I’d like to share my own personal transformation story with you. After 7 years of running this website I figure it’s about time.
I went into a bit more depth than most people, as I want to give you the big picture of where I was coming from. I’ll also be sharing with you the lessons I learned and what you can expect from this website if you hang around and keep reading. 🙂
Let’s get started…
Name: Tony Schober
Stats: currently 36 years old – 5’7 194lbs (before pic), 197lbs (after pic)
Transformation Time: exactly 2 years between pictures
Strength: bench – 360lbs (touch and go), squat (high bar) – 385lbs, deadlift (w/ trap bar) – 470lbs
Supplements: multivitamin, fish oil, protein powder – more details here
Alcohol: (1) 6oz glass of wine each day
Calories: approximately 2400/day using a combination of calorie counting and mindful eating
Workout: strength training 4 days/week using an upper/lower split
Cardio: none other than a walk on Sunday mornings and the occasional baseball playing
Recovery: half week deloads every 3.5 weeks and a full week deload every 7 weeks
Mindset: I filled my mind with good “food” by reading 1-2 self-improvement books each week
The following is my story. It’s also the philosophy I use when I coach clients or write articles on this site. Take what you can from it and apply it to your own unique situation…
Why I Wanted to Lose Weight
My why for wanting to lose weight was similar to most people’s to start – I felt ashamed of my body, my clothes didn’t fit right, I was avoiding the pool and the beach, and I felt like a fraud coaching people to their own weight loss goals (very successfully I might add) when I was struggling myself.
But it didn’t take long for my why to evolve. After much reflecting I realized all my reasons for wanting to lose weight had to do with external pressures. I was trying to change because I didn’t want to be judged by others.
And so long as I focused on those reasons I struggled. My motivation would start high and then would fizzle out after about a month.
The moment I started doing this for ME everything changed. My attitude went from one of needing to lose weight to one of wanting to lose weight. My why changed to wanting to lose weight so I could be healthy, so I could use my body the way it was meant to be used, and so I could feel my best physically and mentally.
That’s what propelled me to change and what keeps me motivated. The fulfillment and gratification comes instantly when you put yourself first and do this for you.
And once you do that, everyone around you benefits.
My Approach to Nutrition
During my journey I had to overcome a binge eating disorder. It wasn’t unheard of for me to pack away 5k-6k calories a night. At times I would gain a pound a day for an entire month.
Most of this came from a restrictive mindset thinking I had to eat perfectly to get results. All that did was lead to me cycling between periods of over and under eating.
I now take a more moderate approach to eating. I also don’t really count calories. These changes have dramatically lowered the intensity of feelings surrounding food and I no longer obsess about calories and fat, carbs, or protein.
Instead, I work on consistency in my eating approach. I try to eat at least 80% whole foods and then the rest comes from fun foods. And when I eat, I do it slowly, mindfully, and I stop at 80% full.
This is a valuable skill set to have because you can take it anywhere with you. Whether you’re on vacation, eating at a restaurant, at a family member’s house for a holiday, or in any other number of scenarios, you’re armed with the skills necessary to enjoy your food while also maintaining a healthy body composition.
I do not do stereotypical cheat meals where you engorge yourself. Instead, my wife and I eat out once per week and I get what I want while also following the approach laid out above. That means I rarely finish all the food on my plate, but I’m still satisfied. I’d also order pizza once per week for the family and I’d eat 2-3 slices – again, following the above approach.
I ate 4 meals per day and one nighttime snack. I ate at 8am, noon, 3pm, 5:30pm, and then a snack at 7:30pm – lately a frozen greek yogurt bar, but this snack has changed many times over the months/years.
My first three meals of the day stayed pretty constant day to day. I don’t need much variety and could usually go 3-4 months before needing to change them. My dinners changed daily due to the fact I eat with a family. If you’d like a copy of my meal plan just click here and I’ll show you what a typical day looks like.
My nutrition was a work in progress. I didn’t get it right at first. My only goal at the beginning was being consistent from meal to meal and day to day. That meant treating each day like any other – no weekday/weekend cycle. The food choices might have changed but I always try to keep my approach consistent.
