When Thomas started bouncing around the idea of “Wreckognize Fitness”, it became clear that he needed a guinea pig to test his new approach to fitness. Someone who is not in shape, who has zero gym experience, and eats Waffle House five times a week with extra hash browns. A true couch potato… That’s where I came in. Patient Zero.
I’ve known Brandon, Lyle and Thomas for a while. We play golf together almost every weekend during the summer, play in the same Fantasy Football Leagues and so on. But the friendship did NOT extend into the gym. This is where I drew a hard line in the sand. I would much rather eat double cheese burgers with super-sized French fries in my recliner than make even the slightest effort to workout.
Eventually, just like drugs and alcohol, the food was no longer working. When I use the phrase “no longer working”, I’m referring to it no longer making me happy. It stopped offering a temporary escape from reality or responsibly. I understand that may sound extremely messed up and depressing, but that is where my relationship with food ended up. I was once again at a turning point. Do I continue down the path of inaction, day after day, expecting my life to magically get better? Or do I get off the couch and take the steps necessary to achieve a healthier lifestyle. If you want something in this life, you need to get up and do the work. It’s that simple. There are no shortcuts, no magic genies to grant you 3 wishes, and no miracle “diet pills” that melt away your problems. The only thing that will get the ball rolling is that little space between your ears. Make a decision to do something today that you’ll be grateful for tomorrow.
I wish I could tell you that the proverbial light bulb went off and I immediately started eating a perfect diet. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. However, I did make some changes in the first week that I hit the gym with Thomas. It was mostly little changes, such as: cutting out all white bread, threw out Dr. Peppers and Cokes as well as passing on those French fries. The little changes were actually the hardest. The first couple of days without any soft drinks were, without a doubt, the hardest. I love me some Dr. Pepper and didn’t think I would be able to give it up. For 3 or 4 days I experienced headaches, fatigue and overall irritability. Without my comfort food and drink, I was always in a bad mood.
The dark days, the bad attitudes, your aching muscles, and the tiny voice in your head that says, “you can’t”, are what make your successes that much sweeter.
However, after that first week, I gained way more energy, began sleeping better, my endurance improved, and, most of all, the pounds started to fall off. Around the second week, I started thinking ahead and planning what I was going to eat the next day. Instead of eating fast food, I would come home and fix my own lunch. I began eating turkey or ham sandwiches on wheat bread. For dinner, I would usually hang around Thomas after we left the gym and eat at his house most nights of the week. Slowly I began learning what was “o.k.’ to eat and what wasn’t. Today my diet consists of a small breakfast, usually a healthy breakfast bar and head out the door, a turkey on wheat sandwich for lunch, a small healthy snack around 4:30, protein shake at 5:00 right before the gym, then end the day with grilled chicken or egg whites with a side of wheat toast. When it comes to my diet, I still have a lot of room to improve. For me, the diet was not something that came over night. It is something I tweak on a daily basis. I have to keep reminding myself that the way I eat now is leaps and bounds better than how I ate before. Progress not perfection.
After a little over 3 months of eating better and working out on a regular basis, I was excited to get back on the scales and see my progress. On day one we took some measurements to give me a base line. I was somewhere around 28% body fat and 226 pounds. At 6ft even, I looked chubby, completely out of shape., and miserable. My buddy Zach Kirksey made a deal with me that day. If got to 19% body fat, he would buy me a large pizza to gorge on in triumph . So that percentage and pizza party became my goal. I had no idea what was a realistic goal and was not. I had this belief in my head that after 3 months I could shed 10% body fat without a problem. This idea was not based in any kind of reality. I had no idea what results I should be expecting and didn’t even think to ask the guys who actually know what they’re talking about if this was even feasible. I wanted what I wanted and I wanted it right now. I decided on my own that this is where I should be in 3 short months. Needless to say, I got a quick reality check. In the first 3 ½ months or so I have lost over 20 pounds and 5% body fat. At first, it was a kick in the nuts. How could this be? How come I’m not at 19%?
For a brief moment, I wanted to quit. I wanted to walk out of the gym, pick up some unearned pizza and watch tv on the couch. Fortunately, Thomas was there to put my progress back into perspective. The fact is that my goal was ridiculous. I’ve never worked out this serious, for this long, ever in my life. So who am I to say what should happened at the end of the first 3 months? Thomas put it to me like this. The facts are as follows: I’ve lost over 20 pounds the right way, I dropped 5% of my body fat and gained a ton more muscle, and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.
The amount of weight I struggle to lift 5 or 6 times during the first week is now the weight I use to warm up. This is true for everything from bench press and curls to squats and shoulder press. I had come a long way but couldn’t see it based on my own unrealistic expectations. The next day, I left it all in the gym. I worked myself into the ground, and for the first time, I truly gave it my all. I didn’t slack on any of the workouts or cardio. I refused to quit even after I went into the bathroom and let go of my lunch. I gave each set everything I had. That is my motivation going forward. No more shortcuts, no more half sets, taking breaks, or lackadaisical cardio efforts. If I want to reach my first goal of 19%, I have to put in the work. Nobody is just going to hand it to me. Today I work out just for the day. This means that each day I set a new goal for myself. No more unrealistic expectations. All I can control is how I preform in the gym TODAY… That’s it.