Since birth my parents were concerned with my eyesight. Ophthalmologists were convinced what what I had was merely poor visual acuity that could be corrected with glasses. As a child it was difficult because, for some reason, daylight would drastically affect the way I perceived the world.
Everyday activities such as reading, taking notes, and playing sports were a struggle in certain cases. Nevertheless I continued on with my life. I never attended any special schools, and I participated on every athletic team you could imagine.
At the age of 16 I experienced a life-changing encounter with an ophthalmologist. I was diagnosed with a visual eye disorder called Achromatopsia, which is also known as day blindness. The retina of the eye is incapable of filtering out light, which explained the obstacles I had been facing in my childhood.
As a teenager, finding out I had a disability was heartbreaking. No adolescent wants to be categorized as legally blind or disabled (even if you are). The next two years of my life were miserable: Doctors telling me to visit the Division of Blind Services, and even letting me know that I would never be able to drive a car. Telling a 16 year old he can’t drive is like telling LeBron James he can’t play basketball anymore.
When I finally hit the age of 18 I was introduced by a friend to weightlifting and living a healthier lifestyle. Immediately, after only a few months of altering my lifestyle and being actively involved in fitness activities, consistent training, and proper nutrition, I felt like the king of the world.
There was no better feeling than the day when I began to see results. I started receiving complements from people, and realized that just because I have a disability doesn’t hold me back from doing anything.
My training regimen was constantly changing every 4-6 weeks to keep things interesting. I would not allowing my body to adapt to specific movements. Switching exercises, variations, and types of equipment being used was necessary, but I would continue to train 5-6 times per week. A typical week of training would look like this:
10-15 warm up before each session.
- Back Squat superset with Hang Cleans - 4x12
- Arnold Press - 4x12
- Straight Leg Deadlifts - 3x10
- Leg Press - 3x10 superset with Lateral Raises - 3x15
- Lunges - 3x10 superset with Front Raises - 3x15
- Rear Delt Flies - 3x12 superset with Leg Extensions - 3x15
- Barbell Bench Press superset with Dumbbell Press - 4x8-10 each
- Incline Dumbbell Press superset with Incline Dumbbell Flyes - 4x8-10 each
- Decline Bench Press - 4x8-10
- Dips - 3x15 superset with Tricep Extensions - 3x10
- Dumbbell Kickbacks - 3x12 superset with Push Ups - 3x20
- Leg Raises - 3x20 (different variations)
- Knee Raises - 3x20
- Weighted Crunches superset with Russian Twists - 3x15 each
- Bicycle Kicks superset with Scissor Kicks - 3x20 each
- Side Planks - 3x2 minutes each side
- Boxing/Sprinting/Cycling for 30-45 minutes
- Pull Ups - 4x10
- Bent Over Rows - 4x8
- Romanian Deadlift - 4x8
- Lat Pull Downs superset with Hammer Curls - 3x12
- Seated Cable Rows superset with Seated Incline Curls - 3x12
- Single Arm Rows superset with EZ Barbell Curls - 3x10
- Shrugs - 3x20
- Box Jumps - 4x20
- Burpees - 4x15
- Jump Squats - 4x15
- Kettlebell Swings - 3x15
- Mountain Climbers - 3x15
- HIIT for 20-30 minutes
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: Yoga or anything active
“Abs are made in the kitchen.” There is nothing more that I can emphasize than nutrition. What you put into your body determines the results you will get. Personally I believe nutrition is 60% and training is 40% of the components needed to reach your fitness goals.
I eat about every 2-3 hours, which is necessary to build lean muscle mass, and will actually lead to burning body fat. The diet and supplementation that provided me with optimal results looks something like this:
- Meal #1 - 5 egg whites plus 1 egg yolk with grilled onions, peppers, and mushrooms.
- Meal #2 - Whey protein powder with a teaspoon of organic peanut butter and a banana.
- Meal #3 - Chicken breast, fish, or lean steak (8oz), 1 cup of brown rice, broccoli, green beans or any vegetables.
- Meal #4 - Handful of almonds with an apple or berries.
- Meal #5 - Chicken breast, fish, or lean steak (8oz) with a side salad (light honey mustard or vinaigrette dressing).
- Meal #6 - Post workout whey protein shake with glutamine and BCAAs.
- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein
- Optimum Nutrition Glutamine
- Optimum Nutrition BCAAs
- Optimum Nutrition Multivitamin for Men
If you ever have a doubt whether or not you can do something, think about the things I overcame. I am legally blind, and played every sport you could imagine because I believed I could. I had to find different strategies of adapting to certain environments and situations, which ultimately led me to become stronger mentally. Throughout my journey I have learned how to reach my goals and live a happier life, and I want to provide others with the right modifications and motivation so they can too succeed.
ALWAYS stay positive. I wake up every morning, and before I head to the gym I read a motivational quote or watch an inspirational video to remind me of everything that I am capable of. If you set your mind with a positive attitude to achieve a goal, ANYTHING is possible in this world.
Surround yourself with people who will positively reinforce your attitude, decisions, and goals. Never let anyone tell you no! I wouldn’t have a license today, if I had listened to the doctors who said I would never be able to drive.
Listen and learn. Stay a student forever. There is always an opportunity to learn from someone wiser and with more experience.
Treat everyone with respect. Whether they are a millionaire or a homeless man, never put someone down!
“Do not let what you can’t do, interfere with what you can do.” - John Wooden