The workout that inspired my fitness transformation – cutting fat and building muscle

How I realized that it was time for a change in 2017

A little background about me: I was an athlete for a majority of my k-12 school years and played highschool football throughout high school. These activities helped me go attend college in a fat to muscle ratio I was happy with and I essentially graduated with that same shape plus or minus a few body fat percentages. Like everyone else, I would start crazy diets to have a “nice” body for spring break but I didn’t truly understand why my dietary changes were working or not. I would mostly starve myself a lot.

Despite weightlifting almost everyday as a highschool football player for 4 years I didn’t know how to build or follow a workout program on my own. After highschool I’d typically go to, look for workout plans with exercises that seemed doable (some exercise are so complex to me that I don’t want to try them), screen shot the workouts, then hit the gym. I would try and read articles, blog posts, and forums about exercises to do in the gym and why, but felt like I’d constantly stumble upon contradictory information which demotivated me from building my weightlifting and muscle building knowledge.

I was never completely satisfied with what my body looked like in a mirror, but was ok with my body’s state. Eventually though, I had a wake up call that inspired me to learn what it takes to build and lose fat.

The workout that almost killed me(seriously):

After college I moved from Atlanta to Virginia for work. In 2017 I lived with 2 roomates who were recent college grads as well and we were all interested in fitness to a degree. One of my roommates, we’ll call him V, had ~5-7 body fat% before he began his first corporate job work which was impressive to me. One random evening he got off work early, which rarely happened, and was psyched to hit them gym. He asked he if I wanted to join and I agreed… I weighed about 10 pounds more than V and had been regularly going to the gym 3-4 times a week that entire year . V does his best to workout everyday but the demands of his job sometimes prevent him from working out as much as he’d like. All that said, I didn’t foresee the workout being too tough.

Boy was I wrong. I had assumed that If I wasn’t stronger than V, I was ATLEAST as strong him. So we hit the gym and head to our first workout – we were working shoulders that day. V goes first and knocks out his set. I go after him using the same weight he did and BARELY made it through the first set. In my head, I go, “Wait what??? Why was that so hard and seem so easy for V?” I brushed it off and blamed it on my song selection and that I wasn’t warmed up properly. Time for the second set. V bumps up the weight by a considerable amount and knocks his set out. Before I step up I tell V to wait because I need to find the right song. I was scrolling forever to find the perfect song lol. I end up picking I’m A Boss by Meek Mill and now i’m HYPE. We were going for 10 reps…..I could only do 6. At that moment, my whole world turned upside down. I was bigger than V so how was I so much weaker? I think I even got a bit paranoid that other people in the gym were confused at the strength discrepancy as well which in retrospect was a waste of concern. After reflecting became crystal clear that I had been playing myself for the past 4 years of college and the beginning of my post-college life. My body was nowhere close to what it could look like or how strong it could be.

How did the rest of the workout go? Terribly. I struggled through Every. Single. Set. On the other hand V made things look pretty easy in my eyes. I couldn’t match his intensity or the amount of weight he was putting up. Being embarrassed doesn’t describe half of what I was feeling. When we finished, I started to tell V the millions of thoughts that were running through my head. I thanked him for helping me see that I wasn’t as knowledgeable or as strong as I had assumed I was but felt bad about that. Although I realized didn’t truly know how to build and maintain muscle I also didn’t know how I was going to learn how to transform my body. I didn’t see how i’d sift through all the different suggestions like intermittent fasting, low-carb dieting, juicing, etc. I also didn’t see how I’d have enough time to learn what I needed to since the free time I had in college was gone. To be honest, I felt a little hopeless. Later in the week I took some “before” photos of my body – something I had never done before – and that changed everything for me. I no longer wanted to remain in that shape and vowed to myself that no matter what, I was going to figure this fitness stuff out.

Below are more posts about my journey and lessons learned.

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