How this college student beat the odds
and transformed his life.
Freshman 15? Freshman 40? Not on his watch.
Brandon Vacek has done a great group of people a favor: he’s proven that you can lose weight, transform your body, and make it stick by changing your lifestyle over time – and during college, probably one of the toughest times to accomplish such a task. As of today, he’s down over 110 pounds over the past two years; and he hasn’t gained any of it back along the way or had any major help (like meeting with a dietician, personal trainer, or coach). If you’re out of the loop, it’s pretty basic knowledge that “quick-fix” diets and exercise programs don’t work in the long run. They likely won’t help you keep weight off, they won’t change your eating or lifestyle habits, and they will leave you feeling frustrated and confused.
What Brandon has accomplished is extremely impressive so I wanted to ask what he did to make such amazing progress and how he did it without any major speed bumps along the way. It’s nothing magical or unheard of, but it was done right.
When did your “lifestyle change” and decision to lose weight and become healthier begin?
I got in a bike accident that led to a serious ACL and meniscus injury in June 2013. I became more active right after my knee surgery rehab was completed and after my doctor said I could become active again.
Why did you decide it was time for a change?
I just didn’t like the way I looked.
How much progress have you made so far?
I’ve lost 110lbs since I’ve started. My current weight is 150lbs. My body fat is currently around 7-8%.
What did you do initially to start losing weight?
I started doing about 3 miles of walking/jogging per day (now around 5 days of cardio – running and biking – per week) and lifted weights about 5 days per week for about 60-90 minutes. Now my workouts last about an hour.
Eating wise – I ate a lot of chicken, salads and greek yogurt with granola and I always had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Snacks would usually be granola bars. Dinner would be a type of protein and carb like chicken and rice or if I didn’t have a hard training day I may have had another salad with a fruit or veggie. Still had pizza once in a while to give me that boost. I cut out pop, fast food, bad processed snacks and stuff like that.
What sources of information did you use when deciding what to do to get healthier?
Chad Harlander – one of my high school coaches – was my main source when I began. He taught me how to come back safely while getting stronger after surgery. I did more cardio after surgery because it was less strenuous on my knee than weight lifting. He encouraged me to eat lean sources of protein after working out like chicken and fish.
It was also a lot of trial and error with myself to see if it would work better or worse. I did a lot of research on www.bodybuilding.com to get new exercise ideas and motivation.
Currently – you’re a motivator in the gym and outside the gym. You have inspired me to try to get in better shape and build muscle after seeing you get big throughout college.
I still try to learn from other people who have experience lifting whether they’re in person or online.
What were your biggest motivators during the process?
Other people noticed my progress before I did; it took me about a year to really see that results were happening.
What was the hardest part?
It takes a long time, so being patient is important. It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to be confident. You have to eat the right things – more often “healthy” than “unhealthy”.
What was the easiest part?
There is no easy part! (slight chuckle) It’s always hard. You have to train hard and can’t eat as much as you used to.
What is your next goal/set of goals?
My next goal is to try to lose more belly fat (battling an oblique strain now) and getting leaner and bigger muscles.
How do you feel about your body now and how does that compare to your views of yourself before you started?
I certainly feel a lot happier and better than before. I feel more active and motivated every single day. Before I started, I didn’t feel that great about myself. Now that I’ve done a lot of training and eating right, I feel more confident in myself and I want to help others feel the same way.
What do you think has helped you keep the weight off consistently with no relapses for this long since you’re still making progress?
I think keeping myself motivated is the key. I don’t really know how I do it. I wake up with a smile on my face every day and I try to see the positives in even the worst situations. For a small example, yesterday I forgot my headphones which I ALWAYS have with me when I workout alone, but instead of going back to get them or having a half-ass workout, I made sure to do my workout just as I would with them.
And any advice for those who wish to transform their body and their lifestyle the way you have been able to?
Be patient, adapt and try new things. Don’t do the same things over and over. Find what works for you.
And there you have it: