Male Transformation Of The Week - Mark Valenti.

Mark was overweight and hated it - he would have to gasp for air just to bend over and tie his shoes. Soon though, he discovered a formula for success and went on to lose more than 15 pounds and more than 20% body fat!

Before Before:
230 lbs
After After:
215 lbs

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Vital Stats
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Name: Mark Valenti
Email: valentimark100@comcast.net
BodySpace: valenti100

Before: July 29, 2007
Weight: 230 lbs
Body Fat: 30.2%
Lean Mass: 160.53 lbs
Fat Mass: 69.47 lbs
Pant Size: 38

After: October 20, 2007
Weight: 215 lbs
Body Fat: 9.43%
Lean Mass: 194.72 lbs
Fat Mass: 20.28 lbs
Pant Size: 34

Progress
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My Progress.

My waist size was probably around 46" before I started, the first time I actually measured it was about 2 weeks into my transformation, where it was at 44" and I had already lost a good amount of fat by then.

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Why I Got Started
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Those "before" stats are obviously horrible and that is how I felt! I couldn't seem to take a picture without my eyes being half shut, I had to gasp for air just trying to bend over to tie my shoes or put on socks. I was also about to turn 40 but felt so much older and all of that, especially the more I became aware of it. The age thing just helped to put me in a depressed rut, for a long time.

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I was ready for a change, especially with that big 40 birthday around the corner, but wasn't sure how or where to begin and decided that a physical would be the best start. My doctor did a good job and didn't prescribe me any meds to lower the cholesterol or anything like that but suggested that I do it naturally by diet and exercise first.

I actually weighed 245 pounds at this point and by casually exercising and dropping cokes and crackers from my diet, I was able to eventually (within a few months) bring my weight down to around 230 pounds.

Front Back
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After 6 Weeks.

The changes were noticeable and it just so happened that a friend of mine met a guy at his job site who had won the Body for Life Challenge of 2006. He told me about it a few days later and after talking about diets and exercising that whole day, I felt the motivation in me again and went straight to their website when I got home.

I can definitely recommend their program, which I'll try to describe a little later. Being that my family and I were heading out on vacation, I took a few weeks to study their challenge, their diet and exercise plan. I bought their book too from Amazon.com for what I believe was the best 7 dollar investment I could ever make! We got back and July 29, 2007, was my first day to a completely life changing experience!

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How I Did It
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Given our current situation, I was pretty restricted when it came to doing many things. I'm a stay-home dad to our 4-year-old son. So, with one paycheck supporting the family at the moment and not really being able to just take off to a gym or even afford a monthly fee, I opted to workout from home.

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We had a treadmill, granted that dusty thing was about 7 years old and I have a total of 145 pounds of useable weights in the garage, 2 barbells, 2 dumbbells and a bench. Definitely not the same as going to a gym, but that didn't matter much to me and I didn't have the strength at the time to push much more anyway.

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What Supplements Did I Take
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The only real financial part of Body For Life, unlike some others I've seen, is that you have to use at least 1 EAS product. Which is hardly something negative though, as quite a few of their supplements have excellent reviews, all over the net.

It was a choice not to use any fat-burners, appetite suppressants or anything like that, as I wanted to do and complete this transformation as naturally as possible. I can definitely say that they were not necessary either!

Also, being that I couldn't spend a lot of money on supplements each month, I had to make either or choices and this is what I chose and used for the entire 12-week challenge:

  • 15-30g of EAS L-Glutamine per day - I give a lot of credit to this stuff!
  • 4-8 EAS AdvantEDGE RTD's per week
  • 2 double scoop Optimum 100% Whey Protein shakes per day
  • One-a-day Weight Smart Advanced Multivitamin
  • Typically 2-4 400iu capsules of Vitamin E (I later found out that I was probably overdoing this vitamin)
  • I started out taking 2-4 150g Green Tea extract pills per day, but later found 1000g versions and was probably taking about 2-3 of those then per day
  • 2-3 1000mg Omega 3/Fish Oil Concentrate capsules per day

L-Glutamine
EAS L-Glutamine.

