Transformations Series: Zac Willis

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As a multi-sport college athlete, Zac Willis had always been on a strict exercise schedule, though his transition to a full-time job after graduation lead to less time for exercise, a poor diet, and a significant gain in weight.

After deciding to make drastic changes to both his diet and exercise routines, Zac went from being 70 pounds heavier than he had ever been to competing in the NPC bodybuilding circuit today. Zac’s inspirational story is the latest in our 6 Pack Fitness Transformations Series.

Zac, a 25-year-old native of Roanoke, Virginia, had always been athletic and dedicated himself to basketball, football, baseball, and track. However, upon graduating from college, Zac found less time for exercise and developed poor eating habits.

“After I graduated from college, I had some trouble adapting when I went from being a student athlete to working a full-time job,” Willis said. “I had less time, but more disposable income in my hands, so that combination kind of lead to a lot of poor, unhealthy eating habits.”

Zac’s new lifestyle not only took a toll on his physical appearance, but he also dealt with depression, low self esteem, and low energy levels as his weight rose. However, one day upon looking in the mirror, Zac decided it was time for a change.

“One day, I literally just woke up and looked in the mirror, and it was at that point that I realized that I was probably 60 to 70 pounds heavier than I’ve ever been in my life,” Willis said.

Zac said he started out by setting realistic goals for himself and taking it one step at a time. He first started making it a routine to get to the gym multiple times a week, and started becoming more conscious of his diet shortly after.

“The first step for me was to just get into a routine and get in the habit of going to the gym a few times a week,” Willis said. “Once I got that down, I started trying to make better eating decisions. My diet wasn’t necessarily strict, but I was at least conscious of what I was eating.”

“I felt like as I was making these small steps, I knew I was getting maintainable results. I think a lot of people try to do too much too soon, and they can’t maintain that. That’s where you’ll see that weight fluctuation or that bounce-back.”

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As Zac began to lose weight, his goals started to change when he found a passion in bodybuilding. Immediately drawn to pushing his body to its limit, Zac started to work with a nutritionist to get even more serious about his diet.

“The diet was definitely the most important part for me,” Willis said.  “Even when I was playing multiple sports, I never really understood how key your diet is.”

Having recognized the importance of his diet for bodybuilding, Zac decided to invest in two 6 Pack Fitness Backpacks to help him regulate his diet. Zac’s new Expedition 300 and Expedition 500 allowed him to easily transfer meals during his daily commute to work.

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“Instead of having to put Tupperware in five bags that weren’t even keeping my food cold, I had a lunchbox that came with its own measuring tool for my food and it kept everything cool,” Willis said. “Not only that, I could fit in my gym clothes and my laptop for work. It made life a lot more convenient.”

Throughout 2014, Zac dedicated himself to competing in various NPC competitions, placing 2nd at the 2014 Europa Games in Dallas and making the top 10 at the Texas Shredder Classic. However, Zac is still setting new goals for himself in 2015 and hopes to take it up a notch at competitions this year.

“At first, I was more concerned about what I weighed and my body fat percentage,” Willis said. “Now, my goals are more so competition goals. This year, I want to win an overall title and place top five in a national show. My goals are a little different this year because I’ve gotten to the point where I’m happy with my physical appearance, but now it’s about pushing myself even further.”

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Today, Zac maintains a rigid diet using his 6 Pack backpacks, and also dedicates about two hours to exercise for six days of each week. Though his routine today is strict, he advises others trying to lose weight or gain muscle to take it one step at a time.

“My biggest recommendation would be to make realistic goals. You’re not going to go from 300 pounds to having six-pack abs in two months,” Willis said. “You have to break your goals down. If you sit there and only look at what you want your final results to be when you’re first starting, that can be a little overwhelming and frustrating. Once you kind of recognize your small successes, they can really be motivating.”

In 2015, Zac plans to compete in the Arnold Amateur, Houston’s Phil Heath Classic, and the Junior Nationals in Chicago, and hopes to eventually become an IFBB Pro. That’s quite the transformation from where Zac was two years ago.

You can find more inspirational stories like Zac’s from our Transformation Series here.

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