Welcome to my site! Learn how I became a Certified Weight Loss Specialist and went from 330lbs at 52% body fat to an unhealthy 156lbs and then made another transformation by becoming a 200+ pound bodybuilder at 5% body fat! By using Gastric Bypass surgery as a tool and incorporating a positive mindset, along with a positive support team behind me all the way, I've been able to transform my body, and my life, into something I never imagined possible. I'm nothing 'special', I'm not an 'anomaly', I'm just a normal, everyday guy who decided to make a change. The point is, YOU can do it too.
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My story is not unlike most who struggle with their weight... I grew up the "fat kid" and ultimately used food as my comfort. I struggled with my weight my entire life, ultimately leading to depression (among several health risks). I can vividly remember being called to the principle's office in the 3rd grade and being made to weigh myself on a scale. I was 188lbs at the time and was told there was a concern for me because I was, "too fat". Things of this nature continued through my adolescence and into my adult life. I spent many years doing the typical, "yo-yo dieting". I would commit to the newest fad diet and could potentially lose up to 50lbs at a time, only to eventually quit and gain 70lbs back in the process. I have tried literally every diet imaginable. From following the low carb craze of Atkins and South Beach, special soup diets, refeeds, the Warrior diet, Weight Watchers and other point-focused diets. Nothing seemed to work. Inevitably, once I would begin gaining weight back, it would throw me into yet another form of depression, which would in turn lead me to turning to food for comfort. Food became my best friend. My shelter. Everything revolved around it. My weight problems were also based off heredity, as most of my family suffered from obesity as well. We all lived the same type of lives at one point or another, using food as an escape. Any time the family would get together, we ate. Special occasions, birthdays, funerals, you name it. Everything was centered around what we were eating.
There were two things I wanted to accomplish in life...become a Police Officer and a Bodybuilder. Both of those aspirations were a long shot, but after obtaining my degree in Criminal Justice, I set off to accomplish one of my goals, regardless of how difficult I knew it would be. Luckily, I was able to pass the Academy. At 270lbs, I graduated and fulfilled my life long goal of becoming a Cop. It was shortly after that I realized how much of liability I was. Not just personally, but for my fellow squad mates as well. In 2007, during my first year as a rookie cop, my weight ballooned up to 330lbs, my all-time highest. I was ashamed to wear a uniform. I felt like a disgrace to the department, to my family and to myself. It became an almost impossible task to have to run up a flight of stairs. I cringed every time a call came out on the radio because I prayed I wouldn't have to run after someone. Playing with my life was a gamble, but putting my friends' lives in jeopardy was not a risk I was willing to take any longer. I can recall a time where I responded to a, 'man with a gun' call. As soon as I arrived, the subject took one look at me and immediately fled on foot. I tried my hardest to keep up, but my efforts only got me about 20 feet and a severely out of breath. The shooter got away...
I continued my failed attempts at dieting with no success. I had the desire and motivation, I just couldn't get the weight loss to stick! I began to research more about nutrition and exercise. As I said before, I have always been into the sport of bodybuilding. It was something that intrigued me from an early age. Seeing professional bodybuilders that were larger than life amazed me. I was inspired by what the human body could obtain with hard work. So, I began reading every piece of fitness literature I could get my hands on. During this time, I actually ended up obtaining a certification as a personal trainer and sports nutritionist. So now I had the know-how, and yet still was unable to lose weight!
[meeting IFBB Pro and 4x Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler in 2007 and 2010)
My research eventually led me to Gastric Bypass surgery. I spent over a year educating myself with the ins and outs of weight loss surgery. Not being entirely educated on the subject, my wife, understandably, did not want me to choose WLS as an option. The risks associated with surgery didn't seem to outweigh the potential benefits. I was also admittedly worried about taking the plunge. So together, we decided to do more research and began attending seminars and support groups, learning everything we could. As with most obstacles I tried tackling in life so far, WLS was put on hold and eventually placed on the back burner. My weight continued to spiral out of control and my health began to decline. I was now approaching diabetes and all sorts of health problems. Again, food was my saving grace.
