Before: March 2003
Weight: 145 lbs
After: February 2008
Weight: 227 lbs
Why I Got Started
I was always the small skinny kid from the time I was young up until college. I played sports and have been an athlete my whole life. With basketball being my main sport, I obviously had to run a lot to stay in basketball condition due to playing year round.
I went to college to play ball but found that my heart was no longer into it and did not want to continue. However I still needed that feeling that I was athlete and fill the spot so to speak of the time I would spend a day practicing with something else.
This is when I discovered bodybuilding. I had played around with weights a few times in high school and some my freshman year of college but nothing ever serious. It wasn't until March of 2003 that I decided it was time for a change.
I took before pictures and vowed that I was going to change my body simply because I was unhappy at how I looked and how skinny I still was as a 20-year old. Once I started lifting, I was instantly hooked. However the first few months I have no idea what I was doing and didn't make too much progress.
With anything new, you have to learn and educate yourself on the sport to become better. A few of my friends were bodybuilders and I picked their brains every chance I got as well as researching the ins and outs of bodybuilding. I knew in order to grow I had to lift but had no idea the importance of proper nutrition.
I was always an eater but never ate the right things in order to grow. That, along with my body type being incredibly hard to gain weight, I knew a hard road was ahead of me to achieve the ideal body I pictured in my head.
How I Did It
I knew it was going to take hard work to get where I wanted to be. I was going to need consistency in my weight training and a commitment to nutrition and learning along the way. I began working at a wave pool the summer after my sophomore year of college as a lifeguard.
It was here where I met 2 other guys who were just as interested in bodybuilding as I was. One of whom was near getting ready to compete in natural bodybuilding shows so he was way more advanced in the knowledge of the sport. Through him and along with researching the topic daily, I began learning what I needed to do.
The biggest thing I've learned is that people who go to the gym as a 'hobby' are not the same as the people who make it a lifestyle. Bodybuilding is a lifestyle. You spend an hour or so in the gym but it doesn't stop there. You grow and recover outside the gym.
Remember, your body is not growing in the gym, you are actually breaking the muscles down, it grows when you go home to eat rest and refuel. If you're not improving, than your body is either overtrained and still recovering from the previous workouts or you are doing something wrong in the gym (i.e. doing the exercises wrong, having a bad workout plan) or with your nutrition.
I love seeing and hearing people in the gym saying, "Man, how come I don't look like you? I lift all the time and still look the same?" What I tell them is basically the nicer version of educate yourself.
Yeah I see you in the gym all the time but you do half reps, you do the exercises wrong, you don't work your legs, you think throwing more weight on and barely replicating what you "think" is a curl, press or whatever the h*ll you are trying to do is wrong.
Once I became equipped with the tools of learning the art of bodybuilding, it became my lifestyle. Every 2-to-3 hours I began getting a meal or protein shake in me and was learning how many calories I needed to take in, how many grams of protein my body needed to grow, when to eat this and when to take that. It was all a process and still continues today because you are constantly learning new things within this sport.
The wealth of knowledge is never ending within bodybuilding which makes it so exciting. It's also a contagious lifestyle. The feeling of changing your body along with the great feeling you have after a workout becomes addicting.
I was a new person. I consider myself a head case when it comes to this sport because I am never satisfied. I want more. I consistently want to improve my body and mind.
I have relatively stuck to the basic supplements because there is no magic pill or supplement out there that is going to do the work for you or magically add 50 pounds of mass and muscle on you.
However it is still just as important as your diet because these are the extra aides your body needs along with the proper foods. You still have to do the work and eat right but supplements will help with the process of growing of lean muscle mass and recovering from previous workouts.
This is probably more important than lifting itself. What you are eating. I always say you cannot drive a car with no gas in it and your body is no different. It needs fuel to operate. I try not to skip or miss any meals but we are all human and it happens.
I have heard many bodybuilders say they would rather miss a workout than miss one of their meals. That goes to show how very important diet and nutrition are to bodybuilding. My diet varies based on my workout times and work schedule but I'll provide the idea of it.
Whatever meats I am going to have for the day (steak, chicken, pork, etc) I get out in the morning and marinate for the day in the fridge. I love to cook and, being Italian, this is kind of an innate characteristic.
I also keep water on me at all days throughout the day trying to intake as much as possible. I mainly drink a lot of water right before during and after my workouts.
Meal 1: Breakfast
- 1 cup oats
- Fat free skim milk
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- cup mixed fruit/banana/apple/orange/10 oz orange juice
- Protein shake
- 1 ml Goji berry juice
- 2 g Arginine
- 2 g Fish Oil
- 3-4 oz turkey breast
- 1 tsp. mustard
- whole wheat bread
- 1 cup low fat yogurt
- ½ cup dry granola/Granola Bar
- 20 oz water
- 8 oz Chicken breast
- Baked potato/small bowl of pasta
- Olive oil and vinegar dressing
- 20 oz water
Meal 2: Snack
Meal 3: Lunch
Meal 4: Snack
Meal 5: Pre-workout
Meal 6: Post-workout
Meal 7: Dinner
Meal 8: Optional
Some days I get all meals in some I get fewer. Like I said, it varies with time and schedule but I try to stick as close to this as possible. Cooking is never an issue. I sometimes will cook in bulk or in the slow cooker and will separate meals in containers and take them with me to work since I am on-the-go a lot.
This is currently my program but again, it varies. Every 6-8 weeks I will have an 'off' week where my workouts will be nothing but extreme light weights with 15-20 reps. I use this week to recover from my heavy lifting and let my body heal. These workouts will tend to be shorter and I am more focused on resting this week.
I go hard for 6-8 weeks of heavy lifting trying to progress each week with either an extra rep or added pound on a lift. However I still focus on doing my exercises properly so even though I go heavy, I still focus on doing it correctly.
Monday: Chest & Light Triceps
Tuesday: Back & Light Biceps
Friday: Shoulders & Traps
Suggestions For Others
It is important to remember that everyone's body is different. What works for one person may not for another. You cannot focus on someone else. You have to remain focused on yourself and your goals. People ask me all the time, "hey man what do you take or how can I get like you?"
My best advice I give to people is eat properly, be consistent with your lifting and working out and setting realistic goals. No one is going to change over night or take a magical supplement to make you look the way you want to. The only way to achieve success is through hard work and dedication. Take it one step at a time.
I progressed each year since I started to get where I am today. I remember some of my ex-girlfriends wondering why I would get up in the middle of the night to have a protein shake or eat a small meal. It's because I was committed to changing. I want to make it clear that I did this all naturally as well.
I have nothing against people who take steroids and other products, but I view it as a short cut way of changing. If you do and that's what you want to do, more power to you but I want people to know it is possible to add muscle and change your body naturally.
I have been accused by numerous people of taking steroids since my change and it upsets me only due to the fact of how much time and effort I put into my transformation. It was all hard work straight from the start to where I am now.
The hours of lifting at the gym, the many times forcing meals down when I did not want to eat anymore, taking one more shakes in the middle of the night, or spending the night in the gym then the kitchen instead of heading out for the night. Everyone can benefit from working out, not just the physical rewards but the mental rewards of feeling better about yourself and your health.
Make sure you are eating, resting and recovering. Switch up your workouts once in awhile so your body doesn't get used to doing the same things. Do the exercises the correct way or else you might as well not do them at all. You are hurting your body more than you are helping it. Put in the work and you will see results. Remember getting healthy isn't just a hobby, it's a lifestyle.