Lifting for Life

Justin Reynolds was a devoted father to five children until his life was threatened by an aggressive brain tumor. Here’s the incredible story of how he fought back

The tumor I was diagnosed with is called an Acoustic Neuroma. I started to experience vertigo every time I would lie flat on my back or look towards the right side. My speech was also affected and I found myself stumbling over words that I never had a problem with before.

My footing became unsure and my steps were faltering: a huge blow to someone who considers themselves athletic. My vision was becoming blurry and I constantly bumped into curbs while driving. Everything that made me who I am was being stripped away by this tumor.

As you can imagine, that affected my psyche a little bit. I became self-conscious which if you talked to anyone who knows me, is not an accurate description of who I am or who I’ve been. There were very few pieces of me that remained untouched by the tumor’s effects.

The aftermath

The removal of my tumor had several lasting and permanent side effects.

I had lost the ability to walk or talk and am permanently deaf in my right ear with no spatial awareness. My wife – who was seven months pregnant with our fifth child at the time – had to feed, clothe, and bathe me.

The Aha moment

I have always found great enjoyment in being a daddy who can get on the floor and play with my kids. The brain tumor severely limited me in what I could do, causing me to be overwhelmed with dizziness and nausea every time I started to play with them.

It would break my heart to see their disappointed faces when they realized that daddy couldn’t play like he used to. From the moment I was diagnosed and given hope and a second chance with the tumor removal, I made a promise to my family and myself, that I’d be the healthiest father and husband that I could be. I didn’t want my ailing body to rob them of another minute of joy.

A changing diet

First and foremost, buy a food scale. For professional results “eyeballing” will not work. My diet changed from time to time. Before I started to lean out, I was at 250g of protein per day, 50g of fat, and 200-300g of carbs. Once I started leaning out, I dropped it to 200g of protein per day, 30g of fat, and would carb cycle 100g of carbs three days in a row and 300 grams of carbs on the fourth day. My last two weeks before a photo shoot, it dropped even further to 200g of protein per day, 20g of fat, and I would carb cycle 50g of carbs three days in a row and 200g of carbs on the fourth day.

The biggest challenges

Balancing home life, working out, and work. I purposely wake up early so I don’t have to miss a bunch of time with the family. Between my fasted cardio and lifting in the mornings, I use this as my time with the kiddos. I get to wake them up for school, make their breakfast, do their daily devotional and get them to school every day. I use this quality time with my children as an opportunity to connect with them further.

Future plans

I’d like to use my platform to help others as I really love the opportunity to connect one-on-one with people going through something and let them know it’s going to be OK. Living life to one of my favorite lyrics in a song by Andy Mineo, “The most beautiful pieces of art come from the ugliest situations, So I praise Him, rejoicing in my suffering, Cause I know He’s got a masterpiece in the making.” Maintain a level of normality. Enjoying a balance of fitness goals and downtime with family and friends is so important.

VITAL STATS

Before

  • Age: 34
  • Weight: 212lb (before hospital) 178lb (when
    I came out)
  • Body fat: 23%

After

  • Age: 36
  • Weight: 196lb
  • Body fat: 4.8%

Training Regimen

Monday

4:30am: 45 mins of fasted cardio            

7:30am: Upper-back, calves

Tuesday

7:30am: Legs, calves, 10 mins of abs

Wednesday

4:30am: 45 mins of fasted cardio

7:30am: Shoulders, calves

Thursday

7:30am: Chest, calves, 10 mins of abs

Friday

4:30am: 45 mins of fasted cardio

7:30am: Full back, calves

Saturday

7:30am: Full body

Sunday

Church

Supplemental help

I took all of Betancourt Nutrition’s products.

Right out of bed in the morning, before cardio: Glutamine, CLA, BCAAs, lean juice, Carnitine Plus.

30 mins to an hour before working out: B-Nox (pre-workout), Androrush (T booster), and Pump’d (helps promote nitric oxide and pumps).

During workout: BCAAs.

After workout: Post-workout protein shake, glucosamine, charcoal tabs, creatine.

After dinner: Multi-vitamin, glucosamine, charcoal tabs, CLA, probiotic, magnesium.

Right before bed: Protein shake, glutamine, BCAAs.

TRAIN

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