My Story

Driving a desk does not improve your health

It took 17 years of me driving a desk to realize that my passion didn't lie within the promotion of the products and services that my former employer offered. I thoroughly enjoyed my interactions with my employees and our customers but over time I felt that something was missing. The tipping point, quite literally, was sheer tonage. Or, more accurately, discovering in November of 2007 that I was exactly one pound shy of the 300 lb mark. Once upon a time, I was a strong, vital, young adult who played many recreational sports and competed at state level in powerlifting. While I was lucky that the passage of time had only resulted in the accumulation of many, many pounds of bodyfat, I knew from my previous fitness background that at the age of 41, I was on the way to joint problems, cardiovascular disease, and type II diabetes.

Even though I had once been considered physically active and fit, years of attending to my career had combined with years of neglecting my health. I think it's easy to do, if you look around, not many of us have the vitality we did when we were 25. Fortunately for me, the 300 pound mark was enough of a wake-up call that I made a committment to regain my health. Drawing on my previous experience as a Personal Trainer and powerlifting competitor, I made a desperation grab back into the memory bank and tried to recall behaviour patterns that were almost 20 years old. I became my own Personal Trainer and forced myself to break longstanding habits of inactivity. I started going to the gym again even though I did not like it at first!

From the gym, I met new friends and associates that had similiar interests and goals. I joined a strongman team, Team Barbarian, and even competed in a novice level strongman contest. I was starting to have fun again and I started to realize how much my inactivity had stunted my vitality. Vitality is empowering. It breeds confidence, committment, and decision. It promotes wellness and the ability to resist sickness. Plain and simple, it makes you look and feel better.

Hokey as it sounds, I felt re-born, like a phoenix. To be continued...

Comments

  1. Awesome...I am in the same boat as you. 36 years old, over 300 pounds, sedentary, and unemployed. I found the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift. I had no previous experience with these lifts. My claim to fame was I am a former Marine so pretty physically fit...once. I lifted for vanity in the nineties for the trophy muscles. It helped me bed girls but that is about it. Long story short I found a gym in my area dedicated to strength athletes and ran by Championship/World Record holding Powerlifters (USAPL) I immediately joined. I have made progress in 3 months all my lifts have improved and I am competing in my first meet in March. I have lost a good amount of body fat and inches around my belly. I still have a ways to go, but I am still new to it only been training for about a year and a half. Your story inspired me...we are walking real similar paths.

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    1. Hey Oldurt, just read tour story, I can relate . Except for the marines and bedding chicks. Loved that line. Anyway you said you have lost inches from your waist. Any special diet plan you follow ? Me I notice carve in the morning like oatmeal feel like I pack on pounds. Meaning after I tried plain oatmeal in the morning for about three weeks and actually gained weight rather quickly. I guess I can use this when I further my training. Just wondering if you could share something....anything . Good luck.

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  2. keep me in the loop with your training. How's the preparations for the meet in March coming?

    Thanks for the comment! It's never too late, actually, I've found my training to be much more focused now that I seemed to have outgrown those "younger years" goals of trophy muscles and girl hunting.

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  3. Hey Craig,
    I'm happy I found your blog, as I relate too well to your story. I am obese and have recently discovered powerlifting and may very well fall in love with it.

    Many people out there say you CANNOT lose fat and gain strength...it seems like you (and the previous commenter) are proof that is not true. Granted, it seems like this will be a lifelong struggle for me too (lord knows it always has been) but it seems to make sense that building muscle means burning fat, if your diet is right.

    Anyway, I need some inspiration that I can lose fat WHILE gaining strength. Thanks.

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    1. Hi Brian, it's definitely possible to get stronger while losing fat. It can be more challenging if one is trying to go from average to very lean but from where I came from, it's not nearly as challenging. My weights handled in the bench press and squat did drop some but not necessarily due to a loss of strength but more due to changes in leverages or ranges of motion. Given my greater health and mobility at 230 versus 299 lbs, I'll gladly make that trade every time.

      Good luck with your powerlifting. Stay in touch and feel free to ask any questions if any come up!

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  4. Craig and Brian,

    This Saturday I will participate in my first USAPL Powerlifting Meet. I have trained real hard and am expecting some good results if all goes well. In training I have performed a 425 squat 265 bench and 455 Deadlift all raw. I started this journey nearly 2 years ago. My first squat was with the bar and I could not walk for two days after. I have come a long way. I am still a big guy but my weight distribution is much different. I have lost 6 inches of fat around my belly and it has pretty much moved up to my chest shoulders and back. Finding this sport saved my life, and the people I have already met are some of the most inspiring and motivated people ever.

