Lifestyle Prior To Change
What was your lifestyle prior to your transformation?
Prior to the start of my transformation, I consumed way too much unhealthy food (fast food specifically) and hardly participated in any fitness-related activities. Prior to the start of my, I lived in MI. In July, 2010, I moved to Colorado.
The pivotal moment when I knew I had to change my lifestyle was when I took a picture at a water park. With one look at that picture, I instantly knew I had to become healthier.
What was your low point or turning point?
My lowest point was looking at that picture from the water park. As a Army veteran, I knew the importance of good health, how to get there and how to stay there. I was disappointed that I let myself drift that far from good health. From September 2, 2010 and beyond, I was determined to transform my body into an image of health and fitness.
Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?
Yes, I had several challenges and circumstances that I had to overcome. In September 2010, I had just moved to a new state, CO, started a new job, was attending college courses and was maintaining family life (I am a Husband and the Father of three small children). I also had a few health issues that I was/still am battling (asthma & a surgically repaired knee). I was able to manage all of these issues and still reach my transformation goals.
What was your transformation timeline?
- Transformation Start: September 2, 2010, Weighed 232 lbs.
- Milestone: October 2, 2010 - Weighed 212 lbs.
- Milestone: November 2, 2010, Weighed 206 lbs.
- Milestone: January 2, 2011, Weighed 200 lbs.
- Milestone: June 13, 2011, Weighed 185 lbs.
- Transformation End: June 20, 2011.
Michael's Training And Cardio Approach
What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?
Initially I wanted to lose 30 lbs of fat through running. After I lost my first 30lbs, I then began to incorporate weight lifting into my workout plan, which helped to tone my body rather quickly. I primarily ran several times per week from Sept 2010 - Dec 2010. I started lifting weights (while still running) from Jan 2011 - Jun 2011.
- Monday - Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs and a 3 mile run at a pace of 10 minutes per mile.
- Tuesday - Back and Biceps.
- Wednesday - 5 mile run slow tempo.
- Thursday - Chest, Shoulders, Triceps and Abs.
- Friday - Back, Biceps and 2 mile run - intervals.
- Saturday - Run 4 miles with hills.
- Sunday - Rest.
|Monday - Chest, Shoulders, Triceps & Abs|
|Tuesday - Back and Biceps|
|Bent Over Dumbbell Reverse Flye||4||10|
|Thursday - Chest, Shoulders, Triceps & Abs|
|Incline Bench Press||4||10|
|Machine Shoulder Press||4||510, 8, 6, 4|
|Friday - Back and Biceps|
|Rope Cable Curl||4||10|
|Lat Pull Down||4||15|
Please detail your cardio approach during your transformation?
Since my Army days, I’ve always enjoyed running. I believe that running is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise one can participate in. When I run, I mix slow-long-distance, spiriting and hill runs.
Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- There’s no need to go on a crash diet. Slowly change your eating habits from unhealthy to healthy.
- Resist the temptation of overworking your body. Take incremental steps in order to reach your fitness goals.
- Document your progress. This includes documenting your weight, body measurements, how much you can lift, running times/distances. As you consistently work at it, you’ll find yourself reaching all of your fitness goals.
How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?
My approach has not changed. I still try to run at least 10-15 miles per week, eat around 2000 calories per day, and lift weights 4 times per week.
Michael's Diet And Nutrition Approach
Can you provide us with a sample eating plan (please be specific):
I was easily consuming over 3000 calories per day prior to the beginning of my transformation. Instead of totally abandoning my eating habits, I instead opted to consume more fiber-based foods and less high fat food. I did not totally change my way of eating, I just incrementally started to cut back on food that I knew was unhealthy for me. Months later, I was eating healthy salads, protein shakes, fresh fruit, fiber bars and similar healthy foods.
