There came a time in my life where I noticed how much I had let go. Up until then, my gym workouts were intermittent. Gym memberships came and went, and sure the sessions were good in themselves, but nothing was really targeted in terms of goals. At the end of the day, I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, both some protein supplements, and just did my thing. I noticed some strength gains, as is expected when you lift weights and eat protein and carbohydrates, but there was no real size or definition. This is not what I was satisfied with, but my drive and motivation levels to lift it up a notch were lacking too. With time, I grew out of my trousers, and my tummy bulge reached a stage where I couldn’t look into the mirror without feeling low. Friends and family also started commenting about how I was putting on weight and whether I was doing any physical exercise or not. There are those friends also who would mock, prod, and poke and talk about how at this point in our lives, this is the sort of body one maintains and gets used to. These are trials and tribulations of having a potbelly, but the real issue was the onset of a severe mental and physical lethargy that left me feeling lazy and groggy through the day. My metabolism levels were dropping and I knew once I’d hit my thirties I was in the no-turning back zone for my later years into my middle age. I know guys who are 50 plus who are slim and trim and active in what they do, and they generally had been active in some kind of sports or outdoor activity. The other thing to be wise about is what you put in your body in terms of nutrients.
Once you move out of home and don’t get home cooked meals, the convenience of availability and lust for junk food commences and I tended to give into this. The desire to eat out became a daily habit with no control over spices, oil, and desserts. You name it, chips, doughnuts, cakes, burgers, masala and oil laden curries, etc., all went into my body and slowly and steadily I started getting out of shape. The symptoms show in places where you wouldn’t ordinarily notice something was wrong. I’d get out of breath walking up say three flights of stairs, or I just wouldn’t want to wake up on time to go about my day. The clothes not fitting or just plain looking ugly on me finally did it. Something snapped and I said I need to get up and get going. There have been times where I’ve had similar urges to “get up and get going” but I wasn’t properly guided. There’s enough and more information on the internet on various diets, training routines, and fitness programs, but one can get lost in that sea of information if you don’t know where to begin and how to apply to your own body. This is where I decided to avail the services of a personal trainer (P.T.) and nutritionist. A good one-on-one P.T. will cost you anywhere upwards of 20,000 INR a month just for training sessions. The gym membership is separate, the supplements are separate, the food and diet are all separate. I will not go into the specificity of what package I took as I respect the discretion and privacy of my trainer’s business and his pricing plans, so you’ll just have to contact him yourself if you’re serious. The monetary aspect for me also helped me focus because it was my money and my investment into my body. The way I looked at it was, I spend way more than that just on junk food, drinking, partying, and socializing. Why not spend it on something that really matters in your life like your body? Without your body, you are nothing.
After a few discussions I decided to start on a Monday, payments were made, basic supplements were purchased (detailed supplement reviews will be made in different posts), and I was good to go. Well not really, my body was in crap shape, but at least my mind was raring to begin. I took a pic for later reference and that later reference is now (5ft 8 and half inches height, 70 kg weight, age 30 years):
Please note that a few years ago, I looked like this:
Again, I’m just a regular ass guy, I’m not planning to get into the fitness industry or compete or pose or model or any of that stuff. I just wanted to feel better about my own body. I didn’t want to become slow and fat and lethargic and get into all kinds of health complications later in life. Plus a big bonus for me was I loved working out in the gym. I know a lot of guys who don’t like doing weight training because they find it boring and repetitive. But no, not me. I love it.
This wasn’t some slow change to my life like I’m going to try and cut down on junk or sugar or booze. This was like the military. My trainer was like a boot camp instructor with no remorse for my fat ass. My training slot was 6:45 am and I had to turn up bowels empty, about 750 ml of water in, with a pre workout meal of whey protein (25gm protein), 5 almonds, and 500mg L-Carnitine. The workout was different muscle groups on different days (weight training) followed by 20 to 25 minutes of cardio on the treadmill and sometimes the cross trainer. The exercises were not rocket science, just good old muscle contraction and retraction over standard 3 to 4 sets. The number of reps were set based how my own performance. I was never pushed beyond my body’s capability in the first week or two. The diet included 5 egg whites with two whole eggs (7 egg whites total) made in olive oil and no salt. I could scramble it or make an omelette. It just had to go in. Along with this was 30gm of oats boiled with a bit of water and 1 bit of honey for taste. After my breakfast, I would take a fish oil tab with a multi vitamin.
