Patience: From Doughboy to Dude.

matthew's picture

There are some things you engage in for a minute. Some for a few minutes. Some for hours. Some for days. Some for months. Some for years. Some for decades.

I am learning that bodybuilding is in that last category. It's a sport of patience, persistence, and intense, regular dedication.

There are many who have done miraculous "body transformations": three or four months, and holy crap, look at those before-and-after photos. For most of us, though, who aren't unemployed or who weren't in great shape before and set back due to some accident or injury, losing the slow-creep-of-fat is a much slower process.

As most of you know, I've lost a lot of fat over the past year. I started September 1 at 251 lbs, added in some weight lifting in October, monitored my stats while putting on around fifteen pounds of muscle through December, then finally decided to take some photos. Here's December 2008 to April 2009. Avert your eyes if you are offended by the site of pasty white overweight men.

"Before" pic: 233 lbs, around 30+% body fat. "After" pic: 216 lbs, around 23% body fat. "After" ain't "After" yet, though, I have a long way to go. It's sort of "in-the-middle-of".

Terrible, crappy camera phone, I know. But this is a minimally-dedicated, 1-to-5-times-per-week gym physique I've built so far. I know that to take it to the next level, I need to ramp up my cardio, tighten down my diet, and increase my intensity and commitment to make it to the gym 6 times a week.

But I'm realizing physiques aren't shaped in just a few weeks or months. Losing the fat slowly while building muscle preserves muscle, and allows a superb physique lying underneath all that flab to emerge, in time.

So many times, I think I'm losing the game. Sometimes I can't lift as much as I did last week. I get tired too quickly on a given exercise. I miss hitting the gym one night due to a lack of motivation. But when I look at before-and-after photos of myself, it helps me to remember that I'm winning even when I feel like I'm losing. Just because I fell short of my goal doesn't mean that I'm falling short in my progress. The scale is moving the right way. The body fat calipers are moving the right way. The photo log is showing progress.

I've been a big fat loser for too long. It's nice to start winning for once.

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Ben's picture

Kudos

That's fantastic. Even that 17 pounds between the two photos makes a huge difference, particularly in your face and shoulders. I really need to get off my ass and just do it. I've been hovering around 235 for years now, and I keep making excuses for not being more regular at the gym (stress at work, baby at home, etc.). I just need to do it - I'm tired of being a big fat loser also. Rock on.

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Ben

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Ben

matthew's picture

The pounds don't matter as much...

The pounds don't matter as much as the body fat. If you're building muscle -- as I have been, some twenty+ pounds so far in my first year -- then you'll lose less "weight", but look a lot better.

Between the "before" and "after" photo, I gained some eight pounds of muscle, which turns that 17 pounds of fat lost into more like 25 pounds of fat lost. And if you put on muscle, your overall body fat percentage goes down even if you don't lose an ounce of fat!

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Matthew P. Barnson

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Matthew P. Barnson

Sammy G's picture

Yowza

I totally want you now.

matthew's picture

Just you wait.

Just wait 'til I hit 10% body fat. None will resist the hotness.

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Matthew P. Barnson

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Matthew P. Barnson

Woowoo! I'm still not used

Woowoo! I'm still not used to seeing you _either_ way. In my brain you're still a relatively skinny high schooler. :D

So what do you take as your main motivating factor... the asthetic aspect, with the health as a convenient side-effect?

You've obviously done a lot of reading on weightlifting so there's also a hobby-enthusiast aspect there too, presumably. Hey, whatever works, eh?

For me, it's health and then aesthetics. I'm far too vain to look at myself and go, "zomg noo how can I be seen in a swimsuit?!" like some women presumably do.

Instead what motivates me is, "Hmm, I just don't feel as healthy, buff, or badass as I really want to. What if I had to fight my way out of a bad situation? Or run to my kid quickly? Etc.?"

The actual techniques to get there are similar of course (eat right, exercise, weight-bearing exercise).

matthew's picture

So what do you take as your

So what do you take as your main motivating factor... the asthetic aspect, with the health as a convenient side-effect?

Five relatives have died of diabetes-related causes in the past two years. I only have one uncle left. Most of my uncles were dead, or nearly so, by age 60. For me, by age 60, I'd like to be warming up and looking forward to the next thirty years, not stuck on a gurney with an oxygen tank next to me.

The thing that keeps me motivated as I seek to avoid the fate of my close family is the appearance factor, though. Also the fact that I can play with my kids without falling over panting anymore.

I'd like to build my physique quite a bit more, from the "Hey, he doesn't look bad" to the "Oh my god, that guy looks amazing!" level, but that takes time. Years, not months :)

So, I'm in it for the health aspect, but the thing that keeps me on-track is appearance. Does that make sense?

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Matthew P. Barnson

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Matthew P. Barnson

Sure, makes sense to me.

Sure, makes sense to me. Whatever works motivation-wise, right?

Speaking of workout motivation, I saw an interview with Johnny Depp ages ago where he said he basically wanted to be able to run 20 miles while carrying a 4-year-old child. (His daughter was four at the time.) Just in case.