Devon Hickam had never seen his abs. Maybe you can relate. He found himself wishing that the beer gut was actually a six-pack. He told himself he would make that happen. When he came across the BodyFit Elite Challenge Series online, he seized the opportunity to put his words into action.
Hickam thought it would be fun to try, and the financial incentive was nice, but he never thought he would actually win. The bottom line was, win or lose, he needed to regain happiness, let go of a job he hated, and create a better overall life for his family.
"I would wake up in the morning just dreading the day," he says. "The entire drive into work I would imagine ways to escape my job. I felt so trapped, I would fantasize about getting in a car accident so I wouldn't have to go. My wife is a psychologist, and she knew I had once been an upbeat, laid-back guy and that man she'd known had disappeared. She was the one who insisted that I wasn't trapped and could change my life."
Hickam's success illustrates the importance of having support around you as you go through a transformation—especially your significant other. Shortly after he started the Challenge, his wife hopped on board with him, and they lost a combined 80-plus pounds in four months.
"My wife and I had to get creative in order to spend time together. We started carpooling to work and school to make up for the time we sacrificed to be in the gym," he says. "It's been instrumental for us to go through this together. We meal prep together, hold each other accountable, and encourage each other to keep going when it gets tough."
All the sacrifice and lifestyle changes paid off big. He lost a total of 41 pounds and reduced his body fat by 15 percent. The best part for him, though, is knowing he set himself on a whole new trajectory career-wise, and also that he is now setting an example for his son.
"It still hasn't quite sunk in, but it feels like the sky is the limit," Hickam says.
This is his story.
Snapshot: Devon Hickam
- Height: 6' 2"
- Weight: 200 lbs.
- Location: Spokane, Washington
- Occupation: Physical Therapy Student
What did life look like for you before this transformation?
Life was unbearable. I was heading down a career path that I hated. I had lost a huge portion of my identity because I wasn't working out or doing sports, like I had my whole life. For four years I was completely sedentary, and I no longer recognized myself on the inside or the outside. Tying my shoes left me winded and the bar called my name every night after work just to cope. Everywhere I went I had to have a beer in my hand, I was heading down a path of alcoholism, and I wasn't the father or husband that I wanted to be. I couldn't play with my son for more than a few minutes before I would have to take a break to have a beer.
What made you decide to make such a huge change? Was there an aha moment?
All the pent-up frustration finally boiled over in December 2018. I could no longer go on the way things were. I remember one particular moment just before Christmas when I was playing with my son. I was worn out after about 30 seconds and told him I couldn't play with him anymore because I needed a beer. The look on his face wrecked me. I decided my life needed a complete overhaul and had to go in a new direction. I quit my job the next day and enrolled at Eastern Washington University to pursue a career in physical therapy.
How did you accomplish your goals?
I started out by researching workout plans and nutrition information on Bodybuilding.com. The first couple days, I spent hours looking and nailing down my plan of attack before I landed on Jim Stoppani's Shortcut to Shred workout program and a Paleo-inspired diet. Despite the name of the program, there aren't any shortcuts or magic formulas—I worked hard and stayed disciplined. Logging on to the Challenge site and seeing everyone's progress photos and posts on social media helped with motivation, too. There were definitely times when it was really hard, and I found inspiration from everyone else.
What supplements did you use during your journey?
- AllMax IsoFlex Protein Powder
- AllMax Vitaform Men's Multivitamin
- Black Market Labs Cuts Pre-workout
- Yohimbine HCL
- Creatine HCL
- Acetyl L-carnitine
What diet plan guided your transformation?
I was always so busy that I'd eat while walking between classes, so for convenience I started blending all my vegetables in the morning. I would stuff my Vitamix full of kale or other dark-green veggies and blend it with water. I would drink a glass and fill my thermos with the rest. It was so convenient just to eat a couple of packets of tuna and chug a big drink of blended veggies.
Here's the basic diet I followed. During the last four weeks, I wanted to put on more muscle, so I added complex carbs (half a sweet potato or some rice) twice a day, ate only cod and green beans for my protein and veggies, and bumped up my protein from 4 to 6 ounces per meal.
What did your training and cardio regimen look like?
I followed Shortcut to Shred exactly. When I finished it, I did it again. I also added in some extra cardio sessions because I love to run. Depending on how much time I had available, I would typically run for 30-45 minutes before my workout and usually 30-45 minutes in the evenings. I like to mix up my cardio with a good cycling workout because all cardio bikes are a bit different in terms of resistance. I try to keep my heart rate between 150 and 160 beats per minute for the workout, with bursts up to 180 beats per minute. I also like to try and swim on weekends, whenever I can find the time, which feels amazing after long weeks of heavy training. I do at least one hour of intense cardio every day, even on rest days.
What was the most challenging aspect of your journey?
The hardest part was learning how to balance everything in my life again. I made changes all over the place, not just in health and fitness. I had to learn how to manage and balance being a college student, working out, meal prepping, and adjusting my social life, along with being a husband and father. It made me re-evaluate all the priorities in my life, and family has always been number one. Instead of going out with friends, we began spending nights at home as a family on weekends. We would invite friends over to cook healthy meals, sharing our new lifestyle with them. The initial adjustment was a shock, but now it's just a normal part of our lives and it's not hard anymore.
How does it feel to say you have won the 2019 BodyFit Elite Challenge Series?
In some ways, it's still surreal and hard to put into words. But I'm on a high and I'm proud! It's nice to know that all my hard work has paid off. Winning this challenge has given me so much confidence to keep going on this journey. The old me before this Challenge had just about given up. The personal setbacks seemed to be never-ending. This accomplishment has lit my fire again and restored my confidence and smile. I feel like I'm capable of doing anything.
If you could say one thing to someone aspiring to take on a major transformation like yours, what would it be?
Three words: It's worth it. All the hard work and pain and suffering in the beginning fades away the further you get—and it's so worth all the effort. How I feel emotionally is 10 times better than I how I look on the outside. I never realized how depressed I was before, and I didn't know how unhappy I was until I got toward the end of the challenge and I experienced new highs. Even before I found out I won, I was the happiest I have been in I don't know how long. Too long.
How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?
When I started, I had no knowledge other than knowing I wanted to get in shape. I had not lifted weights regularly since high school football, which was 12 years ago. For me, having all the plans available on Bodybuilding.com—with nutrition, workouts, and the app to keep track—was essential to my success. The videos talking about how and why you do things were especially helpful when it came to learning correct form. I couldn't have done this without Bodybuilding.com and all the resources it provides. I was just a normal guy coming into this, and now I have the tools for success that will be with me for the rest of my life. Bodybuilding.com led me to water. All I had to do was drink—and I chugged it!
What are your future plans for your new, fit self?
I plan to become a hybrid bodybuilder and endurance athlete. I'll continue lifting and bodybuilding while simultaneously training for triathlons like the Ironman and obstacle course competitions like Spartan Race. I'm excited to try new things to push myself. Because I feel like I can do anything now, I want to do everything!
Interested in embarking on your own transformation journey? Check out Bodybuilding.com All Access to find the perfect plan to help you get started.