Why I decided to transform
In January 2007, I set a personal goal called "Fabulous at 40." This goal meant I had to buckle down on my training and nutrition, and establish a solid plan to meet my goals.
As part of my plan, I went to see my physician to ensure that my body was ready to take on some of the additional challenges I was about to endure. I had explained that I experienced occasional palpitations from time to time so they ordered my first ever EKG. The results immediately led me to a cardiologist, who diagnosed me with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM, for short).
HCM is a genetic heart disease that results in the thickening of the heart muscle, which can lead to sudden cardiac arrest even among young athletes, including Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis, to name just two. Over the next several months, I was put on medication and had to wear various heart monitors to record my rhythm.
By the time summer arrived, I was told that I needed an operation to have a cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) inserted in my chest to prevent sudden cardiac death and shock my heart back into rhythm if need be. The operation went smoothly, but recovering psychologically was extremely difficult. I never wanted to overexert myself to the point of depending on this alien machine inside me for survival.
My eventual return to the gym was mired with considerable less drive, passion, and determination.
After a long adjustment period, I finally made a New Year's resolution (I've got to start somewhere, right?) in 2011 to pick up where I left off four years ago. Thankfully, I now firmly understood my limitations.
It was about this time that I leveraged all of the resources on Bodybuilding.com, spending countless hours reading and studying the vast amount of information here. I created a BodySpace profile and interacted with other members on the forums. The more I dove in, the more I felt my inner motivation surging within me.
How I accomplished my goals
Before I knew it, I was hitting the gym six times a week. In just a few months, the fat was noticeably melting off my body; the leaner I got, the more control I had over sculpting my physique. Even with the significant amount of weight loss, I still managed to maintain most of my strength and, in some areas, got even stronger.
This experience has taught me that it's more than just developing a strong body; it's about balance between a strong mind, strong body, and strong spirit. Be positive, and know that nothing good in life comes fast or easy.
What aspect challenged me the most
I definitely found sticking to the diet pretty tough, but luckily I'm a simple guy and can eat the same things generally for a long time without getting bored.
My future fitness plans
I plan on gaining more muscle mass and further definition over the next 1-2 years. From there, I start preparing for a Master's Over 50 physique competition. Ultimately, I would like to graduate from physique and compete in bodybuilding on both a state and national level.
How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals
I love being a part of BodySpace with the people who are equally as driven as I was about transforming their bodies. As well, Bodybuilding.com provided me with valuable information that helped me toward my goal.
Suggestions for Others
All I have to say is that you should set specific, measurable, and realistic goals. Don't let anything (or anyone) stand in the way of achieving them. To that end, you'll need to surround yourself with positive people who will continue to encourage you to live a healthy lifestyle.
Once you are committed, give nothing less than 110% toward accomplishing your goals!
Finally, my mantra is: "Eat smart. Work out hard. Sleep deep!"
Ryan's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "Far Behind" by Candlebox
- "Dream On" by Aerosmith
- "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin
- "Kryptonite" by Three Doors Down
- "Buckcherry" by Lit Up