T Nation

Drugs & Alcoholism to Lifts & Chicken. 8 Month Transformation


#1

Photo on the left I was struggling with chronic drinking, cocaine, benzos and eating the absolute worst foods, I had these bad habits for almost 3 years. After consecutive nights of heart palpitations and increased anxiety I realised I had to make a change or I was going to die before I turned 25. The Photo on the right was taken last night, the two photos are roughly 8 months apart.

Left: 244lbs god knows my bodyfat
Right: 190-195lbs and although I know body fat is just an arbitrary number, some estimates would be appreciated! Im guessing…14? By the way I am 6’ tall.

Im extremely proud of myself, I did this by myself no rehab, no trainers, no nutritionist. Not gloating but for anyone reading in a similar situation I was in I just want to point out that will power and self dedication is the true driver of results in all walks of life. And you CAN do it, just make small goals and keep nailing your targets, and if you miss 1 target, the attempt will heavily outweigh not attempting at all! Both mentally and physically.

As for my current physique what do you guys and gals suggest I do? Id like to just get as shredded as possible now and have the ultimate 1 year transformation, 4 months to do so!! Would you recommend a cut? What about recomp? Lately ive been eating in a 300ish deficit with food alone but working out like an absolute mad man, mixing heavy lifts and body weight exercises with plenty of walking so my deficit is definitely more than just 300. I go to the gym 5-6 days a week.

Im working so damn hard because I really dont want to be one of those guys who only got a bitch looking 6 pack becsuse he sacrified all of his strength.

Any sort of advice is greatly appreciated, would eating at maintence calories benefit me more considering I lift and do cardio so often?

4 months to drop down to 10%bf or below, lift heavy, walk lots, eat at…maintenance or 300 deficit? I know cardio is not necessarily needed to get shredded but I do it for the heart health and over all health benefits to help reverse the damage ive done in the past.

Wow bigger post than I thought it would be, if you stuck with me I thank you! Any advice is GREATLY APPRECIATED.

Cheers!


#2

Congratulations on turning things around. Fantastic transformation! I’m not good on the advice part, but I say add a little more muscle.


#3

This is awesome! Congratulations man.


#4

Really good job man. Great improvement. You look a hell of a lot healthier now.


#5

Yes I agree. If I had an extra 5lbs of muscle id look a hell of a lot bigger


#6

It can be a little slow on the weekends here, but the guys who can offer real advice will eventually make it.


#7

Thats good to know! Hopefully this post stays relevant. I think most people will tell me to attempt some sort of a lean bulk approach. But really id like to just get at or below 10% body fat whatever it takes to see my full core, which was my original goal months ago when I first embarked on this journey of fitness!!


#8

I’m sure the guys can help you figure it out. You have done a great job so far!


#9

Good job keep on going ! You must feel a lot better mentally too!


#10

Fantastic achievement!

I would now get into a martial art, something like Muay Thai. The guys I know that have misused substances in the past, thrive on the discipline & social aspect of martial arts.


#11

I MADE IT!!!

Great work sir. Reminds me of my own experience in my early 20’s, as far as the drug and alcohol abuse is concerned, and the role weightlifting played in my recovery, and the years since then. Cocaine and alcohol were my drugs of choice. I didn’t get fat though, I got very, very thin.

So much to talk about here, I’ll kind of jump around a bit. So, if you’re 8 months into this thing, and your primary goal for the year mark is simply shredded, without needing to really continuing to add muscle for the time being, I see that as a fine 4 month goal from now. Keep cutting down until you reach that 1 year mark, see what you look like, and go from there. I think long-term you’ll probably want to begin to add muscle again.

As to calories: if you want to keep getting leaner, you’ll have to keep the calories below maintenance. Just monitor your progress, if you’re getting weaker in the gym or if your rate of fat loss is faster than you think it needs to be for your own goals, be willing to adjust. If you get to the bodyfat level you want to be at before your 1 year mark, you can move the calories up a bit and keep working on adding muscle. At the end of the day, it will become easier and easier, if you’re starting from a lean place, to stay lean as you add more muscle as well. I’m about 5’11, between 190 and 200 lbs, and pretty damn lean, and I can eat anything I want to. It’s a good place to be if you can eventually find yourself there.

Cardio: keep doing it. health is important, and the people who suggest doing cardio regularly will kill gains are dumb-dumbs. Cardio is great to supplement heavy lifting. It will enable you to push through harder, heavier sets that would have otherwise exhausted you. Pushing through, say, a set of 20 heavy squats, and not being in good cardiovascular condition, is damn near impossible.

If you want help on improving your training program, diet, or anything else, I would recommend either starting a training log and tagging people you want advice from, or posting in the beginner section or the bigger stronger leaner section to ask for training advice. There are a lot of experienced athletes on this site who can really help you along your journey if you’re receptive, which it sounds like you are.

Anyway, congrats again on your hard work. Hope you stick around!


