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From Dad Bod To Dat Bod

Cary went from motocross and free time to kids and family time. Along the way, his diet slipped—until tragedy led him to take control.

Cary Higginbotham was in good shape throughout high school and college. His weight had never been an issue. “At 5-foot-11, I’d stay between 175 and 185 pounds, and I always felt athletic,” he recalls. “I even raced motocross when I was in college and during the first few years of my marriage, which kept me in great shape.”

Soon, however, things began to slow down. “My weight issues started out as the now-popular ‘dad bod,’” he says. “I was still working out occasionally, but I was eating whatever I wanted. Initially, I only gained a few pounds.”

But poor diet combined with inertia caused Cary’s weight to increase. Healthy activities took a back seat to adult responsibilities, and a desk job and diet of sugary drinks and fast-food lunches set Cary back even more.

Binge-watching TV on the couch replaced an active lifestyle. It wasn’t until his mother passed from heart complications associated with type 2 diabetes that Cary decided to implement change.

This is Cary’s story.

Cary Higginbotham, What Was Your Spark? The Spark
Watch the video – 7:19

You were fairly active as a child and teen. What caused things to slow down?

As I got older, my metabolism slowed, and I focused more on being a good father, husband, and provider, and less on my personal health. I had a desk job, and my daily diet consisted of a high-calorie latte first thing in the morning, followed by sugary drinks throughout the workday to keep me going. For lunch, I’d grab fast food and down some high-calorie vending-machine snacks. I started slowly inching toward having a “middle-age bod,” which is not a popular look.

Once I got home, my diet didn’t improve. I would eat another unhealthy dinner, or I’d overeat even if it was healthy. Then you have to finish the night off with dessert with the kids, right? This poor diet combination and zero physical activity shot my weight up to 220 pounds by 2009, 40 pounds more than I’d weighed in college.

Did you have a wake-up moment?

My wake-up call was twofold. The “wow, you’re out of shape” moment came at work one day when I had to renew a badge. I was astonished how different my face looked when comparing it to my photo from five years before. I could see the weight gain in my face, and I took notice of my overall weight gain looking in the mirror. I hated what I saw.

Before 220 lbs.

After 181 lbs.
Age: 39
Height: 5’11″
Weight: 220 lbs.
Body Fat: 30%
Age: 39
Height: 5’11″
Weight: 181 lbs.
Body Fat: 7.5%

When I lost my mom in 2013, due to the heart complications she developed from type 2 diabetes—and the damage it did to her organs—I developed a sense of urgency to turn things around. My mom passed on the morning of her 60th birthday, which was way too early to lose a loved one, especially when it could have been prevented with proper diet and exercise.

My oldest child was in the fifth grade, and I started thinking about all of life’s big moments she would miss. For my children’s sake, I wanted to make sure I’d be around for as long as possible for moments like school graduations, weddings, and grandchildren.

How did you go about implementing change?

In 2010, my job responsibilities changed, and I started working from home. I took this opportunity to start planning better meals and eating healthier. I also got my home gym in order and started working out more. I slowly lost weight and developed better eating habits. I still had cheat meals and desserts with my kids, so my transformation was not in full swing yet, but I was making progress.

Did you hit any stumbling blocks along the way?

I did a complete 180 and became so focused on dieting and eating healthy that I took things too far. My weight dropped down to the 160s that year—much less than I weighed when I graduated high school! My wife told me I looked like a skinny version of Tim McGraw, which was not the look I was going for. After that, my diet fell by the wayside, and by January 2015, I was back to over 200 pounds.

For my children’s sake, I wanted to make sure I’d be around for as long as possible for moments like school graduations, weddings, and grandchildren.

How did you turn things around and find that balance?

I saw the BodyBuilding.com 200K Transformation Challenge advertised, but initially, I didn’t make the decision to commit. Then, on my 39th birthday, after overeating at dinner and not liking what I saw in the mirror, I promised myself to see my abs again before turning 40.

I had my wife snap a photo and uploaded my “before” pics to complete my 200K transformation registration before I could change my mind. Even though the photo was initially embarrassing, uploading it forced me to be accountable. It was one of my best fitness decisions.

What do you think was the real catalyst in sparking change?

It’s amazing how motivated you can get from knowing how bad your first picture looks and wanting to improve your body before your next progress photo rolls around.

There was just something about knowing that my bodybuilding peers would be looking at them that gave me the extra kick to keep going. It lit a fire underneath me. Not only did I see my abs before turning 40—I saw them by the end of the 12-week challenge!

How did you accomplish your goals?

Diet, diet, diet! Oh, did I mention diet? I started eating above maintenance calories before the challenge started. After that, I dropped my calorie intake to 10 times my body weight, about 2,000 calories. I adjusted it as my weight dropped. I ate about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, and only my fat and carb intake changed.

Carbs started off at about 1.5 grams per pound of body weight per day and dropped to 0.5 grams per pound of body weight per day as I started cutting. I only ate only three or four meals per day while cutting. This helped me tremendously with cheat meals at night, which is usually my worst time to cheat.

What aspect challenged you the most?

By far, the most challenging part of my transformations was my diet. By just cutting calories and working out, I was able to get under 20 percent body fat. I had to be much more disciplined with my diet and cut out all cheat meals to get under 10 percent. To get lower than 8 percent, I had to change my whole way of thinking.

I had to start eating what I needed versus what I wanted. It required me to say “No thanks” a lot, when I really want to say “Yes, please!” This was especially hard at social events with friends and family. I had to eat ahead of time or plan ahead and take my food with me. In the end, it was worth the extra effort.