Here are two samples of my daily meal plan:
- Breakfast - 2 Boiled Eggs/Bowl of Oatmeal
- Lunch - Chicken Salad/Protein Shake
- Snack - Fiber Bar/Nuts or Trail Mix
- Dinner - Baked Chicken, Mixed Vegetables, Brown Rice
- Breakfast - Whole Wheat Toast/Scrabbled Eggs
- Lunch - Fresh Fruit/Chicken Wrap
- Snack - Banana/Fiber Bar
- Dinner - Black Beans, Tuna, Steam Veggies/Protein Shake
Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?
For a couple of weeks, near the beginning of my transformation, I completely cut out nearly all carbs (both good and bad carbs) and consumed 85% protein. That factor zapped my energy, and I quickly found that eating healthy, whole-grained based carbs/food gave me a more balanced approach to my nutrition, plus more energy.
Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Consume at least 60+ ounces of water each day.
- If you must eat at a restaurant, eat half of the meal there and save the rest for lunch or dinner.
- Prepare your meals on the weekend and pack your lunch for the week. Have a balanced mix protein and carb-based foods (fruits, veggies, whole grain).
Did you allow yourself cheat meals?
Although I did cheat (by continuing to consume the snacks that I liked), I consumed them in moderation. I slowly cut back on unhealthy foods and replaced unhealthy snacks with fruit, veggies and nuts.
What supplements did you use during your transformation?
During my transformation, I used whey protein, protein bars, multivitamins and caffeine-based energy supplements.
Advice For Others
What are your best tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?
- Go to the doctor, get a annual checkup, and make sure you get a good idea your current picture of health.
- Start slow. No need to kill yourself in the beginning of your fitness journey.
- Watch your caloric intake. Unless you're Michael Phelps or you have time to exercise all day, it’s extremely hard to overcome a poor diet/overeating. I used a free app on my phone to track my calories, food intake and exercise.
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?
I stay motivated because I continually monitored my fitness stats (weight, waistline, muscle tone) and was able to continually see results. I was blessed to reach my total fitness goals in 10 months. I pushed my body to the limit and I found great enjoyment in seeing results.
More From Michael Lee
What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?
My life is wonderful. I am an avid 5k-10k runner (I have participated in several races in this year). Running is so liberating to me.
I also am helping many of my family and friends become healthier though sharing my fitness journey and helpful tips.
What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?
Reading stories of other people who turned their health and fitness around keeps me motivated. My family keeps me motivated as well. They have attended all of my races, and they also go with me to the gym. I plan to be at all the great moments in their lives of my family and what better way to ensure that than to be physically fit.
Anything else you would like to share?
Progress is positive, no matter how small it may seem. My best advice to anyone is to continue to challenge one’s self, keep working hard, document your fitness journey and take time celebrate your fitness success.
How can people contact you?
I can be reached at:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RippedRunner
- Website: www.rippedrunner.com
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/rippedrunner
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/rippedrunnertv
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Old post but if you see this how about an update on how you are doing today. I laughed when I first read this because your "before" is my "after" ( or current rather). I have come down to 224 pounds from 280 over 2 years and I resemble your starting pic. My ex wife told me I would always have man boobs so I google fat to shredded and up comes your pic. You story has inspired me and I am on the same path as you were, just now incorporating alot of weight training and really focusing on a balanced diet as I have lost alot of muscle walking/running and eating low carb.
Hello Mr Michael LEE.
I do my workout and cardio since one year.
But i lost only 5% of bad fat. :(
- 3 workouts by weeks. (3 times, 50 minutes).
- 3 cardios training by weeks. 3 times, between 30 minutes and 1 hour.
If i eat for 1500 calories by day of good food. I gain weight.
What can i do for burning my bad fat plz ?
Hi Michael, what you did is inspiring.
I am 5'7.5'' and 200pounds. Certainly i am way out of shape.
I've just started my getting fit regime.
Some of my problems are as follows :
* I can't run more than 2-3 minutes on a moderate pace.
* I am doing weight training also but it seems to do no good.
* Sometimes i feel drained while running.
* I am a vegan and not economically sound to afford extra supplements.
* I eat at hostel mess hence it is very difficult to get extra protein.
