HISTORY: I have always enjoyed athletics and fitness. In fact, I planned to pursue a career in the fitness industry. I received my undergraduate degree in Physical Education and went on to earn a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology. My plan was to work in a Cardiac Rehabilitation Center or Corporate Fitness; however, during the recession of the early 1990’s, most companies cut their Corporate Fitness Programs and Cardiac Rehabilitation Centers replaced Exercise Physiologists with Registered Nurses. Needless to say, there wasn’t much work out there in the industry. As a husband and father, I found myself working in jobs more and more removed from the fitness industry in order to provide for my family and as the years went by, my passion for fitness slowly faded away. In 2002, at the age of 36, I was in the worst shape of my life, which motivated me to rekindle my passion for fitness and embark upon a new journey to the physical fitness I once enjoyed, but I wanted to bring my wife along with me on that journey. I started looking for programs that would spark an interest in my wife and I discovered Bill Phillips’ book “Body for Life”. I read the book and was excited to finally find a program was that based upon some sound fitness and nutrition principles and might motivate my wife to join me on my journey. I gave the book to my wife to read and she bought into the program. We both spent the next year getting into the best shape of our lives. We took our first vacation without our children; celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary basking on the beaches of Central California. Things were good. At this point in my life, I decided I would make a career change and join the Peace Officer ranks. Shortly thereafter, I obtained a job as a Peace Officer and off to the Academy I went. During the time at the academy, I noticed I was feeling more and more fatigued, which I attributed to my three roommates who snored like buzz saws, as well as the stress of being in the Academy, away from my family. However, upon graduation from the academy, I continued to feel more and more fatigued and this time I attributed my fatigue to the shift work that was now a part of my new job. I felt too fatigued to exercise, was gaining weight and feeling worse and worse, day by day. Knowing that I needed to exercise to have any chance of feeling better, I decided to get serious about working out again and started hitting the gym daily and eating a clean diet as I had in the previous year. However, after every workout I felt physically sick, but I kept pushing myself and pushing myself until I got Pneumonia and I was down for the count. This cycle of exercising and getting sick continued for about a year, after which I finally gave up. I stopped working out, stopped eating clean and gained over 50 pounds. I felt like I was in a death spiral, feeling worse and worse every day. I was obese, fatigued and depressed, with no hope. Life had slammed me to the ground and I couldn’t get up. I was barely able to get through a day at work, let alone work-out. After several years of weight gain, extreme fatigue, and depression, my wife was up one night and noticed that I kept holding my breath while I was sleeping, which I initially dismissed. After much prodding from my wife, I finally decided to get a sleep study done and lo and behold, I had severe sleep apnea, which was slowly killing me. I stopped breathing 83 times per hour and my oxygen levels were dangerously low throughout the night. As a result, the doctor prescribed a CPAP machine and told me to lose weight. I explained to the doctor that I believe I gained the weight because of the sleep apnea, but he insisted that my weight gain was the cause for my sleep apnea. Needless to say, my journey back to fitness began in an effort to prove the doctor wrong, which, by the way, I have proved him wrong. I still need to use the CPAP machine to sleep at night and prevent what has been explained to me as an eminent cardiac arrest in my sleep. The use of the CPAP machine allowed me to get a little better sleep at night, which enabled me to start working out again without getting sick. Although I still only get five or six hours of restless sleep on a good night (try sleeping with a full face mask forcing air down your throat), I was determined to get back in shape. I started a new fitness program and was motivated to prove the doctors wrong. However, living in a rural community with very few people involved in health and fitness proved to be a challenge. I had absolutely no support until I discovered Bodybuilding.com and BodySpace. I immediately joined BodySpace, set some specific goals, and downloaded some before pictures that I had already taken. I figured I would put my obese self out there for everybody to see in an effort to hold myself accountable for my goals. I looked at other BodySpace member accomplishments and read