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How The 90 Day Challenge Winner Won
BowTiedHusky Gives Us His Exact Plan To How He Won The Challenge and 1 Ethereum
Welcome! This post is a very special and extremely insightful one. We are going have the winner of the 90 Day Transformation Challenge, BowTiedHusky, give us his exact breakdown on how and why he was so successful.
This insight is invaluable as you get to see what it takes from ground 0 to fix your health and fitness.
His success was nothing but extraordinary to say the least, and if he can make this progress pushing 50 years old, there is 100% no doubt you can as well, especially if you are a guy in your 20’s or 30’s.
I won’t say much more as his post is perfect and lays out the map for success perfectly.
After the 90 Day challenge, I started reviewing my notes and training logs to begin charting the course for the follow-on round. As I started, I saw some stuff that might be useful, pinged Ox to see if he’d be interested in including any of it on his sub and here we are.
First, I must say this was an amazing experience, as I’ve made many friends in the process. The DMs blew up with supportive messages and even had one competitor who told me he planned to use my before and after photos to encourage some of his family members.
So, my hope is there’s some information in here that will help someone else either recapture their fitness or encourages folks not to lose it in the first place.
2021 - Couch to 90 Day
2021 has been quite a year for the Husky. Here’s a quick review with some info on my approach leading up to and during the 90 day Ox challenge.
Before I dive into that, I’d like to take a second to thank Ox. I would have never believed I could make this much progress in 12 weeks, and it’s definitely a positive, life-altering experience. I’m excited and looking forward to see where the next 90 days leads. Add to that, a cartoon Ox got both myself and my two teenage kids consistently hitting the gym which will provide health benefits for the future.
Also would like to give thanks to BowTiedHeifer, as she has graciously shared Ox with us for the last 90 plus days. I’m sure Ox answering DMs at all hours of the day is taking some time away from her, yet she unselfishly supports Ox’s efforts to change the world, one physique at a time.
There are also many others who were of great assistance with advice and input, so I’d encourage readers to leverage the Jungle resources.
Now without further ado—here’s my “Couch to 90 Day journey”.
Woke up January 1, 2021 less than 60 days from my 48th birthday. Stepped on the scale—look down and I’m appalled as the digital readout flashes a new PR—254lbs, and 36% body fat. It was a sobering moment where the last year of Covid lockdowns led to lots of frozen pizzas, nachos/snacks while watching TV, and drinking multiple nights per week. I was so disappointed and appalled at what I had let myself become.
Picture from around that time:
It was that day I started my comeback plans. I had simple goals of using cardio (cycling and easy jogging on dirt roads/trails—pavement would destroy my knees at this weight).
Gung ho and ready to conquer the world, I took off on my first run—I ran and ran and ran for what seemed like an eternity—out of breath, I started to walk and checked my progress—0.22 miles in just under 3 minutes. Figured it was just a bad day as the stress/weight on my legs and not having great nutrition was impacting me: tomorrow I’d redeem myself on the bike.
I remember getting on my bike (indoor trainer), and figured I’d spin easy for an hour (used to ride hours at a time in past no problem). To this day I haven’t forgotten how after 10 minutes on the bike, my legs were throbbing and my taint was on fire. (Side note: taint is area between your sack and ass—aptly named because it ‘tain’t your balls and ‘tain’t your ass.)
At this point I couldn’t believe it—Forrest Gump was right:
I had to go back to the drawing board. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any options so I just started where I was and got to work. I would try to extend each run/bike 5 minutes longer than the previous. Sometimes I’d add 2 or 3 minutes, others I’d be able to stretch for an additional 8-10. After several weeks, fitness started to return and I was able to exercise about an hour per day of cardio 6x/wk - all slow Z2 efforts, but it was a start.
One noteworthy item I’ve found that works for me, during the approximately month of hell trying to recover some sort of fitness, I didn’t change my diet (aside from quit drinking) and still lost a little bit of weight—down to about 245 at end of January. Diet and exercise together is much more effective, but I had to keep every ounce of willpower I had focused on restoring fitness. If that meant comfort food and suboptimal diet for the near term, so be it—I’d deal with that once I started getting some fitness back.
For the next several months I would eat 1750 calories per day (typically 3 meals per day—no feedings after 7PM), trying to keep at least 175g of protein to minimize losing muscle. Coupling that with the cardio exercise (about 500 calories burned per day), it really moved the needle. Chart below shows my weight tracking (I started January 1 and didn’t weigh myself on consistent intervals, so some of the drops are almost vertical). By the time May rolled around I was down to 212ish—just over 40lbs—but it still seemed like an eternity from my goal of sub-200 and the 210 threshold seemed unbreakable.
To keep motivation, every dropped 5 more pounds total, I would ‘reward’ myself with my favorite local ice cream (about 500 calories). This helped keep me focused and motivated—500 calories meant I was just negating one day of cardio, but the mental health and joy of “winning” provided much bigger benefits.
