Saturday, August 6, 2016

My One Year Transformation (skinny to buff)

I've always been the super skinny guy, like, "Whoa that guy is super skinny. Ewe." I didn't mind though, and I never hesitated to take my shirt off or anything. I was comfortable with who I was.

I was also a runner.

The last race I ran before I began hitting the gym. Appropriately enough I placed 1st overall which was a thrill, especially since I knew I'd be getting slower with the weight I hoped to gain.

Skinny Runner
So skinny... and a horrible picture
in every way.
I've been running since I joined the track team in 7th grade at age 12. It was, and always has been, a great way for me to relax and release. It's therapy and I was addicted.

Buff guys aren't fast, but I really wanted to be a buff guy. I like buff guys. I was almost convinced it was impossible for me to gain, so if I tried and failed I'd still be fast right? So it was kinda win/lose situation no matter the outcome, so I thought I'd try it out just to see what would happen.

I was willing to become a slow runner. This was going to be both a huge sacrifice and commitment.

Since high school I've been telling myself "one day I'm going to get a personal trainer." Well, that day has come.

I was very skeptical that I could gain weight, especially considering how skinny my entire family is
Dad, me, Sister Jolie, Bro-in-law Spencer, Mom, Sister Christy (pregnant in photo), Bro-in-law Ben (skinny brother Dallin not pictured)
First Day at the Gym
One day after work I went into a nearby gym just because it was nearby my house (24 Hour Fitness at the time) walked in and essentially said "Take my money and make me buff".
First day of going to the gym. I literally had no idea what to expect.
I signed up for three one-hour session per week. It was not cheap, my goodness, but I knew this was a temporary service and an investment in myself (my goal was to have a trainer for one year).

Which Shake do I Drink?
I sat down with the head trainer Ryan Keefer who was great and crazy fit. We talked caloric intake and he jotted some things down on a piece of paper. I looked around the gym and saw people using the weights and such and I was so incredibly intimidated my goodness. We figured out I needed to eat at least 3,500 calories a day. Crap. He suggested I begin counting every calorie, and so I did. I literally counted every calorie from there on out using the app MyFitnessPal which made it very easy to do.

After doing thorough research online, I decided on a shake to drink and have been a huge fan of it ever since:
Optimum Nutrition's Pro Gainer has been fantastic. I drink 3 shakes a day. Crazy? Yes. Has it yielded results? Yes.
It tastes great and is 650 calories per shake.

Towards the beginning of my bulking journey here's a typical day's caloric intake:
I'd usually eat breakfast with a shake. On this day I didn't for some reason.
I have my entire food log, so if you're interested I can give that out. But just know it is nothing special. I simply ate calories, no matter what form. I made sure I got enough protein through drinking shakes as well. I ate like this for the first 6 months. After that I continued drinking those shakes but began eating cleaner.

And yes, I shamelessly eat out for just about every meal. Time is worth more than money.

My trainer's name was John, aka Thor.
My first personal Trainer John and me
I was constantly full and hated food. Ughhhhhhhhh. I was a little concerned because of some stomach issues I've had in the past (and even still) that you can read about here.

Trainer Swap & Bye Bye 24-Hour Fitness
I began going to bed early and waking up at 5:00 AM in order to work out before work on days I didn't meet with John. I absolutely loved it. It was a fantastic way to begin my day. I was surprised to see how many people were at the gym during those early hours and it was inspiring.

Three months into my journey my trainer John/Thor suddenly moved away for personal reasons. I was bummed, but the head coach Ryan called me up and told me who my new trainer was. It was Adrian.
My personal trainer, Adrian. He lost a Fantasy Football bet.

I began making friends at the gym at this point. I got to know the other trainers at the gym because I saw them everyday. It was a great community to be part of.

Then one day I was working out by myself when Ryan approached me and looked very worried, "Hey did you you hear? LA Fitness is buying out every 24 Hour Fitness in Arizona."
"Whoa... what does that mean?"
"We don't know anything yet."