articles on Bodybuilding.com to keep me motivated and focused on my goals. I started interacting with BodySpace members providing encouragement and receiving encouragement as well. Being associated with likeminded men and women who are determined to build a better body and live healthier lifestyles is definitely a major key to success. My association with others on BodySpace kept me motivated, focused on my goals, and accountable to others in the BodySpace community with similar goals. I started my journey back to fitness with three days per week of weightlifting and three days per week of cardiovascular work and abdominal exercises. Over a period of a year, I worked on my nutrition and managed to lose over 40 pounds and lower my percent body fat to 11%. Daily exercise and healthy eating habits had once again become my lifestyle; however, I had fallen well short of my goal of 6% body fat and seemed to have hit a plateau. It was at that time I decided to really take my training to the next level. Since I was having trouble losing more fat and had already committed myself to the fact that health and fitness is a lifelong endeavor and not just a temporary state, I decided to take the time to build a bigger furnace in order to burn up that spare tire that was so securely attached to my waistline. So I spent the next eight months building a bigger furnace. I bumped up the intensity of my workouts and I managed to build 15 pounds of lean mass. Now it was time to take control of my diet and make use of the furnace I had built over the past eight months, so I developed a plan of action identifying the following specific areas where I needed to improve in order to achieve my goal. 1) Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night to allow my muscles to recover adequately. 2) Eliminate my free day and replace it with a free meal. 3) Increase my water intake to at least a gallon per day. 4) Reduce my reliance upon protein bars in lieu of clean, nutrient dense, whole foods. 5) Continue to eat seven small, nutritious meals throughout the day. 6) Focus on achieving daily macronutrient goals, which allow me more variety of foods, rather than relying strictly upon chicken, fish, broccoli and brown rice. 7) Cycle my carbohydrates depending on my workout routine for that day. When I started implementing these changes into my lifestyle, I began to see instant results. The spare tire that was so securely attached to my waistline was slowly disappearing and the abs I had worked so hard on over the past two years started to appear. It was at this point in my journey that I realized I was slowly becoming a bodybuilder. I had fully embraced the lifestyle and became more involved in encouraging others on BodySpace to achieve their health and fitness goals. BodySpace members who have competed before started encouraging me to compete. It’s something I always thought about doing, but I never had the confidence to get on stage. Although I had made much progress over the past two years, my body was nowhere near in shape to compete and I had this Sleep Apnea obstacle to overcome, which severely limits the quality and amount of sleep I get on a nightly basis and limits adequate recovery. After much consideration, I decided the sleep apnea is just another obstacle to overcome and I entered the Bodybuilding.com/Optimum Nutrition $100,000 Transformation Challenge to prove that sleep apnea is not necessarily the result of obesity, to prove that health and fitness can be achieved despite severe sleep apnea and to see if I really have what it takes to get in competition shape. I immediately set a goal to lose 20 pounds in 12 weeks, get my body fat down to 6%, and win the Bodybuilding.com/Optimum Nutrition $100,000 Transformation Challenge. I started working on the seven areas I identified as needing improvement and continued working hard in the gym at least six days per week, sometimes twice per day. During the first four weeks of the Transformation Challenge, I lost eleven pounds and was already over half way to my goal weight. I looked at my body, and considering I had eight weeks left, I changed my goal. I now was seeking to get my weight down to 200 pounds and percent bodyfat to below 6% and not only win the Bodybuilding.com/Optimum Nutrition $100,000 Transformation Challenge, but truly obtain the physique of a bodybuilder. To accomplish this feat, I knew that I would not only have to train my body, but I would have to train my mind, to make it as strong as or stronger than my body. I had to a be able to visualize what I wanted my body look like; I had to train my mind to do the right things day in and day out, regardless of the obstacles I might face, and I knew I would have to make adjustments along the way if I had any chance of being a champion. I developed a strategy to achieve my goals, started training my body, and started working on the mental toughness I would need to destroy any