Rather than one long post, I think I’ll divvy it up into three, so folks can skip the parts they’re not interested in. This first one will be my general fitness (and fatness) history. Next, I’ll post about my lifting. Finally, I’ll post about my dieting. Apologies in advance if they all end up tl;dr (am I using that term correctly?).
I got my first set of weights when I was 14, but didn’t do much with them until I was 16. The weights were the plastic concrete-filled sort, along with the concrete-filled skinny metal bar (the ‘mature’ guys know what I’m talking about). The bench was a kit I assembled myself. I was a chunky kid who had discovered beer, and was well on my way to being a fat sloppy mess.
I was inspired to start lifting by a high-school friend who was a year older than me. He was HUGE–I mean, his arms must have been at least 16 inches, and they had a VEIN running down the biceps! I thought he was just this side of being Arnold. He told me I was getting too fat, and needed to do something about it (he was right). With his encouragement, my first w/o plan was a bro-classic–every other day I would do:
Close-grip upright rows: 10x10 (a shoulder-destroying exercise I’ve been paying for ever since)
Curls: You guessed it, 10x10
And being a noob, I made nice gains with this, at least in the few muscle groups I was working. (Lats and triceps? What’s that?)
Around this same time, I read a Sports Illustrated article about Herschel Walker, who was tearing up college football at the time. In the article he mentioned doing 500 sit-ups/day, breaking them up by doing some during commercial breaks while watching TV. I decided to try this, and was soon knocking out 500 sit-ups every evening–3 sets of 100, 2 sets of 75, and one of 50, each done during a different commercial break. My abs responded well to this.
I started college, and my interests shifted from weightlifting to long-distance running. Before long, I looked like I do in this pic, which was taken in 1981, a couple of months before my 19th birthday. I weighed about 165# at the time.
At the end of that summer, my GF was looking to move on, and in a desperate act to keep her, I decided to start weightlifting again, thinking she might stay with me if I were more buff–a plan that was as unsuccessful as it was pathetic. But it helped me rediscover weightlifting, and soon I was hooked. Working out in a real (college) gym for the first time, I discovered Legs, Back, Triceps, etc. I lifted 6 days a week, and ate everything in sight. By the next summer I was a reasonably lean (maybe 15% BF?) ~200#, and was completely obsessed with lifting.
From age 20-25 I worked out like a maniac, and ended up a pretty big guy–254# with a ‘full house’ look (prob 20-25%–sorry, no pics). Except for a brief flirtation with the Cybergenics protocol (again, the older guys know what I’m talking about), I was what y’all would call a permabulker.
In the spring of 1989 I decided to drop some weight for my impending summer nuptials. (As an aside, we just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.) I continued to lift as before, but cut back on my eating, made healthier food choices, and started doing some sort of daily aerobic exercise (usually fast walking or stationary bike). Once my weight dropped below 225#, I started jogging again. I ended up in the 200-210 range, probably 12-15% BF, jogging and/or lifting every day. Had a good fitness thing going as I approached my 30th birthday.
Then my wife got pregnant. And I started to eat. And eat.
Every day was a junk-food binge. Whereas she had our son and quickly dropped the baby weight, I continued to eat and gain weight. I put on 30# seemingly overnight. Another 20 followed over the next few years, then 20 more in the years after that. The highest weight I ever saw on the scale was 272#, and as I was not exactly anxious to weigh myself in those days, my true heaviest might have been higher still. To this day, I cannot explain why I let myself go like that. I’m certain the only thing that kept me from tipping over into Type II diabetes is the fact that, through it all, I never stopped lifting and/or doing something aerobic on a daily basis.
Then the event that changed my life. Christmas 2005, I ran into a friend I had not seen since summer 1981 (ie, when I looked like I did in the pic above). She looked EXACTLY the same as she had that summer, and I was a fat mess who had gained 100+ pounds. I was mortified, and resolved that I was going to drop the weight. I lost ~30# in the spring of 2006 simply by not eating ridiculous amounts of junk food every day.
I then decided I’d be ripped at 225#, so I dieted a little harder and got there. I looked better, but ripped was nowhere in sight. OK then, I’ll drop to 210#–surely I’ll be ripped then. Uh, nope. But, I did look a whole lot better, and ended up staying in the 205-215 range for the next several years. (The pics are from Fall 2009; I think I weighed ~208 then.)
In the summer of 2011, shortly before my 49th birthday, I decided to make one final push for getting really lean. (Why? I don’t know. I was probably having a midlife crisis, and couldn’t afford a red sports car.) I felt like my old ‘just eat less’ approach couldn’t take me where I wanted to go, so I contacted a trainer who had been a BBer (at the local level) back in the day.
For ‘only’ $50, he gave me a copy of his top-secret prep diet, which consisted of eating ~1600 cals/d. By the fourth night I couldn’t sleep (elevated cortisol?), and knew this wasn’t going to work. That’s when I discovered TN and other BBing websites, and learned about carb cycling, macros, refeeds, etc (will go into detail in my Diet post). Three years later, here I am.
To anyone who actually made it through this ridiculously long post, thanks for hanging in there. Give me a day or so, and I’ll make a post (much shorter, I swear) about my training.