The vitamin E, green tea extract and omega 3/fish oil capsules were all no name brands, at least none specific enough to mention. I usually bought whatever I found at a few different stores throughout the 3-month period.

arrow View EAS Products Sorted By Top Seller Here.

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A Sample Week Of My Diet
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My diet didn't really rotate in any way, in fact I tried to eat consistently each day for 6 days, if only to keep it easier for me to track. Knowing that a cup of coffee along with a half a cup of oatmeal with a half a cup of fat-free milk and a scoop of protein along with 5 hard-boiled egg whites comes to about 465 calories, 42g carbs (10g sugar), 63g protein and 5g of fat (as an example of my current Meal 1), makes it much easier to track what and how you're eating. That said, a typical good day would look like this:

    Meal 1 (300-500 calories) about 8:30am - after morning cardio

    Meal 2 (295 calories) about 12pm - after my workout

    • 2 scoops Optimum 100% Whey Protein Shake
    • 1 cup fat-free milk (I added a few ounces of water to bring it up 6 ounces of fluid, along with a few ice cubes)

    Meal 3 (300-400 calories) about 3pm

    • 6 ounces of boiled chicken breast
    • 2 ounces of Barilla Plus Noodles or 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
    • 1/2 cup of vegetables (corn, green beans, broccoli were typical)
    • Usually some kind of sauce (usually just a bit to mix) or healthy oil to help get my supply of fats for the day
    • 16 ounces of water

    Meal 4 (300-500 calories) about 6pm

    • 4-6 ounces of ground turkey, chicken, beef or fish
    • 2 ounces of Barilla Plus Noodles or 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
    • Salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, fat free dressing)
    • 16 ounces of water

    Meal 5 (200-300 calories) about 9pm

    • 2 slices of Natures Own Double Fiber Wheat Bread
    • 1T Natural peanut butter
    • 1T Sugar free preserves
    • Sometimes I would add a light yogurt if I had calories to spare or an RTD shake if I felt I needed a little more protein
    • 16 ounces of water

    Meal 6 (295 calories) about 11pm

    • 2 scoops Optimum 100% Whey Protein Shake
    • 1 cup fat-free milk (I added a few ounces of water to bring it up 6 ounces of fluid along with a few ice cubes)

Some days I would eat less, some days I would eat more ... the average calories I had per day was typically in the 1500-1900 range, with at least 220g of protein per day. If I didn't have enough carbs each day, I felt it the next day, so I would say that balanced meals, were my goal here. Keeping all sugars below 60g per day was important to me too.

This is pretty typical day, and because I knew the stats of everything I could have my natural peanut butter sandwich at Meal 3 instead and switch things out without really changing too much. Other meals that I included would be like 2 pouches of tuna with some fat-free mayo, onions, and pickles halves as a sandwich between that double fiber bread; half eaten with a fork. I know I wasn't creative with my meals, but that wasn't necessary for me during this time.

Also, being that I did this in the summer time, it helped to drink a lot of water! Sometimes a lot more than this, and also 1-2 16oz bottles during workouts and cardio sessions. There was a lot of fruit in the house during this time as well and having a cup of cut strawberries, pineapple, watermelon or cantaloupe during a meal would happen once or twice per day on the average.

As you can tell there's not a lot of vegetables in the diet, not that it was planned that way or because I didn't want them ... BFL actually suggests them at every meal. However, I was so focused on carbs, proteins, and fats that the "how I got them" kind of got lost somewhere I guess.

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What Did A Sample Week Of Training
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I started my challenge doing the Body for Life workout plan, thinking that I would alter it later, once I got used to working out again. I was amazed how well it worked though! It's definitely a sound program I think would be good at any fitness level. I'll describe how I used it with the weights I had available too.

