The Weight is Over: Meet Michael Salmeron, Body-Builder

Q: Welcome to A News Cafe.com, Michael Salmeron. First, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am 21 years old. I live in Hacienda Heights, a small city outside of Los Angeles. I work as a bar server at TGI Friday’s.

michael s before with cookies

Q: Thanks. I’m sure that’s an interesting job. The reason I was interested in talking with you is I heard that you have had quite a health-and-fitness journey, which is one of my favorite topics. You were staying here in Redding for a special event with an Airbnb host who raved about your transformation. Can you tell us a bit about the “before” Michael?

I started out at about 280 pounds and basically the way I got that way is I used to eat stuff like McDonald’s, Carl’s Jr, on a daily basis. Since I work nights I would eat those things and similar terrible food items at times, like 1 or 2 a.m., then I would go to sleep, and rinse and repeat for months on end.

michael before fitness

It also wasn’t helped out by the fact that I wasn’t working out at all. I basically let my off-season after high school track ended go something like five months longer than I planned. By that point, the damage had been done.

Q: A lot of us can relate to that story of some kind of decline. But what I want to know is what was your wake-up call that made you want to change?

I’ve always liked going to the gym, but I was never super consistent in going. One day I just made the decision to go, and to keep going. Once it started to become a routine it was just like going to my job.

Q: I like how you put that: your workouts were like going to a job. For me, my wake-up call was seeing a really horrible fat photo of myself on Facebook. What was even worse is that at the time, I thought I was looking pretty good. So, once you had the wake-up call, what did you decide to do to make the change?

I never really had that “wake up call” that caused me to take action. Actually, my wake-up call happened when I was close to my competition, and I saw how I used to look, and couldn’t believe I used to look like that.

michael lifting weihjts

But that was already after I lost all the weight. I basically started going to the gym and taking it a bit more serious than I had before. By then, I had my own car and was able to drive myself, instead of getting a ride from my mom or someone else.

The biggest help, though, was finally getting my rotator cuff healed. I tore it my junior year of high school and I never really let it heal until I went to physical therapy and healed it up. That helped me to want to be more consistent with going to the gym. Staying motivated to go to the gym had been my biggest problem, because I had been worried in the past about my shoulder getting re-injured, so the surgery helped a ton.michael s after on top of the world

Q: Can you give an overview of the timeline from when you started to where you are now?

When I started my diet was terrible. Like I said earlier now I have it pretty set. I get my meal prep food delivered, so for five days a week my food is set. The other two days I just make smarter choices on my food. I still eat out, but I make better choices of what I eat because it’s all fuel. Your body is an engine and you want to feed it the best fuel possible.

As far as weights I played sports all four years in high school, and one year in college. But right now I’m the strongest I’ve ever been in my life. I am also a lot more active than I’ve been in my life. I lift weighs five days a week. I go hiking.

michael rock climbing

I rock climb three days a week and play tennis three days a week. None of this happened overnight, though fitness doesn’t happen overnight, either. A year ago I was only lifting at the gym. I wouldn’t have imagined I’d be doing all the stuff I do now, but once you start it gets addicting and you don’t want to stop. That’s the best part about the fitness journey.

Q: So you became a body builder. That is so awesome! In fact, you were recently in Redding for an event, right?

I was in Redding for the NorCal Fitness classic. One night I made the decision to compete. I needed a new goal to work on and give me a new motivation while in the gym. I’d always wanted to compete. I figured why not, I’m not getting any younger. I should just sign up and then deal with prepping after that.

michael s q&a

And as far as placing I got third place in the middleweight bodybuilding division and I don’t know what place I got in the tall physique division. I think I got 6th or 7th, but I have no idea for sure.

Q: Wow. Congratulations! How has your life and outlook changed since your transformation? And what about people’s reactions?

It’s been a complete transformation. I used to wake up feeling like crap and not wanting to do anything, so I wouldn’t. I would just go back to sleep and have no motivation for anything.

The biggest difference is when I wake up and actually get out of bed I feel like I have a lot more energy. I can actually wake up and do things and have the motivation. That’s led to me feeling a lot more happy and confident.

Having a lot more energy is the biggest game-changer in that sense. And people’s reactions could mostly be described in one word: shock. When you loose 105 pounds in less than two years most people aren’t used to that happening, or seeing you the way you are now. But that’s the best part; seeing someone I haven’t seen in a little and seeing their reactions to all the weight I lost.

Q: What have you learned about yourself along this journey, and what would you so to someone who was in the place you were when you first started, back when you were out of shape?

I learned that if I really do want to do something and I set my mind to a goal I can achieve it no matter how crazy it seems. And the advise I would give to someone was in a similar situation is to just to just get started by signing up for a gym or a boot camp or go hiking. Just start something. Soon you will realize how fun it is to work out and get fit. And once you start seeing results you’ll get addicted and wont want to stop.

Q: That’s awesome advice. Thank you. What’s your next goal?

My next goal is to continue with wherever fitness takes me.  I think it would be really cool to be a personal trainer, and basically help out people who were in the same situation that I used to be. It would also be cool to open up a restaurant that specializes in actual healthy food; not the “fake healthy” stuff like Panera bread, or Subway. Ideally I would do both, and they would work hand in hand together.

Q: I think that’s a terrific idea. Thank you so much for spending time with me today. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Honestly, if I can do it, anyone can. I used to eat like crap and not work out. If I can do the complete 180 that I did – anyone can.

Don’t get discouraged. You’re going to have setbacks, which happen to everyone. Don’t let them derail you.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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6 Responses

  1. Randall R Smith says:

    Great story and thank you for sharing.  At the other end of the spectrum  in age and work out routine, but believing in this life saving change, I am writing to endorse what a UCSD professor once told me, “All the focus on various important organ system: heart, lung, liver, brain, kidney, gastrointestinal, and so forth, pale in importance to the lowly legs.”  He went on to express that most people never understand the vital support systems mentioned above exist to allow the legs and arms to do work.  Otherwise, we are nothing.  Similarly, if legs and arms are healthy, happy, working daily at something; then the rest are contented and perform well for decades.  We spend a lot of time and money evaluating ourselves and everyone should have a comprehensive annual physical including laboratory work.  However, the daily routine has to include something for purpose of it all, those wonderful legs and their tiny buddies, the arms.

    Can you even imagine those from whom we inherited our machine sitting around all day doing key board games, watching images flashing on a cave wall, driving (sitting) three hours a day to find food?  The obesity epidemic is no mystery.  It is a miracle the system tolerates our abuse waiting to give a second chance to any willing to make a very small investment.

  2. Beverly Stafford says:

    Thanks Doni and Michael.  And Randall Smith’s endorsement of strong legs and arms is expressed in my favorite fitness books, the Stronger Next Year series which state, “Work out hard six days a week.

  3. Karen C says:

    Six days a week, oh heavens, never would I want to do that unless I had a home gym.  I see folks out there who walk 5 days a week who are in excellent shape.  I would so much rather be out in the fresh air, looking at green grass, trees, flowers, doggies on walks, than be in a gym.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      Doesn’t have to be in a gym.  Any exercise counts.  Walking is one of the best as long as it’s not just a slow stroll.  Walking makes for strong legs and goes along with what Randall Smith said above.  Add some dumbbells or elastic bands while you’re watching the news, and you’re there.

  4. Canda Williams says:

    Michael, What an inspiration you are!  Thank you for sharing your remarkable journey to health and fitness.  I love your idea of becoming a personal trainer, and having a truly healthy restaurant.  I wish you all the success in the world.  It’s obvious that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to!

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