Embarrassment and shame about my weight continued to follow me. I can fill these pages with countless accounts of mistreatment, verbal abuse, laughs and snickers and all other negative attacks that happen each and everyday to those that are overweight. I won't. However, I do have to throw this in, as it still haunts me to this day... Keep in mind, I vowed to live my life as an open book after WLS and make it my ultimate goal in life to reach others and help those that were like me...hopeful for a change but hopeless in the struggle. So here I am, a morbidly obese cop, ashamed to show up to work, knowing I was unfit for duty. And yet somehow, I managed to keep a smile on my face and show up each and everyday. However, there was one day in particular that I showed up to work and immediately wished I had been killed in the line of duty. Upon walking into the police department, I noticed several pieces of paper hung all over the wall, extending from the front of the building all the way to the back. There must have been 30 or so copies displayed all over, for everyone to see. To my astonishment, I realized they were all copies of a caricature drawing making fun of me that another police officer had drawn. I was horrified. The way my schedule landed, I was informed that the pictures had remained up for the entire weekend, meaning everyone from the supervisors and down saw it and had a good laugh. It finally hit home...this was how people saw me.
It wasn't until a family outing that I decided enough was enough. My sister took a picture of me with my beautiful niece, Emma. When I saw the picture, I was floored. I absolutely could not believe this is what I had become. You see yourself everyday and eventually you learn to get used to it. You may not truly accept it, but you learn to live with it. When I finally took a step back and really looked at what I had become, I lost it.
It was immediately following this dinner that I told my wife I had finally had enough and I wanted to get Gastric Bypass surgery. She agreed and supported me and the next day we called and began the scheduling process. I chose Dr. Enochs of the Bariatric Specialists of North Carolina. On April 13, 2009 I underwent Gastric Bypass surgery and began my transformation!
The surgery was a success! I weighed in at 330lbs and registered at 52% body fat. I remember my initial consultation with one of the nurses who attempted to find my BMI on a chart. Once she found my height and weight, she scrolled over and low and behold...my BMI number wasn't even on the chart! (Mind you, this is a bariatric chart used specifically for morbidly obese people!) It was a slap in the face, but one I took comfortably, knowing it would be the last time I ever had a problem finding my BMI. For reasons I still to this day can't explain, I just knew in my head and my heart that Gastric Bypass surgery would be the tool that led me to the freedom I had longed for my entire life. The night before my surgery, I made a solemn vow, complete with a deadline... I told my entire family that by the end of 2012, I would step on stage as a bodybuilder! Looking back, I see now how ludicrous this statement must've sounded, coming from a guy who's body fat was literally off the charts. But my family and friends, forever known as Team Upton, God bless them, stood by me and supported my dreams. They all knew my goals that stemmed from childhood.
So off the weight came... I adhered to the diet and relied solely on my nutrition to ensure the weight came off. I took the first 12 months after surgery to focus only on my diet and made sure my nutrition was on point before starting any exercise programs. After the first year, I had lost over 120lbs! My pant's size went from hovering around a 46-48 to a 34. I was starting to feel great! I knew I didn't have the ideal physique I set out for, but I was in no rush. I enjoyed seeing the weight loss and learning more about my body.
My confidence began to improve, as well as my work performance. I was even honored to receive two awards in law enforcement, becoming the CIT Officer of the Year!
By the end of 2010, I had joined a gym and started out slow. So slow in fact, I could only use the 25lb dumbbells for every exercise and I immediately got that sinking feeling in my stomach again...I felt like all eyes were on me. I used that fear as encouragement and made a point to not lose sight of my goals. Everyone started somewhere... So off I went, slowly working up to what would become a 6 day a week passion that has yet to subside!
Now ultimately, this could be the happy, motivating story that ends here. Unfortunately, my transformation took a turn I wasn't expecting... Because of the rapid weight loss, my skin's elasticity never rebounded. It left me with loose, sagging skin that would only be corrected with surgery. I again felt miserable. I had come this far, just to still be uncomfortable in my own skin. I couldn't take my shirt off in front of people and I once again was ashamed of my body and began to get depressed. The skin began to bother me, giving me bad irritation where the skin folded over itself around my hips and waist. My sides began to blister as a result of my duty belt rubbing against it while working.
After I had lost the excess weight I wanted to work off at this time, I underwent a separate surgery to remove my loose skin. I chose Dr. Carlino of the Specialists of Plastic Surgery and had a Circumferential Body Lift. Over 14 inches of skin was removed around my waist, leaving me to recover with over 2,000 stitches and 2 drain tubes that were in place for the first 2 weeks. It was, by far, the worst experience of my life. The recovery took almost six months and even to date, parts of my lower abdomen are still numb with no feeling. I am now grateful I made the decision to have the skin removed and I encourage it for people who battle with loose skin, however, it is no exaggeration that this recovery was the absolute worst pain and worst experience I have ever endured! I had to rely 100% on other people to help me. I could not go from sitting to standing or vice versa without help. I had to use a walker to finally become mobile. Standing up straight was impossible...I could not lean too far forward or backwards without the intense feeling like I was going to rip myself apart! At one point, I attempted to stand up off the couch without help. I ended up popping a stitch in my lower back which resulted in heavy, heavy bleeding. My house looked like a murder scene. I had to be taken back to the doctor who had to eventually continue to drain the site.
Once the pain began to subside, I realized my body was in a constant catabolic state. With no workouts, no movement and little nutritional intake at the time, my body began to atrophy. Before long, I was down to my lowest weight of a very unhealthy 156lbs. I was literally (newly tightened!) skin and bones...
After I was completely healed and recovered, it was time to start bodybuilding! I started back at the gym again, full time. I literally trained 100% all out and never stopped. My nutrition was back on point as well. There was nothing that was going to stop me! I finally put weight back on and began adding muscle to my frame. And ultimately, on April 12, 2012, almost 2 years to the date from my initial surgery, I entered my first bodybuilding competition! I placed 3rd in the Men's Middleweight Novice Division at the BSN NC State Championships. With the exception of my son being born, it was the most amazing and life changing event in my life! I weighed in at 183lbs at 5% body fat!
From here, I dedicated my life to living the bodybuilder lifestyle. I have continued to compete each year and because of my transformation, I have been blessed with several sponsorships in the fitness and nutrition industries. It is a very humbling experience to work with amazing companies in the industry, knowing that there are top level Professional bodybuilders who never get the opportunity to be supported by living out their dreams as I have!
My next show was in 2013. I competed in the NC Mega Muscle where I won First Place Novice Heavyweight, First Place Open Middleweight and Best Overall Poser! This show launched my bodybuilding career, proving that my first show was not just a 'fluke'. I had finally realized, even if a part of me will always see the "fat Adam", there was more to my physique than just the weight loss and ultimately, I could stand on a bodybuilding stage and at least look like I belonged!
And recently, in 2014, I competed again in this year's NC Mega Muscle where I took 2nd place Open Middleweight and again won the Best Overall Poser Award for the second year in a row!!!
I have continued to progress in my training, adapting the "off season" and "precontest" dieting programs. One of the main questions I get regarding my transformation is, "How on earth do you gain muscle when you can't eat hardly anything!?" That might be one of the biggest misconceptions of weight loss surgery. You see, I adhered to the strict post surgical diet for a long time. However, over time, your stomach (or stoma rather) stretches again, resulting in greater volumes of foods being able to be digested at one time. I remember the first "meal" I had upon returning home from the hospital was five tablespoons of chicken broth...I felt like I had just slayed a buffet!!! It was the most incredible and scary feeling. In fact, it was right then that I had a sudden rush of overwhelming sadness and began mourning the loss of my best friend, food. Not only was I addicted to food, I was addicted to eating!
For example, my breakfasts on my days off used to be boxes of cereal...yes, whole, unopened boxes. I actually went as far to justify my addiction by claiming that General Mills' boxes were much smaller than normal cereal boxes, therefore, I wasn't really eating that much... My breakfasts while on duty were typically Chick-Fil-A, where I would get a #1 combo meal, including a chicken biscuit and hashbrowns, then add a sausage burrito and cinnamon melts to it, with 2 orange juices and 1 coffee. So I had the realization that I would never be able to sit and pig out like I used to, and that was very frightening and upsetting. However, over time, I eventually began to eat more and more, and that's where I made the decision that
There's a reason why, on average, 1 out of 5 WLS patients regain their weight back after surgery. Gastric Bypass or other weight loss procedures are not a quick fix, they're not a 'diet', it's a life long decision that needs to be made and adhered to. I even argue that given the fact that most patients have a nutritional deficiency (because of malabsorption) after surgery, special focus on nutrition is a must anyway. On the flip side of that, I've seen countless individuals who have been successful in terms of weight loss, but are still unhealthy. You cannot live on the intense calorie restrictions that WLS initially provides. Over time, you have no option other than to eat larger quantities of food (otherwise, you'll die...). But I've seen people who keep their calories restricted to the extreme and end up looking sickly, almost anorexic. This is where proper nutritional knowledge is key.
I will always live the bodybuilding lifestyle and I thank God everyday for allowing me this amazing opportunity to fulfill my dreams. I never thought it was possible. I'm am so blessed to have such an amazing support team who has stood by me from day one.
My transformation is never ending!
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.
If you have undergone any type of WLS and are in need of diet or exercise help after surgery, or are just looking to improve your physique or performance, check out my Programs page and let me know if I can help you get the body you've always wanted!
God Bless and Good Luck!
All the Best,