Blessed with a strong family that recognized the importance of fitness, I fell in love with weightlifting in my early teens after being overweight most of my childhood. My dad and brother taught me the basics of form and routine, and I am so grateful for that.
I was tired of being the fat kid, so I decided in high school that it was time to do something about it. I adjusted my diet a little, lifted heavy, and did some cardio. I made some decent muscle mass gains, and although I was never “shredded,” my body fat stayed low and I was happy and confident through college.
But I used various supplements based on “bro science,” basically ate whatever I wanted (including a lot of beer), and trained like crazy seven days a week. It worked for a little while, but that lifestyle couldn’t be maintained. In my mid-20s, I was newly married and a working professional, so I couldn’t maintain the training intensity, and I even stopped altogether for long periods.
My weight went up and down, and when I did weight-train, I was basically spinning my wheels. By the time my daughters were born in my early 30s, I had become very overweight. About a year after my second daughter was born, we found out we had another baby on the way. I started thinking about how proud I was as a kid to have a dad with a muscular physique and I wanted to be that dad for my kids, so I decided to get back in the gym.
I knew I needed a plan, though. I found Jim Stoppani on bodybuilding.com in 2013 and was immediately intrigued by the amount of information he put out there regarding training, diet, and supplements — and it was all backed by scientific research. He always referenced studies that confirmed what he was saying. Not only that, he called out the fitness and supplement industries for basically feeding people lies to make a buck. I had never seen anything like it.
I didn’t really have a goal in mind at this point, but I knew I wanted to lift again, so I began the Shortcut to Size program. I basically repeated Shortcut to Size over and over, and in just under a year, I had put on about 20 pounds of muscle and fat. I felt good having the muscle mass back and being significantly stronger, but I was still overweight.
During that year, Jim and Mike launched JYM Supplement Science. I was blown away by the detail and transparency Jim provided about his supplements, like why he used specific amounts of each ingredient, and how he called out the supplement industry’s lies and misleading labels.
I started using all the JYM supplements, but other than that, I didn’t really change my diet. After my son was born, I decided it was time to really focus on my diet and lose the unhealthy amount of body fat I had. My “Before” picture was at about 230 pounds and I imagine close to 30 percent body fat. I had never taken a picture of myself and I did not like it at all; it really motivated me to change.
I read Jim’s Dieting 101 guide and started counting my macros and dropping carbs. I started using Jim’s shred programs, specifically Super Shredded 8 and HIIT 100, and incorporating HIIT into my rest days as he recommends. In six months, I had dropped to about 175 pounds and 8 percent body fat. I was amazed at what my body could do when the proper “tools” were applied.
That’s what Jim’s training, diet, and supplementation is about: providing tools for us to meet whatever goal we have. My “After” picture is about 18 months later, after adding about 10 pounds of muscle mass (185 pounds), while keeping my body fat around or just under 10 percent.
My main motivation was and still are my wife and kids. Our bodies are truly a gift from God and we need to treat them as such. I want to show my kids that we need to be healthy, not just to look good at the beach, but because our bodies reflect our character. The discipline and self-mastery used in fitness is helpful for all aspects of life.
Looking back, it really wasn’t that hard. I train in the morning so it doesn’t affect my family time. I worked out my diet so that I can eat whatever my wife makes for dinner and enjoy the occasional meal out and treat. The hardest thing for me was the attention I got from people. People just don’t like change, even if it’s your change, because it makes them uncomfortable.
I think the key to my success was molding my training and diet to my life. I changed my lifestyle enough to see results, but not so much that it was impossible to maintain it long-term. I took the tools and info that Jim provides and applied it to my life.
So far, I’ve completed Super Shredded 8, HIIT 100, Daily Grind, Down and Up Mass, Drop Set Countdown, Tabata Weight Blast, MED, Super-Man and Six Weeks to Sick Arms, some of them several times. Jim’s programs always keep things interesting and force me to push myself.
My advice to someone starting out is to figure out what you want, why you want it, and how to get there, then just go do it. Jim’s programs work — there are so many of us who can attest to that. Be consistent and learn to love the daily grind; that’s where the change happens. Also, join the JYM Army Facebook page — it has to be the greatest fitness group out there. Always helpful, motivational, inspiring and positive.
I’m now 35 years old and have been training consistently with Jim’s programs for four years. Although I’ve had my setbacks, I can’t imagine stopping. I’m so glad I found Jim and the JYM Army, and I hope my transformation can inspire someone else to make a change.