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Location: Austin, Tx Gender: Male Neck: 14.4 in Chest: 40 in Goal: Gain Muscle Forearm: 10.5 in Hip: 39 in Age: 45 Calve 16.6 in Shoulder: 48.5 in Height: 6'0" Arm: 13.3 in Waist: 34 in Weight: 178 lbs Thigh: 23.5 in Body Fat: 14.5%
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It was the worst of times, it is the worst of times..... It always seems to come back, but I'm looking forward. So as many of you know, I'm not a spring chicken, nor am I naive, I’m 40 years old, single, never married, and frankly happy with that, as it affords me the luxury of doing some pretty cool things. I've traveled the world, been threatened with Jihad, actually attacked a few times, traveled Iraq during the wars, and have more titanium holding skull together than I'd like to admit. All this said, not to make me seem cool or even reckless, but to let you guys know there is a huge diversity of people on this site and doing this challenge. I think and find that inspiring. That people from so many different paths and motivations can find the same process to meet their needs. We are after all, all humans aren't we? And while I could say my fitness journey started when I was in high school because my family was over weight and I got a psychotic built-in fear of getting fat, I can’t actually say that is ‘fitness’. Nor the scared memory of that time when I was at an all you can eat buffet, and I saw this large, very large lady sitting in booth and had her little children go back and forth from the buffet line bringing her food again and again like little ants bring their foraging prizes to their queen. Alas, that did not motivate me to fitness, but rather away from any future meals at buffet places. No, I must say my purposeful path towards fitness, and in particular this challenge started much, much later. I spent much of the 2000’s in the Middle East (Turkey & Iraq) serving nonprofits, refugees and persecuted groups by teaching them entrepreneurism, whilst starting my own software company. Gyms there were way to expensive and way to far and few in between. I had no where to exercise, and no where to get healthy. I knew living in a city of 20 million people would wear on my health, not to mention the stress of it all. I tried running on the streets or on the shore of the mediterranean, but soon found wild dogs chasing me, attacking and biting me, and the ensuing rounds of rabies shots made me decide running in the Middle East was a survival sport, not a fitness endeavor. So I found P90, yes that great ‘ol Tony Horton, the man who is always excited about that next round. I started doing that from home with his VHS cassette taped videos jumping up and down driving my neighbors in the flat below mad. Over the years I’d do those on and off, I graduated to P90X and so on. In 2007, I was brutally attacked and literally almost died. (Photo below) Actually I got attacked with an office phone that put a hole in my skull and fractured it and broke my eye socket and nose. It sent me into shock, gave me whiplash, and required a lot of titanium to fix it. No, this was not some random extremist, or Al Qaeda, but rather my business partner, who had a very bad day and wanted to share it with me. After having a couple months of PSTD, an irrational fear of being hit by anyone in the street, and not being able to leave my home, I finally calmed down, but decided I needed a break from living over seas. Thus, I moved back to the USA in 2008, very depressed by how things turned out where I was trying to help. But I didn't return from Turkey empty-handed. t also had a little ‘adopted’ brother who is a Turkish Kurd that I brought back with me and in order to help his family in very poor Southeast Turkey. He was one of my employees, his real brother was that very same partner who attacked me (coincidently we're still friends), and yes, he became very much my little brother. I told him I’d send him through university and pay his way as long as he’d promise to give back to his family and his younger brothers the same gift. He’s literally a brother to me now, and is very much part of this story as you’ll see later. Now in Austin, Tx, I got my brother through ESL (english) classes and entered into university in Indiana with a big scholarship. Fast forward to January 2011, and I was in the midst of trying to get a tech start-up off the ground. In the middle of January, I was sitting in a chair in sweat pants, working on my computer, and I ‘felt’ my body. Now nothing perverse here, but rather, my body had grown so much, I could actually feel the rolls roll on one another. This was not the gravitas that I wanted as a start-up founder. This was, literally, mass. No one would have told me I was fat. But I knew I was, indeed fat. At that moment, I knew, I had a choice. I could embrace the sweat pants, embrace the fatness, and give up and ‘roll’ with it, or I could fight it. I could take charge of this aspect of my life and give it no mercy. I chose, utter destruction of fat and laziness (when it comes to fitness). I immediately got a copy of this new thing called “Insanity” by Shawn T, made a diet to cut like no one ever cut before, and worked my ass off, literally. In less than 2 months I lost 20lbs, Yes 20 lbs! I lost so much weight, I needed to buy all new clothes. By the end of it all I went from 198lbs to 165lbs. And then, with no desire other than for my own sexiness, (i.e. not for girls) I bought sexy clothes. Yes, I became known as Mr. Deep-V-neck guy. I even got myself some sexy underwear, that no one but I knew about, but