Lifestyle Prior To Change
What was your lifestyle prior to your transformation?
I was getting teased as far as I can remember. It was hard being overweight in grade school; kids are cruel! Getting ridiculed over and over again can really take a toll on you and I developed an emotional state of anger and resentment against the kids in my school. Soon, I even became a “bully” because I was so angry with how things were going, and I knew that was the only way to make the teasing stop, by scaring the kids!
How did I get there? I lived a very sedentary lifestyle while indulging in the most fat laden sources of food possible. I had no knowledge about health and nutrition. Having been a “yo-yo dieter” in the past, I had no confidence I could make a change, so I emotionally ate my food.
What was your low point or turning point?
Funny story! It was the first day of college and class was about to begin. I went to go take a seat and I could barely fit! I knew right then and there I needed not only to make a change, but one that was permanent. My journey began that night when I signed up at a gym and did my first 25 minute cardio session on the elliptical.
Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?
As I learned more about dieting safely and efficiently, I decided to follow the 5-6 meal a day plan. At first, it was particularly rough to make time to eat this many meals being a full time student and working 30+ hours a week. However, I knew what my ultimate goal was and I would do whatever I needed to do to achieve it.
Tell us about your transformation timeline:
- Transformation Start: Age 19: Started healthier eating regiment (252 lbs).
- Milestone: Age 20: Lost 72 lbs (180lbs), and decided to add weight lifting to my plan.
- Milestone: Age 22: Bulked up to 190lbs.
- Milestone: Age 23: Dieted back down to 182lbs, then decided to enter a bodybuilding competition.
- Transformation End: Age 23: dieted for 8 weeks total to 170lbs at 9% body fat.
Areya's Training And Cardio Approach
What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?
My approach was to try to hit every muscle group of the body once a week. With a one week recovery period, I was ready to train at full intensity when the time came.
Please add a workout that worked best for you:
- Monday: Chest/20 minutes moderate intensity cardio.
- Tuesday: Back/20 minutes moderate intensity cardio.
- Wednesday: No weight lifting/optional HIIT cardio.
- Thursday: Quads and Hamstrings.
- Friday: Bis/Tris/20 minutes moderate intensity cardio.
- Saturday: Shoulders/Traps/Calves/20 minute moderate intensity cardio.
- Sunday: Much needed rest!
|Monday - Chest|
|Incline Dumbbell Bench Press||4||7-10|
|Decline Bench Press||4||7-10|
|Tuesday - Back|
|Lat Pull Down||4||7-10|
|Stiff Leg Deadlift||4||7-10|
|One Arm Dumbbell Row||4||7-10|
|Barbell Bent Over Row||4||7-10|
|Wednesday - Quads and Hamstrings|
|Leg Extension superset w/ Leg Curl||2||7-10|
|Friday - Biceps and Triceps|
|Dumbbell Curl superset w/ Tricep Rope Extensions||4||7-10|
|EZ Bar Curl superset w/ Skullcrusher||4||7-10|
|Reverse EZ Bar Curls superset w/ Overhead Rope Tricep Extensions||4||7-10|
|Preacher Curl superset w/ Reverse Grip Tricep Pull Down||4||7-10|
|Saturday - Shoulders, Traps and Calves|
|Side Lateral Raise||4||12-15|
|Crossover Rear Delt Pull||4||12-15|
Please detail your cardio approach during your transformation?
20 minutes moderate intensity cardio 3-4x a week with one 10 minute HIIT session once a week.
Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- It’s very important to keep proper form. Not doing so may result in injury!
- Make sure you have the energy for the task you’re about to complete. Without proper energy, you can’t use full intensity.
- Cardio must be done consistently to see results. Don’t think doing one session here and there will get you that 6-pack!
How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?
My training has changed from what I have listed. After my transformation, I suffered from a shoulder injury that would not allow me to train, thus I added back some unwanted pounds. I have decided to compete in a bodybuilding show in August 2011, so I am currently preparing for that show.
Areya's Diet And Nutrition Approach
What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?
I used a lower carb approach. Carbs would account for roughly 20% of the diet, while protein intake was at 45% and fat was at 35%. A majority of my carbs were complex sources that I consumed first thing post workout.
Can you provide us with a sample eating plan (please be specific):
- Meal 1: ½ cup oats with 2 scoops whey.
- Meal 2: 6 oz. chicken breast and steamed green beans with a side salad and fat free Italian dressing.
- Meal 3: 6 oz. baked tilapia and broccoli.
- Meal 4 (Pre-WO): 6 oz. chicken breast with 4 oz. baked sweet potato.
- Meal 5 (Intra-WO): 1 gallon water with 4 scoops of Xtend.
- Meal 6 (Post Workout): 50g whey with 60g of some sort of complex carbohydrate.
- Meal 7: 1 cup fat free Greek yogurt with sugar-free syrup.
Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?
I wouldn’t call them mistakes, just learning experiences. To get to low levels of body fat, it takes very specific ratios of nutrients. I didn’t know I was so sensitive to carbs before I dieted high carb, then low carb, with the same calories, and saw which diet actually made a difference.
Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- While ratios are important, you must watch overall calorie intake!
- It’s through trial and error until you find out what ratios and foods work best for you goals. Play around and see what works!
- Consistency is the key. I believe if 90% of the diet is clean, you will have outstanding results.
Did you allow yourself cheat meals?
At the beginning of my transformation, I had one cheat meal once a week. It helped me stay sane as I was getting used to my new style of eating. I don’t condone cheat meals if you’re preparing for a contest, although I did slip up twice during my prep.
What supplements did you use during your transformation?
Advice For Others
What are your best tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?
- Set many short term goals in order to achieve a long term goal. It will be relatively easier to achieve each short term goal, which will increase motivation and drive to achieve the next one.
- Do your research! There’s plenty of scientific and anecdotal evidence flying around the web. Read up!
- Don’t be discouraged if you slip up on your diet, miss a workout, etc. It’s about how fast you can get back on track that makes the difference.
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?
Find a partner to work out with that has the same goals as you do. Ironically it always seems that the days I’m low on energy and want to skip the gym, he’s fired up and ready to go, and vice versa. Having a partner is very motivating, and a little friendly rivalry never hurt anyone.
More From Areya Dargahi
What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?
Everything has totally changed! I’m full of confidence and charisma, and my friendships and my relationships are booming! Couldn’t ask for anything more.
What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?
I want to go to bed every night saying I outdid the previous day whether that’s in the gym, professional life, or personal life. Complacency within yourself and the relationships around you will lead to undesired outcomes.
Anything else you would like to share?
Honestly, if I can change my life and body, you can too. I lived the same way for 19 years until I made a change with no looking back!
How can people contact you?