Athlete Profile: Community Member Greg Easley

Greg before
Greg before
Never have regrets about the past, only have ambitions for the future. This
is how 52-year-old Greg Easley, a Precision Nutrition community member, feels
about the multitude of experiences that have shaped his journey towards fitness
and health, and what pushes him to keep going.
As the fat but funny kid, Greg lost a bunch of weight early on using a
combination of Weight Watchers, the Scarsdale Medical Diet, and excessive
exercise. By his mid-thirties, after too much running and not enough food, he
gave up exercise completely. However, he continued to follow the only
nutritional guidelines that he knew and that were popular at that time: meat and
fat are bad for you, so bring on lots of bread!
A few years later, when Greg was in his late thirties, the lack of exercise
and poor nutrition caught up with him: he was diagnosed with Type II diabetes.
At the time, this did nothing to spur him into action. In fact, Greg continued
to gain more and more weight. At the last weigh-in during this period, he was
285 lb (129 kg). He admits that he may have been heavier; during this period,
there were times where he would not step on the scale and he rarely let people
take his picture.
Greg continued to live this way for about 4-5 years until he finally woke up
to the reality of his life in 2004. Determined to change the course he was on,
he spent the following year in the gym, and adopted the Zone approach to nutrition: 5
meals a day, adequate protein, healthy carbs and fats. He lost 100 lbs (45 kg),
and was able to get completely off of diabetes medication.
In 2005, just as Greg was getting his life back, he was hit hard with a
genetic disease: autoimmune hepatitis, a condition in which the body treats the
liver as if it’s a transplanted organ and starts attacking it. Because he didn’t
know what triggered it, and went undiagnosed for an extended period of time, his
condition was quite advanced when he finally sought treatment. In fact, he
learned recently that during the initial consultation, his doctor did not expect
Greg would recover.
At this point, Greg was down to 185 lbs (84 kg). He can’t help but think
about how much worse it would have been had he still been his heaviest. As he
says, “I am not sure I would have been able to survive.” But survive it he did –
Greg came out of the hospital at 165 lbs (75 kg) having lost 20 lbs (9 kgs) of
muscle, and looking, he reports, “like a cadaver”.
The drug that saved his life and has kept him in remission since 2006 came
with some nasty side effects. For the year following the diagnosis, treatment
consisted of high dosages of Prednisone — a corticosteroid that mimics the
effects of cortisol, a naturally occurring hormone in the body. The drug
increases appetite and blood sugar levels dramatically, promoting fat storage
and muscle catabolism, and leads to overall muscle loss and fat collection
around the middle. To fight the metabolic effects of the drugs, Greg continued
to lift and do cardio the whole time. Though the training helped keep him sane,
his weight inched back up to 240 lbs (109 kg) while on the medication and it
wasn’t until he finished the treatment course that he found himself settling
around 210 (95 kg) in mid to late 2006.
It was also around this time that Greg started hormone replacement therapy to
combat low hormonal levels that resulted from liver disease. In October of 2006,
he found the treatment that brought his testosterone levels back up to a normal
range for his age and at the same time discovered Dr. Berardi’s work, The
Metabolism Advantage and Precision Nutrition.
But it wasn’t until September 2007, following shoulder surgery in July, that
Greg fully embraced the task of getting as lean as he could. More than anything
it was health driven: Greg and his doctors felt that if he was leaner he would
feel a lot better.
  • His endocrinologist said being leaner would lower estrogen levels and help
    Greg feel better.
  • His immunologist praised what he had done to “shape up” after his recovery,
    and emphasized that good physical conditioning would really help should he ever
    go out of remission.
  • His physical therapist referred to Greg as a “big burly guy”, essentially
    muscular and fat. Greg liked the idea of muscular, but sure didn’t want to be
    fat!
Starting at around 219 lbs (99 kg) and 18% bodyfat, Greg decided that his
goal for the next 6 months was to get as lean as he could while putting on
another few pounds of muscle. With some great help in the Fat Loss for Men
(Advanced) forum in the Precision Nutrition community, he set up his training
protocol and focused on eating 6 meals/day, with lean protein and healthy fats
at each meal. He reduced carbs to green vegetables only and limited starchy,
clean carbs to post-workout and weekly carb-up meals. At this point he was
undereating, taking in only 2200 kcal/day, so he slowly ramped up his intake by
250 kcal every 2 weeks to 3200 kcal/day. He added L-arginine, BCAAs, whey
protein, green tea pills, Greens+, liquid fish oil, and CLA to help support his
nutrition and training.
By June 2008, Greg had successfully lost over 40 lbs (18 kg) scale weight,
adding a little muscle along the way, and realizing that “it’s true: sometimes
you have to eat more to get leaner.” And while he was able to get much leaner by
eating more food, it turned out he and his doctors were wrong about feeling “a
lot better” – he felt “amazingly better”!
Greg, during fat loss phase
Greg, during fat loss phase
This past summer, Greg began the second half of his transformation journey.
His new goal is to gain mass while staying lean. His new training program is
based on lifting 4 days/week, with an emphasis on compound exercises in the 8 to
10 rep range and minimal rest between sets. He aims for intensity and keeps the
workouts less than 50 minutes/session to minimize cortisol production. HITT
sessions and non-exercise walks complement his time hitting the weights.
As for nutrition, he is sticking to the same principles that helped him get
lean:
  • 225 to 250g of protein a day (about 1.25-1.3 grams of protein per pound of
    bodyweight)
  • 100g non-vegetable carbs, plus “unlimited” green vegetable carbs
  • fat from his protein sources as well as fish oil and peanut butter
  • slowly increasing the starchy carbs
Again, Greg’s getting great support and advice from the PN community of
members and moderators, using information in the Muscle Building (Advanced)
forum section to refine his macronutrient ratios and caloric intake.
Taking progress pictures and a simple waist measurement, along with mirror
and clothing fit checks helps Greg to keep track of his progress and what
adjustments he needs. So far, it looks like he has found the system that works
for him – he’s added 4.5 lbs (2 kg) of lean mass in just 2 months and has seen
his waist size come down about an inch.
More progress...
More progress…
Despite his amazing transformation, Greg admits that his mind hasn’t quite
caught up with the changes in his body. “You know those times where you
unexpectedly come across a mirror or walk by a large window on the street that
is highly reflective? When that happens to me, it’s still this bizarre shock. Is
that me?”
He wants to stay healthy and lean while adding muscle, and through
it all he maintains he truly has no regrets about what he has had to go through
to get here. Well, maybe just one: “Damn, wouldn’t it have been great to have
The Metabolism Advantage or Precision Nutrition available in the late 70s?”
Greg, November 2008

About dkpilates

Pilates Instructor, Yoga Instructor, Personnel trainer and Group Fitness Instructor. Don teaches Contemporary and the Authentic forms of Pilates, in the later 90's, Don began his study of Yoga. His study of Yoga includes the Hatha, Iyengar, Bikram, and Astanga disciplines. His other areas of interest in fitness include Martial Arts, Spin, Boot Camp Training, and Weight Training. Don has extensive training and certifications from AFFA, IDEA, MadDog, B-Fit and Polestar. Don Continues his of Pilates education with Michelle Larson in Santa Fe New Mexico. His personal philosophy related to fitness is to aid students in a personalized balance of strength, stamina and flexibility. He is dedicated to design a program specifically for his students independent of the season of their life to create functional movement and help them reach their fitness goals.
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