Dear Fellow Readers,
What you are about to read is a story of fighting against all odds. It is a story of determination, of setting goals and achieving them. It is a story that is very personal and that I know very, very well. It is, after all, my own story of transforming my health and body from ill to the best shape I have been in. It is a long story, with pictures and videos, so I suggest you read the whole story instead of skipping to the pictures directly. It is worth the read and I hope it brings you the inspiration and motivation to make positive changes in your life.
September 2010 I had a health incident that almost costed me my life. I was 5 days in hospital and living in a country very far away from my family and friends (Dubai, UAE). I really don’t want to go into detail on what happened but the sequelae of this was much tougher than the acute effect it had on me. I was put on a cocktail of meds for 6 months after the incident which led to plenty of side effects. This health issue affected my ability to even walk and the doctors prohibited any physical activities other than walking. As soon as I was out of the door of the hospital I foolishly tried to prove myself I was still my own self by trying to do some light weight training and ended going back to hospital the very same day for an overnight stay and a slap on the wrist from the doctors. Hey, at least I got to meet the pretty nurses again, who would come during their breaks to keep me entertained (no naughty stuff!). Apparently they liked my curly hair. I was discharged and this time I learnt the lesson; I was obliged to turn into a couch potato.
So, fast forward 6 months to March 2011 and I am a mess. I have gained almost 40lbs (18kilos) and lost muscle everywhere. I am soft and flabby all-round to the point of starting to develop cellulite on my belly. The meds were also messing my skin and I was developing discoloured patches randomly. Moreover, I was losing my head hair like crazy, hair clogging the tub every time I showered. Not a pretty sight.
I moved to another country in November 2010 (almost 3 months after the incident) and moved to an apartment which had a gym. The gym was a very basic gym with cardiovascular machines and hardly any resistance/weight equipment: it had a Smith machine which was rusty, two bicep curl bars and dumbells up to 35lbs. In essence, not the best place to get a good training session or workout for someone looking for decent strength and muscle. Having said that, I was not allowed to do any weight training so I didn’t care at the time about what equipment the gym had.
As the weeks continued to go by through November 2010 and onward, I kept adding more and more body weight despite I had hardly changed my diet. One of the medications I was on is notorious for weight gain and I was packing on fat like I was preparing to hibernate. By Christmas 2010, just over 3 months after the devastating health incident, I could not fit into any of my clothes and had to go and buy a new entire wardrobe. Moreover, I went to a sunny place during my Christmas holidays and had some photos taken with swimming trunks. I didn’t want to look at them during Christmas as I knew it would ruin my vacation just by seeing how out of shape I had got. When I decided to look at them (in January), it was a severe psychological punch to my already medicated hazy brain. It was time to stop this crap, right here, right now. I designed a plan to reverse this situation and cleaned up my diet, which was already clean and healthy but I was obviously eating too much of it (plus the medications I had to take are known for inducing heavy weight gain).
Mid-march, I was taken off the medications. A week before I had gone to the gym induction in my apartment block and could now freely use it. The same day I left the doctor’s office door and was told to stop the medications, I stepped into the gym just to get into the vibe and didn’t do anything more than a bit of stretching and toying with the machines. It was not until May, however, that I officially started my journey into regaining my health and building a lean and muscular body. I gave myself 4 months to achieve my health and physique goals.
Started on the first week of May 2011 and on my first day I did very light Smith machine squats and dumbbell presses. I was surprised at how weak I had been left at. Did a couple of light sets and was left sore for the following 7 days. I fully appreciated that soreness, however, feeling it in my legs as I walked the next day. I felt free. Unfortunately, the doctors could not predict still whether I would have life-lasting sequelae or would make a full recovery. I remember going to the doctor in mid-May (two weeks into my journey) as I had to go every month for the following 6 months after stopping the medications and telling him about my weight training and how I was looking to get back into shape. The doctor, who had supervised me since I moved to this new country and knew my stubbornness and strong will by now, told me that I should not be weight training and to stick to brisk walking/jogging. I looked at him in the eye, and told him, with all my honesty, that out of all the impositions that I would continue to have for the coming months, that one, no weight training, was the only one I was going to skip. He told me that his advice was generic and geared to an average patient and told me that I could be the exception but that he could not endorse my decision. At least he was honest.
