Commitment

Everyone wants a magic pill or an easy fad diet to follow to get in shape. When their lack of self-discipline bites them in the butt, they blame other people. I hear “you have better genetics than me,” “I have a thyroid problem”, and the most famous excuse of them all “if I took steroids I would look like those guys in the magazines, too.” Bad news America. We are the fattest country in the world for a reason. We are lazy and our country is in constant search for instant gratification without hard work. This type of work ethic will catch up with you in the long run. One day I woke up and got on the scale—it said 322 pounds! After a decade of competing in powerlifting and training almost 20 years, I was obese. Unfortunately, I couldn’t blame it on my thyroid, and I didn’t go on Dr. Phil and proclaim that I had an emotional eating disorder. I was just a fat ass and it was my fault. It was a result of fork to mouth syndrome.

I decided to get in shape and I did. It took me over a year, and with the help of Shelby Starnes, I lost over 100 pounds. After the cut, I was also able to maintain a decent weight while continuing to compete in powerlifting. Six months ago, I made a great investment to work with Matt Kroc. Many people need to check their ego. I have been in the iron game for years competing and training other athletes, but I knew Matt had a much greater amount of knowledge and that I needed his guidance in order to attain my goals. Too many people think they know it all and have all the answers. Not to mention when you spend most of your life coaching others in some manner, it’s nice not to have to think about your own training/nutrition.

I told Matt what my goals were long- and short-term. I wanted to add as much lean mass as possible, do a few powerlifting meets, and then diet down for my wedding in June. The results speak for themselves. I was able to hit new PRs even at a lighter body weight. I went nine for nine in my meet and added some solid mass. I did suffer a minor setback on Christmas Eve while training for a raw meet when I partially tore my peck. Under Matt’s guidance and my good friend Dr. Heaton, I successfully rehabbed the tear and never missed a training session. I was even able to hit a raw squat PR during the rehabilitation.

We changed gears in February. The diet was a long, slow cut to maintain as much muscle mass as possible. Things were easy in the beginning of the diet. My weight started around 250 pounds and 15 percent body fat. Eating the prescribed amount of macronutrients is something I have been doing for a while, and I was used to weighing and measuring my foods. Cardio was quick—thirty minutes three days a week on my non-training days. Matt set up a brutal training routine. The first few leg workouts left me crawling to get up the stairs. Dieting doesn’t give you the excuse to train like a pansy. Your goal should always be to lift as heavy as possible with compound movements even when cutting.

During the diet, each meal was planned a week in advance. Social eating was out except for the much coveted weekly cheat meal. This dieting process wasn’t new to me, and it was just what I had expected. We continued to make steady progress until my weight hit the low 220s. Things began to stall out some and Matt asked me how far I wanted to take things. He told me we could coast for the next month and make some gains or push it hard and see what kind of progress I could make. I remember my reply to that email—“Bring it on.”

Matt brought the pain for sure, changing things every few days as needed to keep making progress. I was like a walking zombie on top of work and normal obligations. I trained four days per week, and for the last four weeks, I did over two hours of cardio each day. Some days I would add in hill sprints to finish the day off. Cheat meals were a thing of the past at this point in the diet.

The typical day for me began at 4:00 am. After a cup of coffee and some Hot Rox, I got on the treadmill for ninety minutes if it was a training day and sixty if it was an off day. Then I cooked breakfast, which usually consisted of two cups egg whites, two whole eggs, and Ezekiel bread or oats. I showered, grabbed my food for the day, and headed to work. It was so brutal toward the end of the cut that I had a tough time concentrating and doing my job. Not to mention, I felt like I was ready to go postal at any moment!

Thankfully, I have an exceptional wife and work with some very understanding people who tolerated me the last few weeks of the diet. After a long day at work, it was time to train. It was tough watching everyone else in the gym get stronger when I kept getting weaker. There weren’t any pre-workout foods or carbs. I didn’t have anything but caffeine. After a nasty leg workout, guess what time I could eat? Nope, sorry! I couldn’t. When two hours of cardio had been completed, it was time for hill sprints. I worked up to twenty sprints up a 70-yard hill by the end of the diet. Finally, I ate a post-workout meal consisting of one cup of rice and eight ounces of grilled chicken. I consumed copious amounts of green veggies to help fight off hunger pains. Broccoli, green beans, and spinach are your friends when you’re on a diet. By the time I had showered and gotten everything ready for the next day, it was midnight. Three or four hours of sleep deep into a diet are normal. It was one of the most mentally draining experiences I have been through. I was always tired and always hungry.

Was all this hard work worth it? The last week of the cut my weight hit 214 and my body fat was well into the single digits. Matt is a master, a true professional who practices what he preaches. He is always honest and forthright. You will get results if you follow the plan. I’m very appreciative for his hard work helping me reach my goals. I’ve learned a great deal during this experience. Looking back, I’m proud of what I accomplished. I’m far from a bodybuilder and will never step on a stage. I do enjoy powerlifting even though I’m not an elite powerlifter.

Pushing your body and mind’s limit is good for the soul. It keeps us from getting complacent. So if you are where I was a couple years ago and you don’t like what you see in the mirror, do something about it. Don’t blame your parents for poor genetics or some kind of complex you’ve had since childhood. Don’t make the excuse that you have a thyroid problem (if you do, go get blood work and take care of it!) or that you’re too “busy” to exercise. Those are simply BS excuses and you will never change unless you’re willing to make sacrifices and do what it takes to get control of your life.

Commitment is the biggest factor that separates people who are successful in reaching their goals regardless of what those goals are. Working with some of the top guys in the business has reinforced a lesson I learned at a young age. There isn’t any easy button. There aren’t any short cuts. Commitment is making your mind up to do something, not wavering and not second guessing yourself. Stay focused until you reach your goals. When things get tough, you have to get tough. If you hit a bump in the road or experience a setback, don’t worry about it. Keep working and don’t give up and you will eventually reach your goal.

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About the Author

John Hill is a principal at an alternative school for children with behavioral issues. He has a master's degree in education administration and is a football coach and assistant strength coach for the school system. John trains a group of powerlifters and athletes in his basement gym "Shotgun Alley Powerhouse." He has competed in powerlifting for the past decade in many federations including the USAPL, WNPF, APF, and SPF. His best lifts are 660, 500, and 630.