How many months’ progress do your pictures represent? What were your stats for each picture?
In the wilderness trip pictures I was weighing about 247 pounds.
I quickly dropped to 237 pounds for the second picture where I’m in the brown t-shirt.
I didn’t buy calipers until recently, so I suppose I was somewhere in the high 30s range if not more for body fat percentage. Using the calipers gave me a measurement of 16 mm, so that places me at 29% body fat.
My goal would be to get anywhere between 16-18% body fat, although I’m sure 20% would look good on me, too. So, I’ll work on it and see what it looks like as time goes on.
I feel the same way with my weight–I am 187 pounds now and want to cut another 20-25 pounds of fat. Right now I am wearing about the size I wore in high school (when I was lean but not in good shape).
I want to float around 165-to-170 pounds ultimately and am willing to continue adjusting and learning over time about what it takes dietary and training wise to get there and maintain it.
What has happened so far on the program?
I have been cutting since I started in July 2017 and am still cutting. As of now, about a year since I started my journey, I’ve cut over 50 pounds.
When I started, only minor dietary changes were needed and I lost weight quickly. As I hit plateaus, I made adjustments to my food diary. To overcome a two-month plateau I hit before breaking under 200 pounds, I had to experiment with calories and macros.
I found that eating a high percentage of protein with low carbs made me crazy strong, but also made me angry and quick tempered. When eating more carbs, I found I had the energy to make it through workouts easily. My current macro split is 40/40/20 and I am staying below my TDEE daily, and that’s been working well.
I also got a bit anxious and wanted to kick up my fat loss, so I added more cardio (jumping rope and more HIIT) this month. But I found I was not steadily progressing and have been wearing myself out, so I’ve had to moderate my cardio better. I reduced my elliptical HIIT at the gym to not overtrain.
My strength has progressed slowly but surely. My upper body is weak while my lower body is fairly strong. I had trouble with my knees before I started lifting, but doing compound lifts have actually helped strengthen my knees.
I started deadlifting 30 pounds and now my 1RM is 170 pounds.
My squat started at 20 pounds and I went up in weight but discovered my form was not that great, so I started from scratch with a trainer who improved my low-bar squat form. I now squat 105 pounds.
My bench press hasn’t gone past 70 pounds yet and I’m still only at 50 pounds for standing military press. My leg press is at 308 pounds and my leg press calf raise has gotten up to 408 pounds.
What workout split from the book did you use?
The 5-day split with 3-to-4 days of 30-minute HIIT cardio on the elliptical. I did this until June 2018 which is when I added 10-to-15 minutes of jump roping for 3 mornings every week.
Also, I did an outdoor HIIT class for an hour two mornings each week for the month of June, which meant I had to reduce my elliptical and jump roping to avoid over taxing my body.
What, if anything, almost kept you from buying the book or starting the program?
Frankly, I was at a point of deep depression and desperation and I was ready to try just about anything. All I knew was that streaming workouts and trying to do them alone at home wasn’t cutting it for me.
I had some friends of mine who did CrossFit and tracked macros who saw incredible changes. I knew from that and from reading that weightlifting was important, but I had been too intimidated to enter the weight room at my gym.
I was petrified about what someone might say or think about me being there. But, it wasn’t anything like that! People have been pretty decent and I’ve connected with some other regulars now.
What do you like most about the program?
I was so accustomed to doing endless cardio workouts with no results to show for it. What I like about weightlifting is that you work and then you rest. What a novel concept! You give your all on the lifts–it’s not like group classes where you’re giving your all the entire time.
And unlike group classes, weight lifting gives you results quickly! Even before I dropped a significant amount of weight, my body composition and form improved dramatically and that boosted my confidence and desire to keep going.
My clothes hung on me better even as I lost weight and got stronger. And through one of my first trainers, I learned to appreciate the getting stronger piece over the weight loss piece.
Making friends with these trainers and life-long lifters helped me to realize what changes were important to focus on. I felt like most women–I focused on scales and not muscle growth and strength and that’s where I got it wrong all those early years.
I am so grateful for all the guys in the gym who helped reframe my thinking around fitness. I also feel pretty amazing when people tell me I’m a beast or that I’m one of the stronger women in the gym. A huge boost for my ego and something I never imagined I would hear said about me (thanks, Mike!)
How does this program compare with others you’ve tried?
The diet was great. I thought I had to diet and lose weight first before exercising. My thinking was that exercise would increase my appetite too much and I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my diet.
Lifting in combination with changing from processed food to more wholesome and nutritious food has helped me look and feel better. So instead of having a fatty sandwich for lunch, for example, I eat a vegetable and lean meat salad which keeps me fuller longer and cuts my cravings significantly.
I don’t ever, ever feel like I’m being deprived, either. Getting a meal plan from you has helped me see where I can add in a “treat” (mine is 5 squares of milk chocolate after dinner), how to eat while traveling, and how to manage eating on special occasions.
I don’t have a problem bringing my own food places or just refusing to eat food that I can’t or don’t want to “fit in” to my daily meals.
The exercise portion has been challenging, rewarding, and a lot of hard work. I enjoy it more than any other exercise I’ve ever done. Now when I add activities, I make sure they won’t cause injuries that would keep me from strength training.
How has what you’ve achieved with your body changed other areas of your life?
Definitely. I feel more in control now and that I’m able to make positive changes. I am also more relaxed with myself–I have patience when I make mistakes or fall backwards.
I just try to adjust and take a step back to examine what I’ve been doing that may have contributed to my lack of progress. Then I make adjustments and keep moving forward instead of quitting.
I have more energy in general and although I’ve always had discipline book-wise, I now have discipline with my food and exercise routines. I also enjoy going to the gym, challenging myself physically (because I’ve lost my ego), and have gained more confidence in all my abilities.
Who would you recommend this program to and why?
I would recommend this to friends, students (adult students), the lean, the heavy, the young, the old, literally everyone.
I need to be a salesperson for your company–I’ve let people know that I use the books and supplements and persuade others to try them!
I tell anyone who will listen that the weight room is men’s biggest secret. It is where you can recompose your body quickly and so much more successfully and easily than doing group classes.
Group classes are a big lie! I’ve wasted too many years doing painful, repetitive, miserable movements that did nothing for me. I only wish I had stepped into the weight room years earlier.
Lastly, the community that builds around you as you stick to a program like this is incredible and supportive. It’s cool to become a part of this community and connect with other people doing this type of training.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Use Thinner Leaner Strongeruse the Year One Challenge and log religiously, make dietary adjustments as you progress, and work for the long term.
Laugh at yourself and don’t let your ego impede your progress or get you hurt. Continue to listen to Mike’s podcasts, read the articles, check out other sites and trainers he mentions, and check out some on your own.
Take advantage of the advice from natural bodybuilders/powerlifters/swimsuit models who speak to you at the gym–their tips have been key in helping me understand just what it takes to progress to the next level. Be humble and open to trying things that make sense and toss the rest.
Did you use any Legion supplements?
I recently started using Pulse (one scoop works best for me for morning workouts), Triumph (love it, staying healthy and strong), Whey+ (I mix with unsweetened almond milk and it tastes like a milkshake), Phoenix (I had to cut down the dose to about half to avoid looking like I was cutting too quickly since a gym buddy was afraid that I started doing speed, haha).