Fit Team Member Spotlight: Derek Sanders

Derek used his design skills and sports background to craft a new body and healthy lifestyle. The results were impressive enough to win him the title of's best employee transformation!

The visual style of got a major upgrade when our digital publishing department tore Derek Sanders away from a local radio station in 2011. The senior graphic designer has helped rebrand the site for modern users and created one of our most popular weekly features, We 'Mirin.

But Derek doesn't just 'mire; he walks the walk, too. This winter he and his wife Kelsey took part in the 2014 Team Member Transformation Challenge. And wouldn't you know, this World of Warcraft master won the contest! He clobbered his body fat to pieces, wielding the weapons of hard work, strict nutrition, and, of course, world-class supplements!

We hold this contest every year, and every year we are thrilled by the community of people working within our walls. You will surprise yourself if you live the fit life.

If you put all the pieces together like Derek did you can change yourself in profound ways!


What's your role at

I work within the digital publishing department as a senior graphic designer. Our awesome team creates all the glorious content that the visitors to have come to enjoy.

Specifically, the graphic designers on our team and I create a wide range of graphics for the daily articles and the big weekly trainers published on our site. A majority of my time is spent creating graphics in Photoshop, but I'll switch to Illustrator or InDesign when I need to build graphics that are more suited to those programs.

Prior to working at, I thought I was going to follow the same career path as the rest of my family and become a high school teacher and coach. My father started out his career by teaching high school math and coaching every sport under the sun. Eventually, he worked his way up to coach NCAA Division-II basketball, followed by becoming an athletic director. I figured that if it worked for him, it would work for me.

Throughout college, I was fortunate enough to get a few paid coaching positions at Skyview High School and South Middle School in Nampa, Idaho. I loved being able coach at the schools I grew up in and helping the kids become better athletes. After graduating from Northwest Nazarene University, I decided to test out substitute teaching. That was where I learned I wasn't ready to be a teacher.

What was your fitness level before working here?

I definitely wasn't in the best shape of my life. Growing up I had always been on the chubbier side, but I was still athletic and had success in sports.

I'm sure a lot of other former high school athletes can relate to my fitness level before I started working at I would lift weights 3-4 times each week, eat whatever I wanted, and only get cardio playing basketball on rare occasions.

You just crushed the employee challenge! What have these past few months taught you about yourself?

The last few months have shown me that with a little determination and the right motivation I could see some dramatic changes in my body.

I wanted to be shredded for my wedding on April 18, 2014 and to win the Employee Transformation Challenge. Once those goals were set, I knew that I had to eat clean and work my ass off in the gym. I hit the gym two times each day for three consecutive months!

Early in the morning before work, I would do fasted steady-state cardio by walking on the treadmill for 40 minutes while listening to "Game of Thrones" audio books. After work, I would then do my strength training by following the Kris Gethin 12-week hardcore trainer.

About halfway through the transformation my weight and body fat started to plateau. Luckily my awesome friend and coworker Matt Biss made some adjustments to my program and I was able finish my transformation with great results.

What is the hardest part about a transformation?

The hardest part of the transformation was not being able to eat sweets. I have a huge sweet tooth and prefer to have something sweet after most meals. I was able to fight off my sweet tooth two different ways during the transformation.

On the weekends, I would make my delicious Gaspari Banana Myofusion Protein waffles topped with peanut butter and bananas. I treated that meal as my breakfast and lunch because it tended to include a lot of calories, but it was totally worth it.

During the week I would make a protein shake using Dymatize Cookies and Cream Casein or Dymatize Orange Dreamsicle Iso 100, slice up a banana, add some blueberries, and then stick it in the freezer. I would take the frozen protein shake out of the freezer before bed and eat it like ice cream. My sweet tooth was satisfied and I was eating protein shakes that fit into my nutrition plan. It was win-win.

You just got married? Congratulations! How do you and Kelsey live fit together?

I did! Thank you very much. Kelsey was the main motivation and inspiration throughout the transformation. She decided to go through the entire transformation with me this year and she crushed it! Whether it was the early fasted cardio or the grueling Kris Gethin workouts, Kelsey did them all.

Even though the transformation contest has ended, we haven't stopped going to the gym. Kelsey and I both are now following a 5/3/1-style program given to us by Matt and are working to improve our maxes for bench press, squat, push press, and deadlift.

Kelsey loves her leg days, while I love my deadlift days. I couldn't have asked for a better person to spend the rest of my life with. Kelsey is my best friend and the love of my life.

We 'Mirin is your brainchild. Bravo! How has this photo feature helped spread the good word about health and fitness?

Being a big fan of the Internet and of things on the Internet, I lurk around lots of sites like reddit, theCHIVE, BuzzFeed, Kotaku, mmochampion, and WoWInsider. One day when I was on theCHIVE, the idea popped in to my head that we could do an article on our site that would show off some of the incredible physiques our users have.

It takes years of hard work and dedication to get as shredded as some of these people, and I wanted to give them a place to show off their hard work. This is turn creates a snowball effect by helping to motivate other users of our site. One person's shredded physique can help motivate another person to push their own body to its own physical limits.

What are your co-workers like?

They are all of these things.

You do push-ups by your desk. Like, a lot of them. How many have you done so far?

During the Team Member Transformation Challenge last year, I started to keep track of and do push-ups every half-hour.

By the time 2013 ended, I had done 42,899 push-ups. When this year's employee transformation rolled around, I decided to keep track of a few more things, like:

Derek's 2014 Transformation Totals (as of 5-19-14)

  • 37,860 push-ups
  • 4,759 pull-ups
  • 473.38 miles biked
  • 236.03 miles walked

Have you inspired others with your new look and attitude?

I like to think so. I hope that somebody can look at my transformation photos and use them as motivation. With some hard work and clearly set goals, you can make dramatic changes to your body.

What types of activities do you enjoy outside of work and the weight room?

I'm a big-time gamer. I've been playing video games nearly my entire life and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I tend to lean more toward PC gaming than console gaming. Currently the games I spend time playing are League of Legends, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, and of course World of Warcraft.

Have you heard of the 10,000-Hour Rule? In the book "Outliers: The Story of Success," Malcolm Gladwell repeatedly mentions the 10,000-Hour Rule, claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.

If that rule is believed to be correct, I guess I could be considered a master at World of Warcraft. I've been playing this game since it came out back in November 2004. Since that time I have accrued the staggering number of 432 days, 22 hours, and 41 minutes of played time.

Now, that's actual time in game playing one of my many characters. With a little math that number turns into 10,390 hours and 41 minutes of my life playing World of Warcraft. At this point in time I control 6 level-90 characters and 6 more that are 80+. My main is a Blood Elf Retribution Paladin named Mjöllnír and I'm part of the guild JINX on Runetotem.

The best part about playing World of Warcraft is that my wife plays as well. The both of us have been raiding and topping meters since the Burning Crusade. Now, a few of you probably have no clue about what I've been talking about. Short version: I slay dragons to get loot, and then I use that loot to slay more dragons. For the Horde!

Another hobby I've learned to enjoy quite a bit is cooking. I think watching the Food Network every night before bed may have something to do with that. After watching an episode of "Chopped," "Cupcake Wars," or "Restaurant Impossible," I feel like I could cook anything.

What is your favorite feature on the website?

I know I might be a little biased, but my favorite feature on the site would have to be We 'Mirin. I love being able to motivate people by featuring shredded members of our BodySpace community.

How does help support you in fitness and life? provides the tools need to become the best version of myself. If I'm looking for a new delicious food recipe I can find it on the site. If I feel like my training is feeling dull and monotonous I can always find a new workout to help mix up my routine.

Who are your bodybuilding, sports, or fitness heroes?

Bodybuilding: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Serge Nubret. Other: Thrall, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, and Bo Jackson from Tecmo Bowl.

Lifting Schedule

I use the Gethin Hardcore 12-week trainer.


Meal 1: 8:30 a.m.
Meal 2: 11:30 a.m.
  • Protogen Cookies & Cream Protogen Cookies & Cream

    1 scoop w/ water

Meal 3: 1:30 p.m.
Meal 4: 5:30 p.m.
  • Protogen Cookies & Cream Protogen Vanilla Protein Shake

    1 scoop w/ water

Meal 5: 9 p.m.
Meal 6: Before Bed