Looking for a hit of inspiration? We recently stumbled upon one of the highest upvoted posts on the whole of reddit. It concerned the transformation of Ryan Drake. We reached out to him in order to see why and how he underwent his dramatic transformation.
1) You mentioned that you were a sickly child. Did you have a condition?
Growing up I had severe asthma. Whenever I would catch a cold or the flu, it was more or less a certainty that I’d at least be spending the night in the hospital. The hospital visits became so frequent that it felt like a second home. There are few things quite as terrifying as not being able to breathe. At this point I’ve largely outgrown my asthma, as most people tend to do in adulthood.
2) Fast forward to your early 20s. What state were you in physically and mentally?
To be perfectly honest, it’s far too easy to pretend that you live a perfect life and that everyone is happy all the time. One look at your facebook feed will prove as much. But reality is often much different. I think this is why my story has made an impact with so many people. I’m willing to strip away the bullshit and be vulnerable; to essentially say, ‘My life is not so great, and you know what? That’s okay because I have the power to improve it.’
My mental state in my early 20s was fraught with insecurities and self-doubt. Was I really good enough to achieve what society expected of me? Did I really have anything of value to offer a significant other?
For most people, the state of your body tells a lot about the state of your mind, and I was no exception. I was as weak physically as I was mentally. I was always the skinny kid, the nerdy kid, the weak kid, the one that would be picked last in gym class. And moving into adulthood I made zero changes, so I stayed exactly where I was.
3) Why did you decide to start a fitness journey?
I’m not ashamed to say that my primary motivation when starting my fitness journey was to become more appealing to the opposite sex. Spending the vast majority of your life alone wears on you, and eventually something snaps. Either you can start making positive changes in the right direction or you can spiral completely out of control in the wrong direction.
Lots of guys message me on a daily basis (over 800 in the month of April alone) to share their very personal and heart breaking stories. They feel sad and inadequate. Male body image issues is something that affects so many people, but nobody is willing to talk about it so young men feel like they are alone in their struggle. But I try my best to help them understand that they are not alone.
In school we were inundated with messages of ‘all women’s bodies are beautiful’ and female body acceptance was pounded into our heads. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely an extremely important topic, but it’s something that 50% of the population don’t get any support from. Open any fitness magazine or men’s style magazine and you will see dozens of images of what a man is ‘supposed to be’. Those 6 foot tall, shredded, tanned, demi-gods of muscle.
What nobody tells you is that many of these fitness models are on gear or are at the very least on a pump. Not to mention all of these images are photo shopped/touched up. So when all of these young men, who are just as impressionable as their female counterparts see these images, they feel inferior as men and as human beings. And yet they have no outlet to air their grievances or to share their pain.
So yes, when I started my fitness journey, I basically wanted to look great naked, so that I could attract girls and feel better about myself. I have no problem saying this. As you mature on your journey your goals will change as well. My motivations have long since transformed, and now I’m focused on becoming as strong physically and mentally as I possibly can… but the ladies are definitely still a part of that motivation.
4) What is your training routine?
I have gone through a few routines in the past 6 months. I did my own version of Madcow and Greyskull and just recently started Korte 3×3. However I’ve recently transitioned to Wendler 5/3/1 BBB (boring but big) as I’ve determined it will suit my needs the best.
I have a ridiculous ability to recover from workouts immediately, and because of this I’ve gone for 1RM PRs almost every week… one time I went for deadlift PR 3 days in a row. I would consider all that PR chasing to be a mistake, and now I’m going to follow my routine to the letter.
5) You are a vegetarian, what does your diet look like?
I get a lot of my protein from eggs, dairy, and breads/pasta. People are so focused on their macros that they drive themselves completely crazy trying to make sure everything adds up just right. Honestly I think that is a waste when you are a beginner.
I aim for a minimum of 0.68g-1g of protein per lb of bodyweight. This is easily attainable for me through eating actual food. If and when I need to do a cut down the road, protein powders could prove beneficial.