What did your meal plan look like?

I started skipping breakfast, since I was busy working and could keep my mind off food. This also gave me a bigger window to perform fasted cardio before lunch, which was usually my first meal of the day. Then I would have one or two small meals or snacks before my workout at 5:30 p.m. I had a smaller post-workout shake immediately after my workout, then ate a big meal later for dinner.

This approach allowed me to eat more calories at night, kept me full until bedtime, and eliminated the cheat snacks. It was sort of my unique twist on intermittent fasting.

What does your diet look like these days?

Meal 1

Coffee 2 cups


Whole milk 1/2 cup


Meal 2

Chicken breast or tuna 8 oz.


Broccoli 1 cup


Brown rice 1/2-1 cup (depending on macro goals)


Olive oil 1 oz. (on low-carb day)


Meal 3: Pre-workout
Protein shake:

1% milk 4 oz.


Water 4 oz.


Egg whites 4 oz.


Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey 2 scoops


Rolled oats 1/4-1/2 cup


Banana 1


Meal 4: Post-workout
Protein shake:

1% milk 4 oz.


Water 4 oz.


Egg whites 4 oz.


Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey 2 scoops


Waxy maize 30 g


Meal 5

Chicken breast or tuna 8 oz.


Broccoli 1 cup


Brown rice 1/2-1 cup (optional, depending on macro goals)


Olive oil 1 oz. (on low-carb day)


What supplements helped you along the way?

With Meal 1

Optimum Nutrition Fish Oil 1 capsule


With Meal 2

Optimum Nutrition Fish Oil 1 capsule


Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey 2 scoops


Creatine monohydrate 1 serving


Pre-Workout

Optimum Nutrition Essential AmiN.O. Energy 2 scoops


Post-Workout

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey 1 scoop


Waxy maize 30 g


With Meal 3

Optimum Nutrition Fish Oil 1 capsule


How is your workout program set up?

I trained three days on and then took one day off. I’d “rinse and repeat.” This was challenging at first, but I think it had the largest impact on my results other than my diet.

I trained three days on and then took one day off. I’d “rinse and repeat.” This was challenging at first, but I think it had the largest impact on my results other than my diet.

I did ab work and cardio workouts before my first meal in the morning to help drop my body fat. I also added weekend lunchtime cardio sessions as my schedule allowed. My workouts focused primarily on compound exercises, because they are so effective and efficient.

Day 1: Legs />
Warm-up
1

Squat

5 sets of 5-8 reps

Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

2

Leg Press

5 sets of 5-8 reps

Leg Press Leg Press

3

Leg Extension

5 sets of 6-10 reps

Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

4

Calf Raise

4 sets of 15-20 reps

Standing Barbell Calf Raise Standing Barbell Calf Raise

Day 2: Chest, shoulders, and triceps />
Warm-up
1

Bench Press

5 sets of 5-8 reps

Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip

2

Incline Dumbbell Press

5 sets of 5-8 reps

Incline Dumbbell Press Incline Dumbbell Press

3

Barbell Incline Press

5 sets of 5-8 reps

Barbell Incline Bench Press Medium-Grip Barbell Incline Bench Press Medium-Grip

4

Military Press

5 sets of 10-12 reps

Standing Military Press Standing Military Press

5

Cable Lateral Raise

5 sets of 10-12 reps

Cable Seated Lateral Raise Cable Seated Lateral Raise

6

Dip

5 reps of 10-12 reps

Dips - Triceps Version Dips - Triceps Version

7

Skullcrusher

5 sets of 10-12 reps

Lying Triceps Press Lying Triceps Press

Day 3: Back, biceps, and traps />
Warm-up
1

Stiff-Legged Deadlift

5 sets of 5-8 reps

Stiff-Legged Deadlift Stiff-Legged Deadlift

2

Pull-up

5 sets of 10-15 reps

Pullups Pullups

3

Lat Pull-down

5 sets of 6-10 reps

Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

4

Bent-Over Barbell Row

5 sets of 6-10 reps

Bent Over Barbell Row Bent Over Barbell Row

5

Seated Row

5 sets of 6-10 reps

Seated Cable Rows Seated Cable Rows

6

EZ-bar curl (reverse incline)

5 sets of 6-10 reps

Barbell Curls Lying Against An Incline Barbell Curls Lying Against An Incline

7

Seated incline curl

5 sets of 6-10 reps

Incline Dumbbell Curl Incline Dumbbell Curl

Day 4: Rest />

How do you feel now?

At less than 8 percent body fat, I feel so much better and love what I see in the mirror each day. I also know that maintaining a lean body increases my odds of staying healthy, while also providing a good example for my three children. Knowing that is what drives me each day. I am going to make sure I do everything possible to stay healthy and live a long life so that I am there for all my children’s and grandchildren’s major life events.

What suggestions do you have for aspiring transformers?

Do your research, and find a workout plan and diet that work for your lifestyle. Workout and diet templates are great starting points, but customize the plans so that they work better for you. You don’t have to eat a set number of meals or do a certain workout on a specific day. Making things work for you will increase the chances that you’ll stick with it instead of getting frustrated and quitting.

Plan out your meals and workouts. Juggling life and your fitness goals is hard enough as it is. Simplify things as much as possible, and you will be successful.

Do your research, and find a workout plan and diet that work for your lifestyle. Workout and diet templates are great starting points, but customize the plans so that they work better for you.

How has Bodybuilding.com helped you reach your goals?

