By Andrew Nason
I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. This article has nothing to do with Boston sports, in fact, it doesn’t have anything to do with sports. The purpose of this article is to share my body transformation story for anyone out there who wants to make a change in their life but don’t think they can do it. Enjoy the rant.
Check out the picture above. On the left is me in the summer of 2014, chubby and self-conscious 205-pound kid who rarely would take pictures with his shirt off. A year prior to that picture, I was even chubbier, weighing 213 pounds and not very strong, so there’s some improvement right off the bat. On the right is me 2 years later in the summer of 2016, about 172 pounds. In that picture, I the healthiest, strongest, most confident, and most importantly, the happiest I had ever been with my body and myself in my entire life. Hell, the guy in that picture can’t help but look at himself in mirrors, just because he’s that happy with himself (or more likely he’s just extremely cocky and vain). I’m not a pro body builder, I’m not a top athlete, and I’m not sponsored by any supplement companies. No, I’m a regular guy, just out of college, who loves slugging beers and going out with his friends.
Why am I telling you this? Because there are plenty of people out there just like me, who love to drink and go out. The problem is, a lot of those people are out of shape, and overall simply not happy with themselves. I know this, because I was once one of them. So, for those of you who were once like me, I want to share my secrets to getting in shape, and ultimately changing your life and becoming a happier person.
Honestly, it’s a pretty easy process to explain. All you must do is simply decide on a realistic goal, and commit to it. Simple, right? It is, but a lot of people try to follow this idea but ultimately fail in the pursuit of their goals. So why does this happen? Because they set unrealistic goals and don’t commit. Trust me, if you’ve never stepped foot in a gym before, that 6-week workout program you got online will not make you look like the body builder on the cover. After a week, most people don’t see any results, and they give up.
Let me walk you through my fitness story, and hopefully you’ll get a better idea of what a realistic fitness journey looks like, and you’ll see how it’s not that hard, but will understand that it takes time.
I guess the best place to start is right after high school. Like I said before, I was 5’10 and 213 pounds, mostly body fat. I may not have been that strong, but I had some athletic ability. I was a backup lineman on the football team and was a catcher on the baseball team. Watching me run was laughable, I never worked out unless it was a team thing, and man, did I love to eat (still do). I attended Roger Williams University, and hoped I could walk onto the baseball team as a freshman. That dream got dashed pretty quickly, as I was cut after the first tryout. I was devastated. Sports was all I had ever really known. Me and a friend dabbled with the idea of working out all year and trying out the next year, but we soon realized that wasn’t going to happen. So, with my sports career pretty much over, I did what most college guys do, decided to start going to the gym a lot so I could get jacked and get girls (It sort of worked). Like I said, I had never really worked out before on my own, so I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. At the suggestion of friends and fellow gym goers, I got some name brand pre-workout and some protein and started benching and curling. Even though I didn’t know what I was doing, going to the gym became a daily thing. I started getting stronger, and more importantly, started making more friends and connections. I found a group of guys who I liked to workout with, and overtime, I started being able to put up some pretty decent weight. Once second semester rolled around, and my friends started their sports seasons, I started going twice a day, mainly because I was bored when my friends were at practice. I continued to grow stronger, lost a few pounds, and started to thin out a bit.
Over the course of that year, I had the idea of the freshmen 15 in the back of my head, and I told myself I wouldn’t allow that to happen to me. My first thought was simple, I’d skip desserts at meals. I did my best to avoid the dessert and ice cream sections every day, although I have to admit I broke that rule quite a few times. Aside from that, my thought was if I just workout a ton, I would lose weight. Trust me when I say, while that strategy may work, it is not healthy. As you can see, I had yet to learn a lot about proper dieting by that point.
From the summer of my freshmen year to the middle of my sophomore year, I had the same general routine when it came to fitness. I tried to work out a lot every day, but then I would eat like crap. Still, I managed to drop about 15-20 pounds over that period of time, while adding some good muscle.
Skip ahead to the second semester of sophomore year. It was then that I made what was probably the best decision of my college career, joining the track team. One of my best friends had joined the year prior and loved it, and the people seemed great. I asked Coach Livingston for an opportunity to try out different throwing events, and he was kind enough to give a kid with no track experience a chance. Over the course of that season, between the team workouts and still lifting on my own, I dropped a whole bunch of weight, and at one point was under 180 pounds. I remember looking at the scale in absolute shock. I wasn’t overweight for once, in fact, I was pretty lean. I couldn’t remember the last time I had weighted that little. Girls found me attractive, people always commented on how much better l looked, it was awesome. One thing I should point out is while I was losing weight, I was also losing muscle. Compared to the start of the season, I was significantly weaker.
The following summer I got back into my old routine, workout a lot and then eat poorly. While I gained some of my old strength back, I gained a few pounds along with it. By this point, I had no self-control when eating and I hadn’t educated myself on dieting. Turning 21 certainly didn’t help (but at least made it more fun), as I started boozing more and more. I ended that summer around 185 pounds at best guess.
My junior year of college was a huge turning point for me. This was the year I truly fell in love with fitness, not just going to the gym. I had been hired as a resident assistant in the on-campus apartments, so for the first time in my college career, I would have to cook for myself at times. I got lucky, because my staff consisted of my roommate Mike and another RA named Andrew, both gym rats. Over the course of the year, we all got very close, working out together, learning as much about fitness as we could, and motivating each other. It’s because of those two that I learned more about clean eating and proper dieting, and I started getting into a routine of eating better. The results started to show, as I became more defined and toned over the course of the year while continuing to get stronger.
