"My life has completely changed and I'm mentally tougher now, too!"
How many months’ progress do your pictures represent? What were your stats for each picture?
These pictures represent 12 months from July ’17 to July ’18.
I started at 167.7 lb and ended at 132 lb after 7 months. I believe I was in the 25% or more category for body fat when I first started.
I then went on a 2 month bulk followed by another 3 month cut.
What has happened so far on the program?
I cut for 7 months and lost 35 lb. I am pretty sure I gained some muscle during my cut. I reverse dieted into a bulk for 2 months, then followed that with another 3 month cut.
When I started doing heavy compound lifting, I saw my strength skyrocket for about 2 months and it continued to increase for another month into my cut.
For months 3-5 of my cut, my lifts basically stayed the same. In months 6 and 7 I saw a decrease of about 15-20% from not having enough energy to lift heavy.
My bench press went from 95 lb to 165 lb, my deadlift went from 115 lb to 275 lb, my military press went from 45lb (my weakest lift) to 95lb, and my squat went from 90 lb to 240 lb.
What workout split from the book did you use?
The 5-day split with 4 days of cardio in the evening.
What, if anything, almost kept you from buying the book or starting the program?
Actually, nothing kept me from buying the book. Everything seemed simple. I saw the results of others and believed something would happen. I was pretty committed from the start to getting the same results as others with your program.
I just relied on someone else (Mike) who knew what he was talking about and I just did what he said.
The only other “organized” lifting program I have done was repeating what I did for high school football (and yes, I was the smallest guy on the team who regularly got steamrolled). I always lifted between 8 and 20 reps and I just kind of wandered around the gym aimlessly (with no success).
In college I would actually run about 10-15 miles per week just for the calming effect it had on my stress levels. I lost a bit of weight there, but not much, and then ballooned in weight after college.
Then fast-forward to the Spring of 2017, I decided to get a gym membership for the cardio section the gym offered. Somehow the manager at my local gym not only signed me up for the gym, but he also signed me up for a weight loss/muscle gain competition!
At that point I was a happy 145 lb and probably around 12% body fat. The trainer I had was great, but ended up leaving the gym quickly after I joined. So I was stuck doing the competition on my own.
I wish I had checked my sources–I watched about 100 youtube videos and packed just about as much bad food into my body as bad information into my brain.
The first little bit was great as I was gaining muscle, but about 3 months in I’d put on almost 20 lb of fat and still had no idea what a deadlift was. This left me pretty depressed. I was scratching my head wondering if someone had “special knowledge” or if all the fit people were just taking drugs to stay lean.
Looking back, I think there was a higher turnover of trainers at that gym than members. About 90% of them were completely out of shape. They seemed more like therapists and friends than legitimate trainers who were in shape and were able to give those same results to others.
At that point, I had a handful of conversations with folks at the gym, but didn’t really get anywhere. I don’t think they really cared to chat with a chubby kid. Then one night I was chatting with my friend’s wife who was really into fitness and a nurse in the medical field.
She pulled out a copy of Bigger Leaner Stronger, said she’d had some success with it, and encouraged me to buy a copy. So I took her word and bought the book off Amazon. Once I saw all the transformation stories, I didn’t even question it.
When I saw the book and meal plans I thought, “Well, this guy obviously knows what he’s talking about, so I’ll just shut up and do what he says without question.”
For about a month or so I vaguely followed the nutrition advice and mainly focused on heavy compound lifting seriously for the very first time. My strength exploded through the roof. Within 2 months, it seemed like every lift doubled.
I listened to an interview somewhere that said, “It doesn’t matter how much muscle you gain if you don’t lose the body fat at some point to see it.” That was a big realization for me! Shortly after I found $75 and bought a meal plan.
I knew the principals around nutrition and felt like I could successfully avoid detrimental foods for fat loss, but I didn’t have any practical knowledge of what a custom meal plan looked like for me. I would say that the only thing I ever questioned during the entire process was “Can I really love a meal plan? How can I love eating the same foods for many months at a time?”
Well, I was proven wrong. Part of it was re-training my food pallet and another part was getting excited from results of eating nutritious food in proper proportions. I legitimately loved my bowl of Greek yogurt and blueberries every morning and my sandwich for lunch!
So now, because of all this as well as the podcast and book recommendations, my life has taken a completely different trajectory. I am getting up at 4am every day to lift hard, I read tons of books, and I’m running my photography business while working 30 hours a week at a day job.
I am also considering shifting my priorities and getting nutrition certified through ACE just for my own personal knowledge and so I can help out my friends and family.
Isn’t it funny how changing one simple thing can cause so much change in your life? It’s crazy! Seriously! Life is completely different for me now.
What do you like most about the program?
It was simple, and it worked. I just kind of got dropped into the system, and worked at it 5 days a week. The process was easy, low mental energy, and possibly even relaxing once I started seeing big results around month 4 and 5.
You get a meal plan, a lifting program, and the exact workouts and exercises you need to be doing. I felt like everything was dropped into my lap! I loved that it was a simple system that made everything easy for me.
My original suspicion was correct that there was a set of “special knowledge” I didn’t have, but that’s because most folks didn’t know it either. I just wanted to know how everything worked. I wouldn’t say the program got me results faster than I anticipated. I think the hardest part was actually waiting for the results.
I’m kind of impatient, so learning to see success in losing 1 to 1.5 lb a week (.2 lb/day) was a completely different mindset. Understanding that weight loss is not a linear process was hard to grasp at first, but once you do, weight loss is fun and even easy!
How does this program compare with others you’ve tried?
Other programs were written or conducted by people who really didn’t have a working understanding of nutrition, or heavy compound lifting.
The hardest compound lift a past trainer taught me to do was the leg press. Also, they told me I could “eat as much cheese as I want” (direct quote).
How has what you’ve achieved with your body changed other areas of your life?
As I hinted at before, this program caused a seismic shift in my life. It really created several things in my mind I never had.
It also gave me confidence. I’ve done something really difficult, and I now have a pretty clear mind frame for what difficult things take. I do have more energy. I now have a routine drilled in to me to get up at 4am, I am supposed to eat specific foods, and lift heavy.
My mind is much more active and I have been able to work two (almost) full-time businesses while also maintaining friendships and health goals.
I think also I am much more focused with my limited resources, and I don’t really waste as much time on distraction or tasks that don’t move toward my goals.
I had to wake up before work for fasted training and realized I actually loved waking up early. I started listening to podcasts out of boredom (the Muscle for Life podcast being one of them).
With all the efficiency and focus I was gaining, I also started reading books in my free time after I was done working on my photography business.
I’m now so aware of my time and how I use it! I’m planning on starting a few new projects like trying my hand at writing. Also, I am heavily considering getting certified as a personal trainer and getting nutrition certified because I want a deeper working knowledge of how health and fitness works.
Who would you recommend this program to and why?
I recommend this program to my friends just about every week! My immediate family is considering getting meal plans and getting gym memberships because of the radical results I’ve had.
I have also been asked by friends in my circles and around my church if I would consider helping them understand nutrition (hence the interest in a nutrition certification later this year if people keep on asking me).
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
You’re able to do great things and a lot more than you think! Keep doing what you’re doing and the success will come.
The two quotes that I have found to rule them all are “Abs are made in the kitchen,” and “the best meal plan is the one you can keep.” The last one actually just seems to be a truth about life. “The best expectation of life is the one you can keep.”
If you have any doubt, just jump in and do it. You won’t regret it.