I’ve always worked out at home and never had a training partner. Bodybuilding.com became that partner to help lead me through my journey. I got—and continue to get—all of my information, motivation, and supplementation information on the website.

I gained motivation through the transformation challenges and encouragement from the BodySpace community. I would have never thought I could get so much support from hundreds of people I have never met, but our common fitness goals brought us together.

The store helped me choose products based on my goals, and user reviews helped me make my selection. Fast shipping ensured I had my supplements when I needed them.

Cary’s Favorite Gym Tracks

Nirvana
“Smells Like Teen Spirit”
Rob Zombie
“Dragula”
Powerman 5000
“When Worlds Collide”
Marilyn Manson
“Sweet Dreams”
Nirvana
“Smells Like Teen Spirit”
Rob Zombie
“Dragula”
Powerman 5000
“When Worlds Collide”
Marilyn Manson
“Sweet Dreams”

We Want Your Story!

Have you transformed your body by burning fat or building muscle? We want to tell your story. Send your before and after photos, plus a brief paragraph about your experience, to transformations@bodybuilding.com for a chance to be featured on Bodybuilding.com!


Bodybuilding.com Articles

From Overweight Teen To Model In One Year!

Christian was overweight for most of his childhood. When he moved out, he decided it was time to take responsibility for his own health.

Christian Clark remembers struggling with his weight as early as the first grade. His parents spoiled him by taking him out to lunch after school, and the calories began piling up. By second grade, he was noticeably bigger than the other kids, a trend that persisted into his teens.

“I always wanted to have that strong, muscular body, but I never thought that was something I needed to work toward,” he says. “I just kept thinking I would grow into losing weight.”

When Christian graduated from high school, he realized his bad eating habits weren’t something he’d just grow out of, so he took control of his body and lost nearly 100 pounds.

This is Christian’s story.

Did your family encourage healthy eating when you were growing up?

Healthy eating wasn’t particularly encouraged at home. When I started high school, my mom dropped 40 or 50 pounds with Weight Watchers. She tried to get my brother and me to start cleaning up our diets by packing our lunches and cooking at home, but our schedules were so hectic, that didn’t really last. I might have lost a little weight, but soon we went back to our bad habits and ate out all the time.

Before 260 lbs.

After 175 lbs.
Age: 18
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 260 lbs.
Body Fat: 30+%
Age: 19
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 175 lbs.
Body Fat: 10-11%

When did you start to realize your weight was an issue?

When I graduated from high school, I knew that I wanted to pursue operatic singing in college. Your voice may be at the forefront, but it’s still an industry where you’re judged by what you look like. While I was waiting to “grow into my fit body,” I kept getting bigger. I realized a change wasn’t going to just happen on its own, that it was up to me to make it happen.

What was your turning point or “aha” moment?

It came when I studied abroad in Spain for a semester. Out of all my friends, I definitely stood out as being the biggest. Being in a thinner culture was kind of a shock, too. It changed the way that I wanted to look. I realized that if I wanted to wear fashionable clothes and look the way everyone did in Spain, I had to lose weight.

I realized a change wasn’t going to just happen on its own, that it was up to me to make it happen.

What were the first changes you made to your diet?

I made changes slowly and didn’t really restrict anything. I began with healthier swaps; instead of having that second and third bowl of cereal for breakfast, I’d have one bowl with some orange juice and an apple. I was more careful about portion sizes, especially when it came to breads, pastas, and rolls—things we ate a lot of in my family. I didn’t cut them out, but I consciously tried to eat them in smaller amounts.

A photo posted by Christian S Clark (@sir_stokes10) on

How did you get into going to the gym and working out?

Initially, I didn’t have a trainer, but within my first few days of going to the gym, I met a guy who helped me with my workouts. He started talking to me because he could tell I was a newbie. He had the same issues I’d had growing up—just being a big guy. We started working out together when we could.

The same friend I was training with helped me figure out a meal plan. He got me started eating healthy carbs and fats and lean meats. I did a lot of research online, too. I followed some meal plans that I found on Bodybuilding.com, especially Ryan Hughes’ plans.

What did your meal plans look like?

Meal 1

Oats: 1/2 cup


Gaspari MyoFusion: 2 scoops


Meal 2

Lean ground turkey: 6 oz.


Broccoli: 1 cup


Almonds: 1/4 cup


Meal 3

Grilled salmon: 6 oz.


Broccoli: 1 cup


Meal 4

Lean ground turkey: 6 oz.


Broccoli: 1 cup


Almonds: 1/4 cup


Meal 5

Lean ground turkey: 6 oz.


Yams: 8 oz.


Meal 6

Gaspari MyoFusion: 2 scoops


Vitargo: 1 scoop


Meal 7

Lean ground turkey: 6 oz.


Broccoli: 1 cup


Yams: 8 oz.


Meal 8

Celery: 1 stalk


Peanut butter: 1 tbsp


What workout plan guided your transformation?

Day 1: Chest />
1

Barbell Bench Press, Medium Grip

5 sets of 15 reps

Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip

2

Incline Dumbbell Press

4 sets of 12 reps

Incline Dumbbell Press Incline Dumbbell Press

3

Dumbbell Fly

4 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell Flyes Dumbbell Flyes

4

Straight-Arm Dumbbell Pull-over

3 sets of 15 reps

Straight-Arm Dumbbell Pullover Straight-Arm Dumbbell Pullover

5

Butterfly

4 sets of 12 reps

Butterfly Butterfly

Day 2: Quads and Calves />
1

Standing Calf Raise

3 sets of 60 reps

Standing Calf Raises Standing Calf Raises

2

Seated Calf Raise

3 sets of 60 reps

Seated Calf Raise Seated Calf Raise

3

Leg Extension

5 sets of 10 reps

Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

4

Barbell Squat

5 sets of 20 reps

Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

5

Leg Press

4 sets of 15 reps

Leg Press Leg Press

6

Smith-Machine Squat

3 sets of 15 reps

Smith Machine Squat Smith Machine Squat

Day 3: Back />
1

Wide-Grip Lat Pull-down

4 sets of 10 reps

Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

2

Seated Cable Row

4 sets of 10 reps

Seated Cable Rows Seated Cable Rows

3

Bent-Over Barbell Row

4 sets of 8 reps

Bent Over Barbell Row Bent Over Barbell Row

4

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

4 sets of 8 reps

One-Arm Dumbbell Row One-Arm Dumbbell Row

Day 4: Shoulders />
1

Standing Military Press

4 sets of 12 reps

Standing Military Press Standing Military Press

2

Dumbbell Bench Press

4 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell Bench Press Dumbbell Bench Press

3

Barbell Shrug

4 sets of 15 reps

Barbell Shrug Barbell Shrug

4

Smith-Machine Shrug

3 sets of 12 reps

Smith Machine Shrug Smith Machine Shrug

5

Side Lateral Raise

3 sets of 12 reps

Side Lateral Raise Side Lateral Raise

6

Front Plate Raise

3 sets of 12 reps

Front Plate Raise Front Plate Raise

Day 5: Arms />
1

Barbell Curl

4 sets of 12 reps

Barbell Curl Barbell Curl

2

Dumbbell Alternating Dumbbell Curl

4 sets of 12 reps

Dumbbell Alternate Bicep Curl Dumbbell Alternate Bicep Curl

3

Standing Reverse Curl

4 sets of 12 reps

Reverse Barbell Curl Reverse Barbell Curl

4

Preacher Curl

3 sets of 12 reps

Preacher Curl Preacher Curl

5

Single-arm dumbbell extension

4 sets of 12 reps

Dumbbell One-Arm Triceps Extension Dumbbell One-Arm Triceps Extension

6

Weighted Bench Dip

4 sets of 15 reps

Weighted Bench Dip Weighted Bench Dip

7

Lying Triceps Press

4 sets of 12 reps

Lying Triceps Press Lying Triceps Press

8

Triceps Push-down

3 sets of 12 reps

Triceps Pushdown Triceps Pushdown

Day 6: Hamstrings and Calves />
1

Standing Calf Raise

3 sets of 60 reps

Standing Calf Raises Standing Calf Raises

2

Seated Calf Raise

3 sets of 60 reps

Seated Calf Raise Seated Calf Raise

3

Seated Leg Curl

4 sets of 12 reps

Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

4

Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift

4 sets of 15 reps

Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift

5

Dumbbell Lunge

3 sets of 20 steps

Dumbbell Lunges Dumbbell Lunges

Day 7: Rest />

How did you discover Bodybuilding.com?

I started researching weightlifting online and stumbled across the site. Then I went to town, reading everything I could find.

How did the site affect your transformation?

It was educational. Reading about other peoples’ transformations, seeing their workout routines, and learning how they were losing weight gave me new ideas and kept me motivated. I liked articles posted by trainers, too. I saw a video of Ryan Hughes and thought, “I want his body,” so I started doing his workouts and following his meal plans.

How did BodySpace help you along your journey?

I go there to post progress photos and see what other people are doing, especially regarding training and shows. Being able to follow people who are further along, and who can offer advice and answer questions I may have, is critical. I love that I can give back and do the same for those who aren’t as far along as I am. People are very supportive of each other, which is great.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. It may not happen on the first, second, third, or even tenth try, but it will happen.

Did you suffer any setbacks?

I went on a ketosis diet that was high fat, moderate protein, and very low carbs. Coming off of that diet, I didn’t realize how careful I had to be with adjusting my macro intake. I had a friend who did years and years of clean eating, and his diet was pretty much sandwiches all the time, which really worked for him.

I tried that diet right after coming off that ketosis diet, and immediately, all that bread intake set me back. That messed with me psychologically a little bit. I think I gained about 10 pounds in two weeks. It was bad.

How did you overcome that?

I went right back to a balanced diet with only healthy carbs and hit the gym hard. In about a month or so, I had undone the damage, but I did come to realize one thing: The weight returns much faster than it comes off.

Has being fit opened new doors for you?

It’s definitely changed my life for the better. When I was growing up, everybody was into [the apparel company] Abercrombie & Fitch, but at my size, I wasn’t able to shop there. After I lost the weight, I got recruited to work there, just while I was walking on campus. I’ve even done some modeling for them. That’s obviously something I never could have done before. Aside from—and more important than—looks, I’m much healthier now.

Do you have any advice for others who might want to follow your lead and get fit?

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. It may not happen on the first, second, third, or even tenth try, but it will happen. There comes a time when you just want to be a better you, no matter what the reason. Once you light that fire, it will burn for the rest of your life.

Christian’s Favorite Gym Tracks

Beyoncé
“Get Me Bodied”
Miguel
“Hollywood Dreams”
Sylvan Esso
“Play it Right”
The Chainsmokers and ROZES
“Roses”
Beyoncé
“Get Me Bodied”
Miguel
“Hollywood Dreams”
Sylvan Esso
“Play it Right”
The Chainsmokers and ROZES
“Roses”

We Want Your Story!

Have you transformed your body by burning fat or building muscle? We want to tell your story. Send your before and after photos, plus a brief paragraph about your experience, to transformations@bodybuilding.com for a chance to be featured on Bodybuilding.com!


Bodybuilding.com Articles

One Woman’s Courageous Journey From Sick To Strong

Katelyn was a sickly child. But after surviving life-threatening surgery, she discovered a passion for fitness that paved her road to recovery.

From the time she was young, Katelyn struggled with debilitating stomachaches.

“I couldn’t hold food down,” she remembers. “People would make jokes—they’d say, ‘That’s just Katelyn. She just gets sick. She eats like a bird.’” In reality, it was something much more serious.

Sometimes the pain was so bad that Katelyn couldn’t even leave her home. She was in and out of the hospital and had so much trouble eating that doctors considered giving her a feeding tube for sustenance. Katelyn survived on the only thing she could keep down: protein shakes.

Doctors weren’t able to pinpoint what was wrong until Katelyn turned 17. “I blacked out, and they took me to the hospital,” she said. “That’s when it all began. That’s when they discovered the tumor.” Surgery to remove a large tumor from her midsection left the then 68-pound Katelyn facing a grueling, uphill recovery. She knew the key to getting her confidence—and her life—back was to make her body as strong as possible.

This is Katelyn’s story.

How did your doctors finally discover the tumor?

They did blood work, and because my white cell count was so high, they assumed it was cancer. An ultrasound revealed the tumor. But it wasn’t just any tumor; it was a dermoid tumor, which means that I absorbed my twin when I was in my mom’s womb. As I was growing up, so was the twin inside me. When they removed it, it had organs, teeth, and hair. It weighed about 10 pounds.

How long did your recovery take after the surgery?

I was in the hospital for a good three weeks after it was removed. Life after the surgery was not the same for me. I only weighed 68 pounds after the surgery, compared to 80 pounds before. I went back to school, but I isolated myself. I really only hung out with my family. I was terrified of myself—I couldn’t look in a mirror. I knew that getting healthy—and getting fit—would make me confident in myself again.

Before 68 lbs.

After 107 lbs.
Age: 18
Height: 4’10″
Weight: 68 lbs.
Body Fat: 10%
Age: 20
Height: 4’10″
Weight: 107 lbs.
Body Fat: 10%

What were some of the first changes you made to start getting fit?

At first, I just did cardio. I tried to run every day, but they weren’t long runs—maybe a mile and a half. I didn’t know anything about working out or nutrition, so I wasn’t eating well. I didn’t see the gains I should have, because my nutrition wasn’t where it needed to be. Still, exercising made me feel a lot better about myself.

What did you do to learn more about working out and eating well?

When I went away to college, a friend told me about Bodybuilding.com. I spent hours locked in my bedroom reading articles about weightlifting, nutrition, and transformations—anything I could find. It opened up new doors for me to start understanding things like healthy meal planning and tracking macros. It also inspired me to give weightlifting a try.

How did you start to incorporate weightlifting into your routine?

I was absolutely terrified of lifting weights in front of others at the gym, so I would go in the middle of the night with my laptop and work out by myself while I watched videos on Bodybuilding.com. Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Trainer was the first program I tried. I would watch her form and try to copy it exactly.

A photo posted by Kit-Kat Spalding (@kitkat_fitfreak) on

The guy at the front desk saw me and offered to help, so I started training with him. That gave me the confidence to start working out during the day. It was nice to go to the gym and know someone was going to be there to help me with form and give me tips on how to better myself.

When did you decide you wanted to compete?

There were articles on the site about women who compete, and that gave me the idea. I’m a competitive person, and it gave me some goals to work toward. I had gotten homesick at college, so I moved back home and started training for my competition there.

I met my trainer, Bryan, through my gym—some trainers recommended him to help me with my posing, and later, he started helping me with meal planning and my workouts. I eventually left my gym to join his, and that’s where I found my fit fam.

How did your trainer start getting you into competition shape?

In bikini, they look for that hourglass figure, so my focus was on my legs, glutes, and shoulders. I also did a lot of ab and core work to target the fat that built up around my midsection when I had the tumor.

What does your workout plan look like when you’re gearing up to compete?

Day 1: Shoulders, biceps and triceps />
Triset:

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

3 sets of 8-10 reps

Dumbbell Shoulder Press Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Barbell Curl

3 sets of 10 reps

Barbell Curl Barbell Curl

Triceps Press-down

3 sets of 8-10 reps

Triceps Pushdown Triceps Pushdown

Triset:
2

Dumbbell (or cable) upright row

3 sets of 8-10 reps

Standing Dumbbell Upright Row Standing Dumbbell Upright Row

Single-Arm Cable Curl

3 sets of 8-10 reps

Standing One-Arm Cable Curl Standing One-Arm Cable Curl

Triceps Kick-back

3 sets of 8-10 reps

Tricep Dumbbell Kickback Tricep Dumbbell Kickback

Triset:

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

3 sets of 10-12 reps

Side Lateral Raise Side Lateral Raise

Incline Dumbbell Curl

3 sets of 8-10 reps

Incline Dumbbell Curl Incline Dumbbell Curl

Dumbbell triceps extension

3 sets of 8-10 reps

Seated Triceps Press Seated Triceps Press

Day 2: Cardio />
1

Treadmill

30 min.

