Randy Marcelo is not only my most inspirational client (and great friend), but is the perfect example of someone who not only reaches for his dreams, but proceeds to tackle them head-on with infectious intention, mindfulness and a whole lot of willpower. I believe one is truly undefeatable both mentally and physically with these stellar qualities, so I decided to ask Randy a few questions about what fuels his fire in hopes that we can all learn from this and be further inspired to live our best life.
Randy weighed 208lbs (23% Body Fat) when he started training in March 2014. Since then, he has lost a total of 28lbs and his body fat is in the teens. He currently weighs a steady 180lbs. Randy and Annette are moving to San Diego soon and I wrote this piece with a heavy heart and yes, some bittersweet tears. Thank you Randy for becoming one of my best friends and my most contagious fire-fueled client. Your positivity totally made our sessions. YOU officially crushed it my friend and I will forever be proud of you.
Since starting your fitness journey how much weight have you lost?
That depends on how you define the start of my fitness journey. My entire life has been a fitness journey. I've always struggled with my weight. I'd go through phases, ups and downs. At my heaviest I was around 230 lbs. I am now a solid 180 lbs. I'm 36 years old and am the fittest I've ever been. I say "fittest" because as an adult, I've weighed less. When I graduated Marine Corps boot camp, 15 years ago, I was 150 lbs. but I did not have much strength or endurance. The weight quickly came back on when I didn't have a drill instructor in my face 24 hours a day yelling at me, making me workout and telling me when to stop eating. I guess the beginning of my fitness journey that has been successful was a couple years before I joined Equinox when I started working out at an outdoor boot camp style group fitness class with a trainer named Yousof Faryar. He eventually closed the location I went to so that's when I came to Equinox and found you! My original fitness assessment when joining Equinox, I was 208 lbs. so technically I've lost 28 lbs. but I've also put on a lot of muscle.
What was your first initial program regimen, what is it now?
That's the thing. I never really had a program regimen and definitely nothing that I stuck to. That's why nothing worked. When I started working out with Yousof I would work out with him an hour at a time Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 6AM. It was a mix of strength training and cardio. That's also when I started to watch what I was eating. I was exercising hard and started to see results! I didn't want to ruin it all with a bad diet. I loved it, but I wasn't consistent. I'd find an excuse - it's too cold outside, or I didn't get enough sleep last night, or I'm too sore from our last workout. My diet started to go back to it's old habits as well.
Since joining Equinox, my regimen has evolved as my fitness goals have also changed. Currently, I workout 5 - 6 times per week and am training for the Marine Corps Marathon in October (more on that later), so I run 3 - 4 times a week. I workout with you once a week, I do Solidcore (which you introduced me to! For those that don't know, it's like Pilates on steroids) once a week, and I try to get another strength-training workout (weather it be another Equinox class or just on my own). My diet has also been a lot more consistent. You having me put everything I eat into MyFitnessPal was really eye- opening and has given me a baseline to go off of - not with just how many calories I take in a day but how much protein, carbohydrates, and fat I consume. Everything factors in so that I can keep the fat off and keep the muscle on. Pre-planning my meals for the week has been vital in my progress. It's still a struggle, everyday. My co-workers still bring doughnuts and bagels into the office a couple times a week and they'll wave it in my face but like I said before, I've worked hard to get the weight off and it's more important to me to keep it off than to indulge.
What is the one thing you thought you could never master and now is, a piece of cake?
Running. I was the over-weight kid in grade school that would come in next to last when we would run the mile. I always dreaded that day at school. Same thing goes for when I was in the Marine Corps. The physical fitness test in the Marines included a 3-mile run, and I would always be one of the last to finish. It was embarrassing. Now I'm training for a marathon! One mile is a warm-up and three miles is a light, easy run. I'm still not the fastest guy out on the trail but I'm confident and look forward to my runs. I never thought I'd be in good enough shape to run a marathon. My dad ran the Marine Corps Marathon when I was a little kid. He was very proud of that accomplishment and I always had it as one of those dreams to complete it too but I was so far from being capable of achieving it so I never really pursued it until now.
