How I Lost 104 Pounds in College

I would like to start off by telling you that I love to eat. This love for eating propelled me to my heaviest weight of 279 pounds the summer before my sophomore year of college. The next year, as a college junior, I weighed in at about 175 pounds. I could tell you that things never changed and I still love to eat. Whether I am fat or skinny, the thought of food will always consume my life. The difference between then and now is where I focus these thoughts. Instead of feeding the fire and eating whenever and whatever, I focus my energy on being healthy. I will be honest with you, I think about food more at 175 pounds than I ever did at 279 pounds. However, I now focus these thoughts on the preparation, timing, and health benefits of food rather than fulfillment of my cravings. The key to my success was taking the “diet” aspect out of the process, and instead making it a transition to a healthy lifestyle.

There are three aspects to getting healthy: eating well, lifting weights, and doing cardio. The first mistake people make is trying to incorporate all three at once. Before I got into the physical aspects of getting healthy, I wanted to start eating right. I consider the best approach to be a well-balanced, low fat diet. The only way to truly know what you’re eating and the amount of calories you are consuming is by doing your own food shopping. You cannot always trust restaurants, for you may think you’re eating a healthy turkey and cheese sandwich, but you fail to realize that the bread itself is 500 calories coupled with the fact your sandwich is saturated in excess butter and salt.

As for the actual consumption, I recommend starting out with a 2,000 calorie diet for the first few days. By the end of two weeks, slowly but surely work yourself down to a 1,500 calorie diet. This may seem like a small number of calories, but by spreading your calorie intake over 5-6 meals a day you will learn to control your appetite as well as increase your metabolism. After you have sustained a 1,500 calorie per day intake, it is time to incorporate weightlifting and cardio.

Start off slow again: begin lifting weights 3-4 days a week with cardio on your off days. Gradually increase your weightlifting and cardio over the next two months to 5-6 days a week each. The biggest aspect in succeeding in the gym is to get a dedicated partner. If you are able to find somebody who is committed to weightlifting then it will make it much easier to get the gym everyday. Personally I found a partner who was fairly new to weightlifting. This made it very interesting for me because I was able to train my friend and at the same time develop a dedicated partner. I broke my workouts into three days: 1) Chest, Biceps, Triceps 2) Shoulders, 3) Back and Legs. My strategy was three days of lifting in a row followed by a day off. During each workout I would also incorporate abs and my cardio for that day.

I recommend cardio in three different facets: stationary bike, elliptical, or running. At 279 pounds, I obviously had no business running, so I started off with the stationary bike. For me, the stationary bike is extremely boring, so I decided that I would need entertainment for this work. I decided to buy a $100 dollar stationary bike online. Although it was a piece of crap, it did the trick. For my entertainment, I purchased the complete series of the Sopranos with 70-90 hour long episodes I could ride to. Even when the show keeps getting better, you have to force yourself to only watch the show for bike riding material, not personal entertainment! However, my favorite thing to ride the stationary bike to is sports. Riding to sports makes for a great ride, and combing all this entertainment allowed me to stretch the Sopranos series for four months.

When I got to about 220 pounds, I added in different cardio measures that I was now able to do. The elliptical was great because it took less time than the bike to burn the same amount of calories, and running was the best because it was always the most rewarding after. Today, I primarily run about 2 miles a day, and on Saturday and Sunday I bike to football. However during your transition, I recommend either 45 minutes on the stationary bike, 30 minutes on the elliptical, or a 2-3 mile run.

This was me at my heaviest weight:

aaron_beforephoto

I was able to lose 100 pound in 10 months starting the summer before my sophomore year and ending in May of that year. I was able to do this all without giving up drinking or having fun with my friends. In the beginning, your friends get a little annoyed with your eating requests, but after they see your dedication, they really adapt to you. People will start asking if they can workout with you, and your friends who are getting fatter as you get leaner will ask for your secrets. If you stick to the 1,500 calorie diet and put the time in with weightlifting and cardio 5-6 times a week then you will be able to lose weight quickly all while drinking two nights a week with your buddies. What I noticed is that after a weekend of drinking alcohol, my metabolism would speed up and I would lose more weight in the next few days. Now if you do not drink, I recommend that you eat an extra 500-600 calories one night a week to give your metabolism a jolt. If you drink, you are already getting those extra calories that will jolt your metabolism.

