The Beginning Of Keto Savage, My Story: Part 2
So then what, Crystal and I live happily ever after and Keto Savage became a huge success right? Not quite. Crystal and I were together yes but times were rough. I was dead broke and that created a huge strain on our relationship. I couldn't afford grocery’s, much less a date with my new girlfriend. That was a tough pill to swallow. I didn’t want to portray weakness or appear inadequate. I was able to spoil her when I had the income from the Railroad. Now, our idea of a date was walking around grocery stores to see how we could save money on a meal. I began to rely on credit cards to make ends meet. Something I hated to do but it kept me above water which I’m grateful for. I would swipe the plastic to put gas in my truck, to buy grocery’s, to get a haircut, to buy toilet paper. Anything and everything, credit card to the rescue. I would keep telling myself, “Just get through this time and then I’ll be able to pay everything back in full.”
I believed I would find the solution to my problem. I needed to put in the time and the work until I figured out what that solution would be. The solution didn’t come for a while though. As a result, I racked up about $30,000 in credit card debt. Add that to the $30,000 in college loan debt I had and the mortgage loan I had on my house. I was in freak out mode! Broke as hell, in debt to my ears, and unemployed, what the hell was I going to do?
All this was going down shortly after my last competition. I was secretly grateful that I had all the financial stressors on me. It prevented me from going through a post-show depression. I didn’t have the time or energy to focus on that, I was too concerned with making money. The gym continued to be my only source of relaxation, I would train in a constant state of meditation. I decided I was going to treat my post-show reverse diet differently this time around. I wanted to use John Kiefer’s “Carbohydrate Back-Loading” technique. The principals of carb back-loading are simple... Eat fat and protein throughout the day and consume all your carbs at night. For this to work, the carb sources needed to consist of high glycemic, sugary, carbs. That way, your insulin would spike quickly and return to baseline within a few hours. This would prevent the interruption of your growth hormones while sleeping. I thought this would be a great way to stay lean in my off-season while still eating tons of carbs. I had experimented with back-loading before and I had always liked it. My body responded well to the huge amounts of food and my eating disorder binges were minimized. However, stuffing myself with donuts, cereal, cherry turnovers, and pizza wasn't sustainable. Even though I wasn’t getting fat, I felt guilty for eating the low-quality foods. It felt “wrong”, there had to be a healthier alternative.
I noticed that I seemed to feel the best during the first half of the day when I was only eating fat and protein. As soon as I binged on the high-glycemic carbs, I would crash and feel dead to the world. I decided to try something crazy, I was going to skip the carb load altogether. I was doing carb back-loading, without the carbs! I did this for a few days and felt a little sluggish but I decided to keep pushing through. I lost a little weight and felt leaner so I thought I’d keep at it until I noticed any negative effects. Oddly enough, there were none. After a week or two, I had more energy than ever before. I couldn’t believe it, I must be some strange outlier. I’d tell my training partners that I hadn’t had carbs in weeks and they all looked at me like I was crazy. “What, no carbs?! You’ll never make it through this workout.” I did make it through though, I made it through and trained harder than all them in the process.
My training wasn’t the only improvement, I noticed my mental clarity had shot through the roof. I no longer got the 3:00 pm brain fog that plagued everyone else. I could plug into my work and not get up for hours at a time. My productivity doubled and I felt like Bradley Cooper in the movie, “Limitless.” I was waking up earlier and going to bed later and getting so much more done than ever before, what the hell was going on? I was always told, “Carbs are energy” yet, I had more energy without them. None of this made sense to me and I had to figure out what was happening.
I did some research and stumbled upon this thing called “Keto.” I read that it was first used for epileptic children in the 1920’s, not sure what that had to do with me. Yet, this diet for kids who suffered from seizures aligned perfectly with what I was doing. I dug deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. I downloaded this book called, “Keto Clarity” by Jimmy Moore and read it cover to cover. My eyes opened. Now it all started to make sense. I read every article I could find, listened to every podcast, and read all the research, I was on the ketogenic diet! As soon as I heard the Tim Ferriss podcast with Dom D’Agostino, I was convinced. This was going to be my new lifestyle.
