Meet Andrew Crickmore. After a major life change, he decided it was time to get healthier. It wasn't an easy start, but he was patient and willing to try different things to see what would work best for him.
Andrew's story teaches us that for some people, keeping to a regimented schedule — not just exercise routines but meals and snacks — and keeping track of it simply works. His story also reminds us that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. For example, cardio doesn't really work for Andrew, but the opposite may be true for you.
How successful has he been? After 11 months, he's lost 109 pounds, and although he's put on weight since, it's been on purpose. He's been combining power-lifting and bodybuilding for three years now. Check out how his success story can help you stay on track with your fitness goals. You can do it.
How much weight have you lost and how long has it taken you?
I lost 109 pounds. I weighed 265 lbs to start, and was 156 lbs at my lightest. It took me about 11 months to do. I've been maintaining and only gaining weight on purpose for the last 3 years or so. Currently I sit at around 185 pounds.
When did you decide it was time to lose weight? Did you start with diet, exercise or both?
I decided to lose weight after my ex-wife left. It was one of the few things I had control of at the time, and I needed an outlet and some goals so that I wouldn't get into a funk. The first thing I did was throw out a bunch of junk food and go reactivate a gym membership I had left dormant for years.
How difficult was it to start a routine and stick with it?
It was difficult initially to start anything because I was nutritionally illiterate and had no idea what worked for exercise. Once I started to learn and figure out what I liked to do and worked for me, as well as ingrained it as a habit, it became a lot easier.
Did you make changes to your diet? If so, what were they?
Initially I made a lot of changes to my diet. Cutting out junk food being the biggest change at the start. I bungled my way through a short stint of vegetarianism as well. That didn't last long, however.
How does your current routine differ from your original one? What other types of exercise do you do?
Initially in the gym I was doing a lot machines circuits and self-run workout programs as well as cardio. I was running several kilometers a day at some point on top of working out. Now I do power-lifting and bodybuilding in a very strict format. Squats, dead-lifts, bench press, overhead press, as well as some bodybuilding stuff. I stopped running a long time ago and have never looked back.
How would you describe your diet? Do you feel it's been a help or a hindrance? Are there foods you avoid now?
I eat what I want, as long as it fits into my calorie and macro (carbs, fats and protein) targets on a daily basis. So if I want to eat ice cream, I can, as long as I have the calories and carb allowance for it. Same with pizza, beer and chips. It has been definitely a huge help for me to stick to it. I don't have anything I avoid and so I have no issues with bingeing or anything like that.
Do you find that combining different routines — such as weights with cardio — is more effective? If so, why?
No, not for my goals anyway. I have a fairly active job, so I can get away with not doing cardio.
Do you snack before you work out, after or both? What's your go-to snack?
I usually time my workouts with meals. If I can't, then I'll try to have a snack before I go, like a banana or protein shake. Something easy on the stomach.
After especially intense workouts, do you find that you are hungrier than usual? Does this pose a challenge in terms of portions you consume?
My appetite does increase after a workout, but I do plan my meals fairly closely and time them so that I don't have to worry about overdoing it. I've gotten used to the idea of sticking to fairly consistent portions and knowing what my targets give me as an allowance even if I do need to have something over and above what I plan to (such as a protein bar before I can get around to lunch).
Do you keep a diary or use a fitness app, step counter or anything of the sort to track calories/activity?
I have a Fitbit watch and have been using MyFitnessPal to track my food intake for about 1,321 days in a row now. I also track all my workouts on spreadsheets. The key to success for me has been tracking and having hard goals and targets.
What would you recommend to somebody who is new to weight training?
Start with low weight, leave your ego at the door and do routines that are proven to work like Starting Strength and Stronglifts 5x5 or work with a personal trainer who has certification and a history of training people successfully in weight training. Additionally, watch a lot of form videos and don't be afraid to fail.