* I am cutting down on junk food but sometimes i tend to cheat, how do i get over that?
Please show me the silver lining, please answer these questions.
I've lost 107 lbs since last summer. When I started exercising in December, I was pretty much in the same boat. Jogging at 4.5 mph for 1 minute left me feeling like I was going to die. Although I continued to lift weights, I didn't start getting serious about running until June or July of this year. Now I am able to jog a 5k at about 5mph nonstop. It's just a matter of trying to do a little more than you did the day before. If it means jogging for a little longer before walking or jogging faster or for a longer distance, just do it. Your body will adapt and you'll get better and better at it.
As far as the weightlifting goes, there are definitely days where you aren't feeling it but you do it anyway because it needs to be done. If you are feeling this way all the time and dreading your workout, you may need a new workout plan. The easiest way to look at it (in my opinion) is that running and diet are what cause you to burn fat. The purpose of weight training is to retain (or even gain) muscle. Weight training can cause some amount of fat burning, but I believe it's secondary to ensuring that you maintain your existing muscle mass.
I've found that the only times I really feel drained while running are on days when I eat beforehand. It sounds really backwards, but if I run fasted I'm usually fine. I'd say try and play with this a little bit and see if it fixes anything. Everyone is different so there is some amount of trial and error to everything before you can really get it dialed in.
First and foremost, I would like to say, your transformation is a true inspiration. I have also lost weight, starting from 220 to 189, and I want to get toned. I would like to know if you incorporate leg workouts into your routine or you just substitute it with running? Also, are the workouts listed above, all the workouts you did for your transformation?
Michael, when you were only running, before December, what kind of intervals did you start out with, and how did you progress so quickly?
Hi Conner - I liked to doing 800 Meter Sprints ( the size of a high school track). I'd sprint around the track, then rest for one minute. I usually did between 10-20 rounds of sprints.
you said ( I used whey protein, protein bars, multivitamins and caffeine-based energy supplements ) thats it ? or we can use other supplement ?
how to time management for this workout
I approach my weekly workouts by body part. For example, Mon-Chest/Back, Tues-Arm/Shoulders, etc.. I see how much time I have and plan around that time.
-Mike Lee, 5fitrules.com
awesome effort this inspires me and tells me it is not impossible - I weigh less than you did at your heaviest but I have a belly I have always hated since I was 16 I used to be fit and strong I am 37 now I gave up all the bad things in life and want to make it better I have started on my journey about six months ago but slow progress but suddenly it is getting reachable - I have just changed my diet to better things cut out the sugar I do regular cardio drink heaps of water eat well live well work my fitness level - hope to see results anywhere near as good as you I would be a happy man !!! thanks for the inspiration to continue I was going to anyway - nothing will stop me
I believe in you bro. You are going to make it happen. Stay positive and stick with it!
Happy New Year!
I was weighing 227lbs an year ago. I started with cardio and weight training, lost around 24lbs in six- eight months. Though i have lost 4inch around my waist, i am currently stuck with the same weight. Though i am shaping up a lot now, i dont seem to shed anymore weight. In fact i have added around 5lbs in last two months. But i must admit that i dont follow your diet but i have given up on all junk foods an year ago. And i dont take any supplements. Would you pls let me know what i am doing wrong.
Tell me your weekly workout schedule (cardio and weight training).
great life change! I need help with losing those things on my sides called skin handles. They are holding me back bro.Also, I need to get rid of my big gut. Can you guide me through this and contact me? I really need some assistance. As someone who used to be in shape, I really let myself go over the past 2 years.
Would like to know during workout days i.e on Monday's and Friday's running should be before workouts or after workouts.
Your awesome man :)
Big fan of ya...
Can i know how to reduce skin fat and have a cut and ripped body ?