The more I learned, the more interested I got. I began experimenting with my own nutrition and tweaked my food sources and meal timing. I learned about electrolytes and certain supplements to include to maximize performance. I ate only quality foods and removed anything processed. My prior eating disorders seemed to vanish. I became much more in-tune with my body and I knew what it did and didn’t need. Solving the eating disorders helped immensely with my OCD. Being solid in my nutrition gave my compulsive disorders one less thing to feed off of. This had a cascading effect on so many other areas of my life. I began to regain control. However, I was still a long way from success. I had my nutrition figured out but I still had to figure out my relationship with Crystal and my finances…
I doubled down on the real estate endeavors since I already had my realtor license. I worked tirelessly, finding clients, hosting open houses, and networking within the community. I managed to become the selling agent for one of the railroaders. His house became a nightmare! Every time I got close to getting it under contract, something would happen. The boiler went out, the roof needed repair, electrical work needed to be done. It was a never-ending battle of trying to appease both sides. That was a commission check I desperately needed but didn’t think I’d ever see.
I reached out to David Frazier, the guy I tried making the Amazon store with, to see if there was anything I could do for him. David is a master blacksmith and I wanted to help with any admin/marketing work he may have. I started doing his accounting work, reconciling his books and making his budgets. Most of his work was physical but, he needed to have more of an online presence. He needed a website so I taught myself how to code and use WordPress. There were so many things I needed to learn and I happily dug into acquiring new skills. I knew they would be beneficial later in life. I would stay up all night watching tutorials on YouTube and Udemy to further my knowledge. David creates a 3-D rendering for all his projects to present to his clients before he ever strikes an arc. So, to create more value, I taught myself how to use Google Sketchup and create accurate 3D designs.
The work I did for David was great but it wasn’t paying the bills, I was still digging deeper and deeper into cc debt. I talked to the manager of the Gold’s Gym I was training at to see if they had any open positions. They did! He fixed me up with a front desk sales position. After that, I lived at the gym. I woke up early and worked on David’s books. Then, I headed to the gym to get some hours in. I closed the gym and trained after hours. I'd get home and prep all my meals for the next day. I'd get a few hours of sleep then repeat the process. It was a humbling experience to go from making the money I was with the railroad and then drop to minimum wage at the gym. After the gym closed I would have to take out all the trash, clean the bathrooms, and pick up all the weights. I would smile at myself thinking wow, from high-end manager to low-end janitor, I’m really moving up in the world…. I tried to stay positive and optimistic throughout it all, at least I had a job.
However, I still wasn’t making enough to pay the bills. Both were minimum wage and I had quite a few expenses. I had a mortgage to pay, college loans to pay off, and standard living expenses. I needed something else. I reached out to my uncle Mark who owned his own business. Mark built his business, Personalized Bottle Water, from nothing. I respected him for what he had accomplished as a businessman. I use to help him when I was a kid, running the label line and making deliveries. I asked if there was anything I could do for him remotely. He did some thinking and thought I could get into sales. Perfect, I’ll take it! They would send me a ton of cold leads and I would call on them trying to convert them to paying customers. Let me tell you, cold calling is another humbling experience! I would spend hours on the phone, “Hello, this is Robert Sikes at Personalized Bottle Water. I’d love to help you with your custom labeling/branding needs.” On and on an on, I got really good at leaving voicemails! I gladly did the work. I needed the money and I knew the sales skills I was developing would help me later in life.
This was one of the hardest times for Crystal and I. I worked all damn day and most of the night. My stress was through the roof and I had no time or money to treat her at all. She never asked for much but I couldn’t even give her that. We would talk a little throughout the day but it was always small talk and then I’d go back to work. Since so much of what I did was on the computer and could be done from home, I never left the “office”. At the time, she didn’t want to train with me so I couldn’t even spend time with her at the gym. I noticed myself becoming more and more bitter towards her. I felt that I was doing everything I could do dig myself out of this hole. Why couldn’t she understand and support that? I was blind to the fact that she supported it the whole time. All she needed was five minutes for a hug or a moment of kindness. I didn’t even give her that. I started to pick apart all the things she did that I didn’t agree with. She used to smoke and that drove me crazy. She wasn’t near as healthy as she could be with her food and that pissed me off. She wouldn’t train with me, she wouldn’t try keto, she wouldn’t try and find a better job, on and on and on. I was being completely unfair to her. I loved her so much, I just didn’t know how to show it. I didn’t know how to see a light in the world because of the financial darkness that seemed to suffocate me. It was beginning to consume me in a very negative way.
