Obese to Ripped in One Year. The Why and How.
The Spring Break Trip:
Roughly one year ago, I was invited to a spring break trip to Panama City Beach, FL. I had a great time… BUT… I felt held back… I really started to see just how bad my lack of confidence was; I wanted to take my shirt off and enjoy the sun, but I really didn’t want people to see how I looked. Coincidentally, during the trip, I found this article by /u/zbyhnev/ which outlined the difference between motivation and discipline.
The article mentioned:
“This is one of these situations where adopting a different perspective immediately results in superior outcomes.”
It really was. Immediately when I got back, I told myself that I was going to lose weight and get ripped for my next spring break trip. I didn’t care what it took. I wanted it so I was going to have it.
I knew the basic idea behind losing weight was to eat less than you could consume, so I went off of that idea. I looked up a weight loss calculator on google and stumbled upon this one. I plugged in my stats to lose two pounds a week and got my caloric target: 1880.
In the beginning, I really didn’t workout or anything, I just tracked my calories. At some point I started using myfitnesspal to track my calories but I did it on paper to start off. I ate what I was used to eating, just less. I ate portioned out tuna casseroles, bagels with cream cheese, noodles with pasta sauce and a whole bunch of other typical “American” food. I lost a decent bit of fat just by doing that and I felt great because I was gaining solid momentum. At a certain point, I made a bet on a site called healthywage which pays you to lose weight. I knew confidently that I was going to follow through so it was a no-brainer. Needless to say, I doubled my money.
While losing weight, I did lots of research and learned a lot. I read a lot of articles and watched a lot of fitness YouTubers. I think it’s important to be a sponge for information. Learning while going through the process was crucial in getting the results I attained. I was learning about re-feed days, strict body-building diets, supplementing creatine, advanced calorie counting techniques and weighing food on a scale before I did any of those things. A couple of months into my journey, I finally joined the gym.
Hitting the Gym:
(Note: I lifted before I got fat so I had some sense in what I was doing when I started)
YouTubers I liked at the time were the Buff Dudes so I modeled my workouts after their 3-day split routine. Later, I read about the concepts behind the Strong Lifts 5×5 program and combined that with the concept of a three day split. Here’s the kicker: I didn’t really have a set list of exercises that I would do in a certain order when I went to the gym, I would always wing it…
These are the only rules I really followed when entering the gym:
- Get around 5 reps on most compound exercises
- Focus only on the particular body parts for the given day. (Chest+Triceps, Back+Biceps, Legs+Shoulders)
- Focus most of my effort on compound exercises
For chest+tricep days, I would do flat dumbbell chest presses and the good ol’ fashioned bench press for many sets of 5 reps. Sometimes I would do things like incline barbell presses and incline dumbbell presses, etc. As soon as I noticed I was repeating the same routine multiple times, I switched it up. I would change the ordering of each exercise, the number of sets, the amount of weight along with shorter/longer rest periods, incorporation of drop sets, etc. There was one day where all I did was bench press for 20 sets and kept dropping the weight until 135 became unbearable. I feel that it is too easy to get bored with the same routine so I mixed it up. I enjoy the process of choosing what to do in the moment given what equipment is available and what I’m feeling. Needless to say, I confused the hell out of muscles doing this. (Which is a good thing!)
I got addicted to going to the gym. I loved feeling the pump where my muscles would fill with blood, feel tight and look huge. Since I was cutting for a while though, I gained very little strength which was slightly discouraging. However, there was a point in time where I started to supplement with creatine (5g daily) and felt like a gym god in about 2-3 weeks. My deadlift went from 275 to 315 and I remember being so happy when I finally pulled 3 plates.
I’ll also add that I did some running on the treadmill about 2 times a week for 15-20 minutes after my lifting sessions. As you can see, extreme cardio was not a significant part of my weight loss. A caloric deficit with some weight-lifting and persistence was the key.
Improving my Diet:
As I kept reading and watching YouTube videos, I learned better ways to eat and prepare food. First of all, I only drank water, plain tea or black coffee (drinking only water/coffee/tea was never a problem for me but I know it is for others so I thought I’d mention it). I learned techniques for preparing my meals ahead of time and routinely eating those (/r/mealprepsunday). I planned the meals to be anywhere from 500-700 calories. They tended to consist of a lean meat, a filling carbohydrate and steamed vegetables. I also ate plain oatmeal for breakfast with some chopped up fruit and/or peanutbutter and cinnamon. I also drank fruit smoothies and prepared overnight oats. By now, I had purchased a food scale and a body fat caliper to chart changes in my body fat percentage and measure my calories with greater precision. I started eating very clean. I did have days where I would have slices of pizza and other junk, but I stuck with my diet 99% of the time.
Proteins: Chicken Breast, Turkey, Fish
Carbohydrates: Brown rice, Quinoa, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes
Vegetables: Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Green Beans
Losing fat became very hard at the end. My fat loss started to plateau. My goal was to get to 10% body fat and at the time I had around 14-15%. Previously, I had read about re-feed days and diet breaks and decided to give these techniques a try. I figured my body needed it considering that I had been at a caloric deficit for many months. The 14-day diet break I had was amazing. Energy levels went through the roof which translated to slightly better lifts in the gym. After the break was over, I lost a couple more pounds of fat a little bit easier.
With the iconic spring break trip soon approaching, I had to lose another 5 pounds in about 6 weeks. I slightly lowered my calories from around 2000 to 1800 and continued to hit the gym 3 days a week with occasional cardio. It was very difficult. I had ridiculous cravings. RIDICULOUS. I started obsessing about the next time I was going to eat and my roommate had to deal with my shitty mood swings. I had about two planned re-feed days within that 6 week period and those were the days I looked forward too. In the end, it came down to discipline in not eating and sticking to my plan regardless of how I felt.
The day before spring break, I had a new average weigh-in: 175lb on the dot.
I was fat and didn’t like it. learned discipline > motivation. Started calorie counting. Started hitting the gym and lifting weights with a caloric deficit. Started eating cleaner. Got hard near the end so I incorporated diet breaks and re-feeds. Fought huge cravings and eventually hit 10% body fat.
Thanks for gold!
How tall are you?
What weight did you start and end at?
- 245lb -> 175lb
What were your starting and ending lifts?
- Starting(in deficit mode) -> 5 x 225 Squat. 5 x 225 Deadlift. 5 x 185 Bench.
- Ending(also in deficit mode) -> 5 x 275 Squat. 5 x 315 Deadlift. 5 x 225 Bench.
How do you feel about your loose skin/Do you have loose skin?
- I do have some loose skin on the bottom of my stomach, but luckily it isn’t very bad.
- I feel that my decent genetics, a good diet, drinking plenty of water and losing fat at a reasonable pace all helped minimize the damage.
- If you want to lose weight I can assure you that I feel a lot better with a little loss skin than I did when I was fat.
- The loose skin does get a little tighter over time.
Note: I had a solid muscular base under my fat and a history of weight lifting, this is why it looks like I gained a lot of muscle… I didn’t gain as much as you might think, I mostly made what I had more visible.
Here is a picture of how jacked I already was my senior year of HS before I gained weight to prove that I had a solid muscular base and really didn’t gain much muscle.
This is a direct copy and paste of my Reddit post.