I’ve been very athletic since high school—I started lifting weights at age 16. I even majored in exercise science, and for the first few years of college my favorite thing to do was working out. I slacked off a little bit toward the end, and when I moved back home while trying to find a job, things really deteriorated. Over months, I let my diet become entirely junk food. I wasn’t working out much, and generally felt like I was in a rut.
I resolved to get back into the best shape of my life. I’d made quite a bit of progress down that path, only to tear my right pectoral while bench pressing. I tried convincing myself it hadn’t happened; I even had two doctors tell me there was nothing wrong. Finally, though, a specialist gave me the diagnosis I dreaded. It would be a difficult surgery, followed by 10 weeks in a sling and eight weeks of rehab. It could be two years before I was back to full strength.
I knew I had to get the surgery, but the recovery time was devastating. I spent most of the time on the couch, sinking back into a terrible diet and no exercise. I hit 252 pounds, having lost nearly all of my muscle definition.
Men’s Health/Mohammad Mugharbil
Even after the injury, I couldn’t give up on my dream. I started grad school to become an exercise psychologist. And I began the climb back to being fit, with months of light weightlifting. I realized how it looked—the fat guy lifting light weights intensely for seemingly no gain—but I wanted to be smart. I was also mortified about re-tearing my pec.
I made decent progress, eating clean foods and lots of protein. I put on muscle mass, but I couldn’t