Posted by on Jul 23, 2013

Member Spotlight

This week we feature one of the most positive and bendy folks on the site: Rubes15. Crediting Fitocracy as his “Iron Cupid,” he has used the site to push himself harder than ever before and help him reach his goals of a healthy lifestyle.

Username and Level:
Rubes15, level 39

How did you get started in fitness and training? 

Okay, life story time.

I began as a husky little chubster who loved playing sports – we had a basketball hoop in our driveway and I played Little League every year. Teenage metabolism and growth spurts turned me into a string bean who played two varsity sports but didn’t necessarily excel at either of them. Then, college happened. By “college,” I mean all-you-can-eat meal plans, late night snacks after parties or while writing papers, and beer. I continued making poor dietary choices after graduation and kept finding excuses to keep from working out. At my annual physical in 2007, I tipped the scales at 277 pounds and realized that I had to make a change.

After a year of cardio and some strength training, I got complacent again and had another health issue from my past resurface. When I was a teenager, I’d had a handful of seizures, but I had gone incident-free for years. They came back – one at work, another on the subway, one on a plane on my way to a friend’s wedding, others in restaurants and random public places. I developed a stupid, fatalistic woe-is-me view of things and thought that, no matter what I did, I’d just have to live with not being able to control my own health. Then in 2010, I had three seizures and another scare at work and finally had enough. I figured “screw this feeling-sorry-for-myself crap – it serves no purpose.”

I started seeing a new neurologist to get on top of that particular issue and a nutritionist to start better dietary habits. Just as importantly, I started making my overall fitness a priority. I went to the gym religiously again, and on a whim, I took an Anusara yoga class in April 2011 and quickly fell in love with it, which led to me beginning a regular practice. By the time I got down to 210 in June 2012, I was introduced to Fitocracy. While strength training was already a regular part of my routine, I quickly learned a lot from others on the site – I revamped my workouts to include fewer machines and iso movements and more barbell/freeweight exercises and compound lifts. Since joining, I’ve seen and felt more progress than ever before.

In the last couple years, I’ve also begun to play sports again without making a fool of myself, and it’s been a total blast. Between strength training, a regular yoga practice, a work softball league, regular flag football games, learning how to rock climb, and the occasional hike, I’ve filled up any “rest day” I could potentially have. Then again, does anyone really like rest days?

Full progress album here:

How did you find the site? How has it changed your workouts?

My rad friends Nafe and TheKirken mentioned a fitness site they were using to track their progress about a year ago. They thought I’d like it, so they sent me an invite. Little did they know that this fateful moment would ultimately lead to me posting shirtless pictures of myself on the internet.

When I joined Fitocracy, I had already been lifting weights and practicing yoga regularly, but I wasn’t doing anything to track my progress. I’d fallen into the trap of going to the gym, doing some stuff, and being content with just showing up and doing things. Once I started writing down my weights and sets, I realized I wasn’t pushing myself as hard as I could, and that lit a fire under me. I finally started thinking, “Hey, I’ve already lifted this. Can I do more?”

Also, Fito introduced me to deadlifts. We had an instant connection – love at first lockout, really. Now that deadlifts have become my favorite lift, you could say Fitocracy is my Iron Cupid. <3

Do you have any long term goals or direction you plan to take your training?

My goals are all over the place, admittedly. I want to improve my rock climbing technique so I’m not relying too much on strength and a 78” wingspan on my way up the wall. I really want to keep advancing in my yoga practice and would love to be able to do a handstand in the middle of the room and hold it like it’s nothing. I also want to join the 1,000-pound club by the end of the year and get my OHP to something I’m happy with.

For the super-long-term, I just want to stay healthy and in shape, so I can continue doing the things I love to do.

What are things you’ve learned through trial and error? What areas do you hope to learn more about?

Don’t eat seafood on a first date… wait, you mean what I’ve learned in *fitness* through trial and error! Gotcha.

-For best results, squat to parallel or lower.
-Anytime you want to test your 1RM on bench, get a good spotter.
-If you want your spotter to be good, ask them nicely and give clear directions. “Please don’t touch the bar unless I say ‘help’ or shake my head no” has worked for me.
-If you do heavy, high-volume squats then do yoga the next day, you’re going to have a bad time.
-Eat something a couple hours before a heavy lifting day (this might just be an excuse to eat things).