STARTING KETO SAVAGE
I was so focused on surviving that I lost my sense of self? Who was Robert Orion Sikes? I felt like I was juggling so much that things were beginning to slip. I’d mess up a sale for Mark. I’d miss a tax payment for David. I’d forget Crystal’s Birthday. I was beginning to lose it. I was so sick of feeling sorry for myself and so exhausted from always trying to build myself back up. It felt like I’d get ahead and then fall back farther than before. One day I remember getting my check from Gold’s and feeling like I had a little bit of breathing room. I felt like I wouldn’t have to struggle to buy grocery’s that week. On the drive back home, my clutch went out in my truck and I had to spend $850 dollars to get that fixed. No groceries and more cc debt. It seemed as though I was in a downward spiral and no matter how hard I worked, the deeper I would fall.
I began having suicidal thoughts. Driving home from work, I would ponder the idea of driving as fast as possible into the Spokane bridge. I didn’t want to die to escape my reality. I wasn’t afraid of the work. I wanted to die because I believed others would be better off without me. I felt like I was a weight on David, on Mark, on my family, and on Crystal. I knew they all loved me which is what made it that much harder. I would rather them all abandon me and focus on their own happiness, not concern themselves with mine.
I broke down after a particularly hard conversation with David on how I had messed up something else. I was laying on the floor of my office in tears and confused about what to do next. I got into a fight with Crystal the night before, I felt like I was losing David as a friend, and I couldn’t see any end to it all.
I went over to the wall where I had a picture of my first competition. That competition was the hardest thing I had done in my life up to that point. It took more effort than anything else I had done before or since. After it was over, I felt more accomplished than I ever had before. I realized that I hadn’t achieved anything that great in the 4 years since. That realization hit me hard, how pathetic. I grabbed a dagger I kept by my bedside and forced it into the picture, right between my eyes. I made myself a promise. I wouldn’t remove that knife until I had accomplished something of greater magnitude.
I got up, jumped in my truck, and drove to the middle of nowhere out in the woods. I prayed, meditated, and tried to gather my thoughts while I watched the sun go down. I knew the path I was on wasn’t sustainable. No matter how much work I did, I was still losing more money than I was making. I was working harder to make more money and that would result in damaging more relationships. What could I do? I asked myself one simple question. What can I, Robert Orion Sikes, do to add the most value to the most peoples lives? What legacy can I see myself leaving? I thought about my skills and my passions. I thought about what I loved doing and learning. I thought about the life I would want to live and began working backward from there. I loved fitness, I loved nutrition, I loved motivating and teaching others. I loved science and research. I loved the feeling I got when I pushed myself beyond what I previously thought possible in my training. I loved business and networking. I took stock of what I loved and what I was good at and could become great at. I thought about how I could combine them together to be symbiotic in nature and help build on one another. That became the beginning of Keto Savage.
At first, I didn’t know what I wanted to call it. I still have the piece of paper where Crystal and I scribbled down a bunch of potential names. These included things like “Natty Keto Fit and Keto Fury.” We decided on Keto Savage because I wanted Savage to evoke a lot of emotion. To be Savage is to be relentless towards your goals, towards your ambitions, and to the day-to-day grind. I believe everyone has so much potential, they are just scared to attack it with ferocity. Reach deep into your soul and conjure up the primitive savagery that we are all born with. Leverage that energy towards your life’s purpose. That is the underlying message behind Keto Savage.
Ok, so now what? I’ve got this business that I’m trying to build but how do I make it a success? How do I use it to add value to others? I wanted to teach others what I had learned thus far about the ketogenic diet. However, I wasn’t sure how to market myself and reach a large audience. I was addicted to Gary Vaynerchuk's content. One of the common themes he talks about is leveraging the power of social media to connect with people. So, that is exactly what I did. I created a Keto Savage Instagram and Facebook. I started a podcast. I used the web design skills I had learned working on David’s website to create ketosavage.com. At the time, I didn’t have money for a camera so I used my phone to create YouTube videos and quick clips. My first several videos were all recorded in my closet because that was the only quiet space I had at the time. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and it was obvious. Yet, it felt right! It felt like I was working on something with a great purpose. I felt like this had potential to be great. This was something I was excited to put my head down and grind on for the next several years if necessary.
I decided I was going to write a manual that I could distribute to anybody willing to read it. I thought it would be a great credibility indicator for me and possibly even a source of income. I put my head down for a month and wrote the entire thing. It would cover all I had learned up to that point. I wanted it to be a valuable resource for anybody wanting to use the ketogenic diet for their own benefit. After I wrote it, I had my dad proofread and edit it for me. He tore it apart. I was so proud of the work I had done and I was so excited to get my father’s opinion on it. I’ll never forget the day that we were all sitting around the dinner table and I asked Dad what he thought of it. His words knocked the breath out of me. He thought nothing I wrote had any scientific basis. Nothing was founded on fact. He told me I would be doing a disservice to anybody that read it. He feared I would be endangering the health of anybody that applied the principals I wrote about. I honestly didn’t even know how to respond. There is nobody I would rather impress than my own father. Yet, here I was, offering something I was incredibly proud of only to be shot down.
