Fat to Fit

Beat The Odds, Beat The Stereotype

Being an ardent lover of sports like basketball, Akshat always believed in staying fit and healthy. He was constantly motivated by greats like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronnie Coleman who are known for their intense training and sculpted bodies. But, his journey to the perfect physique was not an easy one.

In a small town like Ajmer where he hails from, going to the gym or seeking these physical goals is normally not what is expected of a 13 year old. Needless to say, Akshat faced a lot of criticism for wavering from the regular goals set for a boy his age. He was relentless and started working out anyway. With the posters of Dorian Yates, Jay Cutler, Arnold Schwarzennegar and Ronnie Coleman looking over him, he decided that he would, one day, look like them.

Now that was not an easy goal either. Being from a small town, he did not have access to a lot of information or even facilities that one needs for a transformation as massive as the one he hoped for. That did not stand in his way either. He joined a regular old school gym and began to train. The next step was to learn about fitness and the right techniques to get in shape. He purchased books and read up as much as he could to understand how to work on himself to achieve the goals that he dreamt of. Once he started, his journey was not as easy as it seemed.

Akshat belongs to a body type that is known as a hard gainer in the world of bodybuilding. These individuals have extremely high metabolic rates, which makes it difficult for them to gain weight and bulk up. The diet plan needs to be rigorous and the training must be extremely intense in order for them to begin to see a change. He was willing to go the extra mile. He was quite the determined young man even at the age of 13.

This was followed by a massive injury that would throw anyone off track quite easily. But, the only thing that he knew was that he wanted to be like his idols. There was no challenge that was too big to hold him back.

Today, he has a fully structured routine that keeps him in the best possible shape. And, it is his focus and determination that makes his story so inspiring. If you have been trying hard to gain mass and build volume, Akshat’s story is all the inspiration that you will need. No matter how many odds you have against you, all you need is some motivation and the willingness to give it your all when you are in the world of bodybuilding.

Your fitness journey will be full of obstacles but overcoming them will make the results even more worthwhile. Here is Akshat’s amazing transformation story, his own struggles, and his advice to anyone who is looking at pushing themselves to achieve more with each training session.

What motivated you to start training and pursue bodybuilding?

I was always into sports and physical activity. I loved playing basketball particularly. But there was something that always bothered me. My body was extremely skinny and I was always underweight. It also hindered my performance in basketball. The first thing that motivated me to take up training was to get better at basketball and become stronger. So, I decided to join the gym when I was 13. That was not well received by my family and other people in Ajmer, where I hail from. There were many misconceptions and people actually believed that this was not a healthy choice.

But I had a goal in mind. I wanted to be like Arnold Shcwarzennegar, Dorian Yates, Jay Cutler, Ronnie Coleman and other Mr.Olympia champions. For me, it was about looking stronger and to look like these men.

To learn more about fitness, I picked up Arnold Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding. It changed my life completely. I had found the industry that I wanted to be in. I wanted to make a mark in the world of bodybuilding and fitness.

How was your general lifestyle and diet before you began to train seriously?

Before I started training, my lifestyle was very normal. I did not have particularly great habits and did not make the best choices in food. I used to have three meals a day like everyone. I had no idea about what was good for me and what was bad. It was only after I started training that I began to focus on my diet and it is still one of the most important aspects of my training schedule.

What does a typical day at the gym look like?

I normally work on one muscle each day and focus on training my core. My training does not involve too much cardio. So, if I have to breakdown my training program, this would be the typical flow:

I ensure that I get to rest on Saturdays and Sundays. I believe that one of the most important aspects of achieving the results that you want is giving your body the time to recover. Only then will you be able to consistently push yourself to do better.

What is the diet plan that you follow?

My diet plan includes 5 meals a day. Eating frequently helps me get the calories that I need because I am an ectomorph or a hard gainer. I need to ensure that I consume a high-calorie diet to sustain my physique.

To begin with I make sure that I get at least 25-30 grams of protein in every meal that I consume. I cycle my carbs based on the workout routine. I also make sure that I get 90-110 grams of fat each day to keep my body in the gaining mode.

Can you take us through some of the biggest challenges that you faced?

Like I said before, I was faced with a lot of criticism when I first started training. I did not have the knowledge or the facilities that I needed in order to train the way I wished to.  That was not really the biggest challenge that I faced. It was three years ago when I had compression fracture in my spine that I felt all my dreams just shattering. I was asked to stay on the bed for a good 4-5 months.

However, in my mind I always knew that I was not going to stop. I was even more determined to make a stronger come back. I became very serious about fitness and my life in general after that accident. When everyone told me that I could not workout anymore, I was just determined to push harder.

Do you have any advice for others who are working on their own individual fitness journeys?

Being consistent is the only way to achieve what you dream of. You should also be careful about the products that you invest in. Look for authentic supplements and follow a good diet. Remember, if your mind believes it, your body achieves it.

From Recovery to A Ripped Physique

The reality of today is that junk food is a lot easier to access than healthy alternatives. Fast food and snacks are readily available to be it in the office canteen or in a supermarket. And with the busy work schedules that people have these days, these are the only options available at times. Things were no different for Sagar Arora, 26, who made fitness a priority but seemed to fall short always thanks to poor lifestyle choices. 

All it took was one episode of extreme digestive issues thanks to aerated drinks, caffeine and other junk that crept into his diet to push him harder to achieve what he always dreamt of – a fit physique. 

