Transformation: Josh O'Hara Battles Bad Liver Health to Build
Before I got into training I knew absolutely nothing about proper dieting and training. A small skinny complete newb.
I was very active in high school, playing football, and out in the streets messing around. When I graduated in 2005 people began to tell me I was losing weight, yet they had noticed my eyes were looking yellow.
Summer of 2005 I moved to Arizona from California for college. I went to get a checkup with a doctor there. Come to find I'm being diagnosed with Ulceratice Colitis and PSC (Primary sclerosing cholangitis) or liver cirrhosis simultaneously.
Both were just something that just occurred. I didn't do anything to get them. I
didn't drink me into getting liver cirrhosis it just happened.
For those unfamiliar with ulcerative colitis it's a disease of the colon. Primary effects of it are ab cramping, fatigue, and extreme bouts of diarrhea. Which is what caused me to lose a lot of weight.
Some people don't know that when you have this, having to use the restroom is an emergency situation. No time can be wasted trying to get to a bathroom or else you can have an accident on yourself.
Ulceratice colitis is a life long disease with no known cure just treatment. It's something I have to deal with the rest of my life. Now for my liver, cirrhosis I was placed on the donor list in 2009 and fortunately, I was able to receive my liver transplant in 2012. I was blessed enough to have waited 3 years on the donor list when it should have been 10 years.
The turning point in my life was the day I got my liver transplant on June 30th, 2012. I was in California at the time visiting friends when I got a phone call from my doctors in Arizona that a liver was available for me. I had to be back in Arizona within a day's time.
This was at 9pm a night. I was getting ready to hang out with friends when I got that call. I dropped everything hopped in my car and I was back in Arizona at the hospital the next day at 7am. The day of my surgery changed my life forever.
I had a new outlook on life and the way I chose to carry myself. After my surgery, I was in the hospital for a week when I should have been in here for 2 weeks. A month later I was signing up for a gym membership.
I spent a month stuck at home in bed resting. I was starting to get depressed and lonely. That's when I decided I need to rehab myself and gain my weight back. Post op I was about 130lbs so I started eating a lot and got myself in the gym not knowing what I was doing going 4 days a week.
What Were Your Major Struggles or Challenges?
Pre-transplant my major struggles were battling depression, becoming fatigued, jaundice, trying to keep my weight and strength up, and the diarrhea that came with ulcerative colitis. Post-transplant the major struggles and challenges I faced were battling depression and recovery
from being stuck in bed for a month not being able to do anything and my movement was limited.
Detail Your Workout and Cardio Plan During Your Transformation
My first year of training consisted of zero cardio and training 4 days a week on an upper lower split, not knowing a damn thing about training or technique. It wasn't until late into my second year of training when I started to get a little serious. Not really dieting properly, but I was starting to learn proper technique.
I started training 5 days a week, working out one muscle group per day. My 3rd year of training is when my knowledge started to grow. I learned about flexible dieting and the push pull leg split.
My 4th year is when my training really got serious. I hired an online coach who taught me about macros with flexible dieting and manipulating body composition through this way of dieting. He put me on a push pull leg split and I started working or 6 days a week high frequency high volume hitting every muscle group 2x a week now. I was doing cardio 3x a week at 200-400 calories burned per session.
During that time I was learning as much as possible, watching all the YouTube channels of the people I look up to and taking all that knowledge in. I'm now going into my 5th year of training but I consider it my 2nd year of real serious training and dieting.
Detail Your Diet/Eating Plan During Your Transformation
During my first 3 years of training I had no real structure to dieting. I wasn't dieting at all I was just eating. I tried the whole "bro dieting" for a few months and I hated it. Having to limit myself to certain food sources was killing me mentally.
It wasn't until my 4th year when I got into flexible dieting and tracking my macros. During my first 3 years of training post surgery I gained a lot of weight. I went from 130lbs to 175lbs getting skinny fat. It was at that time I decided to do my first structured cut.
From 12/26/2014 to 10/01/2015 I did my cut utilizing flexible dieting and tracking my macros. I got down to 140lbs from 175lbs. I got into the best shape of my life. I wasn't able to reach my goal of a six pack but I made a lot of changes for the better.
Detail Your Supplement Plan During Your Transformation
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Because of my surgery, and the kinds and amounts of meds I am on for the rest of my life, I am unable to take any pre-workouts and creatine supplements because they can counteract with my medications. The only supplements I take are a BCAAs, fiber gummies, fish oil, a multi-vitamin, and sometimes a Quest protein bar. I left everything up to my diet and the foods I chose to eat.
What Was Your Major Accomplishment, or Major Milestones?
My biggest accomplishment was getting out of that surgery table alive and being blessed with a second chance at life. I believe I went through that whole experience and being given a second chance so that I can help the world by motivating and inspiring others through my experiences and fitness journey to change for the better. That even though you're in a tough situation things can always be worse and no matter what you're going through you can fight through it and live to see another day of life.
My second biggest accomplishment was achieving a better physique and getting into the best shape of my life. Going from a skinny 130lbs to a skinny fat 175lbs to the best shape of my life at 140lbs. I am now currently bulking and will be doing a year long bulk to increase my size and strength.
Detail Your 3 Biggest Mistakes
My 3 biggest mistakes during my transformation journey.
- Not networking enough and making friends with the same fitness goals.
- Not sticking with my cardio routine during my first real cut.
- Dropping my carbs way too low during my cut due to not sticking to my cardio routine.
The 3 biggest things I learned during my transformation.
- How to track my macros.
- Proper technique and a training split that works for me.
- Learning not to rush things and to take my time. That training to change your physique is a lifelong journey, not something that's gonna happen over a short period of time. I learned that you have to dedicate yourself but not let it consume your life to the point that training is all your about. It should enhance your life not be your life.
Don't ever doubt yourself and your abilities. With enough desire, dedication, and willingness to learn with an open mind you can accomplish your goals in all aspects of life not just your fitness
Don't be scared to ask questions and meet people who have the same desire as you. Enter that gym with zero ego. Leave that behind you. It's you versus you. Not you versus the world.
I want to use my experience to help people who are going through all the health issues I have dealt with and just people in general. I wanna show them that it's not the end of the world and you can change for the better.
I've been there depressed with no direction I know what it feels like and I was able to bounce back from that. To those out there feeling like this just know you're not alone and I'm here to talk with if you ever need anyone.