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July 2010 TSM: Ecrivain

Discussion in 'Transformation Spotlights' started by John Stone, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
    Staff Member Owner

    Jan 20, 2004
    Likes Received:
    For the July 2010 Transformation Spotlight I've selected forum member Ecrivain. If I had to describe Ecrivain's transformation in a single word, it would be "incredible", but even a powerful word like that seems woefully inadequate considering just how much this man has accomplished over the past few years. A few short years ago Ecrivain weighed 370 pounds and was on a fast-track to a very early grave. Check out his incredibly inspiring and candid interview and learn how he lost more than 150 pounds of fat and went from barely being able to walk to running marathons!




    November 2005 = 370 lbs
    May 2006 = 270 lbs (pre-JSF)
    October 2006 = 210 lbs (post-JSF, half-marathon training)
    Now = 215-220 lbs

    Clothing Sizes
    2005 = 5XL (Shirt), 56 (Pants)
    Now = L (Shirt), 36 (Pants)

    Miles Ran in Races
    1978 to 2005 = 0
    2006 to Now = 161.14 (in 24 races)

    Race Personal Records
    5K = 26:50
    10K = 53:33
    Half-Marathon = 2:08:57
    Marathon = 4:58:34

    My first marathon was in Las Vegas on 12/06/09.
    user16063_pic1178_1277697418.jpg user16063_pic1179_1277697418(2).jpg

    Why did you decide to make a transformation?
    In 2005, at 27 years of age, I didn't expect to see 30. I was drifting through life, not living it. I actually had a very good, comfortable life. But I didn't appreciate it. I had no goals, no passion, no direction, and no ambition. I was depressed with a generally negative outlook. My health was absolutely awful. I was huge. I literally didn't fit in many places. I broke chairs when I sat in them. I was eating a bag of fast-food every afternoon, and scarfing a whole pizza and drinking a 12 pack of beer almost every night.

    Overall, I didn't like the person I had become. And I got worked up enough about it to finally make some changes. In November of 2005, a friend made an off-hand remark about a statistic he had read: the average person gains 7 lbs over the holidays. I decided to see if I could do the opposite. I did! I managed to lose weight during Thanksgiving and Christmas. That was the spark. I realized I had the power to change myself. And I've been building on that momentum over since.

    What sort of planning did you do before you started?
    I didn't start with a grand, detailed plan. I did some reading online, and I started making small, gradual changes. My first step was logging my food. This had the immediate benefit of changing my eating habits, because really, I didn't want to put "1 whole large pizza with everything" in my food journal. The second step was actually planning meals in advance and counting calories. And from there I did more research into nutrition and exercise. These were some of the sites that got me started:

    World's Healthiest Foods

    What were your initial goals?
    Right off, I just wanted to be healthy and lose weight. I didn't have much experience with setting goals, honestly. Eventually I learned to be more specific and realistic.

    How have your goals changed over time?
    After losing a lot of weight, I realized my true goal wasn't just to lose a lot of weight. I really wanted to look good naked. And that's not just about the number on the scale. So I put more emphasis on lifting weights while still tracking nutrition.

    After losing weight and bodybuilding for awhile, I realized I wasn't going to look good naked. I'd done too much damage to my body by carrying around over 300 pounds for so long. I'm covered in stretch marks from my waist to my neck. I have sagging skin on my chest, stomach, arms, and legs. So, I'm going to have to be content with looking good in clothes.

    Since then, I've shifted my goals from aesthetics to performance. I track my strength improvements, and am constantly trying to increase my squat, deadlift, and press. I'm no power-lifter, my numbers aren't massive, but moving iron is very satisfying. I've entered more running races. I challenge myself to run farther and faster. I'm still very much a mid-pack runner, at best, but I'm really competing with myself. Those are the goals that motivate me now.

    What was your diet and supplement intake like?

    I started out with a typical Tupperware Diet of 6 small meals of 40p/40c/20f. My calories were around 1600-2000. I ate a lot of chicken, fish, oatmeal, cottage cheese, and spinach.

    Over time, I've experimented with various other approaches: low carb, no carb, intermittent fasting, Anabolic Diet, Velocity Diet, etc. I like trying different diets to see how my body reacts. I've learned something from each way of eating. There is no one single perfect solution, so it's good to experiment.

    My current diet is around 2400 calories of mostly protein and fat from whole foods, with carbs strategically placed around key workouts.

