A journey from 3XL to L

<90lbs fat loss over 12-month timeline>

Starting the fat loss journey from 264lbs (120kg)
Start Date: 1st of Jan, 2016
Target Completion Date: 1 Year (1st of Jan, 2017)

Today is the 6th of August 2016. I have been trying to shed some horrible amounts of fat on my body since JAN 2016 (50kgs to be exact). I have successfully been able to continue my cutting regime for 8+ months now.

Lost around 40kgs up until now — that’s about 12 solid months of weight lifting + cycling. I don’t really own a Fat %age calculator, but I can really see the difference in me — I have definitely formed a bit more muscle definition, so I don’t really know how much fat I have cut off versus how much muscles I have gained.

I have so far divided my workout into TIERs. This is what I have done so far.

Before I start off, I would like to announce that I am a product designer in an Indian startup and mainly have a very sedentary lifestyle. My entire goal even now is to cut down on fat plus form some muscles in the least amount of time (the goal is about 12 months), without really sacrificing my day job which I really love doing. For that I am trying to fit-in maximum amount of workout in my daily routine. Hacking my day to squeeze in that workout is the easiest way I can complete this challenge.

TIER 1 — JANUARY — Started cutting down on my carbs a little. Had Alcohol only once — Gin & Tonic — 1 Glass. This month was kind of hard; I continued eating wheat, rice, corn, burgers, some fried stuff in lunch but stopped on sugary stuff completely — had a low key breakfast (corn flakes, brown bread, milk) and a similar low key dinner (masala oats). Apart from that, I converted to a Non-Vegetarian (I stayed vegan for 26 straight years since birth), mainly so that I can start consuming fish and chicken — this is a personal decision based upon my knowledge of where I am living and the kind of lifestyle that I can continue maintaining while cutting off the fat and not starving myself completely. Also, I stopped taking elevators/lifts (started using stairs more) & small transporting vehicles like autos, rickshaws to commute — only took long-distance transports like a metro or a flight :P. Plus, I also started going to the gym daily — continued doing only treadmill, elliptical, and cycling for about 90 minutes (all 3 combined — 30 minutes each). Though I cut down on my carbs only a little — I could see myself feeling light but more tired throughout the day. Less Carbs + Cardio Workout took around 1–2 weeks for my body to get used to.

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Favorite drink of all times. Whenever I was too bored with drinking water, I had 2 or 3 of these after another.

TIER 2 —FEBRUARY — I cut down on my carbs more (lesser fried stuff, more veggies (lettuce, tomato, onions, carrots, jalapenos, capsicum), more water (6 liters to be exact), little coffee, and started increasing my protein intake from organic foods — chicken breast and chicken in general, grilled/roasted fish or sushi, egg whites (6 eggs), curd (400gms every day in the morning) and milk (whenever I can). I continued my 90 minutes cardio as usual, but I increased my speed and intensity. While everything was good, my body wasn’t recovering very easily. I couldn’t really figure out the issue — should I increase my food intake as I have increased my workout intensities?.

In between, I had a quick catch up with the founder of my startup on some work-related stuff when at the end of the conversation, we started chatting about how I am trying to cut down this year (as one of my goals). He recommended me switching to Whey Protein at least once every day after a workout for the recovery issue. I started researching more on this topic and even had a chat with my old gym trainer. After all of the research, I decided to pick up a bottle of ISOPURE Whey Protein — Dutch Chocolate. Plus, increasing my water intake a little more than 6 liters since Whey Protein has a lot of heat, and the temperature will increase to a lot by the end of Feb (also, I hate getting pimples on my face). Whey Protein sure helps in recovery. I consumed around 2 scoops of whey protein — 5 days a week with 6+ liters of water every day.

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Had Sushi — few times this month (FEB)

TIER 3 — MARCH — I started re-learning a bit more about weight training daily (I used to lift weights before). While I continued doing what I was doing last month, I cut down on my cardio in the gym a little to learn how to lift weights using a proper form and posture. It turns out, your walking and sitting posture improve when you train using weights — you slouch less and sit or stand with a straight back. The first week of weight training was horrible — I hated the body recovery pains I had. Whey protein didn’t help much, but I figured if I continue doing it every day, the pain eventually fades away or becomes bearable.

