Firstly if you’re reading this and wondering who the hell Adam Evans is…
Professionally, I’m a Creative Director for – Thought Media, among several other en-devours. I also make YouTube Videos. I spend my days sitting in front of screens and managing teams of creative people while ensuring I’m on top of everything Tech and Internet in the World. Oh, and it so happens to be my 28th birthday the day I’m posting this article.
I’d like to start out by saying that I had never, EVER, EVER thought I would get involved in health and fitness, or “bodybuilding”, or “powerlifting” in general. To this day I would still not suggest that I’m a “bodybuilder” or anything close to. I used to see photos or movies of guys with rock solid abs and think “that’s cool for them, but I’m good with just being thin, I’m comfortable with how I am…” funny thing is that I actually wasn’t even thin! And I certainly wasn’t comfortable with how I was.
When I was in my late teens and into my very-early twenties I was in fairly good shape, not from any sort of weight-work but from general healthy eating and an extremely active lifestyle. I was always involved in sports; Football (6 years), TaeKwonDo (9 years), Skateboarding (8 years), Baseball (5 years), Soccer (3 years), and more! Everything was well and good until some things changed:
- I turned 20 and began drinking (though the legal age in Canada is 18, I opted to wait in large part due to my healthy activities)
- I stopped playing sports and being active
- More work, more stress
- Irregular poor eating
When you add these up with the fact that I was aging and my metabolism was slowing, it truly is a recipe for disaster! So from the age of 22 to 26 I began my decent into, what I would now describe as, an unhealthy lifestyle. I truly “peaked” to my heaviest weight at the age of 26 – a whopping 225lbs!
At that point in time I can say that I was feeling:
…and overall Unhappy in many ways. It was heavily due to the irregular and poorly-portioned eating habits, lack of consistent sleep, zero exercise, and a forever heavy workload.
I was looking for answers to life’s problems (my stress-ors) in garbage food and drinking. If I had a bad week at work, I’d be sure to drink more and eat terribly on the weekend to make up for it and make myself “feel better”. It seemed like the thing to do and became my routine. The problem with bad routines is that once programmed into one’s schedule they become so inherent that they progressively become more difficult to break. So if my routine was work, work, work then eat like shit, do no exercise and drink, then breaking that would require some dedication.
How It All Started
This isn’t an article about how I became fat; it’s an article about how I transformed that. I technically started my “Fitness Journey” in June 2012 and here’s a shot from my first week in the Gym…
Sexy, right? Maybe not… I actually thought I looked decent in that photo, looks like I have some sort of definition forming, right? Again, maybe not… The truth is I weigh about 215lbs in this photo (I wear it well), and since I’m 6’2 that puts me into the overweight ballpark; sitting at about 28%+ body fat. I had actually text this photo to a friend of mine because I was feeling good about how I looked even at this point (hah) and I just started my journey!
At first I didn’t have any particular plan or goal in mind… all I knew was that I looked like shit, and worst of all I felt like shit. Soon after I signed up for MyFitnessPal to log everything I was eating; I was determined not to miss a day (and only missed logging 2 days in almost a year)!
Friends, Family, and The Journey
I began hitting the gym in my building at least 5 times a week, and at that time the gym was pretty sad; it had some dumbbells and a smith machine bench press but that’s about it. I didn’t care, I was on a mission at this point not just to prove to others, but more importantly prove to myself that I/you/anyone truly can accomplish ANYTHING I set my mind to. I now saw those ripped guys in photos and movies and thought “Why not me?”.
The early stages of any Fitness Journey will be hard; I was met with scepticism and an overall lack of support from those that I thought would provide the most. When it comes down to it though, no one cares as much about your success than you. In fact most don’t give two-shits as it doesn’t impact their lives one way or another. Most would rather see someone close to them fail in order to ensure they remain on the same “playing field” and the “achievement bar” hasn’t been raised. At the end of the day true friends will want to see one and other prosper, will want to grow together… that’s what’ll happen, your true friends will support and adapt to the reformed version of you.
