On January 5, 2017, James Nash had what he hoped was his last drink—forever. Before that day, his life revolved around nothing but drinking. As a bartender, even his work life was centered around alcohol consumption—and recovering from it.

When Nash didn't go out to the bars at night, he'd go to the local gas station and pick up several 12-packs of beer, then drink until he passed out.

When he did go to bars, he'd always end up too drunk to drive home. One time, he left his car overnight in a parking garage. He went downtown to pick it up, stopped at his workplace—the bar—for "just one drink," and got too drunk to drive. He did this three nights in a row, with his car in the parking garage the whole time!

The night Nash decided to change started with a fight between him and his brother. They were roommates, and Nash hadn't paid his part of the rent because he'd spent it all the night before, drinking with a co-worker.

"The fight escalated until he kicked me and my dog out of our apartment and into a blizzard," Nash says. "He gave me an hour to pack up everything and leave, and he told me not to come back."

Nash stayed at his girlfriend's house that night, and he decided then and there that he would never drink again. He couldn't let his actions continue to affect the lives of the people he loved.

Even though Nash was bartending, he somehow managed to stop drinking cold turkey, dealing with his body's responses to alcohol while he poured drinks for his patrons. 

This is his story.

Snapshot: James Nash

  • Height: 6' 0"
  • Weight: 180 lbs.
  • Occupation: Bartender
  • Locations: Boise, Idaho
  • Social Media: Instagram
James Nash Before

Age: 23, Height: 6' 0", Weight: 175 lbs., Body Fat: 19%

James Nash After

Age: 25, Height: 6' 0", Weight: 180 lbs., Body Fat: 10%

What made you decide to go through this transformation?

I was tired of hurting those closest to me. I knew that if I continued down the path of alcohol abuse, I would lose my girlfriend and my job. I was also afraid that I'd end up drunk behind the wheel at some point, and the thought of potentially causing an accident and destroying someone else's life terrified me. I knew going to the gym would help strengthen me, both physically and mentally, and that fitness was the right path to take to turn my life around for good.

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How did you accomplish your goals?

I figured I had to quit cold turkey (which I have since learned was not the best idea), but it was tough. My co-workers weren't exactly supportive and offered me shots for a while. After I continuously turned them down, they eventually stopped offering. I kept saying, "I don't drink anymore" whenever they offered me a shot, and it eventually sunk in to them that I meant it.

James Nash Transformation

The beginning was extremely difficult on my body. I got headaches and insomnia, and had night terrors (when I could sleep) and cold sweats. I joined a 24-hour gym at the company where my mom worked. During the first few months, I worked out late at night, around the time I would typically have had my first drink. That really helped me mitigate the withdrawal symptoms.

What aspect challenged you the most?

I struggled with both the nutrition and the training. I'm a picky eater, so it was extremely difficult to hit my macros and eat foods I enjoyed at the same time. After around three months, I finally got into a rhythm with my macros.

As for my training, it was easy at first to not push myself to my limit because I was working out by myself so there was no one to hold me accountable. Once I began to work with a trainer, the monthly check-ins were enough to drive me to be my best—inside and outside the gym. I didn't want to disappoint my trainer—or myself. Having that accountability really helped push me.

Who was your biggest supporter throughout this change?

I remember talking to my mom about my drinking problem, and about how much it had hurt her to see me going through it. Once I stopped drinking, I'd call to talk to her each week and she'd tell me how proud of me she was. She still tells me that.

My girlfriend has been an equally important source of support for me. She stood by me through my darkest times, when I was drunk and nothing but depressed. She believed in me each step of the way. Without these two women, I don't think I would have been able to accomplish as much as I have.

James Nash Transformation

What are your fitness plans for the future?

My goal is to compete in my first ever men's physique show, this coming November! I have totally transformed my physique over the past 17 months. I want to be able to look back and say that I had enough drive and dedication to prep for and compete in a show. I also want to use social media to influence and guide other people in the fitness world who suffer from addiction and want to turn their lives around.

What suggestions do you have for aspiring transformers?

