My transformation story started three and a half years ago. At 5’9” and weighing 306 lbs., I was a miserable thirty-three year old food addict that wore a mask of happiness every day. I was the butt of jokes from others and even myself. I tried to pretend I was satisfied with my life, but on the inside I was screaming for help.
Food controlled my life. Each day, I feasted on 12,000 calories of garbage. I stayed up late watching the infomercials of drastic life changes and wished I could do it but thought I was too far gone. One morning, I bent over to tie my shoes and blacked out. My wife and I were scared, so I decided to see a doctor and have a full physical done.
The results were frightening. The doctor discovered that I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and pre-diabetes. I was told that if I did not change I would not live another 5 years. That day, I decided to change. I was tired of being made out to be a joke. I was tired of ALWAYS being the fat guy that made everyone feel better about themselves. Most of all, I wanted to be there for my family, walk my two daughters down the aisle one day, and keep my wife from becoming a young widow.
To say my family has been a huge encouragement is an understatement. My wife and two daughters have pushed me and supported me throughout my journey. They are my motivation to start a new life and not give up!
I am now carrying lean muscle instead of fat. Prior to writing this my body fat was 4-6%. Instead of the fattest guy in the room, now I am the fittest. I get asked questions about fitness or my workouts all the time now instead of the best place to get a donut! I love it because it gives me a chance to share my story.
Many people ask me about my diet and workout. Well, I will explain the most important first. I am sure you have heard the saying, “Muscles/abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.” This is so, so true – if your diet isn’t under control you will never achieve the goals you desire. The bad news is we can’t chain swallow HoHo’s and achieve the physique and health goals we desire.
My diet plan can be put down to five simple points –
1. Track your calorie consumption! I keep up with my macro nutrients (i.e., protein, carbs and healthy fats) – I aim for 300-350 grams of protein, 150-200 grams of net carbs and about 70-75 grams of healthy fats every day. For the first couple of years I kept a food journal but now I just know what to eat. I do however keep track of my macros to this day. You will want to focus on lean proteins (i.e., fish, chicken, lean red meat and turkey), complex carbs (i.e., sweet potatoes, oats, and brown rice) and healthy fats (i.e., salmon, nuts/ nut butters and avocados).
2. Consume large amounts of water. I drink 2 gallons of water every day! This keeps you hydrated and will cause your body to not hold on to as much water weight.
3. Snack healthy. Stay away from anything that is high in sugar. If it has 9-10 grams of sugar I don’t eat it. Quest bars are an awesome for this rule! They cure my sweet tooth and are low in carbohydrates (1g of sugar) and offer a substantial shot of protein.
4. Plan ahead. I cook all my meals for the week on Sunday. When we go out of town to my parent’s or in laws house I always make sure I have some healthy snacks/meals to eat while I am there.
5. Eat enough. If you are exercising frequently and really pushing yourself you should never drop below 1800 calories. Starving yourself leads to burnout and failure. Find healthy foods with low caloric impact and eat them. I shoot for around 2500 net calories every day. If I get my macros like I planned I know I hit the number of calories I wanted.
As for advice about working out –
1. Start slow. I made the mistake in thinking I would be able to lose 100 pounds in one day. I got up the day after the physical and decided to go for a brisk walk. I left my home and had to call my wife 15 minutes later to come pick me up because my legs and back were hurting so bad.
2. Never allow workouts to be easy. My work out have progressed over the years. I started out on an elliptical glider for 25 minutes and I did pushups and sit ups every night to the point of exhaustion. When that got easy I started doing 45 minutes and then started lifting weights. Now people tell me my workout is insane.
3. Workout with consistency. I workout 6 days a week and do an active recovery walk or something on Sunday.
4. Workout out with intensity. I only rest 45 seconds between sets. For example on chest day I do 4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 8 repetitions. Between each set I only rest for 45 seconds (yes I have a stopwatch on my phone I use. This intensity will burn more fat and keep you anabolic and boost protein synthesis and so you will build more muscle.
5. Do cardio after you lift weights. This ensures that you burn through your glycogen for energy during weight training and move to fat during your cardio for energy. I do all forms of cardio. Steady moderate intensity and HIIT are my favorites.
And my tips for success:
1. Set realistic short term goals. By setting a goal that is short term and realistic you will be motivated more every time you reach that goal.
2. Eat several (5-6) smaller meals throughout the day. This will help you stay ahead of your hunger and some say it boosts metabolism.
3. Plan ahead. I prep all my meals to take to work on Sunday and I know what I will have for supper after work. This helps me avoid making bad choices on snacks and lunch because I am hungry and have no healthy options.
4. Surround yourself with positive people. Nothing can derail you quicker than negativity. Find people who support your desire to change. Get a workout partner and definitely find someone that is more advanced and knowledgeable about fitness and nutrition so you can ask questions.
5. Learn and be flexible. Research new diet ideas and workouts and change things up to avoid burnout. I read Bodybuilding.com articles every morning while eating breakfast. I try to add something new to my workout and diet every three to four weeks. This keeps me motivated and keeps my body from adapting to my workouts.
6. Remember you go to the gym to work not socialize! Many people spend 1-2 hours in the gym and have little to no success. When I am at the gym my headphones are on and I am there to work not chat or stand around. The more intense your workouts the better results you will have. Keep rest periods between 45-60 seconds if you are working with a buddy make sure they have the same level of intensity.
7. When you work out don’t try to keep up with everyone else. Compete with yourself. Push yourself. Don’t worry about the people who are around you. Wrap yourself in a bubble and work your tail off! Don’t panic if you get off track. Being too restrictive can be counterproductive. If you mess up and have a donut or cookie, move on to the next day. Remember, what you do 5% of the time is not going to affect what you do 95% of the time.
8. You have the power to change inside you! Eat right, work hard and NEVER quit! You can do this!