My transformation story starts like a lot of others: with a tragedy. I had gone through a really rough break up after 7 years, and it took it’s toll on me. Over the course of several years, I let myself slide. It was a gradual slide, the kind where you add 20 pounds in a year. Year after year. Eventually you get to the point where you notice your clothes are tight; you can’t make excuses anymore and assume that they shrunk in the dryer or just got old. Then you go take a long hard look in the mirror and you notice it. The longer you stare, the more you notice it, and it just goes downhill from there: You are a fatass.
This is where my transformation story is different, though. My transformation was really triggered by stagnation. I am an entrepreneurial person at my core; I am constantly trying to do something to grow myself as an individual and achieve my financial freedom. Over the course of those several years I had let stagnation enter my life. It is one of those things where you don’t notice how deep the hole really is until you look up from the bottom of it. I had slowly sunk myself into this stagnant, compromising, mediocre lifestyle. And I was ok with it. Mediocrity pushed on me from every side, and I just laid back and let it wash over me.
So, in a lot of ways, that shitty breakup was the best thing that ever happened to me. It made me assess myself, and in doing that I identified many of my problems. This was a good thing, because it meant I knew what was wrong and I could fix them. I just wish I had someone like myself now to tell me how hard it would have been back then. I decided to purge everything mediocre from my life. No longer would I be content with stagnation; with what life handed to me. No-one will ever hand you greatness. You must take it. So that’s what I did.
My approach is a little…… different. Where most people begin to purge everything they *are* in hopes of completely rebuilding a different person; I took the hard road. I identified what made me “me”, and I used that as a foundation for my rebirth. I have always been a geek and a gamer. Don’t believe me?
I have played games for years, and that will never end. It really irks me when I see the stereotype of the guy throwing away his comics and video games. Who the hell wants to do that? You don’t need to compromise who you are in order to be a better person; you just have to change your scope. You have to change the way you look at things, how you look at everything. Great people do what they have to do, even when they don’t want to. Partition out your time, make lists, get shit done.
You make yourself a better person, one day at a time. Every. Single. Day! Every day you do something to enrich yourself. Learn something new, work on a project, fix something that is broken. Don’t be lazy. This is my ideology and I continue to do this every day. I partition out parts of my day, even if its only 15 minutes of my time, to work on different projects. These aren’t projects for a person. These aren’t projects for a job or assignment. These are projects for me.
So.. There I was, about 255 pounds. Hypertensive. I had suffered a TIA (basically a stroke) in 2009. My bodyfat? somewhere around 38-40%. I was a fat ass, no two ways about it. I watched what I ate somewhat because of my hypertension, but I still ate reaaaaaly shitty. No regard for macronutrients, I just ate what I wanted while avoiding salt for the most part. The day I stood there and looked in the mirror was the day it all changed. I couldn’t believe that it had gotten as bad as it had. It was *really* bad. On the plus side I had a glorious neck-beard!
I just remember waking up one morning and telling myself that I would not accept that any longer. This life, this lifestyle of mediocrity and stagnation was going to be purged. That was the day I started Intermittent Fasting. I started reading as much as I could about fitness and nutrition. I would read about fitness for 6-8 hours a day. When I was at work, I was reading Reddit threads about bodybuilding or T-Nation articles about how to squat. This was also around the time where I started working more on my game design and other professional endeavors.
I began training in the gym after researching programs and muscle mechanics. My first programs were better than most, but still fundamentally flawed. I knew that I had to lift weights, I just didn’t know *why* I had to. I didn’t understand the mechanics of building muscle, gaining strength, losing fat. I tried doing way too much at first and I almost burned out. I re-calibrated, researched some more, and constantly kept tweaking my program.
I wasn’t just studying fitness though, I wanted to know how to be a better man. I wanted to be *the man*. The guy people notice on the street. The guy people want to talk to at a restaurant, or the guy they want to laugh with at a bar. I had always been pretty charismatic, but I never really utilized it. It was odd to me, it always felt fabricated. Again, it was all about scope. While I was studying fitness, I was also studying male fashion, social dynamics, and lifestyle. While fitness and nutrition is a lot of what I do, there had to be a total change. I realized that I didn’t have to wear super baggy X-Men shirts everywhere. I learned what looks good and what doesn’t. I got some style.
Style is a weird thing. As you learn and develop style, you start to develop your own personal style. As you become more comfortable with things, you start to go through the entire process in reverse. You start at one end where you dress like a slob, don’t care about your appearance, and just go through life looking like you rolled out of bed. You slowly start to drift toward stylish. You learn about contrasting colors, you learn what shirt types go with what pants, etc. You get the basics down over time and it looks good. But, after awhile, you begin to deviate, but not back toward slob. You deviate into unexplored territory, but this time you have a foundation. You know that you shouldn’t wear black shoes with those brown pants. You know that v-necks look better than crew necks. You aren’t afraid to wear bright colors or patterns. You develop your own style.
As I developed my style, I also developed my social dynamics. I was learning how to talk to people, how to approach people, how to add value to a conversation and make people laugh. I would randomly approach people on the street and start conversations with them. I would go up to people and make awkward compliments about them just to see how they react. I made a point of talking to everyone, even if it was inconsequential or minuscule. If I left a store or restaurant, I made a habit out of telling the cashiers to have a good night. I started dating. A lot.
I started to notice something weird during my transformation: self doubt. Even though you have the tape measure in hand and your belt that you have had to punch 10 extra notches in just to fit.. you still don’t believe what you are seeing in the mirror. You are used to seeing the fatass, so that is still what you see. People compliment you constantly, telling you how good you look; you just don’t believe it. It took me over a year to realize that maybe all of these people were right, maybe I had changed. It doesn’t mean that your journey is over or that you can stop developing yourself. It means that all of the confidence and progress you have built up over the course of your transformation was worth it.
What about today? I took a full diet break to let my hormones recover from the deficit. Now I have been slow-bulking for a couple of months. In case you are curious, here are a couple of recent progress pics (late August, 2013)
So that leaves me where I am now. It has been a while since I started my quest for becoming the better man. I can say with all confidence that I am the best version of myself. I look better, dress better, feel better than ever before. And you know the best part is? I will always be a better person tomorrow than I am today.