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Blog: Interview with Josh – Spring 2016 6-Week Challenge Winner

In 6 weeks, Josh managed to lose 19lbs, 6% body fat, and countless inches off his body. As a result, he was crowned winner of our ‘6 Week Body Transformation Challenge’ and awarded $300 cash, a gift card to Indigo, and a 1-on-1 consultation with Sean to map out his transformation goals going forward.

Needless to say, everyone wanted to know how Josh did it! So Sean caught up with Josh and asked him the questions that everyone was wondering about.


SEAN: Congrats Josh! What inspired you to try our 6 Week Body Transformation Challenge?

JOSH: In December of last year, I found out that my beautiful wife Deirdre was pregnant with our first child.  It was terrifying, yet extremely exciting news that took a little bit of time to sink in.  We left our little place downtown Toronto, and moved out to the suburbs (Milton).  It was not necessarily an exciting move for us at the time – leaving the downtown lifestyle for a quiet home in a cookie cutter neighbourhood, but we thought it would be better to get a bigger spot to raise our son in a nice little neighbourhood with lots of other young families instead of downtown at our little apartment.  As we started to kick into high gear preparing for this coming kid (due at the end of July!), it hit me that we were preparing all of the physical stuff required for the child, and we were mentally preparing for how this change would affect our lives forever, when I started to think about my health.  I used to be a very active person playing every sport at one point or another throughout my childhood and early adulthood, but I had really fallen off that wagon and realized I needed to change my habits in order to get back into the shape I used to be in so that I would be able to keep up with my son as he grows up, and create a healthy lifestyle in order to try and make sure I’m around as long as I can possibly be in the kid’s life.  One day (only a couple days before this challenge started) I saw Breakthrough Bootcamp post about the challenge on Facebook.  Now that it is on my way home from work, I sent my wife a text with a screen capture of the post and said, “I’m doing this”.  It was not about trying to win a competition, and in fact, I did not think I would win even up to the last couple days despite the results I was seeing, but it triggered something in me and from that Thursday I texted her; my mindset changed, and I don’t plan on changing back.  I sent Sean a text and said that I want in, and he told me to come by, sign up, weigh in and we’d get going on this transformation.  One of the best decisions I’ve made in a very, very long time.

SEAN:Were you nervous/apprehensive about starting bootcamp? If so, how did you get over this hurdle?

JOSH: I was very nervous the first Monday evening I walked into Breakthrough Bootcamp because I have known Sean for a few years – having run in the same hockey circles as him growing up – I went to Breakthrough with a couple other old hockey friends during the grand opening to check the place out when it opened up at this location last summer and show our support for this cool adventure Sean was starting up.  When I walked in on the first Monday that I was going to start participating in this bootcamp, I had many self-doubts as to whether I’d be able to do this.  I have never been one to really push myself – I tended to exercise at a leisurely pace if I exercised.  I felt very vulnerable at first, and wondered if I would be able to keep up, whether people would be watching me and judging me on my performance, but as soon as the class started – I realized that everyone in the class was at a different stage in their own fitness journey and their own fitness journey is what they were focussed on – not me or my fitness journey.  The way that Sean and Mel interact with all of the bootcampers and the way all of the bootcampers interact with each other is very encouraging.  It is not a “judgy” place – no one wants anyone else to fail so that they can feel better about themselves – there is no “race to the finish” in bootcamp – you go at your own pace and use the fact that it is a group-workout environment as motivation to keep yourself going knowing that what you do or don’t do is up to you and only affects you.  That really helped make Breakthrough Bootcamp feel warm and welcoming and made all of those nerves and apprehensive thoughts, the doubt and vulnerability go right out the window by the time I showed up for my second class!

SEAN: What were some of the unhealthy vices that you used to struggle with?

JOSH: I’m a beer guy – too much of a beer guy, or at least I was.  I probably used to average about 20 tallboys a week before I started at Breakthrough.  Beer wasn’t something I drank to get drunk from on a regular basis – I told myself I just liked (still like) the taste and would prefer that over a glass of juice or water, but it was a comfort and a dependency non-the-less.  When I decided to start this 6-week challenge, I knew that one of the biggest challenges for me would be cutting down my beer intake.  Before Breakthrough, when I would come home from work and crack open a beer to sit down and watch baseball or hockey or basketball on TV, inevitably I would also crack open a bag of chips or put some chicken fingers in the oven.  With my beer habit, came terrible eating choices.

SEAN: What was your exercise routine like?

JOSH: During the six weeks of this transformation challenge, I did 22 classes which works out to some weeks of 3 classes and some weeks of 4 classes.  I also play hockey once a week and softball once a week.  In the 6 weeks, I went for a couple runs (only 3-5km) and a couple mornings of length swims.  Most of my exercise came from the classes at bootcamp.

SEAN: You obviously had to make diet changes. What was your diet like?

JOSH: I definitely made diet changes.  The weekend I went for the initial weigh-in before this 6 weeks started, I downloaded a calorie tracking app.  I decided that in order to make a substantial change, I needed to make sure my diet was on track, and the only way I knew I would be able to do that was to set myself caloric goals and track everything that went into my body.  Now that I understand how many calories certain foods have in them, and now knowing how quick it is for calories to rack up really quickly, I can only imagine how many calories I used to take in on a daily basis.  My best (honest, yet disgusting) guess would be 2500-3000 calories a day with side of virtually no physical activity, or very little.

During this 6 week challenge, and still going forward, I have my calorie goal set at 1500 calories.  I had a macronutrient breakdown goal of 40% protein, 35% carbs and 25% fat.  At first I was worried that such a decline in my caloric intake coupled with a drastic increase in physical activity could leave me hungry all the time, but I found that when you start eating healthy, clean food, the calories don’t add up as fast, but you also don’t get hungry as fast.

I also used to be really bad at eating only twice a day and a lot all at once – I never had breakfast. Now, I graze. My best friends became Tupperware, raw veggies, chicken breasts and the kitchen.  I spend at least 1 hour a night in the kitchen prepping food for the next day (I’m hoping to work on my time management skills and start prepping multiple days at once so I don’t have to spend every night in the kitchen, but that’ll come).  I’ve always liked to cook the odd big, fun meal for when we’re having company or if my wife and I were planning to sit down to what we would call a “real dinner”, but had never been in a routine of functional cooking.  I was terrible at taking my lunches to work with me, or making full, well-rounded dinners when I got home.  The sandwich artists at the Subway near my office knew my order when I walked in the door.

Now I always have food with me, whether it is my giant container of raw carrots, celery, green peppers and cucumbers; a Usana protein bar; Usana shake; or a cut up chicken breast to eat on the way home from Breakthrough Bootcamp.  I eat regularly through the day, and therefore never feel hungry.  I used to be the kind of guy who would get hungry, pop by a gas station and grab a 2-for-$1chocolate bar deal and then eat them both because it was convenient.  I don’t do that anymore because I am always prepared with my healthy snacks.

SEAN:How strict were you? How many (if any) slip ups/splurges/cheat meals did you have over the course of 6 weeks?

JOSH: I like to think I was pretty strict.  It took my friends and family more time to adjust to my new lifestyle than it took me.  As I mentioned earlier, I am/was a beer guy.  Everyone knew that about me, so if we were at my parents’ place for dinner or I was out for the guys to watch a Jays game, people were stunned when I turned down a beer and said, “no thanks, I’ve got my water bottle”.

I figure I had about 8-10 beers over the 6 weeks of this challenge (I could go look it up in my calorie tracker, but it was around that figure) – majority of these coming on my birthday, which quite unfortunately fell during the duration of this challenge and not before. There were a couple occasions where I was at a Jays game and did indulge in some chicken fingers and fries (but I also made sure to have my bucket of veggies with me at the game so that I resisted the urge to munch on peanuts or popcorn).

I was pleased with the fact that despite my few days of indulgence on some of my past vices, only on my birthday and one other day, did I go over my caloric intake goal, and after those days, I just tried to push myself extra hard at Breakthrough the next day!

SEAN: Did you employ any strategies during bootcamp to maximize results (eg. heavy weights, etc.)

JOSH: At first, I don’t believe I was using heavy enough weights.  I think this comes back to what I mentioned earlier on when I said that I do not (more like did not) like to push myself too much when it comes to exercising.  I think at the beginning I was just trying to finish and wasn’t trying to push myself.  I believe now that pushing myself to the max and achieving fewer reps of an exercise will help me better reach my goals, and so the last couple weeks of the challenge and still now, I try to bump up the weight I use from whatever weight my first instinct is to go to for any given exercise.  Subconsciously, I was trying to make the exercise easy and less strenuous, but once you recognize that in yourself and can force yourself to stop taking the easier way and instead take the more effective way, the results will start to come better and faster!

One thing I feel I try to do with all of the exercises is mentally focus on what that exercise is supposed to be doing for my body while I’m doing it.  If I didn’t/don’t know what muscle or muscle group a particular exercise is supposed to target, I ask.  Sean and Mel are both excellent at explaining what an exercise is for (because none of these exercises are pointless) if you just ask them.  Making sure I have my technique down pat is a main goal for me, and from there (as long as I was using an appropriate weight for that exercise and can properly maintain my form) I will mentally focus all of my attention on the muscle or muscle group that the particular exercise is supposed to be targeting.  I often picture my body like one of those diagrams in a doctors’ office or a gym teacher’s office that shows various muscles groups colour coded in red or blue or whatever.  When I do a TRX row, my brain takes me out of my body and I watch myself doing it while I see my traps and deltoids and biceps and back all firing off little red sparks.  It really helps me make sure that I am working out the muscles that should be getting abused in any given exercise and helps prevent me from subconsciously letting a larger muscle or muscle group, that is maybe not the target of that exercise, cheat for the ones that should be targeted.  I picture the burn so that I feel the burn.

SEAN:Can you describe the changes (if any) you’ve noticed as a result of your transformation?

JOSH: My jeans fit better!  I used to wear skinny jeans and size small t-shirts in my early 20s, but over the past 5-6 years, that stopped being an option.  I graduated to standard fit or straight fit or loose fit jeans and large sized t-shirts as my body expanded.  It was often quite depressing when my straight leg jeans felt like skinny jeans, and my large t-shirt could no longer hide my beer gut.  I felt exposed and self-conscious all the time.  I am still not back to a small t-shirt, and I doubt I ever will be, but I no longer feel as embarrassed by gut because I know it is slowly dwindling away, and I no longer feel like my straight-leg jeans are skinny jeans.

I feel like I have more energy all the time.  Although I’m often tired when I first get home from bootcamp, I feel like my stamina for life has increased, and I have noticed tangible differences in performance when I play hockey and softball.

I’m only about half way to my end goal, and by the time I finally reach my goal, I’m sure I’ll have noticed even more changes as a result of my ongoing transformation, but right now, I feel happy and energetic, and ready to take on this fast-approaching chapter of my life known as fatherhood.  Life can be quite the ride, and I’m glad that Breakthrough Bootcamp is around to help put that fuel in my tank!