The first few months weren’t as much difficult as they were boring. I can’t say that I enjoyed spending my evenings in the gym by myself or running on a treadmill but it had to be done. I would go for walks as often as possible whenever the weather was warm enough, but being in Toronto, Canada – lets just say it gets a bit “chilly” at times…. I used MyFitnessPal to log all my food intake as well as my Calories burned in and out of the gym. I ensured that I was consistently staying at a Calorie Deficit of 300-500 from my Baseline Maintenance Calories of 2,000 each day.
This strategy was working nicely and I was slowly losing weight! From 215lbs, down to 200lbs… I thought, there’s no way I’ll ever get below 200 again and BOOM I dropped to 195lbs, then 185lbs. I began to get back to my high school/college weight – it was great! Day after day I took photos, logged my weight, and watched what I was eating. Within about 4 months I had lost a total of 45lbs, but my body fat percentage was still higher than I’d like (18%).
Here’s the progress I had after 6 months from that original photo you saw earlier in this article:
Breaking the Plateau
So what do you do when you’ve lost the bulk of your excess weight? Most consider this a “Weight Loss Plateau” and stop here… I wasn’t satisfied with just being thin again; I wanted to be full of muscle and strong. I set a new goal for myself of 185lbs at 8% body fat and began working towards it with a new approach. Since I wasn’t technically trying to lose weight to the extent that I was previously I needed to look for alternatives on how I could drop the body fat and put on weight (muscle) at the same time. It was around this time when I discovered Intermittent Fasting.
Intermittent Fasting (“IF”) was somewhat talked about online and had a couple videos here and there on YouTube… I discovered Keith and Kevin Hodge (a.k.a The Hodge Twins) who were YouTube content creators involved in fitness. These two characters were a riot to watch, keeping me entertained, and for the most part provided insightful information when it came to bodybuilding and intermittent fasting. The vast amount of content they were producing on IF was enabling me to get my foot in the door on the topic. I expanded my research to other YouTube channels as well as other online resources and gained a wealth of knowledge about IF, its benefits, and information on fitness as a whole. Checkout the Benefits of Fasting (if interested).
For the next 3 months I fasted every single day for at least 16 hours – NO CHEATING! That meant I would go to sleep at night on an empty stomach, wake up the next day, work, then hit a workout afterwards. Throughout the day I would consume at least 4-5L of Water, not Gatorade, not coconut water, or anything else – just Straight H2O! I waited until 1-2 hours after my workout to eat my meal where I would typically consume maintenance level calories or more during my “Eating Window” (approx 2,000+).
Some days I would go as much as 22 hours without eating, followed by a 2 hour eating window; there’s another name for this approach called The Warrior Diet (there’s a dozen names for everything). I ensured I was having “fasted workouts” during this 3 month period enabling maximum fat burning during my workout time by forcing my body to not have any stored energy (food) during a workout enabling it to target stored fat cells to burn energy; this is keeping one’s body in a Catabolic State. I then had a heightened level of Protein Synthesis post-workout and took advantage of this time by eating large quantities of food; mostly protein based. This would also Spike my Insulin; driving Glucose into my cells and helping with muscle growth. I was reaching ridiculously low numbers and dropped weight to an absolute low of 169lbs but more importantly my body fat % and lean muscle mass was also improving with this approach.
Another great thing about fasting is that it also helps alleviate stress, which I’ve always had an abundance of! Here’s some of the post-workout Intermittent Fasting Meals I would have:
You Are What You Eat!
As you can see I was eating quite a bit, and as a result I was starting to put back on my weight, but this time in a good way. My Girlfriend Grace and I were both on our own journeys; her’s was more cooking related (checkout her website for some healthy recipes) – both of the above meals were prepared by her. My meals were/are always more fitness driven, and we plan out what I’ll be eating around the day’s or week’s workouts. We both listened to (and still do) The Mike Dolce Show – a great information resource on Living Lean (I’ve blended all sorts of diets and programs from my research). We were (and still are) making regular healthy food grocery runs every other week to local farmers markets where I’d spend anywhere from $130 – $180; proving that it’s not expensive to be healthy!
