Move over Optimus Prime, I have a new favorite transformer.
His name is Joe, and he has the best Nerd Fitness success story I have EVER seen.
In 10 months of following Nerd Fitness, Joe has lost 128 pounds.
This picture is from Joe’s first day – wait til you see what he looks like now. Fortunately, we not only have an interview with Joe today on how he succeeded, but also pictures of him and old emails from every month along the way too!
Although Joe followed the workout plans and diet advice in the Rebel Fitness Guide and Rebel Strength Guide (now The Nerd Fitness Academy) to help him get these results, it’s no secret why he was successful. He exercised regularly, cleaned up his diet, and established new habits that kept him on track.
Hopefully this inspires you as much as it did me. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had tears in my eyes when I got an email from Joe saying he had lost 100 pounds (now all the way up to 128 pounds lost!). He not only looks like a completely different person, but he now gets to be an inspiration to thousands upon thousands of people as well.
I have honestly never been more excited to post an article than I am today. If you are (really) overweight, out of shape, and worried that it’s too late to get started – stop.
It will take time, and it won’t be easy, but it IS possible.
Let’s meet Joe, my new hero.
The First Few Months…
Although Joe didn’t email me until after month 4, these are the pictures he took of himself at the end of months 1, 2, and 3:
Four Months In
I got my first email from Joe back on July 4th, 2011, exactly four months after he started his journey to a better life. Below I’ll be sharing the emails that he sent me along with the photo for that month.
This is the first email:
Since March 4th I have been following your Rebel Fitness Guide. I’m the kind of guy who dives into things with both feet, so starting March 4th I changed things for the better. I’m very much still a work in progress but here is where I stand: I went from a 3XL shirt to a solid 2XL/1XL (depending). And pants size I went from a 54″ waist to a 46/44″ (again depending). Not too bad for 4 months I’d say!
I’ve taken a pic every 4th of the month, and yah that’s been helpful 🙂
I travel A LOT for work and I like that many exercises from the Rebel Fitness Guide I can do in a hotel room (I just make sure to bring resistance bands with me). I also loved the Road Warrior Guides that came as bonuses with the Strength Guide, those definitely helped too!
I remember one thing in particular I read in the guide that came true for me. I was in a small town with some coworkers and there was this bakery. I just got some water and everyone else got these sweet breads (evil sprinkled with more evil) and they were like “why aren’t you getting one?” “Come on, have one with us” One guy even had the nerve to say he felt sorry for me!! I almost had a fight on my hands, but I kept calm.
Five Months In
I’m doing well with my progress I’d say, (slow and steady wins the race! (woot for sticking with it for 5 months!))
I am currently out of town on business (as usual) and of course last night we all had some fun and I didn’t eat great. I’ve been pretty dedicated before then so I figured a break would be okay, but I was feeling kinda bad. Fortunately, I read the last NF email that went out and was glad it was about taking breaks and how things happen but to get right back on the horse, and of course that perked me up! And your email today was a good boost as well! I am getting ready to work out (clothes are fitting better and better every week, wanna keep it that way!)
Six Months In
It has now been six months, yay!!!
Things are progressing with me still. I am definitely out of the 2XL shirts and into a solid XL (and L in hoodie size!) Pants wise i’m a 40/42 (quite a ways away from that ole 54). I recently went on vacation to PAX in Seattle and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do my typical workouts due to the video game convention-ing. As it turns out one does very little sitting at conventions and I was walking around most of that time, lol. That and Seattle is hilly…very hilly, so needless to say I got a different type of workout in as the day progressed!
Today is my rest day so video games most of the day for me. This month will be a challenge for me as I’ll be on travel for work 90% of this month instead of 50%. I’m sure I’ll stay on track and get my alternate hotel workouts in! As far as eating, counting calories and eating healthy is second nature to me now. Me and pals went to pancake house and looking at the menu the only thing that was okay to eat was the fruit bowl, and thus that was my breakfast 😛
So now we are into month 7 and still kickin.
