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Body Transformation: The Inspirational Story Of Joe Zimecki

Average: 4.6 (25 votes)
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Ulcerative colitis left Joe without a large intestine and with a Ileostomy bag. Overcoming insecurities he went for it, deciding to make mental & physical changes.
Before Stats:
  • 195 lbs
  • March 10, 2013
  • 19.6%
  • 41
  • 5'10"
After Stats:
  • 169.5 lbs
  • June 1st, 2013
  • 7.5%
  • 41
  • 5'10"

Lifestyle Prior To Change

What was your lifestyle like prior to your transformation?

I’ve done so much in the fitness/supplement industry, that I always get asked, “Why don’t you compete?”  Well, if I didn’t tell you and we met, you’d never know that I’ve lived with an Ileostomy bag (no large intestine or gall bladder) and this should prove that no matter the obstacle …that you can reach your fitness goal.

My lifestyle before this was a 4 a day trip to the gym and really just eating and enjoying life.  You see, for many years, I couldn’t eat the food I enjoyed because of something called Ulcerative Colitis.  This disease actually causes ulcers to form within your large intestine.

About 10 years ago, I had a surgery that would leave me with an Ileostomy Bag and remove my large intestine.  My ulcerative colitis had caused my large intestine to become extremely thin (like that of an onion skin) and it was a life or death scenario.  There was no option for me at this point and had to take whatever measures were needed.

What was your low point or turning point?

I seriously think my “low point” has been going to the beach, ocean, pool, or even taken my shirt off cutting grass around the house.  Not because I was extremely overweight, but just because I didn’t feel like answering all he question about my Ileostomy bag.

We all have our insecurities and when I had the surgery, I was only 31 and it just seemed to stick as I got older.  At 31, that’s still pretty young and I was shortly after I was just married which can have a toll both on you emotionally and definitely physical.

My turning point was last year at the beach and I thought, “I’m not wearing a shirt at all this whole vacation.  Mind you, since my surgery of almost 9 years at that point... I’d wear a shirt the whole time.  Within ten minutes of me having my shirt off, a little girl asked me, “what’s that on your tummy?” and if you know me on a personal level… without missing a beat I replied with, “that’s what happens when you don’t eat your veggies”.

Joe Zimecki

For that split second, I seriously thought about putting my shirt back on and thought, kids are the most honest people out there and adults will just look and whisper.  By far, a great vacation and started to feel really comfortable not wearing a shirt that whole week.

Around December of 2012, I started to research to see if anyone had done a fitness show with an ileostomy and better yet one of the more well-known physique committees.  So here I am, took me 9 years to take my shirt off at the beach and now I’m going to get in the best shape of my life at 41, with an Ileostomy bag, and be judged on my physique.  My wife Rachele and girls were amazing and they knew if I dedicated myself to the process that I would be successful at obtaining my goal.

I talked to two guys leading up to this decision that I’ve known for years  (Emeka Okammor & Matthew Eubanks) and I seriously think they were more excited about me doing it than I was (at that point).  My family and extended family (fitness forums like muscleandstrength.com and muscleandbrawn.com) truly kept me focused and passionate about what I was trying to accomplish on this journey.  For that, I’m truly thankful!

Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?

There are a few things that can make a transformation challenging and the first that comes to mind is the change and possible common cold.  During my 12 weeks, I did get extremely sunburned on spring break (out of the gym for a week) and sick (out for about 4).

I was changing up everything for the next 12 weeks and yes, fitness plan changes are something I’m used to… but had so much more riding on this leading up to my first ever fitness show.  Before it used to be just about getting “semi-fit” for the summer vacation and didn’t really matter if I was a little over weight.

The most import challenge I was faced with was with the timing and planning of my food intake during my 12 week transformation with my Ileostomy.  Knowing my body and my limits (in my eyes, there are none), plays a key role in being successful.

Working with my friend Emeka Okammor (Team Simple Fitness) and him knowing exactly what I could do and not do during this process when it came to food was a blessing in itself.  My plan allowed me to choose from multiple food options and I would pick exactly what I knew would both be safe but also fuel my body enough to perform my workouts.

My ileostomy bag in itself was the biggest challenge I had to face and fear of just putting it all out there and having no regrets.  From the very beginning, it was more about awareness to people from both worlds... those with ostomies/ileostomies and those without.