    Brian I think you need to dedicate yourself to what you want to do and don't let anyone discourage you. If you train hard and consistent, and eat right you will lose fat guaranteed. Doing heavy compound lifts will tax your body like nothing else. The best powerlifters are not what most people consider fat. I have seen super heavy weights that are 350 pounds and have less then 10 percent bodyfat. I know a guy who is 300 pounds and has a 36+ inch standing vertical leap. Its all about finding the weight where you can be the most competitive. for some guys maybe its SHW for some maybe its smaller it depends on your body. People don't look at powerlifters and go ohh that guy is fat they look and go jesus christ I have never seen legs that big. when your quads are larger then your waist and you have to buy pants two sizes to big to get them over your legs you are a powerlifter hehe...I will let you guys know how I do. Keep training!

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  5. good luck in the meet and have fun! Thanks for sharing your experience. Powerlifters are great folks, going to competitions and meeting other lifters is one of the things I love about it.

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  6. Hey Craig , just read your site and like most of the others , I m in the same boat. I am 38 years old and 5'10". I am a member of a gym in my town and have found every reason not to go.
    I have made a deal with myself to change my ways. I am currently away on vacation for the next two days and when I return on Monday things will change. I have been reading( which I hate to do) a powerlifting book on vacation and have become obsessed with YouTube videos of powerlifting. Primarily Westside Barbell.
    Your story has inspired me to turn this train around I wanted to thank you. I hope you keep posting.

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    1. thank you! What book are you reading? I definitely plan to keep posting, I've found that a training log, particularly a public one, is a valuable accountability tool.

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    2. Thanks for the response! The book is The complete guide to technique,training and competition powerlifting, By Dan Austin and Bryan Mann. So far it is very informative to me. Hopefully other followers will give out some other good books or blogs like you have .

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    3. I haven't read that one yet but definitely want to get to it. Dan Austin has always been a technician with the lifts so I'm sure the book is full of excellent material.

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  7. Hey Silverback73,

    Glad to hear your story. I started training the power lifts about 3 years ago, and for the last year I have been fortunate to train here In Colorado at Rocky Mountain Lifting Club. I did my first USAPL Meet last March and am doing a deadlift competiton here in November. My advice to you as far as diet is to eat often like every 2 hours, and limit carb intake to clean carbs like brown rice, wheat bread etc...I also do a 4th day of training where I swim laps. Doing cardio in edition to the heavy weight training I do 3 days a week and it really helps both in weight loss, and also conditioning. I am a super heavy weight lifter. I am big. The difference for me is that I have lost a good amount of body fat, and put on a good amount of muscle. I find that powerlifters have similar physiques. Huge shoulders and chest, and massive legs. Best way to describe my transformation is that what used to hang over my waist line has moved up to my shoulders, back and chest. The difference with Powerlifting training is that we do heavy sets regularly, and often. I personally do 3x8's on the big three lifts, and then I work supplemental lifts or machines to work my weak points. I vary the intensity and workload depending on what I am focused on strength/speed etc.

    Finally be wary of training programs you find online. A lot of whats online is written by people who take performance enhancers, and need virtually 0 recovery. If you lift naturally, you will find if you follow these plans you will burn out so quick you won't ever see progress. Train, Rest, and Nutrition. You need all three to succeed.

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    1. Hey Oledurt, I noticed that your club is based in Aurora, I sincerly hope you weren't personally touched by the recent tragedy. I love Colorado, my family lives in Boulder and Longmont and I look forward to any opportunity I have to visit them. I grew up in SoCal but I like Colorado better.

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  8. Hey Craig,

    Ya my club is right near the theaters. Its such a sad thing, I think about the victims...Thankfully nobody I knew was there. You should let me know when you come out here. I would be really happy to take you over to RMLC in Aurora, and introduce you to the lifters and train. I lived in Longmont, and worked in Boulder for awhile. Really beautiful area.

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    1. sounds good! don't know when I'm going to be able to visit next but I'll let you know

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  9. Just stumbled upon this blog...cool stuff! Saw you were visiting Hawaii in some posts. Are you originally from there? I live on Oahu, and was wondering if you knew of good powerlifting gyms on the island.

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    1. Hello Lauren, I'm not from Hawaii but my parents are and I still have quite a bit of family on the Big Island and Oahu. I've heard good things about Mana Barbell in Honolulu but I've never been there. Also from what I see on social media, quite a few top bodybuilders train at the Powerhouse Gym in Aiea. Usually a good bodybuilding gym has sufficient equipment to train for powerlifting even if it's hard to find fellow PL competitors there.

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    2. Thanks for your reply! I've heard of Mana, and Powerhouse is near to me. I want to get into the sport, but I'm a newbie, so learning from really experienced people about powerlifting will be important. Thanks for the info!

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    3. No problem! Hawaii has a long history of producing world class powerlifters. You should be able to get some good experience at Mana and if Powerhouse is more convenient for regular training, best of both worlds. It's definitely very normal to train with a crew once a week (usually on weekends) and then train on one's own during the week at another gym.

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    4. Awesome! Hoping to meet some nice gals that wouldn't mind training with me.

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  10. Excellent drawing! Flag pants are popular patriotic clothing. American flag clothing is popular for MMA matches. The American flag pants have the USA stars and stripes pattern. world gym clothing

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