I wanted to share my personal story of how I dropped 60# of bodyweight and 22# of body fat in only 22 months. My goal is you can use or relate to this situation to help you in your current situation.
Now keep in mind my highest body weight was 204# with a body fat of 16# at my highest.
This body mass was incredible and felt bullet proof. My strength was crazy but my stomach was out of control. Even being a personal trainer I never felt comfortable taking my shirt off in public and with 3 small children constantly wanting to go to the pool I dreaded the moment. In the sport that I loved so much (power lifting) nobody really cares how lean or ripped you are. Typically the strongest power lifters are the guys with the big hard abdomens, huge barrel chests, and big arms. The big hard stomach is really an advantage when it comes to squatting the big weight! My gut was large for me but I could squat over 500#, bench press 400#, and dead lift over 600#, so i sacrificed my leanness for strength, maybe an excuse for laziness on the nutrition side? My eating habits were 80% good and 20% bad! Now I considered bad (candy bar from gas station, once a week fast food, bread, and sometimes other starchy carbs). Since I am super competitive I constantly looked for biggest and best supplement to give me the leading advantage. I took so many supplements that you would have thought they were additional meals packed with pills and powders. My supplement bill exceeded over $4,000+ a year! My training partner Mitch was a beast! Mitch squatted 700#, bench pressed over 500#, and he dead lifted close to 700# but he was a former bodybuilding champion who always reminded me that we are not bodybuilders, but powerlifters!:)
Well to fill in the gaps here I endured a squatting accident that ruptured 7 quadricep tendons which tore my quadriceps away from my patellas in both legs. This accident placed me in the hospital for 2 weeks and a wheel chair from January to the end of May. Now going into this situation with the eating habits of a horse and a high percent of bodyfat I was placed into a situation where my weight training was totally decreased to nothing and my cardiovascular was obsolete! My fear was now my true metabolism and genetics could be finally revealed! Maybe I was destined to be overweight? I was scared of the unknown! I was desperate for the quick fix, but being on large amounts of medications, I.V’s, and blood thinners, supplements were out of the question! I had to be smart and efficient. I didn’t want to waste away in that bed. The scary thing is we start to catabolize muscle in only 2 days! My bodyweight went from 190# -214# in 2 weeks with all the I.V. fluid and lack of activity. I always remember the great trainer Brian Bailey saying ” you will never know your true genetic set point”. That is your life goal…to find out your genetic set point! But maybe now here it was?
So here was what I did! Given the situation on the Ortho-trauma floor I basically had to work with my surroundings. I could sit there and except my current situation and feel sorry for myself but I looked failure in the face and accepted his challenge! My wife being my #1 supporter and my brother who has always been my inspiration to work harder and get better every single day, a surgeon who was super fit, and an amazing physical therapist all recommended a few ideas that I took to heart. I was desperate for anything! My wife being super intelligent with nutrition and fitness organized a huge support system of clients that switched my nutrition to having my meals delivered to my room. No more hospital food! The meals were healthier than my normal 80/20 diet that I followed. I did drink Iso-Pure protein drinks to help maintain my lean muscle mass which are easy on the digestion and super low calorie shakes to help prevent overall muscle catabolism. Since I was basically paralyzed from the waist down I could only work my upper body. I had to think of something, but being on a ton of muscle relaxants and pain pills I had to be smart! Physical therapy was only 15 minutes 2x per day and half the time was getting me in and out of the hospital bed and then 1 set of 10 on my legs with physical therapy assistance. I craved these sessions! I needed to be on a schedule again! These small p.t. sessions didn’t burn hardly any calories and I was used to working out 2+ hours a day 4-5 times per week. I looked forward to these little sessions to wake my head and body. The little session cleared the spider webs out! This is one reason I incorporated my mini session theory!
