Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: Saved By A String
Like many people, I had hit an all time low in my life after being laid off from my job, losing interest in the things I once enjoyed, and in general just slipping off into what I refer to as a "sleep through it all" lifestyle. I had become depressed and begun to turn to food for comfort and pleasure.
The downside to these choices was becoming apparent each day with weight gain, sluggishness, and a general lack of interest in my life. The turning point came one day when I had to shop for new larger clothes and found myself having to purchase size 40-waist jeans!
That small moment in the store made me realize that what I was currently doing was not an answer to my problems, but an escape from my reality.
It was as if someone had turned on a light in my life and what I saw scared me - weekend food binges, clothes that did not fit, drinking in excess, and a general lack of self respect.
I decided to take a picture of myself, because unlike the image we paint in the mirror, pictures never lie. It was embarrassing. I couldn't believe who I had become. It was then and there that I had sworn to make a change.
I purchased a basic set of dumbbells and set up a small gym in my basement. I had no idea what to do or even how to go about putting together an exercise routine. I remember trying to do some exercises I had seen guys in high school doing, but I was weak and clueless, yet determined.
My wife saw my desire to improve so she purchased me a set of workout DVD's and I began watching them and learning the exercises. I became very interested in anatomy and started keeping a workout journal. Within the first 90 days, I had dropped about 20 pounds. It was good to see some muscles trying to emerge from my smooth featureless physique. I was hooked!
Over the next year or so I kept learning more and more about training, lifting, and exercise. After dropping another 20 pounds, my results just stopped like I had hit a brick wall. At this point, I started to learn more about nutrition and cleaned up my diet to the best of my knowledge at the time and within a few more weeks I had dropped another 10 pounds for a total loss of 50 pounds!
Although I looked good, I still did not possess the muscular physique I had come to desire over the last year. It was time to make a life change. So, I went back to school to study nutrition and personal training, but I was about to encounter a moment that would shape me forever.
One morning after a good chest workout, I went upstairs to take a shower and get ready for class. My chest was hurting, but not in the usual manner associated with working out - this was pressure as if an elephant had taken a seat on my chest. Within another 10 minutes, I was feeling very sick and I knew something was horribly wrong. My wife called 911 and within minutes I was being rushed to the hospital with a major heart attack.
A blood clot had broken loose and was dangerously close to entering my heart. The prognosis was that I had about 14 minutes to live before it would be over. I was at a loss for words and my wife was doing her best to hold it together. I decided then and there I was going to fight this pain and do whatever I had to do to make it through this! I was airlifted to a heart center where surgeons were awaiting my arrival.
The flight was seven minutes, the procedure would be six minutes, which meant we only had about one minute to spare! I remained positive, fought back the pain, and before I knew it I was being rolled out of the procedure feeling weak and tired, but with a good prognosis and that one minute to spare!
Later my doctor informed me that my attack was so massive that it would have dropped most men in their tracks. The one thing the doc felt had saved my life was my outstanding physical conditioning! That single statement assured me that whatever it took I was going to continue lifting and not live my life in fear of this moment - I was going to allow it to change me for the better!
I was back in the gym within six months and I finished my trainer and nutritionist certification during my rehabilitation. I am now a nationally certified personal trainer and own my own wellness center called "Prime" where I help others develop healthy lifestyles and learn how to become stronger, feed their bodies and live a higher quality of life!
I found that periodized resistance routines combined with high intensity interval training (HIIT) for cardio really put my body into the sweet spot. I use the winter months to build mass and typically do higher load (heavy) sets in a 5x5 training protocol. I also work on lagging body parts and any structural imbalances during this time.
As the warmer months approach, I shift to a higher volume (more sets, less weight) to bring out more detail and definition. All of my workouts are a combination of compound moves such as squats, deadlifts and presses combined with isolation movements for detail.
My current split is three days and I break it down like the great master Frank Zane, with my toughest workouts at the beginning of the week and easier ones toward the end. That works out the torso (chest/back/shoulders), legs (quads/hams/calves) and arms (biceps/triceps/additional shoulder work).
I do 15 minutes of light cardio after lifting and do HIIT on my off days. To keep my progress moving, I switch up grips and make small changes to every workout. Then, every four weeks I swap out all routines with new exercises.
Dumbbell Prone Incline Curl (bench set to 45 degrees)3 sets of 8-10 reps, 1 set to failure
20 minutes of interval style cardio. I mix it up and go really fast some days for 30 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds. Other days, I drop the speed and up the incline for one minute on and one minute off. In either case, I push for around 80-95 percent max effort. It should be all you can do to make to the end of the work cycle!
I take 1-2 days off per week and walk, do yoga, or other activities including riding my long board and tennis.
About a year ago, I switched over to a Paleo nutrition plan and have never felt or looked better. The bulk of my nutrition comes from organic meats, healthy fats and fibrous carbs (vegetables). I eat no grains or grain products and get most of my starches from root vegetables such as sweet potatoes.