Jogging-Treadmill Jogging-Treadmill

Day 3: Lower body />
Superset:
1

Squat

4 sets of 8-10 reps

Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

Calf Raise

3 sets of 15-20 reps

Standing Barbell Calf Raise Standing Barbell Calf Raise

Giant set:
2

Leg Extension

3 sets of 8-10 reps

Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

Leg Curl

3 sets of 8-10 reps

Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

Abductor Machine

2 sets of 10-12 reps

Thigh Abductor Thigh Abductor

Adductor machine

2 sets of 10-12 reps

Thigh Adductor Thigh Adductor

Triset:

Stiff-Legged Deadlift

3 sets of 10-12 reps

Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift

Dumbbell Side Lunge

3 sets of 8-10 reps

Side Lunge Side Lunge

Seated Calf Raise

2 sets of 10-15 reps

Seated Calf Raise Seated Calf Raise

Day 4: Cardio />
1

Stationary bike

30 min.

Bicycling, Stationary Bicycling, Stationary

Day 5: Back, chest, and abs />
Superset:
1

Dumbbell flat press (or chest press)

3 sets of 8-10 reps

Dumbbell Bench Press Dumbbell Bench Press

Bent-over row (barbell, dumbbell, or cable)

3 sets of 8-10 reps

Bent Over Barbell Row Bent Over Barbell Row

Triset:
2

Incline press

4 sets of 8-10 reps

Barbell Incline Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Incline Bench Press - Medium Grip

Underhand Pull-down

4 sets of 8-10 reps

Underhand Cable Pulldowns Underhand Cable Pulldowns

Crunch

3 sets of 15-20 reps

Crunches Crunches

Triset:
3

Cable Cross-over

3 sets of 10-12 reps

Cable Crossover Cable Crossover

Dumbbell Pull-over

3 sets of 8-10 reps

Straight-Arm Dumbbell Pullover Straight-Arm Dumbbell Pullover

Hanging Knee Raise

3 sets of 10-15 reps

Hanging Leg Raise Hanging Leg Raise

Day 6: Cardio />
1

Stairmaster

30 min.

Stairmaster Stairmaster

Day 7: Rest />

What did you eat to maintain muscle while getting in shape?

Meal 1

Egg whites: 5


Whole eggs: 1


Onions: 1/2 cup


Peppers: 1/2 cup


Spinach: 1 cup


Meal 2

Chicken: 6 oz.


Green beans: 1 cup


Meal 3

Large salad


White fish: 5 oz.


Flax oil: 1/2 tbsp


Apple cider vinegar: 1/2 tbsp


Meal 4

Egg whites: 5


Whole eggs: 1


Onions: 1/2 cup


Peppers: 1/2 cup


Spinach: 1 cup


Meal 5

Chicken: 6 oz.


Spinach: 1/2 cup


Do you use any supplements?

Morning

BPI Best BCAA amino acids


Evlution Nutrition CLA


L-carnitine


Pre-workout

Cellucor C4


Whey protein


Noon

Evlution Nutrition CLA


Night

Evlution Nutrition CLA


Did you have any setbacks while you were training?

I went in for a follow-up a little over a year after my surgery and had an elevated kidney. I needed to go back to the clinic and immediately had déjà vu. I just broke down. I thought I was healthy. I was at the gym all the time and getting ready to compete. Luckily, when I got to the hospital, it turned out to be nothing. The scare was a huge setback though—it took me out of the gym for a few weeks.

I'm just a #gymrat Tomorrow is the big day! #showtime #bikinicompetitor teambeast #healthylifestyle #healthyliving #shelifts #shesquats #girlswithmuscle #fitspo #fitfreak

A photo posted by Kit-Kat Spalding (@kitkat_fitfreak) on

How long did it take to get ready to compete?

I started in June, and my first competition was in October.

Was everyone in your life supportive of your goal?

At the time, I was in a relationship. He told me he didn’t want to be with anyone who stood out. Obviously, I ended it there. That was the worst of it, though; my family was so supportive. I was very nervous to tell them about my desire to compete at first, because I didn’t want them to take it the wrong way—I didn’t know how my folks would feel about me being onstage in a bikini.

I had to explain to them that I wasn’t going up there to flaunt myself. I’m showing my hard work and my progress—how I went from a hospital bed to being a fit woman. It turned out I was worried for no reason; they were so supportive of my goals.

How did it go on the day of your first competition?

My prep the morning of the competition was a bit hectic. My spray tan spotted and looked terrible, so I went to the store and grabbed S.O.S pads. My mom helped me scrub my tan off and resprayed it, but at that point, I was already so upset. I just threw on a robe and got in the car. As I was driving, my fuel light came on. I was in really bad flip-flops and a robe, orange as can be from the tan, and I had to walk into a gas station. Needless to say, I got some looks.

I wasn’t expecting to place, but I ended up getting fourth. It was a very successful first show. It made me so excited to compete again.

After all that disaster, the competition itself was so easygoing. The girls backstage were a lot of fun. There was nothing stressful, and I wasn’t nervous that day. I just had a blast. I wasn’t expecting to place, but I ended up getting fourth. It was a very successful first show. It made me so excited to compete again.

What’s next for you? Do you plan to compete again?

My next show is in June, so I’m about seven months out. Even though I’m in the offseason, I’m still preparing. Right now is all about the lean bulk, which means I’m eating more calories than I would normally. It’s a really nice change after being unable to keep food down for so long—I welcome it with open arms! When I’m 16 weeks out from the show, I’ll start working on getting my body fat as low as possible.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

I would say my biggest accomplishment is starting over in life. I was able to finally discover what I love doing after being sick for my entire life. I had to start from nothing and teach myself. Going from that to being on a stage in a competition is my biggest accomplishment.

I want to show others that no matter what challenges they face in life, they can always get stronger. I’m in school right now, studying marketing and sales. Once I get the degree, I’d love to be a spokesmodel for a fitness company. I want to continue to inspire others and show them what’s possible.


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Crush Your Goals With Advice From A Wounded Warrior

Many service members come home with an unthinkable challenge: rebuilding their life without a limb. This Marine came back from the dead and found a way to train hard and become an athlete again.

On Christmas Eve in 2007, British Royal Marine Mark Ormrod was on his way back to a forward operating base deep in enemy territory in Afghanistan after a foot patrol with his platoon. It was a routine five-hour walk—the most basic thing we’d done to that point,” he recalls. But the most basic thing a Marine does is still more dangerous than anything most of us will experience on any given day.

A year earlier, Ormrod had re-enlisted in the Royal Marines after a stint in the private sector as a bodyguard hadn’t panned out as he’d planned. He had a daughter at home who was spending Christmas Eve without her dad, and he had every reason to let his mind drift and feel sorry for himself. But he didn’t. He had joined the Royal Marines at 17, straight out of school. This was what he was great at, who he was, why he trained like a maniac to be in peak physical condition at all times.

Myprotein Stories Mark Ormrod
Watch the video – 7:10

With every step he took on the uneven, sandy terrain toward the safety of the base that night, his senses remained heightened, tuned in for the smallest sign of any danger.

It happened right at the front entrance to the camp. Ormrod was no stranger to engaging the enemy, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when he heard an explosion and found himself temporarily blinded and enveloped in a cloud of particulate matter. “Initially, I thought we’d been attacked, and that a mortar had exploded and created this dust cloud,” he recalls. “In this blinded state, I prepared myself to get in a firefight.”

But in actuality, a different battle was about to begin: the one where he would struggle to build his life again from the foundations.

The Explosion and the Aftermath

When the dust settled, Ormrod could see again and felt no pain, but that was about to change. “I looked around and saw I was in a large hole as a result of the explosion, and I was bleeding out.” He had stepped on an improvised explosive device, or IED, and most of both of his legs and his right arm had been blown off. Many would pass out at that realization, but Ormrod remembers the ensuing hour or so vividly.

“About 10 minutes later, a medic got there and gave me morphine and applied tourniquets,” Ormrod recalls. “He hooked his hands under my armpits, and when he dragged me across the ground onto a stretcher is when I first felt excruciating pain, like someone had jabbed a screwdriver into my femur and wiggled it around. I looked down and saw a tendon or fiber coming out of my thigh, connected to my foot and boot on the ground. He put the boot on my stomach and somehow managed to get me out of the minefield into a vehicle waiting to evacuate me. The guy driving nailed it to get me to a helicopter as quick as he could.”

When the dust settled, Ormrod could see again and felt no pain, but that was about to change.

While careening over the harsh terrain separating them from the helicopter landing site, the medic was thrown out of the back of the vehicle. Ormrod would have been as well, had the driver not turned around and grabbed his exposed femur bone, holding him dangling “half-in and half-out.” They made it to the pad, but barely.

“The last thing I remember is the helicopter landing and the sandstorm from the rotor wash. Then I blacked out, which is when I thought I died,” says Ormrod. Later, he found out that he actually had. The only thing that saved him was a novel technique that had only been approved days earlier. “My veins had been collapsed from the blood loss, so they couldn’t give me intravenous fluid. They drilled straight into the bone to give me fluids, gave me a line, and within three minutes I was responsive again and in a semi-stable condition.”

Still in danger of dying, the doctors at the field hospital assessed the damage to Ormrod’s body and decided that the only way they could save his life was to amputate both of his legs above the knee and his right arm at the elbow. Then he was taken via medevac back to the UK, where he arrived in the early hours of Christmas day.

He was home, although he didn’t realize it yet. His first three days were spent in the hospital in a coma, followed by several more in a medication-induced haze. In his confusion, he hadn’t yet realized that he had lost three limbs.

When his situation became clear, he says, he considered suicide. But only for a moment.

Starting From Scratch

Once he was out of immediate harm’s way, Ormrod’s immediate future began to take shape. It would be a struggle, and this stubborn Marine would have to get use to saying “no” to people telling him “no.”

“Three and a half weeks into it, I got told by the doctor who was the leading amputation professional in the UK that I’d never walk again. I know they say that shit only happens in movies, but it actually happened.” Ormrod wouldn’t accept that answer, and as quickly as possible got a computer in his room to start researching prosthetics—and just as crucially, connecting with the amputee community.

Once he was out of immediate harm’s way, Ormrod’s immediate future began to take shape. It would be a struggle, and this stubborn Marine would have to get use to saying “no” to people telling him “no.”

Of course Ormrod’s recovery process was difficult, but many others had been where he was. They were out there, ready to help him if he was ready to hear it. A fellow wounded warrior gave Ormrod a boost when he provided an insider’s perspective on recovery and on the prosthetics he would need after—not if—he learned how to walk again. But first things first.

“I couldn’t jump straight into prosthetics like I wanted to and just put in the hard work physically. I had to sit there and be patient and wait until I’d healed up, which seemed like it took an eternity,” he recalls. “Then, the first time I walked four or five meters with a parallel bar, it felt like I’d walked a marathon.

But he kept going, and soon he had defied the odds and developed a functional life—and even a modified workout routine—with his new limbs.

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Training With New Purpose

A breakthrough moment in Ormrod’s recovery came when he connected with Cameron Clapp, a triple amputee who had lost his limbs when a train hit him in 2002, when he was just 15. Clapp came back from his injuries to be an athlete and motivational speaker. Ormrod connected with Clapp and traveled to the United States for a three-week boot camp with Clapp and the team who built his prosthetics.

