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In this episode, I interview Chris, who used my work to help turn his life around and even escape depression.

When he first started working out, he didn’t know what he was doing with his training or diet. But thanks to newbie gains, he made progress anyway and learned to enjoy lifting weights.

Along the way, though, things started to turn sour outside the gym.

Financial troubles mounted, his relationship began to unravel, and Chris stopped going to the gym. He gained more and more weight as stress and depression began to take their toll, and then things came to a head: Chris and his wife separated.

That was the moment he decided to get back in shape. 

It was around this time his brother (who lost over 200 pounds following Bigger Leaner Stronger!) introduced him to my work. Chris started following the Bigger Leaner Stronger program inside and outside the gym and, well, it helped him completely transform his life. 

He lost a boatload of fat, getting down to 15% body fat, added a ton of strength to his big lifts, and perhaps most importantly, was able to stop taking medication for depression.

In this interview, Chris and I discuss his story, how he originally fell off the rails, how stress and strained relationships impacted his physical fitness, and how he turned it all around, including the small changes he started making to build long-lasting habits, how he improved his mental health, and more.

So if you’re looking for a jolt of inspiration and like motivational stories, I highly recommend you listen to Chris’s.


7:10 – Where were you before and after finding Legion?

8:08 – How much weight did you lose and what was your body fat percentage at the beginning?

12:39 – What was going on in your life before you started getting back into shape?

16:33 – At what point in your life did you come across Legion? 

19:05 – How long did it take your brother to lose 200lbs?

19:52 – How has getting back into working out affect your headspace?

23:26 – How was it transitioning into a better diet?

27:47 – What does your current diet look like?

38:29 – What are your future plans?

Mentioned on the show: 

Books by Mike Matthews

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Mike: Hello, hello and welcome to Muscle for Life. I’m Mike Matthews, and in this episode I chat with Chris, who is a dude who used my work to really turn his life around, even escape. I. Depression. You see, when Chris first started working out, he didn’t know what he was doing in the kitchen or in the gym, but thanks to newbie gains, he made some progress.

Of course, he got some results and he also learned to enjoy working out and enjoy lifting weights. But then things started to turn sour outside of the gym in his personal life. Financial troubles started to mount his relationship with his wife began to unravel, and ultimately he stopped going to the gym because there were just too many other pressures.

And then Chris gained more and more weight and stress and depression really started to take their toll and things really came to a head for Chris when he and his wife. Separated, and that was a low point for Chris and a point where he decided that he had to get back in shape. He had to start there. And it was around this time that his brother, who had lost over 200 pounds already following bigger, leaner, stronger, introduced Chris to my work to Bigger, leaner, stronger.

And Chris started following the program, following the meal plans or the diet guidelines as well as the training plans. And the training guidelines. And. It didn’t just help Chris transform his body, but it really helped him transform his life. Of course, he lost a bunch of fat. He got down to about 11% body fat, and he gained a bunch of strength and gained a lot of the muscle he lost.

Well, all of the muscle. He lost back as well as more, and he was stronger than ever on his big lifts. And perhaps most importantly, Chris was able to stop. Taking medication for depression, which has a long list of side effects. If you ever look at the inserts, it’s a little bit disturbing actually, to see some of the things that you might experience while on these mind altering drugs.

And anyway, in this interview, Chris and I discuss his story, how he fell off the rails, and how stress and strained relationships impacted his physical fitness, and then how he turned it all around in. Including the small changes he started making that turned into long lasting habits and how Chris worked on improving his mental health and more So if you could use a jolt of inspiration and if you like motivational stories, then I think you’ll like this episode.

Now, before we get to the show, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you wanna help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives. Please consider picking up one of my best selling health and fitness books. I have Bigger, leaner, stronger for Men, thinner, leaner, stronger for Women.

I have a flexible dieting cookbook called the Shredded Chef, as well as a 100% practical hands-on blueprint for personal transformation called the Little Black. Book of Workout Motivation. These books have sold well over a million copies and have helped thousands of people build their best body ever, and you can find them on all major online retailers like Amazon, audible, iTunes, Cobo, and Google Play, as well as in select Barnes and Noble stores.

So again, that’s. Bigger, leaner, stronger for Men, thinner, leaner, stronger for Women, the Shredded Chef and the Little Black Book of Workout Motivation. Oh, and I should also mention that you can get any of my audio books for free when you sign up for an Audible account, which is the perfect way to make those little pockets of downtime like commuting, meal prepping, dog walking, and cleaning.

A bit more interesting, entertaining, and productive. And if you want to take audible up on that offer and get one of my audio books for free, just go to legion and it’ll forward you over and then you can sign up for your account. Hey Chris. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

Yeah. How you doing, Mike? Yeah. Yeah. Good. Just, you know, staying busy, busy, busy. I wish I didn’t have to sleep. Yeah. Life would be amazing if I didn’t have to sleep. Yeah. Sleep gets

Chris: in the way, honestly, but

Mike: you have to care about it. You have to, and I’ve learned to appreciate it more because my sleep’s fine now, but.

There was a period, I guess it was after my daughter was born, where I just was consistently having sleep issues. The thing was wakings, like I would rarely have any trouble falling asleep, but I would have trouble staying asleep so I could be in bed for long enough, but I wouldn’t feel rested being chronically, I wouldn’t say, I mean, sleep deprived sounds a bit extreme, but let’s just say have a chronic sleep insufficiency.