Lunch was at around 12:30 because I would get hungry by then and would consist of either 150 gms of chicken breast with carrots and sweet potato. The vegetables were just pan grilled, just like the meat, with a bit of olive oil, seasoning of choice, chopped garlic, pepper, salt. etc. No going overboard with spices or condiments.
At around 17:00 hrs I would have a choice of fruit, (strawberries, oranges, watermelon, apple, guavas, pears, melon) with another scoop of protein (25gm protein). By around now I would have gone through 2 and a half litres of water.
Dinner was 200 grams of pan fried Basa , Tuna, or Salmon with 100 grams with green salad (Broccoli, Cucumbers, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Lettuce, Radishes, Celery, squash, Capsicum, Red bell pepper, Beetroot).
Sleep was by 10 pm max.
The same routine was observed on a daily basis with a different muscle group being trained every day with weights, followed by a walk cardio session on the treadmill for 25 minutes. Emphasis is laid on water intake throughout the day. Since I was sipping about 750 ml of BCAA drink throughout the workout, and managing almost a litre of water as I woke up (750 ml plain water and 250 ml with my scoop of protein), I was already down 1.75 litres in the morning. Finishing the rest of the 2.25 liters throughout the day wasn’t an issue.
One Month In
After about a month, I was definitely feeling lighter (I had lost about 2.5 kgs), and fresher. The routine wasn’t one of those GM diet fads where you lose 10 kgs in a month, but a slow and steady foundation laying process for solid gains and fat loss. Building muscle is a really slow process and requires time, dedication, grit, and the will to overcome. I can’t stress upon this enough. I would also at this point like to draw a line of distinction between someone prepping for modeling/bodybuilding shows/physique shows and someone who has a regular life, with a regular family, and a regular job. The fitness goals are different, the body goals are different. There are no steroids here where you can potentially get ripped over a period of 6 weeks after one cycle. You’re not training to be a powerlifter, or a poser on stage. You’re training to better yourself, your mind, your body, and your life in the long run. You need to start prepping your mind for a lifestyle that incorporates fitness as part of your daily routine or least 3 to 4 times a week. Be wise about what you eat and when you eat and you will automatically start to see the changes in you. Try and stay focused, try and take each day as it comes. Weakness will come in all forms. Remind yourself about why you’re doing this. Address the weakness, overcome, and get back to it. It’s a downright mental and physical struggle. That’s why they say only 5% of the population can actually go through this. That’s what makes you unique when you decide to do this with your body.
Here’s a progress pic:
Two Months In
The routine continued more or less the same, with some changes made to diet insofar as carbs were concerned. I cut down the carbs even more, so I was having less oats, no carrots, and mostly only greens with my my chicken and fish quantities. Workout sets were all still relatively light weight, 15 to 18 reps per set, and targeted muscle groups on different days with cardio to follow. Water intake was monitored closely, and I also started taking a fat burner during different times of the day (detailed supplement review posts to follow). By staying focused and constant with my diet and workout, rest, and hydration, I was able to see solid muscle, better definition, and increased weight loss. By the end of month two, I was almost at 75 kilos (5 kg down) with good muscle gains.
Here’s some pictures:
By now I was getting pretty mentally and physical tired. The accuracy with which the diet had to be followed was playing on my mind. I wasn’t craving junk or anything, but the monotony of the diet and taste was getting to be a bit cumbersome. Day in day out, I ate the same thing (except Sunday cheat days). The changes in body fat and muscle growth were helping me go on. I did have some muscle cramps in between, muscle twitching also (due to lack of potassium in my diet) so I took a few days off to recuperate. Potassium can be supplemented by increasing greens in your diet, eating nuts, or eating a banana (secretly of course otherwise my trainer would kill me).
