The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

It's that easy?

Recently I began working with the fellow that played Curly opposite of me in our production of Oklahoma! We actually read together in our auditions in August (or was it September?) for the roles we ended up playing. I was coming from Don Giovanni and a lean 190lbs. I was surprised to find a fellow like Mat, 6' 4" and a full figured baritone. He was by no means lean, but I wouldn't consider him to be obese by any account.

Our read was amazing. I was immensely impressed with his acting and communication skills. We both landed the roles. 

While Ol' Yeargain was preparing for the role of Jud Fry by attempting to bulk up, Mat had his own game plan and through the months leading up to our rehearsal process proceeded to get into fantastic shape for the role.

Like Ol' Yeargain, whenever you go through such a transformation you get asked a lot of questions about HOW???? The following is exactly what Mat did. Word for word.

"Hello all you beautiful people.

I’ve had a lot of people PM me to ask what exactly I did to get my old man body into better shape. I’ve written it all out, but first a Disclaimer: I am not a Doctor. I am not a dietitian. I am not a nutritionist. I am not a personal trainer. Please be careful when starting a workout/diet regimen. I personally started my journey into getting into better shape by scheduling an appointment with my Dr. to get a physical done. I highly recommend doing the same.
So here’s the skinny.

I did fasted training/dieting. Here’s how it works. You eat all of your calories for the day during an 8hour period. For example, I wouldn’t eat any food till about 2pm each day and wouldn’t eat any food after 10pm. I won’t go into the research that shows the benefits of doing this. If you’d like to know more I highly recommend visiting For the first 3 months I also put myself on a fairly large calorie deficit. That means I would burn more calories that I ingested. I allowed myself 1800 calories a day. That’s about a 900-calorie deficit for a guy my size. So, even if I didn’t do any exercise at all and just sat around on my butt, which I am want to do sometimes, I would still lose weight. Having a calorie deficit that large is not particularly healthy, and I don’t recommend it to someone who is not working on a time frame. For those 3 months I felt lethargic and hungry all of the time. The only reason I did it was because I needed to lose fat fast. Another problem with having a calorie deficit that large is that it makes it impossible to build muscle. As much as your body eats fat with that deficit, it also eats muscle. If you need to get rid of fat fast, however, nothing beats not eating much. Another aspect of the diet I implemented was keeping track of my Macros. This is basically balancing your protein, fat and carbohydrates into predetermined percentages of your diet. For example, I ate 40% protein, 35% fat, and 25% carbohydrates every day, or as close to those numbers as possible. There is a ton of information on the Internet if you’d like to do your own research as to why this is beneficial to muscle building and weight loss.
After the first 3 months I had lost about 25lbs and was already looking very different/thinner so I decided to up my calorie intake to about 2300 calories a day. I also started cycling my carbohydrates. What that means is that during the week I would have days, usually 3 a week, where I would up my protein intake to about 50% and drop my carbohydrates to 15%. This gives you the benefit of a low carb diet without some of the negative side effects. I would eat more carbs on lifting days where I could really use the extra energy and less on rest days.

With all that in mind, I wouldn’t have been able to do all of that calorie/macro tracking without the use of the best calorie counting app there is, It has a huge database of foods and their nutritional information. It keeps track of Macros and is really easy to use. If you don’t use it you’re cheating yourself, and no, I’m not on their payroll.

As for the foods I ate, my staples were Grilled Chicken, Pork Tenderloin, Egg Whites, Pure Protein Bars, Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein, Optimum Nutrition Casein Protein (slow digesting protein I would take before bed), Fiber 1 cereal, Metamucil (With all that protein you need help pushing it through), raw vegetables with light Italian dressing, roasted almonds, Chobani no fat plain yogurt, Dark Chocolate chips (70%coco), dried cranberries, red delicious apples, bananas and sweet potatoes. 90% of the meals I ate over the last 7 months consisted of these foods. I would shake things up with a Salmon filet or a steak here and there, but not that often. I did cheat sometimes too. I love ice cream and pizza. When I would cheat, however, I kept track of the calories and would do as much cardio as I needed to make up the difference.

Suffice it to say the diet works and it sucks. It’s was/is hard to do and you have to keep track of it like it’s your job. For me it was my job so I did it. I literally have a record of just about every piece of food I put in my mouth over the last 7 months. I spent as much time tracking my food as I did eating it. On to training!