First though, I'll explain how it works: Basically it goes:

  • Day 1 - Upper Body Workout
  • Day 2 - 20 Minute High Impact Cardio Session
  • Day 3 - Lower Body Workout
  • Day 4 - 20 Minute High Impact Cardio Session
  • Day 5 - Upper Body Workout
  • Day 6 - High Impact Cardio Session
  • Day 7 - Off
  • Day 8 - Lower Body Workout

Continued in the same pattern so that 1 week you would have 2 upper body workouts and the next you would have 2 lower body workouts.

I also did a cardio session every morning before Meal 1, on an empty stomach. This got progressively longer as I built up some endurance - I started the first week with 20 minutes and tried to add 10 minutes onto that each week (at 60 minutes though I upped the tempo quite a bit) until my treadmill gave up on me and we bought an elliptical. I still don't feel the same as I did running on my treadmill, and I'm hoping to get a new one in the house very soon again!

Weights
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I Started My Challenge Doing The Body For Life Workout Plan.

I'll go into my workouts now, which are very basic when it comes to the actual exercises. The only difference I think I made, that isn't part of the "BFL plan" or anything else, is that I'll start with a weight that I'll push X amount of times until exhaustion. Hopefully that number will come out to be 12 on the first set.

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I've also had to push out quite a few sets prior in the 20-plus range, sometimes until I got to where my body could only do 12 reps a set. From there I continued, still with the same weight and only working with my rests to continue in a pattern of 10, 8, 6 and 12 reps, pushing to exhaustion at each set. There's probably a name for this type of workout, although I couldn't tell you at the moment. With that said, my workouts could look like this:

arrow Upper Body Workout

      Bench Press - 145 lbs

        20 reps - 30 second rest
        15 reps - 30 second rest
        12 reps - 30 second rest
        10 reps - 30 second rest
        8 reps - 30 second rest
        6 reps - 1 minute rest
        12 reps - no rest

      Dumbbell Flye - 35 lbs

        12 reps - no rest

      Bent Over Barbell Row - 80 lbs

        12 reps - 30 second rest
        10 reps - 30 second rest
        8 reps - 30 second rest
        6 reps - 1 minute rest
        12 reps - no rest

      Dumbbell Pullover - 50 lbs

        12 reps - no rest

      Barbell Curl - 60 lbs

        15 reps - 30 second rest
        12 reps - 30 second rest
        10 reps - 30 second rest
        8 reps - 30 second rest
        6 reps - 1 minute rest
        12 reps - no rest

      Concentration Curl - 20 lbs

        12 reps - no rest

      Close Grip Bench Press - 120 lbs

        12 reps - 30 second rest
        12 reps - 30 second rest
        10 reps - 30 second rest
        8 reps - 30 second rest
        6 reps - 1 minute rest
        12 reps - no rest

      Triceps Kickback - 20 lbs

        12 reps - no rest

      Upright Row - 60 lbs

        12 reps - 30 second rest
        10 reps - 30 second rest
        8 reps - 30 second rest
        6 reps - 1 minute rest
        12 reps - no rest

      Side Lateral Raise - 20 lbs

        12 reps

I think you get the idea now. My form, speed and rest is what helped to make things work, but I never stopped a set if I could pull out a few more reps, which in the end only meant that I had to do more sets or shorten my rests so that I couldn't do more reps.

Mark
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My Form, Speed, And Rest Is What Made Things Work.

When my strength got better and the sets increased - making my workouts too long, I had to actually split up my routine. For instance: sometimes I would have to put shoulders in with my lower body workout, or on a cardio day. I always tried to keep my workouts less than 45 minutes. That was something I learned to be important more than ten years ago, while I was on the Big Beyond Belief program.

I usually did my delts last, only because they kick my butt - If I fry my shoulders early on it effected the rest of my workout too much. Later on, because of this, I put them on "other" days, when my workouts were getting too long.

arrow Lower Body Workout

      Front Squat - 80 lbs
        12 reps - 30 second rest
        10 reps - 30 second rest
        8 reps - 30 second rest
        6 reps - 1 minute rest
        12 reps - no rest

      Leg Extension - 90 lbs

        12 reps - no rest

      Stiff Leg Deadlift - 80 lbs

        12 reps - 30 second rest
        10 reps - 30 second rest
        8 reps - 30 second rest
        6 reps - 1 minute rest
        12 reps - no rest

      Dumbbell Lunge - 25 lbs

        12 reps - no rest

For abs (which comes now in my Lower Body Workout) I would usually do an ab routine from Exercise TV onDemand.

