“Christian Leva shed an incredible 80 Pounds While Dropping His Bodyfat From 35% to 5%! Read on to learn how he made his made a huge body transformation…
What Made You Turn Your Life Around?
In high school and college, I was a star athlete. I played Football in College and was a national champion power lifter. Years after college ended however, so had my athletic build and my dietary discipline. My lifestyle prior to my change was very sedentary. I work in front of a computer all day and at night I would go home and play video games on the sofa or in front of the computer. Cardio (outside of walking to the fridge and to my car) was nonexistent. To further exasperate the problem, my diet was horrendous. I would eat 2-3 burgers, chickens, burritos, etc. from various fast food restaurants at almost every meal. Breakfast (when I would even eat breakfast) would be fast food tacos or donuts. I would also have 2 or 3 beers a week.
What Made You Turn Your Life Around?
My low point was when my ex wife and I decided to get a divorce. I was divorced, alone, and in the worst physical and emotional shape of my life. The turning point came when I would visit home and my Father who has always been my biggest fan and supporter and someone I admire greatly, sat me down and told me that my health is in jeopardy and he had never seen me so out of shape. He explained how I used to be the “fitness model” of the family. I knew I had to make a change.
What Helped You Stay Motivated?
When I started my transformation, I made a voice and video recording of myself talking about my current lifestyle and how unhappy I was with what I had become. If I ever feel not motivated to go to the gym, or I start slipping on my diet, I load up that video or listen to the voice recording. I then go to the mirror and look at myself and ask myself, am I done yet? Is this my peak? Is this the best I can do or is there more? Can I do one more rep? Can I be that much more defined? There answer is always yes.
Were There Any Unique Challenges That Made Your Transformation Difficult?
Biggest challenges were the mental challenges. I had been in shape before, I had lifted heavy before, so I knew what my body could do and I knew I had it in me, but still to overcome what had become years of bad habits was tough. I was alone (outside my family) and so I had no other motivators except my own internal motivation. At times it was very difficult to keep the routine and to keep my goals alive.
What Was Your Approach To Training?
My focus in the beginning was purely cardio related to lose the weight. I was not interested in heavy weight training as I was naturally stronger than most. I just wanted to lose the body fat. My training was 2-3 cardio sessions a week doing light walking and progressing to jogging and running.
Once some of the weight had been lost, I noticed that my motivation levels were dropping as I started to see more and more results. This may seem odd, but in my mind at the time I convinced myself that I had “reached my goal” and so I stopped. I knew that I had to add what I loved to do in my youth and that was lifting heavy weights. So in June 2011, that’s what I did. I began working out every other day, with a different body part each day. This made my motivation levels spike and working out became fun.
In March 2011, my training splits changed yet again when I started prepping for my bodybuilding contest. I now workout 4 days a week, with 2 cardio sessions a day on the days I do not lift, and 1 cardio session on days that I do. Sunday is an off day with no weights or cardio.
What Does Your Training Plan Look Like?
I am a big advocate for volume training if you’re striving to alter your physique. Throughout the duration of my training, I’ve most likely been on a bodybuilding based split for about 90% of the time, and have seen steady clean results from it. Although your numbers won’t jump as quickly as being on a strength based split, I have also found steady increases in certain major lifts if you keep a meticulous attitude about improving form/weight every time.
What Was Your Approach To Cardio?
Cardio was outlined above. This is the cardio routine I currently do. During the majority of the transformation, my cardio routine included only 20 minutes in the morning and again in the evening on the treadmill at an incline and a “brisk walk” pace (usually 3-3.5 speed on the machine). This was done 6-7 days a week and was more than enough for heavy weight loss.
What Have You Learned About Exercise and Cardio During Your Transformation That Helped You Suceed?
1: Form is everything. Don’t be prideful and pick up heavy weight only to have horrible form. If you have horrible form, you are risking injury at worst and at best you’re working muscles you are not intending to work. This is scene the most in arm, back, and shoulder routines.
2: Cardio is a must. At first I thought I could get away with just doing intense workouts, supersets, and little to no rest and that would be fine for cardio. I found out that cardio not only is a must for weight loss, but it is overall a necessity for a healthy lifestyle. Even if you are already at low body fat % and you’re looking to gain weight or “bulk up”, a simple 20 minute cardio session 3-4 days a week is key to overall cardiovascular health and will actually improve muscle development by increasing oxygen flow throughout the body.
