|Cary Castagna wins weight loss challenge (QMI Agency) |
I was the biggest loser — dropping 38 pounds of flab in just 42 days. And that makes me the big winner in the 2014 World Health Edmonton Media Transformation Challenge. It’s incredibly satisfying to be able to write that.
As loyal Keeping Fit readers know, despite competing as a bodybuilder for a spell more than two decades ago, I’ve waged a battle of the bulge for much of my life. I’ve especially struggled in recent years. So when World Health invited me to compete in a six-week transformation challenge against nine other media personalities, I knew it would be the perfect way to kickstart my sagging fitness regimen.
When I met my trainer — Dennis Brent from World Health’s Mayfield Common location — I told him that I was 100% committed to winning the challenge and getting my health back on track. He didn’t doubt my sincerity.
“I knew from Day 1 after our consult you were mentally ready for this,” Brent recalls. “We just needed to show you that you deserved this and for you to truly believe that.” Amen, brother! More than six weeks later, I readily admit that I don’t have all the answers when it comes to transforming the human body. But here are five key tips to my successful transformation:
From the outset, I adopted a suck-it-up-buttercup mindset. I decided that no matter how tough the diet and workouts got, I would simply suck it up and power through. There would be no feeling sorry for myself when I went to bed with mild hunger pangs. No self-pity when I was gasping for breath between intense sets at the gym. No whining when I felt sore, irritable and depleted. Well … maybe a little bit of whining. Hey, I’m only human. But I understood early on that if I were to take my physique to a level at which it hadn’t been in some time, then I would have to push myself like I hadn’t pushed myself in some time. This mindset was absolutely critical to my success.
Brent emphasized the importance of “accountability” from Day 1. He explained that we were only together for three one-hour workouts a week — a mere three hours out of 168 hours every single week for six weeks. That left a lot of time for me to screw up when Brent wasn’t looking. Consider that during a decent workout, I could burn 300-500 calories. But then I could hit a drive-thru after leaving the gym and easily ingest 2,000 calories — reversing any progress made with Brent. So it was imperative that I stayed accountable 24/7.
When it came to my workouts with Brent, I knew I had to “bring it.” There were no light, half-hearted sessions. Every workout was all-out. And as my strength and conditioning progressed, Brent simply raised the intensity by making the exercises tougher and shortening my rest periods. He describes our training as “a combination of high-intensity interval training/circuit training, focusing on performing full-body, multi-joint movements.” I just call it “hard.”
My macronutrient breakdown was as follows: 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat (good fats, of course.) Challengers didn’t have to count calories. That was done for us. Breakfast typically came in around 300-415 calories, lunch at 285-635 and dinner at 190-405. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks usually accounted for another 115-200 calories each. I never felt deprived, but it did take me a couple weeks to get accustomed to smaller portions.
A strong supporting cast
I’m lucky to have a pretty cool wife. She has supported me all the way, even after giving birth late in the fifth week of the challenge. Post-challenge, she is making sure I continue to eat healthily and get to the gym. She knows it makes me a better husband and dad. I’m also grateful for my mother-in-law. She has been helping us manage post-baby and she was the reason I was able to get to the gym as often as I did in the final week of the challenge. My attitude of gratitude extends to World Health — from Brent on up to local owners David Hardy and Blake MacDonald, who showed that they believed in me by investing their time, energy and resources into my transformation. Thank you to everyone who had a hand in my success, even those who cheered me on via social media. I couldn’t have done this alone.
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