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October 2011 TSM: Apothecary

Discussion in 'Transformation Spotlights' started by John Stone, Oct 1, 2011.

  1. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
    Staff Member Owner

    Jan 20, 2004
    Likes Received:
    For the October 2011 TSM I've selected forum member Apothecary (Michael). Michael tried to lose weight in all the wrong ways and, like many people who do that, he had a measure of success before putting all the weight back on (plus some). Counted among Michael's inspirations are the previous Transformation Spotlight recipients, and that makes me very happy. The point of these Spotlights is to recognize those who have worked hard and changed their lives, but also to inspire others. So, to all of you previous Transformation Spotlights, you've not only changed your own lives, but you've helped to change another. Michael gave an absolutely fantastic interview: it's detailed, candid and inspiring. Read on and enjoy...

    BEFORE (Jan 2008 & Jan 2009 / ~30-35% body fat):

    CR Trip - 08 070[14].jpg DSCN0048[6].jpg

    BEFORE (July 2010: 202 Pounds / 43.7" waist / 30% body fat):
    IMG_0259.jpg IMG_0260.jpg

    CURRENT (July & Sep 2011 / 178 Pounds / 35.4" waist / 15% body fat):
    IMG_0293 copy.jpg IMG_0296 copy.jpg


    Why did you decide to make a transformation?

    Like many people that are drawn to fitness I found myself in a place I didn’t choose. I was overweight, out of shape and weak. My eating habits, activity and sleep patterns put me in this position. I play a LOT of computer and Xbox games. This tends to push to the wee hours of the morning. It wasn’t unusual for me to have dinner around 7pm, play until 2am and then be raving hungry before bed. This would lead to things like Nachos, chips and salsa or just about anything I could get my hands-on.

    One night in June of 2009 I was particularly hungry and remembered I had some leftover tacos. So I had a nice 3am meal (not a snack, mind you) that had me stuffed as I went to bed. When I woke the next morning I felt like I had a rock in my stomach. That day I decided to change. I told my assistant to find me a nutritionist, a trainer and a gym. I started exercising and eating better and actually lost some weight. However my attitude was wrong. I had a huge ego about it. I would say things like “I know exactly what I need to do” and “No, I don’t need to count anything. I just need to eat a tad healthier.” I lacked the humility necessary to really make a change. It lasted about 3 months. One year later I was heavier than when I started.

    When I realized a year had passed and I was in worse shape than ever, that is when the real mental transformation happened for me. The funny thing is, it wasn’t a light bulb going off. There was no “moment of epiphany” like I expected. Instead I just started reading JSF again. I found it in 2009 and lurked a little, but not much. In 2010 I started reading the TSM articles. I saw people that looked just like me, in my age category that had made significant differences in their lives. Everything seemed possible from that point, but in a surprisingly mild kind of way.

    What sort of planning did you do before you started?
    In 2010 I changed my entire approach. I acknowledged the fact that I was a failure and had no answers. Instead I needed others to tell me what to do and I had to listen. So I read a lot on JSF. I initially tried to work out macros and a routine myself, but quickly realized that was not going to work. I needed a professional. That led me to Aram Hamparian (Mastover). From that point on I simply did what I was told.

    What were your initial goals?
    I needed to gain strength and I needed to lose fat. I estimated – through measurements – that I was about 30% BF. I wanted to cut that in half. I also wanted to be stronger and that meant lifting weights. Several years ago I tried to do Atkins without exercise and lost a lot of muscle mass. I didn’t want to feel weak anymore.

    What was your diet and supplement intake like?
    I did strict macro tracking – recording specifically my carbs, protein and fat every day. It was hard. It was a lot harder than I expected. When you really start tracking these things you discover how much is not told to you nutrition-wise. In trying to watch my carbs I found that I would blow my fat out of the water. In fact, in restaurants it was nearly impossible to achieve my goals. I had to cook most of what I ate myself. Well, actually that meant my wife had to cook it. That is discussed further in Obstacles below…

    After two months I settled into a routine that was working well. I was eating nearly the same thing all the time, but that didn’t matter. I had spent 47 years doing it wrong, I could spend a year doing it right. As things got going what I found the most difficult was eating all the food. Normally I would skip breakfast and my first meal would be lunch. Under the new plan, I had too much food to eat to skip a meal. I would sometimes find myself at 9pm, full, thinking “Holy cow, I have to eat another 80 grams of protein, 20 grams of carbs and 30 grams of fat before I go to bed!”