obstacles that would inevitably get in my way. DIET STRATEGY: I started out eating 3200 calories per day with 40% of my calories coming from protein, 40% from carbohydrates and 20 % from fats. I monitored my weight weekly and any week I failed to lose at least one pound, prompted a change in diet. About week #4, I reduced my calorie intake to 2800 calories and changed my ratios to 50% protein, 30% carbohydrates and 20% fat in order to keep my protein intake between 300 and 350 grams per day. I accomplished this primarily by eliminating non-fat milk from my protein shakes. At approximately week #9, I further adjusted my diet down to 2200 calories per day and changed my ratios to 55% protein, 25% carbohydrates and 20% fat. At this point, I eliminated my last dairy product, which was Non-Fat Greek Yogurt with mixed berries for my morning snack, and replaced it with oats and a protein shake. Below is a sample of my daily diet during the last four weeks of my program: 7:30 AM: 3 Cups Coffee 3 Packets Splenda 1 Teaspoon Non-Dairy Creamer 2 Scoops Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein Powder 1 Tablespoon All Natural Peanut Butter 1 Teaspoon Optimum Nutrition Fitness Fiber 9:30 AM: 2 Scoops Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein Powder ¼ Cup Dry Old fashioned Oats 1 Packet Splenda 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon 11:30 AM: 5 oz Grilled Chicken Breast 2 oz Baked Yam ½ Cup Green Beans 1:30 PM: 6 oz Baked Salmon ½ Cup Brown Rice 6 Asparagus Spears 3:30 PM: 2 Scoops Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein Powder 1/2 Cup Dry Old fashioned Oats 2 Packets Splenda 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon 7:00 PM: 6 oz Grilled Chicken Breast 2 oz Baked Yams ½ Cup Green Beans 9:30 PM: 1.5 Scoops Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein Powder SUPPLEMENTATION STRATEGY: In addition, to my diet, which includes protein shakes, I incorporated the following supplementation strategy: 5:00 AM Pre-Cardio: Optimum Nutrition BCAA’s prior to my morning cardio workout. 7:30 AM: Post Cardio: 2 Scoops Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey, Optimum Nutrition Fitness Fiber, Optimum Nutrition BCAAs, Optimum Nutrition Glutamine; Optimum Nutrition Fish Oil, Sci-Fit Kre-Alkalyn; Bodybuilding.com Yohimbe; Bodybuilding.com Green Tea Extract, Bodybuilding.com L-Carnitine, Now Nutrition Tribulus. 9:30 AM 2 Scoops Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey 3:30 PM Pre-Workout: 2 Scoops Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey, Optimum Nutrition BCAAs, Optimum Nutrition Glutamine; Optimum Nutrition Fish Oil, Bodybuilding.com Yohimbe; Bodybuilding.com Green Tea Extract, Bodybuilding.com L-Carnitine, Now Nutrition Tribulus. 9:30 PM Bedtime: 1 Scoop Optimum Nutrition Casein Protein (sometimes 2 Scoops Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey depending on how late my workout went), Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men Multivitamin, Optimum Nutrition BCAAs, Optimum Nutrition Glutamine; Optimum Nutrition Fish Oil, Bodybuilding.com L-Carnitine. I tried several brands of thermogenic supplements and all of them resulted in arrhythmia issues for me. After some research, and some advice from a friend on BodySpace, I decided to stack Yohimbe, Green Tea extract, and L-Carnitine as my thermogenic/fat burning supplements. I typically consume 200-400 mg of caffeine per day with my coffee and Crystal Light Energy Drinks. This stack did not cause any heart arrhythmias, so I stuck with this formula throughout most of the Transformation Challenge. Based upon my research, Yohimbe, Caffeine, Green Tea Extract and L-Carnitine are the main ingredients in many thermogenic supplements. WORKOUT STRATEGY: When I started the Transformation Challenge, I knew I had a long way to go and a relatively short time to achieve my goals. I know well the principle of adaptation, and knew I would have to keep my body guessing to prevent adaptation and slow progress. I still trained the same muscle groups on the same days during the week, but I varied my exercises, order of exercises, sets, reps, weight, etc. every week to prevent my body from adapting to my workout program and slow progress. I did typically start my workouts with compound exercises and work down to isolation exercises. Below is a sample of my weekly workout routine for the last four weeks of the Transformation Challenge: Monday: AM Cardio (60 minutes)/PM Shoulders & Calves: Arnold Press: 4x8-12 Front Dumbbell Raises: 4x8-12 Lateral Dumbbell Raises: 4x8-12 Rear Dumbbell Raises: 4x8-12 Shoulder Shrugs: 4x8-12 Rocking Calf Raises: 4x8-12 Seated Calf Raises: 4x8-12 Tuesday: AM Cardio (60 minutes) and Abdominals/PM Quadriceps & Hamstrings: Abdominals Tri-Sets 3x12-20: Decline Weighted Crunches Cable Oblique Crunches Plyo-Ball Weighted Leg Raises Quadriceps & Hamstrings: 40 Degree Leg Press: 4x8-12 Hack Squat: 4x8-12 Dead Lifts: 4x8-12 Leg Extensions 4x8-12 Romanian Dead Lifts: 4x8-12 Leg Curls: 4x8-12 Wednesday: AM Cardio (60 minutes) Thursday: AM Cardio (60 minutes)/PM Chest & Triceps: Dumbbell Bench Press: 4x8-12 Dumbbell Incline Bench Press: 4x8-12 Hammer Strength Seated Chest Press: 4x8-12 Cable Cross-Overs: 4x8-12 Cable Tricep Extensions (Rope): 4x8-12 Reverse Cable Tricep Extensions: 4x8-12 Friday: AM Cardio (60 minutes) & Abdominals Abdominals Tri-Sets 3x12-20: Cable Crunches Weighted Bicycle Oblique Crunches Weighted Hanging Leg Raises Saturday: AM Cardio (60 minutes)/PM Back and Biceps: One Arm Bent-Over Rows: 4x8-12 Hammer Strength Seated Rows 4x8-12 Reverse Grip Lat Pull Downs: 4x8-12 Lat Pull Downs: 4x8-12 Back Extensions: 4x8-12 Zottman Curls: 4x8-12 Cable Curls: 4x8-12 Sunday AM Cardio (60 Minutes) or rest depending on my progress for the week and my state of fatigue. LESSONS LEARNED: I have learned several things about myself on this twelve week journey. First, I now know I have what it takes to complete, I just need a little more time. Second, a support system such as BodySpace is critical to one’s success. It would be extremely difficult to achieve a competition ready body without the mutual support of like minded men and women. Third, the mental training is just as important as the physical training. I learned to stay in the game mentally. I learned to anticipate obstacles and devise a plan to destroy them on my journey. It is definitely true that if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Fourth, my sleep apnea and lack of quality sleep seems to affect the degree of carbohydrate reduction my body can handle. I can’t drop below 25% of my diet from carbohydrates without severely impacting my energy levels. As a result, I have learned to cycle my carbohydrates and take in most of my carbohydrates in the morning and pre/post workout for best results. Fifth, as my percent bodyfat and weight dropped, it became more important to actually weigh my food. I started off the Transformation Challenge ball-parking my portion sizes and as I lost weight, I found it necessary to actually weigh my food in order to continue to see results. Last, it will take about another 10-15 pound weight loss to get this body competition ready. I was hoping 200 pounds would get me there. AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: There are three major areas I need to improve upon to reach my goal of a competition ready body. The first major area I need to improve upon is my water intake. I actually took in one-two gallons of liquid daily, but little of that was water by itself. I drink a lot of Crystal Light, which has artificial sweeteners. For some reason, I don’t care much for water alone. I simply need to drink more plain water. The second major area I need to improve upon is my reliance upon artificial sweeteners. I use Splenda in my coffee in the morning and my oatmeal and even my Greek yogurt, when I was still eating dairy. I really need to reduce my reliance upon artificial sweeteners as there are all kinds of negative health effects from using too much of these artificial sweeteners. The third area I need to improve upon is back width. I have a hard time hitting the lats adequately. I have a tendency to overpower my back movements with my arms, which has resulted in less than optimal back width (reducing the waistline will also help in this area). RESULTS: Over the past twelve weeks, I have received much support from fellow BodySpace members, who have helped me stay focused on my goals and helped me develop the mental toughness I needed to succeed. I managed to lose a total of 25.5 pounds, which is .5 pound beyond my revised goal. My initial goal was to lose 20 pounds and get down to 205 pounds, but after the first four weeks, I revised my goal down to 200 pounds. I finished the Transformation Challenge at 199.5 pounds. I reduced my percent bodyfat from over 11.6% down to 7.8% in twelve weeks. Although I don’t feel my body is competition ready, I managed to lose a little over two pounds per week, which is a healthy rate of weight loss, without losing too much lean mass. Although I probably have the best balance of lean mass and fat weight that I have ever had, I plan on continuing to take my body to the next level and press on to get this body in competition shape. I have a 25th wedding anniversary coming up in July, and I can’t think of a better time to have a competition ready body. I have shown that with hard work and dedication, health and fitness can be achieved, despite severe sleep apnea. I have also shown that sleep apnea is not necessarily the result of obesity and that sleep apnea can in fact, cause obesity. Sorry Doc, you were wrong! I just want to take the time to thank all my BodySpace friends who played such a big role in my accomplishments thus far. I couldn’t have done it without you…you are all the bomb! Stay tuned, this journey has just begun!