September was hard as I was out of town all but 4 days! I stuck with it as much as possible and I did very good I think. October will definitely be good as I’m only gone one week instead of the normal two. My pants are now 40/38, and I must say it was pretty awesome fitting into those 38s. Shirt size are now XL/L with L slowly becoming the norm!
I did actually weigh myself a week ago, which I was scared to do, but I was like ‘sure what the heck’. Turns out I now weigh 210, so I’ve lost about 100lbs so far. As my friend put it “you lost two of my little girls!” I’ve started adding about an additional 20 minutes of exercises focusing on my abs each session because I don’t want that extra skin stuff to get out of hand as I lose more. I’ve noticed a difference and I know it’ll take time to firm that all up, so things are on the up swing there. I’ve included a couple more pics, can’t wait to see what this month yields!
Recently, I had to run from my car to the post office cause it was raining and I gotta say, making it there and not being out of breath was pretty cool 😛
I didn’t forget its been a month already! Yah, time is flying, and I’m still traveling and staying on track!
I’m continuing to do well, I’m mainly a Large now and I am a 36/38 in pants, so woohoo!
I did weight myself again, and I’m down to 200, so a total of 110 lost after 8 months 🙂
We are now on month 9!
Thanksgiving was a trial to be sure, but it was moderated for the most part, heh.
I am now in a Medium/Large, so that’s rather cool. I think Medium is a happy place, so we’ll see. I am a solid 36 waist, so that is a triumph unto itself I think! 34 would be ideal, so I’ll still be trucking on!
I weight 195, which is pretty awesome and things go well! I’m slowly raising my calorie intake while still sticking to a mostly Paleo style of eating. I am still working out a consistent 4/5 times a week and things are tightening up, slowly but surely!
Month 10!!! Two more months and that makes a whole year of eating healthy and working out 🙂
I’ll preface my update by saying ‘Thank You’! Your website and guides really really helped me this year. I honestly never thought I’d be able to get down to the size I am now. I’ve been a heavy guy my whole life, and going to a store and being able to find clothes that fit is a new experience for me! Going from a size 54 waist and size XXXL shirts to now is full of awesome! So again, THANKS!!!!
December was quite tough to get through, and I did cheat a bit! But I did minimize the junk as much as possible and managed to get in 4/5 workouts a week, so I’m still on track! I’m more Medium than Large, but it all depends on the fit of the shirt, those darn fitted shirts still work best in a Large. I actually fit into a 34, but it is a bit snug, so I imagine I’ll be good soon. My goal is definitely to fit in a size 34 waist by the time my 1 year comes up. I’m 182, so lost 3lbs since I last wrote ya, but I think that’s partially due to the fact that December was full of holiday parties, lol. 128lbs lost so far. Diet is still mainly paleo style (mainly…ha) and I can’t wait for the nice weather to return so I can start running!! New side pic included!
How it happened
Steve: Thanks for answering these questions man – I know a LOT of readers will be interested to hear how you were so dang successful. So let’s start at the beginning – describe a typical day for you before you decided to make a change.
Joe: My typical day when I’m at home usually involved going to work in the morning, eating lunch at one of the surrounding fast food places, and grabbing snacks and soda during breaks. Once I got home I would sometimes order pizza for dinner or warm up some sort of frozen food I had in the fridge. I would then just game the night away. On days I was on travel I would head out to work, and the rest of my day was filled with eating out and hanging out back at the hotel.
Steve: I’d guess that lifestyle sounds incredibly familiar to a huge portion of NF readers. How many times prior to this had you tried to lose weight?
Joe: Only once seriously, but that didn’t last long. I had other minor attempts that, looking back now, could hardly be qualified as a serious attempt, haha.
Steve: Fair enough. Looking back, was there a specific game-changing moment that you decided to make changes? What inspired you to get started?
