How I got here – Introduction to my journey so far

If you have 30 seconds, read the summary
If you have 10 minutes, read the entire post.

Summary

  1. I was always a fat kid and decided it was time to lose weight after my high school crush rejected me
  2. I trained with the end goal of losing weight and becoming a trickster in mind but fell in love with the process instead
  3. I now love powerlifting and have my very first competition coming up on 25 September 2016!

The early days

One of the reasons for starting this blog aside from sharing information was a platform where I could log my training on to keep myself accountable. Because of this I thought it would probably make sense to start off by giving a little introduction about how I started training.

I have always been quite a fat kid, I had the kind of appetite where I only stopped eating when there was no food left on the dinner table. I should probably also mention that my whole family is vegetarian for religious reasons so I was one of the key drivers for debunking the myths surrounding fat gain being impossible for vegetarians. Or maybe this is a testament to how much I really ate given that I was vegetarian and STILL managed to get fat!

It wasn’t until high school when I had the biggest crush on this girl that it finally dawned on me that people weren’t joking when they called me fat. My extended family would tease me but for some reason, even though I looked at myself in the mirror each day I did not notice! The girl I had a crush on told me “I’m sorry, your face looks alright, it’s just your body..”. This literally crushed the little 12 year old in me but it also gave me the initial push to start working on myself. I think this is very important as you can’t expect the world around you or worse the people around you to change first before your situation gets better. So many times people will say something like “if only I had that promotion then..”, “if only I had a better job then I could..”, “If only I wasn’t so unlucky..”, “if only I had more time..”. I personally think that regardless of your current circumstances, your life will only start to change once you decide to change. If you want to change your life, you have to start with yourself.

Before picking up powerlifting I went through a few different activities namely:

  • Home based workouts (2003) – something like 1000 crunches a day and some other silly things. I probably disliked doing these the most and it showed in the amount of progress I made – barely anything. It felt like a chore and the lack of progress due to unrealistic goals I set for myself (lose 10kg in 2 weeks!) caused me to lose motivation fairly quickly. I was probably around the 85kg mark as a short 12 year old.
  • Martial Arts and Lion Dancing (2005-2010) – I joined this school together with a few of my other Asian friends just so that we could fit the stereotype! Although I only signed up due to peer pressure, the lessons themselves taught me invaluable basic principles such as discipline and persistence. I think that these were a major contributor to the person that I am today. I weighed around the 80kg by about 2010 (progress was slow as I did not pay attention to diet and nutrition at this stage)

Introduction to Tricking

In 2008, while still training martial arts I also became quite fond of watching tricking videos. Tricking is a mix between martial arts, acrobatics, gymnastics, and breakdancing. I just thought it was the coolest thing ever (along with parkour) and that I’d definitely pull a tonne of girls with these awesome moves once I learned them. I signed up to gymnastic classes which I only attended a couple of times due to the long commute but I continued to try and teach myself in my backyard.

Undoubtedly one of my one of my biggest influences during this time was a guy named Kevin O’Donnell. He was a trickster who owned a blog called dogentricks.com. He was one of the hardest working people I knew at the time and I aspired to be exactly like him. At the time I was still too fat to trick, so I picked up Kevin’s Fat Loss Routine which was not only a physical but mental routine. His routine talked a lot about setting the right goals to keep you motivated which I talked about in my first post here.

I loved Kevin’s writing style, he had such a strong passion for the sport and he wore his heart on his sleeve with every blog post he wrote. This always evoked such a strong emotions in me. His posts would always give me goose bumps or inspire me to take on the world. As I followed Kevin’s story I felt like I was living my life vicariously through his blog, I felt his sense of achievement, sadness and pride. I followed everything he did to the Tee and probably made the most progress from a fat loss perspective in years – I dropped down to about 70kg (within 3 months) and this was when I started to get addicted to the chase for self-improvement, to always be better than the previous day. “This is what it’s like to live” I thought to myself.

Kevin moved to Japan to follow his dreams of living there, naturally to improve his linguistic skills he started blogging in Japanese. Although I stopped reading Kevin’s blog at this stage, I cannot begin to thank him enough for the influence he has had on my life. I initially followed the fat loss routine to lose weight so that I could trick, I was still too physically weak to get any decent airtime in my jumps. I felt that my physical strength was holding me back.

A new direction

In 2011, I decided to join a commercial gym to gain strength and condition my body. Still with the intention of using this as a base to trick. I’m not exactly sure what happened after that because it was such a gradual change, there was no “AHA” moment for me. I initially started training with an end goal of tricking in mind, however, on the way to the final destination I fell in love with the process instead. Training was a form of meditation for me, no matter how much life sucked at work, at school or even in the world around me, none of that mattered because during the 1-2 hours I had to myself each day, training would be one thing that went well. That was my alone time for me to just own it, be myself and shut out the world.

I personally think exercise is one of the better addictions to have in life. The list of benefits is so long that if we listed all of the positive benefits out, you would think that the research must be made up! Harvard magazine published an article which prescribed exercise as the magic pill that will “prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, 12 kinds of cancer and even improve attention span and make you feel younger”.

Although my progress was mediocre at best I just loved showing up at the gym and beating my previous self from yesterday. I made many mistakes along the way and my progress stalled multiple times due to bro style body splits training to failure, program hopping between 4 different versions of a 3×5 routine and injuries sustained from playing Tag Football on the side.

My strongest lifts to date was at the end of a 16 week linear periodisation cycle in December 2015 where I weighed in at about 75kg and my lifts were:
Squat: 160kg
Bench: 100kg
Deadlift: 212.5kg

Fast forward to April 2016 where I joined a strength and conditioning gym to train under the guidance of a coach after returning to training from an ankle injury (lower body lifts dipped post-injury – I tested my 1RM about 5 weeks into training (June 2016) where I only squatted 155kg and Deadlifted 190kg).

I now have my very first Powerlifting Australia Competition coming up on the 25th of September 2016 and I cannot wait to start the next chapter of my lifting career. I am hoping to achieve a total of 480kg at 74kg bodyweight, not exactly elite level strength but you have got to start somewhere 🙂

 

Toni

Toni is management consultant by day and an amateur powerlifter also by day.. he sleeps at night. He loves to strive for personal development and he achieves this through training, reading and maybe even writing.

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