I TOOK A GOOD LOOK AT MYSELF … AND DIDN’T LIKE WHAT I SAW.
I thought: “it’s time to do something about this.” As a fitness coach for the past 13 years, that’s the same line I’ve heard a thousand times, when a client is ready to take a leap of faith and actually do something about their weight, health or fitness. Strange, coming from my own mouth, but with the same resolve as all my clients before me I found myself ready to jump. Forced to change my lifestyle due to circumstances outside of my control, I could no longer take part in any physical activity for 6 months. That, along with a mix of painkillers and a loss of appetite, changed not only my body but my emotional well-being. I decided the day I had doctor’s clearance I would resume activity and get back to being and feeling in shape.
I tell all my clients that they really need to know where they are now to get to where they want to be. My initial assessment – with eyes wide open, for the first time in 6 months, I actually saw just how far back I fell, how much I lost, and the realization that this journey was not going to be easy. Ugh. 160 pounds (10 pounds lighter than my normal), 16% bodyfat (4-6% higher than my normal), and I felt weak and lethargic.
My overall goal was simple; get into better shape than I was in prior to my accident. I like to go extreme, so with the help of a Philadelphia nutritionist (Dr. Charlie Seltzer, http://drseltzerweightloss.com/) I devised a two-part plan:
Step 1 – build as much strength and muscle as possible in the shortest amount of time, without regard to body fat. This would involve a heavy weight-training program at the Unite Fitness studio Phila, with minimal cardio, and a very high caloric intake, resulting in weight gain (hopefully mostly muscle).
Step 2 – maintain muscle and reduce as much body fat in the shortest amount of time possible. This would involve maintaining a moderate to heavy weight training program and variable cardio intervals, while restricting calories to the lowest possible intake, resulting in weight loss (hopefully mostly fat). I achieved this through my personal training and help from my Philadelphia nutritionist.
While one might regard gaining weight as easy, I actually found it extremely challenging. I started with a menu full of kale and spinach, brown rice, oats, potatoes, avocados, eggs, chicken, peanut butter and olive oil. My meals were planned, measured and portioned. Calories were counted, and added as the days wore on. I soon realized stuffing my face all day with highly nutritious foods did nothing for my weight gain. I just couldn’t eat enough healthy foods without feeling full. I eventually had to supplement my diet with milk, pizza, cookies … pretty much anything with high calories. It took close to a gallon of milk a day, entire pizzas for dinner, and high calorie snacks between meals to eat 4,000-5,000 calories. Trying as hard as I could, 200 pounds was just out of reach, I had to settle for a weight of 190 pounds.
The good news, I had never felt stronger in my life. I could lift the heaviest weights with ease, including a 355 pound squat, a 405 pound deadlift and a 285 pound bench press. The bad news, along with the added muscle I had gained an excessive amount of fat, measuring 21% at my highest. Although I had gained 30 pounds and “felt” strong, my cardio was horrible and I just “felt” fat.
Good thing by that point I was sick of gorging myself and eating endless amounts of food.
I began revamping my personal training program. 4-5 x per week cross-training to include heavy weights, cardio intervals and stretching (I was really starting to feel stiff all over). After consulting with my Phila nutritionist I cut my calories to the lowest possible level, 1200 calories a day. I normally would not recommend that for a guy, but by monitoring my body fat levels regularly I could make adjustments to my program if I needed. My Philadelphia nutritionist, Dr. Seltzer, monitored my meal plan and did periodic blood work to make sure that I was getting enough nutrients from my food and was eating things that were satisfying me. In order to keep full I was filling my plate up to the brim with vegetables each time I ate.
As a Philadelphia personal trainer I would say, my progress was better than expected. I lost 20 pounds in 30 days and cut my body fat to 12%. I know most people would wonder why I would work so hard to put on 30 pounds just to take off 20 pounds. But the stats don’t lie:
I started at 160 pounds, 16% BF, 25 pounds fat, 135 pounds lean, felt like shit!
I ended at 170 pounds, 12% BF, 20 pounds fat, 150 pounds lean, feeling great!
And I’m not done yet. Next time I hope to reach 8% body fat or less.
Unite Philadelphia personal trainers destroy the Spartan race.
SOME THINGS I LEARNED ALONG THE WAY:
1. Get excited! It’s not going to happen unless you are totally dedicated, ‘cause damn it’s hard to eat the way you’re supposed to without second-guessing or sabotaging yourself.
2. Make a plan at the Unite Fitness studio Philadelphia. Know what your weight and body fat is before you start. I do this all day-everyday for others and I still got help from my colleagues and Philadelphia nutritionists.
3. Get support from our Phila personal trainers. The last thing you want is to come home on your first day of a diet to a pizza party at your house. That’s what happened to me and it was not easy eating my carrot sticks watching the delicious feast at the table go down.
4. Meeting goals is a dynamic situation. Even the best made plans inevitably end up getting scrapped as everything changes. Don’t get depressed, you’re still making progress towards your end goal.
5. Gaining weight while eating all the right foods is almost impossible. I tried it and could not stuff myself enough to gain weight … on purpose. Be honest with yourself, if you’re having trouble staying away from these foods, try this: every meal stuff yourself with veggies, brown rice or sweet potatoes and lean meat, then treat yourself to a slice of pizza (or whatever it is you still want).
6. Losing weight sucks, so do it efficiently and under supervision of personal or group training (I’m a coach and couldn’t have done it without the help of my Philadelphia based nutritionist and coach, Dr Charlie Seltzer). You’ll have a higher chance of success and will actually have less of a risk of losing muscle/lowering your metabolism. And don’t be a naïve about it, you can really just end up losing muscle (not fat) and wreck your metabolism for a long time. Know exactly what your protein needs are, what your body fat % is and what your lean muscle % is. When the weight you are losing is no longer fat but muscle too, then stop dieting and go back to a normal weight maintenance plan.
7. When maintaining your weight, eat as much food as you can without gaining weight. Yay! This will not only prime your body for another round of fat loss (if you want) but will also keep your metabolism and spirits high.
At Unite Fitness Phila we can set up an Assessment, which allows us to see exactly where you are now, set goals and tell you how to get there. Take it from someone who did it and used the information to not only zero in on the exact calories needed but to also motivate to get major results. “Unite’s personal trainers and nutritionist would love to help with this at your local Unite fitness studio / gym found in Phila and Mt. Laurel.”
– See more at: http://www.unitefitnessonline.com/blogs/coach-jesses-recent-before-after-story/#sthash.8NxwgyI0.dpuf