Shawn's story will make you laugh and inspire you to take your fitness to the next level. It will teach you to stop settling for mediocrity!
Weight wasn't really an issue until...
Before recently, I really didn't put much thought into my health. I played sports in High School which allowed me the ability to exercise and lift weights often. I was in relatively good shape throughout my teenage years. After High School I served a mission for my church in Mexico. I ate rice and beans and walked about 20-25 miles a day. Let's just say I came back looking very similar to a broom stick. After the mission, I went to college. As with most college students that aren't on a meal plan, I ate on the cheap. Very similar to my mission, there seemed to be a lot of rice and beans in the pantry, with the occasional "cup of soup." I was pretty active in college; played intramural sports and took a weight training class. Weight wasn't really an issue UNTIL: I got married.
My first year of college I met Chelsea, who one year later would become my wife. She was my motivation during that time to lift weights and stay in shape. But once I sealed the deal and married her, my motivation seemed to fade. Since we had a meager yet steady income throughout our married college years, we were able to afford the finer things in life: hamburger helper, spaghetti, meat loaf, and the occasional night run to Taco Bell. My calorie intake was increasing and my desire to exercise was decreasing. I was going to class, working part time, studying and doing homework and preparing to be a father. I just didn't find the time to exercise like I should have.
Balance, or the Lack Thereof
After college I got a job for a company that was acquiring seven existing locations in Texas. I was chosen to lead the acquisition. My family and I moved to Lubbock, TX (home of the Red Raiders) to start this new adventure. I was so immersed in my work that not only did I forget to exercise, I forgot that I had a wife and daughter at home. My life was WAY out of balance. I was so stressed that the only thing I felt I could do was work, eat and sleep. No time for anything else. I did ALOT of working and eating and a little bit of sleeping. This went on for two years until I was offered a job at my current place of employment. My time in Texas was invaluable for my career, but it took its tole on my family AND my waist line. I reached the heaviest I've ever been the summer of 2010. Now this may not seem like a lot to some, but I weighed 183 pounds. I was fitted with a gut, some nice love handles and voluptuous man boobs. Not to mention, the Peterson's tend to gain weight on our face first, so I looked about 10 pounds heavier than I actually was.
The "Bad Angle"
Wake Up Call for The Underdog
My wake up call happened during our move from Texas. We took a two week trek from Texas to the Pacific Northwest. On the way, we stopped at family and friends houses, where lots and lots of pictures were taken. And for some reason, EVERY single picture of me was a bad angle! That was my wake up call, that was my light bulb moment. I finally came to the realization that I needed to change the way I was living my life. Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.
I told Chelsea during the later part of our trip that I was going to start running and get into better shape. She laughed. I've said this before. I didn't blame her for laughing, it actually motivated me. That has always been my personality. When someone tells me I can't do something, I do everything in my power to prove them wrong. I always consider myself an underdog. This mentality keeps me motivated. I like doubters, they give me the extra push I need to succeed. So, true to my word, I began running on July 1st, 2010.
I still remember that first day. I probably only ran 1 mile but it seemed like a marathon. My lungs were burning, my legs and feet were hurting, my back was aching. I was really out of shape. I really didn't want to do it again the next day, but I did. I made small little goals each day: 1.1 miles, 1.2 miles, 1.5 miles and so on. After about a month of running I was able to run 2.5 miles consistently. Then I went on a short trip to visit Suzette in Wyoming and decided to run 3 miles with her. The elevation, pace and terrain brought back the "I want to die" feeling but I pushed forward; side cramps and all. Suzette kept trying to talk to me while we were running. After mile 2, I lovingly told her to shut up and we would carry on the conversation when we got back home. She obliged. After that experience I had the confidence to run further distances and soon I was averaging 3 miles a day. Then I started timing my runs and going faster. I put music on my Droid X and downloaded a program called Cardio Trainer which tracks your run via GPS and gives you updates every 1/2 mile so you can beat your previous times. I started enjoying running. I loved the cool summer air in the morning, seeing the sun come up over the horizon, the feeling of seeing another runner and waving to them. I was actually enjoying this! I signed up for two 5 k races and completed both of them in record time. I dropped 10 pounds in the first 3 months. I was pleased with my weight loss but I wasn't seeing any major differences in my physique. I was skinnier and in better shape, but flabby. That's when I decided to take my physical fitness to the next level.