yeh, I looked good. Of course my little brother made fun of me having a complete wardrobe change, but I think it’s because while in university he was getting fat on the university food and he was jealous. Frankly, it was really fun being Mr. Deep V-neck guy. I certainly was treated differently. People would stop me on the street and ask me questions. Honestly, I felt ogled, because girls would always be checking me out. I mean literally, walking down the sidewalk and their eyes would be stuck on my deep V-neck, looking at my chest Hilarious!! I was the unattainable guy that chicks liked. Pretty awesome. But honestly, For the most part, I was really into it for the fitness. I ate right, and I ran 10 miles 5-6 days a week. I felt great! I was super lean, and even so I was never ever able to build bulk no matter how much protein I ate. So I gave up and was just happy being super lean with very little body fat. This lasted for over a year and it was an amazing time. Then in 2012 I had to go to Africa for some non-profit work and some business. I had to take a couple trips there over a 4 month period. Because I went to West Coast Africa, Guinea and Sierra Leone, I had to get tons of shots, vaccines and take Malaria pills. If anyone has taken Malaria pills, then they understand what I’m about to say. I never got Malaria, BUT the Malaria pills killed every living thing in me, the good, the bad, and the ugly. My whole body went into shock and couldn’t digest food properly because the probiotics were dead. I felt so tired and lethargic. By the time I came back to America, the damage was done. I couldn’t even run 3 miles. I was always tired, and felt bloated and miserable, not to mention my work in Africa was a disaster and $80,000 was stolen (never trust Africa), I came back a destroyed man. For the last 3 years I’ve been trying to get my ‘mojo’ back without success. I’ve tried supplements galore, and basically to function I take 2-3 Monster drinks a day and then some. Nothing really ever worked. I've never had the energy I had back when Iw as running 10 miles a day. Bringing us up to the modern day, 2015 was a hellish year, and 2016 isn’t looking much better. In 2015, I got an awesome new tech job, only to be laid-off after 5 months. My Turkish brother graduated university in Indiana and after I worked 7 years to pay his full way through school and take care of him, he moved to Texas to live with me where I helped him find a new job. Then everything changed. It seems now that he’s making money, he turned into a complete jerk against me. While some of you might think, yeah, so? That's brothers... I’m very tight with my family, and this felt like a deep betrayal. This was got worse in December when my family came down to the house in Austin for Christmas and my brother made Christmas absolutely miserable for everyone. Then, two days after Christmas when we got home from Church, we found that my brother moved out and didn’t even say good-bye. He had used us for everything he could get, and then left when he couldn't get anything more out of us. I’ve got to tell you guys, this was hard on me. It still is. My heart was broken for this guy who I adopted, and I made my very own brother. I was blinded sided that he could do it.Some deep broke in me that day and I'm still trying to figure out how to deal with it. So now January 2016 came and I felt my life out of control. Frankly, miserable not knowing what to do, and really not wanting to do anything. I just want these problems fixed, and most of all, my family to be whole again. Now, remember, still unemployed (though I’m working on my own start-up) still having great interviews but companies aren’t pulling the trigger. I’m feeling frankly like a load of bricks dumped on a load of sh*t. Squashed and stinky. It was then, I saw the Scott Herman ad for the 12 Week transformation. Now I’ve been using Scott Herman’s videos now and then at the gym to help me on how to use the equipment and form. But my own plans were not productive, and I really didn’t have the energy or confidence to believe I knew what I was doing. So when I saw the 12 week transformation I said to myself, “I’ve done this before, I’ve pulled my sh*t together, and I need to do it again. I need to control something, and I can’t control how my brother has behaved, or control the speed at which companies hire me, but I can control my own damn body!" So I made the decision to do the 12 week transformation. I do it, yes for fitness, and yes to look good. But I do it most of all, because I need my sanity back and to get my sh*t together, at least some of it. Now I know it actually won’t solve this problems. It’s after all just a workout regime. But what it will do is to help me focus on something, while the other things settle, heal, and maybe even get fixed. I'm not ignoring them, but frankly, I just need to let time handle them and get my hands off of these problems. So I literally spend 3 hours at the gym, every afternoon because when I’m at the gym, I have to think about the gym. Not about my brother, who I do still love and miss, not about work, when I know there are amazing jobs I can do if companies aren’t afraid to hire in this market, not even about the question of what the heck am I’m doing, "I’m 40 and still dealing with this crap?" No, I only have to think about the gym. Thank you @scott_herman, thank you to everyone who is motivating me, and you will see a transformation. No matter the pain, no matter trials, there will be no excuses. Game on! Keep up if you can! - Mark

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