It’s just annoying it, it gets in the way of everything, and of course, that’s something that I. You hear about or read about, but then to experience it firsthand at least gave me some more appreciation for sleep. And now that my sleep is better, I’m thankful for my body working the way that it should.


Chris: definitely. I experienced the same thing with my son Bentley. He wasn’t a very good sleeper either in the beginning, like he was colicky and just woke up constantly. And he was breastfed too, so it was hard on all of us. But um, You know, he’s getting older now and he is sleeping great. You know, he’s sleeping like a Stratton.

So How old is he now? He’s, uh, almost two. He’ll be two in January. January 3rd. Oh, cool.

Mike: My daughter’s two and she’s still, she’s gotten better, but there’s still some nights where she’s waking up quite a bit. And my son, he was the same way until he was about three. So we’re hoping that that’s the same with Roy, that once we get through, basically.

Next year, things will be normalized and she’ll also then be okay sleeping by herself in her room and not sleeping in our bed and stuff. Yeah,

Chris: definitely. The co-sleeping is, it’s hard to break, but it’s super beneficial.

Mike: I know, I mean, we tried it with her when she was a little bit younger, but I, I, I didn’t see that going anywhere.

Even the, the cry it out method, I mean, She just cried herself purple basically. And we’re like, well, I guess that doesn’t work. Yeah, it doesn’t

Chris: always work for all of ’em. Honestly, that’s what we had to figure out with Bentley. We had to like go at his own pace and I mean he’s, he’s great now. He goes right to bed.

Mike: Yeah. Same thing with my son. He was the same way. He didn’t want it until one day, he just didn’t care. And we had his little room and his bed and that was it. And he was like, okay, I’ll just sleep here now. And now he’ll put himself to bed. He starts to get tired and he’ll just go to bed himself.

Chris: That’s awesome.

That’s a good feeling when they actually decide to go themselves. Yeah.

Mike: You don’t have to force ’em. Yeah, totally. But that’s not what we’re here exactly to talk about today. We’re here to talk about you and your fitness journey so far, and how you found me and my work and what you have done with it really.

So why don’t we start with just a kind of a, Quick, kind of before and after snapshot. What are we looking at here?

Chris: Yeah, so that’s me. Uh, right after my, uh, separation with my, uh, my wife, we had just gotten away from each other and I was not doing good, like healthfully wise, like I was, I was getting fat, honestly.

And I was like not happy with the way I looked. And, you know, I used to follow you. Just like, like a fricking religion. I did everything you taught, like I followed your teachings to thet and read your book multiple times. And you know, I, I said I’m gonna get back to the gym and start doing what I used to do.

Get back into it. And then you know about, I think four months later, it’s about four months later, I got down to my lowest body fat percentage that I ever got to, and that’s 11%. And I had never achieved that before, like it was the first time I’ve ever gotten

Mike: that low. How high did you start? ’cause for people listening, they, they obviously, they don’t see the pictures, but, and then how much weight loss was that?

And then what about on the, the muscle and strength side of things?

Chris: So I started at around 26% body fat. And a lot of that wasn’t really, I mean, I was around 210, 2 2 15 and not a lot of that was muscle. I guess it was muscle, but it had like really deflated since. I got with her. So I had a lot of building to do.

Again, you know, I started the program again and my muscle came back really fast. Within eight weeks I was like lifting and the same amount I used to, like my maxes were getting back to where they were and.

Mike: Which makes it fun. It’s like a second wind of newbie gains. That’s muscle memory. It’s always nice.

That, and that’s, that’s good for anyone out there just to like, you know, I’ve spoken about this and written about this a number of times, but it really is true that you can lose quite a bit and be surprised at how quickly you can gain it back if you just go about it

Chris: correctly. Yeah, it was super fast.

You know, first day I started with bench and like, you know, I was so mad at myself ’cause I only started at like, I think I was lifting 95 pounds total. It was really depressing. You know, after like six to eight weeks I was benching like 1 60, 1 75 again and I was just like super happy and it was just massive gains super fast.

The cutting was the first thing that I started though, ’cause I knew that’s what I had to do. In order to get to where I wanted to be, like I really did need to cut a lot of fat and it, it took long, a long time, but I got to where I needed to be and, and now I’m bulking. I haven’t taken any measurements lately, but however, I know that I am gaining the right amount of weight ’cause like I’ve noticed.

Differences in the mirror, and I’ve weighed myself quite a few times and my weight’s like going up at

Mike: a good level. That’s great. And you should also be seeing your strength going up in the gym too. Slowly but steadily. Maybe you’re only gaining a rep or two on your big lifts every couple weeks, but then that turns into some weight on the bar every month, four to six weeks

Chris: or so.

Oh, yeah. Uh, especially with like deadlifts. I’m so happy with how much I’ve gone up. For the lack of being able to do math very well at, you know, two 40 fives and a 25 on each side. Was one time like my one rep max, and now I’m, you know, three 40 fives on each side. I’m lifting my max, so it’s, it’s going really good.