It used to take me 1 hour to commute to work every day — 20 minutes of walking to the metro station & 20–30 minutes of commute time in the metro. I cannot reduce the commute time unless I take an auto to the metro station, but I sure as hell can push my body to its limit. That’s when, in the second week of March, I decided to start focusing completely on weight training and integrate cardio in my daily work commute. I bought a cycle that I can take to work every single day, no matter what. That’s like 26kms of cycling every single day. This actually took my HIIT workout to the next level, plus I have started doing leg workout like squats, mountain climbers, burpees, kettle swings, jumping jacks, 1-minute continuous hopping/jumping.

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With my new cycle , I went with something within my budget and something that would last longer with me.

I have started tracking my workout in the gym, cycling on the road, efficiency during the days, sleep durations, steps walked during the day, calories consumed — Protein + Fat + Carbs. I bought the cheap Xiaomi Mi Fitness Band — 800 bucks (it just tracks steps are taken while walking/running and duration of light & deep sleep). I have inter-linked my Google Fit App with Mi Fit, MyFitnessPal, and UnderArmour Record to track my day & night effectively.

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Mi Band

Apart from all of this, I have carved a weight training routine for myself — Monday to Friday. 2 days of rest from weight training for rest recovery.

MON — Biceps Triceps / TUE— Shoulders / WED— Chest / THU— Legs+Cardio / FRI — Back

I consumed my last scoop of whey protein, and so decided to try a different protein this time — NitroTech Performance Series. Something a little more advanced to keep up with the recovery cycles. I have also increased my water intake to 9–12 liters.

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Mocha Cappuccino Whey Protein

TIER 4 —APRIL — This month, I decided to invest all the time in experimentation, talking to people who have been thru' this journey before and learning from their experiences and increasing my strength and recovery. Here is what I have tried in April.

Cycling — I have been trying to increase my speed in a 30min time pocket to cover more distance every day. Also, on weekends, I have been forcing my body to perform 50+ km rides. Knee recovery is bad, and cramps come into the picture if I don’t refill my 500ml sipper.

Weights — I have been increasing my range of movements and making my weight pyramid more intense every week. Been following and adding loads of basic Arnold movements to my schedule every day.

Legs — Since I have increased my cycling intensity and distance covered, I have stopped doing legs almost completely. No squats, No mountain climbers, No burpees, No jumping Jacks.

Workout Numbers — On a good day, I am working out almost 3 times a day. 2 small workouts — 12km cycling sprints and 1 big workout — 1½ hrs of weights.

Supplements & Diet — I have added up a few and removed one huge chunk.

At the starting of the month, I got addicted to a 690 calorie smoothie every single morning. 690 calories in a smoothie might sound a lot, but it really helped me kickstart my day. This is what went into it.

  • Nitrotech Performance Series — 140 Cal
  • Cadbury Cocoa Powder — 2tbs — 60 Cal
  • Mother Dairy Dahi — 400gms — 300 Cal
  • Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter — 2tbs — 190 Cal

After having this for about ½ a month, I read about Intermittent Fasting and decided to get rid of this huge chunk and see if it made any changes to my weight shifting. It involved me pushing my first meal to 1 PM every day and spend my entire morning fasting. That actually helped me shed 5kgs in 15 days of April.

So what did I do? — I woke up at 0430hrs every morning. Cycled 12.73km fasted, lifted heavyweights with no rest for 1–1½ hrs. Had 2 tabs of BCAAs, 2 multivitamin tabs, 2 fish-oil tabs & 1 Scoop of Protein Shake. Had 2 cups of black tea and about 3 liters of water. Have my first meal at 1300hrs and the next meal at 1900hrs right before sleep. Water intake throughout the day is 9+ liters. My meals involve high protein and fat intake — Roasted / Grilled Chicken, Chicken Dimsums, Green Salad, 10 Egg Whites, Dals, Paneer, Curd. I also cycled in the evening for the same 12.73kms.

TIER 5 —MAY — This month involved me doing 8 sets of each exercise that I do. The schedule remained the same; every weekend, I try to max out my limit, which keeps me in bed all day. So overall, it’s the same routine, but 8 sets of 8–10 reps each exercise movement — — every single day. I kept increasing the weight in each set. If I max out on weights, I continue with the maxed out weight or reduce it one notch for all the remaining sets. This routine actually helped me shed around 6kgs in the month of MAY. Also, I switched to 16–18 hours intermittent fasting for food — where I am eating lots of protein, veggies, water, and black coffee.