Joe: I think the real moment I decided to make a change was when my clothes were starting to fit too tightly. I was already in a 3XL and size 54 pants, and even though that was pretty big, I really didn’t want to get bigger clothes. Clothes shopping was tough enough, heh.
Steve: You started following the Rebel Fitness Guide, and then moved on to the Rebel Strength Guide. Were most of your workouts done at home – body weight? Or did you do free weights?
Joe: Yup, all of my workouts were done at home. I did start off with just using my body weight against me, but then I invested in some free weights too. My current ‘home gym’ includes a pull up bar, dumbbells, a rubber balance ball, and resistance bands.
Steve: The first time I had heard from you was after four months and you had already succeeded; how tough were those first four months?
Joe: They were pretty tough. Although I was committed to this and had focus, it was still tough sticking to working out on a regular basis and eating healthy. It got easier after about month 3 or 4, at that point healthy was more of a habit for me. My friends made it easier though, they didn’t make a fuss or anything when I started eating healthy when we all went out to eat. Even my MMO pals encouraged my workouts!! Of course there are always those other ‘friends’ who do make a fuss and put down my healthy eating habits, but all that did was let me see them for who they really were.
Steve: That’s so great Joe, congratulations man. Looking back, what was the toughest change for you to make?
Joe: I think at first the toughest change was finding time to workout. I just looked at my schedule and realized that there was more than enough time to workout, I was just looking for excuses. Now I can’t imagine more than two days going by without working out.
Steve: What was the BEST thing you did for yourself through all of this? A cleaned-up diet? A workout habit?
Joe: Yes and yes! Cleaning up my diet and developing a workout habit were two of the best things I did for myself. I watch my calories everyday and now I work out at least four times a week.
Steve: I know you took pictures once a month. How often did you weigh yourself? Did you take any other measurements?
Joe: I basically just took pictures once a month and that was it. I weighed myself when I started, but I didn’t weigh myself again until about 6 months later. I tracked my progress by those pictures and how my clothes fit me. Fitting into smaller sized clothes was really a great motivation!
I tend to buy one outfit that fits a size too small, then when I fit into it I know I made progress.
Steve: I freaking LOVE that idea – you then always know exactly how you’re progressing and have something to work towards. Now, you have a pretty interesting job that requires you to travel a LOT for work. You’re traveling two weeks out of every month, right? How did you maintain your momentum despite traveling and eating out?
Joe: I travel quite a bit for work. I’m an Information Analyst, and I travel to different organizations and evaluate their operations. I think traveling actually helped me out a bit. Traveling allowed me to have a variety in my workouts. Obviously when I’m on the road I don’t have access to my home gym, and I suppose I’m still not quite a ‘public gym’ person just yet so hotel gyms aren’t for me.
But I do have a variety of workouts I do in my hotel room and I always travel with my resistance bands. Your hotel workout is definitely a big help when there isn’t a lot of time for me to dedicate to working out! I do eat out quite a bit when I travel, but knowing this I had to look up the nutritional information for a lot of restaurants. I always watch what I eat and order the healthiest things on the menu. In situations where there is no healthy options I go to a grocery store and stick to fruits and nuts. A lot of convenience stores even have hard boiled eggs for sale, so those are a big help too!
Steve: The fact that you had this success while traveling two weeks a month is what impresses me the most. Your physical appearance has changed…what else has changed about you?
Joe: My energy levels have increase and in general I feel a lot better. I live on the third floor of a building with no elevator so getting up those stairs is a breeze now! I go on long walks without breaking a sweat and that makes going to comic-cons more enjoyable!
Steve: I think you just gave up with the new tagline for Nerd Fitness: “It makes going to Comic-cons more enjoyable.” So what about these days – describe a typical day for you now.