After finally getting to my target weight, I have upped my calories to about 1,800-2,000 a day while lifting and doing cardio at the same clip. At this point I have really worked on toning and chiseling out my body. No matter how hard you workout in the gym, to truly get cut, you must eat healthy. If your goal is to get cut or just to get healthy, eating right is the most important aspect of your endeavor.

Look at me now! 100 pounds lighter and I feel better than ever!

aaron_after

MY WORKOUT PLAN BASICS

  • I normally lift weights 4 days in a row and then take 1 day off.
  • I do abs everyday but always before I begin lifting so I do not get lazy at the end of the workout.
  • I do cardio everyday, but always after I finish lifting and doing abs.
  • On off days, I sometimes do cardio and abs if my body feels good.
  • I do abdominals everyday for about 5-15 minutes.
  • Make sure to vary between upper abs, lower abs, sides, and obliques (can target anywhere from 1-4 of these sections a day, just make sure each section is the primary focus at least once every 4 days).
  • Make sure to vary between supersets, minimal rest, squeezes, holds, slow and controlled, and fast paced exercises for your abs.
  • Make sure to hit a variety of high rep and low rep exercises (both high and low rep exercises can use weights).
  • Normal order of days are 1) Chest/Triceps, 2) Shoulders/Traps, 3) Upper Back/Biceps/Forearms, 4) Legs/Lower Back. Any order is fine with the exception of doing a Chest/Triceps day after an Upper Back/Biceps day (you use a lot of your lats when you are doing any type of bench press and your lats will not be rested enough to have an effective chest workout).
  • I go through phases of working out my legs. They are good to burn calories and release testosterone to the rest of my body. If you choose not to work legs then do not neglect lower back.
  • In terms of reps, I either go through a period of 8’s or 12’s for a few months at a time. I personally do not think you do not need to go any lower than 8 reps unless you are training for a sport.

Dumbell weights

MY WORKOUT ROUTINE

The workout below is an 8 rep workout with some of the smaller muscle groups (biceps and triceps) having 8-12 rep ranges

Chest/Triceps Day 1
1) Dumbbell Bench- 3 sets of 8 reps
2) Incline Barbell Bench- 3 sets of 8 reps
3) Dumbbell Fly on Flat Bench- 3 sets of 8-12 reps
4) Pec-Dec Machine Fly- 3 sets of 8-12 reps
5) Close Grip Bench/Reverse Bench Superset- 3 sets of 16-24 reps combined for each
6) Tricep Extension/Bench Dip Superset- 3 sets of 8-12 reps of tricep extension combined with bench dips to failure

Chest/Triceps Day 2
1) Flat Barbell Bench- 3 sets of 8 reps
2) Incline Dumbbell Bench- 3 sets of 8 reps
3) Decline Barbell Bench- 3 sets of 8 reps
4) Cable Cross Fly- 3 sets of 8-12 reps
5) Overhead Standing Dumbbell Tricep Curl- 3 sets of 8-12 reps
6) Close Grip Pushup (weighted or non weighted)- 3 sets to failure
7) Dip (weighted or non weighted)- 3 sets to failure

Other Recommendations:

  • Rotate between dumbbells and barbells for Incline, Decline, and Flat Bench.
  • Rotate dumbbell and cable flys between Incline, Decline and Flat Bench.
  • Do Push Ups with close, regular, wide, and weighted/non weighted rotations.
  • Superset a lot for triceps.

 

Shoulders/Traps Day 1
1) Barbell Military Press- 3 sets of 8 reps
2) Upright Barbell Row- 3 sets of 8 reps
3) Shoulder Barbell Shrug- 3 sets of 8 reps
4) Arnold Dumbbell Press- 3 sets of 8 reps
5) Front/Lateral Combo Raise Superset- 3 sets of 16-24 reps per superset
6) Rear Dealt Dumbbell Raises- 3 sets of 8-12

Shoulders/Traps Day 2
1) Dumbbell Military Press- 3 sets of 8 reps
2) Upright Barbell Row- 3 sets of 8 reps
3) Dumbbell Shoulder Shrug- 3 sets of 8-12 reps
4) Dumbbell Shoulder Shrug- 3 sets of 30 second holds
5) Seated Front Raise- 3 sets 8-12 reps
6) Seated Lateral Raise- 3 sets of 8-12 reps
7) Cable Cross Rear Delts- 3 sets of 8-12 reps