3: Hidden trick for great forearm definition. You may have notice I do not work my forearms, and my arm routine is relatively light. This is because I discovered a great trick that will help work your arms with every pushing and pulling exercise you do. It’s all about Grip Strength. Having a death grip or super tight grip on the bar or dumbbell with every exercises helps to engage every muscle fiber in your forearm, bicep and triceps. To prove this, do this little trick right now. Ball up your hand in a fist and squeeze. You can feel every muscle tightening up. Now do this, only squeeze with your pointer finger. You should feel your bicep contracting more than anything else. Now squeeze with your pinky and ring finger, you should feel your triceps contracting. Keep this in mind when you are doing arm routines. If you are working your biceps, focus on tightening your grip with your pointer finger to really isolate the peak of the bicep. Same thing with the pinky and triceps.
What Does Your Nutrition Plan Look Like?
This is what I would call a contest prep diet. The Carb source (sweet potato) changes depending on which week I’m on. For a normal diet you can sub in Chicken Breast, Lean Steak, or Salmon for the Tilapia/Tuna.
Did You Make Any Mistakes With Your Nutrition Plan That You Learned From?
Learning out to eat healthy is definitely a learning experience. The biggest mistake I made was cutting out all Fat from my diet. It’s easy when you are vastly overweight as I was to think you should cut out all Fat from your diet. This is not the case and will actually slow your fat loss. Healthy fats are essential. Currently I am in contest prep and trying to get to 5% body fat, and I still consume on average 50grams a day of healthy fats. Healthy fats include unsalted almonds, flaxseed oil, olive oil, MCT Oil, and even peanut butter.
Please Tell Some Things You Learned About Diet and Nutriton That Helped You Succeed?
1: Learn what the function of everything you put in your body is. Learn what protein does. Learn what Carbs are and the different kinds. Learn the differences between the many fat sources.
2: Don’t starve yourself! This is crucial. If you goal is fat loss, then simply not eating is NOT going to make you thin. Eating more and more often, is going to ramp up your metabolism and accelerate fat loss (assuming you are eating healthy)
3: Fiber and simple sugars are your friends. Eating lean and reduced calories can leave you hungry and with cravings. Taking in a lot of fiber and simple sugars (simple sugars come from fruits) will reduce those cravings. Craving chocolate? Try eating a green apple, the sugar content is healthier and might very well satisfy that craving.
Did You Allow Yourself Cheat Meals?
For me no. I knew that if I had a cheat meal, it would turn into a cheat day, which would turn into a cheat week. But that’s just myself. I do not see anything wrong with cheat meals and I would encourage everyone to include 1 a week, just don’t go nuts. Eat a cheat meal, not have a cheat day.
What Is Your Lifestyle Like Now?
They say money can buy happiness. While I certainly wouldn’t question that, I’d say being healthy and fit can be even more satisfying! The biggest change I have seen is the increase in energy and my activity level. While I still enjoy video games on the sofa, I also find myself enjoying outdoor activities and sports like I did when I was younger. I’ve never been happier.
Any Suggestions For Others?
1: Set an actual date along with an “appointment” to ensure you stay motivated. My date was August 23, 2011. I contacted a local photographer who specialized in Fitness Model photography and booked a photo shoot with him on August 23, 2011. He thought I was crazy at first booking almost a year in advance, but he gladly accepted when I prepaid him the full amount (non refundable). Now you don’t have to go this extreme, but again I knew myself. My constant motivator is money and I knew a non-refundable appointment would be amble motivation lol.
2: Keep it Simple. Don’t get bogged down with all the fancy diet, exercise routines, and supplements you find everywhere. Read honest, factual articles (like those found on Muscle and Strength) and know that people have been fit and in shape for generations. Eat healthy, avoid processed food, do some exercise, and you WILL see results.
3: This is not a body or diet transformation, this is a life transformation. Keep the mindset that you’re not doing a “90 day challenge”; you’re doing a life change.
If Someone Wants to Connect With You How Can You Be Contacted?
Anyone can contact me at anytime via the contact information below or on Facebook. Knowing that I could help someone else achieve their transformation is a very satisfying feeling! I’m more than happy to help, guide, and answer any questions.