As junior year came to a close, I was in the best shape of my life. I had visible abs, significantly less body fat, my conditioning was pretty good, and I was around 180 pounds. At that point, I saw what could happen when I actually focused on clean eating along with rigorous gym workouts. I decided that summer, as I was going to be living away from home, to focus on cutting, and decided to follow a 12-week program designed by famous body builder Kris Gethin. I was in the gym 5 days a week, lifting for about an hour and a half each day, doing 15 minutes of cardio at the end of every lift, and doing 30 plus minutes of cardio on my off days. My meals were pretty basic. I would have egg whites in the morning, and chicken, rice, whole grain pasta, veggies and protein shakes throughout the rest of the day. At times it was tough, at times I was hungry, and at times I was simply bored, but by the end of July, I looked like I do in the photo above on the right. I was 172 pounds with a visible six pack, I could bench 100 pound dumbbells for reps, could run 3-4 miles and barely break a sweat, and not to sound cocky, but I’ve never felt or looked sexier in my life. Yeah, I said it. I can honestly say, that picture has been one of the biggest highlights of my fitness career so far. Looking at before and after photos of people always is inspiring, but looking at my own was special, because it reminded me of all the hard work it took to go from being that nervous little chubby kid to the confident, loud-mouth stud I was now. All the learning and research I had to do, all the early morning cardio sessions, all the meal preps, and all those hours in the gym, putting my body through hell. Trust me when I say, it was all worth it.
Where Am I Now?
It’s been about a year since I took that picture, and a lot has changed since then. Going into my senior year, my main goal, as much as it was to stay in great shape, was to have fun. I still hit the gym every day, and I was a lot better about my diet, but, and mom and dad, sorry if you’re reading this, but I drank a lot. By the end of the year, after track ended, I was a little heavier, probably around 180-183 pounds, and had put on a little bit of body fat. The last couple weeks of the year, I rarely did any cardio, would hit the gym for maybe 30 minutes most days, and got very out of shape. I wanted to have fun, and I don’t regret it for a second. I’m back home now, and starting to get back into my old routines, but my number one priority at the moment is to enjoy the summer with my friends. I work out during the week, but won’t hesitate to go out and drink and eat when my friends call. I weight somewhere between 185 and 190 pounds, I eat clean most of the time, but tend to overload on carbs a little more than I should. Between all the parties and nights out, I don’t have the motivation to focus on cutting body fat, so lately I’ve been trying to pack on muscle, and improve my numbers. Right now, my max bench press is around 265, my max squat is around 275 (squats have always been a struggle for me, although my legs are still very strong), and I deadlift 415 pounds. My plan is to begin a cutting program at the end of August, when all my friends will be either back at school or working, and I’ll have less to do.
How Do You Transform?
So there is it, that’s how I got in shape. It took a long time, and it took a ton of hard work and mental focus, but as I say that, I want to be clear about one thing…
I drank and went out with my friends all the time throughout college, and even when I was cutting over that last summer. I never let my desire to get in shape get in the way of me having fun and being social.
Many fitness programs and body builders will tell you that in order to get in shape and transform your body, you have to sacrifice certain parts of your social life like drinking and going out. I’m here to tell you that is only true if you’re trying to become an actual body builder and make a career of it. Fitness is about improving your health so you can enjoy a longer life, but it’s pointless if you give up your life just to be fit.
So knowing that, here’s my advice to anyone who wants to get into better shape while maintaining their social life.
1. Come up with a plan
Decide what you want. Want to add muscle? Cut fat? Just lose a few pounds? Whatever it is, decide what you want to do, then do the research on how to achieve that goal. Take the time to learn about carbs, protein, different muscle groups, what workout routines work, and how to properly use supplements to aid your progress. In order to get in shape, you have to know what you’re doing. There are millions of workout routines and programs out there, and all of them work for different people. Find out what works for you, figure out how to execute it to its best potential, and go for it.
2. Make time for the gym
You’re only going to get in shape if you get your butt to the gym, or out running on the streets or whatever you want to do. You work all day? Get up earlier and workout before work? Don’t have a gym? Find one. You have a bad diet? Buy better food. Any excuse you come up with, its BS. You have to put in the work in order to achieve your goals. If I knew I was going out at night and I had class all day, then I would wake up at 5 and get to the gym as soon as it opened, anything to get my workout in. The only thing preventing you from getting in shape is you. So if you want it, make it happen.
3. If your friends don’t support you, then cut them loose
I have been incredibly blessed to have such awesome friends and family in my life. Not all of them share my love and passion for fitness, but they support what I do, with compliments and simple understanding. Sometimes I would push off plans a bit so I could make it to the gym. When I was living with 4 girls in Bristol, I would be in the kitchen cooking for long periods at times. But no matter the inconvenience, they all still understood and supported me. If people in your life don’t get why getting in shape is important to you, then trust me when I say they aren’t worth your time.
So there, those are my secrets. Come up with a goal, educate yourself, commit yourself, and cut loose those who aren’t there for you. If you do this, then with some time and hard work, you’ll have your own before and after photos to be proud of.
Want more advice or motivation? Feel free to DM me.
Good Luck Fit Fam,
A former fat kid