So here is why I am huge believer of bodyweight only exercises. Keep in mind the strongest pound/pound individuals in the world are gymnasts! My program for the last 22 months has consisted of 90% bodyweight and 10% dumbbells. In my hospital bed there was a bar that suspended up above my head….so i would perform pullups every single day. In a 24 hour period I would do 100+ reps! I had nothing else better to do:) I would pull 8 reps then rest, then pull 8 more 20 minutes later. I was super fatigued from the medications and the 3+ hour long surgery. When your brain is in a drug induced fog and no caffeine you have to dig down inside to push yourself. Secondly in my wheel chair beside my bed I would tricep dips on the handles. I did so many I can not even remember! I didn’t put a number on my sets, I trained to failure every single set! I had a set of light dumbbells to do curl and incline dumbbell presses in the bed just to add variety. Everything was performed with super high reps. Many sets of 20+ reps throughout the 24 hour period! My only cardiovascular exercise was wheeling in my wheel chair up and down the hallway several times a day. The nurses were probably sick of me, but this was good for the mind! Now if you have never tried this you will have a different perspective to how challenging this really is! Wheel chair triathletes and people that have to use a wheel chair daily are truly amazing! If you want to feel an arm burn then try a wheel chair for your mode of transportation!
Now my nutrition in the last 22 months has really changed. I was used to eating for strength and mass which is a blend of high protein, high carbohydrate, and a ton of supplements. Since the age of 12 I trained my body to eat like this. I switched away from this theory! My protein choices are organic lean choices (buffalo, venison, chicken, salmon, tuna, egg whites) that are not processed or injected with unwanted preservatives. In the past I would eat lunch meat, high fat red meat some times, but also blend in the other healthier choices that I do choose now. My portion control was way off the chart. For me to put on the large amounts of muscle I would eat past feeling full with every meal and snack. I was an eating machine. The hard gainer theory can be thrown out the window! Now my portions and calories are to an exact tee. My carbohydrate choices daily are ( Ezekial cereal, Ezekial english muffins, sweet and red skin p0tatoes, Ezekial tortillas, Old fashioned oatmeal). In the past days I was always a huge vegetable eater and that has not changed. For supplements of the past i would consume protein powder, protein bars, Creatine, L-Arginine, L-Glutamine, Juven, multi-vitamin, vit C, HMB, and anything else that was the newest and the latest wonder supplement. This blend averaged $200-$400 per month! Now since my accident I only take 3 daily supplements. I take a multi-vitamin, Barleans Omega complex, and glucosamine/chrondroitin sulfate for joint health. The average 8-12 week cost is under $100. My current bodyweight is 156# with a bodyfat level under 8% with no fat burners or fat burning gimmicks. After my accident I was pumped with so many pain pills, I.V medications and other drugs that I felt my body was super toxic! I literally felt contaminated…I could taste metal everytime I swallowed. So I took the natural approach with my nutrition and supplementation to give my body a rest of preservatives and toxic fillers.
Now not all supplements are bad…and I do recommend supplements if you decide to choose that path.
With my powerlifting career ending I looked at other avenues of fitness! I experimented with a type of training called Tabata. Tabata training showed me how out of fitness balance I really was! Ya I used to be strong but could I run across the street? No way! I looked good in my daughters tee shirt but my gut was another story! I was cool in the gym but in the real world was my overall health on a road to disaster? I never looked at my program that way and maybe still wouldn’t unless I had to step outside the box and look back in? I was good only in the sport that i mastered…sports mastery! I never did cardio of any kind and my personal choice of cardio was a high set of 10 on squats which would throw your heart rate through the ceiling. My approach was I rarely ate fast food, didn’t smoke or rarely would I drink alcohol…so I could skip the cardio. This is foolish thinking for the overall picture of long term health. The balance is the key!
My clients had amazing fitness transformation with interval training, Hiit training, and other forms of fitness programs I have trained a 1999 Body For Life champion, several Mr. Nebraska body building competitors, fitness competitors, marathon runners, but I personally never chose that route due to the sport I was involved in. I also had success coaching two World Powerlifting Champions, 6 National Powerlifting Champions, 4 American record holders, and many teenage Nebraska State and National Champions Powerlifters! My powerlifting team placed in the top 3 at Nationals 3 years in a row. Myself and several other powerlifters rank in the Top 10 strongest in Nebraska history. My wife was involved with marathons, biking, and other various types of fitness, but I was stuck in 1 mind set. Ya I miss the old days of lifting huge weight but I do not miss breathing heavy going up the stairs or worried about taking my shirt off. You might think whatever you looked good but in my mindset I didn’t. I look at the old Steve in this mindset ” a has been is better than a never was”…it was time to move on!
