Visual Progress

This is a brief visual history of my progress through the years, starting at an early age and continuing today with this blog.

In 5th grade I was about 5ft 5in and weighed about 190 lbs of pure fat.  I looked really fat and all the kids I went to school with let me know this on a daily basis. (A good amount of the people that use to make fun of me look like fat whales today, but I just kind of sit back and laugh, rather than return the favor and make fun of their new found rolls.)

In 8th grade I went on a really low fat diet and lost a ton of weight getting down to about 130 pounds at 5ft 8 in tall.  I was skinny, but had no muscle mass at all.  I ran 6 miles a day to get ripped, but as you can see I didn’t get that way.  I didn’t lift at this age and really didn’t know much about it.  I figured running was the key to a good looking physique, but besides getting really good at running, it didn’t do much for my physique.

8th-9th grade
I was skinny here, but weak and had no muscle mass at all.

In high school, I basically maintained my physique (from the above picture) without making any real gains in muscle or fat.  I did get taller at a little over 6ft tall, but looked basically the same all the way through.

Around freshman year in college was when I really got into lifting.  I lived on campus right next to a dining hall, so I had close access to really good food that wasn’t exactly the healthiest.  So over the course of that year I bulked up and made a lot of progress in strength and muscle, but also got kinda fat.

Freshman Year
Got pretty strong in this picture, but added some extra padding I wasn’t too proud of. Probably around 190lbs in this picture.

Starting around sophomore year of college was when I got really into nutrition and how different foods effected your body.  I also got really obsessed with being really lean and losing body fat, which really affected my potential muscle gains.  Looking back I spent way too much time trying to stay lean, when I could have been applying my knowledge to making muscle gains.  I also read “too much” during this phase and had a really bad case of analysis paralysis (having knowledge, but failing to act).  I was so busy trying to cut calories and eat low calorie foods, that I basically threw out all the good nutritional information that I knew.

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This was my first cut and the leanest I ever got. I was probably around 158 lbs in this picture. I looked good, but for some reason tried to get even lower in body fat instead of adding muscle.
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Junior Year – Took the dieting a little too far in this picture and got down to about 153 lbs at 6ft tall.  This wasn’t the look I was going for.

Senior year of college was better than my sophomore and junior years.  The previous two years I got so obsessed with dieting that I felt like my social life was somewhat affected by not going out and having fun, because I was trying to maintain my diet.  I also feel like by trying to maintain such a low body weight for so long my metabolism and hormones were negatively effected. (Actually read a very good article (The effects of dieting) by Lyle McDonald explaining this process.  He also said only 4 days of  hard dieting can start to negatively effect you psychcologically and physiologically.)  As a matter of fact, I lost most of the muscle I built and became skinny fat, even though I knew a ton about nutrition and lifting weights.  I was under eating for too long and the results were not pretty.

My diet basically consisted of all protein and very minimal carbs and fat.  This is basically a crash diet to retain muscle and lose fat very quickly, but only if used properly for a very short period of time.  I was living of this diet and for some reason it took me awhile to wake up and start feeding my body with a lot more than just protein.  I was eating low calories probably around 1000-1200 calories a day on this diet and wasn’t losing fat at all.  This is one of those things looking back that I really wish I could change, but I’m just going to move on and learn from it.

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Beginning of Senior Year – Some rebound fat gain, specifically in the belly after my two years of dieting way too long.  I didn’t gain much fat, but the fat I did gain made me look skinny-fat.  This look needed to go ASAP.

In senior year I decided to end the whole dieting stint and start putting on some muscle.  I finally decided to end analysis paralysis and snap out of all the dieting dogma I use to believe in.  My goal was to “reverse diet”, which means slowly raise calories up and go the gym everyday.  Over time this would allow me to raise my metabolism and hormones and get back to normal.  Going to the gym every day would also partition a lot of the calories into muscle rather than fat.  My goal was get rid of the skinny fat physique that results from under eating and build some muscle.  I knew some fat gain was unavoidable at this point, but honestly I didn’t really add much.  I finally started to put all those nutritional principals I learned into effect and the results started to come.

July 2013:

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Eating a balanced diet and goal is to bulk to 180 while keeping fat gains to a minimum. I’m 170 lbs in this picture.

