I am firm believer that the mental controls the physical; when I am not mentally happy it instantly leads to me making bad decisions that affect my body. I start eating sweets, stop going to the gym, don’t get proper rest and the list goes on. As I get older I have been more determined to stay fit, mentally and physically.
This month I am spotlighting my friend and coworker, Francisco Castillo, who set a goal and was very focused and determined to make it happen. I was very fortunate to be a part of Francisco’s transformation. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Francisco and that it inspires you to tackle your struggles.
Shawn Branch: You just finished a body building competition where it took months of physical and mental training to prepare. The transformation you went through was huge– it must have taken a ton of hard work to pull off. How did you hear about the competition? What made you decide to compete?
Francisco Castillo: Last year, I witnessed a good friend get himself back in shape by deciding to enter a physique competition. That was the first time I had heard about the National Physique Committee (NPC) organization. I decided to do some research about the organization and was immediately discouraged when I saw the individuals who competed in these types of shows. I remember telling myself, “I will NEVER look like that!” At that point, my self-esteem dropped through the floor.
Several months passed and it was finally time for my friend to compete. His transformation was incredible. I remember him showing me a before and after picture and I was blown away. I could not believe that by following a workout and meal program your body could slowly transform. It seemed like a simple recipe to get your body back into shape.
Physical fitness was something that I’ve always been interested in and although I would work out regularly, I always felt that my weight would always fluctuate and I would never get my body in shape. I had reached a plateau and needed something to continue to motivate me.
When my friend competed for the first time and he transformed his body, I knew that it could be done. I set a personal goal and decided that by entering a physique competition, I had something to work towards – something that would keep me motivated. My workouts and diet became part of my daily routine.
SB: Was your first desire to compete or just get physically fit?
FC: My goal was to get physically fit, and I used the competition to achieve that. In this case, training for a competition kept me motivated. Not only was I aiming to be physically fit, but also in the process, I knew that if I wanted to achieve my goal of competing for the first time, I had no choice but to train as hard as I could.
SB: What was the hardest part getting to the point where you are now?
FC: This entire process was a physical and mental challenge. I had to change the way of thinking when it came to following a rigorous workout and meal plan. After a while, I had to train myself to start thinking about this more as a lifestyle than a daily workout and diet routine that I had to follow.
SB: When did you first register for your first competition? Did you work with anyone in the process?
FC: While I had been training for 4 months (Aug – Dec 2013), I did not officially register to compete in any show until a couple weeks before that actual competition. I did some further research and found that it would make my life easier if I worked with someone who could guide me through the challenge I was about to embark on. In December 2013, I decided to join Team FitBody Fusion and work with some of the best coaches in the industry. I quickly learned that transforming your body doesn’t happen over night. Like anything else in life, we have to work our ass off to achieve anything. In order to get my body in top-notch shape and ready for a competition, I knew I needed to be disciplined and follow a rigorous workout and meal plan and that’s when it became clear that I needed to hire a coach. This was probably one of the best decisions I made. Not only did I have a fitness coach who would check in with me on a weekly basis and alter my workout and meal plans, I also met other FitBody Fusion team members who were also working towards achieving their personal goal.
SB: Did people try to talk you out of doing the program? How important was support from your family and friends?
FC: There were many times when I tried to talk myself out of doing the program. I was my worst critic. Through the process, I was never satisfied with any improvements in my body. I have to give credit to my wife, Lisette, for keeping me motivated. Without her support and encouragement, I don’t think I would have been able to accomplish this goal. She was my biggest cheerleader. Working out on a daily basis (sometimes twice a day), cooking every 3 days, preparing meals, grocery shopping, and at the same time still fulfilling my family obligations were at times a bit overwhelming. Having the support of your spouse is important and will make the process 10 times easier.
SB: How did you stay motivated?
FC: As I said before, my wife and kids were my biggest cheerleaders. When I felt like giving up, they would push me twice as hard. Throughout the process I would also check out pictures of other individual transformations that either accomplished or were in the process of trying to reach fitness goal. This served as a constant reminder that it could be done.
SB: Are you happy with the result?
FC: Now that I look at my before and after picture, I can’t even believe it myself. I’m looking at two completely different individuals. I set a goal a year ago to get in great shape, and while there were times when I felt like giving up, I’m happy I had the courage and motivation to keep going. Today, I’m in the best shape of my life and I couldn’t be happier.
SB: Will you try to maintain your current weight/look? How does your body make you feel?
FC: I worked almost a year to get my body into shape! I probably won’t follow a rigorous meal plan, but this experience has definitely taught me how to eat healthier and be conscientious of the foods I decide to consume. Working out has become part of my lifestyle. Although my body may not always look the way it did the day of my competition, I expect to maintain a lean physique moving forward. I’m more motivated than ever to continue my health streak.
SB: What words of advice/encouragement would you give for someone who wanted to do the program?
FC: If I was able to accomplish it, so can anyone else! One’s health is important and we all have to invest the time and energy to ensure that we live a healthier life. Whether it’s a physique competition or a marathon you want to do, setting a goal will give you something to work towards and keep you motivated.
Francisco’s story reinforces something we all know— most great things come with hard work. You have to be focused and determined to accomplish whatever great things you want in this life. More often than not, the hardest steps to take are the mental ones: setting the goal in the first place and believing in yourself to keep working towards that goal, even when it feels difficult to do.