By: Jarrod R.
My fitness journey started on February 29th, 2016. I remember the date particularly well. That was the Monday after a “blow-it-out-weekend.” AKA I ate every bit of junk food I could get my hands on that weekend. Then Monday, I buckled down and got serious.
Before: Me at 285lbs
As far as why I started, it was simple for me. At the time, I had a 3 ½-year-old son (my first) and I knew I was setting a terrible example for him. Sitting in front of the TV, playing video games, eating garbage, and not taking care of myself was taking its toll on my health.
My goal, in the beginning, was to go from 285lbs to 250lbs. I felt like 35 lbs was an attainable goal. But I also felt that kind of dread you feel when you first get started, knowing how far you have to go, how long it will take to see results of your hard work pay off.
Those initial workouts and first few weeks of dieting were brutal. But once I got into a rhythm, it was a lot of fun watching the pounds come off and feeling stronger. I went from 1-2 workouts a week to 3-4.I ended up dropping that first 35lbs within the first three months.
Currently, I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m 195lbs, my body fat is down under 15% for the first time in my life. I spend a couple hours (or more) in the gym at least 4 days a week, so I've come pretty far.
After: Me at 195lbs
The Plan That Helped Me Drop The Weight
Full disclosure: I’m not creative in the kitchen. I keep it really simple, focusing on foods that are low sodium, high-protein and have high-nutritional content.
- Lightly seasoned chicken breast
- Turkey burgers (optional bun)
- Top Sirloin
Fruit and Veggies
I eat a TON of fruit and vegetables for carbohydrates and don’t count them as calories towards my daily total. I look at them more as maintenance…
It’s hard to explain but I workout so much and usually for such a long period of time that I feel like I’m burning through the nutrients in fruits and veggies. So for me, I’m really just refueling and replacing what I burn. Either way, it’s working, so I just go with it.
- Bananas (I eat 3-4 per day)
- Slices of pineapple
- Handful of grapes
- Broccoli (a big plate at dinner)
- Sweet Potatoes
- Mixed vegetables
As far as liquids, I drink at least a gallon of water a day, sometimes even two gallons. Occasionally I will allow myself a diet soda.
I’ve had conversations with people who are so vehemently against the cheat meal concept. Good for them. But for the nearly two years I’ve been on this journey, I have allowed myself one meal every week to dominate whatever food my heart desires…The truth is, I grew up loving junk food and no matter how much weight I lose, I will always love that food.
In my mind, if I work hard and eat healthy 90% of the time, that other 10% I'm allowed to indulge helps keep me sane and on track for the long haul.
Here I sit, writing this entry, 90lbs lighter than I was when I started, body fat % lower than it’s been my entire life. I don’t think my weekly cheat meal is having any kind of a negative impact on me, especially given how hard I train.
I’m a family man, my wife and kids come first. But if my family is #1 in my life, then training is like 1.1. It’s amazing how much family and fitness are intertwined. You could say one part of me doesn’t function without the other. If I didn’t train as hard as I do, I wouldn’t be in the shape I’m in and I wouldn’t be much of an example to my kids in terms of physical fitness and how important it is to their quality of life.
Training is no different for me than brushing my teeth, or putting on shoes before I leave the house, it’s just an automatic part of my day. I look forward to those 2-3 hours spent with the music turned up loud and sweat pouring down my face.
I will usually train 5-6 times a week depending on the week. What I’ve found works best for me is to get up super early and be ready to workout by 5 am.
I love to run. Over the summer I spent a lot of time racing so I laid off heavy leg days. Now that it's fall, I've increased the intensity in my leg workouts. Every leg day I will do:
- Leg press
- Leg curls
- Leg extensions
Then I throw in a variety of other exercises like lunges, wall balls and calf raises. Overall, I just try to keep it interesting!
I’m usually required to be at home with both kids in the evening, and let’s face it, waking up at 4 am when you have to work a full day on Monday isn’t a fun idea.
When I train chest, I do exercises that isolate my upper pecs and lower pecs. I usually do about 8 different exercises on chest day, various types of dumbbell work on both incline and flat benches, chest flies (on the floor to avoid shoulder strain), and I end each chest day with about 120-150 push-ups–just to make sure I torture myself a bit more.
Wednesday-Arms (bi’s and tri’s)
It’s hard to get stoked about training your biceps and triceps until you start seeing results. I love to do body weight exercises for arm day like underhand grip pull-ups and tricep dips, But this is also an opportunity to really toss some weight around. Curls, overhead extensions, and variations of both are always good. Usually, I try and hit 4 exercises for my bi’s and 4 for my tri’s, then do a big finisher sequence for each at the end.
Back day used to be my least favorite day of the week, but I’ve had a lot of muscle development, so now I really enjoy it. I focus on the lower back, the lats, rhomboids, and obliques. I do a lot of lat pull-downs, rows and pull-ups to hit my lats. I usually do the Y-raise, W-raise, and back extension as well. Other than that, I’ll just throw in a couple oddball exercises to keep it interesting.
This is the best day of the week in my opinion. I love training my shoulders, and I’ve broken it down into a really detailed science. I isolate each part of my shoulder (front, side, and rear) and my traps. I do at least 3 exercises to hit each delt head and 3 exercises to hit my traps. I do variations of delt raises to the front and side with varying weights and rep counts, I do rear delt flies, face pulls…the list goes on. I do variations of shrugs, and my favorite exercise ever, the barbell military press. I do a set of 10 military presses after 3 sets of every exercise. It exhausts me, and really fires up my shoulders.
I like my Saturday workout to be shorter but more intense than my other workouts. It really depends on the day but typically I'll push myself through a CrossFit style workout like the Becky or Fran.
I love running, usually, my minimum distance is 5k (my 5k PR is 21:22), but I’ll run as much as 10 miles depending on the day and what I’m training for. Overall I aim to do 3-5 cardio workouts a week.
Well first off, supplementation is simple. My thought has always been ‘less is more.’ Truthfully, I don’t even like to take things for headaches.
But I do use C4 Ultimate (Icy Blue Razz!) about 20 minutes before I work out while on the way to the gym! By the time hit that first rep, I’m feeling great.
I also drink protein shakes (25g/serving) 2x a day. Once in the morning after my workout, then once in the afternoon about an hour after I eat lunch.
That's how I went from 285lbs and probably close to 35-40% body fat down to 195lbs and 14.5% body fat. Was it easy? No. Was it fun? For the most part. The dieting sucks but that’s never going to be easy. Do I feel better? Absolutely.
Thanks to these lifestyle changes, I’m going to live a long time, and hopefully, see my kids grow up to be old men. The benefit of looking better, and being stronger is just an added bonus.
Word of Advice
I’m a person who is super results-driven, so most of the struggles I dealt with were early on. Wanting to see the results after a few workouts, starting to feel discouraged when I didn’t see them... But I just kept moving forward. I started to feel better, run farther, faster, and lift heavier for more reps. The path I was on was working, and I started to feel an addiction to the results.
As far as advice, it sounds cliché for me to stand in front of a room full of people who are where I was and say, “If I can do it, anyone can.” I’m sure those people would roll their eyes–I would have. But that the most honest answer I can give. If I can do it, anyone can.