It is with a ton of excitement that I introduce you to the completely reinvented Jason Zook! After turning 30 years old and being upset with the way I looked/felt, I embarked on a 90-Day Challenge.
I lost 44 pounds, nearly 15% body fat, and 6″ off my waist in just 90 days.
Let’s not waste any time, here are comparison photos of what I looked like at the beginning of my 90-day challenge: From the front, back and side. The photos below have not been edited whatsoever and were taken on a Canon T4i by my loving wife, Caroline.
HOLY CRAP, RIGHT!?
I can distinctly remember taking the before photos and thinking, “I’m out of shape, but it’s not that bad…” But with the comparison photos, it really shows how out of shape I let myself get over the years. My posture was suffering, my bathing suit was about to pop off at any given moment, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much better I felt at the end of the challenge! Well actually, I can:
Why Did I Do A 90-Day Challenge In The First Place?
First and foremost I’d like to admit to you that I used to be in pretty good shape in my 20s. I played basketball at the collegiate level in the early 2000s, but those days were left behind when I tore both ACLs in my knees. I used to be a gym rat when I worked a normal 9-5 job in 2004-2007, but when I started my IWearYourShirt business in 2009, fitness and nutrition took a backseat.
I thought I knew what eating healthy was, I thought I knew what a good workout was, and it’s obvious that I was wrong and let those things slip away.
Almost everyone has seen a friend do some sort of health and fitness challenge, and heck, I have to say I was super inspired when I read David Siteman Garland’s 90-Day Transformation. I figured if 90 days was working for lots of other people, it wouldn’t hurt to try it for myself. I had just turned 30 years old (May 15, 2012) and knew I wanted to do something to get back in shape.
It all started with a public declaration: I sent out a tweet that I was fed up and I put a post on Facebook that said I was determined to take action.
Shortly after my virtual proclamations, a previous business client named Tyler Ford emailed me. Tyler, and his awesome wife Mimi, were Body by Vi coaches, but had no interest in trying to sell me on anything. Tyler wanted to help me set goals for myself, have supplements/products at my disposal and be a coach in my corner to cheer me on. After an hour on the phone I was even more excited to get started, and Tyler and Mimi Ford were going to be my official 90-Day Challenge sponsors (what can I sponsor next, right??).
I had 90 days to change my thought process about food, to structure my day around exercise, and to lose weight and get back in shape.
Was it hard? Absolutely. Were there times I wanted to give up? Of course. Am I glad I stuck with it? HELL YES!
What Was My
Diet Nutrition Plan During The 90 Days?
You can spend hours on Google and fitness forums reading secrets, tips, tricks, and lots of other junk. The information that keeps coming up no matter where you look: Eat smaller portions (you shouldn’t feel full after a meal), eat more often throughout the day (5-7 meals), drink over 100 ounces of water a day, carbs should be limited to fruits and veggies (they do make veggie pastas), no processed sugar (honey and stevia are your friends), no soda, less salt, and for me no dairy or alcohol.
By this point you’ve probably thrown your hands up in the air and said, “I can’t give up my…” or “You work from home Jason, it’s easy for you.”
Both of those statements are absolute garbage. If you want to make a change in your life, if you want to feel better, you need to change the way you think about food and about your daily routine. Not only can you save a butt-load of money each month by eating healthier (I saved about $1,500 a month, no joke), you can spend 1-2 hours and prepare your meals ahead of time for an entire week.
I started my 90-Day Challenge thinking I was going to change my eating habits for a few months, but I realized it’s a lifestyle change. When something awesome happens, you don’t have to celebrate with cake or a night of drinking with your friends. We’ve been trained as a society that food/drinks are rewards and they shouldn’t be, because the types of food we reward ourselves with are the worst ones for us.
Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox and focus more on what you should eat. Otherwise, here are a couple of things to note:
- It took me 60 days to fine-tune my “diet” and figure out what worked best for my schedule and for my body.
- I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have headaches or food withdrawals when I started.
- I often felt like I was hungry all day long, but it takes time to reset your body and break your habits.
- For years I’d pretty much eaten three large meals a day with a couple of snacks (not healthy ones) thrown in.
- Years after completing this challenge I’ve switched to a 100% vegan diet and have never felt better!
In less than 90 days I retrained my body to a new schedule that made me feel and look better. The human body is pretty awesome.
I didn’t do cheat meals during my challenge. Why? You don’t need it. You may crave the heck out of cheat foods, but give yourself the chance to work hard for 90 days and then think about doing cheat meals/days. Stick with eating healthy for just 90 days and I promise you’ll survive without pizza, Chick-Fil-A, beer, ice cream, etc, etc. When you want a cheeseburger, make a black bean quinoa burger (without a bun). When you want chocolate, eat some fruit. Find healthy substitutions and your palette will quickly adjust.
Here are my three (cheap) nutrition essentials that helped me lose weight:
What Were My Workouts During The 90-Day Challenge?
Ahhhh yes, everyone wants to know how many crunches I did in the 90 days right? Well, I can tell you exactly how many I did: ZERO.
The new Jason Zook physique was made in the kitchen. Okay, so not totally made in the kitchen, but I firmly believe that 90% of getting in shape is your nutrition and the other 10% is fitness. At least I tell myself that so I eat healthier.
Having worked with different personal trainers in the past, I knew there were tons of different things I could do or try, but I wanted to keep my workout routine simple. Not only because I’m busy and don’t have two hours to spend in the gym each day, but because you don’t need to work out for multiple hours every day to see results.
My typical weekly training regime
For the first 60 days of my challenge, I casually worked out 4-5 days a week and maybe one of those days was a cardio day (maybe). Which day did I do my ab exercises? No days. A typical week of workouts looked like this:
- Monday: Weight training chest and back
- Tuesday: Weight training arms and shoulders
- Wednesday: Pickup basketball (cardio)
- Thursday: Rest day
- Friday: Rest day
- Saturday: Weight training legs and plyometrics
- Sunday: Rest day
When I started I wanted to do workouts that slightly resembled Cross Fit workouts, but without the destroying of my body and therefore my spirit. I would focus on doing weight training for one or two muscle groups (chest and back, arms and shoulders, chest and legs, arms and back, chest and shoulders, etc) and in between each set I might do 50-100 jumping jacks or jump ropes. My workouts lasted about 20-30 minutes, usually longer if I worked out with my supportive wife, but I always worked up a great sweat and focused on what I was doing.
If you don’t know much about weight training, you should definitely think about getting a personal trainer (it’s worth it!). None of these workouts were rushed and every movement I did with a weight in my hand was purposeful, in perfect form, and with 100% of my strength and effort.
This progression photo shows my progress throughout my challenge:
I lost 30 pounds and 9% body fat in the first 60 days.
Not bad huh? But then something bit me in my slightly smaller ass – I wanted more. For some reason the thought got in my head that I wanted to get down to 10% body fat by day 90. In fact, I professed this goal on Facebook. I knew that losing 6% body fat in 30 days would be tough, but that I could do it!
I increased my cardio workouts, setting a 1,000 calories burned goal along the way, and streamlined my weight workouts to one muscle group per day (chest, arms, shoulders, legs). I also upped my water intake to over a gallon per day, but nothing really changed in my diet. Towards the very end of my challenge I did cut fruit out of my diet, but that was really only for the last week.
I can honestly say I’m proud of myself for hitting that 10% body fat goal, even if it was only by .1%.
I never set out to “get ripped” or “have a 6-pack” when I started this 90-day challenge, I just wanted to feel and look better.
I am, however, very proud of what my body looks like and I don’t want this to go away…
Don’t be afraid to think differently about your workouts, but be realistic when you’re getting started. The more you can get in the gym and get workouts done, the more you’ll want to get better at it. The less you dread working out, the easier it will be to make time for it, and everyone has 20-30 minutes a day to get some exercise (with or without a gym). Think of a gym membership (or personal trainer) as an investment in your health.
Here are a couple workout things I love and recommend:
Biggest Challenges During The 90-Day Challenge?
Now let’s talk about the hurdles I overcame while doing my 90-day challenge. Yes, I do work from home, but I have a very busy schedule and a very active Google Calendar. One of my biggest challenges was to disconnect throughout the day to make myself food, to get to the gym, to take showers, to sleep, etc. When you work at a 9-5 job, you have structure. I had almost zero structure. It can be hard to convince myself to put on pants some days, so you can imagine it was even harder to cook meals.
I also did a bunch of traveling during the 90-day challenge. Trips to Anaheim, Nashville, NYC, Memphis and Cape Cod. It’s REALLY hard to stick to a nutrition plan while fending off TSA agents and visiting the BBQ capital of the world. But I did it. I packed protein powder/shakers in my bag, I brought snack bars in case of long flights/layovers/emergencies, I picked the healthiest options off menus (or just didn’t open the menu and asked for grilled meat and veggies), and I avoided temptation where I could. I’d by lying to you if I didn’t slip up here and there or didn’t have a bigger meal than normal for my wife’s surprise birthday dinner in NYC, but I stayed on track.
Another big challenge? Oh you know, just completely restructuring my company during the challenge. Dealing with website redesigns, letting people go, finding new clients, creating new processes, and all the stress that goes along with all of that. Yeah, that was tough.
But you know what? No matter what it was, I kept telling myself that I wasn’t going to give up. I wasn’t going to break down.
I have my family, friends and my online community to thank for that. Lean on your friends and family and don’t be shy to ask for help. Heck, I’m happy to lend a helping hand to anyone, just don’t give up!
Final Thoughts And Thank Yous!
My wife Caroline was amazing throughout the 90-day challenge. Not only did she make changes along with me, she pushed herself to keep up and kept me from breaking down and skipping a workout or eating a bad meal. Thank you Caroline!
Thank you to my Mom for understanding that I do love her homemade mac-n-cheese, but I don’t need it in my life. Thanks for all the support, Mom.
Thank you to my t-shirt wearing partner in crime, Sean Ely. You were a huge help while we traveled to get me to work out, to keep me from ordering something bad off a menu, and to continue to encourage me. You’re like the red-headed brother I never had but always wanted. Gracias mi amigo.
Thank you Tyler and Mimi Ford for reaching out to me and holding my hand on this journey. It was pretty awesome having such a supportive and helpful sponsor throughout my journey.
And to everyone who commented, Liked, tweeted, emailed, shared any of my 90-Day Challenge posts: THANK YOU! Honestly, your support helped me get over so many small hurdles and kept me focused and determined. The IWearYourShirt community was fantastic and I really appreciated you guys letting me share my personal goals right alongside by business goals.