If you’ve ever looked at a fitness magazine and wondered why you don’t look like that, take comfort from author and fitness model Vince Del Monte’s claims that the bodies we see in the media are not only near impossible to achieve but are impossible (and unhealthy) to maintain.
This picture was taken 24 hours after competing in a fitness show in 2011. The actual truth about how I achieved this condition is a tough pill to swallow, so instead of offering you false hope by promoting my products and services as the answers to a ripped and muscular physique, let’s make sure you’re ready: Can you handle the truth? Well, here it is.
To get into this extreme shape, I began weight training at the age of 22 and have continued to lift consistently for the past nine years (not nine weeks). I was able to take my scrawny, 67.5kg body to a muscular almost 103kg (and not without gaining fat through the ‘bulking up’ process). Understand, it’s impossible to gain muscle without fat unless you’re taking performance-enhancing drugs. I chose not to.
For the four months leading up to this picture, my diet was very strict. I ate every three hours. I ate six different protein sources a day (sirloin, whole eggs, white fish, turkey, chicken, protein powder); four different carb sources a day (brown rice, Ezekiel cereal, quinoa, yams); two different fat sources a day (avocados, mixed nuts); consumed vegetables with every meal; trained from one-and-a-half to three hours a day (six days a week), and eliminated all alcohol and sweets. I went to bed at 10:30pm and rose at 6:00am every day. My weekly grocery and supplement bill was around $300 (about R2 255) a week. I invested $4 000 (R30 000) to hire one of the top bodybuilding coaches in the world. I have a very supportive wife who lives and breathes the same lifestyle, making it easier.
I was also training at one of the best gyms in the country and was surrounded by celebrities and professional athletes to keep me motivated. I grew up in an extremely goal-oriented home so I have my own natural drive to be successful. I was competing for my Pro Card (which I won), giving me huge motivation. Did I mention I was filming my entire transformation to create a brand new product called Stage Shredded Status? That gave me financial motivation, too. I also invested in a professional photographer who shot over 800 images to capture this one. I wouldn’t doubt that some digital retouching was applied to fix some of my cosmetic flaws – and that was after my body was already water-depleted and carb-loaded (sneaky tricks we fitness models know)!
In fact, what most people don’t know about the fitness models and bodybuilders who are promoting the next pill, powder or potion is that these models are scheduled for photo shoots immediately after competitions. This is to ensure the model is in extreme shape after months of dieting, intense training (often with the use of steroids and growth hormone), tanning, posing practice, using diuretics, and other photo-enhancing products and tricks.
Although this type of extreme shape is temporary, many magazines and advertising campaigns hope their prospects buy into the belief that this condition is the standard look, rather than the exception, and never do they explain that this look is temporary and that these models do not look like this all the time. These images may inspire millions, but they also mislead millions. Individuals are encouraged to emulate their idols, not knowing how they really got there.