Name: Derek Harberts
Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Why I decided to transform
Since my introduction to the weightroom in high school, I've been intrigued by weight training. I participated in high school sports and was fortunate to earn a collegiate basketball scholarship. However, due to hindering ankle injuries as a freshman, I had to quit. From my sophomore year on, I took weight training seriously and saw significant muscle and strength gains.
For 2-3 years following college, I made a goal to compete in men's physique, but I never built up the courage or commitment. Finally, in December 2012, I signed up for my first show, the 2013 Mr. and Ms. Sioux Empire Natural Bodybuilding and Figure Championships in my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After consulting my friend, Jordan Miller, who's a trainer at my gym, we put created a 13-week diet and training program leading up to the show.
I started dieting on April 26, 2013, after returning home from a vacation to the Dominican Republic with my wife and friends. I weighed 228 pounds with 20 percent body fat and was far from happy with my look.
The process had ups and downs physically and mentally, but it was rewarding to see my body transform during the 13-week period. I was also introduced to an aspect of health and fitness that I never fully understood: how to manage macronutrients and prepare meals in advance.
My diet consisted of two high-carb and five low-carb days. My high-carb days were always on days when I trained my weakest body parts (chest and shoulders). I sent Jordan progress photos every Monday and he adjusted my macronutrients accordingly. I was his first men's physique competitor and the plan was perfect.
I weighed a lean and healthy 190 pounds with 4.5 percent body fat on competition day. My hard work paid off and I was blessed to be awarded for "Best Abs," first place in the men's physique B class, and first overall in men's physique. I was also awarded my NGA men's physique pro card. It was one of the most rewarding moments of my life!
I take lots of pride that I'm 100 percent natural. My diet and training didn't include any water, sodium, or carb depletion. I didn't do fasted cardio, which is important to retain muscle mass and overall health. I can't give enough credit to Jordan for his help.
How I accomplished my goals
I accomplished my goals with two simple tactics: hard work and consistency. I approached my training every day with a mindset to push myself as hard as possible and nothing could hold me back. As clich? as this sounds, at the end of the day, it's you verses yourself. You control how hard you train and what you eat.
I prepared my meals the night before so I knew exactly what I was going to eat and when. For me, meal prep the night before worked best with my schedule. I still do this because it holds me accountable to eat the food that my body needs to perform at its highest level.
What aspect challenged me the most
One of the hardest challenges during my cutting diet and training was that I couldn't eat or drink near as much as I used to. I enjoy socializing and having an occasional cocktail with unhealthy food.
When I dieted for my show, it was during the summer. While everyone ate grilled and fried food and enjoyed beers, I stuck with water and meals that fit my macros, but it was worth it. I don't crave junk food anymore, but if I'm not dieting for anything specific, I'll enjoy a cheat meal. It's important to remember that it's ok to enjoy food and drinks in moderation.
My future fitness plans
I'd like to compete in a small, local show. My priorities shifted recently because my wife and I are expecting our first child soon. I'd really like to compete in the NGA, NANBF, or IFPA at the professional level and potentially pick up sponsorships.
I'd also like to become a certified personal trainer so I can help people achieve their goals.
Suggestions for aspiring transformers
Stay consistent, follow your diet, and work hard. Consistency is the key. It helps to have people hold you accountable. Have fun while you train. It doesn't always have to be serious.
Maintain a positive work, life, and training balance. Dieting and training can get stressful at times, so surround yourself with positive influences who build you up!
How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals
I enjoy BodySpace because it helps me track my progress through photos and workouts. It's also great to see others post progress photos and success stories.
Derek's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "Masses Of A Dying Breed" by Miss May I
- "No Pity For A Coward" by Suicide Silence
- "Nothing Left" by As I Lay Dying
- "Now You've Got Something to Die For" by Lamb of God
- "The Architect" by The Crimson Armada