Joe ZimeckiTell us about your transformation timeline.

  • Transformation Start: 3/10/2013
  • Milestone: Weeks 1-4, I really was just trying to clean up my eating habits and started to see some changes in my waistline.  I was coming off a very long “eat as I want” type of lifestyle of 4000-5000 calories a day and of course you’re going to see some change that first month.  The first couple weeks it didn’t feel too much out of the norm for me, other than a food plan change and different workouts.   
  • Milestone: Weeks 5-8, I really started to question after week 5 if I wanted to continue this journey of stepping on stage.  My calorie intake was dropping another 500 calories and increase of cardio.  This was the true test of my external/internal will power to complete what I set forth as my goal for 6/1/2013.  By the end of these 4 weeks, I was more mentally strong than physically.  I was actually comfortable with that, as I knew it was only about to get better.  At the end of this I was down 21.5lbs total.
  • Milestone:  Weeks 9 -11, Yet another change in my food plan and cardio.  At this point, I was beyond focused and determined to exceed my own expectations.   I’ve always been one to know how my body will reach given the Ulcerative Colitis (suffered for 2 years) and Ileostomy (10 years).  My body started to reap the benefits of whatever I would ingest or physically apply to it and the results to me were just amazing.  At the end of this I was down 27lbs total.
  • Milestone: Week 12 – 6/1/2013, Stepped on stage at 41 for my first ever fitness show and placed top 5 at a nationally qualifying event in both Men’s Physique Short class (5’10” and under) and Men’s Physique Master (age 35+). 
  • Transformation End: 6/1/2013

Joe's Training Approach​

What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?

My approach was to drop weight and still keep as much of my size as possible.  During the 12 week process, I tried to stay as close to this as possible:

HIIT Cardio was performed 3 times a week in the beginning and then 4-5 times during the last 6 weeks.

Please add a workout that worked best for you:

Legs
Exercise Sets Reps
Wide Leg Press 4 15
I have naturally skinny legs and issues with my right knee.  This allowed me to use a consistent weight for higher reps, that shocked my legs into a little growth.    
Back
Exercise Sets Reps
Reverse Grip Lat Pull Down 4 10
Back – allowed me to build a little wider back.    
Reverse Grip Barbell Curl 4 10
Really change the look of my forearms and bicep.    
Chest
Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 4 12
I would really squeeze these at the top.  
Push Ups 4 20
I would typically superset these with my first triceps exercise.    
Shoulders & Abs
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Lateral Raise and Bands 4 8-10
I have a really sore right shoulder, so I tend to go light on shoulder days, but try to keep them guessing. I’d add resistance to the DB Lateral by the aid of bands.    
V-Ups, Side Crunch, Standard Crunch 4 20
I really just love doing abs now that I can see them.  On the side crunch, I would just stand in front of a mirror and act like something was about to hit me in my kidney area (crunch) and hold for a 1 second count.    

Joe Zimecki

Please detail your cardio approach during your transformation?

HIIT Cardio either on Treadmill, Elliptical, or Stair Master.  I’ve also come to love doing cardio as well and have seen drastic changes from week to week in not only body weight, but also how quick I can do a mile or the increased breathing techniques.

Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:

  1. Having food made 4 days in advance will save you from grabbing junk food and keep you on track.
  2. Get everyone on board with your goal (Family Support).  I knew I could count on my wife and girls to keep me going.  Even there cheering me on the day of the event.  
  3. Commit to the process and you will be successful.

How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?

Since my 6/1/2013 show, I’ve decided to do a 7/13/2013 event local in my area.  I must admit the day of the 6/1 and a few days after I had all those things we all crave to eat and 5 days off from the gym.

I’ve actually started doing twice week training on chest, shoulders, and triceps.  I’ve also increase to 3-4 days a week of abs and 5-6 days of cardio.  I feel that if I just get a little more intense, that I’ll be even better in front of my local crowd.

Joe's Diet And Supplement Plan

What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?

  • Week 1-4 – Really just cleaning up my horrible food plan.
  • Weeks 5-8 – Lower calories and carbs.
  • Weeks 9-11 - Refeed and more fat burning.
  • Week 12 – Drop water and tighten up.

