Carlos Ruiz, a 43-year-old martial arts instructor from Málaga, shares with Men’s Health how a transformation challenge helped him get into shape and feel like himself again.
All my life I have dedicated myself to Kyokushin karate. I have been an international competitor for many years, training between 6 and 8 hours a day. However, I began to put my training and nutrition to one side because I was very focused on my business; I only thought about working and didn’t make time for exercise. I have always been in excellent physical and mental shape, and losing all that I felt like a different person. I didn’t have the motivation to train, to eat healthily and correctly, but above all I lost the motivation to find myself.
I decided to change my whole lifestyle. By giving everything of myself to my students and clients, I was losing all my physical shape and ceasing to give an example of discipline to them. I wanted to teach that martial arts not only involve teaching the technique and discipline of training, but that nutrition plays an important part in achieving those results too.
During quarantine, with the business closed, my wife and I took refuge in sports. We trained together every morning, increasing the intensity as time passed, which helped us to feel more balanced. But I still looked at myself in the mirror and I didn’t like what I saw; that person wasn’t me, and I couldn’t find the necessary strength to change my diet.
It wasn’t until January 18th, 2021, just two days after my birthday that I changed my diet completely, but I was only able to do it thanks to José my trainer. He knew how to redirect me on the right path, and from there he explained to me the importance of having a balanced diet, what macronutrients were, and how we would benefit if we did everything according to the goals set.
Before quarantine, I would train 3 to 4 times a month, doing some cardio and weights. During quarantine, we trained 6 times a week doing functional and cardiovascular workouts. But it was only when I joined Ultimate Performance Marbella that I learned the importance of consistency and frequency in training in order to get the best possible results in the shortest amount of time. Since then, we have worked out 3 or 4 times a week, combining strength and hypertrophy training.
The fact that I was continually improving physically, mentally, and aesthetically kept me motivated, as did the fact that I was getting stronger; I had never deadlifted before, but I can now lift 396 pounds (180 kgs). And if I am ever not 100 percent motivated, I have José my trainer, who helped me find my enthusiasm for training again.
But what I like the most about having met this incredible person is that I hadn’t connected so well with someone in training for many years. As I have already mentioned, I’m professionally dedicated to martial arts, I’m a 5th Dan black-belt in my discipline, and I teach many students, but I also need someone who continues to bring out the best in me, to motivate me and teach because one cannot stop growing both professionally and personally. With José, I have also learnt that there are great professionals much younger than me who can take you to the top. My achievements are his achievements because without him this wouldn’t have been possible. Thank you, José!
In relation to my weight, from the beginning, José explained to me that what the scale indicated didn’t matter to us at all, the weight wasn’t as important as our fat percentage and level of muscle mass should be. It was from then on that I understood that everything I did in my past was wrong. I weighed 152 pounds and I have managed to arrive at 134 pounds, a total of 18 pounds lost. I also almost halved my body fat, reducing it from 23 percent to 12 percent. We are currently working to increase my muscle mass, always maintaining a relatively low-fat percentage and we are already going for a target weight of 145 pounds, maintaining that body fat at 12 percent.
This experience has had many positive results that are not only physical. I have created a healthy lifestyle habit that my wife and I love. I have once again become more agile, faster, more energetic in my classes and of course my self-esteem, security and confidence in myself have increased. I have regained the active person that I used to be: I have more desire to do things, I feel much better in all aspects and this makes me happier.
The people who have seen my change were positively surprised, no one thinks that I have been able to achieve the change in such a short time. Another positive part is that they have made them want to get in shape.
I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made, and I want to continue to gain muscle mass and also continue to excel in weightlifting. I feel so good that I am considering trying competitive powerlifting. For me it has become a way of life.
If you are at the beginning of your own fitness journey, remember that everything requires an effort. There is nothing given away, time is that, only time, and you decide what to do with it, but living in regret, with excuses and justifying your bad habits won’t make you happy. Be brave, and if you look back, let it be to remind you that you don’t want to go back to being your old self. Being happy is a choice and everything in life is a matter of attitude. Mas Oyama, the founder of the Kyokushin karate style, said: It is just one more mountain that I must climb, which means that in life there will be many difficult situations and decisions, but you must look at the top and overcome the mountain because once climbed it will be left behind.
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