Sagar talks about his extreme health issues that prevented him from eating anything at all for months. The results were obvious, he began to lose muscle and his body became weaker by the day.  Then, he made his way to the gym one day and realized that it was impossible for him to even do a simple push up comfortably. That is when he decided that he had had enough. That is the day he decided to kick old habits and make way for newer, healthier lifestyle choices. 

Today, he flaunts washboard abs and looks younger than ever. From 89 kilos to 69 kilos of pure mass, his transformation journey is truly the motivation that you need. If you have any health issues or habits that are preventing you from achieving your fitness goals, his transformation journey is just what you need, to get yourself going.

Can you think of one incident that made you realize that it was time to make a change? 

I was always keen on fitness and even began my tryst with it way back in the year 2011. I had even started to consume the proteins that I needed to start building muscle and looking bulkier. But, I cheated. All the time. There was always room for coffee and coke in my diet. Not to mention tons of junk food. It was the latter that really took a toll on my health, leading to extreme digestive issues. It was so bad that all I could eat was plain khichadi for several months. This was in 2017 and I remember feeling disappointed with myself all the time. 
 

Here I was unable to jog for 15 minutes straight or even do a few push-ups correctly. I rejoined the gym in 2018 but the real wakeup call came when I tried to do my push-ups and failed miserably.

Give us a glimpse of your lifestyle before you actually got hooked onto a fitness routine 
 

Let me tell you that I am a complete sweet tooth. So sugar was a huge part of my diet. Be two desserts each day or 2 packets of biscuits, I just need that sugar rush to function. So, this was possibly the hardest thing for me to give up. Like I said, I always wanted to be fit. This is why I even went on a high protein diet when I first joined the gym. 
 

As expected, I did develop muscles fast. But all the junk that I included in between my meals had a bad effect on my digestion. My stomach was completely messed up and I could only eat certain bland foods. All the muscle that I developed for the last six years disappeared before I realized. 

But, for me, it was not just about how I looked physically. I hated the fact that I was completely drained at the end of each day. For the most part of the day I felt lazy and lethargic. All I can blame this on is my sugar intake at that time. And the worst part is that I always knew that these foods were bad for me, but continued eating them anyway.

What is your typical exercise routine now? 

It was in the year 2018 that I started going to the gym again. It took me until summer of that year to be regular though. When I did start, it was a basic 5 day weight training and 3-day cardio combo. As I got stronger, I was ready to move on to a more complex training routine. 

Today, I usually work two muscle groups a day and ensure that I get a few minutes of cardio along with it. So, my typical fitness routine is

For me, form is everything. I also try to keep my muscles going in between training and avoid resting for more than 1 minute in between sets. 

My HIIT consists of 30 seconds of cycling or sprinting with a break of 45 seconds in between. 

I usually hit the treadmill for my cardio. When I use the treadmill I like to keep the inclination level at 10 and the speed at 6 km. I also use the elliptical from time to time at level 15.

What is your diet like now? 
 
I follow a 30-day low carb diet after 60 days of moderate carb diet. Repeating this cycle twice helped me achieve my fitness goals much faster. I also have a few supplements in my diet including an Isolate Whey Protein, Multivitamin tabletsand fish oil capsules. 
My diet now includes: 
  • Breakfast: A protein shake immediately after I wake up. Then, the actual breakfast includes an 8 egg white scramble with a cup of boiled oats and one apple. If I am on a low carb cycle, I avoid the apple. 
  • Lunch: 250g of chicken with a bowl of salad and brown rice. During the low carb cycle, I cut the brown rice out. 
  • Evening Snack: 5 boiled egg whites with a single slice of toasted bread and a few nuts: During the low carb cycle, I avoid bread. 
  • Post Workout: My regular protein shake. If I am not on the low carb cycle, I include a nutrition bar as well. 
  • Dinner: A plate of salad and 250g of Roasted chicken. 
  • Night Snack: If I am out late or am working into the night, I may either have half a scoop of protein shake or some nuts. 
I make sure that I drink at least 4-5 liters of water each day. This is a must to sustain a rigorous fitness routine. 
Image Credits- desiaesthetics (IG Handle)
What challenges do you face when it comes to your regime? 
 
Work is the first challenge. There is a lot of pressure and timings can get erratic at times. So, the first thing to take a hit is my diet. But I make sure that I do not miss training and eat as clean as possible even if I am eating out. 
 
My love for sugar still exists. When I am out with friends and family, I do indulge in the occasional dessert. But I make up for it with a few minutes more of cardio. But most importantly, I try getting back to my diet as quickly as possible. Even if I have 3 bad days, I make sure that the 4th day is back to my regime. In the end, it is about your overall process and not about those bad moments that you may have for several reasons.
 

Do you have any advice for people who are struggling to achieve their fitness goals? 

 
The first thing you need is patience. It is not easy to switch to a healthy lifestyle overnight. So take your time. And, you will realize that fitness is not just about the results but is actually the whole process itself. That process is a long one. So keep at it. 
 
It is okay to have the occasional cheat day. But you can make wiser choices the next time. Find some way to workout every day. It does not have to be the gym always. Take a run around the block or go cycling. The key is keeping yourself active. 
 
And most importantly, remember that your journey is unique. You can never get the same results as someone else. So stop comparing. Take it one day at a time till fitness is not just a routine or habit but is your overall lifestyle.