It was in early May I signed up for my twitter account, mainly due to interest in crypto and came across Bull, and reading his tweets and substack. During this time, I remember Ox being extremely helpful with others answering questions, so I started a DM convo on May 7th with some crypto questions. Within 10 minutes, we were chatting away about Siberian Huskies and got onto the topic of diet/exercise. Told him a little bit about what I had done so far, and how I hit a wall right about 210 lbs. He gave me some tips to help break through towards my 200lb goal I had.
Roll forward about 4 weeks applying Ox’s advice—woke up June 3rd, stepped on the scale and this was what was staring back at me:
I was in total SHOCK! Almost 5 months after starting, I was down over 55lbs. It had been DECADES since I stepped on a scale and didn’t see something beginning with a ‘2’ (and I haven’t weighed over 200 since). I was amazed at how my previous 210lb limit was destroyed with Ox’s guidance, and subbed immediately when the paid substack came out.
At this point I felt I was looking a bit scrawny and my clothes just didn’t fit, so started working with Ox on some plans to return to the gym. Shortly thereafter, the 90 Day Ox competition was announced and I thought to myself “What have I got to lose? Boy did I have no idea what was coming up next.
90 Day Ox
At the start of the 90 Days, I had a solid cardio base. Spent the last 5 months doing 5-7 hours of cardio. For the 90 days I didn’t change this, I just dialed back intensity on gym days (lower Z2) to not impact lifting that evening. Also tried to shuffle running to not be on or a day after legs, or I would just go easier on those days.
I probably averaged 5 hours/week of cardio during the 90 days—90%+ was just straight Z2, but I did sprinkle in some intensity—all just cycling or running—nothing fancy here, just kept triggering the calorie burn.
For the lifting side, I was using Ox’s Push/Pull/Legs with plans of going 4x/wk. Push A, Pull A, Legs A, Push B, Pull B, Legs B. Wash/rinse/repeat. I tried to adjust my schedule as much as possible so leg day would always follow a day off, but that didn’t always work out.
First time doing Push A—I remember the assisted dips, having to drop down to 120lbs of assistance and struggled to get 6 reps (this was after quite a studly performance pushing about 70lbs on the plate loaded chest press (35 per side)).
I woke up the next morning and I was sore as hell in places I didn’t even know I had muscles. I started wondering if Ox was secretly trying to kill me, and motivation took a bit of a hit that day. So, I did what any good parent would do and badgered my kids to join me at the gym—might as well let them share in the suffering.
Dragging the kids along was a huge benefit, as it kept me interested to see them learn about different exercises and develop a love of working out. After surviving week 1, things changed early in week 2. As we started repeating some exercises from the previous week, my little shit son was adding more weight on. So, if I added 5 lbs for an exercise, he’d add 10. I add 10, he’d bump up 15. Needless to say that brought on some healthy competition and started moving the weights up more quickly. There was no way I was letting him out-lift me in any exercise, and while I know he will eventually prevail, I’m going to delay the inevitable as long as possible.
Not a lot to add here, we just consistently hit the gym 4 days per week and kept increasing weight, and fighting like hell to get additional reps. Just amazed looking back at dips, I’m now needing a belt to add additional weight while performing over double the reps. Did I mention that Ox’s workouts work?
Every workout seemed harder than the last one, not sure how much of that was additional weight vs getting comfortable, and being uncomfortable to bang out a few more reps. No better feeling than struggling to stand after exercises on leg day.
One thing I did pick up on early was rep targets. One workout I sat down to shoulder press with a goal of getting 8-10 reps—without fail, my shoulders started tiring on rep 6 or 7 and I was able to eek out 8. Rested about 2-1/2 minutes, same weight and set mental target of 14. Well, I only got 13, but at least for me I need to let the muscle be the limiting factor, not my mental target. Pick a rep target that seems out of reach, then fight like hell to make it reality—that’s my new approach.
Here’s some numbers from over the course of the 90 day challenge. My goal was consistency. Over the July 1 – September 30 period, I performed the following workouts:
62 days of cardio workouts
48 days in the gym
I’m going to add a couple of different graphs from whoop that show some of these workouts. I also have data from bike power meter/trainer and running (Stryd foot pod) if anyone really wants to geek out on some data—drop me a DM. Tracking the data is incredible to objectively plan your efforts with consideration of the temperature and humidity at the time of the workout (especially applies to outdoor activities).
From left to right, there’s a heart rate profile from a run last week, strain by day and resting heart rate.
Added a little intensity on the run which pushed max HR up to 182 (highest max HR over 90 days was 187)—I was able to keep consistent strain levels (Friday was my one day off from cardio and weights that week, but walking my 2 dogs is still a bit of a workout!), and resting heart rate was in the upper 40’s all week.
There is tons of data available via whoop (looking forward to the new 4.0 strap), and it can be helpful to guide you on when to push hard vs maybe pull back a little bit. Data is a wonderful thing if you utilize it to guide your training.
Starting the 90 days, I was targeting 1800 calories per day, and trying to get 200 grams of protein. After about 7 weeks, I felt I needed to up my caloric intake, as I was doing cardio 5-6x/wk and lifting 4x/week. So I pushed calories up to 1900, and a couple weeks later up to 2000. With the increase I upped my protein target to 215 and 230. For the last several weeks, I was eating over 900 calories of protein (>45% of my caloric intake) and didn’t really pay much attention to my carb vs fat breakdown for the remaining 1000-1100 calories. Granted, I didn’t eat junk food (ice cream, chips, candy or excessively fatty foods), just tried to keep wholesome foods.
