It may surprise some of you to find out that, not too long ago, I was nowhere near as fit or healthy as I am today. Back in 2009/2010, I weighed almost 280lbs, almost a full 120lbs heavier than today. I was exercising regularly, but my idea of training was quite at odds with the reality of being healthy and fit. I was focused purely on putting on size, which ultimately led to me being fat and inflamed (not practicing what I was preaching).
The journey to become the man I am today, 100lbs lighter and a heck of a lot fitter, started with a single line said to me during a workshop:
“You can’t give what you don’t have.”
Reflecting on this, I realized that in order to teach health, you have to become health. I had to embody that which I wanted to give to others.
From that point, I realized that I needed to make a change in my life. When I looked at my own nutritional regimen, I realized that I was not really eating healthy. Take-out, tons of processed-carbs, over-consumption of red meat; you name it, I probably did it. Becoming aware of my own bad habits was the first step in switching my thought-process. I never stopped at any point to really look at and scrutinize my OWN nutrition. While I was giving the people I was working with balanced, sustainable, and most importantly healthy nutritional plans, I was neglecting myself!
With all this in mind, I started a slow and steady journey to lose the weight. Initially, this was a challenging process. Shifting my tendencies away from heavy weight-lifting and tons of calories to more metabolically demanding exercise and better food selections was a lot to stomach (pun intended)! When you’ve been doing something for so long, switching your habits can be extremely difficult. Nonetheless, I knew what had to be done, and motivated myself to change my ways. It took time, but I was able to start moving in the right direction. There were ups and downs along the way, as I had expected, but I carried on and focused on remaining consistent. After three and a half years, I did my first photoshoot at a body-weight of 183lbs; almost 90lbs lighter than when I had begun! It was a tremendous achievement for me, one I am still proud of to this day!
However, this victory was short lived…A few months later, I became extremely busy with work and various commitments. As the stress piled up, I began to (once again) lose sight of my own well-being. I had to stop training, and became less consistent with the healthy eating habits I had adopted. Because of all this, I literally went from being in the best shape of my life to the worst over the course of only a year and a half! I essentially totally deconditioned myself. After making such tremendous strides forward, I had taken a HUGE leap back and ended up at square one all over again!
However, having done the transformation once before, I knew I was able to do it again. Once work and life had settled down, I decided to get back on track, with a new goal of becoming even more fit than before!
Despite this, starting up the training and nutrition again was very difficult. When you stop something for such a long time, getting back on the horse so to speak is extremely challenging. Nonetheless, I was able to get back into the gym focused and determined like never before! I maximized all the variables: training, nutrition, supplementation, and recovery. I went on to lose 40 lbs of fat and build 13 lbs of muscle in just 32 weeks! When I was finished, I ended up doing a professional photoshoot at a body-weight of 168 lbs. Not only did I reach my goal of being in even better shape than I had been for my last photoshoot, but I had done so faster than ever before!
Suffice to say, the last 6 years have been a major learning experience for me. Its been quite a roller-coaster, but I've come away from it more knowledgeable and prepared than before. I thought I'd share with you some of the most valuable lessons I learned along the way:
1) Nothing tastes as good as health feels!
Being healthy and fit by eating and sleeping well, hydrating properly, and exercising regularly is what it’s all about. If you take care of yourself, everything else seems to fall into place. I learned that your outer reality is merely a reflection of your inner reality. The more you love yourself and take care of yourself, the more the World reflects back to you the same!
2) Everything takes time.
In our culture, we want second-to-second results. Losing weight takes time, and the research shows the slower you do it, the easier it will be to keep it off. Shows like The Biggest Loser promote extreme and unrealistic weight-loss methods. Well, this approach, as has been shown by following up on contestants, leads to weight regain over time. The rule is: the more weight you have to lose, the longer it’s going to take to do it properly.
3) Work with someone who’s been down the path you want to be on.
Throughout my process, despite being a trainer and a nutritional coach, I consulted with various coaches to get advice, tips, feedback and recommendations. Asking for help is not a weakness, but rather a sign of intelligence! Why beat yourself up trying to do all the research yourself attempting to figure out the right protocol? Work with someone with years of experience, and you can jump your progress light-years ahead!
4) Meal preparation is incredibly important!
One of the keys to my success in losing over 100lbs was building up the habit of preparing all of my meals in advance. This was deemed the Sunday ritual! Every Sunday I would cook and package all of my food (40% going in the fridge, 60% going in the freezer to be defrosted on a as-needed basis throughout the week). I can tell you right now that I would have never been as successful with my weight-loss had I not done this. With a hectic and busy schedule, trying to do things daily or on the fly would have been impossible for me. So, I learned that you have to adapt to the framework of your life and lifestyle. You have to find a system that works for you!
5) Less is more.
Although variety is the spice of life, in order to achieve what I achieved, I had to limit my food intake. With too much variety, things can get complicated (more variables on the table means more chances to slip up). I stuck to a key list of healthy foods like chicken breast, ground turkey, white fish, shrimp, broccoli, green beans, spinach, Brussel’s sprouts, kale, cauliflower, coconut oil, olive oil and raw vegetables. While these things may seem bland, all it takes is a little research and some creativity to spice things up! The food I ate I enjoyed, and even now I happily continue to eat this way!
6) Social support is incredibly powerful in any major lifestyle change.
Throughout the process, there were many tough moments where sticking to the plan became difficult. However, having a shoulder to lean on (in my case, my mother’s) was a key part of the process. During a transformation like this, you’re going to have off days, screw up and fall off track at times. In order to stay balanced and aligned, you need an outside voice offering you perspective to shift out of a negative psychological state. It’s very easy to spiral out of control when you make mistakes, but having someone on your side to support you will go a long way in keeping it together to keep pushing forward.
This weight-loss journey has been an amazing experience. It taught me a lot about myself, and how to better help our current and future clients at Milesfit. Experience is something that you can’t fake, and its crucial to understanding a given process and finding what works. When you’ve lost over 100lbs like myself, helping someone else lose 30, 40, 50+ lbs becomes easier because you understand the process. You know the ups and downs, obstacles and issues that your clients can and probably will face. I'm better able to support and encourage my own weight-loss clients, having gone through the same process myself!
At the end of the day, we should treat everything we go through in life as an opportunity to learn and better ourselves, and thats exactly what the last 6 years have been for me. I hope to continue growing and learning, and wish the same for all my clients and friends!
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