The guys and girls who manage to develop an awe-inspiring physique may appear to be dominant figures as they’ve seemingly had their lives together since day one. However, in most instances, that’s just not the case.
More often than not, those who pursue the dream of building a complete physique do so in order to conquer certain demons in their life. For me, it helped to overcome a lack of self-confidence that always seemed to make itself known in public forums and especially in front of girls, but for others it may simply be an outlet to shuttle away stress or to simply to lose some fat.
In the case of Nate Tebow, weightlifting was the tool he used to vanquish what seemed to be a life-threatening case of anorexia and a critical bout of depression. From the depths of despair as an awry teenager, Nate managed to claw his way all the way to becoming an internationally recognized fitness model and a man with mental fortitude as strong as steel.
Birth Date: 02/29/1991
Height: 6 foot 1 (185 cm)
Weight: 200 lb (91 kg)
Bio: Entrepreneur – Cover Model – Musician
Lost and Hopeless: A Need For Change
At the age of 15, as Nate began his journey into adulthood, most people would expect that he was a typical teenager who enjoyed playing sports and had a reasonably functioning body, or at least something along those lines. However, that was far from the case. Instead, Nate had a distinctly frail physique, your classic ectomorph body, that tipped the scales at 130-135 lbs on a good day, and bear in mind, Nate was almost six foot at the time.
Given the “healthy” average 6-foot teenager weighs somewhere around 165 lbs, give or take, Nate would have been categorised as borderline anorexic, a complex disorder in which the individual has a mental barrier toward eating on a consistent basis.
To make matters worse, things began taking a tumble downhill as Nate began to experience serious depression in his early high school years. Depression is a mental illness that has the power to change brain chemistry and force the sufferer to feel sad and moody for weeks, months, or even years, and sometimes without any apparent reason. For Nate, this mental illness was very real. It began to suck the life out of him, relegating him to an ill 115 lbs at 6 feet tall.
“The biggest misconception about depression is that there is an external circumstance, or circumstances, to cause the depressive state. It is NOT a choice, NOT a weakness, and NOT your fault. I would not wish any form of mental illness upon my worst enemy, as it cannot be seen or understood. At least, if you are physically ill, people understand. The pain of mental illness cannot be seen or understood by the layperson. When you’re depressed, you are stoic and grey. You are never really happy or excited, but mostly indifferent and hollow. Someone could tell you that you won a million dollars, and you wouldn’t care. If anyone reading this is going through any form of mental illness, it is my hope that I can be an example that these issues CAN be overcome and treated. Never give up the fight or lose hope, because there is nobody on the planet that has what you have to offer as an individual and a spirit.”
Eventually, this illness took an even greater toll on his body as he had to be admitted to hospital for a severe electrolyte imbalance. “I had a pulse, but I wasn’t living, I was merely existing and completely numb to any kind of emotion.”
At this point, Nate realised that he was now closer to being dead than alive, and in acknowledging that fact, he knew something had to change. The day he was released from hospital, he made one promise to himself.
“I NEVER WANT TO BE OR FEEL WEAK AGAIN IN ANY SENSE OF THE WORD.”
He wanted to drive a hate for weakness that was so strong, he reminded himself every day of how far he managed to fall. In so doing, he made sure not to go down the road of “self-loathing” but instead followed a path where he could self-generate and improve his sense of self.
From here the solution was quite simple–gain weight and get healthy. But Nate didn’t want to settle there, he wanted to build a strong willed mindset along the way which could never succumb to depression. It was this goal which ultimately led him to find solace through weightlifting, and he seemingly never looked back.
“Depression is more than just a low mood – it’s a serious condition that affects your physical and mental health.” – Beyond Blue
If you’re suffering from depression, please do everything in your power to tell someone, whether that is a friend or family member. It is a battle that should not be fought alone. And if that doesn’t help, seek professional help from your local doctor or organisations such as BeyondBlue, the Mind or ADAA.
For anyone that wants to support the battle with depression, please donate to the organisation Hope For Depression, an organisation focused on funding cutting-edge, scientific research to diagnose, treat, and prevent depression and related emotional disorders.
The Transition: Trial and Error
As many of you may have discovered, building muscle isn’t something you do overnight, an undeniable truth Nate found out for himself.
Starting off as an anorexic 16-year-old with no fitness background, Nate consequently had no routine or structure, not to mention his minimal knowledge about exercise science or human physiology. Put simply, Nate just went to the gym and winged it, but one thing he did was work hard.
“I JUST THOUGHT THAT THE HARDER I WORKED, THE MORE RESULTS I WOULD SEE.”
One of the many notable mistakes Nate initially made was through his implementation of more isolation movements than compounds, a choice which ultimately restricted his growth, particularly as a beginner. Just to illustrate how limited Nate’s lifting IQ was in the beginning, he never used the free weight bench press until his second year of lifting.
Two years went on in this manner, and Nate continued to put in hours training to “complete and utter exhaustion every workout, to the point where I was clearly seeing diminishing returns due to overreaching.” As bad as it may sound, all this hard work wasn’t completely lost as Nate did manage to build “an extreme work ethic and an indomitable spirit” which I imagine played a pivotal role in overcoming the weak mental state he suffered from when he began.
Eventually, Nate realized his free-for-all approach wasn’t working and decided to take a more proactive attitude and do more personal research. This new route coupled with the trial and error phase which comprised his first 2 years, allowed him to learn exactly what worked for him. In the end, Nate knew that if he ever wanted to get any progress worthwhile, then he would have to take more responsibility and begin doing what needs to be done himself. Period.
Getting Momentum: Progress
Once Tebow realized the primary flaws that halted his growth—most notably progressive overload, the lack of an intelligently structured program, and lack of research—Nate’s progress and life at the gym seemingly became much easier. In fact, Tebow recalls putting on a mammoth 20 pounds of muscle in a year’s time once he started doing everything right.