"Great Abs" was always good; A sectional development routine that does 8 sets in 7 minutes.

arrow High Impact Cardio Session

    This is really nice! Basically I'll start off at casual pace for 1 minute and gradually (each minute) increase the speed. At 4 minutes though I pretty much doubled that speed for an "ALL OUT" run for 1 minute. Then I would pull things back to the casual speed again and go back to gradually increasing. Every 5th minute would basically be a full out level 10 intensity spike! Minutes 18-19 would be like this too while minute 20 would be to try and boost that even more if at all possible; this was the goal.

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I hate cardio but I'll love being lean I Hate Cardio But I'll Love Being Lean.
Before I even begin to write out my routines, schemes and goals I would like to make it quite clear that I am not a fitness buff, a football fan, a metrosexual, a meathead or even a bodybuilding fan. Though I do have an affinity for the Arnold era of bodybuilders that time has come and gone and we'll never see that kind of comraderie in this subculture again.
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    I couldn't do this from the beginning though! I remember my first day doing this. A 1-minute spike took me 5 minutes to recover from (hehe). So, to anyone starting ... don't feel bad if you can't do these or something else like this. Work your way into the way it's described, it will come, be patient with yourself!

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Suggestions For Others
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There are quite a few things that I can suggest to anyone looking to make a transformation!

  • Water, water, water! This makes so much of a difference. I'm sure of it! Now that the challenge is over and I'm not focused on drinking as much, I can feel the difference, so this is something I believe belongs here.

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  • Get yourself a pair of fat calipers! Watching your weight drop is good, but that's really not the most important part of why you are transforming your body ... you want that fat to melt away and build up some muscle or at least tone them. It's much harder to tell how your body is changing with the scale alone. But if you are tracking your body fat, you can say "Booyah! I've lost 5 pounds of fat, and added 3 pounds of muscle this week!" Whereas on the scale, you're only reading a 2-pound weight loss.

Accu-Measure Calipers
Get Yourself A Pair Of Fat Calipers.

  • Sticking points are normal and should be expected! Weeks 5-7 for me were h-ll! I was overtrained, thinking that I was invincible. It took me about 3 weeks to finally get over it too, but I think it's so important to not give up thinking that you can just start again!
  • Push through it and continue; take however many days you need, of course not too long. Stay focused, work on your attitude and motivation and get back in there! You wouldn't believe how I felt once I got back into things! Week 10 was like I found all the pieces of the puzzle and knew exactly where they belonged! This is hard to explain; it is the kind of feeling that really gives you a second wind.
  • Tell others what you're doing! For me it was important to do this challenge and tell others all about it. Also to find another motivation in it, such as "Winning." Not only doing it to do it, but telling people that you want to do it and show results that are beyond what anyone else could do. That really pushed me to NOT give up when things got tough!

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  • Plan ahead! As I mentioned here, things didn't change much for me throughout these past 3 months. I kept my diet consistent, my workouts didn't vary too much, and I altered exercises some by using dumbbells instead of barbells, but that's pushing it. So, knowing what to expect made it was easy to prepare. I don't know if consistency is key, but it's very helpful; that goes for everything including your mood!

I hope someone finds this useful, helpful, inspiring ... whatever as long as it's to his or her benefit. It's really helped me so much more than I can put in words here. Looking back at my stats from "Before" and "After," I can't even imagine where I'll be in double that time, in 6 months from now or even a year?

Best of luck and health to all that are transforming themselves and their lifestyles and the same really to anyone that is already working out ... you guys are the inspiration and extra kick that I find to help me push and continue with my own progress!



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