I’m, I’m really happy. That’s great. The

Mike: three plate club you got there? Yeah,

Chris: the three plates, I feel

Mike: really good. The first big milestone on bench right is two plates and then. Squat and deadlift is three. And then really the high end, I would say probably for at least natural strength for most guys, including myself, is gonna be 3, 4, 5.

So three plates on bench, four plates on squat, and five plates on deadlift is generally a, a ceiling of sorts for, for most guys in terms of how strong they’re gonna get naturally without, yeah, I’d say really, really to go beyond that, it’s gonna require. First and foremost, good genetics. Like you’re gonna have to have started out quite strong and you always were quite strong.

And oftentimes guys who get stronger than that started lifting when they were younger, started in high school. And I don’t know exactly why that is, and I’ve spoken with some other people who know quite a bit more. I. About all this than even I do, scientists and researchers, and there isn’t exactly an answer, but it’s definitely been observed that guys who get into lifting in their teens do tend to be able to gain more muscle and strength over time than guys who get into it later.

And it doesn’t seem to be just a factor of time. Like that’s obvious. If you get into lifting at 45, you’re not gonna gain as much muscle period as you will if you started at 20. But we’re talking about the difference of starting at like 15 or 16 versus 20. That shouldn’t make a difference in terms of just time to get bigger and stronger.

It does seem to be a thing. And so yeah, it’d be like good genetics, good levers, like good anatomy for strength and, and oftentimes got into lifting. When they were young, I would say you probably need a bit of that. You at least needed the good genetics even to get there, so that’s great, man. You’re on your way.

Yeah, definitely. Why don’t we rewind to, because there’s a bit more to your story as to what was going on and why I wanted to get you on the podcast when you had written to me. So why don’t we go back to before you started getting back into shape and what was happening in your life. And how things have changed.

Chris: My whole journey started with like getting a job at Harris Teeter. It’s a popular grocery chain here in North Carolina where I live. My dad helped me get the job and you know, I started out in the produce and you know, I was liking it a lot. You know, I was making money and I hadn’t quite figured out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do as like a CareerWise, so it was my best option at the time. Soon I decided that I wanted to become a manager, so I started pushing to become a manager in my department. During that time, I met this girl online using a dating app. She kind of swept me off my feet, you know, like I didn’t really know what hit me.

It was great at first. Like she was amazing. I had a wonderful personality, you know, was outgoing, friendly, happy, funny. Yeah, I thought I was like love at first sight, honestly. It just felt like that to me and, but you know, not everything stays that way. Unfortunately, about a year after dating, oh, not even that long.

It was like few months. Things just started to get weird. Started to change, you know, like our relationship. It wasn’t like it had began, things in my life started to change. You know, I, I stopped going to the gym as much, you know, that kind of actually went away for the most part. Like, I didn’t, I hardly ever went.

I went from going like at least four times a week to like, down to like, maybe once a month. It was all. Basically for the sake of like trying to fix my relationship and, and get it back to where it was. But, you know, I didn’t soon realize that after a year that I, I guess there was no fixing it. Honestly.

There was no end in sight, I guess is what you could say. My health started taking a toll, you know, I was developing these boils all over my body. Like I got one on my finger and there was one underneath my bottom lip, just from the stress of it all. ’cause I, I kind of just went into this relationship. I just, I kind of threw myself into it honestly.

And yeah, I was young and I really thought that I was in love. And that I was doing the right thing by trying as hard as I was, but I didn’t realize how bad of a job I was doing on my body. You know, I was gaining weight constantly. I was eating like crap. Macros were out the window, like it didn’t even matter to me anymore.

It took me a long time to realize, but like, you know, after getting on like medications for anxiety and depression and stuff and trying to manage all of these emotions I was having, I finally realized that no amount of medication. Or sleep or time was gonna fix the situation I was in. So I, I got out of it thankfully.

’cause there were a lot of issues with it. And I won’t get into details because, you know, it’s a long story. But granted, I, I’m glad I got out of it when I did and I moved back in with my parents, you know, they were happy to bring me back in here. I was happy to be back because, you know, With family again.

And it was nice being able to just relax for once and just like take it easy, not be so fricking worked up over bills and, and how the hell I was gonna pay rent a month or two from now. Yeah. And I got so much needed rest, you know, I slept for like two days straight and just recovered from all the crap that went on and.

It was April when I separated from her, so till now, and I’m like a hundred times better and I’m, I’m recovering and, you know, I’m still recovering, but I’m way, way better than what I was. I’m glad I stuck in there and, you know, came back from, I. What I came from, it was a hard journey. So

Mike: at what point along the way did you come across me?

Was that before all this started or was that in the middle of this? So

Chris: this was before all of this started. We uh, okay. Yeah. I graduated high school. We moved out here to Wendell. ’cause I used to live in Cary at the time, but we moved out to Wendell ’cause my parents bought a house and I came along obviously, and me and my brothers.

We were just, you know, bored out of our minds. Like we weren’t really doing anything. We were just playing video games. And one day I just decided that I wanted to get back into the gym because I was like, I was like, look, I used to do fitness in high school. Like I, I did weight training all throughout and I, I never really gave it my all, but I kind of wanna like, See how big I can get or like how, you know, I didn’t really have a goal in mind.

