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Like most transformation stories, my journey begins with a struggle. At age 13, I weighed 185 pounds (15 pounds lighter than my current weight), and stood at 5 foot 1. My eating habits were unchecked and my exercise routine was nonexistent. I was constantly depressed, and eating was how I coped. Unfortunately, the peak of my weight gain started in middle school into high school, where kids can be at their absolute meanest. I was mercilessly teased and emotionally ground down constantly. Beginning sophomore year, my lifetime introduction to fitness began.
I started playing football right before my 15th birthday, and the blazing hot Kansas two-a-days let me quickly shock my body into weight loss, dropping 20+ pounds in a couple months. I was still very chubby, but, for the first time in my life, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Change was possible.
I continued football all year, and started lifting weights (with no direction). I tried my best to do Internet research and not be disheartened by the other senior guys with (what I thought were) god-like physiques. Looking back, most of them were merely skinny-ripped. However, I aspired to be like them. I wanted the six-pack abs and the chiseled arms.
School ended, and I returned home, wondering how to continue my journey. I stumbled into P90X, and dedicated 100% of everything I had into it. I would do two-a-days, waking up before work to do the cardio program, working all day, and coming home to do the main workout of the day. With my nutrition dialed in, I quickly shed fat and revealed the leanest physique I had ever seen. Along with this change came an 8-inch growth spurt, which also helped out extraordinarily. Starting my Senior year of high school, I sat at 163 pounds, 5 foot 11, and estimated 8-9% body fat.
Finally achieving the lean physique I had always wanted, I returned to school with a desire for the monster muscles the Meatheads had. Now better versed in exercise techniques, I experimented with different splits and workouts, from 5x5 to bodybuilding hypertrophy. I gained around 20 pounds in one year, but also 4-5% body fat. Before I knew it, I had lost the cuts and vascularity I had come to love, and was stuck between (ignorantly) bulking and shredding down.
After graduating high school, I decided I wanted to follow my family’s footsteps and join the military. I had 5 months after graduation before shipping out, so I decided to become lean and fast again. I began experimenting with Intermittent Fasting and focused on bodyweight exercises. By the time I left for boot camp, I was 6 foot and 185 pounds, just as lean as before but with more muscle and more endurance.
In boot camp, the constant cardio and lack of strength training made me almost emaciated, and I dropped muscle and gained fat, leaving my weight the same. After leaving basic training, I wanted to get back on the fitness train, so I started weight lifting again when I got to my first base for Technical Training. My job, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (think “The Hurt Locker”), requires strength and cardiovascular endurance to a professional level, so I took my cardio and weight training up a notch, lifting before school and doing mandatory high-intensity physical training with my unit after school. I established a consistent routine, and was able to get back to my previously lean state.
When I finished my year long training, I moved to North Carolina to start my actual job in 2014. Upon arrival, I learned that my shop was very party-oriented, and I started eating out and going out with them every week. The toll quickly caught up to my body and fitness. I once again had let my physique slack to an unacceptable level. I sat at 215-220 pounds, and fell back on my binge eating to cope, creating a vicious cycle.
After having enough, I started watching fitness channels on YouTube, such as Christian Guzman, Nick Wright, and Maxx Chewning. At the start of 2015 I had a newfound sense of purpose, so I began training and dieting seriously, discovering the power of If It Fits Your Macros. I learned that, if you just fit small treats in with your diet every few days, you don’t have to worry about binge eating on a cheat day and the ensuing guilt that follows. I also educated myself on hypertrophy lifting, making a Push/Pull/Legs split that worked for me, and focused on compound lifts and training weak points.
Feeling confident, I increased my social media presence, mainly through Instagram. I wanted to tell others my story and help them discover themselves! One day, John messaged me from BBpics’ IG page, inquiring about a potential photo shoot. I called him, and discussed the details. His professionalism and drive for others to succeed is amazing. He informed me he had a shoot set up in Savannah two months from then, and I was psyched! I wanted to bring the best package I could to this shoot, seeing as it was the main outlet for inspiring others. I tightened down on my training and nutrition, putting my body on full fat-burning overdrive. Showcasing my physique alone can’t be accomplished with my skill level, but with John’s help, it is!
The biggest takeaway would be this: fitness ebbs and flows with life’s stressors and challenges. Sometimes you won’t be beach body ready because of a new baby or demanding job, but following these bad periods with periods of dedicated training/diet creates balance. The key to success is to-
Always come back to a healthy lifestyle when you fall off the wagon
Have patience. Changes don’t happen overnight
Find what works for you. Experiment with different types of training and diet, and stick with something that makes you enjoy the journey.
John made my first shoot an absolute pleasure. There were a few hang ups with some of the local talent, but he made it seamless and pain free to get to shoot locations and make plans. His ability to adapt and overcome challenges makes him a very valuable asset when you come form out of town to do something this important.
His angles, shooting styles, variety of cameras, and overall skill truly made me look my best and feel great. John knows what light and pose to put someone in to expose the his or her best parts without the shot looking fake or tense.
As someone who had never been a part of a fitness shoot, I expected it to last much longer, but John kept us moving with fresh shots and outfit changes as to not take any more time than needed.
The best thing about working with John was the confidence. Right away, his smile and personality put you at ease, and his professionalism (as well as his openness with sharing the shots he's getting of you) makes you know you aren't getting taken advantage of (as so often happens in the fitness industry). He doesn't shoot anything compromising or risqué (all clean, wholesome shots showcasing your physique) and listens to what you want to do. I never felt pressured to do anything I didn't want to.
I will most definitely work with John in the future and would recommend him to anyone looking to build their professional fitness portfolio for natural, high quality, clean pictures and video.