Meet Dominic, the Rebel who lost over 30 pounds (14 kgs) in less than 4 months!
Just a few months ago, Dominic found himself in familiar territory for many: minimal regular exercise, poor diet habits, and a daily routine that sucked all of the energy and life out of him. Long story short: he was stuck, and going nowhere fast.
But, by a stroke of luck (or destiny?), Dominic found Nerd Fitness. He made a few small changes, built an accountability system, and dominated.
This is his story.
Steve: Thanks for sharing your story Dominic! To start off, who are you and what do you do?
Dominic: My name is Dominic and I’m 38 years old. I work with computers, designing Storage Systems. In about 14 weeks I’ve lost over 30 pounds, dropped from a 38 inch waist to a 34 inch, and from an x-large shirt to a medium.
Steve: First and foremost, storage systems designer? You’re in the right place 🙂 Congrats on your success dude – you seem like a different person. What was the old you like?
Dominic: I would have a muesli bar (healthy right? wrong.) on the train to work then a bacon and egg roll with my morning coffee. I usually ate some kind of mid-morning snack like chocolate or a soda, and then lunch would be something from the food court, usually Chinese food. I especially liked sweet and sour pork…you know the stuff they deep fry twice and then cover in sugary sauce, with white rice on the side.
In the afternoon I’d have another coffee, often with a pastry, biscotti, or a chocolate bar to get me over the afternoon lull. I also had a major soft spot for candy.
I was a bit of a night owl, so I would stay up late working or watching a movie, then get out of bed in the morning as late as possible to try to make sure I had enough sleep. I used to drink around 3 or 4 cups of coffee a day, would still be wired when I got home, so I’d have a couple of beers or a few glasses of wine to ‘wind down.’
I would usually not have any motivation or energy to cook when I got home from work, so I’d eat a lot of takeaway food for dinners if my wife didn’t make anything. Fish and Chips, noodles, Thai, Indian Curry; you name it, I’ve tried most of the takeaways where I live and I’ve only been here a year.
I took pain killers for lower back pain almost every day and my wife would complain every morning that I kept her awake snoring.
Steve: Your poor wife! Looking back…was there a specific moment when you decided to make a change? What inspired you to get started?
Dominic: My parents visited me over Christmas, and when they returned home they sent me some photos from their trip. I looked at the pictures and couldn’t believe it, I looked so out of shape.
A switch flicked inside my head, and I knew I had to reverse the neglect and bad habits. After I watched the movie 300 I decided to find out how those guys got to look like that, and my the search led me to the 300 article on Nerd Fitness. I devoured the site content from there reading article after article for hours.
I was talking with a friend at work who told me he was starting Weight Watchers. We decided to have a challenge to see who could lose the greatest percentage weight in a month. We also set a prize: the loser had to pay for lunch in a restaurant of the winner’s choice.
This helped keep me focused as I have a competitive streak! Needless to say I won the challenge using my NF knowledge and then won the rematch in March as well!
Steve: That’s awesome, finding a way to keep yourself accountable is half the battle. So what does your life look like now? How much have things changed in 14 weeks?
Dominic: I’m up between 6 am and 6:30 am week days so that I have enough time to do some exercise before I go to work; I either do my Rebel Fitness Guide, or I walk my dog for 5k. I also make sure I have enough time to have breakfast before I leave. I’m very fortunate that I can work from home quite a lot, so on those days I’ll take the dog for a 5k walk at lunchtime.
Most days I cook a Paleo dinner; in the past I hardly ever cooked so my wife has also enjoyed the change. I often cook something big on Sundays so I have leftovers for days I know I’ll be home late in the week. There are always some Paleo Mexican Meatballs in the freezer in case of emergency. I haven’t ordered a single takeaway order so far this year!
Plus, on the weekends when I have a bit more time I go for a swim in the local pool. Since I lost the weight I don’t take any painkillers at all, my back pain is gone, and I don’t snore anymore either.
Steve: Both your lower back and your wife thank you for taking control, brother! How about your diet, how has that changed in these 14 weeks?
Dominic: Initially I just watched what I ate, cut out sugar, processed food, and takeaways. Then, in my second challenge, I decided to try Paleo for 50% of my main meals. This kept my weight loss on track. Diet has been a revelation; I’ve really educated myself on what makes me put weight on. I’ve stopped consuming all that stuff I thought was healthy and helping me, but wasn’t (who knew there was so much sugar in orange juice?!).
I used to eat a lot of bread and pasta, I avoid those now. I also have a sweet tooth and used to consume a lot of sugar, I don’t have any now apart from an occasional dessert if I’m at a nice restaurant or if my wife makes Clafouti.
Steve: That’s awesome Dominic. How did you track your progress during this adventure?
Dominic: I do a weekly weigh-in on a Sunday morning at home. I didn’t take any photographs or make any other measurements along the way. I decided to just focus on moving that number on the scales downwards. I wish now I had taken some proper ‘before’ photos but I didn’t want to look at the time.
The scales I use have a body fat function, it’s wildly inaccurate but at least it’s consistently inaccurate, so I could see the fat number going down. This helped me recognize I was dropping fat not muscle.