“Thanks to Cameron and his team, my life was changed and I became a full-time prosthetics user and independent,” Ormrod recalls. “I was back in the gym. I did charity events. I ran across America with some friends in 2010, and we did a hand cycle around the coast that was 3000 miles. By 2013, I decided I was ready to really get back into working out in the gym like I did all the time before I was injured. Initially, I’d work hard in the gym, but it was all functionality. It wasn’t what I was used to and what I liked doing.”

Of course, with this decision came a whole new set of challenges. “The legs aren’t a problem,” he explains in his characteristic matter-of-fact tone. “You can get by with the legs missing in the gym and do leg exercises. But with one arm, it’s hard to figure out how to chain your chest, shoulders and back using a prosthetic.”

“The legs aren’t a problem,” he explains in his characteristic matter-of-fact tone. “You can get by with the legs missing in the gym and do leg exercises. But with one arm, it’s hard to figure out how to chain your chest, shoulders and back using a prosthetic.”

The modifications Ormrod had to make to traditional machine-based movements and his three prosthetic limbs made him self-conscious at first when he went to the gym. A friend gave him a key so he could go to the facility and work out—or “figure things out,” he says—on his own at 5:30 in the morning before the gym opened.

“I was conscious of how long it took me to get in and out of machines, and I didn’t want to hinder other people’s workouts during peak times,” he recalls. “It was a game, really, for 8-12 months. The exercises I did wouldn’t necessarily be what people would call ‘correct,’ because the correct way wasn’t feasible or didn’t work for me. As long as I was hitting the target muscles, I was happy.”

“I felt like when people came into the gym and watched me that they looked at me like I was a ‘gym fails’ video. I had to adjust things so that I could hit the right muscle, which required doing things differently. I worried about it for a while. Then I said ‘fuck it,’ and just did it.”

The New Mark Ormrod

Recently, Ormrod opened his own gym and has begun working as a coach. He serves as a spokesperson for the Royal Marines Association charity. He is completing an executive coaching program and is involved in real estate.

That Ormrod is alive at all is a miracle. That he’s achieved all he has is anything but. It’s an ongoing project, where he learns new lessons the hard way each and every day. Here are four of the most important lessons he wants to impart.


1

Take opinions for what they are

Remember, Ormrod was told by one of the top experts in the field that he would never walk again. That may sound like a prediction, but today, he sees it for what it truly is: an opinion.

Remember, Ormrod was told by one of the top experts in the field that he would never walk again. That may sound like a prediction, but today, he sees it for what it truly is: an opinion.

“The biggest thing to take from my story is this: Fuck people’s opinions,” he says. “Arnie says it best: Ignore the naysayers. People would tell me you can’t do this, you can’t do that. I think people told me these things to protect me and so I wouldn’t be disappointed, but if there’s something you want to do, believe you can do, or aspire to do, don’t be disheartened by people who tell you that you can’t do it. If someone has done it before you, there’s no reason you can’t do it.”


2

Ask for help

“Don’t ever, ever be afraid to ask for help,” Ormrod says. “If you need, it don’t be an ass and not ask. If people are willing to help you, then ask for it, and take it.”

It’s all too easy to slip into the mindset that a goal needs to be achieved alone in order to matter. Don’t believe it. The goal is what matters. Utilize the wisdom from those who have been where you are to help you get there.


3

Surround yourself with achievement

“The biggest key to achieving your goals is to surround yourself with people who empower you and people that play the game at a higher level than you do. It truly does force you to be a better person.” Ormrod says. “It’s a cliché, but I believe it: If you hang around with a bunch of people who are broke and have no money, it won’t be long before you’re broke and have no money. If you hang around with successful people with money, it won’t be long before you’re successful and have money too.”

“For me, Cameron was the trailblazer. He had changed thousands of lives. When I saw him, I knew I could do it.”


4

Hold yourself to an elite standard

Ormrod doesn’t just want to function. He wants to thrive and do what he enjoys at a high level. But with the demands that places on his body, he has no choice but to treat things we often take for granted, like food and water, as serious business. “Nutrition and health has become the basis of everything I do,” he says.

“I have to live like a professional athlete if I want to get the most out of every day. Once I began training again, I changed the way I ate. I started eating 5-6 meals a day. Wherever I go, I always have a backpack full of snacks, nuts and seeds, and fruit. When I eat out, I pick healthy options and I always have supplements with me, too. I have my omega 3-6-9, my Alpha Male, L-carnitine, a small bag of protein, and green tea bags. These things are all non-negotiable.”

Ormrod doesn’t just want to function. He wants to thrive and do what he enjoys at a high level. But with the demands that places on his body, he has no choice but to treat things we often take for granted, like food and water, as serious business.

He also is vigilant about staying hydrated. “It’s critical for me because it takes so much energy simply to walk around. Just for me to walk and do the things I normally do, it would be like if you got up in the morning and went for an intense jog,” he says. “Of course, my body is used to it, but it still requires extra energy and fluids. Nutrition isn’t important just for training. It’s important because it allows me to get around day to day.”

One of Many

Ormond’s story is amazing, but it’s not as unique as you might think. Every day, veterans are working back from situations and incidents as bleak as anything our imaginations can cook up. It’s slow work, but it’s important, and this story ends with our hero finding satisfaction in his new life, and in the project of helping others do the same.

His story may not be yours, but like many veterans, he willingly opens his life up for you to take inspiration from it. Honor his choice by learning from his example.

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