I’ve always been pretty active through most of my life (with patches of laziness?). From an early age I was exposed to sports, my family being pretty modest migrants to Australian (Dad was working full time from 14?) never really had the opportunity to do this and they ensured that I did (so I was pretty lucky that it was kind of imposed on me at an early age).
Through my early and formative years I grew up playing Soccer, basketball, Australian rules football (yes it is as physically hard as it looks?) and finally longest standing sport for me? martial arts (karate) which I did for over 15 years.
Although I remained committed through the years I never really excelled or competed at a particularly high level in any of the sports but enjoyed them all and the befits I got from them.
It was in my mid teens that I first discovered weight training, this discovery has continued on and off over the years (depending on my drive), bit I did discover that I could make strength and size gains relatively quickly compared to those around me.
Apart from one time in my life (I?ll get to that) I have always been what I would consider the ?chunkier? side of life (not really over weight but definitely not cut?) my heaviest days I was an unhealthy 104Kg or 230lbs but have generally sat in the high 90kgs or 210lbs-220lbs.
I guess my weight distribution was always pretty fortunate in the way that I could put on weight and not show clearly where due to a pretty even distribution over my body, although at times I was not exactly in a rush to take off my shirt at the pool?
Over the years I have convinced myself that I was looking pretty good? most people consider me to me a pretty solid muscular build (not too over the top though) thanks to carefully selected clothing the good bits were shown and the bad well hidden.
In my mid twenties I joined the Army (this is one of the most standout points in my life) at the time I was a little over weight and what I would consider moderately unfit, I had let myself slide without even knowing it. I had enough to pass the basic fitness criteria pretty easily but I was a long way off being what I should have been.
When I first came back from basic training I was the fittest I had ever been finding runs and exercise that I would normally have challenging a breeze. This was just the start, after this I was shipped off for my Infantry training, here I really learned the true meaning of the word pain? up to this point this was one of the most physically demanding times of my life and something I wouldn?t trade for anything in this world, as well as being propelled to a level of fitness and strength I never had I also found out things about myself that I still take with me to this day.
The number one thing? When you think you?ve got no more? when you think it’s easier to quit or drop out…your wrong! There?s always more. This thought is usually your own minds barrier to what ever you?re doing, especially if you?re reaching levels you?ve never done before. There is always a little more left, the human body and mind are amazing things, very few of us really push ourselves to realize our full potential or how far we can actually go.
After Infantry training I was convinced I was getting pretty fit and strong, at my peak I thought? WRONG AGAIN! I had signed up to joined the Commando Unit so off to the ?green berets? I went, I soon learned that not only was I not up to scratch but I was a far way from being an effective soldier in this unit or someone that the guys around me could potentially put their lives in my hands.
I had several courses to do but the two main points to reach my goal of being a Green Beret were: 1. To pass the SFBT or Special Forces Barrier Test (this is basically a Special Forces fitness and aptitude test for both SAS and Commandos) 2. The Commando Induction Course (to get the converted ?Green Beret? that I wanted so badly)
From this point of realization I decided to smash my beliefs and barriers and rewrote my rule book all over again. I set my goals not by what I could or thought I could achieve but rather by the guys around me and their levels. PBs were no longer an option, these were some of the fittest, strongest and most driven individuals I had ever seen, a real credit to the country the served, the uniform they worn and the elite unit they were apart of.
I quietly used individuals around me as markers selecting a person above me in fitness and strength and from there setting my goals by to match them and then better them. After achieving this I looked for my next marker and so on. A slow and hard task (for sure) as everyone was moving forward and improving much like myself (not one of the guys around me was ever content with their levels they always strived to be better)
Not being as fit as most of the guys around me I slowly progressed over the months training as hard as I could with the most demanding mixture of strength training, endurance, stamina, core strength and cardio fitness, each one in a fine balance with the other to achieve the exact balance needed for the riggers and requirements of the job I was employed to do.
My tools were simple but effective: interval training, swimming, body weight exercise, moderate weight training, my gear itself and of course long grueling pack marches when ever I got the chance (usually carrying anywhere between 10-50Kgs).
As I was preparing for the SFBT (Special Forces Barrier Test) which was only weeks away, I was fit and I was tipping the scales at a respectable and lean 82.5Kgs (or around 180lbs) my months of hard training and strict dieting was paying off, then in one foul swoop my dreams and hopes came crashing down.
