Have you ever ramped up your diet or exercise regimen because of an upcoming event? This past month I have been in training for a summer trip to Las Vegas for the annual Team Beachbody Coach Summit. Being back in full on ‘training mode’ reminded me of 2 years ago when I wanted to see the full potential of my body. This was the very first blog post I ever wrote- but wanted to share it with you to give you a little more back story on my personal journey. I hope you enjoy!
(Originally written July 10, 2009)
Ok so this is my first attempt at an official blog post….so bear with me. (Espeically since I probably won’t proof read or spell check this when I am done)
Many of my friends/family know about my health and fitness journey over the past few years. Some even knew me at my largest (Over 240 Pounds!) Many of them would say that it has changed or defined me- especially recently– and with good reason. See about 6 weeks ago I decided that I wanted to do a ‘professional fitness photo shoot’. It wasn’t for a gig- or some contest I was getting paid for- but more of a personal challenge to myself to see exactly what my body was capable of if I trained like someone prepping for a contest– or in my actor mind– as if I had been cast in the next summer blockbuster action flick.
Plus even in my weight loss success (100 pounds lost) – I never felt like I had achieved the status of some of my other peers in the Beachbody community. I was happy with my results- they had given me a new found confidence- and a new profession as a Team Beachbody Coach helping others change their lives.
But I never had the rock hard pics- with the popping 6 pack. I had always told myself my body wouldn’t do that due to the way & how long I carried my extra weight. I always had a layer of loose skin that covered my abdomnials- even though I knew I had a strong midsection. I figured if I ever wanted that look I would have to wait and do it with surgery.
So I enlisted the help of a support team. Obviously I had my Beachbody family encouraging me- and using fantastic products like P90X, Turbo Jam & Hip Hop Abs. I also recently had started training once a week with Ray Scalvino at Rich Barretta’s gym on 22nd Street in NYC. Ray was introduced to me by my friend Stephen Mosher (who would be taking the pictures for my shoot). Seeing Ray once a week was a perfect compliment to my P90X based routine I had been doing. Ray comes from a professional bodybuilder back ground- and is an expert at sculpting bodies like a work of art. So with his help training- and using both Ray and my friend and fellow Beachbody Coach Mike Karpenko we came up with a nutrition plan to achieve the goals I had set.
I have always considered myself a hard worker. I throw myself into whatever I do 110% — for better or for worse, and this was no different. I have never trained so hard in my life or eaten THAT clean for that amount of time. No cheats- no splurges- no alcohol. I am a VERY social person & choosing to make this commitment really effected my social life. It effected my friendships & my marriage.
Kelly was super supportive thru the whole process. A lot of partners wouldn’t have understood why someone would put themselves thru this without a job or a tangible reward at stake, but Kelly never questioned me. She knew this was important to me- to see if I could fulfill the potential I thought I might have. It was a strain at times. Gone were the after work spontaneous happy hours, the weekend dinners out, or the occasional movie popcorn splurges. My buddies saw much less of me- except for the times they would come over to use my home gym for their own workouts. I was like a machine. I had a goal- I knew what was required of me and that resulted in quite a bit of tunnel vision.
The last week by far was the hardest because that is when the diet portion is manipulated the most. A few days with no carbs and high water/sodium intake- followed by regular feedings of chicken & sweet potatoes with less and less water each day. Even the day of the shoot was stressful because due to another job our shooting schedule got all mixed up. God Bless Stephen Mosher he put me at ease & we went to work. I couldn’t be happier with the photo results. Looking at them- it doesn’t even feel like I am looking at myself.
There have been some rough lessons that went along with this personal journey as well. The biggest is learning to
EXHALE after all of this. Through the process I had been told that people & models you see in fitness ads with crazy ripped bodies don’t look like that year round. I continued to tell myself I knew that & understood that whatever results I achieved probably wouldn’t be the way I would look year round as well. But as I finally started seeing the results I had dreamed of for so long, I became very addicted to the idea of always looking like that.
At the same time, I REALLY looked forward to how I would treat myself once the photo shoot was over. I was ready to splurge— and boy did I ever splurge. The
night after the photo shoot wasn’t so bad– mainly because I was exhausted, but I did allow myself a burrito & a couple beers to celebrate. However a couple days later I wanted to take Kelly out to a nice dinner and allow myself to eat whatever I wanted for the evening. No calorie or carb counting- just splurge with no thought to nutritional value. We went to a nice restaurant split a bottle of wine, and I had a nice fish dish with rice and veggies (not really a huge cheat)- but then I got a call from my buddy who was at the new beer garden in our neighborhood. I went over there- and it was so nice to be in a lax social setting.
Before I knew it I had lost track of the beer consumed and had devoured one of those huge soft pretzels. It all was SOOOOO good! However, I had not really done a ton of research about what happens to bodybuilders after a competition, especially if that cut down on their water intake the week before. I woke up the next morning and walked into my home gym with the HUGE mirror and literally almost cried. My body had bloated up overnight like nothing I could have imagined. It was Anti-Christmas….like someone had snuck in during the night and stolen the last 6 weeks from me- plus added extra fat! I was mortified. I had been told to ease back into my normal eating…but like I said before when I do something I do it 110%– even splurging or cheating.
The past week since then has been a challenge. To realize my body will eventually find its comfort zone again- as it deals with getting rid of the excess water, fat, sodium I flooded it with. I am also learning to return to being a normal human again– not just ‘Machine Nelson’. That everything doesn’t have to be health/fitness oriented. That is still my passion & profession, but the process of learning to exhale has really been a challenging one for me.
When you are gripping everything in your life so tightly it is very stressful, not only to you but also those around you. I grew very accustom to having that grip & being in control of everything in my life down to the smallest detail- because I wanted that goal– I wanted to finally FINISH something for the first time in my life. I proved to myself I could. And I hope you enjoy the photos– I was very hesitant to post them on Facebook- and I am not sure why. This journey has been so personal to me– and I don’t want it to come across as a vanity project- because it really was something VERY different for me.
Thanks for your time– and thank you for your patience as I continue the process of learning to exhale and return to regular human existence.
Please contact me if you would like help achieving your health/fitness goals.
Thanks to my support group: My wife Kelly, my friend/photographer Stephen Mosher, P90X Creator Tony Horton, My trainer Ray Scalvino, My Holistic Doctor Jason Piken, My nutrition consultant Mike Karpenko…. and everyone else that sent me encouraging thoughts & words during this journey.