Steve: Glad to hear that you didn’t freak yourself out by weighing in EVERY day. Sometimes that scale can lie! What do you think the most important change you made was that helped you you succeed?
Dominic: In terms of mental change, this time I wanted it more than anything else and I would not compromise on anything. There were a couple of difficult situations with people wanting me to do things that would of interrupted my program, but I knew there was no negotiation to be had.
My weight loss and health came first and I was stubborn about it.
During my first challenge I was trying to break a lap goal in the pool, starting to struggle a bit and getting ready to stop. I saw a young girl with a broken leg in a special cast get in the pool to swim. I thought if this little girl can keep trying and work so hard with a broken leg, I can push out a few more laps. I went on to achieve my challenge goal right there and then and I’ll never forget that image when I am thinking about giving up on a workout.
In terms of practical change, I have cut out almost all liquid calories. I used to drink a lot of beer, now I try to keep it to once a week. Those calories really add up and you can consume them so quickly and easily.
Steve: Everybody takes a different path, and we’re so glad you found yours. What kind of support system did you have along the way?
Dominic: My wife has been brilliant; once she saw I was serious she’s supported me and encouraged me. She also enjoys eating the Paleo foods I prepare and she’s started back at Yoga and also lost some weight. I find that positive steps you take in life tend to rub off on other people.
The challenge threads on the NF forums have been my mainstay for support and a great medium for sharing experiences with other people in similar positions. I owe a lot to my fellow Rebel ‘Honeysuckle’ who has been there throughout both my challenges, encouraging and supporting me. There have been many times when knowing someone is interested in your progress and is watching to see how you do has spurred me on when I didn’t feel like working out. Honeysuckle you’re awesome!
Steve: Never underestimate your A-Team! Was this the first time you tried getting healthy?
Dominic: I always knew someone had to be holding out on me, following what you call “conventional wisdom” I failed over and over. I have been trying to take down a goal of getting into a healthy BMI category for 4 years. I was using CW aerobic workouts and strict dieting, eating “healthy foods.” Every time I would lose a few kg’s over a couple of months then lose heart, get injured or lose motivation.
As you know, this is a familiar story. I failed over and over and over.
The really fit guys I knew would just tell me to take protein shakes and eat 6 times a day, and I couldn’t get any concrete answers about what EXACTLY they did to get in shape. People want to make it appear easy to be in shape, strong and healthy, but it’s not. It takes hard work and dedication. I had both in the past, but what I didn’t have was the knowledge.
The big change came with finding Nerd Fitness, understanding the importance of bodyweight and strength training exercises, and having something prescriptive I could follow.
Steve: As someone who has tried and failed, but pushed through to succeed, what would you tell somebody in your situation (5 months ago) to help them?
Dominic: It’s never too late. I tried and failed over and over with conventional wisdom and wasted money on gyms I never took advantage of. Make some friends on the NF boards, sign up for a challenge and an accountability group.
Or do it on your own at home, whichever you prefer.
Just get started, right now!
Starting is the hardest part.
Here’s a bullet list of how I lost my weight:
- Stop collecting underpants.
- Stop eating sugar.
- Stop eating processed food.
- Start doing exercise involving lifting weights or body weight.
- Do cardio you enjoy. Walking, jogging, basketball, frisbee, whatever!
Steve: Love it! So, you’ve made this big change…What’s next for you?
I used to play a lot of squash and go surfing, but I haven’t done either for about 2 years. I’m really excited to get back to those sports. I’ve used starting back at them as rewards for one of the goals in my current challenge thread.
I’m also looking into taking up Tae-Kwon Do again which I used to do when I was a teenager.
The truly exciting thing is now I’m at a decent weight and feeling stronger there’s nothing that I want to do that I can’t.
Steve: Can you give us a few examples? What are you excited to do now that you weren’t physically able to do before?
Dominic: When I first started exercising I was really tired at the end of a 5km walk, now it’s nothing. I can do it whenever I want and feel normal at the end of it. This has kept my puppy very happy too! He gets 5k almost every day regardless of what else I have going on.
I can do 7 chin-ups in a row and 22 in a session. 15 weeks ago that was 0 chin-ups.
Steve: Best exercise ever, right? Your physical appearance has changed…what else has changed about you?
I’ve got some self-esteem back now I fit into my old clothes again. I’ve got a lot more energy and it’s steady throughout the day.
I have a more positive outlook on life now I don’t have to expend energy worrying about being overweight.
Steve: Hell yeah! On to the important stuff. Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?
Dominic: The first movie I ever saw at the Cinema was Return of the Jedi so it’s got to be Star Wars.
Steve: Favorite video game of all time?
Dominic: This is such a hard question. Ultima Underworld was probably what got me hooked first when I was a schoolkid. More recently I loved Darksiders on the PS3.
Steve: If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be, and why?
Dominic: There’s a character in David Eddings’ Belgariad books called Relg who was capable of altering the structure of his body so that he can pass through rock and feel the presence of caves. I always thought that was very cool, it got him into places no one else could.
Steve: Do you have a quote to live by?