    What was your training like?
    Initially I was using my trainer in Costa Rica. I spend half my time there. We were doing just core stuff (planks, step-ups, ect.) I was really, really out of shape as you can see from those initial pictures. After about a month of that I decided I needed to step into a more serious lifting routine. So I contracted Aram for the full package. After that I was doing a much more rigorous routine of bench presses, curls, squats, etc.

    It took me a while to find my true point of failure in lifting. At first I thought pain was the time you called it quits. I didn’t know that you had to push through that and find the true failure of the muscle (keeping safety in mind, obviously). Having a on-site trainer for adjusting form really helped. I see so many people in the gym that could benefit from a little advice. I really suggest that anyone serious at least get someone to review your workout from time to time. Even Aram does that!

    What obstacles did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?
    Prior to the June 2010 decision, I faced all of the standard obstacles, which boiled down to simply being lazy. The core of this, as I mentioned, was ego. Now I see people I know sitting around at dinner holding their big belly saying things like “No, the proper way to do this is simply watch what you eat, exercise is irrelevant” or “All that matters is getting a little cardio. Then you can eat what you want”. I used to be a “fat” expert too. I had “strongly ignorant” opinions to share. But after the June 2010 failure I realized I wasn’t an expert. I was an idiot. I pretended to be an expert because it made me feel better about my life-long failure. Once I checked my ego those standard obstacles faded completely.

    After that came the unexpected obstacles. First, I totally underestimated how my change would impact my wife. She does all the cooking. I assumed she would have no issue with it. My wife is one of the most caring, understanding and kind people I know in the world. However in week three she “blew a gasket” at all of the micro managing she had to do for every meal. Part of the struggle for her was that I didn’t give precise clear instructions on exactly what to prepare for me. I would say “I need 200g of uncooked meat and a cup of veggies” and when she put butter in the veggies I would say “Oh I can’t eat that now, they need to be plain”. I had to make it easier for her. I had to specifically say “Cook me 200g of chicken, 2 cups of Broccoli and 2 cups of salad. Make it all plain and I will salt/dress it myself.” Even then she had to keep track of which was hers and which was mine mine. The point here is, you should really sit down and talk with your family and make sure they understand the struggle that is coming. It IS a struggle to change. Once I had that talk with her (albeit a tad late) it was much better.

    The second obstacle was making time to train. I am a very busy person. I run three companies in three different countries so there is a lot of demand on my time. I realized that training in the afternoon was simply impossible. Something always comes up to postpone. So I started getting up early. I know, right? I am a late night person and simply hate getting up early. I remember seeing this post on the JSF in John Stone Fitness Forums > Main Fitness Forums > Introductions & Advice For Beginners titled Things you wish you'd known when you first started. In it I read the following:

    I thought, “That would kill me. I am certain of it”. However it didn’t. One year later I still wake at 7am every workout morning and lift weights. The beautiful thing is, nothing can get in your way at 7am. There are no emergencies!

    The last obstacle I faced was that I hated exercise. I, quite literally, loathed every moment of it. In my journal I posted the following:

    To which Laneage, another JSF member posted:

    When I read that I thought “No, not me. I will never like this”. However I stuck with it and pushed hard. It wasn’t even three weeks later that I found myself longing to get back in the gym. It really did happen. I admit I still hate cardio, but lifting is something I love.

    How has your life changed?
    The pictures show some of the obvious changes and these were my specific goals. I wanted to look and feel better. However there are a couple of things that I didn’t expect to happen.

    First, my health is actually better. I struggled with headaches for as long as I can remember. It used to happen whenever the weather changed. Since changing my diet and my fitness I no longer have them. I have also only been sick once in the past year which was a flu. I don’t seem to get “little sick” anymore.

    This is a lifelong goal for me. It is not temporary. Making this change has made me feel in command of my life. I am proud of the progress and happy that I did it. I am also surprised I was capable of doing it.

    How did John Stone Fitness and/or the JSF Forums help you?
    For me JSF has been invaluable. When I first looked at it and saw the level of commitment people had to this little community that really opened my eyes. Almost all of the answers you will need can be found here. Regardless of the approach you take, it helps having a community you can plug into.

