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.