#12

Bout time! :grin:


#13

Thanks for your reply!! Kudos to you aswell for beating the abuse! This might not be the best spot to post this question. But since ive been on this calculated/food weighing deficit ive noticed a few things that seem to go against the grain of some things ive seen on other forums and outlets. Since im on a deficit and lift a lot also I do play ice hockey once per week with the addition of boxing/HIIT 2-4 times per week. I keep my protien quite high 1-1.3g per pound of body weight, 40-50g of fat and the rest of my calories from carbs. I eat carbs around my workout and the preworkout carbs all come from fruits and veg with post workout carbs being white rice, whole grain toast, oats and sweet potato. My diet is very very VERY clean. And I drink lots of water everyday and supplement with creatine, vit D3 and a recovery bcaa drink high in L-leucine and L-Glutamine. My entire day revolves around being active, active recovery and proper nutrition. Sorry for the long read but I thought it was important to put down what im currently doing weekly. ANYWAYS, im clearly dropping body fat day by day which is great, BUT im still consistantly progressive overloading in ALL lifts AND the weight on the scale has not moved at all. Does this mean what I think? Muscle mass and fat loss together? No way im still in the relm of noobgains but then again…? What is the cause of this, proper nutrition, the added intensity, good genetics or am I still reaping the benefits of noobgains after 9 months of lifting?
Thanks in advance!


#14

well yea, lol. that seems pretty obvious, right? if you get stronger, that means you have more muscle. If your weight stays the same, but you’ve added muscle, you had to lose weight somewhere else to compensate. That’d be fat.

I don’t know why you’d say that. If you’re progressing on all lifts pretty much every session, that’s basically the definition of noob gains.

Noob gains, the way I interpret it at least, is when you’re constantly making progress. Every session is an improvement. That’ll stop eventually, or slow dramatically. 8 months is not a long time to be lifting. Some people characterize noob gains as lasting multiple years. Really, it is also largely dependent on your starting point, and your genetic potential.

I’m not sure how to answer this in a way that will satisfy you, but I’ll try.

Eating well is important. Lifting with intensity is important. Consistency is important. Good genetics will become important when you start to approach your genetic limit, which I assume you’re far from at this point.

Do as many of the things as you can that are important, and don’t worry about anything else. Worry about what’s within your control, ignore the things that aren’t. Work hard, eat right. Do that, and the results will come.


#15

Thanks for the breakdown! Really do appreciate it. I work at a commercial
gym in Ontario and some of the bullshit people talk about makes me cringe
sometimes. Im so glad I found this forum that is active and knowledgeable.
I plan on upping my intensity and always working outside my comfort zone.
Thanks again for the reassurance. I will post another progress tracking
post probably end of march.
If you got anymore advice or phylosophy in mind please dont hesisate to
share!

Cheers.


#16

glad to help. there’s a lot of bullshit dogma that’s floating around out there, especially at commercial gyms. And spouted off by 140 lbs 20 year old know-it-alls who have achieved nothing, but want to tell you their textbooks taught them everything they need to know. A lot of ‘this is the ONLY way, that other thing CAN’T work’, etc. That’s usually incorrect.

The thing I most often tell people, over and over again, is that training INTENSITY and CONSISTENCY are the 2 most important principles for improvement in the gym. For most people, the specifics of the program do not matter, as long as the lifts involved are reasonable. I’m not saying if all you do is wrist curls all day every day, that you’ll be successful, even if they’re super intense, lol. I’m saying any sort of program that hits all of the major muscle groups regularly, preferably centered around compound movements, will yield benefits.

Diet is harder for most people,but it sounds like you’ve really done well in that regard. The thing that’s tough about diet, is that it’s so specific to an individual responds to certain things. I’m actually not really interested in giving you diet advice because it looks like you’re nailing it already. IF you do find yourself stalling, that’s when you can say ‘here’s what I was doing, it was working, now it’s not. Where do I go from here?’ But in the meantime, don’t fix what isn’t broken.


#17

My 4 rules of success in the gym.

  1. Intensity and focus (mind to muscle)
  2. Compound lifts
  3. Progressive overload whenever possible. 1 more rep, extra 5lbs even an
    extra set. But I prefer more reps or weight.
  4. WORK OUSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE. How does one expect their body to change
    if they dont force it to respond to new forms of stress.

The last rule for me is key, if you dont atleast make a funny face at the
peak contraction you aint building shiiiiit.

As for nutrition, I believe I got it nailed down. I actually had my gyms
fitness modivator manager, aka MY BOSS question me when she saw I was
eating 2 bananas a few minutes after I ate Salmon/veggies about 2 hours
before my scheduled workout saying it would make me gain fat becsuse if the
added calories!! Insane I know, but almost everyone I work with eats like
below 2000 calories, small meals thoughout the day and literally just
remain skinny fat and lethargic all day. Then gets all in a huff when I
tell them they should probably eat MORE in order to lose the fat… Does my
head in that even people who work in the industry are just as lost as the
pizza delivery guy curling in the squat rack…


#18

dude. that is so awesome that you already get it. that’s a great post, I wish everyone was this easy to work with. nearly every beginner we have coming through here gets bogged down in trying to find the perfect program, they don’t see gains fast enough, they argue with people who have decades of experience. It’s maddening.


#19

Hey, remember that time when a beginner argued with you that 5/3/1 didn’t progress quickly enough and that he was forfeiting gains by doing 5/3/1 instead of an LP?

Oh, fuck it, that happens like three times a week.


#20

Thanks. Im embarassed to admit but when I first started I was one of those guys who went out bought all these ridiculous supplements, avoided carbs and ate not neeearly enough food to fuel a proper workout. Thankfully I quickly got smart about it quickly. Half my gym buddies still eat not nearly enough calories and when they do its though crappy food choices and most of their protien come from shakes… Nothing wrong with shakes but for me its a last resort. It bugs me seeing guys that have been in the gym way longer then me still stuck in that mindset not willing to change. Everyone wants a short cut, supplements are a short cut to being hungry and broke… Atleast with healthy food choices you may only end up broke, but certainly not hungry! Lol