For the October 2012 Transformation Spotlight I've selected JSF member "Croz" (Bob).
There were several reasons why Bob--43 years old and an unhealthy 255 pounds--decided to make some significant changes in his life. Certainly at the top of his list were the deaths of his father and his wife’s father, both of whom passed away in their 40s from heart-related problems.
Bob's transformation developed in stages, and he's the first to admit that his methods were not always ideal. While Bob's transformation did not follow the usual "bodybuilder-style" model that is generally employed by JSF members, one cannot argue with his impressive results: Bob lost 70 pounds and took 9 full inches of hit waist; he's running (and about to do his first race!) and his health has improved markedly.
BEFORE STATS (December 31, 2011):
Height: 6' 1.5"
CURRENT STATS (September 17, 2012):
Height: 6' 1.5"
Why did you decide to make a transformation?
I really think it was a matter of a few things coming together at one time. I’m 43, and both my father, and my wife’s father died in their 40’s from heart problems. That had me thinking that I needed to do something. I know my weight wasn’t in the morbidly obese category, but I also knew that I carried most of my fat as the dangerous, visceral fat you carry around your organs. I had also been reading about an idea called ‘data-driven weight loss,’ where you track everything and adjust based on what you learn. It appealed to the OCD parts of my personality. Plus it involved apps. Everything is better with apps.
What sort of planning did you do before you started?
As I start answering these questions, I realize everyone is going to read this and come away with, ‘He did that ALL wrong!’ I did very little planning except to come up with a few guidelines. First, I was going to be realistic about my goals and results. Second, I wasn’t going to try to do everything at once. I was going to work on diet, then later add cardio and later still add weights. Third, I needed a diet that matched my lifestyle – I couldn’t commit to something like eating 100% clean, or anything that was going to be impossible to maintain when I was traveling for work. And I wanted to have dinner with my family, without having to make multiple dinners.
What were your initial goals?
My initial goals were pretty flexible actually. I started out at 255 pounds and wanted to get under 200 pounds. As I got closer to that goal, I got a little more specific. I settled on 185 pounds as a target weight for a couple illogical reasons. I wanted to get my BMI below 25 (that was probably the most logical reason). Second, I wanted to know if my weight started creeping up again in the future, I had plenty of time to fix it before I risked seeing that dreaded #2 in the first digit on the scale.
What was your diet and supplement intake like?
My diet honestly didn’t change significantly, in terms of what I ate. Using data-driven weight loss, I began to learn a few things about my eating. First, I learned I start to get hungry about 3-3.5 hours after I eat, NO MATTER HOW MUCH I EAT. If I ate until I was stuffed, I still got hungry a few hours later. So I focused on smaller, more frequent meals. I also learned that proteins made me feel fuller on fewer calories than carbs, so I tended toward eggs, chicken breasts and lean beef as the staples in my diet. I travel quite a bit for work, so I did pre-planning for restaurants to know before I walked in what I could eat and still meet my calorie goals. It is possible to lose 70 pounds eating occasionally at Panera, Arby’s, Wendy’s and even McDonalds. You just have to be very careful about portions and menu choices.
My supplements were pretty basic. With all of the running, I started taking glucosamine and chondroitin for my 43 year-old joints and a multivitamin. I also take an extra dose of vitamin D. I’ve been reading a lot about the benefits of larger doses of D. I didn’t do any traditional transformation supplements like fat burners or protein. I did occasionally do a ‘workout shooter’ before a long run consisting of diluted orange juice and vanilla whey protein and will be adding protein shakes now that I’m starting weight training.
What was your training like?
As I mentioned, my goal was to introduce training into my transformation in stages. First stage was introducing cardio, and I started that on February 7th, when I had lost 15 pounds. I chose running for cardio for a few reasons. I like it, being the most important, but also I do travel a lot for work and can’t always count on access to a gym. But everywhere I go, they seem to have ground to run on. I used the Couch to 5K program to get started and steadily added time and miles as I went. At the point I went into maintenance, I was up to 3.75 to 4 miles a day, 5 days a week.
My plan was to add weight training when I had lost 35 pounds, but real life intervened, BIG TIME, so I put that off and stayed focused on my diet and cardio. Now that I’m in maintenance, I’ve tapered the running down to 3 days a week and plan to start weight training 3 days.