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Workouts are beginning to become crazier than ever. It’s fun. But tiring at the same time.
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Progress shot. I went in for a little hike of around 9KM to TRIUND. I was able to do it in 7 hours flat — up and down combined. That’s a lot compared to the last time I did the same trek. Last time it took me 5 hours to go up.
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65km bike ride to Akshardham Temple in Delhi

TIER 6— JUNE— This one is the most killer tier of my routine to date. I have switched back to 4 sets per exercise movement, but I have made it more crazy and intense. Water — Protein— Coffee — Veggies. Everything remains the same, but I am undergoing a serious Keto diet. This month, I have started doing 22 hours of intermittent fasting. That’s like 22 hours of Intermittent Fasting plus an insane Keto Diet. Here’s how the exercise routine, coupled with the above diet, looks like.

  1. Monday — Back / Biceps / Triceps + 25km Cycling
  2. Tuesday — Chest & Shoulders + 25km Cycling
  3. Wednesday — Full bodyweight plate exercises, cardio & bodyweight exercises, heavy leg extensions + 25km Cycling
  4. Thursday — Repeat Monday
  5. Friday — Repeat Tuesday
  6. Saturday — Excessive Cycling (50km+)
  7. Sunday — Excessive Cycling (50km+)

This might seems like a lot. But it’s not. My current mental and physical state of mind can easily slide through this routine, plus I am getting loads of rest and sleep every day.

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I have been using ISO Sensation 93 for a while now. This has about 70 servings and is a very pure whey isolate. Recovery is excellent, and I think this bucket will last till mid-August at the very max.

As you can see, I am not really doing legs, but I am making up for it by doing loads of Cycling. Till now, I have been able to see a 0.5KG disturbance in my weight every 2 days. That like 2–3KGs every week. But I am sure this won’t last very long, my body will catch up soon.

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Progress Graph so far…

TIER 6.5 — JULY — After June, I decided to continue with Tier 6 for July. Everything else remained the same.

  1. Monday — Back / Biceps / Triceps + 25km Cycling
  2. Tuesday — Chest & Shoulders + 25km Cycling
  3. Wednesday — Full bodyweight plate exercises, cardio & bodyweight exercises, heavy leg extensions + 25km Cycling
  4. Thursday — Repeat Monday
  5. Friday — Repeat Tuesday
  6. Saturday — Excessive Cycling (50km+)
  7. Sunday — Excessive Cycling (50km+)
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I continued cycling as the last month — I even did a century ride.

I also had to travel and stay in a hotel for 2 consecutive weeks, and so my diet was a little messed up, but I continued to the gym and substituted hour-long swimming sessions for cycling. I have been stuck to 90kgs for the last month now. It’s time to switch to the next tier next month.

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My exercise routine movements are gonna change a little from next month. This is what I have been doing so far (3 to 4 sets of triangle or reversed triangle weight series):

Back: Bent Over Barbell Row — Dumbell Row — Dumbell Swing Row — Underhand Grip Lat Pull Down — Close Grip Cable Row — Incline Bench Dumbell Row — Wide-grip Lat Pull Down — Straight Bar Cable Pull — Standing Low Cable Rope Row

Biceps / Triceps: Standing Barbell Curl — Seated Dumbell Curl — Single Arm Preacher Curls — Incline Bench Barbell Curls — Concentration Curls — Close Grip Tricep Smith Machine Press — Rope Pull Downs — Dumbbell Kickbacks — Close Grip Dumbell Pushup — Bench Dip — Seated Overhead Dumbell Extention — Cable Kickbacks — Close-Grip Pushups

Chest: Incline Press — Incline Flye — Dumbell Press — Dumbell Flye — Pushups (Failure)

Shoulders: Circling with 10kg Weight Plates — Dumbell Push Press — Seated Military Press — Single Arm Barbell Lat — Lateral Raise — Bent Over Reverse Fly — Barbell Front Raise — Upright Row — Front Delt Seated — Cable Lat Raise — Landmine Press

Weight Plates Workout: Plate Carriers — Russian Plate — Plate Pushups — Plate 8 — Reverse Lung Press Out — Plate Traps — Plate Hyper Extension — Plate Drag In & Push Out — Plat Wood Chopper

Legs: Calf Raises Seated and Standing on Smith Machine or Barbell — Leg Extensions 80kg Heavy — Squats 200 body weight

TIER 6.5 & 7 — AUGUST — I had some time to fix my diet and carve out Tier 7 exercise regime. This month was a low and high mix since I was away and traveling for 2 more weeks — DAMN! When I figure things out, I am continuing with my usual workout plus changing and switching things here and there a bit.

This month a cycled a lot — did not miss even a day at the gym and made sure I ride more than 30km per day and 50km+ on weekends.

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Just some of the snaps I collected while I was riding on my bike every morning

I went on and started with Tier 7 for 2 weeks. So, in a way, it was a mix of tier 6.5 and Tier 7 this month. This was how it is.

