusting food practices.

Men’s Journal communicated with the star regarding his uneven roadway to well-maintained consuming, straining with self-image, and amazing jobs he carries the perspective.

Men’s Journal: What was your intro to fitness?

Tom Hopper: I was actually a slim kid maturing. I always remember when the rugby period occurred, I was actually participating in with all these children that were actually greater than me. They were actually substantial, and it’s the type of sporting activity where measurements truly matters. I always remember also at that grow older reasoning, ‘I need to have to reach the body weights.’ But the Internet wasn’t around like it is today, and if you wished to acquire relevant information, you had to enter into genuine outlets to get fitness journals.

I really always remember emailing some arbitrary weight lifter I located in among the journals to inquire him if creatine will be actually helpful for me when I was actually a teenager. That merely mosts likely to present you exactly how determined the steps were actually. I was actually perambulating with this extremely details suggestion of what a true male was actually meant to look like, and it led me down the inappropriate path. I was actually going to the health and fitness center with a true unhealthy attitude, presuming just of looks.

How performed that preliminary attitude influence the begin of your functioning job?

I discovered at an early stage there’s a particular niche position in the market place for British guys that are very match. At the moment, most of those men were actually originating from America. I’m 6’5” and thought if I apply some actual muscular tissue I could possibly company on my own in the activity globe. I devoted on my own to that procedure completely like it was actually sporting activities training camping ground. That’s truly what started me on this entire fitness trip. It wasn’t lengthy before I was actually auditioning for all these significant films and TELEVISION programs.

Were certainly there higher assumptions concerning your fitness for a job?

The most significant switching factor in my job method when I received Black Sails. The movie 300 had just come out and there was all this hype around how jacked everyone was in Zach Snyder’s film. It was definitely a moment in the culture. So, in turn, with us playing these brutal pirates, this image was expected of us. I think there was pressure to look a certain way. Some of it was self-imposed because of what we were seeing in Hollywood. But the studio would also check in and get sent photos to make sure we were sticking with our plans. They set us all up with a personal trainer, James White, who ran the Roark gym in Cape Town, South Africa, close to set. That was the first time I felt the pressure to look a certain way for a role.

How did that affect you behind the scenes?

On the outside, and to everyone watching the show, I looked very fit and healthy. But during that time, I was feeling sluggish and found myself nodding off in the middle of the day. It was a real rollercoaster, from feeling great to completely crashing. I was wondering why I couldn’t get to where I wanted without such a struggle, and for a while I was blaming genetics. Eventually I decided I needed to take more control and really investigate why I was feeling the way I was.

There was another time we were preparing for a promo shoot for Black Sails, and we all went maybe a little too extreme with the calorie counting. I’m surprised my lovely wife stuck around to become my wife after that period because the diet made me a horrible human being. After one of the photo shoots, she bought me a special lunch to celebrate. I blew up at her because I wanted very specific “treats,” and she bought the wrong ones. She said, “Do you hear yourself?” I had to step back and really reevaluate what I was doing.

Courtesy of Netflix

What did you begin to work on?

I learned a lot about training from James during our sessions, but where I was really struggling was my nutrition. Back in the day, nobody was talking about it the way they do now. It was just about getting a certain amount of calories, and less about where they came from. I was eating burgers with cheese and fries to put on weight. There wasn’t a lot of sense about it. I had a friend, who always felt great, who told me to just try eating clean for a while. I decided to give it everything I had.

How soon did you feel the benefits?

The difference was pretty instantaneous. It was crazy to me how much better I felt when I was consuming real food and staying away from all the processed snacks I was craving. I was addicted, and the only solution I saw was to go cold turkey. That’s when I realized how much power they had over me. Passing by those shops, I was in actual pain from walking away without buying anything.

I started to see how unnatural it was for me to be craving those sugars so intensely. They’d created a massive imbalance in my body. I was being ruled by them. That was an awakening. I decided to wean myself off it all. Not an easy task with an addictive personality, but once I turned that corner, I actually became addicted to feeling good—to not waking up with headaches and not being tired all the time for no reason. I became addicted to enjoying my workouts again.

What was the hardest snack to give up?

Haribo gummy bears. I used to walk past the shops with Toby Stephens, who played Captain Flint on Black Sails, and he’d say, “Oh mate, I need some gummies.” And I would be right there with him.

Any recent challenges on the wellness journey?

During the start of The Umbrella Academy, they wanted me to bulk up and turn myself into a bit of a monster. Then, just a few weeks before filming, they decided we were going to use this massive muscle suit. I immediately had to lean down after putting on so much mass. That led me to experiment with things like fasting and the keto diet.