I knew in my heart that what I was doing was right. I knew that the business and brand I was building had potential. I took the sting of his words and put them behind me forever. I vowed to stay true to the message I was trying to send and I was going to be successful with it no matter what. With or without the support of my closest family. In hindsight, I’m thankful for his words. They were a great lesson in stoicism. I can’t control the way others think. I can only control my own actions and my own thoughts. Rather than let his words be a weight on me, I leveraged them into the ember that made my fire burn that much hotter.
THE GIFT OF ADVERSITY
I don’t believe things get better randomly. I don’t think you get lucky after going through a hardship simply because. Adversity is the catalyzing factor that improves your situation. It’s a necessary evil that becomes a positive. Every success I’d experienced up to that point was a result of a very trying time. What could I introduce to my current situation to make things more adverse, more chaotic, and yet, more likely to change??? How about a competition! Going through a competition prep is the hardest, self-imposed thing I can imagine. I figured I’d compete and leverage that adversity so that I may be able to tap into the clarity it provides. I’ve never been one to remove things to simplify my situation. I’m more the type that adds things until the correct path is revealed. That is exactly what I did in this situation. This competition prep was going to be a bit different though. I was going to do it broke, with a girlfriend, working four jobs, while starting a business, and in a ketogenic state. How in the hell does that make sense??? It doesn’t, that’s why I did it. It was either going to break me or I was going to break through to the next level of life. Buckle up.
KETO COMPETITION PREP
There is a strange mental shift that occurs when you commit to doing a competition. It’s an on/off switch, there is no middle, no halfway. When I commit to doing a show, it’s game over, everything else gets put on the back burner. There is no cheating, no fudging the numbers, no half-assing the workout, no dodging the macros. It’s all in, 100% of the time, every time. This competition prep was going to be no different. The worse feeling you can have at the end of a contest is the thought that you could have done something more. That sense of regret is debilitating and it scares the hell out of me. I never want to find myself in that position, never want to regret the effort I didn’t put in towards a competition. To work so hard for so long only to come up short isn’t worth it. I would rather fail knowing I couldn’t have done anything more than fail knowing I held back.
I didn’t know of any other ketogenic bodybuilders at the time so there was no mentor I could turn to for help. I learned to listen to my body and be very intuitive with all my macronutrient manipulations. I would tell fellow bodybuilders what I was doing and they all assumed it wouldn’t work. They told me, “Carbs are muscle sparing.” “You will look flat on stage.” “This will never work.” I heard it all, I tuned them out. I didn’t know what I would look like on stage. I didn’t know if this would work. I knew how great it made me feel compared to what I had done in the past and I saw no need to change that. If nothing else, I would learn so much in the process. I could be a guiding light for others going down a similar path in the future. I put my head down, ignored the naysayers, and got to work.
Crystal rallied behind my cause and understood what I was trying to do. She didn’t like it but, she understood it. She was an absolute angel throughout my entire contest prep. She cooked all my meals and even started training with me. I don’t know how I managed to stay on top of my workload throughout the process but I did. I became a freaking machine. Wake up, work four jobs, eat my meals, train for 2 hours, build Keto Savage, repeat. I would sleep 3-4 hours a night and that was it. I’m not sure how I maintained that degree of intensity for five months but I did. I was fueled by my desire to do something that had never been done before. To push the limits of what was “possible”, and to leave a legacy I was actually proud of.
Most competitors tend to taper their carbs and fats throughout the course of a prep. I know athletes that have gone as low as 20grams of fat a day to lean out. They will typically keep protein high throughout the prep, often above 300grams. The more I learned, the more I realized this was a disaster. With fats and carbs so low, gluconeogenesis was used to convert protein into an energy source. No wonder they all walked around like zombies. I decided to take a very different approach. I figured I would try and keep fat as high as possible as that was my primary source of energy. I didn’t need the carbs so those stayed under 20 for the entirety of my prep, sometimes as low as 5. I instinctively thought to make protein my most manipulated variable. When prepping for a show, my goals change. The primary focus shifts from building muscle to getting as lean as possible. All while maintaining as much muscle as the body allows. With that in mind, I wasn’t as concerned with keeping protein very high. I knew ketones were muscle sparing. I assumed I would suffer minimal muscle loss as I dropped my protein intake.
