This is a special post. I would like to introduce you to Andrew, an inspiration for all! He shares his weight-loss journey with Nutribabble.com and includes tips and tricks on how he did it. A must-read!
At first, was your weight loss on purpose?
My weight loss was on purpose, my weight gain was the accident.
During high school I was part of the track team from freshman to senior year. This kept me in good shape and helped me learn how to exercise in general. Then, as I entered my freshman year of college, I had access to a great gym I used to get into the best shape of my life. However, I ended up discontinuing the use of the gym for a year, as I had enrolled in a gym-less flight training academy.
I found myself eating what I would call garbage… and too much of it. Combine that with no exercise and that’s all it took for me to look the way I did in the first picture. The reflection I saw in the mirror made me feel like I was no longer the man I felt I was inside. Aside from looks, I wanted to ensure I would pass the annual medical exam required for my career. This became my motivation.
What happened next?
Although I didn’t have a gym readily available I knew I could change my body through dieting and running. With my new diet and religious two-mile-a-day-run (which was at an ever accelerating pace), I dropped my weight from 274 to 209 pounds in about two to three months.
At 209 pounds I looked in the mirror and I was happy! Yes, for a bit… but still not where I wanted to be. I would call 209 pounds my starting point.
After obtaining my commercial pilots license, I maintained this weight for several months until I returned to college to finish my degree in aviation safety science. At this point I wanted to start hitting the gym and pack on the muscle I wanted. It took me about a year to get the bulk and definition I was looking for, turning the remaining fat on my body to muscle and adding about 10-15 pounds of lean muscle…thus putting me in the shape I wanted to be, as you can see in my “after” photo.
What was your new exercise routine like?
I used four specific exercise routines to go from broad to eventually a specific type of muscle growth.
First was a simple full body workout. I would work all different parts of my body for five to six days a week, always ending with 15-45 minutes of cardio. This produced some quick muscle gain, and would especially for those just starting to lift weights. The cardio in this routine helped keep my body fat percentage low.
After a while, I knew I hit a plateau and so I moved forward into the second phase. In the second routine I split my workouts to an upper and lower body rotation for five to six days– still with the cardio.
After that, I moved into the third phase. In the third routine I paired primary and secondary muscle groups. For example: Back and biceps, chest and triceps etc. I would rotate this for five to six days and continue with cardio and abdominal workouts every day.
In my fourth phase, which is the phase I’m in right now, I spend seven days in the gym and five of the days are spent with a moving rotation of weight training.
- Day One- Chest
- Day Two- Shoulders
- Day Three- Back
- Day Four- Arms
- Day Five- Legs
During the lifts I include negative sets and minimum rest periods to maintain an elevated heart rate. I also work my way up in weight for some exercises and work my way down in others… first up then down then up and so on. I end with abs then the cardio. After day five I have a “rest” day where I work my abdominals and spend at least one hour on cardio. Then, I rotate back to day one. Throughout this routine I am constantly increasing weight or reps until I feel I’ve reached a failure point. I also change up the type of exercise to avoid my body getting used to it.
How did you change your diet to compliment your new exercise routine?
My diet is relatively simple. I eat four to five smaller meals a day. I do this to boost my metabolism and avoid insulin spikes. I try to eat more carbs before a workout so I have the energy I need.
I also dropped all alcohol this semester. So far, I see a big difference. Alcohol basically focuses the body on expelling the toxin… putting fat-burning on the back-burner.
I drink a lot of water… easily a gallon. My diet is low in fat and high in protein. I consume a regular amount of carbohydrates for my body type. I make sure I get all my calories in before 7:00 p.m. since metabolism slows down at night.
Did you add any supplements to your daily nutritional intake?
I make sure I get enough protein since it’s needed in both muscle growth and support. The body requires about one gram per pound of body weight to maintain current muscle.
Branched chain amino acids (BCAA) are the building blocks of protein, so this supplement helps with muscle recovery and aids against muscle breakdown.
I also supplement with omega’s 3, 6, and 9 since I don’t eat enough foods which contain these essential fatty acids.
Another supplement I take since I’m not getting it from my diet is L-Carnitine, an amino acid found in red meat which helps convert fats to energy.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) helps produce lean muscle mass and would normally be found in red meat and milk. However, due to changes in cattle feeding CLA content in these products is only a fraction of what it was in the 1950’s. Some researchers even suggest it is the possible cause of Americas expanding waistline.
Everything I supplement with is natural and safe. I urge anyone who wants to start any supplement make sure you learn everything there is to know about the supplement before considering it at all and check with your doctor.
What was the hardest part of the process? What helped you keep going?
Getting started was the hardest part for me. If you are an overweight or out of shape person reading, I want you to understand something. When I see a heavyset person in the gym, the first thing that comes to mind is: good for them. It is important to remember that everyone in the gym is there to better themselves.
My motivation now is that I have come far and I don’t ever want to go back to where I was. Trust me… you won’t get to the end of your journey and think it wasn’t worth it.
How do you feel about the results?
I am overjoyed with my results and I look forward to my future improvements.
What do you notice about your energy levels?
My energy levels are much higher, and my endurance is greater, I’m not tired all the time. I have more confidence and I would even say I’m a little more outgoing. I really enjoy all I’ve accomplished.
How will you stay in shape?
I continue to train daily– constantly striving to achieve better strength and endurance. My diet and exercise are always on my mind and it has become a way of life now… my number one hobby.
I’ve achieved my goal of creating a sustainable healthy life style, remaining active, feeling great, looking good, and enjoying what I’m doing. I didn’t indulge in some crash diet where I would have had to eat lemons for three weeks to lose ten pounds that’s not sustainable. Fact: If you eat nothing but lemons the rest of your life… you won’t live very long.
If you could give advice to anybody trying to get into better shape right now, what would it be?
- For all of you that are thinking of making a change, the first thing I want to say is go for it and commit to it. Don’t give up… you can be the you that’s in your head.
- Train your mind to change your body, you are only able to push you body as long as you will let yourself.
- Don’t stress the number on the scale so much in the beginning. You may see yourself gain weight as you build muscle since muscle weighs more than fat… but the more muscle you build the more fat your body will burn and you will start to see that number go down. Focus more on your mirror results than the scale in the beginning.
- Set small goals to achieve, like one more rep, one more set, or five pounds heavier weight. Once achieved set a new goal and always move forward.
- Keep a positive attitude.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to other people in the gym or ask questions. Most people will be glad to help you. Even I help people train all the time.
- Lastly, check out bodybuilding.com. It sounds like a site for elite fitness connoisseurs (at least that’s what I thought), but it’s actually packed with diets, information on how to properly do exercises, vitamins, foods, supplement sales, and basically unlimited amount of articles on anything fitness related. They have stories like mine from real people… that are not only inspirational but some relatively amazing. It’s a perfect place for beginners to pros and everyone in-between. Take advantage of its own type of “social media” type option where users can talk. NB