I just said, I’m gonna go to the gym and see what happens. And I started just doing random stuff, doing curls, because that’s what everybody does is curls at the beginning. Like, yeah, let’s get our arms big. And then I started with bench. I was like, yeah, benchings good too. I see everybody do doing bench.

So’s do some bench and started doing that. You know, I started seeing some gains. Obviously everybody sees gains because you’re just, you’re doing something, you know, I plateaued really fast and I wasn’t seeing any results at all. Like, I was like, wow, this is annoying. So I started looking up programs and then I came across Jim Ponty and his stuff was All right, but like, I don’t know, I just, I felt like I was.

Doing a cookie cutter kind of thing. Like, oh, I’m following what everybody follows. Like, ’cause it was from a phone app, it was like the app. You know, I was looking up how to do exercises and then I found like, oh, there’s programs cool, I can follow a program. And then, you know, Jim Ponty was way up there.

I’m like, okay, I’ll, I’ll see what he does. And. A steroid user didn’t wanna do that. Like no drugs for this guy. I moved on from that and then Nick, my brother Nick, he at the time was way bigger than I was like he was, and I’m, I’m not talking muscular, I’m talking like he was obese. I wanna say he was over 300 pounds.

He followed you. For a while, and then I, you know, he got me on you. I bought your book. Since then, I mean, my brother’s made huge gains. I mean, like he’s, he dropped 200 pounds, like Wow. Yeah, he’s nuts. Like he has lost so much weight. I mean, he’s got like loose skin is how much difference it is.

Mike: And you know, he, how long did it take him to lose 200 pounds?


Chris: think it was two years. Yep. I think it was two that he, he did all this, he in it win it. So really proud of him and I mean, he looks great as I am and the amount of progress that he has made. I don’t really know what he’s lifting. Like I don’t know what his maxes are, but I know he, like, he’s a big guy now, like he’s got some, he’s got big arms.

So, yeah. You know, he was kind of my inspiration to get back into it too. ’cause you know, I moved back in with my parents and he was here too, so I was like, you know what, I’ll get, I’ll give it another try.

Mike: And how has it impacted, I mean, we know how it has impacted your body composition, but how has it impacted your head space and where were you at when, so you first move back in?

What I’m getting at is there are always additional benefits that come with getting in shape that oftentimes people aren’t thinking with when they go into it or are surprised by, because many people and myself included, get into it more. Just from a point of vanity, whether it’s wanting to lose some weight or gain some weight, it’d be more attractive, but then are often surprised at how it changes so many other things for the better as well.

Chris: Yeah, it, I mean, on all aspects of life, and it’s not just with one thing like yeah, you’re gonna look better and you’re gonna get stronger. Those are the big ones, but like there’s, the little things really matter. You know, your sleep. Gets so much better. You know, your energy levels get so much better.

Mike: What did you notice for you specifically, like for example, are you still on any medications or were you able to come off medications?

Like what were the issues that, what were the specific things that along the way you’ve. Enjoyed. Yeah,

Chris: so like I’ve come off medications, like, uh, the depression medications were a big one. It got in the way, like it really was like, you know, it’s a popping a pill every day was, you know, a big issue for me.

And when I was able to get off of them and actually like, move on from that. It was awesome feeling that way. I can tell you from experience that if you really do give it your all exercise isn’t just for getting bigger and getting in shape, it can also improve your mental health. Ridiculously, and that was what I benefited from.

If you have history in your family or whatever of like mental illness or like, you know, depression or anxiety, it, it helps drastically.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely.

Hey, before we continue, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you wanna help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives, please do consider picking up one of my best selling health and fitness books. My most popular ones are Bigger, leaner, stronger for Men, thinner, leaner, stronger for Women.

My Flexible Dieting Cookbook, the Shredded Chef. And my 100% practical hands-on blueprint for personal transformation, the little Black Book of Workout motivation. Now, these books have sold well over 1 million copies and have helped thousands of people build their best body ever, and you can find them anywhere online where you can buy books like Amazon, audible, iTunes, Cobo, and Google Play, as well as in select.

Barnes and Noble Stores. So again, that is bigger, leaner, stronger for men, thinner, leaner, stronger for Women, the Shredded Chef and the Little Black Book of Workout Motivation. Oh, and one other thing is you can get any one of those audio books 100% free when you sign up for an Audible account, and that’s a great way to make those pockets of downtime like commuting, meal prepping, and cleaning more.

Interesting, entertaining, and productive. Now, if you want to take audible up on that offer and get one of my audio books for free, just go to legion and sign up for your account. What about on the diet side of things? How was it to make the change from eating, as you were saying, very poorly before to how you’re eating now?


Chris: started slow, obviously. Like I wasn’t cutting out everything at first. I mean, I’ve never been a soda drinker, like just using as an example, cutting out that donut in the morning or that chicken sandwich in the afternoon or whatever. I started slow so that I could like move into the more like drastic changes.


Mike: one of those things that sounds of course, common sensical, but many people don’t do it. And there’s a guy named BJ Fog, two Gs, and he has a book coming out I think soon on Habits. He is, where is he? He’s a professor at. Somewhere he is like the habits guy, and he has a simple little method that he recommends, and you could tailor this to your own.