In the hiarchy of macros, calories are king, protein is queen, and carbs/fats are largely irrelevant to a beginner lifter.
It’s really simple in theory. Want to get bigger? Eat more than your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) and lift increasingly heavier weights over a sustained period of time. Want to lose weight? Eat below your TDEE, do some cardio, and lift increasingly heavier weights. That’s literally all you have to do. Why make it unnecessarily complicated?
You don’t have to be perfect; nobody can be. You just need to be consistent in your imperfection!
7) What has helped you keep up your new lifestyle?
First and foremost the team at my home gym Bay Club World Health have been instrumental in allowing me to grow as a person. I call them my team, but in reality they are all cherished friends. In the gym we are all on the same team and when we step in front of a barbell we are all fighting for the same cause.
The support that my writing has received on reddit and elsewhere has been immense. I’m incredibly humbled to be able to share my story with so many people around the world. I write motivational texts as well, for those times when someone may need a pick me up.
The people in my life, new and old, also have said many great things about the improvement in my body, my outlook and my attitude. To get in person first hand feedback is beyond fantastic. When I look at old pictures of myself (those few that I haven’t yet burned haha), it’s literally impossible to revert back to the old me. He’s dead, he’s gone, he is never coming back!
I get messages from people on a daily basis telling me that I’m their idol, their inspiration, or that I’ve inspired them to make better lifestyle choices and to start hitting the gym. I even get messages from girls saying they’d date me if I lived where they do. If nothing else that last one does a lot of good to the ego. All of this support has been completely overwhelming.
All of these things keep me going. I’m truly grateful.
8) What are the three most important changes you made?
Consistency, Consistency, and Consistency!
The only way to bring change to your life is by consistently applying a plan of action, and deviating as little as possible from that plan. People pick these wacky programs, or they create crazy scientific formulas to calculate their macros. At the end of the day you just need to pick a simple 3 day strength program. (I recommend Greyskull LP) and do exactly what the template says.
These kinds of programs are popular because they work. Why try to reinvent the wheel when the wheel was already perfected by trial and error from those who came before you?
The same can be said for weight gain/loss. Want to gain weight? Eat more than your TDEE (the calories you burn). Want to lose weight? Eat less than your TDEE. It’s that simple. You just have to be consistent, and that’s where most people fail.
That’s why the gym is packed on January 1st but nearly empty on February 1st. Consistency is hard, but it’s really the only thing that you need.
9) What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting their fitness journey?
You have to be honest about your motivations and be true to yourself. No matter your reason(s) for wanting to get into better shape, the important thing is that it’s what YOU want, and not what society says you should want.
At the end of the day you have to realize that this is the only life you get. You get one shot, then you die. That’s it. Sometimes it’s important to contemplate your mortality. Do you want to be that head down, miserable, and lonely dude who lacks confidence? Or do you want to be that chin up, confident stud, who is in charge of his life, who has goals, and who turns every girl’s head when you walk past them? It’s an easy choice for me.
10) What are your fitness/life goals for the next 12-18 months?
One thing that’s changed is that nowadays I have concrete goals, whereas in the past I was directionless.
Going forward I’d like to hit the 1,000lb club within that timeframe. I’d like to bulk up a bit more and then cut body fat to a sustainable level. I’m not after being so lean that I get heavy striations or anything like that, but having abs is fun!
Outside of fitness I’m pushing hard to be able to live more independently. I live in the downtown core of one of Canada’s largest cities so roommates are a necessity at this time. Starting my own business will be a must in order to live on my own. I’m looking to become more entrepreneurial and write my own destiny.
And finally the topic of girlfriend, which is the whole reason I started this crazy journey. I’d love to find a girl that helps motivate me to become an even stronger, kinder and better person. I know she’s out there somewhere, and that’s very exciting. Let’s just say that at this point, I have some prospects!
I can do everything I’ve ever wanted. Fitness has given me the confidence to pursue my wildest dreams. And I have the self-belief that I can do it. If I can do turn my life around, literally anyone can. If you’d like to see more of Ryan, here is his facebook page.