Lifestyle Prior To Transformation
What was your lifestyle prior to your transformation?
Sucked! Basically, I’ve always been a pretty heavy guy. I went up by about a stone a year (14lbs) all the way through school. Leveled at about 14st (200ish) when I was 13-15 as I was involved in rowing and played school sports - everything really - basketball, rugby, cricket, field athletics, etc, etc. Not soccer because the team were dicks. I was good enough though, and constantly being asked to play.
Got my first job under the Golden Arches at 16, and quickly went up to about 240 - and that was with A LOT of mountain biking at the time. Went on a diet (high carb, low fat, low protein, typical clueless bullshit diet to be honest), and got back down to 220lbs by February 2006. Had exams at school, so went back up to the 18st/240ish range and then went to university in September 2006.
Instantly put on 15lbs! The so called ‘Fresher 15’ over here. Basically out drinking a lot, eating crap, but still playing recreational soccer and rugby for uni team. But drinking and eating more than I was burning.
November 2006 – dad passes away suddenly – splenic artery aneurysm – completely unavoidable according to doctors, but no prior symptoms. To wake up on a Friday morning and trying to call your dad, getting no response and thinking... “He must be sleeping (night worker), to finding out 10 hours later that he’s dead is devastating.
From there I went into a tail spin, drinking a lot (not in a ‘self medication’ way, just socially. I wasn’t sitting in my dorm/halls room with a bottle of Jack and swigging away to myself at night) – but I hit the candies and junk food/drink like a savage. A typical days eating would be:
- Brunch (Not an early riser) – 3-4 slices buttered toast, tin of baked beans, two fried eggs, cheese on the toast AND over the beans.
- Dinner – Chicken Curry with two slices buttered bread, and about 3-4 cups of rice or a large (14”) stuffed crust pizza (meat toppings) with 4 slices cheesy garlic bread, and wings.
- Snacks – Two tubes of Smarties eggs/big bags of Maltesers/Minstrals/M&M’s and a family bar of cheap chocolate. All washed down with 2-4l of full sugar Coke.
On a drinking night out, add a 1/2lb cheeseburger and fries on the walk home, and 10+ pints of beer and a few shots. I think I worked out cals once at 10,000+, all fat and carbs.
I used to avoid the gym/rugby training etc., and make excuses not to do anything but watch TV and eat. This carried on for a while - until May, 2008, pretty much. Upped my activity level a bit, but the diet was still poor through Sept 07-May 08, living in a house with 3 friends who forced me to rugby train and play my games.
What was your turning point?
Couple of things really, Basically being fat was the bane of my life. It was the first thing I thought of in the morning (Will I fit into my clothes today?) and last thing at night. Used to lie in bed, thinking how all my housemates had girlfriends and I was the ‘funny guy’ – just wanted to fit in a little more. I reckon being fat cost me a lot of enjoyment at my first uni.
In May 2008, me and my housemate decided to start hitting the gym and eating better. I bought a protein supplement and a fat burner (Maximuscle Promax Diet and Thermobol respectively), and tried to clean up the diet. But it was the last few weeks of uni term and there were BBQ’s/Parties to go too, and that meant big drinking and eating! Came back for summer vacation with the intent of joining the gym, which I did on 16th of June 2008.
Then I found out I could have a ‘Work Placement Year’ – working at the school I used to attend as a kid, two years previously. Basically that was when I said “You’ve got a year of being paid to go to school, finish at 3:30 and weekends off” – I thrive on routine and this was a year of routine laid on for me. So I said “You’ve got a year until you go back to Surrey (more like 15 months as it was due to be October 09) – make the change and shock people”
Dan's Training Approach
What was your exercise plan?
Started going to the gym, a bit of cardio and swimming just to start with, to build up a sweat. Then moved on to the weights after a couple of weeks – to ‘tone’ – following a ridiculous bodybuilding split for my conditioning. Typical back/biceps, chest/triceps sort of deal.