I guess inclinations or your own needs, but a simple, simple way to incorporate a habit that you can’t just plug and play, it’s going to require too much change, that you can’t do it wholesale, is to start with something that’s so easy that you just can’t say no to it. That when you think about it, you think, alright, yes, absolutely.

Like there’s no way that, that, I’m not gonna do that. So if it’s exercising, It could start with going for, let’s just say it’s pushups. It could start with literally doing one pushup a day if you wanted to. Okay. You know that there’s no way that you’re not gonna get your one pushup done, or maybe it’s five or maybe it’s 10 or whatever.

But then you do that. So in your case, okay, you’re gonna get rid of one donut a day, that’s it. You’re just gonna stop eating that one donut and you’re not gonna change anything else. Alright, cool. So you do that until it’s just. On automatic until you don’t feel any mental friction over it, until you know 100% you are not going to have the donut because it’s just ingrained.

And that may take a couple weeks, it may take a couple months. It really depends on the person and what we’re talking about. And then once you have that, Now increase the stakes a little bit. So if it’s pushups, if let’s say you start with 10 pushups a day, that’s very easy. Okay, good. You’re at that point.

Now, make it 20 pushups a day, or maybe only 15 pushups a day. Again, you can personalize it. He uses flossing as an example where start by flossing one tooth a day and you’re actually not allowed to floss more than one tooth a day. You have to floss just one tooth until. You know that like you’ve done it consistently every day for a period of time, and you know that forevermore, you could floss your one tooth a day.

Once you’re at that point, then increase it. It could be. Two teeth, it could be five teeth, but don’t go to the whole mouth necessarily. So that approach of just going, all right, I’ll, I’ll get rid of the donut and I’m just gonna do that until I feel like that’s easy, comfortable. And then maybe I’ll get rid of the chicken sandwich and I’m gonna replace it with something a bit more nutritious.

And you do enough of those rounds of slight. Improvements that you can’t say no to, and you can get to a rather dramatic change without the ups and downs that many people experience by just trying to go at it whole hog. Right from the get go.

Chris: I’ve noticed that honestly, like I’m, I, I’m on some groups and stuff on Facebook, like primarily yours actually.

And there are some people on there that are like, yeah, I’m just gonna cut out everything and then start fresh, like brand new, make these huge, huge changes all at once. And I’m just looking at my phone, shaking my head like, Dude, good luck. You know, it’s hard when you make changes like that because your body’s just not gonna agree with you.

And like, it’s not even just your body that’s not gonna agree with you. It’s like your mind is gonna be like, what are you doing? Like this is too much. And then, and that’s when problems arise and they, you know, they’ll, they’ll go back to their old bad habits. And I know I just, I’ve never been one to, to want to.

Go back to what I was doing. Like I wanna make a permanent change and make a, you know, a good change. And you know, you speak it in your books and it makes sense. And that’s just where I started and I just made those changes at my own pace and it worked.

Mike: And now what does your diet look like these days?

How are you eating? Yeah,

Chris: so like I eat really the same thing. A lot, you know,


Mike: is common. Like once you understand the fundamentals of energy, balance and macronutrient, balance and nutritional needs, and you start to build out a good meal plan, and you might start with a lot of variety, but then eventually you find that, well, if you get to eat foods that you like, you don’t need as much variety as you might.

Have once thought that you actually can look forward to the same foods, every meal, every day for a while before you ever feel like even changing anything. And

Chris: it’s weird because like, and I mentioned I just started bulking and I’m actually fairly new to bulking still. So like I’m still tweaking things and seeing what works and like I’ve come to notice that I don’t gain weight very fast.

It’s not quick, which is making me very happy. So I’m like, okay, this is good. I’m not gaining a lot of body fat, but like when I was cutting, I had done it for so long that I was like, okay, this is like a formula now. Like this is ridiculous. I’ve gotten this down to a science, but now like with bulking, I’m kind of still trying things and I’m still like, like I said, I was tweaking my diet and I think I’ve gotten it to a good point right now.

But I’m still like changing it here and there, and I’m not a huge eater,

Mike: which I guess is a, that’s a change from before, huh? Because it sounds like at one point you were, my

Chris: appetite was enormous when I was like going through all my mental stress. But like when I, I came back to a regular state and now like my appetite has gone down drastically.

Like, and it, and that’s where it used to be. It was like, I didn’t really, I never really had a huge appetite. I fill in calorie gaps with bulking powders. That’s how I do it. Honestly, for right now, when I’m bulking, if I’m not making my calories like for carbs and stuff, ’cause I don’t know how people do it, stuffing that many carbs in their body, it’s hard.

So like I benefit a lot from bulking powders and it works for me and I’m able to, you know, those meals that I’m filling in with it is enough.

Mike: Yeah. And that’s why. We created legion. That’s why we created a, you could call it a weight gainer or a meal replacement is many people don’t realize that if you don’t have, you don’t naturally have a big appetite.

It can be quite hard to eat enough when you’re lean bulking, even if it’s just, even if enough, is it only, maybe it’s 3,500 calories. To some people, they go, I could eat, especially guys. Of course, I could eat 3,500 calories a day without even thinking about it. That’s not the case. That’s not the case for some people.

That feels like a lot of food. It feels like you are force feeding yourself, which you are to some degree. When you are maintaining a calorie surplus, you are mildly force feeding your body. You’re giving it more food than it actually wants. What, what it wants naturally is just, it basically just wants to stay the same.

