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“In the above picture, I weighed around 230 pounds. I had played sports my whole life, football and baseball on high school teams; then I was an amateur skateboarder and recreational snowboarder until November of 2005 when I tore my ACL and partially tore both the MCL and LCL. I had them surgically repaired and I got through the rehab quickly enough and got back to some level of activity, but over time it slowly dropped off. You know the story, my job changed from labor to desk, I had a couple kids, I was a pack a day smoker. I had become obese, weak, and out of shape. I couldn’t even play with my son without getting winded within minutes (if that) and needing to catch my breath.
Eventually I decided to get back into shape. We were going to have to reapply for new healthcare and in order to get a decent rate, I had to get my BMI down and quit smoking. In the pic above my BMI was 34 – obese. So I quit smoking and started working out by following workouts you see in mags like Men’s Health. I started running a lot, barely a block at first, but eventually 5ks. I also started researching diets and began changing the way I eat.
During this time my lifts were stalling and my workouts were getting harder to get through. I was getting injured a lot, pulled muscles, strains, aches, DOMS, etc… in general I was not any happier at 190 than I was at 230. As a 5’10, 190 lb guy who was lifting, running 5ks or doing hill sprints 6 days a week, I had cut from 2200 cals to 2000 down to 1600. I felt miserable with where my body was, and damnit, I WANTED TO SEE MY ABS! I actually got down to 173 lbs. to appease the insurance company (BMI 24.8!) but it wasn’t fun. It was like my body didn’t want to be that small. I should’ve listened to myself.
Shortly after this pic was taken I started getting fatter again. I was at a loss as to what to do. I thought I was doing everything right. I was trying every supplement and trick in the book to figure out how to get leaner…. I was eating “clean”, cutting out grains, potatoes, rice, sugar, HFCS, etc… I tried Intermittent Fasting, Warrior Diet, Zone Diet, and Paleo/Primal. I kept lowering carbs (even though I technically already was low carb from cutting potatoes and grains, I just didn’t know it) fat burning supplements… I tried every possible thing I could find… except for properly fueling myself.
The truth is, I was miserable and had been during this whole battle with my body. In my frenzy to find my abs, I had gotten completely lost in the sea of fitness and diet information out there. I don’t really remember how I found ETP exactly, but in November 2013, somewhere in that ocean I came across a write up on April that talked about her taking pictures during a bulk. I read it a couple times and some others on the site and then immediately bought Metabolic Flexibility for Fat Loss. I read it cover to cover, and then read it again, and again, and again… and it made perfect sense. I signed up for the Science Lab and started a training log. But I still wasn’t ready to accept that I needed to eat more. It took me a couple months to really get my mind wrapped around this concept of eating for performance.
Around Christmas of 2013 I was still clinging to the “eat less, do more” philosophy. Still not ready to let go, and then I remember looking around me at people at work, my friends, and my family. I would see people at the grocery store, Target, or restaurants. I would overhear people talking about cleaning up their diet or being “good” in order to lose weight and I realized that almost every single person I know, at some time or another, has said they needed to lose weight. Just about everyone has tried this diet or that diet, some 3 week challenge, or meal replacement shakes. I was standing in checkout lines and noticed that almost every single magazine has at least one headline that tells you “how to get slim quick!” I realized we’re being constantly barraged by this “lose weight, smaller is better” message in magazines, TV, and movies. Everyone thinks they can get the body they want by doing a lot of cardio and cutting things out of their diet (but don’t lift weights, it’s dangerous!), but yet no one I knew was successful at any of it in the long term. That’s when I became aware of the disconnect and realized I needed to do something different.
I was sick of a scale determining my feelings of failure or success. I made up my mind that I wasn’t in this to lose weight, but to be the best version of me I can be. I saw that the “lose weight” me and the “best version” of me were not the same thing. The best version of me required building muscle, which meant eating properly for that goal because the two go hand in hand. I realized I had to tune everything around me out. Everyone and everything who was telling me not to eat eggs, bread, or dairy, (or Oreos which is a major bummer because I really do love Oreos) had to be ignored. I would have to just smile at them and stick to the plan. I became keenly aware for the first time that EVERYONE around me who is “on a diet” is as miserable as I was and they are failing in their weight loss endeavors. I made up my mind to commit to ETP.
I knew I had to be patient and consistent with my lifting and with my calories and macros to get long-term sustainable results. No more extreme diets, no more quick fixes, no more questionable supplements. So, with the ETP TDEE calculator and April’s help, I got my calories and macros dialed in. I “fixed” my eating habits to more closely align with my own ideas and feelings about food by adopting an IIFYM approach to allow for moderation of all foods. I still eat mostly whole foods, probably 80/20, and I’m a member of a local, organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm. But I no longer stress about each and every ingredient in my food. I don’t have any banned foods. There’s no good or bad, no cheat meals… there’s just food, and it is far easier to choose what to eat when you can apply purpose to a meal. Truthfully, Eat to Perform and the support and advice found in the Science Lab have given me my life back in a way no diet ever could. Where every other plan took things away, ETP gave it back.
This is me now, 227 pounds
It mystifies me as to why BMI is used by insurance companies(or anyone really) to rate how healthy you are, and the proof of the BMI=health fallacy is right there in these pictures. I’m not the leanest guy, but I’m leaner than I was before. I’m not the strongest guy, but I’m stronger than I was before.
BMI doesn’t tell me that my numbers on the bar are going up every cycle or that I’m hitting new PRs or RRs every month. It doesn’t tell me that I can play with my kids for hours instead of just watching them. It doesn’t tell me that since the beginning, my bench has gone from 75# to 315#, My OHP from 50# to 190#, my squat from 125# to 375#, and my deadlift from 85# to 410#. It doesn’t tell me anything about myself except for a number, a ratio of my height to weight. BMI says I am the same in the first and last picture, 34 vs. 32, but am I the same person? BMI says I am and I call bulls**t.
Screw BMI, I’m going to Eat to Perform and enjoy every single rep and every last mouthful.”