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Michael Depaulo

How this stay-at-home dad battled adversity to get super lean in just 41 days.

Michael Depaulo

One of the unsung heroes of my 2023 Holiday Shred Challenge is Michael Depaulo. In just 41 days, he made enormous changes to his physique and overall fitness level by being completely dialed into his training, nutrition, and supplements — guided by my HIIT 100 training program and meal plans on JimStoppani.com.

What truly makes Michael a hero isn’t just his transformation; it’s his desire to share his fitness journey with others and provide inspiration and advice for those wanting to experience similar results.

What follows is a blow-by-blow of Michael’s 6-week journey during the Holiday Shred Challenge, with amazing insights into what worked for him and what didn’t.

Michael’s Goals and Results

“My goals were to enter the Holiday Shred Challenge and lose as much body fat as possible while maintaining my muscle integrity and increasing muscle strength and size in the process,” Michael says.

It’s safe to say he achieved those goals. Here’s the tale of the tape on his results:

  • Starting weight (November 5): 162 pounds 
  • Highest weight (November 28): 170 pounds
  • End weight (December 16): 153 pounds 
  • Weight loss beginning to end: 9 pounds
  • Weight loss from highest weight to End: 17 pounds
  • Achieved in a total of 41 days

“I also gained stamina in my training and was able to increase strength with progressive overload,” he says regarding his other goals. “I consistently added weight to each lift during my weekly rotation of body part split training.”

How He Did It: Training

Michael added cardioacceleration to the HIIT 100 program, using exercises like mountain climbers, jumping jacks, jumping, high knees, bench step-ups, and shadow boxing in between lifting sets. He also did steady-state cardio on both a treadmill, walking at a high incline on the machine, and a recumbent bike.

“I would attempt to do the steady-state cardio on an empty stomach (water only) to not break my fast,” he says. “This wasn’t always achievable, so I would then plan to do HIIT style.”

Not every day was ideal for getting in his workouts, but Michael still managed to get his exercise in some way, somehow. “On days I didn’t have access to resistance, I focused on HIIT and activating every muscle in my body by flexing,” he says. “I would stand in front of a mirror and mimic the movements and focus on the contraction of each muscle and to make that mind-muscle connection.”

How He Did It: Nutrition

When it came to food, Michael focused on the basics, prioritizing dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble), protein (1 gram of protein per pound of body weight minimum), healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.

“Having studied how fiber and protein can impact Insulin levels to stay lower, I leveraged this concept to my advantage as best as possible at every meal,” he says. His go-to sources of fiber were vegetables. “I usually ate broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and spinach. I also incorporated iceberg lettuce, radishes, carrots, and pickles with salads.”

His protein sources were varied, as well. “I ate a lot of bone-in chicken thighs for cost-effectiveness,” he says, “but I also ate ground beef (usually 80/20, draining the fat), tuna, pork loins, and fish (striped bass/rockfish).”

In addition to the aforementioned meats and fish, he got fats from cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil. And his carbs consisted mostly of sweet potatoes and whole wheat pasta, tortillas, and bread. “I did my best to keep carbs low, but I didn’t eliminate them from my diet,” he says.

How He Did It: Supplements

As with food, Michael kept his supplement regimen basic.

“I used Pro JYM and Pre JYM throughout the contest,” he says. “I wanted to incorporate more supplements, but being a stay-at-home dad for my special needs son and living on my wife’s teacher income, I had a limited budget. I added Pro JYM into my morning coffee and would also use it post-workout with cocoa powder, PB Fit powder, Greek yogurt, and a liquid (usually milk). I'm lactose intolerant, but with Pro JYM I didn’t have any stomach issues.”

His only regret supplement-wise was not getting a more practical fat burner. “I drank a bunch of green tea to act as my fat burner,” Michael says. “I wish I had ordered a bottle of SS8 instead — I urinated way too much from drinking green tea!”

How He Did It: Motivation

Food and supplements served as Michael’s physical fuel, but mentally he had plenty of motivational fuel to keep him going. With considerable adversity working against him, this wasn’t an easy journey for him.

“I’m partially disabled (lower back) and have been consistently pushing myself to become stronger, but the process has been methodical to get myself back to a mental and physical space to be confident with lifting and not hurting myself,” he says. “I had to retire from police work after 15 years due to four back injuries, one back surgery (discectomy), and another herniated disc. I was self-motivated first and foremost for myself, with the secondary motivation for my family. I’m married and have three children. My youngest son is super special needs — non-verbal, has seizures, daytime apnea, and a bunch more issues.”

Michael’s Keys to Success

Here, Michael offers five pieces of advice for others looking to make a transformation

Plan Ahead — “I use the phrase often, ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail.’ I knew to be successful, I had to plan my nutrition and training in advance and dedicate my pursuit of execution to my plans.”

Always Be Tracking — “I tracked my weight daily and used it as a guide to see the direction I was heading so that I could properly adjust my nutrition in correlation to my training. I found through tracking my weight, specifically from November 20 to 28, that I was doing something wrong. I thought my nutrition was spot on, even with Thanksgiving during that period. But after auditing my diet and thinking about what I ate and how I ate it, I realized I was using too much salt. After realizing I was holding too much water, I adjusted my sodium and started to lose the water weight.”

Don’t Try to Be Perfect — “I had to travel twice during the challenge for my daughter’s soccer team, which effected my training and nutrition. I got my training in using whatever the hotel gym had to offer. I ate the best I could. I cut alcohol out of my diet but, go figure, while traveling I had one night where other parents bought me three Old Fashioneds. And then we had free drinks on another trip; I drank two tequilas (neat), as I read tequila has the least effect on blood sugar.”

Just Get Started — “Start with how many push-ups, squats, lunges, or whatever you can do and go from there. And just try and get a little bit better every day.”

Learn and Execute —  Learn something new about nutrition every day, and execute on the nutrition immediately. Learn something new about your training, and execute on the training immediately. Repeat that every day.

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