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- Bent Over Row
- Seated Dumbbell Press
- Assisted Dips
- Assisted Pull Ups
Sure it’s not the best routine, but the premise was good. I carried this on pretty consistently for about 10 months, added in some HIIT twice a week on the rowing machine (something I avoided when I started as I knew what my old standards were) – no more than 30 minute sessions as I hated cardio.
Now I follow Wendler’s 5/3/1 and am going to start competing in powerlifting. Did a few different templates over the summer, working with chains and doing speed work etc. I wasn’t a big fan at the time, but something I feel will be useful as I get out of the novice stage. Why use advanced techniques to make a 200 bench a 300 bench, when you could use it to make a 350 into a 500? Considering I’ve been out of calorie deficit for about 10 weeks in 18 months, my strength levels are decent enough for now, but WILL rise when I start eating more!
Dan's Diet And Nutrition Approach
What was your diet llan?
I found a lot of success in low carbs, we’re talking basically no carbs at all! Even with veggie carbs, I stayed under 50g per day most of the time. I’d have accidental refeeds I guess, every 6 weeks or so, where I’d have a cheat meal or something like that. But pretty much low carb.
The starting diet was different, still quite low carb, but not enough protein or fats, or cals in general. I was drinking a shake for breakfast, a sandwich or another shake at lunch, fruit in between, fish and salad or veggies for dinner and make a shake at night. Obviously it developed over time into proper amounts of things, and timed better, more good fats, post workout protein, etc.
Now I’m a pretty big fan of carb cycling. Spent the last 10 weeks working with Shelby Starnes – who is an awesome diet coach and would wholeheartedly recommend him to anyone looking to alter their physique.
What supplements did you use?
I’ve tried a bunch! Like most of us I guess. Staples have always been:
- Protein (A whey/casein/egg blend and a straight whey for PWO. Favorites being Biotest Metabolic Drive Low Carbs, Reflex Peptide Fusion as Biotest is cost prohibitive for a student in the UK!)
- Fish Oil (Varying qualities and doses, my favorite being Biotest Flameout)
Have also experimented with:
- Fat Burners (Biotest Hot Rox Extreme, really liked it, still using it now on cut with Shelby, Maximuscle Thermobol – didn’t get great results, in fact one time I ran out of it and couldn’t afford any for a couple weeks, I lost more weight in those two weeks than I had in the previous month…)
- BCAA’s – Tabs and powders – who knows if they made a difference!
- Creatine – Straight mono or Creapure branded creatine. Had the same effect in me as in most people!
- Carb Powders – Waxy maize starch and will be experimenting with malto and dextrose in pre and post WO shakes when I come off the diet. WMS was good. I gained 7lbs over the summer June - September with minimal fat gain. But I wasn’t lean enough to start gaining really, given my metabolic profile. Still, good increases in strength and LBM.
Advice For Others
What is your life like now?
So much better. I love seeing people I haven’t seen for a while and freaking them out with how much better I look. That’s nice.
I had a girlfriend for a little while, didn’t work out, but it was the first time since I was 16 that I’d been out with someone! Back to the single life now though…
Nowadays, I still struggle with confidence with girls and stuff. I still see myself as a fat kid and lack the self confidence to approach people. Don’t have a problem when I get chatting and stuff, but its just a confidence thing, as I reckon I’m in better shape than the majority of guys on the street or in a club. If that sounds big headed, its not meant too.
I switched uni’s to remain closer to home and my awesome gym (www.hirepgym.com) - better all round for me really, getting much better grades this time round (having to repeat a year as a condition of transfer) and working a couple of jobs. One at the school I did my placement year at taking sub lessons and a bartending job. Pretty hectic, but so far removed in a positive way from my old life.
Any advice for others?
Constantly monitor what you're doing. If something stops working, change it! But at the same time, don’t switch what is working! I stayed on a routine, only really varying reps for 10 months. I know guys who switch routines every 10 days!
