Not that long ago, I hit a perfect storm of low points. Physically, I was the heaviest I’d ever been; my cholesterol and blood pressure were high; and I couldn’t even run around with my then-15-month-old for more than a minute or so without being completely out of breath. Mentally, I was battling depression and had been in a pretty dark place for a while, to the point where I’d had suicidal thoughts. Emotionally, I was driven by my feelings and impulses and was spinning out of control. My self-confidence and happiness was at an all-time low.
For my son, for my wife, and for myself, I really needed to get it together across the board. I needed to man up, grow up, and show up. I started getting treatment and medication for my depression. And I started training with Ultimate Performance in Washington, D.C.
I’m not going to lie: I had a rough start. Midway through my first training session in the gym, I asked my trainer for a break because I was feeling nauseous and starting to have trouble with the exercises. So I stopped, went to the locker room, went in the stall, and puked…and then came back out to finish my workout.
I asked my trainer if other people struggled like that during their first session, and he said it happened sometimes—but that my exit was the quickest he’d ever seen. We laughed about it, but that moment stuck with me for the rest of the training journey, and made me committed to powering through every workout that came after that first session. And to doing so without puking.
I Went All In
That was my mindset: I was committed. During the first week of training, the main belt that I wore on most of my pants started to rip apart. I started to go to the store to buy a new one, but I told myself to wait until the end of my training, as I was sure all this exercise would make my waist a bit smaller. So, every day that I put on my pants with this ripped belt, it was a helpful reminder of what was to come.
Before I started training, I pretty much ate whenever I felt like it. I had a sweet tooth, I was a big fan of anything fried, and “portion control” was not a part of my vocabulary—and I was drinking too much alcohol on top of that.
But when I began my transformation, all of that changed. I committed to a very strict nutrition plan, focused on maximizing my protein intake while minimizing carbs and fats. I cut out almost all sweets and sugary drinks and cut out alcohol almost completely. For the first time, I learned about macros and how to calculate the nutrients my body needed and plan my meals accordingly. I even used a food scale for the first time and meal prepped for multiple days at a time. Even though it took some getting used to at first, I got the hang of it within a couple of weeks and actually fell in love with the consistency.
My typical day would consist of two boiled or scrambled eggs for breakfast with a protein shake, lean ground beef and roasted broccoli for lunch, a low-carb/high-protein afternoon snack (like Quest protein chips, or low-fat cottage cheese), grilled chicken and roasted asparagus for dinner, and a protein drink after my evening cardio.
This was my first time seriously weight training, and I worried I’d have to be in the gym for hours on end. My trainer quickly put those fears to rest, though, and my training actually consisted of just three one-hour gym sessions a week, supplemented by four to five cardio sessions at home each week.
In the gym, I would focus on strength training, doing a wide range of exercises such as bench presses, lat pulldowns, chest flies, leg curls, leg extensions, squats – and my favorite, the sled push. My at-home cardio would usually be a 30- to-45-minute Peloton ride along with some core/ab exercises.
After 13 weeks of training, I’d lost 43 pounds, going from 192.8 pounds to 149.5 pounds. My body fat went from 25 percent to 13 percent.
Commitment Changed Everything
Committing to this training regimen and showing up consistently—and seeing the amazing results that came from this consistency—made it easier for me to commit and overcome obstacles in other areas of my life. My focus and self-control improved immensely thanks to this journey, and I’ve never been happier and more confident in myself than I am now.
For people just starting out, I think it’s so important to find your “why.” What’s the big thing motivating you? For me, it was the need to regain confidence in myself and be happy with myself, and set a good example for my son. Without knowing that, and keeping it in mind when things got challenging, I wouldn’t have been driven or focused enough to commit to anything that came after that.