I was not hungry. I wasn’t full either. Just satisfied. This is the key to long-term consistency and adherence. Too many people undereat with the hopes of experiencing faster weight loss. Eventually this backfires.
You can see that I didn’t lose any weight during this transformation. In fact, I gained a few pounds. I’m actually considered obese if you go by the BMI scale. So I didn’t put much stock into what the scale said, and at the time of this writing I really don’t weigh myself anymore, choosing instead to focus on other measures of progress – health, happiness, satisfaction, energy, strength, body composition, endurance, body image, etc.
My Exercise Philosophy
I lift weights – not because it’s better for weight loss or some other outcome, but because it’s what I enjoy most. So many people get this wrong and never stay motivated to exercise long enough to experience transformation.
Do what you enjoy. Your body is a side effect of that.
For most of this transformation I trained 4 days/week using an upper/lower split – Monday (upper), Tuesday (lower), Thursday (upper), Friday (lower). I created my own unique workout program that was based on my goals. If you’d like to see exactly what exercises and rep ranges I did you can get my program here.
I had a really bad habit of hurting my back over and over again, usually from doing deadlifts. It’s why my squat and deadlift numbers aren’t much higher than my bench.
For 20 years of training I let my ego get in the way and listened to people say how it “doesn’t count” if you aren’t using an olympic barbell for deadlifts and that if you’re hurting yourself you need to work on your mobility and form.
And for 20 years I would get strong and work on my mobility and then get hurt and lose my motivation to work out simply because injuries prevented me from lifting to my fullest. My life saver was the trap bar. It put my body into a good position and I’ve finally been able to hit new PRs.
Lesson learned – do what’s best for you. If you’re getting stronger it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. Unless you’re a competitive power lifter, do what keeps you healthy and in the gym.
As for cardio, I really didn’t do any. I walked on Sundays – not because I was trying to lose weight, but because I actually enjoy walking and listening to music or a podcast. I would also occasionally play some baseball.
Cardio is a tool. I recommend you use the least amount of it as possible that still enables you to hit your enjoyment, performance, and physique goals.
If you enjoy running – run. If you don’t – don’t do it! What’s best for weight loss is you enjoying the exercise you do, as that’s what keeps you consistently training to reap the benefits it provides.
Lessons Learned Along the Journey
I learned a lot on my journey. I didn’t learn this stuff from books. I learned it from taking action and screwing up. I also learned it from coaching thousands of clients and getting an insider’s look into others’ struggles.
Here is a very very short list of lessons I learned on this journey…
Persist through the struggle.
Struggling is normal. In fact, it’s necessary for transformation. Persisting through it is what leads to success. I had a lot of struggles to overcome – binge eating, body image issues, and motivation problems.
Most people practice struggle avoidance, so they get really good at it. They either quit altogether or they hop on a different problem with the hopes it’ll be easier.
It’s not. Change is hard and the only way to transform your life is to take the struggles head on. In time, you get good at overcoming struggles and begin to view them as a sign you’re on the right track.
Progress doesn’t happen in a straight line.
You might think my weight never really changed based on my beginning and ending stats being similar. However, I actually was 30lbs lighter at one point and even weighed as much as 207 at another.
There were months that I didn’t lose any weight and there were months that I gained weight. After a while I stopped focusing on the scale and started doing what made me happy. I accepted that the scale would settle at the point where I enjoyed my exercise, was satisfied with my eating, was healthy, and was happy with my perspective on life.
How you eat is more important than calories or meal plans.
So many people just want to be told what to eat and what to do for exercise. The problem with this thinking is that there are thousands of meal plans and exercise programs available to you, many of them for free.
The problem isn’t knowing what to eat or what exercises to do. The problem is knowing how to follow through with your plan.
That’s where having a good approach to your eating is key. You won’t always be able to count calories, follow your meal plan, or control what you eat. Nor will you always want to.
However, you can always control your approach. Slow, mindful, and eating to 80% full was my approach. I wasn’t perfect, but the more consistent I was with that the more my body changed to my benefit.
Too many people are putting contingencies on self acceptance. They decide to not like themselves until they lose weight. This is not a good choice.
