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Christopher Craig

This U.S. Army Reserve is inspiring other soldiers to improve their health and fitness levels.

Christopher Craig

Written by Christopher Craig

At the outset of my fitness journey, I primarily sought to lose my excess body fat that I’ve carried all my life. I was overweight for most of my childhood, though I never let myself believe it. I was in denial and just considered myself a naturally larger individual.

At my heaviest, I weighed around 255 pounds when I graduated high school in 2012. My weight fluctuated from there until I joined the U.S. Army Reserves in 2013; at that time, I weighed between 195 and 210 pounds.

My fitness journey really began in 2015 as I began to hit the gym at least three to four days a week, with no particular program or diet. I simply went in and worked out however I saw fit. This is the year when I first discovered Dr. Jim Stoppani and began to learn the importance of a clean diet. Over the next year and a half, I drove my weight down to my all-time low of 157 pounds simply using Dieting 101 and regularly hitting the gym.

This time, I felt I was ready to put on some mass. However, I was unsuccessful at this for months, as I hit a plateau and could not gain even one pound.

That's when I really dove into Dr. Stoppani’s articles and videos, educating myself on the must and must-nots of muscle-building protocols. Since then, I have been able to gain weight up to the present day, weighing in at 170 pounds.

After losing a massive amount of body fat, the primary program I have used to gain muscle is Jim’s Shortcut to Size, which I followed very strictly. In addition, I have also done a few of the Train With Jim workouts in between iterations of Shortcut to Size. I followed Dieting 101 to lose most of the body fat I had. I am now applying Dieting 101 in a reverse fashion, manipulating carbs, to gain clean mass through the winter months.

Though I have yet to try carb cycling at a steady pace, I have strategized my carb intake around holiday meals as Jim has suggested in his articles, while ensuring my protein and fat intake is still fairly consistent with my goals.

For supplementation, I have used Pre JYM and Post JYM as well as Pro JYM. I use them exactly the way Dr. Stoppani suggests, to maximize my results. I just recently bought my first bottle of Omega JYM fish oil and intend to work it into my supplement routine in the coming weeks. Once I hit a point where I’m ready to begin cutting the excess body fat acquired from the bulking phase I'm in, I plan to use Shred JYM to assist in fat burning.

My biggest motivation comes from both my improved physique and abilities, as well as the inspiration of those around me. Consistent with one of my favorite attributes of the JYM brand — how education and fitness knowledge is at the forefront of the product — I thoroughly enjoy aiding others with similar issues I’ve had, such as hitting plateaus, with information I have learned from Dr. Stoppani.

Since I began this fitness journey, many others from my Reserve unit have also began their own fitness journeys. I become unbelievably inspired when one of my fellow soldiers approaches me with fitness questions, or when I see soldiers improving their Army Physical Fitness Scores by drastic numbers. The fact that I am never alone on this journey is a truly inspiring feeling.

To me, fitness is a lifestyle, and to begin a new lifestyle, changes are required. Time management and planning are two items I became well- acquainted with while reaching my goals.

As a full-time college student, part-time employee, U.S. Army Reservist, as well as a cadet in ROTC, time is one luxury I rarely have. To make time for the gym is challenging at times; many times, I have driven myself out of bed between 4am and 5am to hit a workout before a busy day. Proper nutrition, however, on a stringent schedule is difficult to achieve. Studying Dr. Stoppani’s dietary articles gave me the knowledge I needed to know how and what to prepare for the week in terms of meals.

Often times, I will be asked what the key to results in the gym is. My response to this is consistency and patience. You can have all the dietary or fitness knowledge in the world, but if you’re inconsistent or impatient with workouts and diets, it will become very difficult, or even impossible, to reach your goals.

Obstacles are inevitable when seeking results in the gym. Frustration was a very large obstacle for me to overcome. Hitting plateaus or not seeing results after months of hard work can really bring an individual down, but there is always a reason why we face difficult situations like these. A simple routine shake-up or dietary adjustment can be all one needs to carry on and reach one's goals.

At the beginning of my journey, I received a lot of criticism, which I believe many of us encounter, unfortunately. Sticking with it for as long as I have, however, I have received plenty of positive feedback and compliments. I’ve even been asked for advice for diets and workouts, which to this day surprises me each time that someone finds interest in my opinion of those topics. The best advice I can offer is to never be afraid of failure. This fear held me back for many years.

Don’t be hesitant to step into the gym or any realm of fitness for fear of judgment or uncomfortable encounters with others. Be confident in yourself and be proud you’re taking a stand and making a change to your lifestyle. And of course, be sure to educate yourself on the science behind it all: nutrition, diet plans, if applicable, workouts, etc. Once you have a strong foundation in these topics, you can make incredible achievements in the gym.

In the short-term, I plan to continue building mass until close to the summer months, when I will begin to cut back on body fat again. Long-term, I have many goals I’ve set for myself. While the current degree I am earning is in Automotive Business Management, I plan to seek formal education in nutrition and obtain a Health Coach Certification and possibly other certifications.

I’m very motivated to continue to inspire and invite others on a fitness journey, aiding them in changing their lifestyles and health in the most positive ways possible. This fitness journey has been life-changing for me and I wish to help others create that same experience.


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