6 years: All About the Journey

I’ve been lifting now for about 6 years. I figure that’s a decent amount of time to take a deep breath and go through my story and take some stock of where I came from, where I have been, and where I want to go from here.

December 31, 2013

This was me at my least fit point in my life.

This is 240lb me. This is 42 inch waist me. This is so weak I couldn’t start the lawnmower me. This is also the me that was told I need a golf cart to handle running around the pride parade because I was going to hurt myself.

I took the advice of a web coach and took a baseline picture right before I started. I felt horribly embarrassed doing it, but right now I am very glad I did. It offers me some perspective about why I got into fitness and why I want to continue beyond where I am today. I made a New Year’s resolution that night – literally the only one that I’ve ever kept.

This is me – 5 months later. There were no magic tricks, no drugs, no surgeries. I made one change to my diet – I cut out all processed sugar. I started walking daily. I started lifting weights in my garage 3 days a week. I followed a generic online program I had found that was based on progressive resistance and whole body workouts. That was it. Nothing more fancy than this. That is all it took to get me to a significantly healthier weight and the ability to fit into my clothes again.

At this point I looked at working out as punishment. It was the price I had to pay for sitting on my ass playing video games all day. It may not have been the best mentality but it got me through it.

I dropped over 50 lbs in 5 months. Amazing things happened, both positive and negative. I gained confidence, I gained energy and I gained stamina. I was able to run… (not that I particularly enjoy the activity) but I was capable again.

It wasn’t all roses though.

I dropped the weight so fast that people thought I was sick. They asked if I had contracted AIDS. I also developed a neurotic relationship with food. I was now one of those people that avoided restaurants, avoided social gatherings that involved food. Offering me food made me very antagonistic. It was not a good thing.

April 7, 2016

About 2 years later, this is me. I’m thicker. I am more solid looking. The tattoo was new that month. It’s also the last picture I took before I hired a trainer.

I was frustrated. I felt like I was spinning my wheels getting no where. I had (have) He-Man dreams and had really reached the outer edge of what I could teach myself from books and the internet. I needed real instruction on how to go beyond the base I had built.

In reality I had gone from fat to scrawny to average. My body had undergone a huge maintainable transformation in about 2 years. The real story though was what the numbers had to say instead of pictures. I perpetually tracked my weight, my waist and the best body measurements I could. I attempted to do my own body fat and while I was WAY OFF on the %, I was consistent in my method so I could see improvements.

This is me today. Apart from my pig-sty of a spare bedroom, and some new tattoos, I don’t think I look any different really 3 years later. That is of no small amount of frustration to me. If anything, I might look a little chubbier and softer.

But it is also a matter of perspective.

Having hired a trainer, they have kept a few more accurate records that show how very very different I am beneath the skin.

In 2016 I was 195 lbs and 28.5% body fat. Today I am 202 lbs (heavier) and 16.5% body fat (leaner). My strength has exploded, I can probably back squat a truck. I am working on a lot of upper body strength and skills that I desire, but more importantly I have the freedom to work on those things now. I’m not trapped behind a wall of lack of knowledge. For the last few months I’ve been eating more than double what I ate to lose weight originally. I work hard enough that my body loves and needs all that food just to function properly.

The journey from sloven to fitness enthusiast did not happen overnight. I have actual athletic goals now. When I decide to cut the remaining body fat off, I know I can now. Cutting fat is easy, if time consuming. Losing weight is even easier. Building muscle though is both hard and fun. It’s all about the journey.

I hope this story helps inspire someone else to know if they want it, they can achieve it. I’m still a poor inner city kid. I didn’t do anything special, I just took the time to learn a little bit and start taking care of myself.