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.
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.
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.