Written by John Crowson
I’m 43 years old and I live with my family in Orange, Texas. My fitness journey began 22 months ago with a pair of tennis shoes.
I was sitting on our bench tying my shoes when I almost passed out from only tying one. My youngest daughter asked me if I was okay and if she needed to tie the other shoe for me. I decided right then that I was going to make a change. I wanted to be able to tie my shoes without passing out. I wanted to be around longer for my wife and kids.
My initial goal was simply to have a healthy lifestyle. I told my wife I was done with the junk and I started changing my food the next day.
In October 2016, I weighed 289 pounds with approximately 42 percent body fat. I was eating a lot of junk food and doing a ton of sitting. You see, I was a truck driver and had been for 18 years. My job consisted of sitting and shifting gears to get through my 12- to 14-hour days.
I thought by taking my lunch I was being smart. Nope! I was still eating the junk; it just consisted of sandwiches, oatmeal cream pies, brownies, energy drinks, and a lot of truck stop food.
The long hours, long road trips, unhealthy food, and stress from dealing with other people while on the road contributed to my weight gain.
I had been working this schedule for 10 years, and with 12 days on and 1-2 days off, there wasn’t much room for healthy eating or working out…or so I thought.
The first things to go were the Dr. Peppers, Little Debbies, and Monster energy drinks. The next thing I had to do was figure out how I was going to juggle work, the gym, and my precious time with family.
I began measuring serving sizes of my regular foods when it was time to eat. I started with cardio on our TreadClimber (by Bowflex). At first, 15 minutes was very, very tough. Now I can do an hour!
Since I normally worked nights, I would come home and do my cardio while everyone was still asleep. After a month or so of this, I began with counting macros and increased my time on the TreadClimber a little every week.
Meal prepping was going to be a nightmare for me. Luckily, I have a very supportive wife who helped me by thawing and prepping all of the food. She would cook some of it and I would cook the rest. I would let her know what needed to be prepped and she would get it ready to be dished out.
If not for her, I’m not sure I would have been able to manage it. The meal plans I began using after a few months of strict macro counting coincided with workout plans by Jim Stoppani.
I have used several of Jim Stoppani’s plans: Shortcut to Shred, 6 Weeks to Sick Arms, Down & Up Mass, Strong in 8, 4-Minute Muscle, 5,3,2 Strength, and Shortcut to Size. I’ve worked with Coach Chris Cruz of Center Stage Fitness in Beaumont, Texas, a couple of times.
Most recently, Coach Chris made a custom meal plan and workout plan to help me get ready for my very first competition — Global Championships PRO/AM & Fitness Expo.
When I checked in for the competition on August 3, 2018, I weighed in at 169 pounds with 6.5 percent body fat.
The last 22 months have consisted of compromise, hard work, dedication, and lots and lots of sweat!
The journey would not have happened without the support and encouragement of my wife, Tara, and my daughters, Lanie and Lindse. They have encouraged me when I wanted to quit and they pushed me further than I ever thought imaginable.
I intend to continue with eating healthy and working out. My next goal is to increase my muscle mass while maintaining my current body-fat percentage. I’m looking at competing again in November and also getting my personal trainer certification.
This journey has been full of ups and downs, highs and lows. For every time I succeeded once, I failed at least 10 times.
The only advice I would give to fellow gym-goers is to never give up, always keep striving to be better, and never let anyone or anything get in your way or stop you. The only thing stopping you is you!