Transformation: DJ Cardenas Sheds a Jaw-Dropping 115 Pounds!
What Was Your Life Like Before Your Transformation?
Life before my transformation was just being able to get through my day without being made fun of. Every single day as a kid growing up that's where my head as at (especially in high school).
Being ridiculed was a part of my everyday routine. If there was ever a chance that I was able to get away without being made fun of that day, it was a miracle! I was looked at different and avoided just because of my weight.
It was frowned upon and looked down on across most people I came across. There was no drive, no passion and no commitment to getting better. Not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well.
I spent most of my days trying to pass by in the shadows so I can get home and do what I wanted (i.e. Eat and play video games). By the time I graduated high school at the age of 17 I was 300 lbs exactly.
It was in February of my Freshman year in college. I'll never forget sitting in my dorm room eating my usual giant bowl of pan fried Top Ramen noodles. I looked forward to getting back to my room just so I can eat that most days.
As I was eating the ramen I started to taste the saltiness from the flavor pack. Saltier than I could ever remember, almost unsettling. Immediately without even thinking I stood up and threw out the entire bowl (including the fork) in disappointment.
What happened was that I had a vision. A vision of what would come had I stayed on the road of unhealthiness. My whole family (most members) from both sides has suffered from diabetes.
Granted we've came a long way as far as health is concerned, yet I knew one thing. Eventually it would catch up with me.
So right then and there I made the decision to start going to the gym. Without a clue of where to begin, I started going to the university's gym every single day for the next two weeks. (14 days, 2 1/2 hours a day).
What Were Your Major Struggles or Challenges?
The biggest challenge was the learning process. Learning how to diet, what exercises to do and everything else that embodied the gym. Everything I did was through years of trial and error. But it helped me tremendously in the long run.
While learning everything I could about working out eating was the next biggest thing on my list and portion control was always a problem. In the beginning I started to see differences because of the amount of work I was putting in but eventually I plateaued, more than once.
I had to really take the time to understand my body and know how to choose the right things to eat day in and day out. Once I started the motivation was always there. It was a matter of taking the time to learn that was a great key to my process.
Detail Your Workout and Cardio Plan During Your Transformation
When I started I had no direction of what I was doing. I would do 1-2 hours of cardio ( 30 min intervals with resistance training in between). It helped at first but the more I learned the better refined my plan became.
The plan that has helped me the most was 30 minutes to an hour of fasted cardio in the morning (StairMaster/Inclined treadmill) and then resistance training at night. Every week my resistance training changes each day. So for example if I started this Monday with Shoulders, next Monday I'll start with Arms. Or Last Friday I worked out Legs, so next Friday I'll do Chest.
I always felt that switching up the days made my muscles respond better as well as the workouts from time to time.
Detail Your Diet/Eating Plan During Your Transformation
Once I was able to get my potion control down I started to learn about several different diets. The Diet Plan that has worked best for me was carb cycling. I would start with a high carb day, medium carb and then low carb.
For a high carb day I would just have a clean carb for each meal. (i.e. Plain oats for breakfast, brown rice for lunch and sweet potatoes for dinner). For a medium carb day that was just one/two carb meals. Usually that was breakfast and dinner/either or. And then a "low" carb day I would just have little to no carbs at all.
In between meals I would have 6 ounces of water with my choice of protein powder. This is what worked for my overall plan. I just always felt that keeping it simple has always worked best and there was never a reason to complicate my eating while training. Not only did it work for me physically but it helped out mentally as well making it a lot easier not having to stress to much on the food.
Detail Your Supplement Plan During Your Transformation
I actually didn't start taking any supplements until I graduated school in 2014. For some reason there was something that made me nervous about taking supplements (silly I know, lack of knowledge). Once I did, I started to build my stacks.
Staples for me have always been a pre-workout, BCAA'S (intra-workout), creatine, fat burners from time to time, glutamine, multi-vitamins and of course protein powder.
I feel that these supplements help fuel my workouts throughout the week and overtime help my body progress while training. But of course they only work when you do!
What Was Your Major Accomplishment, or Major Milestones?
My biggest accomplishment has been being able to get to a point where people have asked for help or advice because when I do help them, I can appreciate the struggle and I see a little bit of myself in them.
It really is a beautiful thing, when you can truly envision what it is you want and create it with your own two hands. That's why I love working out/bodybuilding/lifting. To me it is an art form.
Detail Your 3 Biggest Mistakes
My biggest mistakes come from the beginning of my journey. One would be taking a workout for granted. You just never know how long you set yourself back from skipping.
The second would be not really focusing on my diet in the beginning. Although I really didn't know much, I knew what I ate most times weren't the best decisions and saying things like "Oh I'll just start tomorrow" is just setting yourself up. In my mind, either you do it or your don't.
Lastly, my third biggest mistake would be doubting myself when it came to lifting heavier in the gym. I use to be nervous about going up in weight simply because I doubted myself and stayed in a comfortable range.
3 Biggest Things You Learned During Your Transformation?
Continuing from my mistakes the first thing I learned was never to doubt myself and always be uncomfortable. Still to this day I look to put myself in a uncomfortable state of mind. Mentally it helps me fight to go to the next level and progress in my training.
Second thing I learned was never to be afraid of being weak. We all have to start somewhere, even the greatest that came before us did as well. It's all about being consistent and never giving up to grow ("Fall Forward" - Denzel Washington).
The third thing I've learned and I think one of the most important things is to always be the hardest worker in the room. To some it may mean lift the heaviest weight, but I believe it's much more than that. To me it's everything that embodies working out mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Again, it's an art form.
Final Words of Advice for Others Looking to Make a Change?
I think the biggest advice that I can give to those starting out is to always be consistent and to do it wholeheartedly. Have fun and always look forward to the next day because with each day you spend learning, each day you grow. Take your time and study not only what to do, but yourself as well.
I truly hope the story inspires someone out there to go out and make a change in your life as I did in mine. Anyone out there can turn their vision into reality!