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As a performing musician, I often have audience members approach me after a gig and say, "I'm sure you get tired of hearing this, but I think
that you're really great". I am quick to remind them that I never grow tired of compliments, and to please keep them coming. With this in mind,
I'm writing this email in praise of your work.
At the time of purchasing your books mid-January, 2001, (7 of them total), I weighed 195.5 lbs and was at 16 percent bodyfat. On January 18th, I purchased a Tanita scale and began measuring daily progress. I followed the high-fiber, whole grain, mostly vegetarian, 5 meal-a-day program you prescribe. In spite of your encouragement to "backslide" occasionally, I haven't needed to do so, other than a couple of beer binges. Today I am at 167 lbs at about 7.9 percent body fat. I fit into the suit I bought in 1977 after my high school graduation, other than the fact that my chest muscles are too big for the vest.
My wife was slightly skeptical when I started, but after about three weeks she was impressed by my progress and joined the program. This included returning to the weight room and walking after arthroscopic knee surgery on December 20th. At five feet tall, she has gone from 116 lbs at 25 percent bf to 104 lbs at 19 percent bf today.
The story would be impressive enough right there, but there's more. We were a family that ate out almost EVERY meal. Everyone was ready to eat at home. My 11 year-old son began to take an interest in cooking as well. He was obese at 32 percent body fat. Through his own doing, he has lost about 15 lbs already, and yesterday was so proud to buy pants that didn't say "husky" on them for the first time in years. My older son is 15 and has, on his own initiative, started a vegetable garden in the back yard.
Today, as I wandered into a [health food store], there was a huge sign for
some Hollywood diet drink that promised you'd lose 10 lbs in two days. I walked in to find two people in the store, a clerk and a customer. The
clerk was selling a bottle of whatever diet pills to a girl that wanted to lose weight for her upcoming honeymoon in Mexico. He also told her not to
eat carbs for the next month. I felt so smart, and was ready to open my mouth with my newfound wisdom, but paused to reflect. After all, you did
the brain work...I just bought the books.
It used to be that everyone wanted to know how I got to be such a good bass player. Now people just want to know how I lost the weight. They want to know what "diet" I'm on. If they ask twice, I send them to your website. Thanks again for your contribution to our family's health and well-being.
Kansas City, Kansas
Plus Six Year Update and Photo below
I am a 34 year old officer in the US Air Force and have been participating in amateur bodybuilding for the last seven years. As a fellow professional, you know my grief going through the bodybuilding and contest process "part-time." The more I do this, the more I learn. This time I was able to use the information I learned from you and my previous experience to guide me.
This year, I lost over 40 pounds in three months preparing for two competitions. [Editor: too fast] First was Mr. Guam í01 on 24 Mar, and the second was Mr. Armed Forces Hawaii on 5 May. Two principles aided me in getting down to the proper condition quickly; without losing much lean mass. First was the "use it or lose it" principle, which I adhered to strictly. I continued heavy bench, squats, and back work all the way up until the last week. Electrical impedance testing shows that I lost no more than 8 pounds of muscle out of 40 total. Second was cardio and aerobics. However, I did not adhere to your principles for diet, the key third ingredient for long-term success in bodybuilding competition and health.
Actually, I believe diet is the most important aspect affecting physical condition after my experience this year, and after consulting with you. Looking farther back, my first contest in 1994 was a wash. I had about 12 percent body fat and didnít know the requirement to succeed. Then, I read your books and got down well below 10 percent for subsequent contests. I NEVER wanted to be "fat" again. Unfortunately, in late December and January of this year I weighed over 182 pounds and had over 15 percent body fat. So, I had to take "drastic" measures to get down by March 24. Consequently, I slowly weaned myself off carbs to prepare for Mr. Guam until I was ultimately eating 27 eggs a day with only a half cup of brown rice. [Editor: bad mistake] I sustained this eating regimen for over three weeks. In hindsight, I came down way too fast with self induced ketosis and brutal workout sessions. For example, I was squatting 315 and maintaining as much as possible on resistance while doing grueling two-hour cardio sessions. All this was on low carbs! Despite the quick results, it manifested in some really bad symptoms.
I stood on stage severely cramping during the most competitive comparison posing session I ever had (almost fell down on stage while posing). This was quite ironic, considering I was in the leanest condition of my life. Next, my attitude was horrible. Carbohydrate deprivation left me angry and lost psychologically. My attitude was bad on stage and my wife suffered from it at home. At one point, I started yelling at cars driving past me during my morning walks. In addition, my bad eating habits were extremely difficult to recover from. I binged severely after Mr. Guam to the extent that I couldnít stop eating sweets for two days. I was in a bad position for the upcoming contest in Hawaii just five weeks later. Thatís when I decided to consult with you on the telephone. In the form of a true mentor, you coached me back to health with common sense advice.
As you suggested, I started eating high quality carbohydrates, such as vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. This curbed my desire to binge and made me feel much better; my energy level and mental attitude really improved. Also, I reduced my cardio to milder sessions and stayed consistent with the weights. The change in my physique was huge. On 5 May, I stood on stage seven pounds heavier (150 as opposed to 143 for Mr. Guam), and just as lean. I actually had veins sticking out in my abdominal area for the first time. I was runner up in the lightweight class, but, more importantly, in the best condition of my life.