When you decide to love yourself from day 1 you will approach your weight loss from a place of self-care instead of punishment. You will start to judge yourself based on the choices you’re making to improve yourself instead of basing your worth on how you look.
Focus on health and happiness over appearance.
My “why” for wanting to lose weight evolved as time went on. I made the decision to do exercise I enjoyed, eat in a way that satisfied and nourished me, and if I was healthy, I would accept whatever my weight would be.
Ironically, I ended up with the physique I wanted. I trusted the process. The alternative would have been to always be striving for something that wasn’t achievable without being unhappy with either how I trained, ate, or looked.
The future is never guaranteed.
I used to choose exercise I didn’t like because it gave me an outcome I wanted. And so do a lot of people.
There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with training a certain way for a future goal so long as you can be consistent with your physical activity. However, I would argue that if you can maintain that consistency you actually are getting enjoyment from your exercise, whether that pleasure is from discipline or something you can’t or choose not to see is for you to determine.
The problem is the future is never guaranteed, so I’d rather not sacrifice my happiness of the present moment for a future event that may or may not ever materialize. Find a way to like what you’re doing. A lot of this comes down to perspective.
Personal coaching is key.
I’m a huge fan of coaching. I have spent a small fortune on mentors to improve various aspects of my life. They weren’t all a good fit, but when they were, they catapulted me forward in my progress.
When it came to my fitness my coach was my wife, whether she realized it or not. She is very talented at seeing things in me that I can’t yet see. She helped me become aware of a problem and could suggest a solution. That’s what all good coaches do. And I am very grateful to have a good one in my corner.
Goals For This Website
This website isn’t about me. It’s about you. I rarely talk about myself on here and it took me 7 years to post this transformation. So let me show you how you can expect to benefit from hanging around, and what my goals are…
Help others improve their body image.
I hate seeing people use negative language to describe themselves. I want people to talk to themselves the same way they’d talk to someone they love that’s standing right in front of them.
Body image is all about perspective. You can change how you see yourself and improve your happiness as a result. And you don’t have to lose a single pound to do it.
You have to start seeing yourself differently from day 1 or you will carry a critical mindset with you all the way to your goal weight. Change the way you see yourself and you will start treating yourself better via the actions you take.
Help others rebuild lost trust in themselves.
A lifetime of dieting failure has lead many to feel a lack of confidence in their abilities. When people say they’re going to lose weight or eat a certain way they don’t really believe what they say. The trust has been broken.
This can change. Trust can be rebuilt. It takes time and it takes victories. But it’s possible and I want to show you how to make it happen so you can start believing the words you tell yourself.
Help others create realistic expectations.
One of the things I’ve noticed most among new coaching clients I receive is their expectations for weight loss are unrealistic. Too many people expect to lose 2lbs/week or more and to do it consistently from day 1 all the way until they reach their goal. And this is despite knowing they’ve struggled with weight loss for most of their life.
Progress is about the actions you take. It’s about moving in the right direction. It’s not about the pace of your weight loss. That’s an outcome and it isn’t in your control. The more you focus on it the more miserable you’ll be, and as soon as you fall behind your lofty expectations you will likely give up.
Help others break free of the dieting cycle.
Diets are a crutch. They don’t force you to turn inwards and explore what drives you. Carbs or calories or HIIT or whatever aren’t the problem. It’s your thoughts and your relationship with food, exercise, the scale, and your self that keep you where you are.
I want to show you how to eat and exercise in a way that makes you healthy and happy. I want to show you how freeing it is to let go and trust the process and start doing things that make you feel your best.
Help others end their weight loss struggle once and for all.
I’m going to do this in a way you might not expect. Instead of trying to help you avoid the inevitable struggles, I’m going to guide you right towards the ones you need to overcome to change. But I’m going to give you the tools and perspective that will best equip you to persist through them and come out the other side a different person.
Fitness is a lifelong journey. There will always be a struggle to overcome. But in time you’ll get better at identifying and navigating them. You become more confident in your abilities and your life will continually improve.
At that point others will be looking to you for inspiration and guidance and you too can feed off the positivity of helping others end their struggle.