June 7th, 2017

Why it Took Me 10 Years to Get in Shape

byMich Manaras
Blog

I’ve had a gym membership since I was about 18 years old, and by my calculations it’s been 12 years. However I only truly started to see results in the last couple, and today I’ll be writing about why it took me 10 years to figure it out!

So let’s look at a brief history of my “fitness career”.

18-21: Rookie of the Year

When I first walked into the gym, I had no idea what I was doing. I was a young gun looking to log in a couple of days a week for no other reason than my girlfriend telling me to. I’d walk aimlessly from machine to machine with no plan of attack, look at the picture of the guy with the tucked in t-shirt, try and mimic his flawless form and bam, I’d bang out some reps until it felt uncomfortable or I got bored, then walk over to the next machine for another brilliant performance.

I’d celebrate the workout with a nice big shake from the juice bar, drive over to Subway for a nice foot-long with all the fixings, some chips, a cookie and a soda; I needed to fuel my muscle growth, right?

I didn’t remain all that consistent in those first few years, my lack of direction didn’t quite make for inspired workouts and as a result I wasn’t very motivated. What did remain consistent was my eating, and drinking, and I managed to put on about 20-30 lbs in that first couple of years, of which very little was muscle.

22-25: A Taste of Real Training 

It wasn’t until I noticed how voluptuous I had gotten did I figure I should probably renew my membership. Not only did I renew but I thought it might be a good idea to tag along with some friends who actually knew what they were doing. It was my first real taste at training and it definitely elevated my game. I was learning solid fundamentals and with the competition brought on by my friends, I felt motivated in the gym for the first time.

Once again however my lifestyle took precedence over my training and I remained largely inconsistent. There were magic moments, 3-4 consecutive week spurts but my hard partying ways were no match.

When I really wanted to lose weight, I’d essentially starve myself and hit the treadmill like a son-of-a-gun for a few weeks and it usually gave me a temporary fix.

25-26: Hiatus

I didn’t look at a gym, I was a scotch drinking, beer chugging lunatic.

27: Over-training/Under-eating 

I was now a disgrace and I was totally fed up of my lifestyle, I knew I needed a change and committing to the gym would give me good enough reason to avoid certain lifestyle routines. I worked out with a trainer, took classes and I was in the gym about 6-7 days a week for hours on end. I was eating really low calories and I was definitely losing weight, but for the amount I was training (and spending) I looked more like Christian Bale in the Machinist than he did in Batman!

28-29: Learning About Nutrition

By this time I had completely cut out the party lifestyle and I was a lot clearer. In my newfound free time I did a lot of research and for the most part I traded TV for YouTube, blogs and Google searches. I wanted to understand how the body worked; I wanted to understand how the leanest and meanest came to be. They weren’t super heroes, so why couldn’t I look like that? I was putting in the work, right?

Wrong. The more I read, the more videos I watched, the more it became clear. Whatever the goal, losing weight or gaining muscle, the gym was a very small piece of the puzzle. The real key was food.

For all these years I had completely ignored the most crucial factor. The deeper I went, the more I started to unravel the importance of protein intake, fats and carbs and how the proper mix could transform my workouts into real life results.

Up until then, it had been 10 years of on-again, off-again in the gym without ever seeing results. I had no goals and I didn’t know what I was trying to accomplish. I knew I had the discipline to put in the work at the gym, but with this new information about strategic nutrition, I couldn’t wait to see what would happen.

And that’s just what I did, all the YouTubers and bloggers were saying very similar things, so I applied them and just like a recipe, I followed precisely. My body changed more in the first 6 months than it had over the last 10 years.

30+ : Sharing My Health/Fitness Experience

My motivation and hunger for information skyrocketed, the discipline and knowledge applied to my goals gave me results and I now had a new passion. The more I learnt, the more I realized less was more. Rest days were as important as training days, sleep was crucial, and the myth of quantity was starting to fade. I saw more results working out 4 days a week versus 6 or 7.

Did having a six pack mean I couldn’t enjoy fun foods or was I locked into a world of grilled chicken and broccoli? The better I got at understanding my daily nutrition goals, the easier it became to eat extremely flexibly. I learned what foods I required to maximize my gains, but also how to leave room for a little ice cream and pizza without sabotaging myself.

What really changed in the 12 years since my fitness debut was only one thing, knowledge. I may have trained for a decade but I’d be lying if I said I knew what I was doing. To look and feel great doesn’t mean running on the treadmill or flipping tires 7 days a week or even eating broccoli 6 times a day. Losing weight or gaining muscle isn’t a magic, mystical science, it’s more basic math and doesn’t even require a gym if that’s not your thing.

I took this on initially as a hobby to get in shape, but it’s since become so much more, I’ve learnt tremendous discipline, gained practical knowledge and I continue to learn everyday. The more I learn the more I spread this knowledge to my friends, and they too are seeing the results.

Health and fitness has become a huge part of my life and and so I’ll be incorporating more of my practical knowledge about the myths of fitness and lessons I’ve learnt that have allowed me to look and feel my best so hopefully you can too!

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