For the May 2010 TSM I've selected forum member BJ. Sick and tired of being overweight for most of his life, BJ decided to do something about it once and for all. He didn't fall into the all-to-common trap of non-stop planning and making sure every last detail was perfect; he simply got started and began to learn as much as he could, adjusting and refining his plan along the way. BJ lost 45 pounds and almost 10 inches from his waist, and now enjoys excellent health in his brand new body! Read on to learn how he did it... BEFORE | CURRENT PICTURES BEFORE | CURRENT STATS Weight: 205 | 160 Waist: 44” | 34.5” Why did you decide to make a transformation? First, I think it’s important to understand how I’ve been my entire life… as far back into my childhood as I can recall I was on the chubby side. I remember wearing the “husky” size pants growing up. My mom had to hem the length of my pants because the default sizes were always too long for the waist size I needed. I was conscience of this through high school and did slim down some, graduating a skinny-fat 145lbs. College, however, was a much different story. I spent way too much time partying and never cared what I ate (especially those late night munchies!) As a result, I put on around 40 or 50 pounds the first year and graduated well over 200 lbs. I just continued down that path until Spring 2008. My gateway experience into wellness occurred by accident. Looking for an opportunity to make some extra money I became a distributor of MonaVie. After taking that product for a short time, I started feeling better. Once I started feeling better I decided that I should take it a little farther. Besides, I could hardly represent a wellness product if I was obese! As a result, during the summer of 2008 I decided that I would start lifting weights at work during lunch instead of wasting my time surfing the web. We had a very well equipped fitness room, so I grabbed a friend and went to it. We didn’t know what we were doing and it was rather pathetic in the beginning. But the key is… we didn’t wait to perfect a plan… we got started. Don’t get me wrong, we might have done better if we had a better understanding, but we never would have developed a better understanding if we didn’t start. I’ll explain that more in a little bit. What sort of planning did you do before you started? I didn’t really plan, mostly because I just didn’t know what I didn’t know… I just knew that I needed to do something. There was a lot more planning that occurred after I found JSF Forums. How did JSF and the JSF Forums help you? John Stone Fitness Forums made all of the difference! Sometime around the beginning of 2009 I decided that I had been messing around in the weight room too long to have essentially no results. I was still obese (~205 lbs) and my waist was as big as ever (~44”). I was tired of my clothes not fitting well… tired of just feeling tired and fat. Simultaneously, I was trying to motivate my wife to do something about her physical well being. I decided that I should be the example for her. I started doing some searches on the web and came across John Stone’s transformation. Looking at it inspired me to search the forums a bit more. That is when I finally started working under the correct information. As I’ve heard before… L.U.C.K. = Laboring Under Correct Knowledge. I read and reread the stickies… I voraciously read all of the posts and journals, gleaning as much information from them as I could. I knew that I couldn’t take my own advice because it had led me to my current state. I began to see that there were a lot of conflicting opinions, but it all basically comes down to diet and resistance training. Then, around March of 2009 I began my journey again… this time with the correct information and a community of like minded people who were supportive, encouraging, and informative. Thank you to the whole JSF community… I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done this without all of you! What were your initial goals? My initial goal was to just lose some weight. I think that my target was to get down to something like 180 or 185lbs. Needless to say, I blew past that goal… then kept going. The original goal was important to get me moving, but I’ve found that it is equally important to make sure that I have the next goal set before I hit the current one… otherwise I hit a goal and then just kind of flounder around without further improvements until I finally get motivated enough to set another one. What was your diet and supplement intake like? DIET… that was the key! Once I understood diet, things started moving… once I started tracking daily intake on Fitday, weight loss became substantial and sustainable. I still remember my shock the first time I tracked what I thought was my healthy diet. Let’s just say that my calorie total and macro splits were way off of where they should have been. Once I understood the importance of diet I targeted a 40/40/20 (carb/protein/fat) split. It took me about 3 weeks of tracking and adjusting my diet to get it tuned in. Now it’s just second nature! I have also had success with other splits up to 60/20/20. My advice is to just track it and adjust it according to what works and makes you feel the best. (Try the tracking on the new JSF BodyShop… it’s awesome!). I would say that the majority of my cutting was done right around 1500 – 1600 calories per day, but I have been as low as 1200 and as high as 3000 over the past year. As far as supplements, I use whey protein powder, fish oil, a multi-vitamin, and MonaVie. I’ve tried other things along the way, but can’t really say that any were the key. Proper health and fitness are not at the end of a magic bullet… unless that bullet is hard work and discipline! What was your training like? I started lifting 3x per week and doing cardio 3x per week on the off days. My routine was just a bunch of exercises that I haphazardly threw together. Then Richard Estes (RTE) came into my life through the fitness forums. He answered a question that I posted about my diet… I’ll never forget that answer… was funny and enlightening. I was talking about the fact that I was always hungry. RTE responded to me “You aren’t hungry… POWs were hungry”. Talk about a smack in the face and a reality