For the March 2012 Transformation Spotlight of the Month I've selected JSF forum member "Terps01fan2006" (Ryan). In 2007 Ryan was morbidly obese and decided that it was time to make a change. Like many of those who resolve to lose weight for the New Year, Ryan's first attempt at a transformation lasted a good solid week. The seed was planted, however, and Ryan found it within himself to to try again the next month. Closing in on 300 pounds and struggling to complete just 2 minutes of exercise, Ryan knew that he had a very long and difficult road ahead of him. Since 2007 Ryan has not only lost more than 100 pounds of fat, he's run nine marathons, completed two half-ironmans and much more. Ryan's life has changed in just about every way imaginable, and it all started with that first step...
BEFORE (2006/2007 - 275 pounds):
CURRENT (~175 pounds):
Why did you decide to make a transformation?
I've been active in sports my entire life, obviously not in peak athletic condition to perform at my potential, but active nonetheless. The problem was I never paid one bit of attention to what I ate, and it started to catch up. I realized there isn’t enough exercise to be done to outweigh a bad diet. Being interested in athletics, and lifting weights, I just one day really decided I'm going to "just do it".
January 2007 I made that choice, which lasted all of a week and then I was back to Arby's and Chicken Finger subs for daily lunches. I made myself a deal sometime around then, I said beginning next month, no matter what I'm going to stick it out for at least a month. I told myself I can deal with anything for a month's time. At this time I was 275 pounds.
What sort of planning did you do before you started?
I knew the basics of lifting and cardio. I had absolutely no idea about nutrition. I hit the internet hard to do research on everything, stumbling across John Stone Fitness
by random chance. I truly believe if I didn’t find JSF and the wealth of knowledge it contained, I would have never stayed on track.
Exercise- I was the guy who thought that benching and biceps were the staple of a lifting routine. I quickly scratched that. I set up a 4 day split routine. Back/Bi's, Chest/Tri's, Shoulders/Arms, and Legs. Deadlifts, Squats, Presses and rows were the main focus.
As far as cardio, it wasn’t rocket science. I became a fan of interval training and started hitting the bike hard. I would do something like 1 min hard, 1 min recovery. About 30-45 minutes total. I was out of shape, so yeah it really hurt. I made myself suck it up. This is about the time I realized one thing I never thought would happen, that I just loved to run. I couldn’t make two laps around the football field, why would anybody ever WANT to run is what I always thought?
I started to hit the Treadmill, making small progression goals. I remember when running consecutively for 2 minutes was literally a goal of mine. 2 minutes became 5, then 10, then I started to measure in miles. When I started running outside that spring is when I really became hooked, 20 minute runs were becoming the norm. As time went on, the goals became progressively more challenging, I was looking forward to running every day, and the weight was dripping off.
I realized two things right away, your mind is so unbelievably strong and that if you're mentally strong, the mind will carry you, in all aspects, not just fitness. And that I like the feeling of enduring physical pain that I wanted more.
What were your initial goals?
Initially, I just wanted to drop the pounds. For the first couple of months I didn’t focus on anything in particular. Using the broad and pretty undefined goal of "just lose weight", allowed me flexibility, if I wanted to run instead of lift, I did and vice versa. After the pounds started coming off I started to really enjoy lifting, and wanted to put on strength. I got my deadlift up to 425+, the progress was the real motivation. Seeing the tangible results pushed me even further. I also started to set some running goals. They were small at first, but every time I achieved a goal, I set a higher one.
Eventually, I realized I enjoyed running more than lifting and if I wanted to progress I would have to choose one to focus specifically on. I chose running. 5 years later, I have completed 9 marathons, training for another this April, 2 half-ironman triathlons, and countless other competitions. No matter how many goals that I set and achieve, I will always strive for more challenging ones, that's what keeps you coming back day after day and what makes it all worth it in the end.
What was your diet and supplement intake like?
My diet was a complete turnaround, once I educated myself by reading about proper nutrition, I just put it to practice. I followed the eat small frequent meals rule. At first I was pretty strict, I was eating protein/carb or protein/fat meals only. Probably a 40/40/30 macro split. As the weight started dropping, I became less strict, as long as the number of calories and exercise was staying the same. I still always make sure I eat my veggies and fruits along with lean meats and complex carbs.