Joe: My days now involve eating a healthy breakfast, and going to work. If I snack at work I snack on cashews, then I go grab a good healthy lunch. I get home, maybe have some more nuts then get to working out! After a good workout and a protein shake I usually eat a chicken breast, or fish, with spinach and some fruit and then game the rest of the night away. When I travel I make sure I know where to go to eat healthy, I bring nuts with me to snack on if I get a little hungry. When I’m finished with work I get a hotel workout in, grab a healthy dinner and then game the rest of the night away!
Steve: It’s good to hear that even though you’re a different person, you still do what makes you happy – play video games like a boss. What are your goals moving forward? What kind of awesomeness do you want to do in your new body?
Joe: I do have a little more weight I want to lose. Ideally I’d love to have a size 32 waist and once I hit that I think I’ll focus on maintaining my weight and working out. I do want to take up running when Spring arrives and maybe some other physical activities (maybe something gymnastics related?). But right now building my running skills has really caught my eye!
Steve: I know there are TONS of Nerd Fitness readers right now who are at your “Day 1” (or heavier). Do you have any words of advice for those folks? What can you say to those people to help themselves make changes?
Joe: I suppose I would say to anyone starting out that it may seem tough or impossible, but take it one week at a time. Time flies and the YOU that exists one year from now will thank the current you for all the good you’re doing for yourself. I never in my life imagined that I could make the lifestyle changes I made, but here I am today proving my old self wrong.
Never be afraid to ask for help, because no one is an island.
Don’t let nay-sayers get you down and don’t pay any attention to people who try to belittle your efforts, even if they say they are doing it playfully. You can make changes in your life for the better, just always keep in mind what your goal is.
Two great sayings I keep with me are: “Don’t sacrifice what you really want for what you want right now.” and “I may not be there yet, but I’m one step closer than I was yesterday.”
Steve: Love those quotes. Let’s get all introspective here – Is there anything about the new you that the old you would be surprised to learn?
Joe: I think the old me would be surprised to find out that I find working out kinda addicting! Old me would also find it odd that I offhand know how many calories are in a majority of foods and that I look at the nutrition label of everything I buy at the grocery store!
Steve: What’s been your diet strategy? Healthy eating? Paleo?
Joe: I am definitely a calorie counter! I found there are plenty of free apps and websites that help with keeping track of calorie intake, so I take advantage of that. When I grocery shop I always look at nutrition labels, always! A majority of what I eat does follow the Paleo style of eating. I almost exclusively eat meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Once in a great while processed foods find its way into what I eat, but I minimize that as much as possible. I also drink water almost exclusively….except for the occasional adult beverage, haha!
Steve: Do you have a favorite healthy meal?
Joe: I like cooking lots of chicken breasts early in the week cause I’m just that lazy. My favorite healthy meal includes chicken breasts with spinach or asparagus. I also love having berries as dessert, blueberries being my favorite!
Steve: You’re still gaming the night away. What are you currently playing, and what kind of games do you love?
Joe: Right now I’m playing tons of Skyrim, though in general I love RPGs and anything Dynasty Warriors.
Steve: Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?
Joe: Star Wars!
Steve: Do you have any other nerdy passions or pursuits?
Joe: Aside from video games I love comic books. I’m definitely a fan of the new Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Teen Titans and the Green Arrow. I think what draws me to the Green Arrow is that he doesn’t have super powers, he just got as good as he is by training.
Steve: Any famous last words?
Joe: I buried my fortune underneath the….
Steve: Haha! Thanks Joe!
Why was Joe successful?
He took pictures! In my opinion, the best way to track your progress when it comes to getting healthy is taking pictures. Sure, I’m guessing Joe didn’t like what he saw in the first picture of himself on that first day, but it showed him his starting point. Each month, he could compare his new pictures to his old one to make sure he was heading down the right path. Because you live with yourself every day, it’s often tough to see changes – pictures can certainly put things into perspective. If you’re getting started, take that before picture!