 

I’m going to keep the section updated in the future as my ongoing personal visual journey.  My goal is to continually gain muscle while keeping fat gain to a minimum.  I’m glad I did this visual progress page though, because it reminds me of the mistakes I made and I will never make again.

July 2014:

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Pic as of July 2014. My weight is around 185lbs in this picture with 11-14% bodyfat.

February 17th 2015:

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Currently 175lbs on a recomp style diet. Body fat hovering around 10-11%.
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June 2015
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July 30th 2016
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July 30th 2016
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September 2016

23 thoughts on “Visual Progress

  1. Hey Michael,

    Good Blog! \I have gone through the majority of the same problems and right now im clean bulking looking to add about 25 pounds over the next 6 months and after dieting down to a very lean state im starting to look just as you did in your senior year (fuckin sucks that stomach pouch shit!).

    Just wanted to say its inspiring to see someone who pushed through and it lookin good like you are now. Im surprised though that you didn’t gain a lot of fat after your skinny fat picture. In Fact you got Leaner. I gotta get through the first couple months of this bulk because apparently when you diet for a really long time you retain water like crazy on the rebound (excess cortisol).

    2 questions-
    -How long were you dieting down for? and what calorie levels were you at? and did you take diet breaks?
    – What kind of hormone and other side effects did you have when dieting? (don’t have to answer if that to personal.)

    Like

    • Yeah man thanks for the feedback.

      Yeah the skinny-fat stage is actually not too hard to fix. You basically have to slowly raise calories back up to higher levels in order to start maximizing hormones that were suppressed from dieting and eating low calories. I recommend adding about 100-200 calories a week from carbs mostly. I would also recommend keeping fat intake to about .35 x bodyweight max to prevent fat storage and allow more room for carbs as carbs will maximize suppressed hormones the most and lower cortisol. As for calories I would shoot for at least 13x bodyweight to maintain on, although 14-15 is usually better. Just be sure to take it slow to keep the fat gains down.

      Yeah cortisol got very high for me as well. I used to bloat and retain water very easily especially after a high calorie meal, but now that doesnt happen.

      To answer your questions:
      1) Probably about 2-3 years. Calorie levels were at the lowest around 1200 and probably averaged about 1600. (Bad I know haha) And very little diet breaks, except for a few days max.

      2) High cortisol which antagonizes a lot of anabolic hormones, easy bloating, cold body temperature (measured at 93.3 one day, its currently at 98.9), cold hands and feet, lack of motivation. The awesome thing about raising your metabolism back up though is all of these go away and are replaced with more positive benefits, including a better self image.

      If you have any more questions feel free to ask.

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  2. All good info! If you maintained on 14-15 per lb what did you bulk on?

    And im trying to get an idea of the timeline….
    From the time ytou hit 153lb how long did it take to get to 170 adn than from there to 185? You gained alot of weight in these time frame but yet it does not sound like you really increased the calories that much…i would have figured with that much weight gain you would have to be in a reasonable surplus (500+ maint. at least) Unless this transformation toook a longg time. Which is why im curious as to the timeline

    Like

    • I dont really “bulk” for the most part. I found a calorie level currently around 25-2600 a day that allowed me to gain strength and muscle while staying around the same weight and keeping my body fat the same. I really dont think eating over your maintenance is necessary. Granted you will gain muscle faster, but you will also gain fat faster. However if I notice my muscle gains start to slow down and plateaus start to occur, I will add in about 100 calories a week to see if that get progress moving.

      The skinny fat pic was the end of my senior year in college, but I maintained that look for a while. I’d say one year between the skinny fat phase and where I am now. A lot the weight gain was muscle and glycogen storage though as my bodyfat % is less now than it was at 30 less pounds of scale weight.

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  3. Oh ok sound advice.

    After scanning through this website I got to be honest one of the best sites I have found from nutrition to training advice. I knew a lot of this because it seems we have done similar research and read most of the same books. But again overall I would recommend what you have setup anyday. (theres a lot of bullshit out there)

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  4. Two books I promote religiously(and don’t get paid for lol dammit) that I know you would find interesting.

    Once you read (or research) these im sure you will be able to add more great info to your website!

    1-Fiber Menace
    2-Starve Mode

    Like

    • Yeah I’ve read both of those.