Be consistent. John Beradi calls it the 90% principle. It’s better to be perfect 90% of the time (more if you can manage…) than 100% perfect 50% of the time. Sure sometimes it means turning down food you want, or going out and not drinking, but you need to do what works, not what you hope might work, when deep down you know its BS!
Balance: You sometimes will have to give things up to diet down or up, like booze is a major one for me. Nowadays I don’t miss it. Still go to bars/clubs/restaurants, but remove yourself from the negative aspects of it. In a club? Don’t drink, but still dance and have fun with your friends, in a restaurant – order sensibly: burger and fries is off the menu most of the time, but you can still get a steak and baked potato with veggies or even hold the potato all together…. Tastes good, but diet friendly.
Do the little things: Switch to diet soda, drink enough water, make sure you’re hitting your macro targets (Yes, even if that means weighing out food), get to the gym on scheduled days, don’t skip sessions.
Basically if you want it bad enough then you’ll get it. Work through problems rather than using them as an excuse to slack off. I couldn’t squat for 5 months as my first gym had no rack, so I’d do cleans, front squats, dumbbell squats, single leg stuff. Find a way around your problems.
More From Dan Evans
I’m going to be in the UK edition of Men’s Health (in the Mar 10 edition, out 1st of Feb) on their ‘Fat Burners’ page. Was a pretty big accomplishment for me.
In terms of going forward, I’ve got 4 weeks of diet left with Shelby, then maintain for a while, weight wise, and get my first PL meet under my belt. Maybe a little diet for the summer and go from there. Who knows, maybe a bodybuilding show in a couple of years (I need to move out first, no way could I handle the grief of show prep at home!)
I have some loose skin issues that I’ll be getting taken care of when I can find the £6000 to pay for the operation! Any rich benefactors want training services? Not much you can do to stop this, kinda the fat guy curse. But a little pouch of skin is better than a huge barrel gut right?
Update from Dan Evans
OK, here's the final leg.
In the summer I got down to 204lbs, and started training for powerlifting. When I started this journey, 18 months ago, I used to read Men's Health and was inspired by a few of their before and after guys. It was always a goal of mine to appear on the page, even though after a while I 'outgrew' the target of the magazine. So I emailed them before the summer, but heard no more.
Training happily along, gained about 7lbs, and some good strength from June until about the end of September, when I got the email offering me a chance to be featured in the magazine. I was 211lbs and quite 'smooth' - I never got shredded, even on the initial diet. So I enlisted the help of Shelby Starnes (www.troponinnutrition.com) to get my ready for the shoot and to 'finish off' the fat loss.
Upped the cardio some. Started a weekly monitored system, where I would send Shelby my information and we'd tweak the diet and cardio accordingly. After the end of my 13 weeks I was 180.2lbs, including some 'deviations' as Shelby calls them over the holiday period - one of the hardest periods to stay disciplined over as I was no longer really shooting for massive fat loss or a photoshoot. I was just trying to lose the last few lbs. My cardio performance is through the roof. I ran 7 miles on Sunday and could have done more. 18 months ago I couldnt do one run of the line at rugby without getting completely gassed. Also pulled a personal best deadlift of 190kg (411lbs) for 5 in the last week of the diet.
I'd recommend that everyone hires a nutrition coach at some point, someone who can monitor your progress and get you moving in the right direction, be that muscle gain or fat loss. Shelby was awesome for me, and at $350 for 12 weeks (I got an extra free week as he was away at the NPC National's part way through) it's a bargain. I'm sure most of us can easily waste $30-35 a week on junk? Why not use it on bettering your physique?
So as of now, I'm looking to regain the strength I lost on the diet, mostly caused by poor programming on my part, and put on some quality mass. Shooting for 5-8lbs a year at the same bodyfat. The way I see it, 8lbs a year for 5 years = 40lbs muscle mass! It's a marathon not a sprint in this game, some of the best physiques I know have 20+ years training under their belts!
So for now, its a few days extra rest and then forward into the rest of my life!