Congrats on your Transformation first off......Hell of a Job!!!! After reading your transformation story I really got motivated again. So here is the deal Michael, I'm 28yr 5"11 230lbs so you could imagine how excited I was to finally find someone with the same specs as myself. I've been researching all over for at least a month trying to find what workouts/nutrition guide/supplements anything I can use to start a transformation workout. My goal is to get lean and ripped!!! Shred all my body fat and get down to a good weight which I believe is around 185/190 but you might have your own opinion of what my goal weight should be, I'm not really sure what I should be at? No one ever answers these questions so I hope you can do that for me….
In Feb. of this year I started that Insanity workout didn't really lose that much weight but could def. tell that I felt better and had more energy throughout the day. In the first month I lost 3in off my waist and was happy. I started running about 2 miles a day because watching the TV everyday was getting very boring and uninteresting. Then I tore my hamstring very bad and was out for about month and half. So as you can tell I’m back healthy and just got a new IT job and ready to get back working out and transform myself. So I guess my first question is before I get back in the gym and lift anything should I in your opinion do cardio for another month or month in half first before lifting any type of weights? Then after I get into shape as far as cardio shape, start a gym routine? Thanks again look forward to hearing from you. Also continue on your journey to a fit and healthy life!!!!!
Hi, great story mate, proof that it can be done!
I have a question about injurys, I play a lot of football (soccer to you!) and find myself picking up a lot of niggling small injurys that prevent me training for a week or so at a time, I am wondering if there is anything you know of to do during this period to avoid loss of fitness? cheers
Thanks Michael. Great job. I have shifted my workout to be closer to yours. I also found it difficult to run when pushing weights with my legs. I can't run 5 miles yet but I have improved significantly following your plan. I should add that I had a kidney transplant about a year ago. It is so awesome just to be able to push weights. I can hardly believe I can run now too! Keep up the good work!
Thanks Jim. Running provided me a very straight forward way to lose a lot of fat, and keep it off. Now, I can shift focus on building muscle and maintaining my physique. Keep up the great work as well.
-Mike Lee aka Ripped Runner
Connect with me @
Great story, I was once in shape I went from 225 to 192 and now I'm back at 220. I took six months off from the gym. After reading your story I have no reason not to be in better shape. Just recently started going back to the gym, and now after reading your transformation story, I'm going to change my lifestyle. Thanks......
Thanks for checking out my story Jay! Congrats on your weight-loss success. Keep us informed on how you are doing.
Hey Michael, what you did is amazing man. Your transformation inspires. I respect your achievements.
Thank you Allen! I appreciate the feedback. Let's continue to connect and stay in touch with each other. I have a eBook and workout videos coming out really soon so stay tuned!
-Michael Lee aka Ripped Runner
You can reach me at:
By eating your nutrition plan and working out daily how much fat do you think I would lose over the summer. I am a senior in highschool and looking forward to getting ripped just like you
Thanks for reaching out. You can expect to lose about 1-4 lbs per week, depending how clean your eating, and how much cardio your doing. As a high schooler, you can get ripped and gain muscle really fast man. I have a eBook and workout videos coming out really soon so stay tuned!
-Michael Lee aka Ripped Runner
You can reach me at:
Congratulations on your physique contest win. You looked great!!
All muscles in my body are weak and I am overfat about 40 pounds.
In my case would you still recommend that I just do cardio to lose the fat before weight training.
Using your weight workout routine, what days would I add leg work.
Thanks for checking out my story. Truly appreciate the support and the question. Yes, I would recommend cardio first. While you can lose fat and build muscle at the same time, it's very challenging to maintain that approach. Also, if you start with cardio, it's a simpler approach that will help you build confidence once you start seeing your weight drop, and see the loss of inches around your waist.
-Michael Lee aka Ripped Runner
You can reach me at:
I found you story really motivational and I started doing it one month ago, I lost 1.4 KGS so thank you man.
I have two questions Michael:
(1) I will I travel in the summer for couple of weeks and I won't be able to access the gym during this time, how should my program be then?
(2) Did you repeat the same exercises over the 6 months course?
Thank you Michael,
Thanks for checking out my story bro.
