My Weight Loss: A Brief Overview
I have had several people asking me what I have done to lose my body fat and put on muscle. So I decided to post a blog rather than telling everybody individually.
This all started for me in June of 2011. My wife had posted a pic of us on a balcony at the beach. My wife was absolutely stunning, but I had fat hanging off my chin, bigger ta-tas than my wife, and a gut that was hanging to my knees. It was a serious wake-up call!!! So I started researching nutrition. I already had a small grasp on some things, but not nearly what I have now. I knew vegetables were good me and chicken was good for me, but I didn’t know why some of these things were good and some were bad. In August I joined Gold’s Gym in Pelham and start lifting weights. In June I was 345 pounds and 40% body fat. (At my heaviest I was 415 pounds) Today I am 18%-19% body fat and 280 pounds, and still dropping.
Before I start this I would like to say two things. One, my workouts will not be recommended by the majority of the fitness community. Two, I am a huge fan of monitoring your Body Fat Index. I don’t believe in worrying about your weight or BMI. I say this because I know a lot of people that are under 12% BFI and 33-36 BMI. In my opinion, this is a healthy individual. They get in the gym three to five days a week and spend anywhere from 1 to 3 hours a day getting their heart rate up and are building some rock hard muscle. I also know individuals that step on the scale weekly, and all that they care about is weight loss. They have no regard for whether they are losing fat or muscle, and when I finish this transformation I want to have kept or added lean body mass as well as having lost fat.
Notice I used the word nutrition and not the word diet. Diets to me send the message that you need to starve yourself, or that you need to drastically cut, the portions, of all the foods that you eat. The latter, in some cases may be true, for some people if they are indulging in foods like desserts, regular pasta, or pop tarts. However, it doesn’t apply to people that eat chicken, sweet potatoes, any vegetables, or high fiber fruits like apples and pears. My daily diet usually works out like this. I have six meals day and in those meals I try to work toward a total of 250 grams of protein, 65 grams of carbs, and less than 10 grams of sugars for the entire day. This may sound somewhat disproportionate, but here is my reasoning behind. Through-out my transformation I have read hundreds of articles and have discussed nutrition with actual body builders that have attained incredible results, and they all say the same thing.
Protein is essential for muscle gain. In order to repair the wear on our muscles our body needs a source of protein to replace what we destroy. However, there are different views on which proteins to eat. Some like eggs, chicken, and steak. Some individuals say to stay away from red meats and focus on chicken and tuna. Some say to drink whey protein and eat chicken. I personally incorporate all these methods into one. I consume three to four whey protein shakes a day. I will have one in the morning, one after my workouts, and one before I go to bed. In between those times I change up what I eat. I am fortunate enough to have an oven at work so I bake chicken and steak or eat a can of tuna during my day. Another factor to keep in mind is quantity. Most of my research has led me to understand that, in order to sustain muscle, the average person needs to eat .75-1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. This would put me at 230 pounds of protein a day, but since I am trying to build muscle I try to give my body a little extra protein every day.
The next item that I monitor, and this one is watched more closely, is my carb intake. Essentially our bodies take the carbs we digest and use them as fuel. This is a great way to avoid the feeling of starvation, but I have to watch my intake and compare it to what I have and/or am burning for the day. Any unused carbs that are left in our bodies are converted into fat stores. So essentially, if I am eating too many carbs it doesn’t matter what I did that day. I am going to start packing on the fat stores. There are infinite different theories out there on this, but what works best for me is simple. I eat whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and the occasional sweet potato. I have tried white rice, regular pasta, and white potatoes but at the end of the day I feel bloated, bogged down, and miserable. This isn’t to say that somebody else couldn’t eat these things and lose weight/feel great it’s just simply not for me. Another thing that I have to keep in the back of my head is that our bodies look first for simple sugars to burn as a fuel, then complex sugars, and then our fat stores. If I am giving my body an abundance of either simple sugars or complex sugars then it will have no need to dig into the fat stores.
