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This year I turned 42 years old and I am in the best shape of my life. Just a little over 3 years ago I was in the WORST shape of my life. Not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally. I believe these all go hand in hand.
In 2008 I had ballooned to almost 300 lbs standing at 6′ and my body fat percentage was well over 40%. My blood pressure was elevated, I felt tired all the time, if I walked a flight of steps I would lose my breath, my joints were hurting, and I was always getting some type of flu or cold.
Around March of 2008, shortly before the end of an almost 18 year marriage, I had what many would call an epiphany. One day I looked at myself in the mirror and couldn’t believe how unhealthy and just plain fat I had allowed myself to get. At that moment I knew I had to do something to change this downward spiral. As I thought about past attempts to lose weight I realized that the “quick fixes” and fad diets I had tried, although successful short term, were not going to work if I wanted to make LIFE-LONG changes.
That is when I decided to try a different approach and came up with the principles of ONE STEP AT A TIME = SUCCESS! Small, consitent changes allowed me to acheive the body I have today 180 POUNDS with 10% body fat. I am also an avid runner having finished my last 10K in 47:43 and my last 5K in 23:10. Both being my personal best times.
My drive and passion today is in helping inspire, motivate and teach others how to acheive fitness success too.
1. What would you say is the number one change you made that helped you lose so much weight and keep it off?
Let me start by saying that the word DIET has a negative connotation to me and I am sure to many of you as well. Many people continually ask me if I am STILL on a diet. I was NEVER on a “diet”. I simply transformed my unhealthy eating habits to life-long HEALTHY eating habits.
Proper nutrition plays a key role in losing body fat and gaining muscle. Like the saying goes…”You can’t out train a bad diet” I think most people would answer this question by naming some type of diet or attribute it to some type of work out program. Although proper nutirtion and daily exersice were definitely part of my success, I would have to say the # 1 change I made to lose the weight and KEEP it off, has to be taking small steps everyday.
Taking one step at a time in making weekly changes in nutrition and adding physical activity slowly is what lead me not only to acheiving great weight loss, but also getting fit and maintaing it now for almost 4 years.
Like they say, “Bad habits die hard”, so we must kill them SLOWLY!
2. Do you think exercise or diet makes the biggest impact on weight loss?
There is no doubt that if one eats less calories than they exert (“dieting”), weight loss will be acheived, but diet alone will only get a person so far. The body will get used to the restricted calorie intake and will make adjustments and at this point is where many people plateau in their weight loss.
Also, someone with a lot of weight to lose (more than 30-40 lbs), who does not exersice will most likely experience flabbiness on their body and will be doing very little to improve their cardiovascular health. I am a firm believer that the only way to acheive a proper, healthy and lifetime weight loss is to incorporate proper nutrition with adequate physical activity.
2. How do you control any cravings you might still get and have any tips for our readers?
My cravings today are very different than the cravings I had when I first embarked on my healthful journey. At first my cravings were for the most unhealthy foods such as french fries, potato chips, pastas with LOTS of cheese etc… As my eating habits became healthier and as more time passed feeding my body healthy foods, the cravings started to fade. This is not to say that I do not crave pizza, chips & salsa or a nice juicy cheeseburger today, but they are definietly not daily cravings and I allow myself to indulge very moderately in these from time to time.
The best tip I can give your readers on how to control cravings, is by not completely eliminating them. Go ahead and allow yourself small amouonts of your favorite foods occasionally. The key word here is OCCASIONALLY. For example, if you are used to having 2 -3 slices of pizza, have 1 slice. If ice cream is your weakness, have a few spoonfuls instead of an entire bowl.
You dont have to eliminate all foods you crave, just make sure to eat them in moderation OCCASIONALLY as opposed to regularly.
3. How has your diet changed prior to your healthy transformation?
The first word that comes to mind is WOW! I can assure you that for me to almost reach the 300 lbs mark on the scale I was eating very unhealthy and fattening foods and A LOT of them. When I started on this journey, I knew that going on a “diet” was not going to get me long-term success.
I had dieted many times before and had lost 20,30 and even 40 lbs, only to gain it all back and more when I discontinued “the diet”.
So this time around I realized I had to adjust my eating to the way I would eat for the rest of my life. Today I eat the same foods I did when I first started. For example, chicken and turkey breasts, very lean meats, lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and low-fat dairy products and small amounts of nuts and nut butters. That’s basically what my daily diet consists of. Sounds boring, but honestly, there are lots you can do with these ingredients.
4. What types of exercise do you do (weights, cardio, plyometrics, etc.)?
I do some type of exersice 5-6 days per week. Primarily my workouts consist of weight training and cardio. I split my weight training days by body parts. For example, I workout chest with biceps, back with triceps, legs, shoulders with abs. I do cardio everytime I weight train and I mix it up a lot.