    What advice would you offer to others?
    I decided to simply make some statements here and let the readers determine if something fits for them.

    1. Don’t wait for a light bulb to go off. If you think something external is going to prompt an internal change then it will probably never happen. You can make this change without anything happening other than your simple decision to do it.
    2. Everyone is different. People will come at you and say “You really should do this…” or “No, I hear that is so much better…” Pick your path and carve it out. Don’t get sidetracked trying to do what everybody else thinks you should do. That is the path to failure.
    3. Maintain humility. Assuming you are like me, you earned your current situation through your own failure. However just by an act of will you can stop failing.
    4. Push through things you don’t like to at least see if you can learn to like them. If I didn’t I never would have found lifting so fulfilling. Whatever your love is, discover it. Something will get you interested whether it is running a marathon, playing a sport or simply walking on a treadmill.
    5. Imagine every moment of physical activity and every decision to put healthy food in your mouth is like taking a chisel to a lump of clay. Keep at it and you will find the beautiful body that is under there. It really is there.
    Form is important. Get someone to look at it – even if you have to video yourself. If you work the wrong muscle you are sweating for nothing. Do it right or don’t do it at all. Focus your mind on every single rep and make sure you hit the target area. Own each and every movement.

    What are your future plans?
    I will keep doing what I am doing. This road I am on now is a good one. It is sustainable like a “diet” never could be. There are ups and downs from time to time, but this is my life. I have not made a temporary decision. From this point going forward every day is contributing to my goals.

    Any closing thoughts?
    Find something you like. Search hard for it. Swim, tennis, aerobics, walking, lifting, cycling, hiking, anything. It is amazing how you can wake in the morning, be putting on your gym clothes all the while thinking, “I should go back to bed” and actually get in the car and go to the gym. It can be done.

    Thanks for such a thoughtful and detailed interview, Michael! Congratulations on your amazing transformation!
  2. mastover

    mastover Well-Known Member

    Jan 5, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Mike is a guy who never had an excuse no matter how crazy his traveling schedule and work load was.

    Unbelievable... :claplow::claplow::bow::bow:
  3. BusyChild

    BusyChild Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2004
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    Congratulations excellent job!

    I found it inspirational. :tu:
  4. leftyx

    leftyx Senior Member

    Jun 16, 2005
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    Great job. Keep it up.
  5. Seltzer

    Seltzer Elite Member

    Apr 29, 2005
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    Congratulations on your deserved recognition Michael!
  6. FatLenny

    FatLenny Active Member

    Apr 2, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Nice work. Staid determination...

    I got a little choked up on this one:
    The hardest thing anyone can do in life is change. You made it happen! Enjoy the benefits. :tucool::tucool:
  7. PDCA

    PDCA Active Member

    Apr 29, 2009
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    Awesome transformation!! Loved reading your story. Thanks for sharing and WAY TO GO!!!!! :claphigh:
  8. carguy

    carguy Well-Known Member

    Apr 20, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Congratulations Michael on being this month's TSM. You look great and i enjoyed reading of your journey.

    When I went through the process, I had the same problem with the macros and my wife not buying into it totally for me. I pretty much did my own thing. But now she is going through a fitness transformation for herself and not once have I said "I told you so". Glad you two came to an understanding.

    Keep up the good work. Being over 45 doesn't mean a fit body is not attainable. You have proven that. Kudos!
  9. Apothecary

    Apothecary Elite Member
    Lifetime Platinum Member

    Jun 16, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Thanks guys. There is still a lot of work to do in order to get where I really want to be. I really appreciate the feedback!
  10. Chopaholic

    Chopaholic Well-Known Member

    Feb 6, 2004
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    Superb interview - worth a few re-reads. :nod:

  11. jbivens

    jbivens Active Member

    Jan 6, 2008
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    Amazing job Michael. Truly inspirational! Keep up the great work.

  12. Shamie

    Shamie Senior Member

    Jan 21, 2004
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    I agree.

    My favorite part:

  13. T-1 Sella

    T-1 Sella Active Member

    Jan 30, 2010
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    Agree!! Congrats on your fantastic Transformation!!
  14. tommyzDad

    tommyzDad Active Member

    Apr 3, 2007
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    Inspriational, Michael.
    Awesome job! :tucool:

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