I thought to myself, “I’m just over 44 years old. I shouldn’t be laying on an operating table with my arms strapped down in a crucifix position”. The position seemed suited as the surgeon cut into my wrist to begin the angioplasty. They had already brought me back once on my way here. That scared the hell out of me! And I was just as scared laying in the operating room at 530 pounds watching the monitor as this probe moved closer and closer to my beating heart trying to keep me from dying again.
Almost two years later, looking back, I shouldn’t have been surprised I ended up like that. Back then I battled with depression. I would eat and drink my feelings away. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were a mere phone call away and as I grew the more I withdrew from society until I was even having alcohol delivered. I ate and drank because I was depressed and the more that I ate and drank the more depressed I became. I was in a cycle of self-sabotage that appeared bottomless. Back then, while on the table, I never thought I’d be where I am now.
I am now literally half the man I used to be, weighing 265 pounds, but I am more than twice the man I was in so many important ways. Needless to say, I had to change everything in my life. I currently weight train on 6 days on, 1 day off cycle while doing cardio 6 times a week. I eat 7 meals a day. Lots of veggies and water and for my first meal of the day as well as prior and post-workout: meals that are high in lean proteins and moderate in complex carbs. I had lost 170 pounds on my own before I contacted Josh Demelo, my trainer for the past 18 months, who helped me lose an additional 95 pounds plus, while at the same time helping me add a lot of lean muscle mass.
Many people struggle with losing weight. Are the challenges as simple as a fitness issue or is it more of an underlying health issue?
There are several health issues that can cause people to struggle to lose weight including many medications. In my own experiences, I find that it comes down to people not making their own health a priority until something happens. For me, it took dropping dead from a heart attack to smarten up and make my health a priority so my daughter would have her father in her life. My dad was in his 50s when he passed away.
I also realized that most people just don’t have the knowledge regarding nutrition to make proper choices. I grew up in a very traditional French Canadian household where dinner was always meat, potato and a vegetable and I was told I had to finish everything on my plate because there were kids starving. This engrained in me no concept of portion control and you don’t stop eating when you’re full. You stop eating when your plate was empty. Food was a reward and a treat. (I have attached a word document about food triggers).
What would be your top 3 tips you would provide to someone who is struggling to lose weight?
Break your weight loss goal down into smaller steps. If you have 50 pounds you want to lose break that down into 10 smaller goals of 5 pounds each. It is much easier to lose 5 pounds than 50 so when you reach that first 5 pounds and get your rush of dopamine for a job well done it helps to keep you motivated to lose that next 5 pounds.
Thoughts on HIIT, Powerlifting, TRX, Yoga, bodybuilding, and others?
HIIT – I absolutely love it! I incorporate it into my own training sessions especially during prep and into my clients’ routines as well. I find myself and my clients and enjoy the fast pace and different movements vs traditional forms of cardio.
Powerlifting – It is not something I personally incorporate into my training. I prefer using lighter weights and strictly controlled movements to get that pump. Force as much blood and nutrients into the targeted muscle groups.
I have been using more stretching and yoga in my workouts as I get older. For a very long time I never stretched, I never did any yoga, and I found I was getting incredibly stiff and injuries were beginning to accumulate. Prior to any workout I properly stretch and warm up before I start lifting and post-session I’ll perform different yoga poses.
Bodybuilding – It is the bread and butter of my training session. I idolized Arnold and Lou growing up and I’ve always wanted a build like theirs. Big reason why I’m currently focusing on stepping on stage in a Classic Physique Show.
Share your unique training/coaching methods?
When I first started on this journey, I had absolutely no idea how much mental toughness was needed. Your mind will tell you 100 times you can’t physically do something before your body can’t actually do it. You have to strengthen your mind and embrace the suck, embrace the pain and push through to really get to that next level.
Currently doing a push-pull leg followed by a rest day then I go through the second round of push-pull leg but in the second round, I do different exercises than the first round.
As I am currently working on adding lean mass, I eat LOTS! But I eat clean. As of me writing this, I am currently at 330 grams of protein 450 grams of carbs and 105 grams of fat daily and I am still ramping up. Protein is boneless, skinless chicken breasts or ground turkey or flank steak or extra lean ground beef. Carbs = jasmine rice, oatmeal and occasionally potatoes or sweet potatoes.
I prefer getting my nutrients from actual food. The only supplements I use right now are Magnum Quatro Protein and I take Magnum primer packs.
Take us through a typical day in your life for you?
I get up at 5:30 every morning and let my dogs out as I put on a pot of coffee grab my jug of water out of the fridge and walk to my gym. The two dogs, Bear a French bulldog and Moose a mastiff boxer mix quickly fall asleep as I turn the heat up and the TV on, I put on either an action-adventure /sci-fi movie or motivational YouTube video and do my fasted cardio. Once done back into the house where I’ll have my first meal and answer client emails and text messages and do either admin work for my business or do some writing. After another meal then I’ll head back out to my gym and train any in-person clients I have that day. After that back into the house for another meal then back out to do my own training. I like to do my training early afternoon. For the post-workout meal then I do any food prep I may need to do. A couple of more meals then repeat the next day. There are also visits to my mom in the nursing home and the usual everyday tasks we all must do.
What separates Status from other fitness magazines?
Being Canadian-based and focusing on the mental aspect of fitness and showing how important it is in reaching your goals. Some other magazines only show people at the extreme end of the sport. People with those physiques are almost unattainable for the majority of the population. I love that Status shows people at many stages of their journey.
Status Fitness Magazine runs model searches across North America including the largest one at the Arnold Classic for the Status cover. As part of the Status family, you will receive a special participation invite. How excited are you for this opportunity?
I feel like a kid who was just told that I’m going to DISNEY WORLD!!!! Since I started my fitness journey and first saw Status Fitness magazine I dreamt of being inside and one day on the cover!
Describe your coaches and the impact they have on you?
My coach Brett Ellenor is absolutely amazing, and I model my own coaching style to his. I have had a few coaches during my journey and no one has been able to motivate me and push me the way that Brett can. It doesn’t matter what the situation is he always knows exactly the right thing to say to push me.
Do you have a sponsor? List them and what they mean to you?
I’m sponsored by Popeye’s in North Bay. They have been incredible in helping me along my journey from helping to provide me with the supplements that I use to carrying my own apparel in their store.
Can you share with us your goals for fitness and life?
I have lost almost 300 pounds and I am now working on adding muscle to my frame. I am taking two years off from competition and photoshoots to work on adding that muscle and at this moment my plan is to do prep in 2024, the year I turn 50 and step on stage again but this time it will be for a classic physique show and not a transformation show.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you’re right. No one is going to hand you anything in life so if you want something work for it.
5 most important attributes you see in a person?
Positive mindset, Kind/Caring, Willing to help others, Happy with a smile, True to their word. If you say something follow through.
If you could inspire one person, who would that be? And why?
My brother. I don’t want him to have to go through the health issues I have before realizing you have to make your health a priority.
Who inspires you? And why?
I have several people who motivate me, the most motivational would be my coach Brett, he radiates positivity and maintains a healthy balance between his work, family and training.
What is your number one tip for people on their fitness journey?
Don’t be your own worst enemy. Consistency is key. Don’t undo all of your hard work from the week by being a glutton on the weekend.
What is your favourite quote to live by?
If you want something, work for it.
Embrace the suck. Embrace the pain.