What’s Revive Stronger All About?
The story about Revive Stronger
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
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. Its 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 hyponatraemia. 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, BUT NOT THE BEST…
If you haven’t got the picture yet, I am pretty stubborn. I might have been depressed, and hating life, but that wasn’t going to stop me doing what I love, exercising. However, I was not happy with my body, it in turn was killing my confidence. In short, I did a traditional ‘bulk’, I had read about how to put on muscle, and how you ‘have to eat big to get big’. So I ate, and ate, don’t worry it was all ‘clean’ food.
I was of the mindset that if I did not put on at least a 4 pounds a week I wasn’t eating enough. To be fair, I hadn’t got this out of no where, this is what people on online fitness forums were telling me. They looked at the images I posted online and said I was a hardgainer, and needed to eat, eat and eat some-more. Problem was, I hated my diet, but was obsessed with eating ‘clean’. This caused my relationship with my family and friends to worsen.
I had Orthorexia; an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy.
As you can imagine, I got pretty chunkeeehh, and by that, I mean fat, fatter than I had ever been before in my life. For someone who has always been pretty lean and slim, this wasn’t a nice feeling. I was even less happy about my body shape. Furthermore, I noticed I had developed hard lumps under my nipples.
As you can imagine, this made me even more self-conscious and unhappy. I was concerned as I thought it might be cancer. Lucky for me it wasn’t. However, it was gynecomastia, or ‘gyno’ as most know it.
I looked like I had boobs! BOOBS! Gyno is a swelling of the breast tissue, caused by an imbalance of the hormones oestrogen and testosterone. This can happen for multiple reasons, common during puberty and also found in those that take anabolic steroids. I was also suffering from depression, low energy levels, and my non-existent libido. Remember what I said about the hypothalamus controlling hormone production?
My testosterone was pretty much null and void.
I was recommended to take medication, in the form of a weak testosterone gel called testogel, that I would rub into my chest daily. This is a form of hormone replacement therapy.
I dropped over 20lbs
During this time, I was also fed up with being fat, so I did a strict ‘keto’ diet, in which I cut out all starchy carbs and fruit, keeping my fat and protein high. In two months I lost a lot of weight and was feeling a little happier with my body. The dieting process, however, was brutal.
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 try 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.
I REVIVED STRONGER!
The pursuit of gaining knowledge and strength continued, going to seminars, reading books and delving into journals. And in 2014 I decided I wanted to compete in Natural Bodybuilding. Obviously, due to my past, I had to make sure the organisers would allow me to enter the shows. So I contacted everyone I could find, explained my situation and passion, waiting to hear back.
To my disbelief the UKDFBA and NPA both came back to me and said providing I could produce all medical documentation and a medical professionals note, I could compete.
I could show everyone, and show myself, where I had taken my body since my accident was a dream come true.
Now given my background, and the knowledge that getting to very low body fat levels can drop your testosterone to very low levels, I was nervous to say the least.
My family thought I was stupid, my friends thought I was crazy. I was finally healthy, and happy with my body and life, why throw it all away now? And in all respects, they were right.
But, as you now know I am extremely stubborn and a very determined person. When I set my mind on something, I’m going to do it, and no one can stop me. I knew the risks involved, and I researched further and sought advice. My 32-week contest prep began.
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 weeks 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 a 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.
This brings me to what Revive is about; the human body is outstanding. Just think, I went from near death, skinny as anything, to muscular and diced. It responds to what you give it, or in some cases don’t give it. Whether it be via nutrition, exercise or just life, everything has an impact on the human body. I have seen this all first hand, being at the extremes of skinny, fat and then muscular and shredded.
Given the right conditions you can mould and re-shape your body in any which way you want.
Be it gaining muscle, dropping fat, becoming more educated, having a better social life, furthering your career, Revive Stronger is about always pursuing more.
My affirmation for life is Revive Stronger.
To me it means always improving, never being satisfied and that nothing is impossible.
If you’re unhappy with your body or don’t enjoy exercise, maybe your diet is dull or restrictive, I want to help you because you too can Revive Stronger. With my knowledge and experience, I have the ability to provide anyone with the right conditions needed to provide them with the results they desire.
Everyone supports and helps one another get stronger. As cheesy as it might sound, we’re all a family and all about supporting each other in every regard.
We explain our actions so that everyone who joins is empowered.
Team Revive members actively seek to help others.
In Team Revive, we train smart and hard, we eat well and love our food
It’s not just macronutrients and training programmes. However, these two aspects complement our lives, they do not dominate our lives.
We live life to the full, Reviving Stronger every single day.