Name: Alex Schulz
Before: October 1, 2007
Weight: 240 lbs
Body Fat: 25%
After: April 19, 2008
Weight: 175 lbs
Body Fat: 3.5%
Why I Got Started
Like many before me, I simply got tired of looking at myself in the mirror and not liking the guy I saw staring back at me. I had always been active and reasonably healthy. Since I was a child I always played organized sports, whether it was hockey, baseball, football, rowing or golf. You name it and I played it.
I maintained an active lifestyle until I completed university; then 'real life' kicked in. A busy work schedule and too much socializing got in the way and started me on a pathway which was not a desirable one in terms of my health. I made many efforts to get back into shape, but none of them ever stuck.
I participated in recreational baseball and hockey leagues, but of course that was always followed by a trip to the local tavern where any positive effects of the activity were quickly erased. I also was a gym owners dream - I would gladly renew my gym membership and never use it.
I may have used the gym for 2-or-3 weeks, but then disappear for 6 months, then come back and repeat the cycle all over again. I also had no idea as to what 'healthy' eating was. Like most in a similar situation I thought starving me was the key to weight loss.
So, on one of my cyclical tours through the gym I would starve myself for two or three weeks, but then things would get tough and I would fall off the wagon and binge on food once again and stop going to the gym. I continued this cycle for many years, all the while not happy with my appearance or the way I felt about myself.
Years passed and I was lucky enough to marry a wonderful lady named Kim and together we share two wonderful kids; Jakob who is four and Zackary who is one. It was shortly after my 36th birthday in September 2007 that I decided I had to change, not only for myself but for my family.
I wanted to be healthier for them, so I could enjoy my recreational time with them and not be fatigued. I also wanted to set a good example for my two young sons and provide them with the information and tools so that they could learn about healthy living and hopefully make positive choices as they grow up.
How I Did It
Once again I embarked on a trip to the gym and renewed my membership on October 1, 2007 - the first day of my transformation. I also started trying to eat healthier, although at this point in time I still didn't have much idea as to what that was. Essentially, it came down to eating a lot of salad and chicken and not much else.
After a month I made some pretty good progress and I was pleased that I stuck with things for this long. However, I could feel myself teetering and decided I needed a long term goal to maintain my focus. I was aware there was a bodybuilding show every April close to where I lived.
Without much thought of what I was getting into, I decided to compete in that show as my goal. I had five and half months to get ready. That is plenty of time isn't it? After all, how tough could it be? I had no idea!
Immediately after setting my goal I sought out some much-needed help. I tracked down a personal trainer at my gym, a fantastic young lady named Trina Gillis www.trinagillis.net. I explained to her my objective and not once did she ever say "that's impossible" or "perhaps we need to set a more realistic goal."
Rather, it was "OK, let's get to work!" I can't say enough great things about Trina. Her knowledge, support and experience were fantastic. I trained with her two times per week from then on and she also fine tuned my diet which was key to my success.
Along with my own education, through Trina and sites like Bodybuilding.com, I finally began to understand the 'science' behind what I was doing. I was like a sponge and just wanted to learn and read more about dieting, different exercise programs, and sought out opinions and feedback on the forums.
Fast forward to April 19, 2008 and I am about to step on the stage and compete in my very first bodybuilding show; the 2008 Caribbean Grand Prix, an INBF show in the Cayman Islands. I had started out in October 2007 at 240 pounds and 25% BF. Here I was six and a half months later at 175 pounds and 3.5%BF.
Due to lack of participants at the show, they had to combine a few of the classes together. They didn't have a Novice Class, so I had to compete in the Open Heavyweight Class (in this case heavyweight was anything above 173 pounds). I had an absolute blast at the show. I was so proud to be up on stage. I couldn't have cared how I placed, but I was able to come in 4th.
Chapter one of my journey was complete. It wasn't easy and many times I wanted to give up. Oftentimes I would wonder why I was spending so much time in the gym, doing cardio, practicing my posing, preparing meals for the next day, sacrificing time away from my wife and kids, but in the end it was all worth it.
The feeling of being on stage was incredible and to see my son in the audience holding up a sign saying "Go Daddy Go" and listening to him cheer me on almost choked me up. My kids and wife have been so supportive through this journey. I certainly could not have done it without them.
I am happy to say that the bodybuilding lifestyle has become more of a routine in our house as we are all eating cleaner and trying to be more active outside of the gym. Now that the show is over we have our little indulgences, but moderation has become key.
I plan on competing in the same show next year and will focus now on putting on size so that I can be a bit more competitive on the stage. My wife is even thinking about competing as well, which would be a first for her too.
I really hope she does it, but even if she doesn't, we are all better off and all on a path toward a healthier lifestyle that we will be able to pass on to our kids.
In terms of supplements, I ordered the majority of things through Bodybuilding.com and couldn't have been happier with the service and products that they delivered.
I consumed extra protein through Gold Optimum 100% Whey Protein, used Nutrex Vitargo CGL post-workout which I was a big fan off, Higher Power AAKG, 7-Keto Musclean, SciFit Ecdysterone 300, and BSN NO-Xplode.
As far as my diet over the last 6 months, it has been pretty much the same. Breakfast consisted of oatmeal and egg whites. My morning snack was tuna, brown rice and green beans. Lunch, my afternoon snack and dinner were all the same; chicken brown rice and green beans or broccoli.
My last snack of the night was a few rice cakes. I also added some Udo Oil or Extra Virgin Coconut Oil to a few of my meals to make sure I was getting in some good fats because on its own the diet was low in fat content. When I was four or five months out from the show I simply ate larger portions, but everything was weighed and measured - this was key.
I was consuming about 4500 calories per day. As the show neared, the diet simply became tighter and I was down to 2000 calories per day. I had no cheats in the last 15 weeks prior to the show.
The following diet is my 2800 calories per day diet, which is about my maintenance level. It has about 250 grams of protein, 300 grams of carbs and 60 grams of fat - which is about a 36 / 44 / 20 split in terms of calories.
During the bulk phase, I simply increased each portion a little and in my pre-contest diet I reduced the portion, but my diet always stayed pretty much the same for the period of my transformation.
6:30 AM: Breakfast
- Rice cakes - 2
8:30 AM: Snack
11:00 AM: Lunch
4:00 PM: Snack
6:00 PM: Dinner
9:00 PM: Snack
When I first began my workouts were pretty traditional, focusing a great deal on compound movements. I tried to keep my workouts to less than an hour. I would also try to keep my workouts fresh by alternating grips on these same basic exercises to try and hit the muscles at different angles, but still sticking to the same basic movements.
As an example, with tri push-downs I may use the rope one day, the next use the V-bar, next use a straight bar. I would also mix in the use of dumbbells every now and then when doing pressing exercises. I tried to do between 12-and-15 sets per body part. It took me a long time to realize that more is not always better.
An average week would be as follows:
When I began my pre-contest diet at 15 weeks out, I also altered my exercise program. I employed more of a push-pull type program that utilized a lot of supersetting and dropsets. My rest between sets was limited as well. I found this really helped with my cardio and stage conditioning.
I also think it really ramped up my fat burning. At 15 weeks out I also incorporated a lot more ab work into my plan and also commenced additional cardio - a one hour power walk 6x a week. With my new exercise program I moved to a 2 on, 1 off split.
I found because I was working harder I needed my rest day sooner and was unable to lift effectively 3-or-4 days in a row. I learned very quickly to listen to my body and give it the rest it needed.
My pre-contest 15-week program was as follows:
Chest & Biceps
Back & Triceps
I started my
posing practice and routine about 10 weeks out and made sure I practiced 4x a week, minimum 30-minute sessions. This paid off huge on the stage; I was tired, but did not gas out like some of the others.
I was happy with my stage experience. I learned a great deal and recognize that I have some things to work on, but overall am pleased with how my diet, conditioning and appearance were.
Suggestions For Others
Unfortunately change is a slow process. The body we desire just can't come quick enough. Early on you need to realize that any transformation takes time and doesn't come in the form of any magic pills or supplements. Although these things can help, it comes down to your own hard work, dedication, patience and perseverance.
Don't get discouraged, stay on track and stay focused. This is often easier said then done, but it will be worth it in the end. If it was easy, everybody would be in fantastic shape. I strongly suggest setting a series of goals, both long and short term.
This way you can 'check in' every now and then and stay on track with your goals, which must be realistic and attainable. Whether it is simply to lose 10 pounds or it is to compete, you need to decide where you want to be and visualize that goal happening.
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Also, get an exercise journal and write everything down and I mean everything. Every piece of food you eat, every exercise and rep you did, your moods, the highs and lows, how you sleep, etc. Every detail is important until you learn to recognize how your body is reacting to different things you are doing in the kitchen and the gym.
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It is also great to look back after several months and see how the weight you are lifting has increased or how your measurements, weight and BF have moved in a positive direction. In addition, take plenty of progress pics, at least once a month if not sooner.
Sometimes it is tough to recognize changes in yourself, but when you can look back at 3-or-4 months worth of pics you can certainly see the gains you have made. It is also imperative that you educate yourself. Knowledge is power and the more you learn about diet and workout programs, the easier things will get.
When you can understand the how's and why's of everything it will suddenly all make that much more sense. Lastly, a support network is vital, whether it is a spouse, friend, trainer or workout partner. Let them know what you are trying to achieve and let them help you through the rough times. Chances are you may even inspire them and they may come looking to you for help.
So, there you have it, one man's journey and personal 6-month transformation, although I do not like to look at it as being complete. To say it is complete means I am content with where I am. Although, I am happy and very pleased with what I have achieved thus far, there is still much more to accomplish and do.
I have personal goals I still want to achieve with regard to my own bodybuilding future, but also want to help others around me achieve the same happiness and sense of accomplishment that I found through this sport. And so, Chapter Two begins.