I used to be a web designer.
A really, really, skinny web designer. I started when I was 14 and made money running ads on a gaming website I created. Then I got hired to work at a graphic design studio a couple of years later.
I was pretty good at it, so I went to university to study it some more.
The only problem was that I had horrible tendonitis.
My chronic tendonitis hurt so bad that I wore a brace on my arm to numb the pain.
My doctor wasn’t helpful. He gave me painkillers (naproxen NSAIDs) that gave me nosebleeds to do my schoolwork and referred me to physiotherapy.
Physiotherapy wasn’t working. I did strengthening exercises, ultrasound therapy, and electrotherapy.
I even did acupuncture. I can barely even believe it. But desperate people do silly things.
Nothing ever worked.
Eventually, I became left-handed because using my right hand was too painful.
Being a leftie worked for a few months until my left arm got tendonitis.
My physiotherapist said she had never seen someone with tendonitis in both arms… let alone someone who was only 18 years old.
I struggled through my education with my nosebleed-pills when I needed to get down to work.
As I was graduating, my roommate and I decided to start-up our own graphic design/web studio.
I wasn’t afraid of hard work or being competitive. But I was afraid of how my wrists would hold up. (I figured I could always just keep taking more pills.)
Out of nowhere, my future business partner, who had been struggling to gain muscle, asked if I wanted to try gaining muscle with him.
Like I said, desperate people do weird things… so I said yes.
He had found us a good workout plan and did a lot of reading about nutrition. We made a bet with each other to help hold us accountable.
We bought a ton of food, whey protein powder, creatine, glutamine and planned on starting May 1st. We dubbed it Muscle May.
We still had free gym access at our old university, and we did our first workout right after our workday ended at 5 pm.
My arms feel like they were going to fall off. I drank a nasty tasting protein shake post-workout, ate a massive bowl of chili and fell into bed.
A few days in, my legs were so sore it hurt to sit.
A few more days in, I was so full, it took me an hour to eat my meals, struggling to fit bites in, while watching Seinfeld in a cockroach-infested apartment in the worst neighbourhood in Canada.
But something started changing. I started to feel stronger. I started getting less tired after the workouts. I started enjoying them.
By the end of the month, I had gained 21 pounds, plus an additional eight pounds from creatine loading before we started (a popular supplement.)
The crazy thing is, my tendonitis was feeling remarkably better. Like almost completely cured.
It was at this moment that I became hooked on lifting and eating well.
Before I started, I had always planned to go back to my “normal” life. This was just a thirty-day experiment, that’s what I told myself.
After that, we gained weight for another two months. In the fourth month, we cut some fat off by eating smaller bowls of chili and doing some HIIT sprints out in the sunshine.
Here are my and Shane’s results—no pump, no Photoshop, no tricks.
If you want to know exactly how we did it, we made two short videos outlining everything.
You can see them here, and I hope you find them interesting.
Lean to Mean Video 1 + Video 2
We made those videos in 2010 (a lifetime ago!). We’ve learned a ton since then, especially if you’re older than 30 and are starting to running into issues like a slower metabolism, graying, naggy joints, etc. You can see my full up-to-date story in this video where I discuss the new principles inside our True Gains program.