Day 1: Chest — Triceps — Traps
Day 2: Shoulders — Legs — Calves
Day 3: Back — Traps — Triceps
Day 4: Chest — Triceps — Abs
Day 5: Shoulders — Legs — Calves
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Back — Traps — Biceps

For now, the supplements that I am sticking to are these.

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Ultimate Nutrition ISO Cool — Chocolate Créme (protein)
Hershey’s Cocoa Powder (fat)
Daily Formula Multi-Vitamin (vitamins)
Optimum Nutrition Fish Oil Softgels (protein absorption)
Optimum Nutrition BCAAs (protein absorption)
Ultimate Nutrition Glutapure (recovery)

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First Week of September

TIER 8 — SEPTEMBER — I realized last month I couldn’t lift as much as I could have because I was doing two muscles simultaneously, and I was doing fewer sets. So I went back to doing one muscle movement a day.

Mon — Chest / Tue — Shoulder / Wed — Legs / Thu — Back / Fri — Arms

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This gave me a chance to fix my posture in some of the exercises and try new movements to begin another muscle confusion phase. For example, I tried to blast my arms with Kris Gethin’s Arms Challenge, which is given above (Courtesy: MAN V LIFE).

I will be switching my schedule every 2 weeks. My body will very well be on its way to experiencing hell this month.

After 2 weeks of hustling, I decided to give my schedule an ultimate switch. I decided to try out — 12-Week Hardcore Daily Trainer With Kris Gethin!

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Touted to be one of the best free series to cut serious fat while gaining and maintaining muscle mass. I was eager to try it out. Plus, I already sampled what Kris’ workout can do for me.
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Soon after starting the program, Protein became a necessity, and I had to switch to a different isolate. This time I decided to try out — MyProtein Impact Whey Isolate.

TIER 9 — October — I have been following 12WDVT (Hardcore), but consuming 8 meals a day + going thru’ that supplementation stack is insanely difficult. So, I decided to change things up a bit. Here’s what I changed.

  • Reduce the rest period between sets
  • Have 4–5 meals instead — where some of them are bigger protein-dense
  • Go with my same supplement stack, but remove Cocoa and switch it with Spirulina + Flax Seed Oil.
  • Increase cardio by participating in longer and more intense cycling rides. Endurance is not part of Kris’ program, but I love cycling, and I have set my own targets to reach there.
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Completed 120+ kilometers again this month. Finally, my endurance level for longer bike rides has improved considerably since the start of this year. Next are 200km and 300km before the year-end.

Though the weight has stopped falling off on the scale — I am going to start calculating body fat percentage from now on. But the good news is that I am still losing fat faster than before, muscles have started popping up, endurance and energy levels have gone up.

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Just over 85kg now.

I am halfway thru the’ Kris’ Hardcore Program. 6 more weeks to go. Let’s see what comes after that. I am literally experiencing muscle soreness 6 days a week; recovery comes, but after stuffing a whole lotta fish and chicken inside me.

TIER 10 — November & December — November and December were pretty awesome and shitty months for my progress. As in the starting Jan of the year, I spent many workout sessions concentrating on Chest, Back, and Legs. Plus, I had to build a lot of strength into my back for long-distance cycling brevets that I attempted in December on back to back weekends — 200K and 300K.

In many ways, December turned out to be a shitty month. I had an injury in both my hands and fingers towards the mid of the month will keep me away from the gym for 2 weeks and the rest I spent getting in the carbs and training for my 300K brevet. Also, I pushed thru’ my injury here and there and completed Kris’ 12Week HardCore Trainer.

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I am finishing the year at 20% body fat with still a bit of fat on my chest, back, and legs. My goal for the next 4 months of 2017 is to become a Super Randonneur — that means completing 400K and 600K on my cycle plus get rid of the chest-back-leg fat before concentrating completely on abdominal fat. I also have to bring up my biceps and triceps — have to build that peak :D. 2017 will be fun!

2016 — XXXL to L — 12 months — 20% BF — 176lbs
2017–20 to 30 more pounds to shed

That’s all for now. I will keep adding my progress every month. It’s been really positive so far — the incremental lifestyle changes are working. I still have a lot of ground to cover, but I feel consistency is the key here. I am trying to live by these two statements —

I. The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen.

II. Pain is only temporary. Gains are long term.

Progress so far — Dec 2015 to Dec 2016

Product Designer who narrates stories. Top writer in Design on Medium. Connect with me on https://www.linkedin.com/in/djgarg/

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