Courtesy of Javier Hernandez
Simple changes can have a profound effect on your health. After reaching a low point following a bad breakup, Javier Hernandez felt determined to turn things around. Here, he explains his turning point—and the meaningful changes he made to his diet and exercise plan to get into the best shape of his life.
Javier Hernandez had always hated being heavy, but it took the breakup of a relationship to inspire him to make a change. “It went pretty bad. She cheated on me, which left me in a state of depression,” he says. “I hated what I saw in the mirror. I hated my life, and I knew I was broken. I figured that if I wanted to be better I needed to work on myself inside and out.”
Like many people beginning a weight loss journey, Hernandez wasn’t quite sure where to begin. Money was also tight, so he knew he’d have to be resourceful.
“I barely made enough to cover my bills. I would pretend to live in near by apartment complexes that had gyms and use their equipment,” he says. “Once I was able to afford it, I joined L.A. Fitness, and that was way better since I was able to push my self harder and lift heavier weight.”
Next, Hernandez focused on his diet, cutting out unhealthy, more expensive foods in favor of whole foods that helped him meet his workout goals while saving money every month.
“I used common sense. Fried foods had to go,” he says. “If I wanted to gain muscle, I had to increase my protein intake and select more whole foods and definitely stay away from fast food joints.” He also got creative with using protein powders, which helped him deal with cravings for sweeter foods.
Setting a list of clear goals that he wanted to achieve also helped him stay motivated. He created a strict 7-day routine that he followed throughout the week. “When it came to my workouts, I knew I didn’t want to be thin. I wanted to be strong and built, so lifting weights were super important.”
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He would look at routines in magazines—ahem, like Men’s Health—to better understand what a beginner-friendly workout plan looked like. “Chest and triceps on Monday, back and biceps on Tuesday, legs on Wednesday, arms on Thursday, shoulders on Friday. Saturday was two hours of cardio with ab workouts. Sunday was legs again, and repeat,” he says.
This structured gym routine mixed with a strict diet of whole foods and protein-rich meals helped him lose an average of 12 pounds a month. “I saw the most dramatic change in my upper body,” he says. “In general, my arms, chest and especially my back.” The transformation was so rapid at first that his doctors expressed a note of caution. Over time, Hernandez settled into a more stable—and importantly, sustainable—regimen to meet his goals.
Since then, he’s packed on so much strength that he now competes in physique and bodybuilding competitions. His his weight is right where he wants it to be—just under 200 pounds—but he says his journey isn’t over yet.
“Things in your life will not always be easy, and some things will never be in your control, but that doesn’t mean you wont get through it. You can learn a lot if you take the time to learn and read. I’m working on getting more size to my frame, and getting a little stronger.
He also has some simple advice for people who are considering starting their own weight loss regimen and may be looking for some extra motivation. “Keep it simple and don’t overcomplicate the journey,” he says. “Grab a journal. Write down everything—what you eat, how you feel. Make adjustments if things aren’t going the way you want them to go. It’s not about perfection, but progression.”
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
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