I don’t feature guest authors on Bodybuilding Secrets.Com very often, but the man you’re going to read about today - a man who weighed nearly a quarter a ton, lost 300 pounds, then became a recreational bodybuilder and extreme sports enthusiast - has such an inspiring story to tell, I’m honored to say he’s my friend and to let him share his amazing story, in his words. Please feel free to forward the link to this article to anyone you think might benefit. -Tom Venuto How I Lost 300 Pounds Of Fat And Gained 50 Pounds Of Muscle”: The Unbelievable But True Story Of The Former Fat Guy My name is Rob Cooper. In 1990, I tipped the scales at 475 pounds and my waist was 55 inches (at least). Over the next two and a half years, I lost 288 pounds, dropping to a low of 187 pounds, and I fit into a size 38 pair of jeans. But I wasn’t finished yet… Before: Rob at 475 poundsIn the years that followed, I took up the bodybuilding lifestyle and slowly but surely added over 50 pounds of lean muscle while dropping even more body fat. That brought my total fat loss to over 300 pounds. Today, I weigh 240 pounds of lean muscle and I’m in the best shape of my life How did I do it? It all began with a decision. When I realized that I had hit bottom, I decided I had to do something about my health – and fast! But I didn’t choose to lose nearly 300 pounds of fat – I chose to learn how my body worked, how it used foods, and then began to put the principles I learned into action on a daily basis. I began to use the power of my mind to attract success. I used creative visualization, affirmations and the power of the written word to set intentions. I learned a unique concept regarding thought - that I could create my life exactly the way I wanted it, just by believing it to be so. after (but before bodybuilding): Rob at 187 poundsI began a journey of natural health. I read everything I could on the subject and then implemented a wide variety of ideas from many different disciplines. I substituted natural whole foods for junk foods. I removed fried foods and fast foods and then replaced them with live foods like fruits and vegetables. I began juicing vegetables and fruit, food combining, macrobiotics, fasting and then re-feeding to increase my metabolism. I used some meal replacements. I quit smoking and drinking alcohol. I quit drinking coffee and soda pop and replaced them with herbal tea, water and fresh fruit juices. I used what worked and threw away what didn’t. After several years of bodybuilding: 240 lean poundsAt a weight of nearly 400 pounds, I began walking daily, at least 20 minutes, and more if I felt inspired. I realized that I was not able to do pushups at that body weight and body size, but I could use the stairs in my house to do incline pushups, so that’s exactly what I did. I could only do three or four sit ups, but I realized that if I did only three sit ups per day, at some point I’d become stronger and I would then be able to do six, and then twelve, and then twenty or more – so that’s exactly what I did. I was nowhere near able to see my abs at that point, but I knew that given time, the abs would be there when I dropped enough of the fat that was covering them. I became a vegetarian and continued that practice for over 12 years. During this experience, I learned an enormous amount about health, foods and the power of the digestive system in attaining peak health. I learned about fats – good fats and bad fats. I realized that our body needs essential fats for many metabolic functions and good health, so I added Essential Fatty Acids to my diet rather than following a no-fat diet. Each time I learned a new principle and applied it, I took my weight loss another step further and my health continued to improve. I went from being addicted to alcohol and drugs to being sober and drug free. Rob with Pro Bodybuilder Shawn RayWhen I reached my lowest weight of 187 pounds, I traded my drug addiction for bodybuilding. One reason was because I didn’t want to be skinny. But I also realized that when you give up a negative habit, that leaves a vacuum that must be filled with a new positive habit, or else the old habit may easily return. So I started weight lifting and became addicted to the bodybuilding lifestyle! I started from scratch, but I had read Muscle and Fitness magazine when I was in junior high school and dabbled in some basic training back then, so I knew a little on the subject when I took it up seriously later in life. From nearly 500 lbs to extreme sports adrenaline junkie!I began working out with weights three times a week in addition to my walking, which continued for many more years. When I started, I could only bench press 40 pounds and squat only 80 pounds. But the amount was not important to me, because it was a start. What was important to me was the act of exercise for the sake of exercise. Since those humble beginnings, I’ve learned the power of periodization and I began to change my weight training programs every few months. Today, each training program lasts me no longer than six weeks at most. I realize that my body will adapt and I will hit a plateau if I don’t change routines frequently. Even when I was on a vegetarian diet, I began to put on muscle, but it was a full 12 years after I started, that I learned the power of protein to take my bodybuilding results to the next level. Rob insists that if you have muscle, you should use it! He likes to climb mountains and take 7-day hikes for fun!I had been weight training as a vegetarian for years – with very good results – but wanted to know what effect protein would have on my physique and muscularity. My philosophy has always been to experiment with new ideas, test them and see what results I got before judging. After being vegetarian for so many years and for so many reasons, it was not easy! It took me two years of thinking about it before I made the decision to eat fish, chicken and eggs again. I started with a whey protein powder, but it wasn’t long until I felt a calling to start using animal protein. When I did, I felt a surge of energy course through my body from the very first day of eating meat and I loved it. I began to lose even more fat, break even more fat loss plateaus, and pack on even more muscle. I also noticed that my body temperature increased (from the thermogenic effect) and I even slept better. After 12 years of vegetarianism, Rob decided to go back to meat… looks like those bison burgers have done wonders for the biceps! I was so enthusiastic, my workouts grew to almost two hours in length, including 30 minutes just for abdominal training. Today I train no longer than one hour and treat my abdominals no differently than any other body part. I hit them with intensity, with low reps and focus more on core training than abdominal training. I split my abdominals between workouts, doing upper abs one day, lower abs another, and obliques on yet another day. My training days consisted of two parts, a morning cardio session, where I do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) in a fasted state and then another session in the afternoon. I found that these frequent training sessions kept my metabolism burning all day long so I burned more fat. When I was at my highest bodyweight of 475, I had a 55 inch waist. At my lowest weight of 187, I was a size 38 waist. Now at 240 pounds, I still have a size 38 waist – but I have much more muscle, rock hard abs and a well-conditioned core. I’ve found that with the increase in muscle and with twice the daily energy output, I require more calories than I used to. Every pound of muscle that I gained requires more food to sustain it, so over the years I’ve had to constantly “tweak” and update my food program. Rob is looking at a very bright future… Even though I’ve lost hundreds of pounds and kept if off for years, I feel my best when I continue to exercise on a regular basis and eat only whole, natural foods. I keep my metabolism up with exercise and by following simple bodybuilding nutrition principles. At 38 years of age, I am in the best shape of my life, but I know I have much more I can accomplish with my physique. New goals continue to keep me motivated, but along with setting goals such as reaching a specific body fat percentage, my goals today are more about the journey than the destination. My biggest goal today is to continue to train week in, week out – for life - and to continue to strive for peak performance in every area of my life.