Growing up, Mike Short had a diverse fitness resume. In high school, he played football and lifted weights. After he graduated, he stayed active by joining a paintball team. He went to the gym regularly, surfed daily, and trained in jiujitsu. In college, Mike competed in fitness and agility, and even placed third in a national competition.
But it wasn't just the drive of reaching his physical peak that motivated Mike to be his best; he always had a bigger goal in mind. Mike knew he wanted to be a police officer, and he had to stay fit to make that dream a reality.
But, as soon as he settled into his career, Mike's lifestyle took a turn. Work was busy and, after starting a family, he stopped surfing, running, and training. "My wife and I had children, and with each one, I got softer and heavier," Mike remembers. "To my horror, I'd developed the dreaded 'dad bod.'"
"Before I had kids, I went to the gym and watched what I ate," Mike adds. "That changed with the birth of our first child. When things were tough, we just ate what was available. We went from cooking every day and working out to just trying to keep up, which meant eating fast food or takeout—whatever was convenient."
Once he acknowledged the weight gain and overall hit to his healthy lifestyle, Mike knew he needed to change. All it took was an embarrassing moment in front of his fellow officers to finally give him that extra push.
This is Mike's story.
What was your turning point or aha moment?
One day at work during a briefing, our sergeant told us a funny story about his daughter. He said she had been in town recently for lunch and saw him on a call with another officer. When he asked which officer, she said, "I'm not sure. He's kind of short and fat."
Turns out, that fat officer was me. I was pretty embarrassed. My friends at worked had teased me about my weight throughout the years, but it didn't hit home until that moment. That was when I finally realized they were right. I had let myself go, and I only had myself to blame.
How did you decide you were going to make a change?
I've always been into reading fitness magazines. I even watched fitness videos online while I weight trained in my garage! I never really knew what I was doing, though. I just knew I wanted to have a physique like the guys in the magazines.
When I finally decided to do get serious about my training, I made up my mind not to give into peer pressure, creature comforts, or laziness. I was going to stick with my goal and become a new me—someone my family, my children, and my friends could be inspired by.
You mention that you didn't know what you were doing when it came to lifting. How did you learn?
Bodybuilding.com was huge for me, not just because of the articles, but also because of the forums. People were really encouraging and available to answer questions. I started out just searching for workout programs.
I looked at workouts by Layne Norton and Steve Cook and tried to incorporate new techniques every time I went to the gym. Pretty soon, it felt like I had a grasp on the kinds of workouts for building muscle or shedding fat.
Did you make changes to your diet right away?
I really got serious was when we had our third child. Caring for three children was challenging, but I spent that first month home with them, which gave me time to get back on track. I stopped all the fast food and started to copy some of the athletes' diets. I did some research on what and how frequently they were eating, which helped me learn how to build my own meal plan.
Do you use any supplements?
What was the most difficult part of your transformation?
I think the hardest thing for me was food. I missed all my treats and desserts. Sometimes I'd watch my kids eating doughnuts and want to grab the box and run away with it. It's hard because kids really do eat a lot more junk food. They don't eat badly, but their snacks are all delicious little treats. Instead of giving in, I'd drink some water until the craving went away. All too often, we tend to confuse thirst for hunger. If that didn't work, I'd think about what I was working toward—a competition.
When do you plan to compete?
My first competition is coming right up! I'm entering novice Class B.
How are you feeling now?
I thought I would be more nervous, but I've been going on Bodybuilding.com a lot to read about what I should expect, things other first-time competitors wish they'd known, and tips for that day. I feel like I've prepared well, and I have enough good information that I'm not going in blind.
What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of preparing for a competition? The most challenging is definitely the diet, because I've eliminated certain things—like starchy carbs—completely. I can't have those again until after I compete. But it's rewarding, because so many changes are happening to my body so rapidly.
I look in the mirror in the morning, and there's almost always something there that I didn't see the day before. That helps to keep me going!