Enough already with the broad explanation, what did I do to slip from the graces of the athletic mindset and awesome progress I had made? What caused me to derail and what can you look to avoid?
The American mentality and media slipped in. I took everything that worked to the extreme without weighing the consequence of my actions. If a little of this produced that physique, then a LOT and I'll be a Greek god. My simple yet successful diet, training, and lifestyle was no longer good enough for me and my goals. I had to overhaul it ALL.
Diet wise I was living on a VLCD in the range of 20 grams a day of carbohydrates including fiber, but, I didn't not restrict calories at all. I ate like a man beast. A typical breakfast may be a half pound of bacon and a dozen eggs and cheese. Lunch a full slab of pork ribs no sauce or a buffet where I could literally stuff my face with as much fat and protein as possible. Dinner and anything else was much the same. It worked, and worked damn well. It was easy to live by and to keep a great physique, energy, and health.Now that was simply no longer going to be adequate for my broad goals (looking good Naked). I had to go EXTREME.
Micromanagement and the evil food label.
Calories. "Awe" I said, that's what I need to do. I have to count calories. The labels have two different settings 2500 and 2000. Hm?? That 2500 setting must be for guys that are like "HUGE" Ill take the 2000. 2000 and I'll just get there quicker right? This info has to be accurate, its on a label from the FDA. So I'll couple the 2000 calorie limit with the VLCD and I'll get ripped.
FAT. The label also has fat very limited and I remember from school and the media that one should limit fat intake at all costs. Ill also drop that fat intake WAY down, as low as I can. The label say less then 65, so lower the better. We all know that fat will get ya fat.
Now I'm also going to break this eating into small pieces. No more three BIG meals and possible snacks if I need them. I'm going to precisely time my meals, caloric intake, and the macro's.
Sweet the diet is set. Track calories at 2000 calories a day or under. Under 20 grams of carbs, including fiber. Minimize that fat intake to Nil. WOW!!!! And I also found the perfect food. It must have been made precisely for the god physique like I want. I mean look how much its touted in the media. SOY! 85+ % of my diet will be soy. Not whole soy, NO! too many carbs. Soy isolate and TVP, man its cheap too. Taste like hell but that's the price we pay.
Now training has to match this perfect diet. Sure I work heavy labor but I know tons of guy who do, some are sloppy and some are in good shape. None of them have the look I want. I want to be a lean, ripped, GOD. I got to double my efforts up, Or maybe triple them. I'll go from doing my circuit the mornings 3 days a week to 5 days maybe 6 if I feel the need on the weekend. Oh but that's not enough, that's only two extra sessions. Ill also do it twice a day, once first thing in the morning and once at night after work. I'm going to get HUGE!!!!
That isn't all. I have never been a runner, I have a hip that was shattered and replaced at the age of 7 and ankles that turn in and make me step on the outside of my foot. No excuses. No pain, no gain. I know how to ignore pain to get what I want. Don't be a pussy, just do it once you get going it wont be bad. I'm going to run for 30 minutes every morning to start prior to training and 30 minutes at night and then slowly ramp that up to an hour plus each time as I get better.
YES! Now were talking. 5 days of training 2 times a day and 5 days of running 2 times a day. Couple that with 2000 or less calories low fat, Very low carb, and soy based I'll be like cover model ready in no time.
Fast forward two months and, again I made a dramatic changes. I implemented all those crazy guidelines full bore. Any chance I could I deprived, I punished instead of rewarding. I could NEVER get lean enough. All I thought about was getting lean, not eating running myself to the ground, kicking my own ass with the weights. Screw the pain keep going. Every action in life was now not for enjoyment but for caloric loss, EVERYTHING in life had to be looked at with a fine tooth comb.
The weight again RIPPED off me like a hot knife through butter. I went from 215 to 165 in a few weeks. My clothes were falling off of me. I was loving it. My only sense of satisfaction now came from the pain and deprivation, but I was NEVER satisfied or happy with anything. There was no concrete accomplishment I could grasp along the way, no steps, no enjoyment in the process at all. Just a broad undefined ending point that I would never meet. No date, no real tangible goal. At all cost simply reaching to get "leaner." You could literally see veins on veins and the bones in my face. I had pains, but I was "HARD," I trained through it.
I could no longer sleep more then an hour or so at a time. I would waken frozen, or sweating, or just my head would not shut off. It was winter and my body had lost the ability to warm itself. I had always been a big guy, and was warm blooded like a furnace. I was now freezing even in warm weather. I would lose feeling in my extremities. I was losing hair, my teeth chipped easily, and my gum's had receded. I had somehow gained a lump behind my left nipple that was tender, and also had the killer urge to urinate almost constantly but then would painfully produce a shot glass worth of urine. What The Heck?!
Problems, my health. Who cares man, I was doing it. I was getting ripped. I was hating every bit of life. The only brief enjoyment I got was looking in the mirror which also quickly turned to a critique that would have me needing more deprivation and personal torture. Yeah, I felt like hell. I hated life but I was doing what few could, and I wasn't done yet.
I was determined to push on even though I knew something was wrong and people grew worried about me. I didn't care what anyone thought. I had no time for people. I had lost all interest in anything. I was emotionless just existing in life not living it. I went from a confident, outgoing, fun, and desired person; to a cold bastard, with No sex drive, no life drive, and zero passion or emotion for anything in life but ones self. Worse the only emotions that did creep in were of self hate, stress, grief and deprivation.
I went from being ignorant of training and nutrition to the quite the opposite. It ruled my existence, I was obsessed. I was reading and absorbing everything I could, mainly via the internet. I was taking tons of great, and worthless, information and stacking it one atop another. Never taking the time to really sort the cream from the crop, or give anything a fair run. Learning one thing, to have another dispute it. It was overwhelming, micromanaging, and reaching paralysis by analysis. My whole existence somehow only mattered on what my outward appearance was, and no mater what others thought it was NEVER good enough for me.
This was just about ROCK bottom. Amazingly I was also able to produce the work and applications to get myself a full ride to graduate school for my masters degree during this, but aside from that things just got worse. Further deprivation, eating disorders, more excessive training, and the never good enough negative outlook were now set in, and would escalate. Some of the mental aspects, and for sure the health problems, ail me to this day and are a constant thing I will face and BEAT down.
I hope for now, if nothing more, this installment will stand as an awakening or a warning to any one who may be traveling down a like road, even if not so extreme. A warning that the mental and the physical damage of such a negative, deprivation focused approach to life can be damming in the short and long term, both physical and mental. It's no way to approach training, diet, or life. In the next and last installment I will cover the way I have climbed my way out of the abyss, and some simple steps one can take if you are in stuck in the exerciser mindset.
Phillip Stevens, BFA, MFA;
Director of Operations, Staley Training Systems
About The Author
Phil, while attaining both his Bachelors and Masters degrees in studio art found another passion, that of training and nutrition. A constant student, his real-world under-the-barbell and behind-the-fork approach has led to many an opportunity, experience, and change in his life as well as those he has worked.
Phil currently, aside from his varied work with Team Staley, is a working and showing artist ([http://www.philstevens.com]). His current personal fitness goals are to become a competitive force as middleweight strongman competitor, while building upon his power lifting experience in which he has seen as high as a top ten national ranking; with a two year goal of obtaining an elite ranking as a 242 or 275lb weight class RAW power lifter.
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