Just remember that nothing happens overnight and that you have the power to change your life. If you truly want something bad enough, once you start working toward it, you'll be surprised how easy it comes to you. Don't be afraid to ask for help or hire a trainer. Everyone started out as a beginner and everyone has their own battles. Just know that you are not alone and that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

For those in the middle of their transformation, remember how far you've come. Continue to take pictures so that on the days you feel like you're making no progress you can look back at those old photos and see the changes you've made. And, for me, sharing my fitness journey is one of the biggest things that continues to motivate me!

James Nash Transformation

How has Bodybuilding.com helped you in this journey?

Just knowing that Bodybuilding.com is based in my hometown is a huge help. It shows me that, even being from a small town, anything is possible. And, the huge amount of free content I can access through the Bodybuilding.com site is priceless. To this day, if I'm not sure how to perform a workout, or if I'm just looking for a new workout to add into my regimen, I find a lot of information—and inspiration—in the training content.

What supplements did you take?

What diet plan did you follow?

For the first six months, I didn't really know what I was doing. I ate five meals a day, but three of them consisted of protein shakes and nothing else. For my other two meals, I usually ate cashews, Quest bars, and chicken tacos. I followed this diet (if you can call it that) from January 2017-June 2017. Once I began to work with a trainer, I was able to dial in my nutrition and workouts. Here's what my daily diet looks like now:

Meal 1
Protein Powder
50 g
Apple
1
Meal 2
Protein Powder
50 g
Waffles (low-fat Eggos)
4
Peanut Butter (Nuts n' More protein cookie butter)
2 servings
Meal 3
Turkey
6 oz.
Whole Wheat Bread (Dave's Killer wheat bread)
2 slices
Cheese
1 slice
Meal 4
Chicken
4-6 oz.
Cheese
2/3 cup
Post-Workout
Protein Powder
50 g
Rice Cake
2-4

What did your workout plan look like?

My training plan would change every 5-6 weeks, but here is a sample of one of those programs:

Day 1: Legs/Abs
1
Superset
Dumbbell Rear Lunge
4 sets, 8 reps
Barbell Squat
4 sets, 8 reps
2
Superset
Romanian Deadlift
4 sets, 8 reps
Seated Leg Curl
4 sets, 8 reps
3
Bodyweight Walking Lunge
4 sets, 8 reps
4
Bodyweight Squat
4 sets, 8 reps
5
Flutter Kicks
30 sec.
6
Weighted Crunches
20 reps (holding plate)
7
Plank
Perform on stability ball.
45 sec.
8
Running, Treadmill
15 min.
Day 2: Chest/Biceps
1
Superset
Smith Machine Bench Press
4 sets, 8 half reps
Seated Dumbbell Curl
4 sets, 8 reps
2
Triset
Incline Dumbbell Flyes
4 sets, 8 reps
Dumbbell Bench Press
4 sets, 8 reps
Dumbbell Alternate Bicep Curl
4 sets, 8 reps
3
Superset
Incline Dumbbell Press
4 sets, 8 reps
Pushups
4 sets, 8 reps (focus on the negative)
4
Hammer Curls
4 sets, 8 reps
5
Running, Treadmill
15 min.
Day 3: Back/Triceps
1
Superset
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown
4 sets, 8 reps
Triceps Pushdown
4 sets, 8 reps
2
Superset
Bent Over Barbell Row
4 sets, 8 reps
Straight-Arm Pulldown
4 sets, 8 reps
3
Triset
Seated Cable Rows
4 sets, 8 reps
Lying Triceps Press
4 sets, 8 reps
Bench Dips
4 sets, 8 reps
4
Dumbbell Incline Row
4 sets, 8 reps (with dropset)
5
Running, Treadmill
15 min.
Day 4: Shoulders
1
Arnold Dumbbell Press
4 sets, 8 reps
2
Superset
Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise
4 sets, 8 reps
Lateral Raise - With Bands
Failure
3
Superset
Front Incline Dumbbell Raise
4 sets, 8 reps
Standing Dumbbell Upright Row
4 sets, 8 reps
4
Standing Dumbbell Straight-Arm Front Delt Raise Above Head
4 sets, 8 reps
5
Shoulder Circles
Perform with plate.
4 sets, 15 reps
6
Running, Treadmill
15 min.

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About the Author

Kailan Kalina

Kailan Kalina

Kailan Kalina is a competitive powerlifter and freelance writer with a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism and communications from the University of Oregon. Since graduating, she...

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Transformation