I don’t think most people stick to the true principles of keto, which is checking your body constantly for whether or not you’re in ketosis. For me, it’s something I dip in and out of. I’d feel great for a few days, then start to deplete a bit. The intermittent fasting worked straight away. Even when I’m not sticking to it firmly throughout the day, I’ll practice in the morning—including on set when there’s usually a breakfast laid out and someone’s asking what you want to eat. I received into the habit of telling them I wasn’t going to need anything until the afternoon.

It was around the end of the first season when I first came across this company Viome. I read they were doing microbiome testing for your gut based on your stool. At first I was a little standoffish about the concept, but eventually reached out to them.

What was the switching factor?

A friend, Bobby Maximus, had used them to fix a serious stomach issue he was having. They helped him find out what foods had a negative impact on his system and basically healed his gut—with food. That got me curious.

Not only was I researching ways to improve my own health, but also for my son Freddie, who’s autistic. What I learned is that bad gut health can make the symptoms of autism more severe. At the time, my wife and I were going through quite a tough time with Freddie, and we were looking for anything to make our lives easier. So we decided to do the microbiome tests together as a family, and when we received the results we committed to following them.

I liked how simple they break down foods that are helpful, foods that are fine, and foods that are like poison to your body. I was surprised to find that bananas were a food Freddie was supposed to avoid, yet it was a superfood for me. So when I was having one I’d naturally just share it with him—with no idea it was affecting him differently and causing these problems in his gut. We noticed an immediate improvement in his behavior. It was really quite shocking how quickly things changed, from his mood to sleep patterns.

How about your dietary shift? Were you feeling the benefits too?

I definitely started to see similar effects for myself. Beforehand, I’d spent a lot of energy avoiding carbs. But once I learned some of them were on my superfood list, I realized I’d been depriving myself of some positive nutrition. I was eating carbs and looking and feeling better than I ever had. I also learned to enjoy real food—because once you lose that addiction to sugars and additives, you start to really be able to taste stuff again.

The gut is constantly evolving. So when you take the test six months or a year later, you’ll see how much things can change. Sometimes foods that were on your avoid list are now fine for you to enjoy again because a specific issue has been resolved. What I’ve learned is that it’s all about making positive shifts and adapting your eating habits when necessary. I went into Season 2 feeling like a new man.

And mentally?

Absolutely. I know a lot of people are struggling with mental health, especially after the year we’ve had. We all know the obvious things that can help, like exercise. But I don’t think people talk enough about how the wrong foods can make things worse. How, for example, the vagus nerve—which connects your gut to your brain—isn’t just a one-method street. People used to think if you were feeling bad it would manifest itself in how your stomach felt. Now we know this nerve is more like a highway. An upset gut can have a negative effect on our mental health as well.

How do you deal with all the attention paid to your appearance?

I’ve struggled a lot with body dysmorphia. No matter who you are, there’s this image in your head of what you think you should look like as opposed to what you see in the mirror. For me, the way out is being content with the best version of me and pursuing it fully—and not some guy on a motion picture poster.

I know if I put up an Instagram post where I’m shirtless, there will be toxic comments that aren’t productive. I’ve gotten better about “posting and ghosting” these days, where I’m not really reading any of it. That time is better spent elsewhere.

What drives you to be so open on social media about your training and other wellness pursuits?

I understand I’m one of those guys who’s been branded to look a certain way. But I also want to be able to say how easy and fun the journey can be—and that so much can be done by implementing very simple lifestyle changes. People ask me all the time how I have the discipline to stay in shape. How can I enjoy life while being so restricted? I’m actually having fun with every part of the process—and enjoying every bite of real food I’m tasting.

Have there been any adjustments in your training for upcoming projects—including Season 3 of The Umbrella Academy and the Resident Evil reboot.

I always like to keep the training fresh, so I’m constantly changing the kind of movements I do. I’ll pull new programs on social media from people like Marcus Filly, my friend Bobby Maximus, and Ben Patrick. I like people who do something different and go against the status quo, especially when it works. I’m working out consistently, so when it comes to putting on mass—like for Resident Evil—it merely means eating more of those good foods I’m already on. I think people are really going to enjoy the reboot, especially fans of the game.

Going into The Umbrella Academy, I had a shoulder injury which occurred while doing a pretty standard lift. It was actually just one of those silly things when the weight just doesn’t move right. I did stem cells and PRP, which helped heal it up nicely, and I adapted my training to put less stress on it without sacrificing what I’d built so far. That was difficult, especially because of exactly how taxing the muscle suit can be on my arms, but I was actually able to make it work. This is my favorite season our company’ve done so far.


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