I decided to give myself a month to just feel the groove of the weights, nothing crazy. By week 3 of the journey (first month, May 2011) I was really digging it and I would not get massively sore as opposed to the first week where getting out of bed was a task with all the whole body soreness I was experiencing. I started getting a taste for Smith machine squats and was looking forward to every training session. This is how I looked the first day of my journey:
I was 218 lbs. Fat as a morse. I have all the measurements but to skip any embarrassment, I will only say my waist was quite over the 40 inches mark.
After the first easy-going adaptation month, I gave myself 3 months to get down to business and go from out of shape to healthy and fit. My goals? Get healthier, stronger and get down to a 34 inch waist. Also, if possible, to look decent enough. I am not a bodybuilder but I have an interest in developing a healthy, strong and attractive physique. I designed my plan: training, nutrition and lifestyle. And started.
Following this paragraph you will find the pictures of my transformation from the end of each month. Month 1, Month 2, Month 3 and then Month 4 (end of journey). Sometimes the lighting is not the best but you can see the monthly changes nicely. Overall, from the first day (picture above) to the last picture, 4 months went by.
That was it. 4 months of hard work and determination. I actually got down to a 33.5 inch waist so I surpassed my goal and dropped 38lbs of crap (read, fat) while building muscle (final weight was 180lbs). I also accomplished the health goal as my doctor confirmed and got much stronger: did a 375lbs ass to grass back squat on the good ol’ rusty Smith machine. On Month 2 I have allowed for my face to be seen so that you guys know this is 100% real, genuine and no bullshit (as opposed to most body transformations you find online). I haven’t edited the photos save for removing my face and putting the Manly Curls watermark and I took the pics as I continued with my life (I went on holidays and got a tan on Month 2). Of course, I didn’t touch any steroids (never touched them in my life nor do I plan to) nor did I use any performance enhancing drugs. My transformation is 100% natural to the point that the only supplements I used were a few vitamins and minerals to make sure my diet was 100% satisfying my nutritional daily needs. I didn’t even use whey protein.
On Month 3 of my journey, I visited the doctor again for a scheduled visit. I had some tests done and everything was perfect. He was impressed with not only the physical changes but also my health changes. Everything came back perfect and he had never seen someone recovering like I had done. Being brutally honest, his positive impression and vibe gave me so much satisfaction and pride that I actually broke into tears in front of him. He had seen the state I was left at from the medication and the health condition, and he confirmed that I was back to being in optimum health. I had regained my life and that was the most important achievement of this journey.
4-month transformation – first day of journey vs. last day of journey
Another picture after the 4-month journey was completed
The pictures from Month 4 (and the one above this line) are now 5 weeks old and it was then that I decided to start training in a proper gym with free weights. I am now doing heavy power cleans, front squats, presses of all types, Turkish get ups, fast one arm snatches and the likes. My waist has also shrunk to 32 3/4 inches yet I have gained 4lbs of solid muscle while still eating the same! My body has gone into defensive mode with all the increased heavy compound exercises and built some functional muscle to cope with the increased demands. I can’t complain.
Below are some videos of lifts from the last two weeks, illustrating my gained strength and physique after these 4 months. You can even see in the videos a much more defined six pack and how I am looking leaner and more muscular. I am still transforming even more and my health is 100% perfect!
275lbs power clean
Strict Clean & Press with 187lbs for two reps after 8 sets with this same weight
Playing around with 225lbs for power cleans to improve my technique
Doing a Turkish get up with 88lbs (used a light weight for me to illustrate the lift)
In coming articles I will be talking about my diet and training plan, my ideas and beliefs in fitness (they go against conventional notions!) and everything to do surrounding this transformation and regaining life. I sincerely hope this transformation has provided you with the inspiration and motivation to improve your life in whichever areas it may need improving. By being at the lowest point in my life and seeing how my life was ending as I was told I could have died, I learnt to put things into perspective and wake up every morning appreciating the fact that I can get up from bed and decide what I want to do with my body. Not everybody has this privilege, so cherish it.
I would like to end by writing here what I actually told the doctor on my last aforementioned visit:
“You tell me I have to be a couch potato and I will do squats, you tell me not to jog and to walk instead and I will sprint, you tell me I will be limited and I will prove you wrong.”
This is my story.
Thanks for reading folks.
All the best.
Edit 1: Click for this curly hair man’s body transformation freshest update!
Edit 2: Click for Rogelio proving that eating pizza and keeping a six pack is possible!
Edit: 3: Click here for my training videos!
Edit 4: Unfortunately, I edited the page without knowing that the 30+ Likes that had been clicked for this post in the Facebook like button below were erased and re-set to zero. Feel free to LIKE again below to spread the word and inspiration! Thanks!