During the winter months, I let my calories climb up to around 3500 calories per day with most of that being healthy fats and lean proteins, including whole organic eggs.
During my "summer cut" phase, I cycle my carbohydrates. Briefly put, for three days I keep my total carbohydrate intake under 50 grams per day (still plenty of vegetables since they are very low in carbs).
For the next three days, I slowly increase my carb intake with starches such as sweet potatoes up to around 200 grams per day. On my seventh day, I have a re-feed and pretty much eat whatever I want as long as it's clean and grain/gluten free. I do not count calories on these days, I simply eat and enjoy!
Winter Bulking Phase:
Summer Cutting Phase:
MusclePharm Assault and Recon impressed me after my first week of use. Assault is an amazing pre-workout mix that gives me laser focus, good energy and great pumps. Recon allows a guy at my age to really train hard and recover much faster than I had previously, and my muscle tone and density improved as well.
I also use additional amino acids and the new Bodybuilding.com brand because it's an exceptional value. I base my amino acid intake on bodyweight calculations and add an additional five grams to my Assault and Recon. I also cycle Super Cissus for joint health along with NOW's Natural Unflavored Whey Protein Isolate for both early morning use and post-workout (mixed right into my Recon).
Summer Cutting Phase:
Fitness and pushing my body to exceed expectations has literally saved my life!
As I like to tell people - I am not training for the stage, a 5K or just to look good; I'm training to save my life!
I believe that every action and every choice either makes us stronger and better or tears us down. With that said, I believe everyone should lift, laugh and love what they do!
My health first and foremost! Since my attack, I'm closely monitored by my physician and he and my cardio team are always amazed at my blood work and how quickly I rebounded.
I am now in better shape and health than I have ever been! I am also motivated to see just how far this body will carry me.
Many people from my high school days are amazed at how I have seemingly turned back the clock on aging and can outrun/outperform many of their teenage children! The biggest motivation is that I am still here and still doing what I love - helping others and showing them the way to a better quality of life.
I could go on and on about what drives me in life, but it really does come down to one thing and that is being here to share my life with my family, my friends, my business clients and anyone who wants a higher quality of health.
When I look back over photos of all the amazing things I have done with and for people it really highlights for me what life is about - having fun, giving back, making a difference, helping others, health and wellness, and being there for those that need someone.
In the end, we all need someone at some point, but how many of us actually ever try to be THAT person!
I'd like to compete in the Crossfit games and see how well I can do in the Masters division.
I also plan to continue to grow my health/wellness business and hope to franchise it before I turn 50. I will continue to safely push my body to new heights and discover my limits as I grow and go.
One of the greatest things we can know is ourselves. I continue to learn every day.
I am into lifting for the long haul, so I continue to train smarter and adapt with a positive mindset and be the sterling example of what is possible at any age for both myself and my clients who look to me for guidance.
Be teachable. Be able to unlearn what is no longer valid and let it go, then learn what is relevant and put it to the test in your own life. There are no set answers in this life, only people willing to experiment then share their findings with the world.
So look for and surround yourself with people like this and you will truly be in the company of greatness.
From the Golden Era of bodybuilding, I have great respect for Frank Zane. He continues to train and be an inspiration to a generation that refuses to accept growing old and withered. We all age, but we do not have to grow old and dysfunctional.
My newest inspiration actually is of the female persuasion and a real inspiration to all fitness enthusiasts. Many of you have probably heard of Miss Erin Stern who recently won in Australia this year! She is a real go getter with an amazing attitude and physique to match!
On the male side of the fence, there are really only two words: Branch Warren. Is there anything else to say?
I also enjoy the Exercises section, Articles and wealth of information presented on the site. It's always up-to-date, informative, and accurate, which helps me maintain my own reputation when I cite information or tidbits of news I have learned about from the site.
The community is amazing, the Store has the best selection and customer service is unequaled in my opinion. My orders are always accurate and delivered to my door nearly as fast as I can go out and purchase at a local store and the prices are FAR better! I also like the fact that the site keeps a record of my supplements and order history so I am never in the dark about my purchases or what has worked for me in the past!
Lastly, Bodybuilding.com provides access to some of the best nutritional supplements available today. One of my favorite features of the Store is that you can keep a record of your favorite supplements and even repeat past orders. That makes it easy for me to stay consistent with my supplementation.
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I agree! It was so great reading your story and how you decided not to lay down and die. Whatever the outcome, you had every intention of fighting. Thanks for being willing to share your story with others. Deeply appreciated.
Its a story like yours which will keep me going strong. I, myself have had four heart attacks! And after years of ****** and moanin.....I starting excerising. After 120 days I am pleased with what I seen in the mirror. I feel so much better and people look at me differently now...and I'm not done yet! Thanx for your story. It lets me know that anything is possible and that I'm on my way.