How Bodybuilding Changed My Life

Growing up in my younger years wasn’t as cool and exciting as I thought it would be. Coming from a family where genetics wasn’t our strong suit didn’t help much either. Everyone in my family, at least on the male side, was tall and skinny. Generation after generation we all looked the same. We all had relatively good height, but weight and muscle mass was something we all lacked. An average male in my family was roughly 5’10” to 6’0”. Like I said, height was never an issue. The typical weight was anywhere from 160 to 175 pounds. My family genetics weren’t exactly screaming out professional bodybuilder or pro athlete. When I graduated high school, I was 5’10” and weighed 148 pounds. I can only tell you that even though I loved sports, high school athletics wasn’t much fun for me. Sure, track and field was easy and so was baseball, but when it came to contact sports like football, my tiny body paid a price. I remember always being one of the smallest kids on the team. Everyone else looked like monsters in their pads except me. I am pretty sure I didn’t intimidate many on the football field. Tackling drills were never fun when you were the guy going up against kids 50 to 60 pounds heavier than you were. Those hits definitely made themselves felt every time I wrapped up and attempted to make a tackle. I recall many headaches and sore body parts after practice. I know that it’s not an excuse, I was playing a contact sport and knew what the consequences were. I am just simply stating that it would have been nice to hit that growth spurt sometime during my high school years.

After graduating high school in the summer of 97, I enlisted into the United States Air Force. I needed some college money and still wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do with my life. I figured Uncle Sam could help out in both areas. Basic training was another eye opener for me. I flew down to San Antonio, Texas in the summer of 97 to start my military career. Being down in Texas during the months of August and September was brutal. Once again my body paid the price while spending time in that hot Texas heat. When I graduated boot camp, my parents didn’t even recognize me. My body weight had dropped down to around 134 pounds! The lack of proper diet, stress, exercise, and continuous time spent in the heat stripped my body of what little body fat I had left on my frame. I was lean and lengthy without any muscle mass at all. Not exactly the finished project I thought I would look like at the completion of basic training. That tough rugged military look was still out of reach for me. I knew that I would have to work hard to mold something remotely close to that image I so desperately wanted.

During my years in the military is when I really learned about proper nutrition and working out. I latched on to a few of the “regulars” in the gym and began asking questions and picking their brains. They were not the most powerful or biggest guys in the gym, but their physiques seemed to reflect the knowledge they had at building muscle. I am so thankful for the introduction these gentlemen gave to me, and how they took me under their wings to help me get on the right path. I still talk to these guys today, and we still converse on new nutrition habits and new workouts. I have made life-long friendships for myself and I owe all of my early success and knowledge to these guys and to the sport of bodybuilding. Watching and learning from others is the way that we have educated ourselves for many years. There is no such thing as a dumb question, so always be sure to ask about something if you need to, no matter how trivial you feel the question is. It is better to find answers, rather than being left in the dark about something. What might appear as “common sense” to one, might not be so clear to others. Chances are, that if you do not understand something, someone else out their needs help or clarification as well. Always look for answers. That is the only way to get ahead and make changes.

After my military obligation was completed, I was back in the “civilian” world and was now on my own to continue to keep fitness a part of my life. I needed to figure out how to fit fitness into my daily life while still balance a full time job and going to school. In the military, we were given an allotted time every day to work out, and that was fit into the work day. Now, I was left with the same dilemma many people face every day with trying to make time for exercise. I joined a local rec-center, and that is where I developed a friendship with John Yurcik (Lean Body Challenge Winner). John worked out at the same rec-center, but also turned out to be one of my customers on my sales route for work. Odd how our paths crossed in life. Once again I would wind up picking John’s brain on fitness and nutrition while we spent time together. John actually opened the door to the world of bodybuilding to me. Throughout the course of the year, I would see John make the transformation from “bulking” to “cutting up” for competitions. This definitely grabbed my attention, and made me wonder if I would ever be able to do the same thing with my own physique. After John and I talked about his lifestyle when it came to show prep dieting and post show nutrition, I began to think that I could do this. I was eager to throw my hat in the ring. Of course, saying and doing are two totally different things. I believe 5 years passed after I initially was bitten by the bodybuilding competition bug. I wanted to compete, but lacked the drive and mental toughness to do so. I always had an excuse and never really buckled down when it came to the nutrition aspect of the sport. John would always try and motivate and encourage me to do a show and stay the course, but I always backed out. I knew what I had to do, but just didn’t have the focus or desire at the time to do so. This sounds like what many people face every day with setting goals they set out to accomplish. We all talk a good game, but few of us ever follow through with the plan.

mikeFast forward to 2010, and now I am fully committed to stepping on stage. I remained in great physical shape through the years, and was now ready to take the next step. My training and nutrition was definitely something I needed to get use to. Counting macros and changing up schedules to lift, tan, pose, and practice my posing routine took a while to get used to. I stuck with it and had a great support group standing by me the entire way. I wound up placing 1st in the Novice Middleweight class, and also took home the title of “Overall” Novice Champion. It was a huge success and also a dream come true for me. I proved to myself that I had the drive and determination to accomplish anything I put my mind to. I became a champion in what I believe is the toughest sport around. Bodybuilding is such a selfish sport. When I say selfish, this is what I mean by that. There is never a down moment. Every day you need to be spot on with your training and diet. You readjust your schedule around your training. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week you live this lifestyle. It is very stressful at times, but is also very rewarding. In other sports you get to take time off and relax, there is no off switch in this sport. You have to fine tune everything leading up to your competition, and still try to maintain a normal life as well. In the end, you learn how to adjust to this lifestyle and overcome some of the stressful moments. I have no regrets and am very pleased to know that I had accomplished a huge goal I set out to achieve.

As I mentioned before about bodybuilding being a selfish sport, it’s not only true, but the rewards are very gratifying. You get to see this awesome transformation of yourself, both physically and mentally. You discover who you really are and what you can accomplish. I found out while competing that most of the other competitors are all there to help each other out. The support you get from everyone is totally uplifting. You get to exchange ideas and tips on what others do, and make great friendships while doing so. Many people think that it is everyone out for themselves backstage. This from my own experience is the farthest thing from the truth. Everyone knows the sacrifices you have made throughout your competition prep and everyone is there to lend a helping hand. I have not only matured into a well-rounded person because of bodybuilding, but I’ve learned how to overcome what I thought my flaws were as well. I have learned how to look beyond that skinny kid I see in the mirror who has no chance of winning, and have acquired the ability to change my so-called negatives and turn them into positives. I have a much higher respect for myself, and am more confident in everything I do. I owe all of this to bodybuilding, and will forever be grateful to the sport for this. This sport has allowed me to discover who I am and allows me to stand tall and proud each and every day!

…Stay Strong, Stay True.

About the Author

Michael Klamut was the 2011 Lean Body Challenge Grand Champion. Mike is a United States Air Force veteran  (1997-2001) who works as a Radiologic Technologist (X-Ray Tech) during the day, and is a busy husband and father of two during the night. Mike entered his first bodybuilding competition and took 1st place in his Novice weight class (Middleweight) and Novice Overall. He takes great pride in helping others with their fitness goals and hopes to inspire and motivate everyone he comes into contact with. Mike is looking forward to helping all Labrada Nutrition fans reach their personal goal(s) and hopes to help them conquer any obstacle(s) that stands in their way. You can visit Mike Klamut’s website at: