Sloth to Swole

The story of a real transformation

Having The Time vs. Making The Time

This past week was rough – I mean, looking back, I only missed one or two days at the gym, but it felt worse than that. I started a new job and my new commute and schedule has really messed up my gym time.

I used to have a pretty sweet gig – I lived about three or four blocks from work, so I could sleep in pretty late, have breakfast, shower, change, etc, and take a 10-15 minute walk to the office every morning. I had also worked out things with my job so that I could take two hours in the middle of my day to go to the gym (that also meant coming in an hour early and staying an hour late, but it was worth it).

Going to the gym in the middle of the day was great. The gym was about a 15-20 minute walk from work. If you check out some of my Instagrams, you’ll see some shots of an empty gym. It was just me, the trainers, and a few women on the ellipticals and stairmills. I could take my time, do whatever I wanted when I wanted, because all the equipment was open.

Now, with this new job, I have to commute across the city. It’s not as bad as it could be – I used to live outside of the District, so I’ve had a pretty bad commute before). But still, a 45 minute bus ride across the city is pretty annoying. Plus, I’m out of easy-walking range of my gym. So things obviously have to change – do I go in the morning before work? do I go after work on the way home? do I go after I get home and eat dinner? do I change gyms so I can keep going in the middle of the day? I tried a couple of those this week and I think I’ve decided on the morning workout.

You know, I’ve gotten a lot of comments about my schedule and how much I workout. I get a lot of “I wish I had the time to go to the gym like you do,” or “when do you find time to relax?” or other stupid comments/questions. Look, I’m not one of these sponsored fitness dudes (yet :P) where all I do is workout and do fitness videos and get paid for it. I’m a regular guy – I work two jobs, I am a musician in a band that rehearses twice a week, I have all the normal responsibilities of an adult. So the question then – how do I have the time to go to the gym for a couple hours a day? Let’s go to the chalkboard…

24 hours in a day… minus 8 hours of sleep (on a good day)… minus 8 hours of a work day… minus (let’s say) two hours for commuting to and from work. That leaves you 6 hours to do whatever you want – WHATEVER YOU WANT! So how do I have the time to go to the gym for two hours a day? Because I get 24 fucking hours in a day just like every other human being on this planet. I just choose to use it at the gym instead of in front of the TV or napping or something else useless.

Don’t get me wrong, I still play video games, watch Netflix, and just relax, but it’s purposeful. I do that on my rest days (after a little cardio). But normally, I’m using my extra time to practice my guitar, learn a new language, study for a certification, or something else. Am I better than you because of how I spend my time? Well… maybe not yet… but I’m working on it.

Moral of the story: I’m no different than you. If you want to make a change, don’t act like you don’t have the time. And even if you don’t have the time, you will make the time for whatever is most important to you. If this is important, you will make the time.

The “Why” Powers The “How”

When thinking about this first post – and I’ve been thinking about it a lot – I tried to figure out exactly where I started.  How did I go from being that lazy, video-game playing, soda drinking, Dorito eating kid to being a runner, a fitness junky, a bodybuilder?  A lot of websites and books will probably say that the first thing you need to do is set a goal for yourself – “I want to lose so many pounds,” or “I want to lift this much weight” or “I want to look like Chris Evans in Captain America.”  Join the fucking club!

Every goal of every man ever – to go from scrawny dweeb to… well… a god among men. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

What I realized was that there is a moment before that – one single moment that sparks that fire to become Steve Rogers. It’s that moment of want… of desire… of realizing that you can be more.

I met up with a friend of mine recently.  He hadn’t seen me since I really started hitting the weights hard – it had been over a year or so.  He told me that he’s never known anyone that has oscillated so much in size and weight.  It’s probably true.  As a kid, I was a pudgy little bastard.  In high school and college, I was super skinny – freshmen year of college, I was, like… cancer-patient skinny.  Toward the end of college, I started gaining weight, and didn’t stop until I was about 27.  At my largest, I was about 210 lbs – not huge in the grand scheme of things, but I really didn’t like looking at myself in the mirror.

And that was really it for me – there was one day that I looked in the mirror and suddenly realized how big I had gotten.  I wasn’t happy with how I looked.  I wasn’t happy with myself.  I knew that I could be better.  But instead of crying over a pint of B&J’s Phish Food, I decided to fucking do something about it.  I strapped on some New Balance running shoes, went outside and ran three miles.  And when that got to easy, I ran 5.  Then 7.  Then 10.  And at the end of those first few months, I had run my first half marathon.  It didn’t happen overnight – it was months of running 3, 4, even 5 times a week, pushing myself a little harder each time.  From there, I found my way in to bodybuilding, but that’s another story.

Here’s my point – The first step with any problem is to recognize that there is a problem.  Then, you make a determination that you *CAN* fix the problem.  These are two places that most people fail, I think.  It took me a long time to notice that I was getting bigger.  Looking back at pictures from after college, it’s *VERY* apparent to me, but it’s difficult to notice it when you’re with yourself every day.  It can happen slowly over time.  I think, for me, I really noticed it when I had to start buying new clothes – new, bigger clothes.

The second, bigger issues is realizing that you can change.  A lot of people will blame genetics, say they have glandular problems, or generally make excuses.  I think that there are very few people in the world that actually have physical issues that make them fat – don’t quote me, that’s just my belief.  I think the problems that most people have are 1) they’re lazy and/or 2) they don’t want to put in the work to change.  If that’s the case, that’s fine – but don’t make excuses.  Just be real.   If you can honestly tell me that you are happy being fat, being out of shape, etc, that’s great.  But if you want to lose weight or buff up or run a 5k or whatever, start making a change rather than making excuses.

Sloth To Swole

I’ve been thinking for a while about restarting this website – getting back in to showing people how I’m training, how I’m training, when I’m training.  It was a lot of fun before and a great outlet for me.  I also got a lot of great feedback from people that read my blog – so thank you to anyone that is out there!  My biggest worry, though, is just becoming another voice in the clusterfuck that is “The Internet.”  There are so many fitness websites out there – a lot that I use myself – and I don’t want to just reiterate all of the same things that you can find anywhere else.  I need a unique purpose.

I read a lot about these “Transformations” on websites like and others.  These transformations are definitely inspiring – seeing some guy that was like… 250-300 lbs, and now he’s all jacked?  That’s pretty crazy!  Suddenly, those few extra pounds that you have don’t seem like much.

But then I start looking at the timeframe for some of these guys – one was 255 lbs 26% body fat and dropped to 185 lbs and 11% body fat within a year – Jacked.  One woman went from 176 lbs (18%) to 140 lbs (6%) within a year – lookin good!  I look at all these pictures and am amazed, but also kind of thrown off.  I mean – here I am, working damn hard for the past year, still not quite fitness-magazine-model material.

So then I realize – a lot of transformations are primarily fat loss.  The two above certainly put on some muscle, but their main goal was fat loss.  There are a couple that I’ve seen where a guy was like 140 lbs, 8% body fat (a stick of a man), and packed on like 40 lbs of muscle, but again that’s just one aspect.  I don’t mean to belittle what they accomplished – I’m still amazed and inspired by it – I just want more for myself than just losing fat or just gaining muscle = I want it all.

I renamed the blog to “Sloth to Swole” based off of that running app – Couch to 5k.  The idea of the app is that, no matter where you are in your fitness journey (even if you haven’t started), it will help you get up to running a full 5k.  “Sloth to Swole” is how I view my experience with bodybuilding.  I was active a young kid, but most of my high school, college, and post-college years weren’t very active.  I started this process with large amount of fat and not much muscle.  I decided to do something about my weight and started running.  I only found bodybuilding when I hurt my leg during a training run.  “Sloth to Swole” isn’t meant to be a guide for anyone – it’s meant to show what kind of intensity and dedication goes in to both sides of a transformation – gaining muscle and losing fat.

These transformations on other sites are supposed to show you that “anyone can do this!”  But honestly, I don’t think that’s true.  If you want this, you can’t readily make excuses anymore.  And if you fail, you can’t blame anyone but yourself.  It’s a tough position to put yourself in – not a lot of people will be able to handle it.  But if you struggle with it, work through it, you will come out the otherside so much stronger.  A lot less sloth, and a whole lot more swole.

I’ve been feeling pretty off for the past few days – really just not like myself.  It was a holiday weekend, so I had a day off from work on Thursday for Thanksgiving, Friday at work was a complete waste of time and had nothing going on Friday Night.  Saturday was just as much of a waste except for the Chanticleer concert which made me feel a little better, and Sunday I just had rehearsal in the afternoon.

All in all, it was a pretty useless weekend (not to put down family time on Thanksgiving). On top of all that, it was my three rest days for the week – no gym time whatsoever.

I think that’s what affected me the most – not being in the gym.  At least, I think it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  On top of feeling lazy all weekend, I couldn’t counteract that feeling by running, or lifting, or doing much of anything.  So today, that all changed.