Answer (1) - If you can't lift, then you need to carefully control your diet(1 gallon or more of water, try to eat lean meat, chicken, turkey, fish with every meal, keep bad carbs low), and try to get in 5-6 days of cardio (like running outside, if possible). Also, you can do bodyweight exercises (pushups, situps, burpees).
Answer (2) - Yes, I mix up my routine often. Once you bodyfat gets low, then you can lift first, then do cardio after. Or, split your cardio and lifting session up into different times of the day. I hope this helps.
-Michael Lee aka Ripped Runner
You can reach me at:
Out of all the transformations ive seen on this website, your transformation is among the best! First of well done, you must of had to go through so much blood sweat and tears to get there but its all paid of in the end. Just got to make sure you keep on top of it
Thanks Dave! I appreciate the kind words. Yes, I am staying on top of my fitness. In fact, I just won 1st place at a Men's Physique show and I'll be doing another show really soon.
-Michael lee aka Ripped Runner
I am 27 year old male. My weight is 174lbs..height 5.10.... overall my body is ok but i had issue with stomach belly and chest fat so i started working out. Almost 5 days a week i go for workout..including cardio and weight exercises...moreover i just eats chicken and eggs so its hard to get enough protien for the day.. still somehow i try to manage it by consuming 100 g of protein a day.... i really need help. After reading your article i got inspired and got motivation.... everything is possible..... i feel ashamed when i remove my shirt on beach due to belly fat n chest fat... please can u help me by giving some better advice.. of how to continue further .. i will really appreciate it ...thankyou
Thanks for checking out my story. From your measurements, it doesn't sound like you are too far from a "ideal" weight for your height. I have some questions for you. Can you provide a sample of your workout (Type of exercise, # of sets, rep, and weight). if you want to build muscle, try to aim for 1 gram of protein per either the body weight you want or the body weight that you are. So, you need to consume at least 175 grams of protein. Also, make sure you take Whey protein (about 30 grams) after every workout. For more info, head over to my site rippedrunner.com and on facebook.com/rippedrunner.
Michael u look great so I'm going to try you your routine.
Thank you! Try it out and post your results. Would love to hear about your progress.
I am 5'11 and I weight 175. So if I will look this at 185 I can't wait to get there. Great job.
Thanks for commenting. You'll get there. Share your success with us to.
Can I use this program to gain mass only
Gaining mass typically involves eating a high number of quality calories, while participating in a moderate to heavy weight lifting program. My program is targeted for those who are looking to shed body fat, while still gaining muscle.
Very inspiring! Thanks for sharing, and well done :)
Thanks Dustin. Have a great day!
great stuff michael! i have a question regards your routine. You said you ran the first few months to lose 30 lbs. is that with no weight training involved? I have been running for the last few weeks but i seem to gainning weight instead of losing it. I watched what i eat too but it dont seems like it working. I very discourage when you working hard and there isn't any improvements that you looking for. SHould i start to incorporate your lift routine with running too?
Don't get discouraged. I can help you. Just need to know more info about your situation. How many min's/miles are you running each week? What are the estimated total number of calories that you are consuming each day? What types of food are you eating? What is your height and weight?
I'm 5`8 and 210 lbs. And my daily calories intake is around 1500-2000. I mostly eat rice, chicken, eggs, vegetables and whole wheat. I eat a lot of fruit like banana , orange and apple. I used to run on the treadmill 12-13 miles a week according to plan you posted but it seem to be hard on my knee so I reduce it to 8-10 miles with mixed elliptical running. I also followed closely to your lifting plan.
You are an inspiration to me. By reading this article about your transformation, Im not thinking twice now of starting my healthy lifestyle. That's me now on that photo of you by the pool. I want to be the one next to it. Been a gym member for how many years now and see no transformation. But after reading this article, I know there is still hope. Thank you so much.
Thank you Emil. You inspire me to keep moving forward by commenting on my story. Yes, start today and you'll never regret that decision. I can tell you are full hope, and let that hope drive you towards completing your goal.