 

Upper Back/Biceps Day 1
1) Regular Grip Pull Up (palms down)- 3 sets to failure
2) Close Grip Pull Up- 3 sets to failure
3) Dumbbell Row- 3 sets of 8-12 reps
4) T-Bar Row (outer grip)- 3 sets of 8-12 reps
5) Hammer Curl- 3 sets of 8-12 reps
6) Seated Bicep Curl- 3 sets 8-12 reps
7) Barbell Bicep Curl 21’s- 3 sets of 21 reps

Upper Back/Biceps Day 2
1) Wide Grip Pull Up- 3 sets to failure
2) Regular Grip Chin Up (palm up)- 3 sets to failure
3) Standing Bent Over Barbell Row- 3 sets of 8 reps
4) T Bar Row (inner grip)- 3 sets of 8-12 reps
5) Incline Dumbbell Bicep Curl- 3 sets of 8-12 reps
6) Close Grip Barbell Bicep Curl- 3 sets of 8-12 reps
7) Pulley Resisted Bicep Curl/Reverse Curl Superset- 3 sets of 16-24 reps per superset

Other Recommendations:

  • Do Lat Pulldowns (close, wide, and/or regular grip) once every 3-5 back workouts.
  • Pull Ups and Chin Ups are by far the best back workout exercise (far superior to Lat Pulldowns).
  • Pull Ups and Chin Ups should be rotated between regular, wide and close grips.
  • Pull Ups should be done for maximum reps, 30-45 second holds, and 5 second hold reps.
  • Supersets are important for biceps.
  • Wrist Curls and Reverse Curls are good for the forearms.
  • Pull Ups and especially Chin Ups really work the biceps along with the back.

 

Leg/Lower Back Day
1) Squat- 3 sets 10-12 reps
2) Regular Deadlift (barbell)- 3 sets 10-12 reps
3) Dumbbell Lunge- 3 sets of 8-12 reps each leg
4) Calves- 3 to 6 sets of 8-12 reps
5) Hyperextensions (weighted or not)- 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Other Recommendations:

  • Don’t go too heavy on Squats and Deadlifts. Just do them to tone and strengthen.
  • Do Leg Press, Leg Extension and Leg Curls

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MY MEAL PLAN

Breakfast
Cottage Cheese (1/2 cup): 80 calories, 1 g fat, 12 g protein
Kashi Go Lean (1 cup): 140 calories, 1 g fat, 13 g protein
Blueberries (1/2 cup): 40 calories, 0 g fat, 0.5 g protein
Fat Free Milk (1 cup): 80 calories, 0 g fat, 8 g protein
Total: 340 calories, 2 g fat, 33.5 g protein

Pre-Workout
Whey Protein (1 scoop): 110 calories, 1 g fat, 24 g protein
Total: 110 calories, 1 g fat, 24 g protein

Post-Workout/Lunch
Cottage Cheese (1/2 cup): 80 calories, 1 g fat, 12 g protein
Whey Protein (1/2 scoop): 55 calories, 0.5 g fat, 12 g protein
Blueberries (1/2 cup): 40 g of protein, 0 g fat, 0.5 g protein
Ezekiel 4:9 Low Sodium Sprouted Grain Bread (2 slices): 160 calories, 1 g fat, 8 g protein
99% Fat Free Turkey Breast w/ lettuce and tomato (2 oz): 50 calories, 0.5 g fat, 9 g protein
Total: 385 calories, 3 g fat, 41.5 g protein

Dinner (split over 2 meals)
Chicken- boneless, skinless (12 oz): 330 calories, 7.5 g fat, 75 g protein
Mixed Vegetables: 120 calories, 0 g fat, 5 g protein
Baked Potato: 120 calories, 0 g fat, 2.5 g protein
Total: 570 calories, 7.5 g fat, 82.5 g protein

Pre-Bedtime
Casein Protein (1 scoop): 130 calories, 1.5 g fat, 24 g protein
Orange/Apple: 115 calories, 0.4 g fat, 0.5 g protein
2 Rice Cakes, Lightly Salted: 70 calories, 0 g fat, 2 g protein
Total: 315 calories, 1.9 g fat, 26.5 g protein

All Meals
Daily Total: 1,784 calories, 15.4 g fat, 208 g protein

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