Growing up, Ashwin Prasad was the victim of pointed words and nasty jokes surrounding his size. But he definitely wasn't overweight. He was the "skinny kid" in high school, weighing under 100 pounds at 5-foot-7 and unable to lift much of anything in the gym. The more harsh comments thrown his way, the worse he felt about himself.
"I started to wear layers of clothing and long sleeves so people wouldn't know how skinny I was, and I continued to do so throughout college. I was extremely shy and had low self-esteem," Prasad says.
Everything changed when Prasad turned a corner and dove headfirst into the world of fitness, utilizing Bodybuilding.com programs and articles to put on size. But he saw a lot more come out of his fitness transformation than just new muscles.
"My confidence now is on a whole new level. I am eager to take on new challenges and experiences, tackle difficult work projects, travel, public speaking, and more," he says. "My mental toughness has also helped me with stress management. I am happier and I am able to enjoy my time with different people."
Now, through his social media platforms and role as a member of Team Bodybuilding.com, Prasad wants to share these gym and life gains with others, in hopes that they too can see the light beyond their supposed limitations.
"Fitness has opened many doors for me and has given me a new perspective into my life. I still have a long way to go, but I am excited to learn more about fitness and my own limits. I hope that I can provide the same sense of confidence and control to those who want to pursue their own fitness journey," he says.
Prasad is proof that over time, you can see major results if you're patient and consistent.
This is his story.
Snapshot: Ashwin Prasad
- Height: 5' 7"
- Weight: 164 lbs.
- Occupation: Accountant
- Location: Elk Grove, California
What was life like for you before this transformation?
I weighed 92 pounds up until the last two years of college. My family and I migrated to the United States from the Fiji Islands and I started high school right away. I noticed all the other kids were much larger than me. I was constantly teased about my size. One time when I was changing in the locker room, the other kids joked that they could count my ribs. Over the years, comments like this kept piling on, and my confidence kept shrinking.
What made you decide to make a change?
I felt like I had very little control over my life, like I was just a passenger along for the ride. I had no drive or ambition and I was too scared to do anything about it. One day, I looked in the mirror and decided to change. I knew I had to take control so I could make the best of life and actually enjoy it. In order for that to happen, something had to be different.
What did the first baby steps look like?
A co-worker of mine at the time wrote a training split for me, but I still had no idea how to perform certain movements. The gym also intimidated me quite a bit. Ten-pound dumbbells were heavy for me, and I couldn't even lift the barbell off the ground or off my chest. I kept pushing myself to still go because I knew it would pay off eventually.
I started educating myself through online resources and I frequently came across articles and workout programs from Bodybuilding.com. I decided to try a program from Kris Gethin. His daily videos and instructions were perfect for a beginner like me. The exercise database on Bodybuilding.com helped greatly, as well. As I saw results, I became obsessed with knowing more about bodybuilding.
How did you accomplish your goal?
I started following more programs like Jim Stoppani's 12-Week Shortcut to Size, Kris Gethin's 12-Week Muscle-Building Trainer and DTP, and Steve Cook's Big Man on Campus. With these guides I learned the importance of tracking nutrition, which made all the difference, and started using supplements to aid my workouts.
I slowly gained weight and more confidence to try new things outside of the gym, as well, and ended up joining a local metal band. Between full-time school, full-time work, and the band, I was clocking in 16-hour days and still made time for the gym. This is where I grew from 92 to 130 pounds! A lot of people took notice and encouraged me to keep going.
That's impressive! How did you keep your results from plateauing?
I decided to become more detailed in my approach in regard to my nutrition and supplementation. I started making better food choices, learned the value of each macronutrient, and added BCAAs into my supplement stack. In a few years, I went from 130 pounds to over 150. I also started utilizing a 5x5 strength-training program, which was inspired by an article on Bodybuilding.com related to strength and mass.
After seeing some growth, I decided to follow more programs from Bodybuilding.com. I repeated some of the old ones and added a few more like Squat Every Day, Modern Physique, and Y3T to name a few. With each program I completed, I was happier, more confident, and more focused in my goals outside of the gym, as well. For example, at work I would speak more during meetings, took on difficult and challenging projects, and tackled more leadership roles with authority. More importantly, I was handling stress a lot better than before.
What have you been doing most recently with your training?
At the beginning of this year, I started following Hany Rambod's FST-7: Big and Ripped program weighing 161 pounds and finished the program at 167 pounds. I started Project Mass immediately after and finished at 172 pounds. During this time, I was driving 2 hours to and from work and working 10-12 hours a day.