To make a long dramatic story short, LA Fitness essentially cut all the trainers' paychecks in half. Ryan sold his house and moved out of the state and all of the trainers left. It was very sad. There were several weeks where Adrian was in limbo, but I didn't want to lose him because he was absolutely stellar. I stayed with him even though for a few weeks we didn't have a place to train. We made do and he still trained me. He was resourceful.

Leaving 24 Hour Fitness was rough. I thought I'd give the place a try under the new management, but I was put off by some of the new employees and I've never been back to that location. It was a place where a lifelong dream of mine came to fruition, and so quickly it was behind me. It's sad.
My last day at 24 Hour Fitness. It was a sad day.
I never stopped working despite these obstacles.

Milestones were my favorite, especially during the first half of my journey since they tended to be pretty drastic:

My first weigh-in was at 135 lbs. (not pictured)
One of the most thrilling things was when those around me started commenting on my new appearance when they initially didn't know I had begun working out.

Then the day some buff guy at the gym asked me to spot him was the greatest day ever. He was like, "Hey bro, could I get you to spot me?" and I was like, "Yeah, that's cool" all tough like when inside I was jumping up and down like an excited unicorn. I was finally one of the guys.


Months 0 - 5:

6 Months side-by-side:

My growth was definitely logarithmic, er my weight gain eventually leveled off. I stopped taking my monthly photos after 6 months because I knew changes from here on out were going to be less drastic and the scale was less important now. Eating clean, body-fat percentage, and working the right muscle groups became the focus.

Essentially the way I worked out now was completely different from when I began working out because my body had changed so much. I still felt like a complete noob, but Adrian kept showing me all of these crazy things I had no I idea I could do.

Every time I had an injury, big or small, Adrian  always knew what I should stop doing to avoid aggravating the injury further.

Outgrowing clothes became the usual and I found myself buying clothes regularly. It's kinda expensive actually, but a great problem to have.
I had no idea how therapeutic a personal trainer would be. I tell Adrian pretty much everything about my life even though doing so probably bores him to death. Simply talking about your life to someone is therapeutic per se, and he's making me buff too. Seriously though, stop seeing a therapist and get yourself a personal trainer.

New Training Gym
So after I left 24 Hour Fitness where did Adrian and I end up?

Adrian pictured with the gym's owners (Mican Bland, Adrian, Angela Knutson)
We ended up at a local gym called Mint Body! I'm always down for adventure and I still had Adrian so I was down trying any place out.

Here'a a link to the other trainers at this location in Gilbert, AZ.

My sister and I both inherited my mom's bubble butt.

Mint Body isn't big like 24 Hour fitness, but they have what you need: weights and Adrian.

One Year Mark
Here's a poorly Photoshopped photo with inconsistent lighting, but it allows you to compare me now from me a year ago:
Current me next to me one year ago both wearing the same tank (Jimmy Hales before and after)
Jimmy Hales Before and After

Random shirtless pics
These aren't really "before and after" photos, but rather "before and current" photos, and I'm only one year into this journey. Sure, working out has given me a better physique, but working out is therapy in itself, and I've found a new kind of confidence that I didn't have before.

I am so grateful for my physical health. My two legs get me where I need to go and my arms work as expected. I know I take my body for granted, but it's something I think about often and actively try to appreciate daily. I am so blessed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Back in Utah with Family


My social media hiatus is over, for now.

This weekend was my family's annual get-together in Utah for the Salt Lake City Marathon. It's a fun tradition for us because it's a reason to get together, it's affordable, it's productive, and we're all runners and so we love it, something I totally take for granted.
Friday afternoon/evening my siblings and I began arriving in Salt Lake for Saturday's race. I was feeling a bit under the weather but it was manageable.

Once in Utah we went to the race expo. For those who don't run, big races have an expo the day before a race where you pick up your bib (paper with your race number on it that you pin to yourself during the race), race shirt, and other fun goodies. You can also buy race attire and accessories, so it's pretty fun.

Jolie's flight got in later so she wasn't there for the expo part of the adventure.

After the expo we ran to the store to get some cheap sweats to throw off at the beginning of the race. For those who are unaware, at races where it's cold, runners will come to the race bundled up in cheap warm clothes and will later throw them off right before or during the race. Afterwards the clothes are collected and donated.