      1)- the Fiber menace was definitely interesting, but I feel like its only if you overdo it. Most of my fiber comes from food I dont have any of the problems he says you’ll get. He also “demonizes” fiber, which is a bad idea considering fiber has a lot of beneficial properties even if he says there not true. Bottom line – eat foods that naturally contain fiber, but dont overdo it with fiber supplements and very high fiber foods, which could cause problems over time.

      2) – Starve Mode was very interesting throughout the whole book. It was definitely something I and I’m sure many others needed to hear about the negatives of dieting. The hormone interactions, science and empirical evidence she cited was incredible. I adopted many tips from that book.

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  5. Agree on both your assesments though i will say from fiber menace that every bit of advice i did take from it (as well as the authors other books corrected alot of health problems for me the author is very knowledgable)

    That was probably the biggest thing that crashed for me on my cutting diet(long term) was *Digestive problems very sluggish all around, and Low motivation and social life was affected like you said.

    Starve Mode was is a great source to anybody whos ever even spoken damn word diet before. (which pretty much is everybody nowadays ha) Matt Stones material is very good as well “Eat for Heat”.

    Like

    • Yeah Matt Stone is awesome. His articles are always good to read and way more interesting than typical articles you will find.

      I learned a lot from 3DMJ coaches as well if you ever heard of them. Their pretty much experts on reverse dieting, which is the art of restoring metabolic rate at a slow and controlled pace to walk people out of the hole they created with their diets.

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    • As for the digestion, Matt Stone wrote about a sloth as having the slowest metabolic rate and lowest body temperature on earth and its why it has the slowest bowel transit time of 30 days. Its also incredibly slow and barely moves. I guess the same thing happens to humans when inadequate energy is given to the body.

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  6. Id be interested to see you do an article on calories themselves.

    Such a funny topic because some say 14-16 per lb (lyle mcdonald)

    And then you get calculators that spit out far more than that (18-20 per lb)

    Be interested to here your take on this just like your ones on macros

    🙂 again all good info on this site keep it coming

    Like

    • Yeah calories are really hard to predict because everyday and everybody is different. The best calculator I’ve seen is http://iifym.com/iifym-calculator/. Its probably the most accurate I’ve seen based on tthe fact you put in the number of days worked out.

      I also am really considering starting a cyclical diet, so I can eat a large surplus somewhere over 3000 calories for 2-4 days a week depending on my goal and on the other days eat around the low 2000s to ensure I’m in a deficit.

      Cycling avoids plateaus by speeding up metabolism on high days and the low days prevent fat gain by not constantly overeating and burning more fat on days after the high carb days.

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  7. Have you ever considered Intermittent fasting??
    Worked well for me. Its everywhere out there with a whole bunch of different methods but don’t see anything on you articles about it.

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  8. Did not like the leangains IF version for same reason you did cant stomach large meals…..eat stop eat I find is way better and bonus is health benefits

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    • Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of any of them. Not that they don’t work because they do, but I would rather eat a good amount everyday to keep my energy levels up. Especially now that I maintain on around 2700 calories a day, I get ravenous on such a low intake. In the past I was fine on low calories because my metabolism was so used to such a low intake it was basically normal, but not anymore haha.

      I’d look into Nate Miyakis research if you get a chance. He recommends 5 days of burning fat at around 10-12 x Bodyweight to burn fat and 1-2 days a week of spiking your calories over maintenance levels at somewhere between 15-18 calories per pound. Definitely a good way to eat sufficiently everyday while losing fat and building muscle. You can also manipulate it so its 6 low days 1 high for more fat burning or 3-5 high days and 2 low days for more muscle gain.

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  9. Yea looks like it would certainly work, I just really like Eat stop eat because now with a wife a son and a house etc i dont have much patients for day in day out monitoring unfortunately so in that situation i think it works wonders. Wish i had more time to be more stingent lol. DONT get married man lol jk

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a great read, I could relate to so much of it. I have struggled over the past couple years with dieting and getting lean (to the detriment of well everything). I am now focusing on that balance and achieving a physique that is sustainable and one which I can take pride in. I wish you all the best and hope that you continue to update. Do you have Instagram?

    Liked by 1 person

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