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Can you tell us how long you have been working on transforming your body ?
I've been working on transforming my body for a long time, almost 5 years!
I can say that despite me wanting to change my body over these 5 years, I was only 100% committed in my diet and training for the last 5 months.
In these past 5 months however, I have seen enormous changes in my body, due to adherence to only a few key principles. Commitment and devotion to training and diet are the key to the results that we all want!
For the first 4 or so years, I knew very little about proper nutrition for building muscle and burning fat, but after the years of stagnant progress and minimal changes in my body and appearance, I decided to dedicate myself fully to learning everything I could about nutrition and exercise.
What are the key behaviors or tactics that you think have enabled you to succeed ?
I believe very much in the old cliche "you only get what you put in". This saying undoubtedly rings true in many different areas in life, but I feel that it really applies to bodybuilding / exercise / improving one's health and quality of life.
Some of the keys to my success have been:
Consistency (In training and in diet). I train 4 days a week, and never miss a session.
As for my diet, I personally stick to a "targeted low carb diet", taking in a relatively low number of carbs
(around 70 grams per day on training days, less than 50 grams on off days) 6 days per week, with the
majority of my carbs being ingested directly pre- and post- workout.
As I began to maintain consistency, I saw the gradual changes in my body, and became almost addicted to the feeling of
bettering myself in the gym and seeing the results in the mirror.
Motivation It's completely natural to sometimes lack the drive and desire to get into the gym and maintain a healthy diet day after day, week after week.
I keep myself on track and motivated in a variety of ways; I keep a mental image of what I want my body to look like in my head, and think about how great I'm going to feel once I achieve this long term goal, and having my "dream body". This type of mental imaging and goal setting is powerful and motivating.
I look to others as motivation as well! I have an enormous folder of inspirational images and quotes on my computer, that I often find myself looking at before I head to the gym. One of my favorite motivational quotes comes from a
1995 Barry Sanders Nike ad.
It might be a Nike advertisement, but the message behind it is very inspiring to me. I also make sure to keep my I-Pod loaded with music that gets my blood flowing and gets me pumped up to have a great session in the gym.
Knowledge (Learning about different exercises, techniques, dieting principles, and nutritional information has been incredibly helpful to me in my pursuit of a body that I am happy with.
For years I didn't know about what to eat, when to eat, how much rest / recovery time my body needed, and what types of exercises would suit my goals best. I learn new things about nutrition and exercise every day, and with this new found knowledge, I'm able to maximize the time I put into the gym, and thus see results faster!
Patience It took me over 5 years to achieve what I thought would be a short term goal. The reason it took me so long, is because I lacked the four very basic principles I have outlined here! [ consistency / motivation / knowledge / patience ] I lacked consistency, in that I would commit myself to exercise for a few weeks, and then neglect my training for weeks or sometimes even months on end!
In addition, I knew little about nutrition, so much of the time I was putting in at the gym wasn't being used to its full potential anyway due to my lack of knowledge! I lacked the motivation to change my habits, my body, and my life, because I wasn't seeing immediate results!
Results in the gym don't happen overnight, they happen over weeks and months of consistent work and proper nutrition. That doesn't mean that it's going to take someone 5 years (like it took me) to achieve their goals, because in fact, I feel like if I could do it all over again, putting in 100% effort in consistency, keeping myself motivated, attaining relevant knowledge, and maintaining a little bit of patience, I'm extremely confident I could have made the same transformation in well under one year!
Use the small improvements you see and feel in your body and mind as motivation, and always remember your long term goals.
Has your change in lifestyle affected your life in any ways you didn't expect ?
My change in lifestyle has affected my life in a variety of positive ways, many of which I didn't expect.
Throughout high-school and most of college, I found it difficult to stay on track and get my work done.
I was disorganized and unmotivated. As I began to take control of my diet and training, I began to feel more confident, and this translated directly to other areas of my life, like my academics.
At one point in my college career, I felt as though graduating and getting my degree was unlikely. I had trouble focusing on school, because I was unhappy with my body, and lacked self-confidence.
With my improved body and new found self-confidence, I raised my GPA from a 2.3 to a 3.5, and was able graduate from the University of Connecticut earlier this week, with a BA in English.
I attribute the change in my academic habits to the change in my approach to nutrition, training, and my overall lifestyle.
If someone reading this has repeatedly tried and failed to change their life for the better and they are considering giving up do you have any words of encouragement for them ?
I know how you feel, because I've been there so many times before. I've felt unmotivated, discouraged, and defeated. You owe it to yourself to do the things that motivate you and make yourself feel great, and if one of those things is improve your body, then you need to know that you can absolutely, 100% do it, as long as you really want it.
Nobody is going to change your body or your life, except you, and the determination you have. There are no miracle diets, pills or supplements that are going to do it for you.
It has to come from within, and when you do make the changes in lifestyle and training that lead to the body you want, you will have a great sense of accomplishment and achievement, knowing that you did so with nothing but your own determination and will.
I know you can do it!