Whilst on a training exercise I was running down a steep embankment (wearing full kit of around 30kgs and of course my rifle), I went left and my right knee had other ideas and went the opposite way? all felt was unbelievable pain shooting through my leg and a horrific noise? me screaming my lungs out in pain. In one go my career as a soldier was gone I had popped my knee and I knew pretty much straight away it would be unlikely that I would be able to return to service.
After recommendation from the Army doctors not to try again due to the real possibility of irreversible and serious damage I was given a discharge (I was also already carrying existing collar bone, forearm and a minor back injuries which didn?t exactly help me) so I went back to civilian life shattered and feeling like a failure, defeated and left wondering was it all worth it (generally wallowing in self pity) I begrudgingly moved on completing a degree becoming a Industrial Designer instead? far cry from a special forces soldier.
(Flash forward to now?.) Some 6 years (many beers, cigarettes, lots of junk food and generally a very unhealthy lifestyle) later. I?m working in my own business (which I truly love? funny how things work out in life), generally working 5-6 days a week (sometimes 7?) I have let myself go (completely) my fitness has gone down to a point that doesn?t reflect even close to where I was or echo the drive and discipline I once had.
Although I was never ripped, at my peak I was relatively lean, fit and strong? but above all unbelievably healthy (both in mind and body). Once sliding down this very slippery slope it was very hard to get back (I guess the things I had learned and discovered from my training both mentally and physically weren?t so strong in my memory? how quickly we allow ourselves to accept the easy road). I had allowed firstly my injuries and then time itself get the better of me.
This bring me close to where I am now, feeling like I really need to make a change before it becomes too hard and too much damage is done? So I started with the first and by far worst part of my life SMOKING?
Towards the later part of last year I made the decision that it was time to quit and decided that cold turkey was the way to go, my method was simple (and I believe) very effective? type into Google image search ?diseases caused by smoking? and forced myself for at least an hour to read and view whatever it threw at me.
At the end of my hour (feeling very woozy? and convinced that I was suffering at least half of the diseases) I threw out all my cigarettes and anything that would trigger me, although not that it really mattered after an hour of seeing every disgusting cancer and effect of smoking I genuinely didn?t want one (and haven?t since).
Quitting is simple? Like anything in life you must really want to do it, otherwise it will always be horrifically difficult and generally you won?t succeed. I know that not everyone can do what I have done so if you do smoke I strongly suggest the aids that are available (patches, gum etc?) or for a medicated option go and see your doctor like a friend of mind (did with great success).
I also decided that after NYE I would give alcohol away, I am no longer a big drinker but I do enjoy a couple of drinks, however the decision was made this was out until further notice.
The wheels of change had started, 2009 is going to be my year! The year that I look back and say ?this is where I made a change?, a change for life and above all a change for myself and the change that would help form the rest of my life (big words I know?).
So? Where to start??? What to do??? Was this all too hard??? The biggest hurdle is the first one? getting started! I started training again in the gym (2/01/2009) and surprise surprise after the very first workout I felt more positive and realized it was my mind setting the barriers again? I decided this was only as difficult as I decided to make it.
I had already dropped the alcohol so I switched my diet back to my old training diet (nothing too earth shattering? fruit, veg, protein, watch calories etc?). Although at this stage I felt like I really need a good kick start and bring my weight down to allow me to start training as I use to. So I began to casually surf the net looking over many different sites and I came across the T Nation, V Diet and all the information and guidance you could possibly want to make a dramatic change.
At this point I made my new goal? I WANT A SIX PACK!!! Although being fit and lean before I never achieved a six pack and the cut body I had often admired, I basically thought that my genetics wouldn’t allow it? Damn? there was my mind setting the barriers again.
As I said earlier I read Gus Pacho?s story and realized you can have the six pack? you can get brilliantly cut?. All it takes is discipline, drive and determination (my old forgotten friends are waving hello again!). I looked at Gus and decided that was me? we shared much the same physical characteristics, traits and triggers.
I have definitely made some bold statements here considering I am just beginning, but every great change has a start and this is mine. I hope that you follow my progress and it inspires and helps you with yours.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.