Supplements never really played a role with me, I take a multi-vitamin and fish oil every day, along with a post workout protein shake here and there, but I don’t really consider them supplements per say. I believe there is no supplement you can pay for, than you can’t get for free in a natural healthy diet.
What was your training like?
At first I lifted 4 days a week, split routine, compound movements focused M-Tu-Th-F, and did cardio 5 days a week M-W-F-Sa-Su. As I started dropping the weight I started progressing with running and kept on building a strong base of miles.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a struggle at first, it was and it hurt. But the motivation to reach my goals pushed me through, and seeing results further pushed me. Today I'm currently running 60ish miles a week, and lifting 3 times a week full body.
What obstacles did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?
Luckily I always have enjoyed sports and being active, so getting into the gym and working hard wasn’t ever really a problem (except the cardio part). Of course there were days when I didn't feel like putting in a hard workout, but knowing the guilt of skipping it helped keep me honest.
The major obstacles had to deal with the eating aspect. It's obvious that getting to be 275 lbs required downing my fair share of comfort foods, and not controlling portions. Taco's, chicken finger subs, ice cream and all the above are appealing to anybody, but especially to an overweight person. Giving these wonderful treats up was hard at first, but now I look back and try to figure out how the hell I ate all the junk I did. It is just amazing how much better your body and mind works when you give it the foods it wants and not fill it up with a bunch of garbage.
I learned to adapt, I researched different recipes to spice up the healthy options and came to enjoy cooking for myself and trying new foods. I never knew I enjoyed oatmeal so much, now I've had it for breakfast everyday for years. Same goes with cottage cheese, it always looked nasty so I never gave it a chance, turns out that adding yogurt and fruit to it makes for a wonderful snack.
I can’t emphasize enough how great an investments in your knowledge is. I’ve learned so much about the body just by “Googling” topics.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. By teaching myself about nutrition and exercise, I hope to use that knowledge for a lifetime.
How has your life changed?
It's amazing how much of an effect good health has over not just your body, but your mind as well. You never know how good of a feeling it is to be in shape, until you are and you look back at how much it sucked being out of shape.
My confidence in self is tenfold higher. It feels great when I can step out the door for a 10 mile run every day and finish it feeling more refreshed and clear-minded than when I started. Good health has had such a profound trickledown effect on the other aspects of my life, it's almost too hard to explain it, until you feel it.
How did John Stone Fitness and/or the JSF Forums help you?
As mentioned above, if I didn’t randomly come across JSF when searching the web for something, I may have never started working my way into shape. JSF literally taught me everything I needed to know to get going, it provided an unlimited wealth of knowledge. Plus, following John's daily log's was a great motivator.
As you can see I mainly am a "lurker", but I have visited JSF almost every day since 2007. JSF gave the me kick in the butt needed to get my diet in order. It made me realize that if I wanted to reach goals, I couldn’t eat like crap and use the excuse that as long as I worked out, it was fine.
What advice would you offer to others?
Sometimes it is hard to hear, but you just have to suck it up and do it. No excuses. Make it part of your everyday life. Not enough time to fit in a workout? Okay, but there isn’t an excuse to eat crap all day. Research and learn. JSF helped me tremendously in this matter. It’s amazing when you learn how complex and smart your body is.
As for motivation, just remember what John always says, if you were offered a million bucks
to reach some fitness goal, would you? Absolutely you would find a way to, this proves that the motivation is there, you just have to dig deep and find it. What if I told you than sucking it up for 6 months, could change the rest of your life for the better? Those 6 months are such a small % of the rest of your life that it is worth it.
What are your future plans?
Right now I am training for my 10th marathon since my transformation 4 years ago. The next goal for me is to run a sub 3:15 marathon. I am looking to get progressively faster and some day qualify for Boston. I still lift 3 times a week and still thoroughly enjoy the feeling of a nice lifting workout and healthy lifestyle.
Any closing thoughts?
Fitness is one small aspect of your life in the grand scheme of things with family, career, education, etc. But it is amazing how living a healthy lifestyle positively affects all the other day to day parts of
your life. One of my favorite quotes, "To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift." Don't sweat the small things, just get out there and get it done.
Absolutely amazing job, Ryan! Congratulations - you're an inspiration to us all!
: I’m always looking for TSM nominations. If you, or someone you know, has made a successful transformation, please contact me
and let me know about it!