Why I decided to transform
I was a big kid growing up and had a father who was blind from diabetes, so I taught myself to play sports and read. During my freshman year of high school, my dad got pneumonia and had to have a hole put in his side to drain the fluid. His kidneys went bad shortly after and he went on dialysis.
Nearing the end of my freshman year, my dad had heart surgery for a clogged artery and was in and out of ICU and CCU with feeding tube. He came home weeks later and was in bad shape still. Then I came home from football training one day and found him lying on the ground. He was ice cold to the touch and had suffered a heart attack and passed away.
A month later, my mom went into the hospital and I almost lost her. She had vegetation around her heart and five infections in her leg. In the last year, she lost 90 pounds and is getting better. I used food to combat the pain in my life and ballooned up to 455 pounds as a high school senior. My doctor said that if I didn't change I would die.
My defining moment happened in class when I couldn't fit into my desk. When I saw myself in the mirror, I cried and knew I had to change. I was determined to lose weight or die trying.
How I accomplished my goals
When I first started my weight-loss journey, my best friend, Zach Gaskill, told me to do an hour of cardio on the elliptical. We also lifted for football and did additional bodyweight exercises. Zach helped me with portion control and helped me cut out whole pizzas and cheese breads. I cut back on my five 64-ounce sodas per day and eventually quit drinking soda.
I tried to run faster miles on the treadmill every week. I started at 30-plus minutes and upped the intensity until I hit a seven-minute mile. Zach eventually left for the Army after our senior year and I wanted to surprise him when he got back, so I started using workouts on Bodybuilding.com and increased my cardio.
Two years later, after my first year of college, I was down to 165 pounds and Zach could finally give me a complete hug when he came home. Zach and I started lifting together again so I could add muscle and I later started a 5-3-1 program from Bodybuilding.com. Thanks to programs from Bodybuilding.com, I gained nearly 90 pounds of muscle.
Today, my girlfriend, Allison Rourke, motivates me and we love to work out together. She's my swolemate. We prep all meals on Sunday and I inspired her to adopt a healthy life!
What aspect challenged me the most
The most challenging part was to avoid eating cookies and pizza because they're my favorite foods. Going to the gym on days when I don't want to go or when my friends are out partying is hard, but it's best for my goals and dreams.
My future fitness plans
My future fitness plan is to compete in my first bodybuilding show and try to be a pro. It might be the best transformation ever! I also want to inspire others and change the world to be fit and healthy.
Suggestions for aspiring transformers
Don't ever give up. If you really want something in life, you have to work hard for it. Nothing is handed out for free.
Never let anyone say you can't do something. If you believe it can be done, work tirelessly to achieve it.
Keep a food journal so you know where you are and where you want to go. Set realistic goals and start with small goals that you can achieve relatively quickly.
How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals
Bodybuilding.com helped with new diets and workouts. I also use BodySpace to talk with others and ask for advice.
Richard's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "In Da Club" by 50 Cent
- "In The Hood" by DMX
- "Till I Collapse" by Eminem
- "Ruff Ryders Anthem" by DMX
- "H.Y.F.R." by Drake