I love to run and have challenged myself to many races 5K’s,10K’s and most recently I am training for my first 1/2 marathon, so you will find me running outdoors at least 3 times per week. I also like to do the stepmill (in my opinion, this is one of the best cardio machines in the gym). Occasionally I will use the elliptical and do high intensity intervals on there or the treadmill.
5. What does your current exercise routine look like?
My training routine changes up a lot, but I will list here how I am currently training.
Day # 1:
3 sets x 12-10-8 reps Incline Bench Press Superset with 3 sets x 10-8-6 Barbell Arm Curls.
3 sets x 12-10-8 reps Decline Bench Press Superset with 3 sets x 12-10-8 reps Inside Hammer Curls
3 sets x 10-8-6 reps Machine Chest Flyes Superset with Alternate Dumbell Curls.
End with 45 minutes Interval cardio either on Treadmill or Stepmill.
Day # 2:
Ab circuit. I do the following exercises one after the other for the reps specified. Once I finish the first circuit, I rest 2 minutes and start 2nd circuit, rest 2 mins and do 3rd circuit.
50 Crunches on mat.
20 Jackknives with 20 lbs medicine ball
20 Leg raises with reverse crunch
50 Bicycle crunches
End with 45 Minute outdoor run
Day # 3:
3 sets x 12-10-8 Barbell Squats , 3 sets x 15-12-10 Leg Extensions, 3 sets x 12-10-8 Leg Curls, 3 sets x 20 reps calf Raises
End with 20 mins Ellipitical Machine
Day # 4:
3 sets x 12-10-8 Dumbell Overhead Press, 3 sets x 12-10-8 Lateral Raises, 3 sets x 12-10-8 Front Raises , 3 sets x 12 Lateral Row, 3 sets x 12-10-8 Reverse Fly on Machine
End with 45 minute Stepmill intervals
Day # 5:
Same as Day # 2
Day # 6:
3 sets x 10-8-6 Lat Pull downs Superset with 3 sets x 12-10-8 Seated Tricep Press
3 sets x 12-10-8 Seated Cable Row Superset with 3 Sets x 12-10-8 Cable Tricep Push-downs
3 sets x 12-10-8 Bent Arm Barbell Pull-over Superset with 3 Sets x 12-10-8 Cable Reverse Tricep Push-downs
3 sets x 10 assisted wide grip pull-ups Superset with 3 sets x 12 parallel bar dips.
End with 30 minutes Stepmill Intervals
1 hour outdoor run. Sometimes I take this day as a rest day.
6. How about your current diet?
My current diet is pretty simple. Here is an example of a day in the eating habits of Eli Sapharti….
½ cup dry oatmeal cooked in 1 cup water. ½ cup Low-fat cottage cheese.
Meal # 2:
2 scoops MAX Protein by SEI Nutrition with 12 oz of water.
Meal # 3:
6-8 oz grilled chicken breast, ¼ cup brown rice, ½ cup black beans, lettuce. 4 tbsp fresh salsa
Meal # 4:
2 scoops MAX Protein by SEI Nutrition with 12 oz water.
Meal # 5:
6-8 oz grilled chicken breast or 6 oz turkey breast burger. 1 large salad which includes..lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, chick peas, red peppers, low-fat goat cheese, 6 tbsp low fat dressing.
Meal # 6:
I do not always eat this meal but when I do it is usually 2 scoops MAX Protein by SEI Nutrition or 2 unsalted rice cakes with Organic peanut butter with Flax seeds.
7. Do you take any supplements and did they assist you in losing the weight?
When I first embarked on this journey, I did not take any supplements at all for the exception of protein shakes or bars. Today I take CLA (Congugated Linoleic Acid) which helps to decrease fat, especially in the abdominal area. This supplement is especially important when one is eating mostly low-fat foods. I also take B-12 for energy and MAX TS3 by SEI nutrition (Testosterone booster). I am 42 and at my age testosterone levels start to drop so the testosterone booster has helped me.
8. Who are your biggest role models for losing weight?
I never had any role models prior to acheiving my weight loss success. Via my Facebook fan page http://www.facebook.com/FatBoyFitMan I have had the pleasure of meeting a group of exceptionally motivating and inspritational people. They are MY role models.
9. Any favorite motivational quotes?
I have many favorites, but here are just a few:
“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”
“It’s in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”
“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re commited to something, you accept NO EXCUSES: ONLY RESULTS!”
10. What are your future health goals?
My next couple of goals include running my first 1/2 marathon in January and training to compete in my first bodybuilding show in the Physique category.
11. Any last piece of advice for our readers?
The advice I give anyone looking to acheive any goal whether a beginner or a pro is ONE STEP AT A TIME = SUCCESS!