The third item that I monitor is the amounts of fat that I consume. There are multiple reasons why eating fat is bad, and I hope everybody understands this without me having to explain it. I tend to get my fats from my omega fatty-acids either through fish or supplements. On an average day I will consume around 6000mg of Omega-3, and while I love fish my wife hates it and the smell, so I eat fish at work or when I have time to air out the apartment. (Confession: I have a soft spot for Blue Bell Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and Little Debbie Nutty Bars and will occasionally indulge into these things)
I have tried supplement after supplement after supplement since I began this transformation. I was looking for something that would assist me in “weight loss” goals. Here is my take on the majority of supplements out there, A WASTE OF MONEY. Fat loss pills like Hydroxycut, Yohimbe, Ripped Fuel, etc. have been a waste of time and money for me. My results, so far, have been the same without these products, and because I am not taking something that sucks the water out of me I don’t have to drink 6 gallons of water a day. Post workout supplements also fall into the same category as pills. BCAA’s and glutamine are the only two post workout supplements that I have ever read good things about, and guess what, both of these things are found in Body Fortress Whey Protein. This brings me to one of the three supplements I do take and would recommend to anybody that wants to do this. I drink three 52 gram protein drinks a day minimum. I chose Body Fortress because it is cheaper than GNC products and contains most of the ingredients that the other products contain. The second supplement that I take is the N.O. Xplode. This is a pre-workout supplement that contains Beta-Alanine and caffeine. I have to cycle this supplement every eight weeks. So I will take it for eight weeks and then come off of it for three weeks. I can personally tell a huge bump in reps and weight when I am taking it. The third product that I take is Animal Pak vitamin supplement. Every individual I spoke to about this and every article I read on taking a vitamin said the same thing, DO IT. So I tried a couple different multivitamins and of all the different products I have tried this same to be the best. This is also important because during workouts our bodies burn through things like sodium, potassium, glutamine, etc. and we normally rebuild these things through the foods and beverages we consumed. Since my nutrition doesn’t include ample amounts of these nutrients I have to get them from another source.
This is the portion of my blog that will be extremely controversial with the majority of the fitness community. I love the gym. In fact, my body has developed a love/hate relationship with the gym, and I often joke about pain and pleasure being the same thing. When I first started working out I would go into the gym Monday through Friday and do what I called a “traps to toes” workout. I would hit every muscle group in my body with at least three workouts. I would do 15-20 reps per set and 5 sets per workout. This got my heart rate elevated and kept me off the treadmill. (Now again this works for me and it may not work for everybody else) After doing this for several months my body felt great, I was losing fat, and I had actually put on a couple pounds of lean body mass. So I kicked it up a notch and began doing a little heavier weight and fewer (10-15) reps. This workout proved to be a little more challenging and took a lot more determination, but eventually my body adjusted to new workout and I began to see major gains in the way I felt between sets and after the workout. In December I went through another progress check and I had the same results as before. Only this time I had lost more of my body fat and gained slightly more lean body mass. At this point, I found a regular workout partner, his name is Trace, whom had already been bodybuilding. It turned out that my hard work and dedication had paid off. This guy had seen me in the gym continuously just killing it, and because he had seen the dedication from me he agreed to take me under his wing and show me some tricks. This turned out to be 5 day-a-week teaching lesson. Which brings me to my current workout regimen which is: Monday is arms, Tuesday is legs, Wednesday is Chest, Thursday is cardio, and Friday is back. My workouts, with Trace, consist of two exercises per muscle group, 12 reps, and 4 sets. After Trace leaves I go back and do high rep/low weight workouts to finish off each muscle group. Again this works for me but will not work for everybody else. Many bodybuilders will tell you that you should be in the gym for an hour max and do no more than three exercises per muscle group. I do that, and then I do some more.
That in a nutshell is what I do. I am in the gym four to six days a week. I spend two to four hours in the gym a day. I watch my nutrition closely and I make sure that I get enough rest for my body to heal. When I started this I was overweight, lethargic, and depressed. Now I have energy, a drive, and my snapping turtle attitude back.
I will be going into more details on each of the three topics to give everyone a more detailed look at what I am doing.
If anybody has any questions about specifics of my workouts, or if they want to know about something specific about my nutrition please feel free to ask. I encourage everyone to take charge of their health!!