Time To Build and Bulk!
With all this healthy eating and fasting I was still finding it difficult to build a significant amount of muscle. I dug further into my research and found that most seasoned bodybuilders and experts suggest that fasting is great, but not optimal for muscle building. It made sense to me; how can I build substantial muscle when I’m not regularly consuming food (energy) pre and post workout? Now that I had begun seeing some definition through my fasting, eating, and workout habits I thought that I would take it up a notch and start trying for some real “gains”.
I stopped fasting and began focusing on eating at maintenance level calories (2,000), or adding a surplus of 300-500 calories. This meant I was aiming to keep my body in a Anabolic State as often as possible. I was eating depending on the difficulty of my workouts and the toll they took on my Nervous System. Some days I would be eating up wards of 4,000 calories (2,000 over maintenance) and I felt great! I was applying IF on occasion (once or twice a week), but for the most part I was eating throughout the day regularly. It was around this time I began focusing on my Week’s total Calories/Macronutrients as well as daily. On average I would aim to consume my body weight in Protein (185 grams) daily and almost as much in Carbs.
Eat Hard, Train Hard!
To support my ambitious eating I started focusing on more strenuous training methods such as High Intensity Interval Training (“HIIT”), and heavy lifting exercises such as Dead Lifts, Bent Over Rows, and Squats. I began writing down all of my workouts in a small 8″ notebook (which is now filled), workouts which I researched online through tons and tons of websites (some buried in this article, if you couldn’t tell :p), and dozens of YouTube channels. I really made use of the fact that my day to day job keeps me online and allows me to absorb all sorts of information. I changed my workout routine to a bodybuilding parameter type split, which I still use a variation of even now:
Monday – Chest / Arms (Biceps, Triceps)
Tuesday – Back / Shoulders
Wed – Legs
Thurs – Chest / Arms
Friday – Back
Saturday – Anything Goes (maybe long walk?), or Rest
Sunday – Anything Goes (maybe core?), or Rest
I’m proud to say that I went from not being able to do a single proper form body weight Squat (not even one!) to now Dead Lifting 530lbs+, Bench Pressing 300lbs+, and Squatting 460lbs+ , and I’ll continue to apply Progressive Overload.
Because I was hitting the same muscle groups twice in one week I was ensuring that I maintained a heightened level of Protein Synthesis around the clock; most suggest it’s held for 48 hours for a single muscle group after a strenuous workout. My heavier eating days would be when I’ve fully exhausted myself; typically Legs and Back days because my body demanded more nutrition to support the growth in these larger muscle areas.
Here’s another photo from around this period:
I eventually hit my 185lbs and 8% body fat. I have been working out and living a healthy and active lifestyle for just over a year (the date this article was posted) and can confidently say that I have no intensions of going back! In fact my new goal has been 200lbs sticking around the 9%-12% body fat range (Update: I hit this goal in 2015!). I’m working on building Abdominal Hypertrophy and more overall depth in my back and chest. I figure about 6-8 Months to achieve this new goal (being realistic here…) and we’ll see where I decide to go from there.
This is where I’m at now:
I’m not only proud of what I’ve accomplished, but I hope to inspire others to do the same. There is NO REASON why anyone should be overweight or unhealthy if it’s in their physical or mental capability to avoid and prevent it.
I hope if you’ve read this article and you’re finding difficulty in starting your Fitness Journey that you’ll consider it only takes a fraction of time out of your lifespan (lets say 1 year) to improve your life forever. Don’t wait until tomorrow, or your next meal… start RIGHT NOW!! Plant a vision of yourself as a happy and healthy person in your mind like a seed, and let it grow with you…
If you have any questions or need a supportive voice throughout your journey, I’m here – www.YouTube.adamevans.ca.