He Dropped 30 Pounds of Fat … and Took Home Cash!

Dec 12 / Build Muscle

It can be tough, some might say impossible, to keep from packing on the pounds when crème fraiche, a pan of bubbling Alfredo sauce, and a French baguette are always within arm’s reach.   Such are the hazards of commanding a gourmet restaurant kitchen, and Jim O’Connor, executive chef of The Grove in College Grove, Tennessee, knows them very well. Last year, the 27-year-old graduate of the Culinary Institute of America topped 236 pounds before deciding to do something about his weight: joining a friendly weight-loss competition with a bunch of guys. O’Connor’s friend Jim Cotta, a former str...

It can be tough, some might say impossible, to keep from packing on the pounds when crème fraiche, a pan of bubbling Alfredo sauce, and a French baguette are always within arm’s reach.  

Such are the hazards of commanding a gourmet restaurant kitchen, and Jim O’Connor, executive chef of The Grove in College Grove, Tennessee, knows them very well. Last year, the 27-year-old graduate of the Culinary Institute of America topped 236 pounds before deciding to do something about his weight: joining a friendly weight-loss competition with a bunch of guys.

Jim Before

O’Connor’s friend Jim Cotta, a former strength coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, organized the contest as a test of the premise of his new workout book, musclemorphosis.com

Cotta knows that competition between men can motivate guys to work hard and stick to a training regimen. He trained Shaquille O’Neil for a lose-that-gut challenge with Charles Barkley a few years back (and Shaq won the bragging rights).

Research shows that public challenges like that keep dieters on track. One study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that employees are more likely to lose weight when motivated by competition and monetary rewards than through personal health gains.    

It worked for O’Conner, who says the competition and possibility of a cash prize lit a fire under his ass to work crazy hard. “Winning the kitty was a huge motivator but as I got into the competition it became a personal thing,” he says. “I’d be at the gym thinking there is always someone training as hard, if not harder than me, so I’ve got to step it up.”

And he did. O’Connor followed a 60-day program of strength training, interval workouts, and a “lean out” meal plan set up by Cotta for the contestants.

He credits the intervals with helping him to shed his body fat nearly 11 percent. He lost 30.8 pounds of fat and gained 6 pounds of lean muscle mass, ending at 212 pounds to win the contest (and the cash).

“The competition keeps you invested in your goal,” O’Connor says. “It’s like, I’m not going to go to the bar tonight. I’m going to stay in and wake up to run.”

Jim after

Try out one of Cotta’s “Rival Strength Challenges” from the First Quarter of his program in musclemorphosis.com:

747

Goal: Perform as many rounds of the following three bodyweight exercise as possible in 15 minutes. Rest as needed before moving to the next exercise, but remember you are going for time.

7 Squats
4 Burpees
7 Pushups

Then, when you feel up to it, try “B-52 Bomber.”

After a warmup, start with walking lunges. Do 52 reps per leg, then move directly to the next exercise. Your goal is 52 quality reps for each exercise. Rest if needed. Time yourself.
52 Walking Lunges (each leg)
52 Burpees
52 Squats
52 Pushups
52 Forward Lunges
52 Jumping Jacks
52 Plank Pushups