I basically lived at the gym. I scheduled my workouts each week and even hired babysitters when needed so I could go to the gym. Most of my workouts took place in the early mornings at around 6:30 – 7:00am. On some days I had to teach too early so I would work it so I could go in the afternoon.

I did HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for 30min a pop at least 5 days a week, sometimes 7 days a week. For more info on HIIT you can check out this link…/high-intensity-interval-trainin…/. I did most of my cardio on the elliptical or stationary bike. I have bad knees so I don’t run any more. I would have rather been outside on my actual bicycle but, if you recall, it rained all fall. During the High intensity segments of my cardio I tried to get my heart rate up to about 170bpm and keep it there for about 2 min. HIIT will kick your butt, especially the first couple weeks you start. The good news is that your heart will adjust to the stress in a fairly quick time and you’ll be amazed how much easier it gets. You will also be energized the rest of the day. It doesn’t drain you like long steady state cardio.

I co-opted two different workout programs from Labrada's 12 week program and then Grage's 9 week program. I didn’t follow them exactly. I added more major lifts to the workouts than they prescribed. On Leg days I always did squats and on back days I always did deadlifts. To be frank, you could really just do squats, deadlifts, bench-press and pull-ups and get yourself into fantastic shape. Whatever lifting regimen you take on, if it doesn’t incorporate those 4 lifts then you’re wasting your time. That goes for girls as well. Lift heavy weights girls. Be strong girls, cause girls kick ass. That’s just my opinion but most trainers that are worth your time will tell you the same. On average I lifted 5 days per week for about 1 ½ to 2 hours a pop. That was probably overkill but I was on a mission and felt lazy if I wasn’t sore in some part of my body every day. I have a pretty decent background when it comes to lifting and I chose not to use a trainer. If you have never lifted weights I would recommend getting a trainer to make sure you’re using proper form. Also, make sure someone you trust recommends your trainer. There are a lot of charlatans out there and it doesn’t take much to get licensed in Oklahoma. If you are looking for a trainer I highly recommend Kasey Yeargain. He played Jud with me and is incredible. I just started training with him last week. I’m gonna get ripped. Just wait. Check out his website to get inspired,

Our first training session together and we both pulled PR's on the Deadlift.

Something else that I did was take BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids) as prescribed by leangains. Since I was working out in the early morning but not eating till the afternoon I would use these amino acids to facilitate protein synthesis while I was still fasting. It works like this. I would take 10grams of BCAA’s about 15min before I lifted. Then I would take 10 more grams every hour and a half until I broke my fast at 2pm. You can read about how this works at

I used Xtends BCAA’s, Fish Oil, Multivitamin, Iron supplement, glucosamine, vitamin D supplement, potassium supplement, glutamine (post work out to prevent muscle soreness) and the several protein powders I listed above
I think that about covers it. I hope this makes some sense. I’m not proofing what I wrote and know I ramble when I write. If you have any questions feel free to PM me.

Love to all."

So, there you have it. It's as "simple" as that. Except not. There were no gimmicks, no tricks. As you can clearly see, Mat isn't trying to sell you anything beyond hard fucking work. Things that I preach on the daily. Mat earned his triumphs with every single drop of sweat off of his brow. And he has just given you a blueprint on how to get your own kind of success. This is generous information that could help a lot of people that's actually rather simple. Workout hard, eat less food and you will lose weight.

But the fact is that most people won't follow this advice because it's too simple. Because there are no tricks. Because what's required is putting yourself through a journey. One where you work hard, and find what you're made of. Fighting the social battles and sticking to a plan. Consistency is the keys to the kingdom.

Many would see all that Mat has done and ask "was it worth all of that work?" And I know for a fact that mat would tell you that it was worth every moment and more.

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It.

The Opera Bro


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  2. Hey!! Great stuff! Inspiring work. Thanks for sharing. I wonder about the 900 cal deficit. Why is it "unhealthy"? And is it really impossible to grow muscle on that deficit? Thanks!

    1. I think a 900 calorie deficit over a long period of time combined with a lot of mental and physical stress can lead to severe adrenal fatigue. However, our bodies are equipped to endure a calorie deficit that large for some time. The adherence to a diet that strict is not very reasonable, but it's more than possible and certainly won't kill you, but it's by no means optimal.

      As far as building muscle on a deficit, it really depends on your training history. If you're still a beginner to training (within the first two years of progressive overload based strength progression) you can build muscle and strength within a deficit. It's nowhere near as ideal as when in a calorie surplus, but it's still possible.