Happy Monday and Happy August! Seriously, where has this summer gone? Maybe since it took so long for summer weather to finally arrive, it feels like it has barely begun. Oh well, I’m going to enjoy it while I can!
I have a new health feature for you guys today. Last month I featured a high school friend, Jim Kruczinski, and you guys really enjoyed reading his story. He put in a ton of work and clearly it is paying off. A few weeks ago, he ran the Rock N’ Roll half marathon in Chicago and he rocked it. Yes, that was a pun. Get over it.
Today’s feature is Alexander Dimitsas. Alexander is my future brother-in-law’s cousin and my sister suggested I feature him on my blog. Alexander has a great story and I think it is great motivation for anyone who feels like life is beating them up and there is no way they can get back up. After experiencing a devastating loss and realizing he was slowly killing himself, Alexander decided to completely turn his health around. Here is his story:
What did you weigh before and how much weight have you lost?
In December of 2010, I weighed 330lbs at my peak weight, I did my first Bodybuilding competition weighing in at 173.2lbs with a total weight loss of 156.8lbs!
What made you want to turn your health around?
In 2008, my sister passed away in a tragic automobile accident. I feel into a deep depression and used drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. At this time, I was also was a heavy smoker (smoking a pack and a half a day). When I stepped on the scale in 2010 I knew this was not what my sister would have wanted for me. I made a New Year’s resolution that year to change my entire life. My goals were to quit smoking cigarettes and stop using drugs and alcohol.
What did a typical day look like before you changed?
I would sleep in most days and when I would wake up I would eat whatever was in the refrigerator or I would go grab McDonald’s breakfast if I was up early enough. Comes the afternoon I would go hangout with my friends and we would go out somewhere to get high and eat lunch. After lunch, it was time for me to go to work. I would get high again to numb the pain that I felt every day with my sister being gone. While I was working I would eat constantly and go out to my vehicle to get high and smoke cigarettes. Around closing time at work my managers would drink and get high with me before we finished up our end of the day tasks. After work, I either went out to the local bar with some friends or we would find a house party to continue my evening of bad decisions.
What was your goal when you first started?
My goal was to get healthy when I first started. I wanted to be confident with the man in the mirror.
What did you do to change your diet and lifestyle?
The start of my journey was January 1st, 2011. This was my first day without drugs and alcohol as well as cigarettes. I was trying to completely detoxify my body! I made a mental promise to myself that whenever I craved drugs or alcohol I would go to my local gym (which was 2 blocks down the street from me) At this time I had no clue what I was doing but it was wonderful to be in a different atmosphere. Walking into the gym was a boost of moral to me as well as self-confidence. It was great to be around other people who had similar goals in mind, to get healthy! Cigarettes were extremely tough for me to quit, but I made sure to stay on track and keep my goals within arm’s reach. Every time I had a craving for a cigarette, I stuffed a handful of granola into my mouth. I made sure the granola was hard and tough to chew, in order to take my mind off of the cravings.
What does a typical day look like now?
Every day seems to be like clockwork for me now. I wake up at 6am and drink a tall glass of water to jumpstart my body for the day and then I take my dog for a walk around the neighborhood and get ready to eat breakfast that usually consists of egg whites and oatmeal. After breakfast, I go to the gym to train. When I first started my journey I was working out, now I train using a strict bodybuilding routine. After the gym, I go to work and be sure I pack enough meals to get me through the day. I eat 6 portion controlled meals a day. There are many benefits to eating 5+ meals a day such as increased energy, reduce body fat storage, control blood sugar levels and insulin production, maintain and increase lean muscle mass. Also with me being a competitive bodybuilder I must make sure I am consistent with my meals as well as my intake of daily macronutrients. After work, I will either work on homework (I am a Purdue North Central student) or start preparing my meals for the next day. Typically if I have some extra time before bed I will do some yoga at home or try and relax reading a book.
Who has been your biggest support?
My grandmother has been my biggest support along my journey. Even when I was addicted to drugs and alcohol she believed in me. I talk with her regularly and she always has some wisdom to shine down on me. Currently, she is at the hospital and just had open heart surgery. I am saying my prayers each and every day that she has a speedy recovery.
What was the hardest thing to change?
The hardest thing to change was my friends. I knew that they would hinder my goals with their negative influences in my life, so I had to make a drastic change. They were not understanding why I wouldn’t hang out with them and party. This was bizarre for them to see me behaving completely different. But I didn’t let a single soul get in the way of my goals.
Who is your motivation?
Ever since I was a child I always admired Arnold Schwarzenegger. This man was 6 time Mr. Olympia, he was the governor of the state of California from 2003 until 2010, he created a world known sports festival commonly known as the Arnold Classic, he starred in many action-packed roles in the Hollywood. This man is truly an inspiration in many different ways. Another huge motivator in my life is Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. or more commonly known as Muhammad Ali. I admired him because of his determination he has for his sport (which was boxing). He was known to sing his own praises by referring to himself as “the greatest”. He was not afraid to let the world know of his accomplishments. Muhammad Ali said, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” I absolutely love the power behind this quote!
How do you stay motivated every day?
Consistency is key to anything that I am trying to achieve. I set realistic goals for myself and I achieve them. The gym has become a refuge for me. When I walk into the gym this is my time to meditate. To release all of my stresses that I hold onto during the day. Also, I do not let myself down if I do not achieve a certain goal because I know that I will achieve it eventually.
What are your goals now?
Currently, I am pursuing a bachelor’s in behavioral sciences, I would love to work with the troubled youth. I will see where life takes me. I am planning on competing again the summer of 2016. Bodybuilding has become a part of who I am today. Not many people understand the sport, but what matters is that I understand it.
What is your advice to those who are just starting to lose weight?
Stay consistent. Do not beat yourself up if you get side tracked. I can’t stress enough how important consistency is. It takes only 21 days for a habit to form. Also, try to stay away from making excuses for yourself. We all know what we are physically capable of! Also, try to surround yourself with like-minded people. One of my favorite quotes that I live by every day is by Friedrich Nietzsche, that which does not kill us makes us stronger. There are plenty of things that can knock us down, but you just got to stand back up! There have been many problems that I have faced in my life and I always revert to this quote. I may be broken and hurt today, but I do know that tomorrow I will stand up tall!
That is some great advice! There will always be excuses and reasons to not take care of your health. You have to decide that you are important enough to care about. Alexander did just that and it is certainly paying off! Thank you, Alexander, for allowing me to feature you and share your awesome story!
If you want to keep up with Alexander you can follow his journey on his Facebook page, Body Edifice, or follow him on Twitter @bodyedifice or Instagram @body_edifice
If you’re interested in bodybuilding, he also has online nutritional coaching and detailed workout programs over at http://motivated4change.wix.com/bodyedifice