Can you give an example of what your daily meal plan looks like?

Example of weeks 5-8:

  • Breakfast (6 egg whites, 1 cup of fresh veggies, 2 turkey bacon, very small orange)
  • Mid-Morning Snack (Plain Greek yogurt & 1 scoop of whey)
  • Lunch (3 cups of romaine, 6oz chicken, 1 ½ tbsp. of EVOO & apple cider vinegar
  • Post-workout (1 scoop of isolate whey & 1 scoop of whey blend)
  • Dinner (repeat Lunch or 4oz of turkey ground meat & 1 cup of green beans)
  • Night Snack (4oz of turkey ground meat & 1 cup of green beans)

Joe ZimeckiWere there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?

Always have your food prepared at least 4 days in advanced.

Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:

  1. Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it should taste bad.
  2. Don’t fall victim to the “come on, one fries not going to hurt”.
  3. Believe in yourself and you’ll succeed.

Did you allow yourself cheat meals?

Not by choice and it was during a long spring break trip and stuck in traffic.

What supplements did you use during your transformation?

First 6 weeks I was using ON Whey Gold Standard, best price I could find on iIsolate whey, Cytosport Monster Pump,   Ajipure IBCAA, All American EFX Kre-Alkalyn, All American EFX Glutazorb, Multi-vitamin, Fish Oil, and Osteo Bio Flex

It was at that 6 week point and half way through my journey and switched over to All American EFX products: Lean Fix, NF-PRO (Whey Protein), K-OTIC, EFX Kre-Alkalyn, All American EFX Glutazorb  & iRUSH 475 and Cytosport Monster Pump. I also continued to use Best Price I could find on Isolate Whey, Multi-vitamin, Fish Oil, and Osteo Bio Flex.

Advice For Others

What are your best 3 tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?

  1. Set small timeframe goals into weeks not months.
  2. Take before/after pictures.
  3. Believe in what you’re doing will not only change your life, but others.

How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?

Join a fitness forum and I can guarantee more than 90% of the people you meet on there will be extremely helpful.  You have to live the lifestyle 100% to obtain the results that you set forth and surround yourself with positive like minded individuals.

Your Life Now

What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?

Much healthier and really love the outcome of the transformation.  Most importantly, reaching out to people that are afraid to ask for help or people with ostomies/ileostomies and them being inspired/motivated by my progress.

What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?

Tweaking those areas for my next event and seeing the results.  Seeing one of my fitness friends reaching a milestone in their progress or prepping for an event.

Most important, being that dad to my two girls that no matter what obstacles you are faced with or what goal you have… work hard and it can be achieved.

Anything else you would like to share?

HUGE Thank You to my wife Rachele for always believing in me and trusting me with all our family decisions and goals that I want to obtain for us in life.  She’s truly been the foundation/support of all my ideas and knows that if I dream it up, that I’ll do whatever it takes to make it a reality.

My dear friend of many years Emeka Okammor knew that if I was going to do a show, he had to be the one to lay out the details.  I remember telling him, “I just want to have to worry about prepping the food and doing the workouts and at the end, your printed words will become a visual reality”.  Our teamwork over the years in no matter what we’ve taken on has proven success!  Thank you!

What to take away from all of this - dedication, motivation, and passion delivers positive outcomes no matter what you apply it to.

How Can People Contact You?

How can people contact you?

Can also be reached on www.muscleandstrength.com forum under BB12s and www.muscleandbrawn.com BB12.

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Comments (18)

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Greg Bajsa
Posted Fri, 06/21/2013 - 23:03

Of the most amazing guys I know. Joe has been a true inspiration and motivation in my life and I am so proud to call him a friend. Incredible journey he is going through and it's only the beginning! He is one to watch folks!

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Lorraine Sanchez
Posted Sat, 06/22/2013 - 06:51

WOW! You look amazing. Congratulations!

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Marc Bona
Posted Thu, 06/27/2013 - 09:25

Never a doubt. Good things come to those that HUSTLE

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Bradley
Posted Thu, 06/27/2013 - 09:48

Awesome job brother! Why to push beyond what life throws at you. Keep up the great work!

