FitAfter45: A lot people want to put on muscle, lose weight or do both. You did a great job at that, so let’s talk about where you were at in terms of your max weight and what things were like.
Vinson Smith: I was at my biggest when I was 19 years old, at which point I was 6’1.5”, 505 lb. What drove me to that point was the loss of my father, which exploded my eating. It got to the point where when I woke up in bed, I couldn’t breathe. That scared me. I went to my cousin’s wedding that year, and I can’t tell you how hard it was for me to get to that recession. That’s when things were at their lowest, and that’s what drove me to get back into shape.
FitAfter45: What did your teenage years look like in terms of physical activity? Did you play any sports throughout your time in school?
Vinson Smith: I was active through my teen years and played a lot of football. I played on my high school team as a defensive tackle and offensive guard. My high school playing weight at that time was around 315-320 lb.
FitAfter45: How did you get back into shape?
Vinson Smith: It was hard going down to 225 after being 505. But for me just getting back into shape, I went back to what I knew from football workouts. I became a football coach, got my certification, and I remember using 7 action steps that kept me focused and motivated, which gave me the results I have today.
FitAfter45: What were the 7 action steps?
Vinson Smith: The first step was getting professional help. Whether it be talking to me, a nutritionist, or going to a local gym and getting connected with a well known personal trainer, just get professional help. The first step is going out and getting real help to look for solutions.
The second step was creating a morning routine. It doesn’t start the moment you wake up – it starts the night before. Prepare yourself mentally, which a lot of the time means sitting down and brainstorming 3 things you have to do the next day, then doing those by 9am. Once the 3 biggest things in your day are done, you can put it on cruise control and focus on the minor things.
The third step was setting yourself up for success. Especially now, you have to become somewhat independent at home with your workouts, so setting yourself up for success is more crucial than ever. Make sure you have everything you need, whether it be nutrition or equipment like dumbbells or bands. Set yourself up for success and don’t give yourself an opportunity to let go.
The fourth step was getting to work. That means physical training. You need to develop that mental toughness and the only way to do it is by putting strain on the body. I’ve quit so many times, and I’ve gotten to points after the first hundred pounds where I tell myself I might be okay, but at the end of the day you gotta put in the work and push through.
The fifth step was creating consistency. Fitness is something that doesn’t stop. I tell everyone I’m the life and death practitioner and once your teeth fall out you still need your dinner – that’s how I view things as far as being a professional. Find parts of staying fit that you truly enjoy because those little things will be what keeps you going.
The sixth step was goal setting. Start by setting big goals and reverse engineer your way towards achieving them with smaller, more attainable goals. I know that in my case, I had no idea I was gonna get down to 225. That just came through 10 pounds here, 12 pounds there, some months back up, and staying focused throughout. Fitness is not cookie cutter, but setting up goals big and small can certainly help make things easier.
The last step was embracing your change. Be happy for yourself and have faith that you can keep it going because when you do reach those goals, it’s a result of months upon months of gruelling dedication. Face yourself every day and embrace who you’re becoming because you really are going to change beyond just the weight loss.
In the end, I made it down to 225, but it was a lifestyle I had trouble maintaining, especially while having to help out clients on the side. All that responsibility comes with trying to live like an athlete, and it was a lot. I was scared to go back up even 5 pounds, and the fear was always there because I still had an appetite. I had my bad days where I’d drink a whole gallon of sweet tea, and I still have to battle my demons to get the results I need.
FitAfter45: As you know, doing what you’ve done requires the utmost mental toughness. How did you manage to stay motivated through the tough times?
To be honest, I was using the wrong motivational tools – particularly food. My reward for a great week would be a big dinner from my favourite restaurant, usually involving pasta. I’d have a great week, eat big one night, gain 10 pounds and never shake it off. In the end it worked, but looking back I feel I could’ve done better by doing things differently. Another thing I’d do is go to Men’s Wearhouse and buy clothing I knew I couldn’t fit into, which kept me motivated. When it comes to rewards, you gotta know who you are. Even with my clients, I tell them they can have a cheat day, but you should know what motivates you and how it’ll drive you towards your goals.
LM’s Take: Vinson is one of the most impressive guys I know and has had a transformation like few others. He has unparalleled drive and is an inspiration to all who are trying to lose weight.