I'm in my 40s and always thought I was in pretty good shape because I train regularly. I'd been doing the same sort of routine for more than 27 years, so I thought I was doing all right for an 'old man.' Little did I realize that I'd gotten overweight and out of shape despite my training. I'd ballooned to more than 240 pounds at 6'2', and my frame didn't carry the excess baggage well at all. Part of the problem was that my eyes were blinded by my quest to get bigger'like the biggest guys in the gym. I was under the woefully wrong impression that bigger would be better.
My wake-up call came when I decided to make use of my insurance policy before the rates went up. I scheduled an appointment with my doctor for a general physical checkup in December '02. That's when I was hit with my first shock. To my disbelief, my total cholesterol level had skyrocketed to more than 270.
Boy, was I frightened. I wasn't sure how long my cholesterol had been that high, but I had to lower it, and fast. So in late January after the Christmas holidays'which probably increased my cholesterol level to 300 with all of my unhealthful eating'I discussed my predicament with one of the trainers at my gym, Gold's Gym in Venice, California. We came to the conclusion that I should enter the Gold's Gym Challenge.
My second shock came soon afterward and was more intense than the first. It was the shock of seeing my before pictures. What on earth happened to me? Had I really gotten that fat? I was appalled. I wanted to deny it and defend myself and my old training habits, but the pictures were plain and clear. That's what I looked like after 27 years of training. That was wake-up call number two. From that point on and throughout my entire 12-week program, I was determined to get in shape and lose as much fat as possible.
I immediately changed my diet, training methods, thoughts'even my sleep pattern. I improved my lifting form. I added lots of cardiovascular training'something I'd totally avoided in the past. I cut out breads, dairy products and processed sugar and replaced them with lean protein and fresh fruits and vegetables. I also started drinking plenty of water and taking flaxseed oil. As for supplements, I mainly used protein powder and glutamine. I even refrained from most entertainment, including movies. As a result my focus and motivation became stronger. The driving force was, of course, those dreadful before pictures.
After my first month on the program, people in the gym started to notice that I was changing. People I didn't know, people I'd never seen before and had never talked to, began complimenting me and the progress I was making. Boy, did that serve as incentive, especially on days when I felt like giving up. I still felt that I looked exactly the same as my before shots; however, toward the end of my second month and heading into my final four weeks, well-known top professional bodybuilders and highly respected trainers also started encouraging me and telling me to press on. And press on I did. Three weeks left. Two weeks left. And finally, one more week. In the final week I did something I hadn't done in decades: I got a nice tan.
Then came the moment of truth. The end of my 12-week program had arrived, and my after pictures were taken. It was time to open the photo packet and look at my recent pictures. I was so nervous. The image of my before shots was in my mind (as well as the actual photos in another packet in my hand), and I was sickened by the thought of seeing them again. I was afraid to even peek at my after shots. What if I hadn't changed at all? What if I'd gotten even fatter? All sorts of what-ifs ran through my head. But I mustered the courage to pull them out and take a look. As I opened the packet and edged them out, my heart pounded with fear, and my breathing became heavy with anticipation.
Then I was jolted by a third shock. Wow! Was that really me? I really had changed. What a difference three months can make. I'd lost that big fat belly. I'd lost those thick love handles. My abs showed distinctly. I even had some color and texture to my skin, and I looked healthy.
It turned out that I'd dropped 40 pounds of fat, reduced my waist by eight inches and shed 10 inches from my hips. My face was leaner, and I'd even put on some muscle mass'all without using illegal substances, enhancement surgery or trick photography. In short, my physique had undergone a major reconstruction process. I'm still not where I want to be physically, but I think I'm well on my way. Editor's note: For more on the Gold's Gym Challenge, visit www.goldsgym.com. IM
Glenn Boggs' Transformation Strategies
Training. I trained five days per week, taking one day off during the week and one on the weekend. Each day I would train a different bodypart, and I devoted one day to what I call miscellaneous parts, such as forearms, lower back, traps and abs. So I essentially trained each bodypart once every 10 days. I also included an hour of cardio work after each weight-training session. I used treadmills, bicycles and stair machines. I tried to stick with that routine as much as possible, but I also listened to what my body told me. For example, if on a particular day I wasn't feeling up to both weight training and cardio, I'd do one or the other. Sometimes I divided it up and did one type of training in the morning and the other in the evening. At other times I turned the intensity down for a light day or two. I even took a third day off in the week if I felt I needed it. I wanted to be fresh for each workout, which meant I had to be flexible with my schedule and routine.
Diet. I began eating five to six meals per day (before, I would try to eat only two big meals per day). I incorporated more fruits and vegetables into my diet, and I started eating lean meats. Protein shakes, glutamine and healthful oils were also vitally important to my diet. I based my diet mainly on food from God's good earth. Plain water became a friend of mine, and I had to let go of many things that I liked, including fried foods, soft drinks, rich ice cream, sugar-filled products and all-you-can-eat bargain restaurants. And no more late-night snacks except for the occasional piece of fruit or protein shake. I noticed that besides losing weight, my body adapted to my new training routine and diet by cleansing itself of toxins and impurities. I felt great! 'G.B.