My wife, Wendy, and I went through a lot here, but we know the trophy and title are not important when compared to the lifestyle and health. Looking good in the short-term, like everything else superficial, is easy. One requires motivation from a higher power/concept to look good, feel good, and be good long-term. You gave me that concept, and I will be even better next year!
Six Year Update and Photo
The diet and lifting techniques espoused by Clarence are tried, true, and timeless. Consequently, they are not just for temporary aesthetic improvement but facilitate real and lasting muscle improvement over the long-term. He advises bodybuilders from a deep knowledge base to be the best they truly can be, to continue to build and retain that quality over time. The negative effects of aging donít stand a chance against consistent, rigorous application of such practical concepts. I know because Iíve applied them all successfully. The examples are many--carbohydrates vs. all protein, strength and aerobics training combined, and a whole food, natural dietóbasically, moderation and consistency versus fluctuation. As in my contest 6 years ago, I eschewed the low-carb approach used by many and ate a balanced diet (never less than 50 percent carbohydrates, even with high protein intake) for my most recent contest, 28 April 07.
The proof is in this recent photo, 6 years later, at the age of 39 with the most muscle and leanness of my life. I won my weight class for Mr. Armed Forces Hawaii 2007 in a field of much younger athletes. I will turn 40 in Jun 07, and I will only get bigger and better through consistency and practical knowledge!
Wow! What a difference six years of consistent training and eating can make.
I wrote to you once before, to tell you that your books were really helping me. I had been a so-so runner, with a PR of 38:18 for a 10K, but constantly battled my weight, and only gained weight and fat with increasing mileage.
I started lifting weights in January of 2001 Ė using dumbbells and a multi-station home gym -- and finally was able to shed some pounds. I started off at 150 and now Iím at 132.5 and have also gained a lot of muscle.
For me, adding the muscle has kept my body from going into starvation mode when I cut calories. [Editor: Use it or lose it.] Before weight training, I tried everything to lose fat but nothing worked. Training for the Boston marathon at 80 miles per week only made me gain fat, and I was not eating more than 2500 calories a day, while always keeping the fat content low.
Before and after: Winter 2000 before the Boston marathon and June 2001, after weight training. "Weight lifting, really watching calories and running more moderate miles made the difference," says Sue. (Photos courtesy of Sue Zoltner)
One problem may have been that I was not getting enough protein. I was a vegetarian for 10 years, ever since 1990, but one who didn't like to cook, so I had trouble getting adequate protein. I would use protein powder, but didn't eat a lot of beans or tofu or anything. So another change I made was to give up on being a total vegetarian and eat a whole package of fat free turkey lunch meat in a sandwich every day. This assured that I get 60 grams of protein at least a day and my huge filling sandwich is only 250 calories.
The associated improvement in my running has been phenomenal. I now have a PR of 37:31 for a hilly 10K and just won a 3.5 mile corporate challenge race with 9000 runners (the largest race that has ever been held in my city), by averaging 5:49 pace over the course. Today I ran a 5:02 mile in another race.
I never thought Iíd be capable of such speed. On the track, I can now do a 400m fairly easily in 71 seconds, where before my fastest ever was 82 seconds.
I am now modifying my long term goal based on my new speed. I am shooting to make the 2004 Olympic team for the marathon, instead of just attending the Olympic trials. I would need to do a 5:25 pace for the entire marathon, but with hard work over the next 2 years I think it is possible.
Thanks so much. I feel I owe my success to you. It was so frustrating to never be able to shed the fat.
I enclose a page of pictures showing my physique over the course of my years of training: Upper Left, age 12 and 90 pounds; Upper Middle, 18 and 150 #; Upper Right, 20 and 165 #; Center Left, 24 and 185 #; Center Middle, 24 and 185 #; Center Right, 25 and 190 #; Lower Left, 41 and 170 #; and Lower Right, 70 and 175 #.
Iíve now been training for over 60 years. These photos show me when I started training, during my peak years and now. Once I started training with weights, I never stopped. The photo at age 41 was when I was trimmed down for definition and for speed as I was a lead-off hitter on a Catholic parish softball team that was headed for a championship. At the time, we had the largest Catholic menís league in the country. Omaha is quite a softball town. I played for 40 years but only once a week. The last photo was taken about two years ago.
Those squatting movements you gave me are good. They seem to be loosening up my knees. Iím still doing aerobics a half hour six days a week with walking and the Air-Dyne, with a hard day once a week. Iím also working on some power cleans in addition to my regular weight workout. Still having a heavy day, but donít snort as loud as formerly.
Your picture is up next to Grimek, along with a painting of a flower garden behind an adobe with mountains in the background.. I picked it up in Old Town when I was in Albuquerque. Everyday I sit with my feet up on the desk looking east, my usual perch when I contemplate reality. This view looks at the wall with the pictures, a reminder of the beauty of New Mexico and the two most inspirational figures in my long training history, Grimek and Bass. Two good models of character too. Greetings to Carol.
[Editor: See the profiles chapter in Challenge Yourself for more about Father Jim Schwertley, including how Clarence was inspired as a teenager by seeing Jim in the locker room of the Albuquerque YMCA. Jim was the first high-quality bodybuilder he'd ever seen. Father Jim and Clarence met again many years later and have become good friends.]
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