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Sunday
Apr012012

Interview with @FitnessChamp

 

I’m obviously no celebrity athlete or fitness model, but I do get lots of questions around my own eating habits, workout patterns, and which fitness sources have taught me the most. 

This is the only time that I’ll ever “self-interview”, so here you go…

What’s your athletic background?

I was a basketball player growing up, and that’s my first love.  GOD had other plans for my body type and picked up football my freshman year of high school.  I went on to play running back in college, and also ran track for three years, competing in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay.

 

What are you currently training for?

I ran two half-marathons within a month between October and November 2011, but am done with endurance events for the time being.  I trained hard but realized that endurance sports are just not what I am cut out for, both physically and psychologically. Several friends are avid CrossFitters and have been giving me the hard sales job to get me involved. The competitive-but-positive plus testosterone-fuled vibe keeps drawing me in little by little.

 

What does an average week’s workout look like?

I don’t get as much time as I’d like to dedicate toward my own workouts, but I do what I can with the time I have.  I try to go for intensity over duration, so I’m usually hitting some form of HIIT intervals or  tabatas on the bike or rowing machine for cardio.  I’m a big fan of Olympic-style lifts, so each week I try to hit some hang cleans, power cleans, push press, and dead lifts.  I’ll mix in some pull ups, heavy rope  work, and box jumps if available.  

As I mentioned,  I have several friends who are CrossFit addicts and have been giving me the hard sales pitch to join them soon, so this workout approach will keep me in close enough shape to hang with the group (hopefully anyways).  Once or twice each week I also add in some typical standard bodybuilding work, as well as some sprint work (100s, 200s, 400’s, court gassers) to maintain my capacity in that area as well.

 

Describe your fitness classes.

The best way to describe my classes would be 45-55 minutes of multi-faceted intervals and running drills, very similar to what you might see on infomercials for “Insanity” and “P90X”.  I try to model the workouts for a demographic that used to play sports in high school or college, and desire that style of training as adults compared to simply running on the treadmill, lifting weights alone, or logging repetitive sessions on the elliptical. I also try to make sure the playlist is continually up-to-date because if the women in class don’t like the music, they will turn on you quickly.

 

What does an average day’s eating look like?

It’s not inaccurate to say that I’ve tried almost every nutritional philosophy out there.  Currently (and perhaps for the foreseeable future) I’m sticking fairly close to a Paleo eating style.  Like I said, I work out in the mornings, so it’s either an empty stomach workout, or possibly a scoop of whey protein in water before heading out the door.  I used to down a banana, Gatorade Prime, and/or a gel before hitting the gym but while this was great for my performance, this was surely killing any fat loss goals I was after (due to the over-reliance on Simple Sugars).

Post-workout is usually another scoop of whey in water, then 3-4 scrambled eggs with some spinach, and a couple slices of lean turkey tossed in.  I’ll usually eat that with half a sweet potato (3-4oz).  Mid-morning snack is a protein shake with almonds or sunflower seeds,  then lunch is usually a few turkey meatballs with some green source like asparagus.  Depending on whether or not I have class in the evening, I may eat the second half of the sweet potato here.

Late afternoon might be some turkey jerky and sunflower seeds, with perhaps a tablespoon or two of almond or peanut butter.  If I’m teaching a class in the evening I’ll either repeat lunch, or go with a tuna pack and an apple. 

Dinner lately has been white fish (tilapia, cod) with steamed shredded cabbage (seasoned with oil & vinegar, lemon pepper seasoning, and mustard). “Dessert” is a blended smoothie with carrot juice, acai juice, whey protein, blackberries, almond butter, half an avocado, and 2-3 handfuls of spinach.  Sometimes I'll swap out the avocado for coconut milk as an alternative healthy fat source.

 

Must-have vitamins and supplements?

Standard: multi-vitamin, fish oil, vitamin B, vitamin D. 

Nice to have: vitamin A, BCAA (Scivation Xtend), chia seeds

 

What’s your favorite cheat food?

There is a local smoothie shop across the street from where I live, they make a Green Tea Smoothie with non-fat frozen yogurt that is my biggest guilty pleasure. I used to go 5-6 days a week, but chopped that down to once a week on Saturdays in an effort to tighten up my diet for fat loss goals.

If I am REALLY, legitimately cheating, I love French fries, pizza, and burritos. The funny thing however, is that once your diet really gets in-tune, these foods stop being as fun once you see them as set-backs from ultimately having the body you want.  You can eat almost anything once or twice a week, but the saying is true – nothing tastes as good as being lean feels.

 

Who are your favorite fitness follows on Twitter?

@JadeTeta, @JillFit, @RobRiches, @cutandjacked, @SPNetwork

Who are your other fitness inspirations?

The Rock (obviously), Greg Plitt (#1 male fitness model in the world), Mario Lopez, Georges St. Pierre, Pauline Nordin (creator of “Fighter Diet”, her dietary discipline is a tremendous motivator) and “normal” people like my friends Demi, Philip, Brendan, and Lyndsey.

 

What’s your biggest motivation?

Aside from the standard stuff like wanting to fit well in my clothes and like what I see in the mirror, long term health is very important.  I had a close relative battling colon cancer several years ago, and a few others with high blood pressure issues.  My eating habits were terrible in graduate school during my early 20’s, and I spend every day trying to undo the fat, unhealthy condition I was creating for myself.

 

What’s the one thing you wish you could share with others at the gym?

I'd tell them that More isn’t necessarily better

I see so many people (often the same faces) logging away hour after hour on the stairmaster or elliptical every week and their bodies never change.  People training for specific  events like a half-marathon or 5K certainly need to get their mileage in, but others wanting to shed pounds, or look good for the beach really need to learn that you can meet your goals in less time, by working smarter. 

For fat loss goals, intensity trumps time spent.  The body is not like a calculator, fat loss is more complex than eating 500 fewer calories and burning 500 calories more per day.  Things like stress hormones and insulin manipulation play a big role in whether or not one’s body will give up stubborn fat.  This is usually sad to see, because I see lots of effort and “want to” from people in the gym (or even jogging down the street), they just don’t have the proper tools and information to accomplish what they are working so hard to achieve.

Will you ever grant yourself another interview like this?

No way. This was an obnoxious thing to do and I'm ready to go back to interviewing other people.

Tuesday
Dec202011

Weight Loss All-Stars Volume 2: Brendan

It's been a while, but previously I highlighted one of my friends for her inspiring weightloss story.  For volume two of the Weight Loss All-Stars, we're going to look at one of the more incredible body transformations you'll see.

Pictured on the right, is a "before" photo of my friend Brendan.  He has become one of the regulars who crushes the workouts at my YMCA Athletic Conditioning classes each week.  

I want to avoid spoiling the details of hisBrendan [Before] awesome story, in which he lost close to 95 pounds.  He was nice enough to share his story in our Q&A session below.

Be inspired.

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What's your athletic background?  

 I have been involved in sports my entire life. Was a three sport athlete in High School (Football, Basketball, and Baseball). However; my main sports were football and baseball. I attended Catholic University of America and played both Baseball & Football my freshmen year. It became too much so I chose to focus solely on football.

 

What was your weight at its highest, vs your current (average) weight? How long did the process take?

 

I graduated high school in 2000 right around 225 lbs. Finished football my 5th year Dec 2004 right around 265 lbs (although it was an in shape 265 lbs). Once I graduated I dropped back down to 225 lbs. From Jan 2006 to May 2009 I slowly put on weight. The most I ever saw on a scale was 296 lbs in May 2009 (although it was very likely that I was 10 to 15 pounds bigger than that a few weeks before, just never got on a scale). In Dec 2009 I hit 203 lbs on the scale. On average I have been about 215 since.

 

What caused you to want to make a change?

 

One of my roommates from colleges’ girlfriend was venturing out on her own as a health coach. She had success in the corporate world as a health consultant and decided it was time to branch out on her own. I was her first client. I knew in order for ME to really make a long term change I would need to make a pretty big financial commitment. This way I would be forced to stick with the program (in fear of just wasting my money).

So it was time for my yearly checkup at the doctors office. On the way to the doctors office (I knew I was going to have to get on a scale and was mortified at what I would see) So, I called my Buddy’s gf and signed up. I paid $1400 upfront and the program lasted 6 months. I lost 93 pounds. Best money I have ever spent.


What were your initial first steps?

 

I had completely stopped working out for nearly 3 years. Which was odd because I had been so active my entire life. So I slowly started working out again. Along with working out again (at first just 2 times a week) I was watching what I ate. I was eating a great deal of organic foods for the first time in my life. I was also consuming a ton of fruits and veggies. However; I still ate what I what I wanted one day a week. She encouraged me to find things that I enjoyed to do. I started volunteering at Big Brothers and Big Sisters and started attending a class 2 times a week at the YMCA (Athletic Conditioning). I got hooked on both, and still do both to this day.


Did you ever get discouraged during the process?

 

I was by far the most out of shape person in the Athletic Conditioning Class. I was running 12 minute miles where the slowest person besides me was running under 9 minute miles. I couldn’t do a single pull up and I could barely do 5 push ups, where the rest of the class were doing sets of 25 push ups. However; I stuck with it and it paid off.


 Did your diet change at all from your heavier days, to now?

 

I have changed my diet, but not a great deal. I don’t eat fast food or anything like that, but for the most part I eat and drink what I want.

 

 

Describe your fitness activities these days 

 Working out has become a part of my everyday life.  I continue to take athletic conditioning class about 4 times a week. I am also a member of Crossfit, which I love. I also run competitive races now and compete in Crossfit events.

I have recently got my mile time down to 5:16 and can do 30 pull ups at once. I am by far the most fit I have ever been and stride to improve that fitness level each day.

 

 

  

 

 

 

(Above is Brendan's "After" photo.  Doesn't even seem like the same guy, does it?)

 

 

 

What would you say to heavy people who feel like remaking their body composition is "impossible"?

 

 Losing weight is really quite simple. The key is to stay dedicated and find something that you really enjoy doing. Once you find something that you enjoy, it doesn’t become work anymore it becomes fun and you look forward to working out.

 

What other advice would you give to a heavy person who has yet to make a change?

 It took me 6 months to loose my weight. It comes off fast, you just have to stick with it and make a lifestyle change. The key is taking it off and keeping it off. Once your workout and diet become a habit, then its smooth sailing….

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There are many different paths to significant weightloss and body transformation, however the main consistent is a combination of work ethic and an internal desire to make a change in your life.  I hope to continue spotlighting people once in a while that have made dramatic physical improvements in their health and nutritional lifestyle. 

For anyone reading this who may not like what they see in the mirror, on the scale, or struggle fitting into their old jeans - hopefully Brendan's awesome transformation story help to inspire that with hard work, patience, and a plan, anyone can achieve great results.