Why I decided to transform
I was once 300 pounds and obese with a 50-inch waist. Trust me, I know what it's like to be unhealthy and uncomfortable in your own skin. A self-professed music junkie, I have been a professional musician for 20 years and training since I was 8.
Music was my obsession in every sense of the word. I played everything—rock, blues, jazz, metal, funk, reggae, acoustic, etc.—mostly performing my own music. My days were spent playing music at night, recording and writing music by day.
It's not that I didn't want to become fit. I had always wanted to be in amazing shape ever since I first saw Bruce lee—I wanted his lean, hard muscles. Although I never got the results I wanted with my body and health until much later in life, I started working out every day at age 14, using heavy bags and free weights. I also swam, did martial arts, and played guitar 3-10 hours every day.
I jogged, lifted weights, ate plenty of meat and potatoes, drank gallons of skim milk, did my sit-ups and never ate a lot of sweets. I thought I was doing everything right! But my waistline was telling me differently. As the days went by, I only got fatter and fatter. The older I got, the more fat seemed to pile on. I remember people starting to notice when I first hit 220 pounds. At 245 pounds, I could pass for a "big guy" on stage.
As the weight rose, my denial regarding my weight grew with it. Sure, I might've been a little stronger, but I easily lost my breath and cramped up even when I merely bent over to tie my shoes! I hated looking at pictures of myself. Looking back, I realized my lifestyle was not conducive to healthy living—I was performing every week, staying out until 5 or 6 a.m. every night, and surrounding myself with the type of people who make you drink too much. It's just a part of the music business; quality food and music venues generally do not go together.
Then, my mother's diagnosis with cancer jolted me awake. It's as if something shook me and told me to look hard at the lifestyle I was living, told me that I could have a healthy and fit body. It woke me up. Some may call it an "epiphany." Whatever you call it, I knew it was time for change. Here I was in the prime of my life with the chance to be healthy and my mom and disabled brother were less fortunate. Was I blowing it? Big time.
These days, my mantra is: Never take your health for granted. You only get one body to live in. Music and health are the gifts you give to yourself.
I have helped raised over $8,000 for the Special Olympics, and performed and spoke on behalf of the American Lung Association.
At first, I had no idea what I was doing with either music or my own health. I did the next logical thing: education. I was determined to learn—always have been—and dove into reading books. I got stacks of music books and whatever fitness or bodybuilding books were available at the time. I didn't make as much progress as I wanted. I followed the advice I read in magazines to perfection, and it just seemed to make me "skinny fat."
I eventually learned what actually works, and it's not what most people think. Sometimes it seems magazines tell you the opposite to keep you from reaching your goals. There is a sea of confusion in the fitness and health world, but I hope I can help others have the body of their dreams with truth, enthusiasm, and music.
Music and fitness are a pair that I strongly believe should be a part of everyone's lives. There's a reason that when you listen to music (and work out), you can get "lost" in the moment. This is in our DNA; it's time to unleash it.
How I accomplished my goals
I tried every diet I could get my hands on. I tracked my progress the whole time with measurements, food logs, and supplement logs. I feel like I did everything. Eventually, I came up with my own diet program and lifestyle that I now teach to my clients with amazing success. No measuring of foods, no counting calories, or doing endless crunches. I love preaching the idea of a sustainable lifestyle rather than a temporary diet.
Last year, I coached folks at Sol Perry Music and Fitness, LLC, with many losing more than 100 pounds per person and experiencing a total life-changing transformation.
Supplements that helped me through the journey
Diet plan that guided my transformation
- Coffee w/ 1 tbsp Coconut Milk (or Almond Milk)
Training regimen that kept me on track
I trained at the same gym for two years during my transformation before I opened my own facility. I do soft-tissue work 6 days per week with a foam roller and lacrosse ball. I stretch nightly and do a lot of mobility drills for my hips and shoulders.
Below is just a sample week, but I generally alternate cycles of accumulation and intensification every 6 weeks in my training.
- Hill Climbing
PM: Weight training
- Hill Climbing
- Hill Sprinting (dragging sled/weights, if possible)
- Hanging Leg Raise
10 sets of 7 reps
What aspect challenged me the most
The most challenging aspect to me was figuring out who to listen to. It felt like everyone had something different to say, so I can understand the challenge in deciphering all the white noise. Once I realized which supplements really helped me, the training that gave me results, and nutrient timing (when to eat my food and supplements), my progress sped up greatly.
I also found it a struggle to fit in cooking. I was no chef nor did I ever eat vegetables. Not long ago, french fries were my only source of "veggies." Once I saw that cooking led to leanness and health, it became so much easier.
Then, when I saw what eating leafy green vegetables and naturally raised protein did to my body, I never turned back. Even now, I am still discovering new veggies I really enjoy and see what effect they have on my body and my performance.
My personal belief is that eating the same thing—be it healthy or not—can lead to food allergies and stall your progress. Variety is key; keep the body guessing!
At the age of 40, I have never felt better. I work 7 days per week, up to 16-hour days, and have not had a day off in all of 2013. I feel great! Plus, my mother is doing great now and my wife has lost more than 70 pounds herself.
My future fitness plans
In 2012, I opened up my own private facility, where I train others in fitness, nutrition, supplementation, longevity, general wellness, and music!
I know what it's like to be uncomfortable in your own skin. I use empathy to build solid relationships with my clients since I have been there and done that, and they get that. The trust we share is a big part of what makes our time together so effective. I love seeing my clients' faces light up as they transform and see the inches fall off!
I am encouraging my clients and friends to post their transformation on Bodybuilding.com to further inspire others.
My fitness goal for 2014 is to reach 6 percent body fat. This would be no easy feat for a former 300-pounder. Anything is possible once you set your mind to it. It all begins in the mind.
Suggestions for aspiring transformers
Focus on yourself. Constantly being sick means you may not be around when you are needed. Take care of yourself before you can help others. By being a role model and being healthy, you in turn help others you care about to be healthy. I think health and fitness are contagious and can be propagated through being a good role model.
Realize that real change takes work! It took me two years to lose my weight; I had many setbacks. Some days it seemed like I would never make it, but real change is possible! Stay on point and measure your body by taking progress photos. What gets measured gets managed.
I have found that you cannot just go hard in the gym all the time. You must strike a balance—a Yin to the Yang, if you will—to get the most out of training and life. Music balances me out and allows me a platform on which to express myself.
How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals
I like that Bodybuilding.com doesn't merely support one way of training and eating. It offers a variety of meal plans and training programs. It's critical to find one that works for you and your lifestyle. You will know it when you do find it, but be patient: It will take time and failures.
I also like BodySpace as a way to connect with like-minded fitness folk, get advice, trade ideas, and see real-world transformations.
Sol's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "Holy Wars" by Megadeth
- "Ice Age" by Dr John
- "Voodoo Chile" by Jimi Hendrix
- "Face The Sun" by Sol Perry
- "Rusty Cage" by Soundgarden
Allow me to plug a bit of my work that I am incredibly proud of: My diet book, "The Sõl Food Diet" will be released in the 2014 with workout DVDs for beginner, intermediate, and advanced males and females. My new studio album will be released in late 2014 with a tour to follow.
I would like to thank
- Clay Cook photography
- Olympic Coach Mark Kislich
- Technical Director Chris Miller
- My clients for their amazing work and dedication
- My wife, Amanda Perry, for losing more than 70 pounds and taking control of her health.
- My mother, Sheila Perry, who is my hero and inspiration and the reason I do what I do.