My prediction was correct! By the end of the prep, my protein was as low as 65 grams, a number all my fellow competitors couldn’t even fathom. My fat stayed elevated throughout and my ketones were through the roof. I was hitting record numbers on my lifts despite the caloric deficit. This was a pretty clear sign that I had lost very minimal muscle mass if any. Since I didn’t have the stored glycogen to retain any fluids, my skin was paper thin. I had vascularity I never thought I would be able to achieve naturally. Another huge benefit was that my mental clarity was sharper than ever. I’m not sure if this was due to the elevated ketones, the minimal body fat, or some other factor but, it was a game changer. I improved every day while my competitors started performing worse and worse. Don’t get me wrong, it was still incredibly difficult. No contest prep is going to be easy, I don’t care what diet you are on. I was still hungry and there were times when I would feel like I was on the verge of burning out. However, there was one thing I knew with absolute certainty. This method of prepping for a competition was so much more sustainable than methods I had used in the past. I didn’t have near the hormonal fluctuations because I didn’t have to drop my fat low at all. My world didn’t revolve around meal timings because I was only eating once or twice a day instead of six or seven times. Another huge benefit of prepping in a ketogenic state was how I handled peak week. Unlike other competitors, I didn’t have to manipulate my water or sodium. I didn’t have to load up on mountains of carbs the night before the show. I didn’t have to worry about spilling over and looking soft after so many months of hard work. None of those variables applied to me. I didn’t have the glycogen to retain the water and I wasn’t worried about my carb intake. I consumed a ketogenic caloric refeed the night before. It had some additional fat and protein but that was it. I assume the extra calories would help fill out my muscle, much like a carb load would. Again, I didn’t have any frame of reference but it made intuitive sense to me at the time. The question was, would it work on show day or was all this too good to be true?
KETO BODYBUILDING DEBUT
I was scheduled to compete in two events. The GBO show in Spokane WA and the WNBF competition in Marysville WA. They were about 2 weeks apart from each other. I had tried to peak for the WNBF show as it was my primary focus. I didn’t even plan on competing in the GBO show at first. However, I realized it would be a great way to test my peaking strategy before the WNBF competition.
On the morning of the show, I began my day like I did every day during the entire prep. I woke up, meditated, drank my keto coffee, and visualized what lay before me that day. Win, lose or draw, I was happy with the intensity of my training and degree of disciplined I had put forth. I got to the venue and had some time to spare before stepping on stage for prejudging. I ate a keto brick and touched up my tan. All the other competitors were milling about similar to how they do at all shows. Everybody was pumping up, applying tanner, eating rice cakes, or listening to music. There were two stark contrasts between myself and all the others. I was drinking ten times more water than everyone else and eating copious amounts of fat. On show day, most competitors are very stringent on their water intake. They don’t want to risk “spilling over.” I didn’t have to worry about that so I was chugging away. I nearly drank a gallon before I stepped on stage for the first time. The other primary difference was the fat intake. I had consumed 90 grams of fat before stepping on stage whereas everyone else was munching on rice cakes. I don’t miss those damn rice cakes one bit! The venue was very cold. I spent most of my time bundled up in a heavy blanket by a small space heater, waiting for my time to step on stage. I was about to find out if the last 4.5 months of incredible adversity had proven itself fruitful. I was given the 2-minute mark, time to rise and conquer.
As I stepped on stage and began hitting my poses, I could tell something was different. My body was responding much more than it had in years past. I could feel the blood surging through my veins as my vascularity reached a level I had never had before. My skin was paper thin and every single muscle contraction was visible by the judges. Everything seemed to improve with each pose the judges called. I knew with absolute certainty, I was the most conditioned competitor on stage. Everything seemed to click, there was no second-guessing anything. I looked down at my quads and I could see every single muscle fiber pop when I made a move. The nerves were gone and I was confident in how I looked in front of the panel of judges. When it was time for the pose down, it was lights out. The music kicked off and the competition was fierce. There were a lot of other great athletes there that day but nobody had the level of conditioning I had. I had looked great when I prepped using carbs but, this was something different. I had redefined muscular definition.
