Starting in college, going out and partying was all I wanted to do. Needless to say, working out and eating right were never part of my life.
I worked so I could afford to go out and drink. Eventually, I became physically dependent on alcohol and I kept a bottle of vodka next to my bed to help put me to sleep and help me feel “normal” in the mornings.
I went from around 220 pounds my whole life up to 260 pounds in three months. I was not eating food or drinking water – the only thing going into my body was alcohol. I knew something was wrong with my body, and I eventually checked myself into the ER.
September 16, 2016, was the beginning of my new life. Upon arriving at the ER, I was in such bad shape that my lungs were collapsed because there was so much fluid in my stomach cavity that my liver did not process because it had shut down. The doctors told me I might have been lucky to make it another 72 hours had I not checked in when I did. I was in the ICU for three days, followed by another week in the hospital.
My liver was still not working properly and I kept getting fluid buildup in my stomach cavity. Not only was this very painful, but the doctors told me that having fluid drains could just be a part of my life.
After getting released from the hospital, it was hard to walk or do anything on my feet for longer than 15 minutes at a time. That December, I finally got the OK to do physical activity and I immediately joined my local gym. I started off by doing very lightweight machine lifts and walking on the treadmill for as long as possible.
But fluid was still building up, and every three weeks I was having to get roughly nine liters (20 pounds) of fluid drained from my stomach. In early March of 2017, I had my last stomach drain.
I was even more determined to really make a push for fitness. I bought a road bike and signed up for a triathlon in June. With the fluid not coming back, I was able to up my intensity and really focus on training.
But I was lost in the gym. I started getting a lot stronger, but I was more or less walking around aimlessly. I did a push/pull/leg split and just randomly picked exercises. I did a lot of running, biking and swimming to prepare for the triathlon.
I was eating “good,” but again, I had no idea what proper nutrition was. My weight eventually got down to 170 pounds and I was just really skinny.
At the end of June, I completed my first triathlon. It was not easy and I almost didn’t make it past the swim portion. After completing the triathlon, I signed up for another one in August. I didn’t really do much to train for this one. I just kept down the same path of wandering around the gym and running here and there. I also started eating very poorly.
I completed the triathlon and after it was over, I was lost. For two weeks, I had no more goals in sight. I stopped all training and started eating mostly pizza and sweets. I gained back about 25 pounds in those two weeks.
I decided I needed a new goal, so I signed up for three obstacle-course races. I tried to eat better and get back in the gym, but again, I didn’t know what I was doing. I completed two of the races and actually did very well.
On the one-year anniversary of my sobriety and admittance in the hospital, a friend of mine told me about a workout program he did that he found on bodybuilding.com. It was Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Shred.
I downloaded the app and I read the overview and nutrition and decided to start once all of the JYM supplements arrived. In that time, I also prepared to eat following the nutrition plan in the app.
I started Shortcut to Shred at 207 pounds with 22 percent body fat. I followed the program to a T and at the end of the program, I was 187 pounds and 16 percent body fat.
Throughout the course of the program, I really upped my training and focused on cardio. I completed the Spartan Sprint Race at Citizens Bank Park in 52nd place overall, out of 5,226 participants.
I also ran a 5K and came in first in my age group and 8th overall, running a 20:14. After this, I became hooked. Seeing the results of proper nutrition and a structured workout plan made me feel unstoppable.
After Shortcut to Shred, I signed up for the Ripped in 6 Challenge on JimStoppani.com. After reading Dieting 101 and tracking my macros, I realized I was way off from where I thought I was following Shortcut to Shred and really dialed it in.
I completed the Ripped in 6 Challenge and went from 187 pounds with 16 percent body fat to 180 pounds and 13 percent body fat. I also stopped doing cardio due to an injury on a traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl.
I am currently doing the seven-week version of Down and Up Mass, did reverse dieting and have put on six pounds without gaining any body fat. I plan on doing another mass-building program before I get back into shredding programs for the summer and trying out intermittent fasting.
I can honestly say that at age 31 I no longer need a goal or motivation to get up and go to the gym anymore. It has become my passion. After staring death in the face and truly hitting rock bottom, my only goal is to be better than I was the day before. Each and every day can be the best day of your life, and going to the gym every morning to start my day really sets the tone.
Friends and family are really responsive and so proud of me for how far I’ve come.
Being a recovering alcoholic, I have zero interest in drinking alcohol because I know I will die. Not eating pizza is a daily struggle. Friends will say, “Well, you worked out so much today, just enjoy some pizza.” They don’t understand that my diet would only consist of pizza if I caved. I’m so addicted to the results and trust the process so much that I have to explain that to them.
For anyone looking to start their own fitness journey, my best advice is to start now. Don’t plan on starting tomorrow or next week. Do it now and trust the process.
Also, trust the Doc – Jim Stoppani. If it wasn’t for him, I probably would have given up on my fitness journey and the new life I’ve created for myself.
LOOK GOOD, FEEL GOOD, DO GOOD!