Dominic: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
Steve: Awesome choice! Tell us something interesting about you!
Dominic: When I was younger I Scuba Dived in a tank full of sharks!
One of my goal rewards is to get back to Scuba, eventually I want to be good enough to dive the Yongala wreck.
Become the next success story
Does Dominic’s story sound familiar? Do you find yourself with no energy to get healthy, skipping workouts and resorting to takeout and fast-food?
Fortunately, Dominic and other Rebel heroes show us that it can be done. By making smart adjustments to your lifestyle and attitude, you can see real change too.
Dominic, with the help of his fellow Rebels, was able to defy conventional wisdom and build lasting healthy habits. This wasn’t a quick fix, health magazine six-pack shortcut, or diet gimmick, these were real changes.
Plus, these changes didn’t just level up his own life, but trickled down to his family as well (his dog included!).
Dominic didn’t just collect underpants, he took action:
Enough was enough: After years of starting and stopping, following conventional wisdom, and struggling to build momentum, Dominic put getting healthy as his top priority.
There are a lot of potential distractions and excuses, and staying on track can be hard work. Dominic was able to generate enough momentum so that achieving his goals didn’t seem like a far off herculean task, but rather an achievable quest. No longer did automatic, unhealthy habits dictate his life, his quest for a leveled up life did.
One change at a time: Dominic didn’t sign up for a gym and train six days a week while drastically changing his diet habits and his daily routine all at once. He started by cutting back on sugar, then processed foods, then mixed in some strength training, then started cooking some Paleo meals, and then added in more exercise. Each change didn’t seem that drastic and was thus obtainable; as we all know, these small changes can add up to big transformations.
Dominic educated himself: Dominic failed over and over for years, and as of 14 weeks ago, was still trying to get healthy. After trying aerobic workouts and mass marketed “health food,” Dominic didn’t see results, so he changed his approach. He read up on how his body worked and how he could start to build tiny habits. He learned to fail differently – which is a big lesson to learn. He understood that he would have to try a different approach than all of his previous attempts or he would end up with the exact same result: no progress.
He challenged himself: This one might be my favorite. To kickstart his journey, Dominic and his co-worker had a weight loss competition, with the loser having to buy the winner a fancy dinner. Faced with the prospect of losing and having to admit defeat to his co-worker, Dominic decided “hmmm, no, I’ll just be awesome and win this now.” He ended up winning this contest and the rematch a month later! Go Team Nerd Fitness!
Worried you won’t have the motivation to follow through with your plans? Put an accountability system in place! It worked for Saint, it worked for Dominic, it can work for you.
He stopped using “I don’t have time” as an excuse. Dominic got most of his food via take-out, as he never “had time” to cook. He realized that he was using this as an excuse, and what he was really telling himself was “cooking is not a priority for me.” Tasked with changing his life, he challenged himself to cook more and find healthy options that he could prepare quickly. He now keeps emergency healthy meals in his freezer, he prepares meals for him and his wife, and he even cooks a lot of food to start his week so he has meals all week long.
He had to change his priorities, and made preparing his own meals one of them.
Balancing coffee, energy, and sleep: Before Dominic got healthy, he struggled for time in his morning routine, and as a result grabbed fast-food items and snacks to-go. Not only that, but he consumed 3 or 4 coffees a day to keep up with a routine that left him feeling sapped of all energy and motivation. Now Dominic’s morning routine is under control, and he even has built in enough time to work out before his day begins. Don’t underestimate the power of taking control of your morning routine and coffee habit.
Dominic found his manual: After
failing finding so many different thing’s that didn’t work, Dominic realized he needed a manual. Let’s be honest, us nerds are REALLY good at following specific instructions, but we can talk ourselves out of anything if there are too many choices or too much uncertainty. The Rebel Fitness Guide took thinking out of the process for him and spoke his language: he followed the program, from Level One up through Level Four. Dominic didn’t want to worry about the fact that there are a million different resources or ways to get healthy (which can overwhelm anybody); instead, he found a resource that made sense to him and gave it a solid chance. 14 weeks later, he’s a new man.
Congrats to Dominic on changing his life. I’m confident now that he’s lost this weight and changed his life, he’ll continue finding new dragons to slay.
Do you have any questions for the man?
When will you be sending in YOUR success story? (Seriously, I love these things – send me your story so we can feature you on the site too!)
And then dominate life, like Dominic!
PS: Yeah, I’m damn proud to say that Dominic used Nerd Fitness and the Rebel Fitness Guide to help him succeed on his journey. It spoke his language, laid out things in a simple-to-follow manner, and gave him a blueprint to manage. If you are struggling to lose weight or constantly get overwhelmed, don’t underestimate the importance of picking a plan that makes sense to you. I don’t care if it’s the Rebel Fitness Guide or any other plan, as long as you pick one and stick with it!
PPS: In case you missed the announcement, I’m in Boston tonight and having a meetup at Whitehorse Tavern. You can get the details here. We’ll be meeting from 6:00pm-7:30 or 8:00pm before some of us continue into Boston to catch my favorite band, NEEDTOBREATHE, at the House of Blues. Hope to see you at Whitehorse Tavern!