It just wants you to get more or less the number of calories that you are burning, and it wants the nutrition that it needs to keep. Surviving and hopefully thriving, but it doesn’t want to be in a consistent calorie surplus because that comes with not just fat gain, but it also comes with extra processing that’s needed, and it comes with the bodies.

Metabolic machinery has to work harder the more food that we eat. And so you feel that some people are more sensitive to that than others, and that slight calorie surplus can be hard to maintain. I tend to be that way myself. I have a normal appetite. I, I don’t have necessarily a low or a high appetite, so I haven’t, I haven’t, I.

Done a proper lean bulk in a while, but the last time I did, I was straight disgusted by the end and not because my body fat was not that high. It was maybe like 13% or something, maybe a little bit higher, but it was just the amount of food I was having to eat about 4,000 calories a day by the end, which doesn’t sound like.

That much food necessarily, but it is also when you’re eating mostly nutritious foods. Yeah. If I were eating a pizza every day for dinner, that makes it a bit easier because it’s not a ton of calories. It’s not nearly as filling as trying to get, let’s say the pizza’s, 2000 calories try to eat and you have a pizza and then put together a meal, 2000 calories of nutritious food.

So let’s say it’s a serving of lean protein and you have vegetables and you have whole grains, and you have relatively unprocessed. Things like if that’s all you can eat, but you’re probably gonna feel twice as full.

Chris: Like it’s gonna feel great that you’re eating so nice and so clean, but like towards the last like grain that you’re eating, you’re not gonna wanna put it in your

Mike: mouth.

Yeah. And that’s where I, that’s where I got with me where I was eating, uh, a big bowl of pasta for, I still wanted to make sure I was getting in some fruits and vegetables, so. I would have vegetables at dinner and then I would eat like a second dinner. I’d have my kind of lean protein and vegetables and then I would wait an hour or two and eat a big bowl of pasta for, to get my final calories in.

And anyway, so yeah, I know how that can go and I, I don’t have any inherent objection to meal replacement or weight gainer powders, but what I don’t like about a lot of them is a lot of the carbs are just simple sugar. It’s just trash. It’s maltodextrin or dextrose and yeah, that’s an easy way to getting carbs.

But if somebody’s having a hundred grams of malt dextrin or dextrose per day, that’s probably not the best for, it’s gonna be over. It’s gonna be limited. I understand. And you can mitigate some of the negative effects, potential negative effects by exercising and eating well outside of your weight gainer powders.

But where it can become a problem is where people, they just don’t actually eat enough. Real food when they’re lean bulking, they just kind of subsist on these weight gainer powders, which do not provide your body with whole spectrum nutrition. It’s just like usually a lot of protein and a lot of carbs, and not much in else.

Usually some fat as well, but it’s certainly not a nutritious food, and that’s why the weight gainer that we have at Legion, we tried to also make it as nutritious as possible and not just fill it with cheap. Sugar basically, and cheap protein.

Chris: Oh yeah. No, I, that’s why I use it like, and that’s why I shop Lesion is like I use all of your supplements.

They’re great. Like recharge is part of it. I use your bulking powder for when I’m bulking and then when I’m. Not bulk. I use your regular powder for filling in those protein gaps, but like, it tastes awesome. Honestly, like I, I’ve tried bulking powders in the past and, and they all taste really like gunky and they have this weird aftertaste to ’em and they, it is just like really unappetizing and gross to swallow, like, but yours is actually like pretty good.

It tastes like melted ice cream. I was like, all right, I can work with this. Yeah.

Mike: Yeah, that’s great. Now it’s, it’s a niche product. It’s obviously not one of our best sellers, but it is a consistent seller just because there are people out there who find it useful and who also, yeah, appreciate that. If you don’t want a bunch of simple sugars, you’re gonna be limited in what?

There even is available to you. And then when you taste a lot of them, you’re gonna appreciate ours. Similar to plant proteins, so we have a plant protein called Thrive. I mean, you know this, but for anybody listening, which we’re actually gonna be changing the name of Two Plant Plus because there’s a company that owns some trademarks related to Thrive and they want us to change it, it’s fine.

It’s not a big deal. So anyway, it’s gonna be called Plant Plus. Going ahead. However, that’s a, is a similar thing where if you’ve never had. Plant or vegan protein powder before we recently revamped the, well, the formulation and the flavor system and the sweetener as well. So like the whole package got kind of overhauled and I thought it was pretty good where it was at before, but I really like it now.

However, for someone who’s never had a plant protein before, they might have it now, let’s say they’re used to whey, whether it’s my whey or anybody’s way, and they would have Thrive or Plant Plus and they’d be like, oh. Yeah, that’s not bad actually. I could drink that, but then if they go taste some other, Vegan protein powders, especially all natural ones, which probably most of them are just inherently, then they would really appreciate what we’ve done with Thrive or or Plant Plus because it is so much better than just about every other.

The only other plant protein powder that I’ve had that I think is even comparable is Vega, some of Vega’s stuff, some of their high-end. More expensive stuff is comparable in, in ingredients and taste, but I still think ours is better. And so that’s just something that people, anyone listening who, if you’ve never tried a weight gainer or a plant protein before, something to keep in mind that green supplements are the same thing.

