The desire to “fit in” or “just be like everyone else” is strong in today’s society. According to a study done by Flegal in 2012, in the United States, 68.8 percent of adults are overweight or obese — that’s two-thirds of its population (Flegal et al., 2012).
Statistics on fitness, health, and weight in the U.S. say a normal man has 25–30 percent body fat, whereas a healthy man has less than 15 percent. A normal woman carries 35–40 percent body fat; a healthy woman has less than 23 percent. Those numbers come from habits and what have become societal norms, like ordering a Diet Coke with your Big Mac combo because you’re watching your weight. Sounds silly, doesn’t it?
Here’s a picture of me before I changed my lifestyle. I was just like one of the rest of us, and all it took was a new attitude. You can settle for “good enough,” or you can strive for more. “Not every depiction of normalcy in America has to fit you. What is important is one recognizing that. Being normal when it comes to your health and fitness is no goal worth achieving.”  So don’t be like everyone else!
I usually write this column about how to lift for certain body parts, but after finishing my most recent Men’s Physique competition (4th place finish, tall division ), I realized I should be sharing with you some of the most vital information out there: nutrition.
“I don’t want too much. I just want to look like you, and I want to make it happen in two months for an event (e.g. wedding or vacation) I have coming up.” I get that all the time. Slow down there, turbo. It took me 12 months to shed 75 pounds and find a physique I felt good about, and you say you want it in two?
Patience is a virtue, in life and in fitness. Sure, you can cut out carbs and the number on the scale will drop, but what happens when you eat carbs again? BOOM. The weight comes back. But don’t get down on yourself. Remember: “A failure describes an event — not a person.”
What I’m suggesting is a healthy “lifestyle.” Give it time; the weight will come off if you eat properly. You don’t have to start getting drastic with fad diets, but you do have to start thinking before you put that food into your mouth.
I’m not going to get pin-point detailed about a healthy lifestyle, but I will give you some great highlights and insights that have helped shape my transformation.
I’m suggesting a healthy lifestyle. Give it time; the weight will come off if you eat properly. Instead of jumping on the fad diet bandwagon, start thinking before you put that food in your mouth.
Your workout starts in the kitchen — what you eat is 70 percent of the fitness battle. You can exercise at the gym all you want, but a fast food meal after each workout holds you back from your goals.
Food is your body’s fuel. You wouldn’t put windshield washer fluid the gas tank and expect your car to run, but many people don’t hesitate to do the same with their bodies day in and day out. When the fuel source is unhealthy, the body breaks down. It starts sputtering at an early age, it runs at half speed, and gives up before the real race is over.
You should supply your body with six classes of nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water. Carbs are NOT the enemy. Too much is never good, but we need them for energy and muscle growth.
When I calculate my macros for the day, here’s how I break it down:
• 40–45 percent of my total calories to come from carbs • 40–45 percent of my total calories to come from protein • 10–15 percent of my total calories to come from fats
Just to be clear, any calorie can give you bad weight, but balance, moderation, increased activity, and portion control are what make eating healthy the right lifestyle to follow.
I plan all my meals meticulously. Your blood sugar drops when you skip meals, and that’s when you make poor decisions about food, usually eating whatever is quick, easy, and fills the void. That rarely, if ever, will actually fuel your body to run efficiently. When you plan your meals, then you have no excuse for cheating or splurging.
Now just to be clear, any calorie can give you bad weight, but balance, moderation, increased activity, and portion control is what makes eating healthy a great lifestyle to follow.
Each meal should have a balance of carbs, proteins, and fats that help control blood sugar levels. And eat often — about six to seven times per day. Yes, it does take some time to plan and prepare a few meals, but when you can see your feet again, your pants hang looser than they once did, or your abs pop out, you’ll realize the end justified the means. We’re creatures of habit, and we eat what we’re used to. Why not prepare three or four of those same meals ahead of time because you know you’re going to eat them anyway?
Once you’ve planned your meals, try to remember two other basic add-ons: vitamins and water.
Take one vitamin DAILY. I actually take three per day during competition prepping (Opti-Men by Optimum Nutrition ). Vitamins and minerals don’t give the body any direct energy, but they’re essential to a healthy lifestyle.
And wash down that supplement with clean, simple H2O. I used to be the worst at drinking enough, but once I realized the benefits it brings, I felt as though I couldn’t get enough. Water makes up 60–75 percent of body weight and stabilizes body temperature, carries nutrients to and waste from cells, and helps break down fat. That’s right, drinking water can help you get rid of that fat you’re carrying!
You’ll also have to be mentally prepared if you want a full lifestyle makeover — goals are key.
Remember to be realistic. Think about the two-month vs. the 12-month transformation. Set short-term, or weekly, goals for yourself, but make sure they build up to something you’ve set for the long term — months and years ahead. And don’t forget to reward yourself for reaching them. When I hit a goal I buy myself something — now I’ve got a couple nice pair of jeans and some great running shoes. To keep motivated, I print out sayings from tumblr or Facebook and hang them where I can see them, like on the wall or bathroom mirror.
Every decision carries a price, too. H. Jackson Brown Jr., author of Life’s Little Instruction Book, says: “You pay a price for getting stronger. You pay a price for getting faster. You pay a price for jumping higher. [But you also] pay a price for staying just the same.” It’s important to realize that there is indeed a price to pay for health, but the choice to change for the better also rewards you.
But above all, remember patience. It took me 12 months to shed 75 pounds, and that was only the beginning of my fitness journey. Slow progress is still progress. It’s not always easy, and I suggest relying on another to help keep you motivated and reach your goals. Buddying up can change and improve the way you approach your new lifestyle.
Now get out there and DON’T be normal!
“The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else. I hate that.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger.