Sloth to Swole

The story of a real transformation

Category: Musings (Page 1 of 4)

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.

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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“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!


I think it’s important to take some time every once in a while to figure out where you’re headed and how you’re getting there.  I think having future plans is important, but it is just as important to be flexible about those plans.  The most recent example is my “leg-issue” and the marathon.  Let’s say it’s a stress fracture and I’m out for 6 weeks – that puts my training way behind.  So instead of the running, I’m finding other ways that I can keep fit so that I can still achieve my goal.

Of course, sometimes things change – what was once important to you has now taken a backseat, and that’s okay.  I’ve had a lot of things change for me in the past few months – a lot of great opportunities, some new roads to walk down, and a lot of new people in my life.  When this happens, I find it necessary to take a moment to stop, check out my map, and figure out where I’m going and how to get there.

I try to narrow my focus down to three things because any more will just pull me in too many directions.  So here’s where my focus is right now (in no specific order):

– My Marathon Training.  Because of my leg, I’ll be modifying this (more on that tomorrow), but it’s still very important to me.
– Getting my CCNA Certification.  This will open a lot of doors for me professionally.  First, I’ll get a bonus at my current job for getting my CCNA.  Second, this will also increase my pay as a professor for UMUC when I decide to follow through with that opportunity in the Spring.  And as an IT professional, it’s important for me to have this specific cert.
– My EP.  I’ve been talking with people about this for a while, but it’s time that I start working on it.  I have some people that are going to be helping me out and they are ready to go, so I need to start focusing on this more.

In a few months, it will be interesting for me to look back at this list and see how/if things change.  I fully expect them to change, and that’s okay – as long as I am constantly moving forward and improving, I don’t care how I get there.


I was watching “Monk” tonight and one of the characters paraphrased this quote – Being brave is being afraid but doing it anyway.  Of course, I love the way John Wayne says it better.  This marathon frightens me.  The training has frightened me, as I’ve expressed in a couple of my videos.  I was really afraid of that first long distance run, but I did it anyway.

There are always going to be scary things between you and what you want – you just can’t let that stop you.

Achieve Great Things

I love TED talks.  This one was passed to me by my friend, Joanna.  It’s a great that points out 3 things that all 20-somethings should know.  I completely agree with the talk – I know a lot of 20-somethings that are wasting their time.  Her 3 points are ways to get back on the right track to doing something with the “defining decade.”

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