Race Morning

I woke up at 4:15 AM (3:15 AM AZ time, so yeah), took a shower, got dressed, bundled up, and headed to the race. Jolie was bundled up in some hoody she inherited from some service project, and a garbage bag. We wear garbage bags to reduce the wind chill and keep heat in. Jolie looked like a pumpkin.

We arrived in downtown Salt Lake and parked in the Wells Fargo building. We got lost in the parking garage and couldn't find an exit lol, and since we had a tram to catch -- stress.

Once freed from the parking garage we went to the wrong Trax station, and gun time was approaching, so... we ran, and -- stress.

But we eventually made it to the Tram :)

We arrived at the top and instantly ran to the bathrooms because time was running out and and there's are always long lines for the porta potties. We ran to the furthest away porta potties (shorter lines) and then met up near the track to take our pre-race photo.

We took the same photo two years ago in the same spot. Dallin was on a mission, hence he's not in the photo.
Our family photo two years ago taken at the same place (2014). It wasn't as cold on this day. Utah weather in April could be anywhere from 0 - 100 degress F, like seriously. Here Christy was pregnant with Bentley!

I headed towards the starting line. Since I knew I wouldn't be as fast this year (I've put on 40 lbs) I stayed back a bit, but my sister Jolie and bro-in-law Ben went ahead of me. My sister Christy was somewhere near me, but I didn't see her.

The Salt Lake Marathon is interesting in that the gun goes off and you're instantly running up a steep hill lol! It's not too long, but the first mile has several steep hills, both up and down. Since it's the beginning of the race most runners tackle the hills swiftly only to kill their stamina later on in the race. I take them very slow. On the longer hills later in the course (mile 6) runners are always passing me at the beginning of the hill, but towards the end of the hill I'm passing them because they're dead.

Then I decided to take a mid-race selfie.

Mid-race selfie taken during one of the more boring spots of the course. That's probably why I decided to take a selfie.
Runners need to fuel up in our races. Many choose Gu, but I've never been a fan of it, though it's quick if you can stomach it and if you don't accidentally inhale it.

My choice of fuel are called Shot Bloks. I eat one just before gun time, and then one every even-numbered mile marker for the entire race. They're nice because you can bite one off, shove it in your cheek and slowly eat it. It's hard to not inhale it sometimes, but it's never been too big a problem for me.

The rest of the race was blissful (so was the entire thing really). The sun was out, but the air was cool. Perfect for running.

During the race I never saw my sister Jolie, nor did I see her as I ran past the finish line. Was she ahead of me or behind? Meh.

As I ran past the finish line I saw my mom, brother-in-law Ben, and cousin Keisha, but no sisters.

I ran past the finish line and proceeded to grab my medal and some snacks. I felt great! Then I heard my sister Christy's voice, "Hey James!" Christy was right behind me and I had no idea until then. She finished just 14 seconds behind me. Crazy. We made our way to where we saw our family cheering for us and we saw Jolie there. Apparently she was just a little bit ahead of Christy and me. We essentially ran the race right by each other yet were completely oblivious of the fact. I find that funny.

My brother Dallin hadn't trained at all for the race, so he was a little bit behind us. We watched as Dallin and my dad ran past the finish line. My sister Christy set a PR, which is awesome, especially since she ran way more conservatively than she can actually run.

The back's of our shirts have our nicknames at we give each other. My family calls me "Lands".

I love the post-race festivities, though this year there weren't and vendors. There was live music though, which was great, so we stuck around and listened to the music and danced a bit.

And of course my mom.

Afterwards we went to Chili's, but we forgot it was still early in the day despite having been awake for several hours, so Chili's wasn't open yet. We went to Paradise Bakery instead and it was fantastic.

We spent the night at my mom's house which was a lot of fun. She has this massage chair that we especially loved since we were sore from the race. Here's a picture I secretly took of my brother Dallin using the massage chair.

It's pretty amazing.

It was a pretty stellar weekend, and overall we felt good about the race. My family is amazing. 

Heading to the airport to fly back to AZ