Justin Flowers, Age 26, 5'10"
Starting point: 180 lbs. 22% bodyfat: 39lbs. fat, 141lbs. lean mass
Fittest point: 178 lbs. 9% bodyfat: 16lbs. fat, 162lbs. lean mass
21lbs. of lean mass was added & 23 lbs. of pure fat was lost.
Prior to returning to exercise in June ‘13, how long of a layoff did you have & how were you feeling mentally & physically? I had taken 2 years off. Prior to that I had been working with a different personal trainer, but I was also doing a ton of cardio, so my body fat was extremely low but not very muscular. Fast forward 2 years and I was fat. Not obese, but definitely enough to feel unhappy with myself, self-conscious about my body, and ready to make a change. I don’t think I really knew how bad it was until I stepped back into the gym.
What was it that brought you to your breaking point and motivated you to "take action" and actually start working out again?
There were so many different things that just kind of culminated into me getting back into the fitness game. I think the worst was that feeling when you’re sitting in a chair and your gut just kind of spills over the top of your jeans. Also my girlfriend definitely had some endearing nicknames for me like “chubby” that I was happy to see go along with my fat stomach. And the last thing was that summer was imminent and pool parties and tank tops are my favorite things, so the clock was ticking. I took a fat selfie and vowed to never look like that again so long as I am able.
What goals and expectations did you have for yourself prior to getting started?
Well, I think fitness is one of those activities in life where the goalpost always moves on you. The only real goal I had was to look better with my shirt off. When I started, I told myself I only had to do one thing – which was to make each week better than my last.
A lot of people come up with excuses on why they “can’t” workout. A good example is they claim to not have enough time. As someone who has an unorthodox work schedule (Justin works the graveyard shift), what steps did you take to ensure you worked out a minimum of 4 times per week?
There are two barriers to success: physical and mental. I think the mental barrier is the more difficult of the two to overcome, and so I always had to make sure I was setting myself up for success by removing any obstacles. For me working night shift, I had to make sure that I always went to work with a packed gym bag. That way, when I got off, no matter how tired I was, I would just drive to the gym (it’s on my way home – on purpose) and once there I had no reason not to go in. Sometimes I would be so tired I’d sit in the parking lot for a good 10 minutes just trying to make it happen, but with all the tools with me and already being there, it never failed – I always went in and made a workout happen. No one can help you overcome any mental barriers but you…that has to come from within.
Overcoming the physical barrier is easy, because there are tools to help you. Tired? Chug a pre-workout…it will give you energy. I separated my shoulder a few years ago and can’t do certain exercises. Keith was great about finding alternative ways for me to work the same muscle groups. Whatever physical barriers you may have, I guarantee someone has found a way around it before and can help you too. We all have the same basic genetic building blocks and we all have the potential to be better – no excuses!
Nothing worthwhile in life is ever easy. When you were in the process of slicing your body fat in half, what continued to fuel your fire outside of the workouts and bring you to do things like eating every 3 hours, and resisting temptations such as garbage food & alcoholic beverages while in social settings?
Not going to lie, this is probably the hardest part. You put an hour in at the gym and then have to put effort into your eating habits the remaining 23 hours of the day. But, if you’re really attuned to your body, it will help tremendously. I think being attuned to your body will help you see the progress, and being able to see your body change is really addicting! It will also help you to see how poor decisions impacts your body in a largely negative way. Take for example one night of binge drinking – you usually eat poorly that night, sometimes the next day too, wake up bloated, miss a day at the gym due to hangover, workout all week to burn those calories off and BOOM – suddenly a week has gone by and you’re suddenly worse off than you had been the week prior. Make that mistake once and you'll know how those drinks will look on your stomach a week later. Knowing and understanding how the decisions you make in the kitchen affect your body will make it a lot easier to say no.
Now that you’ve been in consistent workout mode for the past year, why is it something that will be a mainstay for you moving forward & what fitness goals do you have for yourself?
Like I said, the progress is addicting. I’ve accomplished a lot in the past year, but now that I’ve set good habits and laid down a strong foundation of muscle, I only want to keep going.
There is no denying that an intense, appropriate, and effective strength training workout will put a person’s mental fortitude to the test. When the level of difficulty would become so great that you would want to throw in the towel, what went through your head and prevented you from doing so?
I doubt that, especially in the beginning states, 99% of people can push themselves as hard as a personal trainer does. Which is why having a personal trainer is so effective. During a workout, Keith is highly attuned to everything that’s going on with a client. Going into it he knows what I’ve eaten, how much I’ve slept, how my stress levels are, and monitors my respiratory rate and so on. So, he never asks me to do something I can't do...it's always in me, somewhere. Knowing it's in there I usually just let out a few expletives and try my hardest. Also, I spend a considerable amount of time on Instagram and I follow hundreds of fitness and clean eating pages so I get a lot of daily inspiration!
Talk a little bit about the different styles of training that you were introduced to (outdoor full body conditioning based & split training within a gym setting)..How did they differ & what did you like/dislike?
The outdoor full body conditioning was intense. A lot of cardio or movements that taxed every part of your body. It really gets your heart rate ramped up and will have the fat pouring off of you. It's awesome because you can go with a group of friends, but it is tough. We used it a lot in the beginning to drop my body fat down, probably around 8-9%, and it was really great for that. After I got to that point, my goals shifted and I really wanted to gain some muscle, so we moved to the gym. The gym is equally intense, but not in the same way. It really taxes my mental fortitude and puts all of my muscle fibers to the test. And that muscle has helped me get bigger and increase my metabolic rate too so I can continue shredding body fat!
As someone who has worked with a number of personal trainers, what was different about your experience this time around?
My last personal trainer was with a big-box gym. It was double the price but my results just weren't as great. The difference is Keith feels more like a friend who is really invested in your fitness journey. You can text him for advice anytime because his clock doesn't end the second you walk out of the gym. He checks in on you even when you don’t see him to make sure that you're maximizing your workouts. He gives nutritional advice. He even lets me borrow his shoes when I don't bring the proper ones for lifting. If you want someone who is going to run the full mile right alongside you, you won't find anyone else better than Keith.
Last Justin, what advice would you have for someone who is looking to return to exercise after an extended layoff?
Well - you could continue reading or you could just start. Only one of the two options will get you to where you want to be. It's going to be tough - starting up again is the most challenging part (I should know!) Just know that it will only get better and to celebrate the results no matter how big or small.
Living healthfully is a journey, not a destination. However, seeing results along the way are the road signs that keep us motivated and on track. On this page I share the successes that my clients have enjoyed. I hope that their stories inspire and motivate you on your own fitness journey.