Like you taste ours, uh, especially the acai berry one, and you go, uh, I mean, I think it’s not bad. Like sure, it’s, it’s drinkable. It’s not over the top delicious. You’re not gonna have it for dessert, but it’s totally drinkable and then you try. Some other green supplements and then it’s very drinkable.

’cause the other ones will just taste like, like lawn clippings with like some dirt basically as kind of the normal taste. And it takes a lot of work to get the flavoring right, especially when you are sticking to natural sweeteners and natural flavoring. And it’s expensive too. So many people who are familiar with Legion know that and appreciate that.

I mean, we’re paying a premium in some cases, up to three or $4 per bottle. Just to flavor it the way that we want. Whereas if we were to go with all artificial stuff, it could literally be as low as like 50 cents.

Chris: Yeah. But that’s what we’re going for is like we don’t want all those artificial stuff. Like you said, the artificial sweeteners and stuff.

They actually up your. Your appetite. So it’s like it’s detrimental and you’re just kind of like, okay, well if I’m gonna drink this, I filled in those gaps for the day, but you know, I’m gonna want more food after I just got done

Mike: drinking it. Yeah. Yeah. And that would probably be more so related to just drinking a bunch of simple sugar, more so than the artificial sweetening, uh, or sweeteners.

Those. In some people they have increased appetite, but the weight of the evidence is they probably don’t have that effect in most people. However, drinking a bunch of simple sugars absolutely can ’cause you can have that huge sugar spike and then a sugar crash, and that can just drive you to want to bump your blood sugar up.

And that means just going back to food. Awesome. So what are your plans from here? Where do you want to go with your fitness and what’s your future looking like right now? Yeah, so

Chris: honestly like it really is up in the air right now. I haven’t really totally decided what I wanna do with this. It’s looking more and more like I just wanna have a, the ability to stay as healthy as I can and like obviously cosmetically look great and like just do the best I can in the gym.

I think honestly right now I’m just taking it day by day and. Maxes up as much as I can. I’m not sure. Yeah, yeah. I’m really not entirely sure what I wanna do right now, but

Mike: like as of, well, as far as fitness goes, you’re in a spot where if you just keep showing up, you can kind of just enjoy the process.

It definitely, after your first 20 ish, probably pounds of muscle gain is when it starts to get more difficult and, Bigger, stronger can get you beyond that point. But there is a point where, and that’s why, I mean, I have the sequel Beyond Bigger, stronger, but I’m in the process of rewriting it. And so I’m gonna, I think I’ll have the manuscript done by the end of the year, which means it’ll be, I.

I’m gonna say a summer next year release probably. And if it’s gonna be what B L S is for people who are new to proper weightlifting, the new B B L S is gonna be for the people who have read BBL s and who have used it to get to that point where it becomes a maintenance program. And you’ll get there eventually.

Mostly because it’s just not enough volume, and eventually what you’ll see is that you just. You’re not progressing anymore. You’re not losing, and you might still enjoy your workouts and you’re strong and you’re muscular, but the needle has stuck and you can cut and you can get lean and you can enjoy that.

But when it comes to like, okay, I want to get a bit bigger, I want to gain that next five pounds of muscle, or the next 30 pounds on the, on my totals of the big lifts. You’re not gonna get there with b l s. There’s some people do. Again, it mostly comes down to genetics. Some people who are just high responders to weightlifting never needed anything more than b l s to gain like 40 ish pounds of muscle and get their body fat where they want.

And they’re like, cool, well, I’m done now. I guess I’ll just maintain this because that’s about all I’ve got genetically and it looks great. And that was cool. But for most people, what you’ll find is, B L Ss is gonna take you probably somewhere between 20 and 30 pounds of muscle gain and then to get the last that’s available to you, and that might be as much as another 10 or 15 pounds depending on your genetics.

You need to know a bit more and you just have to change your programming a bit. And really what it comes down to is you have to work harder. And so where you’re at now is you can kind of just enjoy the process and keep getting in there and getting in the gym and working on your numbers and making sure that you’re spending.

Most of your time, most of the months of the year in a slight surplus, like if you could have it, I’d say perfectly, you’d probably be in a slight surplus up to nine months of the year and, and in a deficit just three months, and not necessarily even three months straight. Depends on what you’re doing.

Like you might lean bulk for four months and then cut for a couple months to get rid of the fat. Don’t lose any muscle to speak of and then go back into your next lean bulk followed by a shorter cut or something like that. And you just keep doing what you’re doing until it’s no longer working. And I would say by then the new book will be, will be out and the current book is good and it will give you some techniques and some know-how that will help you move further.

But, This new second edition is going to do a much better job of that just because I’ve learned a lot since I wrote that first edition. And I’ve also now had a lot of firsthand experience working with intermediates and advanced weightlifters and really have seen firsthand what it takes to max out, or at least get to squeeze as much of our genetic potential out of our bodies as we can.

And so I’m gonna make a few changes to the programming and gonna be touching on some different. Topics and some different things that aren’t in the current book that I am just commonly asked about that I really. Would not have foreseen without having gone through the the process, you know? Yeah,

Chris: totally.