I’d like to learn more about Olympic lifts and how I can do those movements properly as part of my strength training routine.

Currently, where would you say your weakness lies? Where do you excel?

Weaknesses… I have a ton of those! If I have trouble with a lift early in my workout, it can frustrate me and affect my entire routine sometimes. My stubbornness gets the best of me too, especially when I’m faced with a “play through the pain” situation – I will try to work through any sort of injury, even if it is monumentally stupid to do so. I’m embarrassed by how little I can OHP. My standing splits in yoga look ridiculous. I can’t say no to nachos.

I’d like to think my strengths lie somewhere besides my muscles, even if I’m damn proud of my progress and my 2x bodyweight deadlift. I think I’m pretty resilient, and that if I set a goal for myself, I will work my ass off to achieve it. If someone says I can’t do something, then I have to prove them wrong, then be kind of a jerk about it so they think twice about doubting me again. I will also be the loudest cheerer and best high-fiver for people who are working to improve themselves.

What motivates you?

My biggest motivation now is, as corny as it sounds, having fun. For me, lifting is fun. Playing sports is fun. Yoga is fun. Discovering what my body is capable of doing is incredibly fun.

Are you using any supplements or special dietary changes to achieve your goals?

I’m not on a particularly strict diet, but I try to eat smart with a 3,000 calorie, 40/30/30 daily macro goal I don’t beat myself up over. Whole foods are delicious, and I will eat a pint of blueberries or a whole avocado with a spoon just because. At the same time, if there’s an option for a second beef patty or double-meat in a burrito, or to add cheese and bacon to something, I’m doing it. Basically, I’m a fitty: a fatty at heart who works out to justify eating all the things.

In terms of daily supplements, I take a daily multivitamin, vitamin C, vitamin D, and fish oil. I also have a Pure Protein shake after weight sessions – cookies and cream is my personal favorite.

If you could give advice to someone starting off, what would you tell them?

Don’t compare yourself to everyone around you. No matter how in shape you are, somebody else is in better shape and somebody else is worse off. No matter how much you can lift, someone out there can rep your max, and someone else can only max what you can lift five times. Compare yourself now to you from a month ago, and see how far you’ve come. Then imagine what you can become after another month of busting your ass.

Also, “can’t” is the worst word in the English language. Fuck that “can’t” bullshit. You can make a positive change. You just need to have the patience, the work ethic, and the determination to step outside your comfort zone and make that change.

What’s your ‘secret weapon’, the thing that pushes you or you feel gives you an edge?

Getting active and lifting weights improved not just my physical strength, but also my sense of self-motivation and determination. I used to hit plateaus on lifts or not see immediate progress, and drop my fitness plans out of frustration. Not anymore!

It’s funny – I’ve always had a strong sense of determination in other realms (academically, professionally, creatively), but not necessarily in fitness until maybe three years ago. At this point, I know that if I set a fitness goal, I will achieve it. It may take more work than I first thought, life may throw some obstacles my way, and some people might think I’m a little nuts. I’m fine with this now. I will work hard. I will get there.

What has the overall impact of Fitocracy been in your life?

Being able to learn from others on Fitocracy who have gone through similar experiences has been really valuable to me, and it’s also humbling. I could go on about losing eighty pounds, or persevering through my health issues, but when I see what others here have had to endure, I’m left in awe. There are so many inspirational people on this website who have gone through major injuries, health problems, complete transformations, or personal demons and have become stronger – physically, mentally, and emotionally – as a result. Anyone who’s just starting out can draw from them, and everyone on here has been welcoming, supportive, and willing to share whatever they can. This place makes me feel all warm and fuzzy because the people here are simply amazing.

I’ve also been lucky to meet some truly awesome Fitos through Boston meet-ups, ice-climbing adventures, rock climbing, flag football, eating burritos, and deep discussions about why men have nipples. Clearly, Fitos are super serious all the time, and we need to lighten up a bit.

Oh, and deadlifts. I love you, deadlifts.

One thing I want people to take away from my story is…

…anybody can do this. I’m just some guy who got fed up with his situation and decided to take control of his life by making fitness a priority. If you’re willing to work hard, work smart, and work through some frustrating times, you can get to where you want to be.

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