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Ken Vargas
Posted Thu, 06/27/2013 - 10:46

Great job Joe!!! I have known Joe for 15 years and watched his transformation. He is a motivated as anyone I know. Awesome job!!!

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Anthony caruso
Posted Thu, 06/27/2013 - 12:00

Joe zimecki is my cousin and he is a awesom inspiration to me and how I want to become just look out cause I will be on this website soon with my transformation!!!!!

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Dan DeLand
Posted Thu, 06/27/2013 - 12:38

Joe is truly an inspiration to all, by what he has overcome in his journey to success. Joe is an all around great guy and willing to do anything to help others out. I truly think that he will go far in this sport, as he is always willing to learn and take that knowledge and apply it to his hardworking mentality.

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Martin Ortega
Posted Thu, 06/27/2013 - 18:36

Amazing work Joe. Congrats! Very motivational! I am curious to see more details on your cardio routine.

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Joe
Posted Fri, 06/28/2013 - 09:06

First off... Thank you all for the kind words as they motivate me to continue this journey.

Martin,
Are you a member/forum regular on MnS? I'll fbe starting a fitness log on there when I return from vacation

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Colin
Posted Sat, 06/29/2013 - 17:10

Hi Joe,

Wow! What can I say?! You have really given me some inspiration after seeing your transformation. I'm a very similar age to you and looking at your pictures not too dissimilar in appearance to your 'Before' photo. I don't think I could make such an amazing change within the same timescale that you have but if I can get there in the end I'll be a very happy fella.

I really look forward to reading your fitness log.

Thanks for the inspiration. =o)

Colin

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Simon
Posted Sun, 06/30/2013 - 17:50

Hi Joe, just to say well done you have done a great job on your body, I also had my colon removed about 13yrs ago now and had a reversal the main problem I find with sorting my eating plan out is I can't really eat veg as it literally goes straight through me!! I do try to eat all the right stuff but I also get pouchitis which is an infection in the new internal pouch that was made from my small intestine for which I have to take a very potent probiotic for. I don't think our bodies get the full protein & nutrients from the food we eat due to the fact it comes out of our bodies so quickly, would you agree with that? Anyway you are an inspiration to anyone who thinks that an illness should stop you from reaching your goals, well done again and keep it going.
Si.

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Simon
Posted Mon, 07/01/2013 - 15:15

Truly inspirational, I had my colon removed 13yrs ago then had the reversal op which basically makes an internal pouch out of your small intestine & I know how difficult it is to eat all the things that agrees with all the rearranged pipe work so too speak, I suffer from pouchitis quite often which throws my diet way out of line. I now have to take VSL#3 twice a day which is a high dose of probiotic to calm it down. Anyway you really are proof that with the right attitude you can still be whatever you want to be,

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Joe
Posted Wed, 07/03/2013 - 21:14

Simon,

Thank you for the kind words and you hang in there. I decided against the J-pouch many years ago as everything I research to me didn't give me that 100% success feeling.

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Mitchell
Posted Mon, 07/08/2013 - 00:06

This is truely amazing story it makes me wanna get back to my rutien after my shoulder injury it hurts but i got this thank you for givimg me the insparation make my rotater sound peddy haha!!! Truely Inspirde!!!!

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Joe
Posted Mon, 07/15/2013 - 18:35

haha... no worries Mitchell and hope you have a quick recovery. Let me know if you decide to go back and hit the gym

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paul
Posted Mon, 11/11/2013 - 09:42

hi Joe, i just wanted to say you have inspired me i have suffer with depression all my life and i have found it to get motivated i have always wanted to have the confidence to take my top off on the beach and feel great about my self, i will follow your routine and your eating plan so a big thank. cheers Paul from England.

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Ed
Posted Wed, 03/12/2014 - 03:30

What a transformation. I am just beginning to get serious about getting my body into shape. I am a 63 year old male, weight 178lbs, height 6' 1 1/2" and body type is Ectomorph. What can you suggest I do that would get the quickest response from my body? I have been working out for 1 month, regular exercise and just started a Cross fit, 8 week course. Still on the first week. What should I add that would help the most? My 2 recent hernia surgeries were nothing compared to your obstacles you overcame !

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Joe
Posted Mon, 08/25/2014 - 22:34

Ed

Feel free to contact me.

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