And I’m looking forward to that. Now that you say that. I didn’t even know you were doing that.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. I’ve been chipping away at it for months now. I just haven’t been able to give it a ton of my time for various reasons, but I. Now I’ve been able to give it more of my time, and I’m getting there. I’m getting there.

It’s getting close.

Chris: Awesome. I’m, I’m looking forward to that then, and I’m looking forward to the, uh, Android version

Mike: of, uh, stacked. Oh yeah, for sure. No, that, that’s definitely gonna happen. We are at the end of the beta testing for the iOS version, and it’s good. I mean, there are some bugs and little things that need to be fixed, but it’s solid.

The dev team and my. Brother-in-law who’s been managing the project, they’ve done a great job and it’s gonna be a huge upgrade over the current app. It’s gonna be 100% free. And for anyone listening, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I have a workout app called Stacked, and you can check it out at Get Stacked S T A C K E D

And it’s iOS only right now. And what’s currently live is not bad. It was kind of like a scratch my own itch. It was something that I didn’t need to do and I. Probably shouldn’t have done, considering how much time and money like I got into it thinking that, you know, it shouldn’t take that much time. And I had gotten a quote for like 50 grand to build it and I was like, yeah, sure, let’s do it.

Let’s just see how it goes. It’s another way to reach people and get them into my ecosystem and maybe get them reading articles and listening to the podcast, maybe read a book, stuff like that. I think I had Legion at the time as well, so it’s like, yeah, and if they become Legion customers, that’d be cool too.

Getting what’s currently live. Oh, I don’t know. It probably cost ended up costing, I think $200,000, taking way more of my time than I ever would’ve wanted to put into it. But the reason why I didn’t just pull the plug. For anyone listening who’s thinking sunk costs fallacy, why would you do that? I actually do believe in, I wanted to get the app done and out first because I do believe in it in terms of its strategic value.

In that it is a great way to reach people who I wouldn’t reach otherwise and to get them on my email list so I can start communicating with them and to introduce them to the podcast and to articles and books and things that are actually gonna help them reach their fitness goals. It’s not just an app for tracking your workouts ’cause it plugs you into my little world basically.

And. I especially like the idea and why I’m doing this overhaul, which didn’t cost that much, but it has been fairly expensive, is I’m just gonna make it 100% free. So this second edition of the app is gonna be, I think, just as good as, let’s say Strong or any other popular weightlifting app that’s out there, and it will have a lot of the same functionality.

And we’re gonna continue developing it. So in time it will have all of the same functionality of the things I actually like about those apps. But we’re, we’re probably 80% there already. And mine is just gonna be free. No upgrades, no micro transactions, no bullshit, just free. And I can do that because I have other ways of making money, and I just want to have a really good app out there.

It’s free. People download it, they get on my email list and they learn about all the other things that I have, and I can recoup the cost. And so, yeah, I’m pretty excited about it. Well, I’m excited to be able to use it myself. We’re about to release another beta build, so when you’re in beta you just, everything gets wiped.

So I’m not able to like, consistently track my workouts with this new version. ’cause every couple weeks that everything just goes away. But looking forward to using it myself and, and getting it out there and getting feedback. If the re-release goes well, which I will be very surprised if it doesn’t, because a lot of people have liked what’s out there currently, and we’ve taken what people like about the current app and made it a lot better and gotten rid of things that people didn’t really want or didn’t use and fixed things that people just, they wanted it different.

And so I think it’s again, just very in line with what are. Users or customers have told us, and so then assuming that goes well, We get good feedback. Then we’re gonna start the Android development right away. And this new version of the app was built. With that in mind, it was built to, it looks like Zencastr dropped.

Well, unfortunately, Zencastr exploded at this point. Zencastr is a software that I’ve been using, a web app that I’ve been using to record podcasts, and it’s been having problems over the last month or so. Particularly with connection, it’s losing connection to the server and then it blows up when it loses connection and then we couldn’t get it back.

So unfortunately, that is the end of the interview, but we were basically done. Anyway, I was just rambling about stacked. And the last thing I was gonna say is that the work that we’re doing right now to fix up the iOS version, Is being done with Android in mind. So theoretically we should be able to develop and roll out the Android version fairly quickly.

It’s definitely gonna be a lot faster than if we were starting from scratch, that’s for sure. So, as far as a timeline goes, I’m not sure, but I know we’re gonna have the iOS out this year. I think it’s gonna be out this month, but next month would be the latest. And then I believe the developers were thinking three or four months for Android, so let’s double that and say six to eight months.

And so let’s say summer next year. That is very possible. Alright, well everyone I. Thanks for listening to the interview and thank you, Chris for taking the time to do it. I appreciate it. Keep up the good work man, and definitely keep me posted. He originally emailed me, which anyone can do. If anybody wants to reach out to me, [email protected], muscle f o r and I’m looking forward to getting the next email from him and hearing about how things have changed even more for the better since having today’s discussion.

All right. Well, that’s it for today’s episode. I hope you found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, could you please leave a quick review for the podcast on iTunes or wherever you are listening from? Because those reviews not only convince people that they should check out the show, they also increase the search visibility.

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And last. If you didn’t like something about the show, then definitely shoot me an email at [email protected] and share your thoughts. Let me know how you think I could do this better. I read every email myself and I’m always looking for constructive feedback. All right, thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.

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