What was the reason that propelled you to change your life and want to get healthy?
My wife, Annette, who has always been the good-looking one in our relationship - which is fine, but I felt like it wasn't fair to her. She never made me feel that way but I always felt bad when we would be in pictures together I felt like I ruined the picture because I was so over-weight and I just looked so uncomfortable. Or when I would meet a new friend or family member of hers - I always felt like I didn't make a good first impression. I was always thinking that this person was thinking that "wow, what's wrong with Annette? She couldn't get anybody better looking than this guy?" It's shallow, I know, but that's how I felt. I was always self-conscious about my appearance. I was never comfortable in my own skin. I would always prefer to stay at home than go out because I didn't like being seen as "the sweaty fat guy with the good-looking wife". Annette found the boot camp class and encouraged me to join her. She also found Equinox and encouraged me to sign-up with her. She has always pushed me to "live my best life" (to quote you). Now, I'm more confident. I feel more like the man that she deserves. I feel like our looks compliment each other just as much as our personalities do. I like to go out and enjoy the world now, just as much as she does, instead of hiding in my "comfort box" that I built around myself. It's like my world just got a lot bigger!
What event/situation if any made you realize you needed to change something?
I remember I was helping Annette's best friend move. It was me, and two guys that were in way better shape than I was. We were all doing the same amount of work. We helped each other carry the big stuff. They hardly broke a sweat and I was sweating profusely and breathing heavily. They both looked at me at separate occasions and felt the need to ask if I was okay. I was mortified. Not just for myself, but for Annette. I wanted to be that strong guy that my wife could tell her friend, "My husband is a Marine he can help you move" but I ended up looking weak and completely out of shape. I knew I had to change something but I didn't. It wasn't until Annette said, "you should come check out this boot camp class. I think you'd like it!" that I started to do something about it.
What helped you the most in making you commit to your fitness goals and lifestyle change?
I don't know if I can narrow it down to one thing or one person. You and Yousof have this positivity that is so encouraging that it makes me believe I can do anything and makes me not want to fail because I don't want to disappoint you. You reminding me to update MyFitnessPal every day really made me think twice about everything I was eating. Working out with you twice a week also really helped. I'd have a great workout with you on Wednesday and that would keep me motivated at least until we trained again on Friday. Friday's session would keep me good until Sunday. Sundays were tough at the beginning. I'd get the feeling that I worked hard so it was okay to reward myself with a "cheat day". I quickly learned that cheat days were slowing my progress. It was like taking two steps forward during the week and one step back on my cheat day. You encouraged me to reward myself with a "cheat meal" every now and then instead of an entire day. Having a wife that had similar fitness goals has also been key to the lifestyle change. We encourage each other and keep the other accountable, plus we enjoy working out together (or at least seeing each other at the gym). Once my friends and family started to notice and started to comment on how good I was looking that really pushed me to not fall back into my old habits.
What was the hardest thing you had to overcome in trying to reach your goals?
Food. My wife and I are both self-proclaimed foodies. We love trying new restaurants and different cuisines. When we go on vacation, we pretty much build our itinerary around the meals. It took awhile but once I stopped eating processed foods and started eating clean, I felt better and I lost the taste for all the junk. I soon realized that some of the best restaurants out there cook clean.
Do you have a mantra you use everyday to mentally prepare to tackle your fitness goal for that day?
I don't really have a mantra. Every day when I get home, Annette and I ask each other how our workout was. More often than not, she replies with, "I totally crushed it!" Honestly, I think about that a lot when I'm working out. I'm proud of my wife when she tells me she put in a lot of effort into her workout and I want her to feel the same about me so between her in my head and you cheering me on, I try my best to push myself. As far as eating well (which is also a big part tackling my fitness goals for the day) I remember what you told me awhile ago, "you can't out exercise a bad diet." It's so true!
What is one of your favorite quotes?