I was awarded the overall prize which included a sword and an all-expense paid trip to Cancun. I had realized one of my dreams. I was now a pro bodybuilder! I was handed the microphone and asked to speak. I turned to Crystal in the crowd and thanked her for helping me throughout this whole journey. I thanked everyone for being there and supporting the sport. I thanked God for giving me the fortitude to see it through to the end. I handed them the mic, congratulated all the other competitors, and smiled all the way home. I proved the ketogenic diet was an effective protocol for competitive bodybuilding.
There was not much time to celebrate. My next show, my main show, was in a few short weeks. I had to get back to the grind and not let the ego distract me from the task at hand. I didn’t even talk about the win. I didn’t share the results with anyone at my gym. I wanted to stay hungry and be strong to the finish. This next show was all that consumed my mind. My best friend Charley, my parents, and a few other close friends would be attending the WNBF show. I didn’t want to disappoint them. I didn’t want to disappoint Crystal after all that she had done for me. I didn’t want to disappoint my audience and my fans. I didn’t want to disappoint myself. I knew know that keto could work, now I had to optimize it to work at 100% for this show. Time to get serious.
Crystal and I booked an Air BNB not far from the venue a day before the show. We drove in and got settled in our room. I had the competitors meeting, weighed in, and took my drug test. My spirits were good. I felt confident in my condition. I was a little concerned about some swelling I had been experiencing in my ankles. The long drive led to some water retention and I wanted to ensure that it flushed out before stepping on stage. After the competitor meeting, I met up with Mom and Dad who had flown in a few hours prior. We all went to the Air BNB so that I could eat my keto refeed meal and prepare for the coming day. As we all sat around visiting, I looked around the room and felt so blessed for this opportunity. My parents were there supporting me. My girlfriend was there by my side. My best friend traveled a long way to be with me as well. I was overtaken by a sense of pure gratitude. I handed my mom a letter I had written earlier that day. She opened it up and began reading. At the time, she didn’t realize I had any plans of leaving Washington. She assumed that I had established myself there. She was very sad about it but accepted it for what it was, assuming we would not be able to see each other very often. Little did she know, Crystal and I had planned to move back to Arkansas that year. The letter revealed this plan and it touched her dearly. We would have all the family together again and this meant everything to her. That was a very special moment that I’ll never forget. Family is everything to me and I was so grateful to be able to bring us all together again. They left for the night, wishing me best of luck in my competition the following day.
Crystal and I woke up at 4:00 am to apply the dream tan solution, a lengthy but necessary process. As we were applying the tan, I looked in the mirror to see if I was retaining any fluids. None, I was as dry as a bone. My condition was on point and I knew I had timed everything perfectly with my peaking strategy. Time to head to the venue and put me up against the other competitors. Bodybuilding is generally one of the last divisions to compete so I had plenty of time to kill. I walked into the audience and visited with my folks and my friends for awhile. Like most shows, I spent most of the time in a deep state of meditation. About 1 hour before I stepped on stage, I was overcome with a huge surge in emotion and I couldn’t contain it. I walked outside and sat on one of the lawn chairs away from everyone else. I began to reflect on everything that had transpired up to this point. The financial uncertainty, the tension with Crystal, the training, the nutrition, the depression. This had been the most challenging 4.5 months of my life and I didn’t know how to deal with that realization. I burst into tears but they weren’t tears of sadness. I couldn’t stop smiling while I was balling my eyes out. I had done the impossible and came out victorious. I had proved this ketogenic strategy worked. I had fallen deeper in love with Crystal and I had the support of my family and friends. I had scraped up enough money to move back to Arkansas. I had won! No matter what the judges said that day, I had won! I pulled out my camera and recorded a v-log right then, tears and all. I wanted to document this moment to have for future reference. I was on top of the world and nothing could shake me. I was more content in that moment then I had ever been. I stared deep into the eyes of adversity and kicked its ass. I walked back inside to prepare for the judging. Regardless of the placing, I was supremely happy with the outcome.
I placed second. I battled it out with some other great competitors and fell short of the overall title. The winner looked great and I proudly shook his hand as I congratulated him. The camaraderie amongst other competitors at this event was admirable. We were all there to have fun and be the best we could be. Nobody wished any ill-will towards one another and I was proud to be involved. My spirits weren’t broken at all from the second place finish, I won before I ever stepped on stage!
After the show, we all headed to a nearby steakhouse to celebrate. It was a beautiful sight to have all my closest friends and parents there at one table. They supported me in my endeavors and were a part of this journey. I ate a massive prime rib and devoured a huge keto brownie that Crystal had prepared for me in advance. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. There is no greater feeling. To push oneself this hard, have the support of your loved ones, and come out victorious. I was in heaven.