My N-10sive boot camps have taught me how to have a balance of all types of fitness! Ya maybe i couldn’t bench press 400# or deadlift a house, but I could do 100+ reps of pullups and still could run 2+miles all in 1 workout. My intensity and variety of fitness have really changed from the powerlifting days!
The key to getting super lean is adding variety to your program, intensity, and nutrition! I really think people choose what they are comfortable with when designing their fitness program. I really think over 80% of people are in a plateau in the commercial box gyms, could this be one reason for our rising obesity population and our rise in health care costs?
With tabata training I took it one step further! I incorporated mini workouts to my program. The great trainer Brian Bailey did multiple workouts throughout his day! So I copied the great one and did this for myself. I love this approach for 2 reasons. Each mini workout super charges my metabolism and since the sessions are short I always look forward to them. In my wheel chair I would train clients at the gym but to get in and out of the chair I had to perform a tricep dip. We live in a split level home so I would perform tricep dips up and down the stairs to get into the house or into the gym I trained at.
Nobody needs to work 2 muscle groups for over 2 hours! How productive is that? How is your intensity? How much down time do you have in between your sets? Are you watching too much T.V. at the gym? Do you socialize to much? This could be a reason for the high drop rate percentage in gyms and the lack of results that many experience?
Remember baby steps and taking one day at a time is the key to long term success! Be realistic with your goals and realize there will be bumps in the road and flat tires along the way. Fix the tire and get moving, lick your wounds and keep striving forward. Leave your failures in the past…do not carry them with you on your shoulders for the future. Failure is only temporary but regret is for a lifetime! Now keep in mind fat loss and bodyweight loss are not linear. I lost a large amount of muscle but over 22# of excess bodyfat. This explains the skinny fat person theory. Just because you are thin does not mean you have a low bodyfat percentage. Some of the skinniest people have a high percentage of body fat.
My daily habits that have helped me drop 60+ pounds in 22 months!
Eat breakfast every single day: ( Ezekial raisin cereal,lactaid milk, 1/4 cup blue berries, 1 small banana, and 2 egg whites).
Drink your water: Take your bodyweight/2 for daily requirement.
Do not skip workouts: If time is a factor do mini workouts. This could be doing burpees, pushups, and bodyweight squats at home for 10 minutes)
Choose bodyweight movements: More realistic to daily life! Do pushups, pullups, dips, burpees, mountain climbers, full situps, stretchings.
Lean protein intake: Consume a minimal of 15# grams of protein with each snack and meal. Increase your healthy fat source…try Barleans Omega Complex.
Get moving: I never sit down and watch T.V. Ask my wife I am constantly doing something, burn those calories!
Increase your intensity in your workouts: Shorten your rest periods between your sets? Come try an N-10sive Boot Camp workout!
Set realistic goals: Being able to squat 500#? Is that realistic for the future? Yes if you are a competitive powerlifter or athlete but for the average Joe…not really!
Never eat greasy fat food, high fructose corn syrup products, no processed meals, never skip meals/snacks, and no diet or regular pop. Allow 1 cheat meal per week:)
Be consistent with your plan: The great pyramid was not built over night. We did not get out of shape in 1 day….it takes time!
My goal by sharing this story is to let you know that I am a real person who was forced to change his ways to better himself. I was able to walk way from my mistakes with little physical conditions that i can live with. Imagine if you are going down the unhealthy road with your blinders on and you have a heart attack, or develop Type I diabetes, or develop cancer. What if people have expressed their concern for you to improve your health? If you fail to change your unhealthy ways this is selfish thinking…you are affecting your family and loved ones. If you fail to change your ways you will eventually have to make the decision to change and it might be to late for the reversal in your health. We are all human and we do make mistakes. My accident opened my eyes to what is really important in life… our families and our long term health!
Thank you for your time!