Here’s what a typical day of nutrition would look like—note, I would weigh/track EVERY morsel I was putting into my body that day (except for water). I used my fitness pal, as the wife was using that at the time and already had many of her recipes in the system, which simplified my tracking.
Wake up ~6AM
Bottled water with the following added:
1 Scoop (10g) of essential amino acids (EAAs)
5g of creatine
Mio or some other flavoring (Trust me don’t try EAAs without it)
Protein shake (minimum 30g of protein) Used Premier Protein available at local Costco
2 egg cups (More details below)
~1 Hour of cardio
Mid-morning meal (9AM)
Typically consists of one of the following:
- protein shake
- planned meal already portioned to ~300 calories and 30+G protein - chicken breast, rice, vegetables
- 2 Oikos Triple Zero yogurts - 110 calories and 15g protein each = 220 calories and 30g protein
Normal lunch about 300-400 calories with minimum of 30g of protein.
Typically consists of one of the following:
- protein shake
- planned meal already portioned to ~300 calories and 30+G protein
- 2 Oikos Triple Zero yogurts - 110 calories and 15g protein each = 220 calories and 30g protein
Gym on lifting days (tried to get in immediately when son got home from school)
300-400 calories with minimum of 30g of protein - seeing any patterns yet?
** Gym here if unable to get in before dinner
Bottled water (16.9 ounces) with following blended in:
- 1/2 - 1 cup of frozen blueberries
- 1-1/2 scoops of Casein protein (about 40g of slow release protein)
Or will have 2 Oikos yogurts (220 calories / 30g protein)
Over the course of the day, I would drink at least a gallon of water (typically more).
Biggest keys to make this work—plan ahead and have lots of good choices easily available. I always had a dozen of the Oikos triple zero yogurts in the fridge (I buy 18 packs at Costco), and removed everything unhealthy or made the wife hide her “treats”. When you’re hungry or in a hurry, you’re going to take the path of least resistance, so by planning ahead, it makes the good choice the path of least resistance.
For breakfast, I ate a lot of Mrs. Husky’s “egg cups”. Silicon cupcake cups (quite possibly the best ~$8 I’ve ever spent at amazon)
Simple to make: crack an egg into each of the cupcake cups. Add any “mixings” you want, stir, and then bake for about 15-18 minutes at 400 degrees (to your desired level of firmness).
For mixings, we would use veggies (red peppers), mushrooms, onions, and add in some sausage or bacon bits or meat (ham or turkey breast) before cooking. Picture below shows what they look like. Very quick and easy to grab and go, no eggshells to deal with and they pop out of the silicon cups with ease.
Prepared meal services—I know Ox has mentioned these, but I have been using a company named “Clean Eatz” since March. There happens to be one within 10 minutes of my house, so I can order their pre-planned fresh meals as desired. They also have a bulk location (1 day shipping transit for me) where I’m able to order 30 frozen meals packed in dry ice—typical cost is about $6-7/meal. Here’s a snap of one of the meals I have: you can see right on it 339 calories, 7g fat, 31g carbs, and of course 38g protein. Even better, I can scan the bar code with my tracking app and it will auto populate it into what I ate that day.
Takeaways for anyone looking for the quick hits:
While Ox’s programs/advice are top notch, none of his stuff works unless YOU work.
Finding “hacks” to make it easier to stay on track (or harder to go off track) pays huge dividends
Wake up and try to make it a “perfect” day with diet/nutrition and workouts.
If you find yourself veering off course (it will happen), take action to get back on track quickly—don’t let things get out of control.
Key is consistency, the hard part is stacking perfect day after perfect day.
Mentally target more reps than you think possible, then fight like hell to get them
Have fun doing it and enjoy the gains
That sums up the approach I took for the 90 days and will be continuing this for the next round. I’m just over 9 months into this journey and have the mindset of “I didn’t come this far, to only come this far”. My goal is to wake up January 1, 2022 with my eyes focused on the future, not regretting the ‘sins of my past’. Stacked field in the final 6 and can’t wait til we find out who wants it the most—and whoever wins will have earned it. Best of luck to all in the competition—let’s work hard and help push each other through it and let the chips fall where they may. Also, encourage anyone looking to improve their fitness during the next 90 days whether they are just starting or well along their journey.
My DMs are open, so feel free to hit me with any questions you might have, and I’d be happy to help where I can.
So there you have it, this is a masterclass in zero to hero, and it is worth following along with his journey for as he obviously has this figured out and has a system that works and is successful.
The exact workout program he followed can be found HERE on the paid substack (only $5 a month)
I want to thank him for writing this 9 page post and taking the time to give such detail and openness to his situation. Please follow him on Twitter: @BowTiedHusky
Looking forward to watching the next 90 days and seeing how far he can take this success.
This is not Legal, Medical, or Financial advice. Please consult a medical professional before starting any workout program, diet plan, or supplement protocol. These are opinions from a Cartoon Ox.