21 DAY, 4,000 CALORIE CHALLENGE
Typically, competitors binge and overindulge for several days following a competition. This often results in extreme weight gain and uncontrollable eating disorders. I know this because it has happened to me in the past. This was the reality of my post show experience following my first three competitions. In fact, I gained 20 pounds within 36 hours after my first competition. This experience is referred to as post-show “rebound”. It is rarely talked about because so much guilt surrounds the topic. I was determined to avoid this after my keto competitions. I wanted to test the efficacy of the ketogenic lifestyle from a post-show perspective. Would I gain a ton of fat? Would I develop another eating disorder? Would it have a similar effect to what I had experienced before while eating carbs? I honestly didn’t know. I wanted to document the experience in its entirety. Contest prep, peak weak, show day, and post-show, everything! The best way for me to test the post-show effects of a ketogenic contest prep was to drastically increase my caloric intake. I knew competitors were going to overindulge regardless of diet. I wanted to portray what would happen if they followed the ketogenic lifestyle. I replicated Jason Wittrock’s 21-Day Challenge and documented the entire thing on my YouTube channel. The rules were simple, eat at least 4,000 calories a day while following a ketogenic macro ratio. At the end of my prep, I was only consuming 1,650 calories a day. I figured more than doubling that would test my body’s post-show response and I would learn a ton from the process. I didn’t know if I was going to blow up like a balloon or stay shredded but I was definitely curious to find out. I also thought the structure from continuing to count my macros post-show would help with my psyche. The results blew my mind.
At the end of the 21 days, I had only gained 8 total lbs and increased body fat by 1.2%. Interestingly enough, all my blood work improved dramatically. I pretty much cut my triglycerides in half! These results were far from what I expected and I couldn’t be happier with them! Following a ketogenic protocol immediately post-show was effective in minimizing fat gain. This was a perfect way to reverse diet after competing. I don’t recommend 4,000 calories BUT, I can say that a keto reverse diet will minimize a negative rebound. This completed the ketogenic competition prep journey. I had found a superior method to anything I had done before. The keto diet proved effective during my contest prep. It worked beautifully during peak weak and show day, and it proved effective as a reverse diet. If I had this success, I knew other competitors could as well. This could revolutionize the way athletes prepared for a competition. Since this realization, I’ve made it my focus to share my results with as many people as possible.
MOVING BACK HOME
It would have been awesome to relax after all the chaos from the competition and the 21-Day challenge. However, relaxation is a concept I know nothing about. Crystal and I put our heads down and prepared for our move to Arkansas. I decided to keep the house as an investment property and was lucky enough to find a responsible tenant. We wanted to keep the moving process as simple as possible. We sold everything we could to make some money for the trip and downsized from all the unnecessary stuff. I built a huge plywood box that mounted on the back of my truck and we loaded all our belongings inside. I’m not going to lie, we looked like a redneck bunch, to say the least. Crystal, myself, and our chihuahua Jack, loaded up in a plywood box, traveling across the country from Washington to Arkansas. I’m sure everyone we passed pointed and laughed. That didn’t stop us though, we were high on life. We stopped in every state between WA and Arkansas to train at a local gym. We didn’t miss a single workout during the whole 6-day move. We tried to save as much money as we could and avoided getting a hotel room whenever possible. Instead, we camped out in our vehicles or threw up a hammock. As luck would have it, every time we tried to sleep in a hammock, we got caught in a torrential downpour.
I documented the whole trip on my YouTube channel. I knew it would be something worth looking back on later in life. The trip itself was chaotic but, in hindsight, I loved every minute of it. I tried to make the whole ordeal enjoyable for Crystal. We stopped in Buffalo Wyoming and stayed at the Historic Occidental Hotel. I had stayed there when I first moved to Washington and I wanted her to experience it. The hotel was built in 1880 and housed guests like Butch Cassidy and Teddy Roosevelt. It was an iconic piece of history and I wanted to make the time for her to see it as well.
The trip was exhausting, to say the least, but Crystal and I made so many memories along the way. Once in Arkansas, we spent several weeks visiting family and getting organized. My parents were spending three weeks in Australia so we stayed at the house and watched over the livestock. During that time, we developed a game plan for our lives moving forward. We decided to keep costs low and maintain the “minimalist” lifestyle we seemed to have adopted. We signed a year lease for a cheap 2 bedroom townhouse in Fayetteville close to where I attended college. We planned to put out heads down, save money, and build the foundation that our future would be based on. That is exactly what we did.