    As with diets, I've tried various supplements as well. Nothing has been indispensable, but some have been useful. The only supplements I currently use consistently now are protein powder and fish oil.

    What was your training like?
    The only exercise I did at first was walking. At over 300 pounds, that was really the most I could do. And, moving that much mass was pretty effective. I still attribute my calf development to the walking I did at that time. ;)

    My roommate had a recumbent stationary bike and some basic weights. Eventually I made use of them. The bike was especially nice to give my joints a break.

    As I learned more about strength conditioning, I made use of the weights. I started with a full-body program 2-3 times each week. I made sure to always include the important compound lifts: squats, deadlifts, and presses. From there, I tried various splits, Max-OT, HIT, 20-rep squats, Starting Strength, Texas Method, and others. I'm currently using Wendler's 5/3/1 program, and am enjoying it and making good progress.

    For running, I have found Hal Higdon's training programs to be incredibly valuable. His novice plans, along with information and support from people here, got me through my first half-marathon and full marathon. I highly recommend them.

    Like nutrition, I've learned quite a bit by trying different approaches. I consider them all valuable tools for my fitness toolbox. As a result, I now feel more comfortable evaluating programs and building my own.

    What obstacles did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?
    Physically, the worst obstacle I encountered was in 2006, not long after my first half-marathon. I had an inguinal hernia that required surgery. It kept me away from training for several weeks. And long-term, my abdominal muscles are still pretty weak because of it. Beyond that, I've suffered various other injuries and strains that come from training. I've been fortunate, though, that nothing has caused long-term damage. I attribute this to maintaining a balanced approach to training. Even when I'm deep in a running program for a big race, I make sure to devote energy to lifting and stretching.

    Some social obstacles were difficult to deal with before I learned how to handle them. Especially when I was first making lifestyle changes, I encountered many people, including friends and family, that seemed to want to sabotage my progress. "Oh, just one bite won't hurt you," they would say. It was tough to stay strong and focused. You don't realize how many social situations revolve around food and alcohol until you're trying to limit them. The monthly sober challenges in the sub-forum here have been a fantastic source of motivation and support in dealing with those struggles.

    The psychological obstacles have been the greatest, however. I still struggle with having a healthy relationship with food. I get overwhelmed by what seems like endless cutting. I hate being tied to a food scale and measuring cup, but so far that's the only way I can make progress.

    And, quite simply, it's so much easier to do nothing. It's easier to sleep in. It's easier to veg out. It's easier to eat what tastes good. It's easier to get drunk and shut down. Being fit isn't easy. Eating healthy isn't easy. Running far and lifting heavy isn't easy. If it was easy, everybody would do it.

    So, every day, I have to make the choice to do what's not easy.

    How has your life changed?
    I'm alive! I'm really living my life. I actually make plans for the future. I have a positive outlook. This transformation truly changed everything for me. I've completely reevaluated my life and priorities.

    I've done things I never would have been able or willing to do at 370 pounds. I spent a year teaching English in Costa Rica. I've reconnected with my family, bought a house, and established roots in my community. I spend my weekends running races, whitewater rafting, caving, hiking, dancing, and doing all sorts of new things. I'm more adventurous and confident. Life is freakin' fun now!

    How did JSF and the JSF Forums help you?
    Initially, the forums taught me the value of exercise and nutrition. The information in the main forums really drives home the importance of strength training and proper eating. And those are two key factors to general health and fitness. I introduced myself to the forums with this post, and was immediately welcomed and encouraged.

    Eventually, I dove into the journals and challenges. That gave me a support system. Establishing my own journal provided accountability. Participating in others' journals provided a community. This lead to real friendships. I've even had the pleasure of meeting up with several JSF members in person. I've traveled all over the country, including Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and DC, to hang out and run races with those friends. It's been a blast!

    What other resources have helped you?
    These are some of the sites I follow on a regular basis:
    Conditioning Research - strength training and nutrition
    Dan John - training and coaching
    Diet Blog - diet news and trends
    Dr. Eades - nutrition research
    Mark's Daily Apple - paleo-style nutrition and training

    What advice would you offer to others?
    Find your real reason for doing this. Really evaluate what you hope to get out of a healthy lifestyle. Give your training a purpose beyond numbers. Because on the days when everything is going wrong, when you'd rather stay in bed under the covers, you're going to need something to get you moving.

