What's Up? My name is Steve.
Yeah I 'Died' and 'Revived' myself.
I'm not Jesus and nor am I a crazed zombie, but I am a man who is incredibly passionate about helping people get stronger, physically and mentally.
How I 'Died'
Death might be a little strong, but I certainly wasn't far from it. In 2010, my second year at University I was fit as a fiddle, taking part in rowing, football and running clubs. On top of that I would do my own training, a bit of weights and some intense runs. I've always liked sport, and being fit, some might call me obsessed.
Here is where my death took place, I will draw you a picture, so you can envisage how this 'death' occurred. Don't worry it isn't all blood and guts. So I was on a typical 'Hardcore 10km Run' had my running watch on, heart monitor equipped and was killing it. This was a particularly good run, I was on for an all time best, I bloody love pushing myself to my limits. I was on it, I had a mission to make this personal best time.
This is where my passion and drive caused me my death.
I was within 200m of finishing my run, but before I could complete it, there were traffic lights, I didn't want to stop. I looked up, they were flashing amber, brilliant I thought to myself, I can make it across. There I went, blasting forward to finish my best run ever.
Black. That's all I could see. Emptiness. That's all I could feel. Silence. I couldn't hear a thing. After a few minutes, things began to become clearer. People looking over me, I was lying on the floor, I couldn't move. "Is he OK?", "Has someone called an ambulance?" This is when I knew I was in trouble. I'd been hit, hit hard.
You may have sussed out what happened there, I was hit by on coming traffic. Rushed to hospital, and there I stayed for a month. The longest month of my entire life.
I suffered a big blow to the head, in the short term that meant a fractured skull, the long term issues are another story. In addition as you can imagine I had some pretty nasty cuts up my back and arms, but nothing a few stitches wouldn't mend. On the surface, things weren't all that bad. It was what you couldn't see that was the problem.
The head injury was strange, for months I remember part of it feeling numb. What you couldn't see was that my Hypothalamus had been damaged. Without going into too much detail, this portion of the brain is basically the control centre for the body. It's primary function is homeostasis, the maintenance of the body's status quo.
I had no status quo, my body was all over the place.
Body temperature, thirst, hunger, sleep, circadian rhythm, moods, sex drive, and release of many different hormones are controlled by the Hypothalamus. As you can see, if it isn't working right, your body isn't going to be in a good way.
My main problem was the inability to regulate sodium levels, medically termed hyponataemia. Symptoms include headaches, to tiredness and even seizures. In severe cases it can lead to a coma and can be fatal. This is why I was in hospital so long, because my sodium levels were not at a good enough point to allow me to be released. At this point I felt like a zombie, I couldn't hold a conversation, I remember that even concentrating enough to watch Pokemon on the T.V. was too much of a struggle.
Finally, I was released, I was on diuretics and a 250ml daily liquid restriction. You heard me right, I could only drink 250ml of liquid a day. Yeah, it sucked, big time, I'm not going to lie.
This was the worst time in my life. I had hit rock bottom.
I'd gone from being in peak physical condition, enjoying uni, to having the inability to concentrate on any task for more than 10 minutes. As you can imagine, I was in no state to do any sort of exercise, even a walk around the block was hard work. I was depressed, the words "I hate my life" came out of my mouth too many times to count, this continued for months.
Also, many of you have heard of the term catabolism, basically the break down of muscle tissue. You wanna know how to go really catabolic, really fast? Lay down, don't move, eat barely anything, for a month... I lost 2 stone while in hospital. I went from being pretty slim, to think Christian Bale in the Machinist skinny. Yeah, not a good look.
I Took Action not the best action...
Education, Education, Education...
OK, so let me set the scene, because a lot has happened. I love fitness and health, I was in decent shape, I got hit by a van, I suffered a long term head injury, I lost a lot of weight, I gained a lot of weight, I was depressed, I lost some weight, and now we are here. So I still wasn't happy with my body, but it was in a better state than before, it was close to how I was before my accident. I wanted to gain some more muscle, and I knew there must be a better way.
In comes education, I read, and read, and read.
The results, wow, just, wow.
I entered a 'lean bulk' equipped with the knowledge I had gained. It was slower than before, but I continued to slowly eat more, lift more weight and look better month in, month out. I loved bodybuilding. On top of that, I slowly expanded my palette, and got away from thinking of foods as 'good' and 'bad' and took food for what it really was, nutrition.
I was at a point where I was beginning to like my body, I had been inspired by natural bodybuilders. Plus I loved the process, eating all the foods I love and getting results, I saw it as sustainable.
There was me dreaming to compete one day, but knowing my medication was a banned substance. So I arranged an appointment with my doctor, in which I explained my passion for natural bodybuilding and competing. He allowed me to trial going without the substance, but was doubtful that I would be able to produce enough testosterone naturally to enjoy life.
Rightfully too, as during my time on the therapy my levels never got very high, but to my utter disbelief we tested my levels a month after and they were low but within the average male levels. I felt fine, and I no longer needed the medication!
Now I honestly believe that the combination of the medication and my weight training 'Revived' my natural capacity. Along with this, my sodium levels began to stabilise, I slowly was allowed to drink more and more. Till finally, I no longer had to be on diuretics and could drink freely.
Contest Prep a journey like no other
This was a journey, such a journey, like nothing else. The first few months flew by, things were pretty simple, I had built up to eating quite a lot during my 'lean bulk' so was in a good position. Again, I loved seeing my body change and develop. Each week I would slowly see the final product revealing itself. Like an artist chipping away at a stone to reveal a brilliant statue.
Eric Helms described a point in your contest prep comes when you enter 'zombie mode'. I couldn't think of a better description. When the 8 week out point hit, I was well and truly a zombie. I had been dieting for 24 weeks, without a single break or missed training session. I spent more time at the gym than at home, sessions were slow and drawn out, strength was low.
Honestly, the best comparison I could give was when I was in hospital, just like back then I couldn't concentrate, I had a constant mental fog. It was hard, but my hard work mentality and determination really helped. I'd been through worse things, my body had been put through harder times. I just had to get the job done.
I did it, I competed in two natural bodybuilding shows. Placing in both, I was ecstatic, I still am so proud of what I had achieved. The best prize of all being that I stayed healthy throughout. This reinforced my passion for sculpting the human body, and my pure amazement at how adaptive it is. During my contest prep, I learnt a lot, I felt a lot and I took away a huge amount from the process.
6 months post contest, healthy, happy I competed in my first powerlifting meet!
The Human Body is Amazing