I hit the gym tonight like I never have before.  I upped the weight for every set and just KILLED it. I pushed through as hard as I could, sweat until my shirt was soaked, and just felt so strong in general!  I was mentally, emotionally and physically in it tonight – and it felt great.

I guess it’s just funny – music has always been the thing that gets me out of my funk.  But this time, it was the gym.  I think now it’s pretty safe to say that I’m addicted to weight lifting.

Workout Mix – Challenger

One of the things that I’ve liked seeing on some of my friends’ blogs is their picks for their workout mix.  I’ve tentatively decided to make Tuesdays my day to post what I’m listening to in the gym.  I have a few different playlists that I listen to, but lately, I’ve been enjoying the genre radio stations through Google Play.  I just like high energy music that can pump me up without distracting me – usually this means something I haven’t heard before, and something without words.  My current station is the Trance station.  This track, “Challenger (Original Mix)” from Arisen Flame, came on and kind of reminded me of 8- or 16-bit video games, but has a great beat, and builds really well.  Enjoy!

If you enjoy the music, make sure to check out the track on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.

Don’t Believe What You’re Told

All of this weight training has been a fascinating experience.  Besides just feeling better and being more confident in myself, learning about anatomy, physiology, and even a little chemistry has really caught my academic intrigue.  It’s empowering to have that knowledge – it gives you a sense of ownership over what you’re doing.  You’re able to construct your own programs, your own diet.  You’re not as worried about going out with friends and finding something “healthy” to eat.  It really opens things up and makes everything easier (well… maybe not the workout – that’s still kicks my ass!).

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Breaking Up With Your Fat Clothes

Come on… we all have them.  If you’re someone who is trying to lose weight, you have those clothes that fit a little bit TOO well!  Or, if you’re like me and have been working at it for a while, maybe you go swimming in those clothes now – enough space to take a few laps.  It’s an awesome problem to have – a potentially expensive problem but a great problem nonetheless.

But at some point, it’s time to rid yourself of these reminders of your past.  It’s therapeutic, really.  Like when you break up with someone.  For that “mourning” period, you might keep some of his/her shit around – an old sweatshirt, some jewelry, love notes, etc.  You keep it, sleep with it, think about the good times, and miss having that person around.  But eventually you move on.  You realize that you two broke up for a reason; you two weren’t happy with each other.  You realize that there’s better things on the horizon for you – and that’s when you dump that stuff.

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BRF2013 Medal

The Proof

BRF2013 Finish LineAll of the training and preparation of the past few months, all of the worry after hurting my leg, all of the struggles and pressure that I put myself through.  It all became worth it today in one singular moment – that moment I crossed the finish line.  I can say it now – I can say “I have finished a half-marathon!”  What an incredible rush.  This is the proof I’ve been looking for!  I’ve been telling myself that I can achieve anything I put my mind to – this is that proof.  The medal around my neck overshadows all of the doubt, all of the judgment, all of the negativity. If I ever think something isn’t possible, I can look at that medal and remember that it might take a lot of hard work, but I can do anything – and I’m worth it!

Oh, and my time? 1:57:15!  Average Pace – 8:57 min/mile!  I couldn’t have asked for a better time for my first half-marathon!  Thank you to everyone who has been supporting me through this.  I have a long way to go for my full-marathon goal, as well as my physique goals.  I hope you’ll continue to follow along, and I’ll do my best to keep things upbeat, positive, and above all else – entertaining!

Inner Daemons

A week out from my half-marathon, I finally hit a point where I seriously doubted myself.  I woke up not wanting to run.  As I started my run, I wanted to quit.  The doubt continued through miles 7, 8, and 9.  When I hit mile 10, I screamed out and broke down.  I had never run that far – I never thought I would.  But the mental and emotional toughness that I’ve gained over the past few months of training has helped push me physically.  And having all of you out there cheering me on helps more than you know.  Thank you, and I’ll see you at the finish line.


“You never fail until you stop trying.” – Albert Einstein has been a great reference for me for exercising and nutrition, as well as a great source for suppliments. They have a lot of great plans for how to achieve your goals, whether it’s fat-loss, gaining mass, gaining strength, or whatever. One of them is specifically for college students and goes further than just what to eat and what exercises to do. This is from the video on setting goals, but is attributed to Albert Einstein. It’s so easy to take a “setback” and call it a “failure,” but I think this is true. Until you give up on making that change, bettering yourself, or achieving that goal, you haven’t failed. But even so, a setback – something that keeps you from reaching your goal the way you thought you would – isn’t a failure. It’s just showing you a way that you can’t achieve your goal. Time to re-evaluate and reassess!

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