What obstacles did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?
Well, as I mentioned, real life intervened in big ways a few times during the course of this transformation. I tried to deal with it by staying flexible. If life meant I couldn’t run for a few days, I made sure I stayed focused on keeping to my calorie goals. If diet started to fall apart, I tried to get back on track as quickly as possible. When it was becoming obvious that starting weight training couldn’t happen on schedule, I just focused on the diet and cardio and kept going.
Sometimes, if I was having real trouble with diet, I’d promise myself a ‘cheat night’ scheduled for a day or two out. If they’re not all the time, I think scheduled cheats can serve 2 purposes. First, they give you a chance to relax and not be obsessive about your diet. Second, when I would eat like I used to eat, I’d often feel physically bad afterward, bloated and lethargic, and that would help me realize again I liked the new way better.
How has your life changed?
The clichés are true. I have more energy and feel better. But you come to those changes gradually, over the duration of the transformation, so they just kind of hit you later, when you realize you feel better overall. But it’s way beyond the physical feeling. I never realized that over the decades, I had unconsciously developed ways of sitting, wearing my clothes, etc., that would lessen the impact of my weight on how I looked. Now I’m trying to break those habits and try to get more comfortable in my own skin. I wasn’t ready for the changes in how I looked. I guess it makes sense that you can’t lose almost 30% of your body weight and not have it change your face, but it’s weird to get used to a different face in the mirror every day. Most importantly, I know that keeping this up means I’m much more likely to live longer, and live a healthier life so I can be there with my family in a way my son’s grandfathers can’t ever be.
How did John Stone Fitness and/or the JSF Forums help you?
I stopped participating in the JSF forums a few years ago, when my transformation attempt wasn’t going well. But just because I didn’t have an ongoing fitness journal this time doesn’t mean the JSF community wasn’t right there with me. I learned a huge amount from my time on the forums. The advice from forum members, and inspiration from all of the other amazing transformations was always with me while I made this journey. Now that I’ve entered this next phase, I plan to return to the forums.
What advice would you offer to others?
It’s very easy to see some of the amazing transformations that have happened on JSF and get discouraged if yours isn’t going well. Or you see what goes into those and think you could never make that level of commitment because of work, or family, or whatever reason. So you don’t try. But you have to remember that weighing less than you do now, or being stronger than you are now, or have better cardio fitness than you have now is all BETTER than what you have now. Not everyone’s transformation is going to put them on the cover of Men’s Health, and certainly not without years of hard work. But better is better, and ANY progress is progress. Remember, there are many paths to fitness, and if you want it, you can find one that works for you.
What are your future plans?
First goal is to master maintenance. No one ever tells you that maintenance is hard! My guess is that 90% of “diets” fail because after the weight loss, everyone thinks they can just ‘eat less’ and maintain that weight. What happens is you fall back into old habits, the habits that got you in bad shape to begin with. So I’m using the same techniques I used to lose weight to slowly ramp up my calories and cut back my cardio to try to find a point that lets me maintain my current weight. I also plan to participate in the Run for Your Lives (www.runforyourlives.com
) 5K run / obstacle course / zombie apocalypse in Orlando in November. I’ve never done an official race competition and… hey, zombies!
I’m working to get back in the gym. I still have more around the middle than I’d like, but since the middle is the absolute LAST place I lose weight, I was worried what the rest of me would look like if I just lost weight until the middle went away. So, I am going to try some body recomposition. I will eat at maintenance and lift heavy, and see if I can’t shrink the middle while building up the rest, particularly those scrawny, twig-like appendages that hang off my shoulders.
Any closing thoughts?
Through this whole process, the most valuable piece of advice I used was from a JSF blog post several years ago. When you blow your diet (and you will) or when you miss a workout (and you will) don’t say, ‘I’ll start again tomorrow.’ And never, ever, EVER say, ‘I’ll start again Monday.’ Start again RIGHT NOW! It’s very hard to dig yourself out of a hole when you decide to forget it all for a day, and it’s near impossible to do it if you forget it all for a weekend to start again Monday. You’re just digging yourself deeper and deeper and making it all the more likely that you’ll never start again. So when you falter, forgive yourself, and then start over right away.
Thanks for sharing your inspiring story with us, Bob. Congratulations on the incredible changes you've made over the past year!