Three Months In
I was a lot more confident into my routine by now. The daily timings were becoming easier to follow. I always carried water with me. Meal preparation was easier because I would pan fry my chicken before hand and keep it in measured quantities. I was only eating 1 cucumber along with my chicken for lunch. I was eating only eggs for breakfast, and only chicken and greens for dinner. The supplementation more or less continued: Fat burner, protein, BCAA, Fish oil (omegas), and multi vits.
The progress by now was real. My body was at it’s peak and I was never before this proud of my gains. I tried to tell myself that this was just the beginning but a part of me was getting lazy and trying to reach the end of my training contract with my trainer and just get back to normal life with normal routines. Conditioning your mind is a much bigger obstacle than pushing weights at the gym. “For how long can you keep this up?” My father would regularly ask me. “After your training program is over, will everything go back to the way it was? Would you once again add the kilos you lost, and eat and drink what you used to eat? Keep that in mind as well” He would say. These are very wise questions my friends, because these are the stark realities that face any fitness enthusiast. I once again remind you that I wasn’t working out to compete. There were no anabolic steroids involved (they would have helped GREATLY in my progress and growth if I chose to do them). And I was trying to shuffle my legal practice and court work as well in between these routines. The thing is, if you are a working person, doing the workouts in the morning are compulsory. You only need to worry about meal prep and hydration throughout the rest of the day.
Here’s some pictures of me at the end of 90 days:
Since my contract with my personal trainer and nutritionist was coming to an end, we decided to push it as much as I could towards the last couple of weeks. My diet went almost zero carb, with only chicken for meals, eggs for breakfast, protein supplements, and a fiber supplement. The multi vitamins and omegas continued as normal. My weight training continued to be consistent, with 5 days of muscle group training (chest, back, arms, shoulders, and legs), and Saturdays only for cardio, and Sundays as cheat/rest day. The exercises themselves are not being detailed in this post, I will follow up with a separate muscle group specific post series for that. At the end of the fourth month I could confidently say I was at the peak of my physical fitness (not for running marathons or anything because my body was depleted of carbohydrates). My weight was down to 69.7 kg (down 10 kgs), and my muscle size was great! I have always had decent arms by the way, which is why my biceps and triceps look the way they do at the end of month 4. It’s not as if all this was created in four months. I did always have a decent arm muscle foundation before this as well. The areas where I saw big changes was waist size and gut fat, chest fat, and leg strength. Here are the final month’s pics:
At the end I realized how hard it had been to reverse almost 15 to 20 years of my life’s eating habits. It was a very extreme four months but I managed to do it. Moving forward I knew very well that I could not maintain this but I would try to keep some sort of physical training as part of my weeks activities. I’m quite sure that if I continued doing that sort of training, supplementation, and diet for a year, I would be completely ripped with pretty solid muscle growth. I got married a month after I finished my transformation and as you would imagine, all that marriage partying and eating straight away got me back up by 3.5 kgs. That’s the thing. Once I understood what it takes to transform, and the amount of perseverance and discipline it takes to maintain that level of dedication, I realized that I couldn’t maintain it in my current line of work (i.e. Law). As my work load increases day by day, I have no option but to sleep late, sometimes wake up late, many a times not eat on time, not hydrate properly, etc. And it’s impossible to keep going at the pace I was during those four months.
I don’t have a personal trainer or a nutritionist now, I’ve gone through quite a bit of downtime thanks to a hip injury (read subsequent post where I trained 30 days outdoors), I’m experimenting different types of workouts and diets and I’ve more or less stopped supplementing. I do try and maintain some kind of gym routine (3 to 4 days a week) and I am supplementing only when I notice some kind of shortfall in my body and the way it reacts.
Disclaimer – I am a practicing civil and criminal advocate by profession. I am not a certified nutritionist or physical trainer. The above article only documents my personal experience and journey training under a certified professional trainer and nutritionist. The above diet and routine was extreme and was only performed under strict guidance and supervision. Do not experiment it yourself without consulting a professional trainer and medical professional. I did not have any underlying medical conditions when I went through this. You need to get yourself checked first before starting on such a program. If you have any questions, you can leave a comment below or mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org