“I’ve been a member of ECA since before they officially opened. I have to say, I’ve learned a lot in that time. Yet, it still amazes me every time I set a new goal, how much I learn about myself working towards it. These last 60 days were no different.

 

A year ago, I had just finished the gainer’s side of the ECA 60 day challenge and was, arguably, in the best shape of my life. I, then, spent the next year gaining a combination of muscle and fat. So, this year, I decided to try my luck at the weight loss side of the competition. I’m not unfamiliar with the challenge of losing weight, having lost and kept off 100 lbs, but I’ve never done it in a competitive environment before. 

 

As I said, I’ve already gone through weight loss before, so going into the competition, Kiel and I had very little to talk about. I told him exactly what my calorie and macro goals were going to be and what my workouts were. He basically just said “Ok” and off I went. The only hiccup I had, was that my foot was in a cast for the first week, and my ankle still hadn’t fully recovered yet.

 

I did fitlab five days a week, bootcamp on Saturdays, and an hour long “Team Gain Train” workout every Thursday. During week four, I went on a business trip to Armenia, where I was promised “meat and vodka.” Even with all the food and copious amounts of alcohol, I had the discipline to do a small workout of pushups and situps every morning. I managed to lose 4 pounds that week alone!

 

Upon arriving home, I met with Kiel and realized I had already met my original goal! I decided to double down and work even harder. On top of my caloric deficit, I decided to throw Keto and intermittent fasting into the mix.

 

The Ketogenic diet quickly became the hardest part for me since I didn’t have a blood ketone meter, and I had decided to stick to the low end with a daily carb limit of 23g/day. The first two weekends, I couldn’t survive that low, so I only did it during the week. I guess it didn’t help that I went on a weekend trip to Eastern Washington, and promised my friend milkshakes….but, for the final stretch I stayed *below* my limit every, single, day.

 

I noticed both the pros and cons of keto, losing a great ratio of fat/muscle. I actually gained muscle the last week! However, I had intense mental fogginess, keeping track of the days of the week was a real struggle. Furthermore, all the other stress I deal with outside of fitness and diet was amplified by the hormone imbalance. Luckily, I was able to recognize this most of the time before I had complete breakdowns! I actually remember sitting there for 20 minutes one morning trying to figure out if I was pissed off at my brother over a text or if I just needed carbs….turns out I needed to eat.

 

This leads me to the most important thing I learned the last 60 days. More valuable, in my opinion, than the kinds of foods you eat, or the supplements you take; More significant than proper sleep and stretching for recovery; And, honestly, more beneficial than the right calories and macros; the one indispensable thing to my success, the last 60 days, was having a group of people who truly supported me.

 

The trainers and staff here have always been helpful and great for answering questions, especially Kiel and Joel, who I see and workout with on a regular basis. They have been great resources, making minor tweaks for maximal gains. All the other members who I interact with, your energy (and more caffeine than any one person should take) help to push me the extra mile in my workouts.

 

Outside of the gym, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends to lean on. Thanks for dealing with my moodiness and general lack of energy. Thanks for understanding why I pick one restaurant over another. Also, I’m sorry for constantly talking about my workouts, and diet, and whatever cool fitness related thing I just heard about….but…..I’m also not sorry because it isn’t stopping.
 I’d especially like to thank my friends, Will and Sara, for opening their kitchen to me each week so I could make my ham and egg omelet, while you ate whatever amazing carb filled wonder you had. 

 

And finally I’d like to thank my friend, Doro, for everything you’ve done for me. 
Here are some of the highlights:
* Dragging me to yoga, so I actually get some stretching in
* Doing extra workouts with me, even if I mostly used them as active recovery
* Splitting meals with me; honestly you’re the best person imaginable to eat with, whether on a diet or bulking up, just never again extra chicken Teriyaki.
* Always considering me when we went out to eat; you regularly pointed out all the things on the menu that fit my diet
* Dealing with my mood swings; the couple mental breakdowns I had, you were there to bring me back to reality
* Intervening when another friend would give me popcorn at the movie
* Knowing when I actually NEED that little bit of popcorn at the movie….or the milkshake or chocolate…
* And in general, just being there for me with enough activities and conversations to distract me from my desire to eat everything in a three bock radius

 

Having the support of all these people means the world to me, and is the primary reason I was able to accomplish what I did. I may have put in all the work, but you all kept me sane and on the right track.

 

The only other thing I want to leave you with is my advice on approaching these competitions, and really, anything you do. Everyday, whether its in fitlab trying to finish faster, lift heavier than the person next to me, or at work showing my CEO that my position shouldn’t be outsourced to Armenia (he tries regularly…) its ok to be competitive. Being competitive allows me to use the energy of the people around me, to push myself to be the best possible me. Thats what I care about, being better than I was yesterday. Thats the core insight behind my motto: compete with everyone, against yourself.”