Rewind 3 Years
Three years previous I purchased a program called P90X. Some of you may have heard of it. I found out about it while sitting on my couch watching TV at 11:30 at night. The program looked like it might actually work. It had "actual" before and after photos of people who finished the program. These people were ripped! After watching the infomercial several times over the next couple of weeks, I convinced Chelsea that this is something I needed to buy. She let me, probably hoping that I would take it seriously. After the package arrived, I began the program the following Monday. Three weeks later, I quit. This program is not easy. 90 days, 6 days a week, an hour a day. Phew! Talk about a commitment. This is not your typical home workout, this is extreme. I just wasn't mentally or physically ready for it at the time.
Fast Forward 3 Years, Back to the Present
I had been running for 5 months straight and was in pretty good cardiovascular condition. Since I wanted to gain muscle mass I decided to forgo running and begin the P90X program for the second time. This time I was in a better place physically and mentally. I was encouraged by the weight I had lost and the goals that I had set and accomplished. I was ready to see if I could push myself even harder. I got the DVDs out of storage, brushed off the dust, and put disk 1 into the DVD player, and pushed play. After about 15 minutes into the workout, I remembered why I quit the first time. It was hard. I had to take breaks often, modify the moves and really dig deep. My body was screaming that I stop, but my mind kept going back to the previous success I had as a runner, and that kept me going. I finished the first week, then the second, then the third and so on. After the first 30 days, I lost another 8 pounds, and was actually gaining some muscle. That muscle increased my metabolism and endurance, which helped me get through the second month. For some reason though, I didn't lose that much weight and I didn't seem to get the big muscle gain I was hoping for. I knew what the problem was though. My eating habits.
Food: my "Religious Experience"
Food has always been an escape for me. Just like every other American, I love a nice juicy burger. Especially being a Californian, In N Out Burger is a religious experience for me. I just didn't have to worry about what I ate growing up because I was always very active. Sure I had a chubby stage in middle school, but I grew out of it after puberty. Soon I was having a religious experience several times a week, without skipping a beat. Those High School habits I had formed when I was 16 quickly caught up to me after marriage and into my late twenties. In order for me to really get the results I wanted from P90X, I needed to think about what I was eating and especially the amount I was eating. Portion size didn't matter in the past. When I would go to a restaurant, I would ALWAYS finish my plate. Rarely did I take a doggy bag home, even after gorging myself on endless salad and bread sticks. So, the first thing I did was force myself to not eat until my pants ripped. The second thing was I actually started eating more often. I would have a light breakfast, a snack, a light lunch, then another snack, and then I would eat dinner. By eating more often I found that I wasn't starving before dinner time, which enabled me to not over eat. I actually wasn't even hungry, which allowed me to eat the proper portion of food. I also made a rule for myself that I wouldn't eat after 7pm and that I wouldn't have any treats until the weekend. I broke that rule on occasion, but for the most part I stuck with it. The third thing I did was eat more chicken and fish. I love both so that didn't really seem like a sacrifice.
Once I started eating right, I not only had more energy, but I was able to push myself even further in my workouts. I got to the point where I was keeping up with the people in the DVD, even surpassing some! By the end of the 90 days, I was in the best shape of my life; period. Better than when I was a 16-17 year old football/basebal player. I couldn't believe the change in my physique. I was actually liking what I saw in the mirror every morning. Chelsea even complimented me several times on my diamond shaped triceps and flat stomach. I was proud of myself and what I accomplished. Boy had I come a long way. Between running and doing P90X, I lost a total of 30 pounds!
Three weeks ago, I started my second round of P90X. I also plan on doing a 10k in July. I'm happy, confident and my priorities are in balance. What a difference a year makes!
Shawn's "Getting Ripped" Secrets:
-Learn to enjoy running and push through the "Want to Die" feeling. I put music on my Droid X and downloaded a program called Cardio Trainer which tracks your run via GPS and gives you updates every 1/2 mile so you can beat your previous times.