This week we feature a Marine who is also a BEAST (and he has our favorite beard on all of Fitocracy): thebedward. If you’d like to nominate a member for a Weekly Member Spotlight, contact users lexyloowho or xJenx or simply email email@example.com.
Username and level
thebedward, lvl 36
How did you get started in fitness and training?
The first time I ever thought about fitness was my senior year in high school. I figured it would look good on college applications if I had actually done some kind of athletic activity, so I joined the track team. I was surprisingly decent at long distance for someone who had never done anything before. I was a vegetarian at the time and about 137 lbs at 5’11”. Despite being in “good shape” though, I was very self-conscious and not very happy with my body, so I started eating meat.
I ended up joining the Marines instead of going to college. I was put on double rations in boot camp and gained about 7 lbs by the end of the three months. Throughout my time in the Marine Corps, I always felt like I was too skinny. The physical fitness test for the Marine Corps was very run-centered, so of obligation I spent a lot of time improving my run, despite a constant desire to get big. I had some superiors and some friends who seemed to be knowledgeable about lifting and would take me with them to the gym. I was also interested in fighting sports, being a Marine, so I would do a fair amount of Jiu Jitsu in my free time, or just grappling with other guys in the hallways of the barracks. Rock climbing was another favorite. I used to go to the rock gym at least twice a week and climb for two hours or so. This helped a lot with my pull-ups too. I improved from 20 (which is the max for the Marine PFT) to 35 pull-ups in about eight months. Finally, when I was a sergeant and mainly responsible for my own physical fitness, I started working out primarily in the gym. My typical workout strategy at the time was to pick a muscle group (chest, arms, legs, etc.) and just go from machine-to-machine, bench-to-bench, until I couldn’t do anything else with that muscle – usually preferring sets of 10. This got me from 150 lbs to about 160 over the course of a year.
I left the Marines for college in 2010, weighing about 165 lbs. Because of the transition and strenuous course load, I pretty much didn’t lift the first two semesters. Some time in spring of 2011, though, a friend commented that I didn’t have guns anymore. He’ll probably never know how much of a psychological effect that had on me. I again started to notice how skinny I was. I had dwindled to about 155. I kept saying I would go back to the gym full-time, but I didn’t. Finally summer rolled around and I’d had enough. In about two months of my old routine, I improved back to 165. I all but lived in the gym in my free time. After another couple years of pretty steady gym-going, I’m now 185 lbs and proud, and I owe a good part of that to fitocracy.
Pic 1 – Summer 2009
Pic 2 – Summer 2010
Pic 3 – Spring 2011
Pic 4 – Spring 2012
Pic 5 – Winter 2012
How did you find Fitocracy? How has it changed your workouts?
In the summer of 2011, when I finally got back into weight-training, a friend of mine who worked at the school gym told me about Fitocracy. My first response was, “That’s dumb. I don’t need a fitness support group.” But eventually I gave in. I figured it would be a good way to track my workouts and monitor my progress. For the first 9 months that I used fitocracy, it was pretty much just that – which isn’t to say that I didn’t absolutely appreciate that aspect. I thought it was an awesome way to stay motivated – constantly working for those little gold stars, always checking my progress charts to see how I had improved over the past couple months. Plus I always got new ideas for different lifts, etc. I’d be surfing through the exercises, trying to figure out the specific name for whatever I had done, and meanwhile come across so many other exercises that seemed interesting. And the quests! It was always fun to check out the new quests and come across things I’d never heard of and try my luck. But then one day I met a guy at a hash run (hash = drinking club with a running problem…) who was also on fitocracy. I saw he had all these friends and was always chatting about this or that, filling up my newsfeed. So I decided I wanted a bunch of fito friends too! At the time I had maybe four, and they were all people I knew in real life. But after some expanding and befriending and what not, I found a lot of really motivating and friendly people. I got so many new ideas for working out and so much feedback and guidance.
Do you have any long term goals or direction you plan to take your training?
I don’t have any concrete long term fitness goals. I just take it month-by-month. I like to be satisfied with what I see and how I feel. Of course, I’ve been doing a lot of powerlifting more recently. I try to set goals for myself on improving the big lifts (bench, dead, squat, ohp..), but that isn’t written in stone or anything. It’s just what gives me motivation to keep going to the gym.
What are things you’ve learned through trial and error? What areas do you hope to learn more about?
I’ve learned that everybody knows how to workout and everybody will tell you you’re doing it wrong. The most important thing is to be realistic. Know what your ambitions are. Be persistent. I think anyone can make good progress with those simple rules. You don’t need some special training program or some high-end video routine you purchased on E-bay. I’ve also learned that for people interested in gaining muscle mass, it’s hard. Eating has always been the hardest part for me. Lots of steaks and green leafy veggies are important. I’ve learned that you should always be safe. Know your limits. Know how to push your limits without breaking yourself, and use spotters, for crying out loud. I’ve learned that proper sleep and lots of water are important parts of any athletic routine. And just always keep going! These days I’m interested in learning a lot more about martial arts. I’ve been doing Muay Thai and Judo frequently and love it to death.
Currently, where would you say your weakness lies? Where do you excel?
My weaknesses are in getting proper nutrition and sleep. Being a student, it’s difficult to be consistent. Also finding time to get to the gym is hard sometimes, but for the most part I’ve been faithful.
What motivates you?
Muscles – I can’t lie. Also just a desire to be the best. I’m the guy who works out harder when someone is in the opposite squat rack. I’m always trying to improve my big three – just cause. Plus spending too much time away from the gym just makes me feel uncomfortable.
Are you using any supplements or special dietary changes to achieve your goals?
Not currently. I have supplemented creatine probably three times (for about a month each time), and it has helped me get over humps. Other than that, I just eat a lot. I make most of my own meals. Also, I tend to stick to the whole paleo diet phenomenon, but I’m by no means a hard-liner.
If you could give advice to someone starting off, what would you tell them?
Find any way to stay motivated. That’s what’s most important. Make it a rule to never run with a shirt on. I think that’s good motivation.
What’s your ‘secret weapon’, the thing that pushes you or you feel gives you an edge?
I really don’t think I have a secret weapon. I just like working out. It feels good.
What has the overall impact of Fitocracy been in your life?
Fitocracy has helped give me some stability to my workouts. It keeps me in the gym. Having a “fitness support group” isn’t so bad.
One thing I want people to take away from my story is…
Always do what makes you feel good about yourself. Self-improvement is the key to fitness and to life.