Annette recently told me about this quote from Muhammad Ali. He was once asked how many situps he does. He responded with, “I don't count my sit-ups; I only start counting when it starts hurting because they’re the only ones that count.” How bad-ass is that? Another quote of his that I like is, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
Who would you like to have at your dinner table (and why), who would be the chef, what would be the meal?
There's this older gentleman that I pass by every now and then when I run. He has to be at least in his 80's. We always give each other a familiar head-nod, wave, and\or thumbs-up. I heard from a fellow runner that he runs 10 miles every Sunday. I'd like to hear his story. I've always heard that you don't want to meet your heroes because you'll surely be disappointed. If that were not the case, I'd love to meet 1984 Michael Jackson, 1994 Michael Jordan, and 1978 Bob Marley. My family would also be at the table. I'd love to see my mom converse with Michael Jackson. That would be hilarious. My dad, brother and I would talk about basketball with Michael Jordan, and my wife would talk politics and music with Bob Marley. Anthony Bourdain would be the chef because he has my dream job of getting paid to travel the world, eat delicious food, and meet cool people. He would prepare tapas - small dishes of his favorite things from all of his travels. He wouldn't sit at the table though because he can be a jerk sometimes. So I'd let him chime in with an anecdote or two whenever he came out to serve each course.
What is the one thing you did not eat before that you learned to eat with your new healthy lifestyle today and love?
Quinoa. It is delicious and a super-food. Annette makes the bomb quinoa patties. Don't ask her for the recipe though. She'll give it to you, but she'll leave one ingredient out so that it's never as good as hers!
What is the one thing you just can’t live without?
If I can answer with a person I'd say wife. I know it's a corny answer but it's the truth. She keeps me laughing, she keeps me trying, she keeps me sane, she keeps me out of jail. I love her and I like her. If you want me to answer without a person, it's music. I can't imagine a life without music.
If you were to advise the old Randy, what would you tell him?
Start now! Life is so much better when you're healthy. You look better. You feel better - physically and emotionally. You feel better about yourself. You enjoy life so much more.
If you were to advise a friend/co-worker or anyone on taking the initial steps to weight loss, what is the one piece of advice you would give?
It's all about small goals. It's a lifestyle change. "Quick fixes" or "diets" might work temporarily but the weight will come back just as quickly. Change one thing at a time. For example - cut out soda. Once you think you've lost the craving for soda, cut out anything with refined sugar in it, then cut out bread, etc. Same goes for exercise. Just start moving! If walking around the block is difficult for you, walk down the street and back. Once you've got that down, walk around the block. Once you can do that, try jogging down the street.
What is your favorite new vegetable or recipe (if any)?
I love coffee. I used to get a grande latte from Starbucks every morning. I would look forward to fall when the pumpkin-spiced lattes came out or the holiday season when the gingerbread lattes made their debut. I love the caffeine boost that it gives me in the morning and I love them sweet and creamy. There's nothing unhealthy about coffee but all the sugar, cream, and chemicals (there is no pumpkin in the pumpkin-spiced latte) that goes with it that is bad. So what I've been doing is mixing a shot or two of espresso into my protein shake in the morning. It's pretty much guilt-free. I start my day off with the same amount of caffeine and I'm helping to keep muscle on with the protein. I'll still have a latte every once in awhile because I love how it tastes, but it's more of a treat than a necessity.
Do you have any new fitness goals?
In the Marine Corps physical fitness test, you had to be able to do a minimum of 3 pull-ups, 50 crunches in under 2 minutes, and a 3-mile run in under 28 minutes. I always had difficulty passing it. Physically, I was not what anyone would call a "stellar Marine". Today, I could pass the PFT pretty easily. The maximum points a male could get for pullups was 100 points for doing 20 pullups. My new fitness goal is to be able to do 20 pullups. Now that I say that, I realize that my fitness goals all appear to be redemption for where I fell short as a Marine. It's not just about being able to meet the minimum physical requirements of a Marine but crushing them. Once I finish the marathon, and once I can do 20 pullups, I'll need to set a new goal that exceeds and crushes the crunches element of the PFT.