I also I signed up for my first Spartan Race this November, so my focus has shifted back to functional training and conditioning. With that in mind, I began Kris Gethin's 4 Weeks 2 Shred at 164 pounds and it made a huge difference. I finished at 157 pounds with details in my muscles that I've never seen before. I am currently at 162 pounds following a 5x5 training regimen with the goal of looking and performing like an athlete. This means my warm-up and recovery methods are much more in-depth, with dynamic warm-ups before training, chiropractic care, cryotherapy, stretching, red light therapy, and cardio. My thought being, the more I recovered, the harder I could train.
What supplements helped you throughout your journey?
- Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged
- Bodybuilding.com Signature BCAAs
- Kaged Muscle In-Kaged
- Cellucor Performance Whey
- Bodybuilding.com Signature Whey
- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Casein
- Bodybuilding.com Signature Multivitamins
- Bodybuilding.com Signature Fish Oil
- Bodybuilding.com Signature Creatine
- Bodybuilding.com Signature ZMAs
- Bodybuilding.com Signature Probiotics
- RSP Quadra Lean
- Kaged Muscle Glutamine
What diet plan guided your transformation?
What did your training and cardio regimen look like initially?
In the very beginning, I began with Kris Gethin's 12-Week Video Trainer on Bodybuilding.com. I quickly realized it was an advanced program but still gave it my best shot with some tweaks here and there. That's when I received advice from a trainer at my gym: To get bigger, I should do full-body training for three days out of the week and consume close to 3,000 calories. At that point I didn't have enough strength to lift a barbell, so I substituted some movements with dumbbells:
What was the most challenging aspect of your journey?
There were a few challenges. First, I did not know anyone who was dedicated to the gym, so I could not ask many people for help since I was shy to begin with. As I kept going to the gym, I kept meeting people who gave me really solid advice.
Also, I lacked discipline in the beginning, and I did not take my time seriously. One day I decided that I should be stricter on myself and make the people around me proud of who I am. I let go of any toxic behavior and people and started focusing on my growth as an individual. I focused more on family, balance, and my overall health.
Lastly, because of religious reasons, I am vegetarian two days out of the week. No meat and no eggs. Sometimes with religious events, I have to be vegetarian for weeks. I took this as a challenge to prep vegetarian meals high in protein and without any eggs. Quinoa, tofu, and soybeans became my main sources of protein on those days, and this was a good way for my digestive system to take a break from meat and also simply diversify my options.
If you could say one thing to someone aspiring to take on a major transformation of their own, what would it be?
Don't give up. Sounds cliché, but it's true. No matter how intimidated I got when I walked into the gym or what excuses my mind was making and telling me to not go, I fought against it. I learned that the brain is wired to keep you safe, which means it does not like anything that is new or challenging at times. This was a whole new environment for me. The more I fought the feeling and powered through it, the more I started liking it. The more I liked it, the better results I saw.
Additionally, small changes in habit also contribute to long-term success. I do not believe in fad diets, miracle pills, or quick solutions. I believe that changing one's habits over time can lead to a much healthier life. I've seen people around me go on crazy diets and then go back to their regular eating habits after it's over, and they gain all the unwanted weight back. My advice is to pick a program or diet that works for your lifestyle. You might have to experiment a bit, but once you find it, making healthy choices will be second nature.
What are your future plans or goals within fitness?
One of my goals is to focus on healthy aging. I'm aiming for maintaining an active lifestyle even when I am older. Not just physical health, but also mental and emotional. I want to continue doing things like hiking, biking, playing sports, obstacle course racing, lifting weights, playing music, and travelling. As I get older, I want to spent time with my kids (when I have them) and their kids, and not have the activity be limited due to my health restrictions.
I also want to continue learning more about fitness and use that knowledge to push myself even further to achieve strength goals I've never achieved before or movements that I used to dream of doing. And I hope my story inspires someone out there to start their fitness journey. It will open so many doors and gives you a different perspective in life. If a skinny kid like me who could barely lift a barbell can do it, then anyone can do it if they really want to.
How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?
Bodybuilding.com's workout programs and nutrition articles helped increase my knowledge of fitness. The exercise database helped me focus on proper form, and if an exercise was new to me, that was always my point of reference. The supplements were always at a good price and the customer reviews definitely helped narrow down my choices. Lightning-fast shipping, too! My current favorite is the All Access app. This helps track my workouts in detail: sets, reps, weights used, and the RPE, which is so important for measuring progress!