Yuri Diogenes is shredded. The 46-year-old Keller, Texas, resident painstakingly sculpts his physique and competes in bodybuilding competitions, but it wasn’t always this way. In 2010, he weighed 280 pounds, had high cholesterol and needed injections to tame a painful knee.
“The doctor said we can keep doing the injections, but ultimately, I needed to lose weight to see long-term results,” says Diogenes. More than anything, though, he felt like he couldn’t be as active as he wanted, which included playing with his young daughter. He knew he needed to make a change.
That same year, a friend introduced him to a personal trainer. “I was working out, but you can’t outwork a bad diet,” he admits. Armed with a nutrition plan from his trainer, he downloaded MyFitnessPal to help him track his calories and macros — the protein, carbs and fat in his diet. After one year of healthier eating and regular workouts, he was down 100 pounds. That wasn’t the end of his journey, though.
“I was not fit like I am today,” he says. “I lost a lot of fat, but I needed to gain muscle. My ultimate goal was to compete in bodybuilding. It took three more years to build that muscle, and my first competition was in 2014.”
Before dedicating himself to positive lifestyle changes, Diogenes struggled with work/life balance. He worked a late shift at Microsoft, going into the office in the afternoon and leaving at 10 p.m. “Not much was open when I got off work besides fast-food places, so my dinner for many years was fast food, which really contributed to my weight gain,” he says.
When Diogenes began working from home in 2011, the shift helped him eat better, work out more and lead a more regular schedule. He set a calorie goal of 1,800 per day, aiming for 60% protein, 20% fat and 20% carbs, following a strict regimen for one year. Once he began gaining lean muscle mass, he bumped his calories up slightly while keeping the same macro breakdown, and he follows a similar formula today.
CLICK TO TWEET THIS ARTICLE > Yuri went from overweight with high cholesterol to competing in bodybuilding competitions. Read how on the @myfitnesspal blog. #weightloss
His former fast-food habit is long gone. Now, Diogenes eats six small meals each day, so he never feels hungry. “I like everything, but I eat pretty plain,” he says. Breakfast is usually Ezekiel bread and egg whites; for lunch and dinner, he often eats white rice with vegetables and either chicken or fish. He often uses protein shakes as an afternoon snack. At least once per month, he’ll treat himself to a cheat meal, but he makes sure that meal doesn’t turn into an entire cheat day.
Diogenes exercises six times per week, waking up early to go to the gym, focusing on strength training and martial arts, like judo and jiujitsu. He still uses MyFitnessPal anytime he wants to make a change or prepare for a competition, and he enlists the app’s barcode scanner feature when he travels to ensure he stays on track.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself during this time,” he says. “I never want to go back to that place. I want to stay in control. It’s easy to think you’re eating well, but until you count the calories, you really don’t know, and often you’re eating more than you think.”
Diogenes is also a prolific author who’s published 26 books. Most are technical manuals, but one that seems particularly relevant to his journey is “Ready, Set, Achieve!,” which he wrote to help other people take control of their lives, find balance and achieve their goals. He says to create lasting change, you must think of diet and exercise as a lifestyle, not a short-term solution.
“A diet is often for a specific situation,” he says, noting people who lose weight to get beach-ready, for example, are more likely to fall back into their old habits. “But a new lifestyle can help you keep what you achieved. It’s a change in mindset.”
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