check! What a spoiled and abundant life we live. Sometimes we need a paradigm shift… a different perspective to bring the excess of our ways back into focus. RTE is a solid proponent of High Intensity Training (HIT). He naturally pointed me that direction… suggesting that I read Chris Cason’s (Ca$on) first cut journal where he lost 100 lbs and get a copy of the High Intensity Training book by Dr. Darden. I did both and decided that I wanted to follow the HIT principles. I totally dropped cardio and modified my lifting to follow the HIT protocol. Trying to sum up HIT here would be nearly impossible. See either of my journals, anything that RTE has written in the past, or get the book if you would like more details on HIT. What obstacles did you encounter, and how did you overcome them? Obstacle #1 – Time This was my biggest obstacle to getting started. I have a busy schedule and just could never fit physical fitness into the picture. That’s why I started working out at lunch… it was the chunk of time that I realized I was not utilizing to it’s fullest. Obstacle #2 – Equipment In the fall of 2008 I received a promotion to a different facility within my company. Gone was the well equipped weight room and in was the one universal machine. Everyone on the forums speaks down on machines and so high on free weights that I thought I was doomed. I knew though that it was machine or nothing. I researched the machine and put together the best exercises that I could. I think that I could have more muscle growth if I did have the full set of equipment, but my results aren’t all bad either. Since then, I’ve borrowed some plates and an Olympic bar from a friend, so at least I can get some dead lifts and hack squats in there. Obstacle #3 – Negative family I couldn’t tell you how many times I was told… “you look too skinny”… “don’t over do it”… and other small comments like that. Even my wife for a period of time was angry because of my zeal for fitness. (She has since come over to the light.) Truth is that people are uncomfortable by someone that is breaking out of the mold and succeeding in an area where they themselves wish for more success. They are not willing to undertake the same effort, so they have to rationalize it away some how. If you are getting these comments from someone it is because you are on the right track… keep doing what you’re doing! Obstacle #4 – Haste I am a very, very impatient person. After my first cut I decided that I was going to start bulking… but that impatience led me to over eat in hopes of making it go faster. That just made me start gaining fat again and set me back about 4-6 months (because I had to go back to cutting again). I’ve come to understand that with your body, slower is better. A lifetime of fitness is not a sprint but a marathon. That said… I still struggle with this from time to time… wanting to see results sooner than later. How has your life changed? How hasn’t my life changed is a better question. Fitness and wellness is not just something that you can do for a period of time to hit a goal… it’s a lifestyle! Both my wife and I eat better foods and make better decisions. I feel much better. I am happier with my body. My wife is pursuing better health and also losing weight (I think that we have lost somewhere between 80 and 100 lbs between the two of us!) What advice would you offer to others? There is so much I’d like to advise that I don’t even know where to start. First, read my old post about The Slight Edge. I think that this really sums up success in any endeavor. Success or failure isn’t generally made by one event… it is a series of small decisions that compound on each other. Second, just get started. Don’t worry about having a perfect plan in place… just get started so that you can perfect your plan. You didn’t get fat and out of shape in a month, what makes you think that you can get fit and in shape in a month? Third, constantly follow the Plan-Do-Check-Adjust (PDCA) cycle. Develop a plan – do the plan – check your results – adjust as required. It is really no more complicated than that… just do the activity and continuously check and adjust. Eventually you will hit your goals and develop a better understanding of how your body reacts to various inputs. Fourth, associate with others who have done what you want to do and disassociate with those who are the opposite of what you want… if you want to run a marathon, start hanging out with people who have done that… if you want to be a competitive body builder, start hanging out with people who have done that. And stay away from your old buddies that like to get together over a case of beer, a large pizza, and some chicken wings. If you want to change some things in your life you have to change some things in your life – if you can’t change the people around you, change the people around you! We will become that which we associate with! Finally, don’t get discouraged. This goes back to #1… if you are doing everything right but don’t see the results you expected… don’t’ get discouraged. Stick with it. I remember two months in I was comparing pictures (which brings up another point of advice TAKE PROGRESS PICTURES! If you don’t now, one day you’ll wish that you did) and saying to myself… I barely see any difference. But when I look back 6 months later it was a HUGE difference! What are your future plans? Continue exercising and eating right. I always want to maintain a low BF%. I am not necessarily looking to be a competitive body builder or looking for massive lifts… just continue to do more and get better. I know this much for sure… I’m going to enjoy this coming summer with a brand new body! Any closing thoughts? I hope that in some way this has inspired someone to get started, to do more, and to get better. Anyone can do this, but few will. Be the exception… take your life into your hands… HIT YOUR GOALS! Start researching topics on wellness. There are so many natural cures and disease preventions out there that we just don’t know about. Don’t rely on the medical industry to keep you healthy and take every study you read with a grain of salt… always ask yourself “what do they have to gain by giving me that advice”. Thanks for your time, BJ. Congratulations on your outstanding transformation!