But the most important thing is that Nate began having more fun.
He began enjoying weightlifting so much that “[Fitness] developed into a passion, [it] became a lifestyle instead of a chore.” And it wasn’t just physical progress that transpired the most after being proactive. With his attitude heading in a positive direction, it seemed to trigger his mindset to evolve too.
Nate will be the first to admit that external factors such as girls and vanity would sometimes rear their heads, but now, after years of maturity, Tebow managed to overlook the petty stuff and began to focus on more meaningful goals including his “fear of not living up to my full potential.” Until this day, it’s the fear of being average that has pushed him forward more than anything else.
“Once I started taking training more seriously, I sought out to become a fitness model. I admired the “aesthetic” look more than the mass monsters, and for my image and frame, I knew I could do quite well in the industry.”
And quite well he did.
Growing Up: The New Man
Before Tebow started lifting weights he was a shy, anorexic teenager who weighed in at 115 lbs at six foot and in his own words “had no direction, no real goals to speak of, and no drive to do much of anything.”
Fast forward seven years and 75 pounds and Nate has managed to finish his Business Management degree, grace the cover of 2 romance novels, be featured on a number of mainstream bodybuilding websites for his amazing transformation, become signed as an internationally recognized fitness model, had the opportunity to work with some of the top photographers in the world; and that’s just the half of it.
The other half, the part which you can’t see, is his amazing mental fortitude which he has developed through none other than bodybuilding. In fact, weightlifting has not only given him the opportunity to overcome anorexia, but he has managed to develop discipline, persistence and most of all, he’s discovered the sacrifice required to achieve something worthwhile.
“I have sacrificed some things that “normal” teens take for granted. I sacrificed parties, social gatherings, meals with friends, etc. due to my lifestyle. Balance is important, but at the end of the day, sacrifices must still be made to get to a certain level.”
In short, Nate has transcended into becoming someone he never thought imaginable. “The way I think, feel, and behave is night and day compared to when I was younger. I am confident, grateful, charismatic, and hopeful. I love what I do, and am blessed to be healthy and able-bodied enough in order to do it daily. However, at only 24 years old, I can confidently say that the best is yet to come.”
Persevering: Developing True Grit
One of the primary methods Tebow used to persevere with his goals was through the use of meditation, a process designed to transform the mind. According to Buddhism, meditation is one of the best disciplines man can adhere to as it allows our state of consciousness to be free of scattered thoughts and stress. Essentially, it’s a spiritual practice where the mind becomes clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused.
This is an activity which Tebow used to its absolute fullest first thing every morning for 25 minutes. In fact, by doing so, Nate managed to overcome his anxiety and visualize his future. Over time, meditation proved to be so worthwhile that Nate goes on to praise it by saying that through this activity he has developed increased self-awareness, a higher sense of self, more gratitude, an elevated creativity and of course, decreased stress.
“I visualize exactly what it is that I want to achieve and tie a strong emotion to it. I ingrain into my subconscious that I have already achieved it; therefore, I am that much more likely to manifest it in real life. It seems silly at first, but slowly you’ll notice a series of very peculiar coincidences in your life, as well as a greater sense of self. This is essential for achieving goals in and out of the gym.”
Another aspect which seemed to have quite an impact on Nate’s future was his idol, Greg Plitt. Although Nate doesn’t necessarily look up to just one person, he greatly admires Greg Plitt and all that he as accomplished in the fitness industry and in general.
Though Plitt may have passed away in 2015, he seemingly laid the foundations for thousands of people around the world, one of them being Nate. As Nate recalls:
“From day one, I looked up to him, not only for his physique, but his insatiable desire to move and motivate others. I can recall many occasions where some of his video blogs on life got me out of some nasty ruts. He utilized his success as a means of reaching others, and not simply for fame or narcissism like we so often see today. He knew how to grow personally and how to contribute by helping others do the same, two fundamental characteristics of a truly successful man that we should all aspire to adopt.”
The Future: Moving Forward
There are many things that await Tebow as he matures:
In the short term, Nate wants to continue lifting to continue sculpting his physique and land more magazine covers. What’s more, he intends to relocate to the West Coast of USA to propel his online and private training business.
As for the long term, Nate intends to become an IFBB Men’s Physique Professional while continuing to establish himself as a prominent fitness model. Through the process of trial and error and research, Tebow wants to improve his knowledge in both training and nutrition to apply it in his coaching business to help others achieve their fitness goals.
To support this mission, Nate also plans to release a series of e-books that break down his philosophies on training, nutrition, mind, and lifestyle in the hope of further propelling his influence in helping those that are willing to catapult their learning curve.
Not surprisingly, like his idol Greg Plitt, along the way Nate intends to inspire others in his own unique and grandiose way.
When all is done, “I want to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be, and physical development is a big part of that.”
Top Tips for Success
Focus on the basic compound movements. Isolation lifts have their place, but the majority of the size that people carry can be attributed to bench presses, squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, etc.
Train Each Muscle More Than Once a Week
“Muscle protein synthesis only lasts about 24-72 hours max, so waiting 6-7 days to hit a muscle again is really short-changing the rate of your progress.”
“Be patient. Building actual muscle tissue takes years, so you must adopt this as a lifestyle and be patient in your approach. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Don’t give up!”
“When structuring a diet, the first thing one needs to look at is total overall energy (calories). This is the single most important factor, whether your goal is weight loss, weight gain, or even just maintenance. You can get all excited about the latest fad diets and weight loss gimmicks, but the truth of the matter is, total calories determine your weight gain or weight loss. You can’t argue with thermodynamics—I don’t care what Dr. