Prior to leaving the Army in 2001, I was diagnosed with asthma and ligament damage from knee surgery. After I was honorably discharged, I used those medical conditions as an excuse not to exercise and began to gain a lot of weight. I went from a lean 185 pounds to 250 pounds. I had little energy and motivation to work out and eat healthily. I worked as a field technician back then and ate fast food every day. I did not exercise at all.
The weight gain definitely affected my mood and social interactions. I was very self-conscious of how I dressed and even wore t-shirts to the beach and pool. I was truly in a depressed state.
I decided to lose weight after my father died in 2005, but it took me until 2010 to fully commit. In 2010, I moved from Michigan to Colorado, and that move provided me the environment and support I needed to make a fitness change for the better. I set a goal of losing 20 pounds in three months. I shook off the depression of losing my dad, and began to eat healthier and exercise.
For my diet, I swapped out fast food for home-cooked meals. I incorporated a higher protein diet designating about 50 percent of my calories to protein, 30 percent to fat and 20 percent to carbohydrates. This diet allowed me to build muscle and lose fat at the same time. It was definitely hard in the beginning, but like with any new habit, once you do it for a while, it becomes more of the norm. There were days I struggled—and I still struggle—with cravings, but I simply go to my crave curbing foods, like fruits, to get me through.
I had to learn how to cook healthy meals, like lean meat. Now, I’ve learned to prepare all my meals on the weekend, making my week easier to handle.
I began to lift weights and do cardio five to six times per week. I first started working out at the gym at my job—it was similar to a hotel gym. Eventually, I outgrew that gym since the dumbbells only went up to 50 pounds. I tracked my food and workouts in the Lose It! app. I even incorporated workouts I found in Men Health magazine and on Menshealth.com
Between Aug 2010 and Aug 2011, I lost over 40 pounds. I did activities that I’ve never done before, like going to the gym regularly and participating in numerous 5k races, 10k races, and even a half marathon.
However, I loved weight training the most. In 2013, at the recommendation of friends and fellow gym-goers, I competed in my first Natural Muscle Bodybuilding Show—and won! I have since won 12 physique or bodybuilding shows and even won a Natural World Muscle Model Title in 2017.
The lessons I learned in the gym, and in my workouts, I have applied to my career in corporate America. Many know of my transformation and it has sparked others to change their health and fitness. I do my best to support and encourage people to live a fit lifestyle. Living a fit lifestyle not only positively impacts the person, but positively impacts everyone around them too. I teach people that there is no magic formula to building a better body. It’s more about finding what works for you and being consistent with exercise and a proper diet over time.