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​How This Man Lost 60 Pounds, Dropped to 10% Body Fat, and Finally Found His Six Pack

Men's Health logo Men's Health 8/8/2017 Alisa Hrustic

Carl Mcnair © Photograph courtesy of Carl McNair Carl Mcnair When Carl McNair decided to get back in shape, he started where many people do—the treadmill. Once he made his way back into a gym, he had the goal of completing one mile. For one month, five days a week, all he focused on was that one mile.

“The goal wasn’t to change the distance. The goal was to change the time. I slowly went from 20 minutes, and then I went to 17, then down to 16, and then right after I got past the first month, I got down to 11 and 10 minutes,” McNair says.

In about a month and a half, he was down to 9 minutes, so he added in another mile. The new goal? Run 2 miles in 20 minutes. Today, the 45-year-old father of three still runs 2 miles in about 15 minutes nearly every day.

But he wasn’t always so dedicated to fitness. In fact, he used to weigh about 230 pounds with nearly 30 percent body fat (which you can see in the before photo above). “I had man breasts,” McNair recalls, chuckling.

© Carl McNair The culprit? His love for southern cooking. “People in Mississippi eat. I grew up there, went to college there, finished college, and lived for a short moment in Dallas before being relocated to Louisiana,” he says. “Food is everything in both of those places.”

“In Mississippi, Sunday is the biggest eating day. But even on Tuesday, people are having conversations about what they’re going to eat on Sunday. There’s food involved in some kind of way, shape, or form,” McNair adds. “Whenever you’re doing something, there has to be food attached. If you’re going to a game, you have to go out to eat, too. If you’re going to a movie, you have to go out to eat before or afterward. Food is on the program.”

Those meals included fried and processed foods, mountains of pasta, rice, and meat, desserts like red velvet cake, and sugar-loaded teas. On top of what he ate, he also ate a lot of it.

The reality of his weight didn’t hit McNair until a friend made a snide remark about a former overweight coworker.

“He made a joke about the guy and said ‘He’s so big and lazy, he’s probably so lazy that he even eats when he’s laying down.’ It was an absolutely rude thing to say, but the biggest thing that hit me was, in the middle of that conversation, I was actually eating some chicken wings laying down. I got on the phone with my wife, and I said ‘Has it gotten to the point that I’m so big and lazy that I’m laying down while I’m eating?’”

The comment delivered a hard blow to McNair’s ego—but it was the wake up call he needed to hear. Realizing he needed to do something about his unhealthy habits, he turned to articles, experts, and any research he could find.

“I got really clear about what I wanted the results to be. Right now, I’m at 175. I not only wanted to lose weight, but I had an idea of what I wanted my body fat to be and I knew that I wanted to be lean with nice muscle definition—and I wanted to be in shape from a cardiovascular standpoint,” he explains.

About two years ago, McNair started by taking a hard look at what he was eating. Not one gram of sugar snuck into his meals, unless it came from natural sources, like fruit. “I haven’t had a Coke or sweet tea in a couple of years,” McNair says.

His go-to protein sources include chicken and fish, but they’re never fried. While he cut carbs in the beginning, he’s reintroduced them to his diet at a slow rate. Simple carbs, like white pasta, only make their way to his plate twice a month. As for his enormous portion sizes? McNair reeled them in by measuring every single thing he eats.

Once he overhauled his diet, he knew he had to start moving, too. To build up his endurance, McNair worked up to running five days a week. Once he felt like he could run a few miles without constantly losing his breath, he added in resistance training. 

“When you’re out of shape, even when you’re lifting weights, you get tired. If you’re not in shape, you’re not going to be able to get in good weight lifting,” he says. “I’m not a person that believes you need to go as heavy as you can all the time, I’m a person that believes that you should go as heavy as you can without breaking form.” 

Each day, McNair runs for 15 minutes, followed by 35 to 40 minutes of strength training, and 20 minutes of abs exercises. His secret? He doesn’t really stop.

“My resistance training incorporates HIIT into it. In between any sets, I’m into burpees,” he explains. “During my entire resistance training routine, there are three, maybe four, 30-second breaks. There are only 2 minutes of the whole 45 minutes that I’m not doing something.”

While he initially started with total body workouts, McNair now rotates muscle groups throughout the week. So while Monday may be chest day, the next day is all about the biceps and triceps, followed by a day of just back exercises, and so on. He incorporates up to eight or nine different exercises to target a singular muscle group each day. That way, he’s able to hit his muscles from all angles for maximum definition.

As for those shredded abs? His 20-minute daily ab sessions consist of planks, leg extensions, kettle bell swings, and more. The exercises are different every day, but the intensity doesn’t change, McNair says. He focuses only one third of his ab exercises on his midsection, the rest is all about his obliques. 

“To have that side muscle coming in really helps add to the definition,” he says. 

Even though he’s 60 pounds lighter and his waist is 10 inches thinner, McNair’s biggest piece of advice isn’t to plank for 20 minutes every day—or to cut every single food you enjoy out of your diet. To transform your body, you need to know exactly what your goals are, he says.

“My piece of advice is to read and research. You have to learn and be knowledgeable. You need to understand what you want to do,” he explains.

Then, find a workout that makes you feel like you keep going.

“When I’m running those 2 miles, and I get to 1.75, I’m starting to smile at that point,” he says. “You just get hyped. You can see yourself being in better shape, being stronger.”

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