    Big changes can come from small steps. Set solid, realistic, achievable goals. Create a specific plan. Prepare yourself so you have no obstacles. Evaluate your progress, keep good notes, and adapt your plan as needed. Never give up. Believe in your ability to be better.

    What are your future plans?
    I have more and more races on my schedule. The next big one is the Marine Corp Marathon in October. That will be my second full marathon. I'm really looking forward to meeting up with more JSFers for it. Looking further ahead, I'd like to try racing longer distances. I've been looking at a few ultramarathons.

    In the grand scheme, I still don't know exactly what I want to do with my life. But I'm happy to have this life, a future, and a world of opportunities. For now, I'm enjoying the results of my transformation, trying new and different things, and exploring the possibilities.

    Any closing thoughts?
    I am in the shadow of giants here. It is an honor to be recognized alongside so many outstanding individuals, so many that have taught me and inspired me. I am humbled to be included and can only hope that someday I may truly measure up to the high standard of excellence that they have set.

    That's one of the many things that I love about this community: there is no resting on past achievements. The bar is constantly being raised. There is always someone pushing harder, digging deeper, giving more. It is the ultimate environment for success.

    Thanks for a great interview, and congratulations on your amazing accomplishments. You are an inspiration to us all!
  2. BJ

    BJ Active Member

    Mar 31, 2009
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  3. george mavridis

    george mavridis Active Member

    Jan 24, 2010
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    Fantastic effort there. A true inspiration to others.

    John I can't see the pics.
  4. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
    Staff Member Owner

    Jan 20, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Sorry about that, should be ok now.
  5. George

    George Senior Member

    Apr 18, 2004
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    Man, I knew you were heavy before, but I didn't know you were inching towards 400 pounds. :eek: Great progress!
  6. IROC-Z

    IROC-Z Raw Bench Daddy

    Oct 27, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Awesome transformation! It was a pleasure hanging with you in Vegas, and I hope we can meet up again sometime in the not too distant future.

    Congrats and keep up the good work.:)
  7. Jaer

    Jaer Well-Known Member

    Apr 21, 2004
    Likes Received:
    This is a very motivational story! Very impressive change, here. Excellent work.

    I found this to be one of the greatest quotes:

    Truly freakin' awesome.

    is inspired.
  8. henderjr

    henderjr Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2004
    Likes Received:
    That's awesome Tony!! Congrats. You deserve it!!
  9. Shamie

    Shamie Senior Member

    Jan 21, 2004
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    Wow. Well deserved.

    You are like Benjamin Button, you look like you are getting younger.

    Interesting story, and well written.
  10. tbuck

    tbuck Active Member

    Feb 23, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Congratulations, sir!

    Very inspirational story indeed! Truly an awesome transformation.:claplow::bow:
  11. Chopaholic

    Chopaholic Well-Known Member

    Feb 6, 2004
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    Congratulations, Tony. It's a fantastic story. :D
  12. NCNBilly

    NCNBilly Well-Known Member

    Jan 26, 2004
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    YAY! I never knew how heavy you were when you started. Congrats on your achievements!
  13. mastover

    mastover Well-Known Member

    Jan 5, 2005
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  14. phillydude

    phillydude Don't Never Give Up.

    May 23, 2005
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    Nice work, little buddy. :D
  15. livedog

    livedog Well-Known Member

    Jan 31, 2004
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    Well deserved! Excellent work! You are truly an inspiration and I, for one, hope you realize what an important part of this community you are.
  16. dejavued

    dejavued Senior Member

    Apr 9, 2007
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    :love: :love: :love:

    you're amazing buddy!! :bow:

    i'm so freakin proud of all you've done. calling your story inspiring would be a pretty huge understatement.
  17. bmacntmac

    bmacntmac Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2006
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    Very much deserved, E!! I'm proud to know you and consider you a friend and fitness role model.
  18. sevenatenine

    sevenatenine Active Member

    Mar 4, 2007
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    Wow just fantastic, what a life turn around!
    It looks like instead of dying at 35 from a massive heart attack, you will live to be old and crazy and you will still have the energy to make those nurses chase you around the nursing home!
  19. guava

    guava Elite Member
    Lifetime Platinum Member

    Feb 15, 2004
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    I like your story.
  20. Zoetastic

    Zoetastic Well-Known Member

    Jul 22, 2005
    Likes Received:
    So proud of you, E!!! You have done an amazing job! I just can't get over how far you have come : You are an inspiration to all of us!

    You rock socks, my friend! :madpimp:

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