He didn’t care about the scale. Some people step on the scale every day, and it works for them. Joe didn’t step on a scale for six months, and by that point he had already lost 100 pounds. This will depend on your personality, but the scale might not be for you – your weight fluctuates daily, and some days/weeks it might even go up. If you’re building muscle and eating right, the scale might not move at all…but your body composition CAN change. So, try to have another metric along with stepping on a scale, or hell…don’t even worry about the scale! Just put healthy habits in place, put your focus on getting stronger, and have pictures or measurements to track your progress.
He educated himself. Joe now knows the calorie content of every single thing he eats. He researched restaurants he was going to eat at while traveling for work. He knows how many calories he needs to consume on a daily basis to have enough energy for his workouts and still promote fat loss. Yeah, some of these things probably took quite a bit of work up front…but I’d say it’s been worth it, eh?
He refused to accept an excuse to miss a workout. When starting out, Joe didn’t think he had enough time to work out. And then he realized that he DID have the time, he was just making excuses and telling himself he was too busy so that he could skip workouts guilty free. Once he stopped accepting excuses and told himself that missing a workout wasn’t an option…all of a sudden he found time in his busy schedule to work out!
He stayed consistent while traveling. Joe travels two weeks a month for work; so, he had to find a way to stay in shape while traveling. Although the hotels and restaurants might be different with each trip, he still had his “constant:” hotel room workouts, healthy snacks, and the healthiest option on any menu in any restaurant in the country. Like the previous reason, he refused to accept “I’m traveling” as an excuse to skip workouts and eat poorly…and all of a sudden he found that he could both exercise and eat healthy no matter where he was.
He rewarded himself with things that rewarded him back. This might be my favorite thing Joe does. When Joe buys new clothes, he buys one outfit or pair of pants that smaller than the others, as a goal to look forward to. When he can fit into the smaller stuff comfortably, he knows he’s made progress, and it’s time to repeat the process.
He put his focus on establishing good habits. Joe took his life one day at a time. During his first few months, there were plenty of instances where eating right and exercising was the LAST thing he wanted to do…but he did it anyways. As we all know, an object at rest tends to stay at rest, and an object in motion tends to stay in motion – so Joe forced himself into motion and built up momentum. Now, exercising and eating right aren’t even thoughts in his mind…it’s just what he does!
He had a plan. I’d like to tell you that there’s some magical formula in the Rebel Fitness Guide and the Rebel Strength Guide (now the Nerd Fitness Academy) that gave Joe the power to succeed, but then I’d be lying. Here’s the big secret: they’re quality programs with specific workout routines and diet advice presented in a nerdy fashion that happened to resonate with Joe and his philosophy. Because he made a financial investment in his well-being, it was an easier decision to say “I should really follow through with this.”
Personally, I don’t care WHAT plan you follow, as long as you follow something and work towards improving with each workout. Get started with the free Angry Birds Workout or Beginner Bodyweight Routine if you’re not looking to spend money and start building your own healthy habits and momentum TODAY.
Questions for Joe?
Remember that there is ALWAYS hope.
A better life is waiting for you if you are willing to put in the time necessary to make it happen. And yeah, Joe has been busting his butt for 10 months to get these results…but he now has 60 years worth of living to enjoy his new life. In the business world I believe they call that a good investment.
I hope you are as fired up now as I am after reading this article. Although I haven’t asked him about it, I’m sure Joe can chime in with answers to any other questions you might have about his tremendous success!
So, if you have any questions for Joe, leave a comment and we’ll make it happen!
PS – Obviously, these results aren’t typical – Joe worked his ass off to transform. On top of that, we all have different genetics, metabolisms, and lifestyles that can affect how our bodies react to diet and exercise, both positively and negatively….
That being said, he’s a normal dude, with a normal job, a normal life, and he travels frequently for work. If he can do it, so can you.
PPS – In case you’re curious, here’s an update I did on Joe a year later. He’s still kicking ass 🙂