When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. That’s what they say right? Well, that’s true but it damn sure ain't easy! Since I’ve been back in Arkansas I’ve vowed to pour everything into my work, zero distractions. We kept costs low and maintained a minimalistic lifestyle on purpose. I didn’t want anything to get in the way of my endeavors. I’ve focused on creating content and documenting the process with a fierce intensity. I poured myself into Keto Savage with the same kind of intensity I put into my contest prep. As a result, I’ve been able to build it organically from the ground up. I focused on creating an informative podcast. Trying to bring the words of thought leaders to the ears of the public. I’ve engaged in many n=1 experiments alongside people like Danny Vega. I documented all these experiments on my YouTube channel through daily videos.
I’ve networked with leaders in the field to collaborate on game-changing projects. I’ve been able to build up my client base to a point that is effectively paying my bills. I’ve been invited to speak at conferences such as Keto Con in Austin Texas and Low Carb USA in San Diego California. I’ve since rebuilt my website. My goal is to create a resource for anyone interested in living a ketogenic lifestyle. I’ve involved Crystal as much as possible and built things with the intention of her taking an active role. I am currently starting a food business. and learning to create, manufacture, and distribute a ketogenic performance bar (Keto Brick). Every single day, I learn something new, meet someone amazing, and fall deeper in love with the life that I am building.
THE LONG GAME
I can’t tell you where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing in the next 6 months, much less the next five years. However, I can promise you this, I’ll be loving every single second of it. There is no roadmap to life, no rulebook. You simply have to live as best you know how and make the most of what you have. That is exactly what I intend to do with my life. I have tasted the bitterness of working an unfulfilling corporate job and I have no intentions of going back. One emotion I can assure you I’ll never experience is that of regret. I’m giving this life and the opportunity I have before me the maximum effort. There will be no holding back. It’s not about the money and it’s not about the fame. It’s not about the superficial bullshit that seems to plague the majority of our society. It’s about the legacy. It’s about living a life that you can be proud of. I guarantee you I’ll make mistakes and I guarantee you that I'll have failures. I also guarantee you I’ll win this thing called life. When you know you aren’t going to give up and you’re ok with putting in the work, day after day, anything is achievable. I’ll never sacrifice my integrity, I’ll never take a shortcut, and I’ll never forget why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m playing for the long game ladies and gents, and I’m excited to encounter all the adversity along the way. I’ve fallen in love with the process and the climb more than the destination. With that kind of mentality, I can’t lose.
Now, as this short (but actually quite long) bio comes to an end, I’d like to keep your attention for one more moment. I owe YOU a sincere moment of thanks. Thanks to YOU, I am able to live a life dedicated to my passions. I thank YOU and I appreciate YOU and I freaking love YOU with all that is in me. If it weren’t for YOU, there would have been no reason for me to write this. There would be nothing to read. There would be no Keto Savage. There would be no Keto Brick. There would be none of this. I owe YOU my everything. Every second you give me, every "like" on social media, every share, every word on your lips that has anything to do with me, EVERYTHING, is my oxygen! Without YOU, there would be no me. So Thank YOU for that. Please let me know if there is anything I can ever do for you. I truly care about YOU.
A PLEA TO DO
One more thing before I leave you…. There were two reasons I wrote this bio. The first was to give you a background on me. I figured you would appreciate the rest of my content more if you understood the place and the person from which it came. However, the second reason is much deeper. I wanted to illustrate my life up to this point with a reasonable degree of detail so that it would remove any questions. Questions on whether or not I was given some great “break” in life that made this whole journey achievable. If the bio didn’t answer that question with enough certainty, let me answer it now…NO. I didn’t get a break. I worked my ass off to get where I am now. You may think I’m reiterating this point so that I can boast a little or put myself on a pedestal. That is not my intention at all. I am making this point for one simple reason. I want to illustrate that YOU, whether you have everything going for you or nothing going for you, can create the life you aspire to live. It won’t be easy. There will be adversity all along the way. GOOD, that’s what you want. That’s what you need. There is no second chance at this thing called life. You get one ride and that’s it. Don’t play it safe now and be filled with regret as you lay on your deathbed. If there is something you want, go get it. I encourage you to DO. It is so much better to fall in failure than to stand in mediocrity. The summation of those small failures, combined with your desire, discipline, and dedication, will result in the greatest thing you can ever imagine. A life you can be proud of.
READ PART 1 HERE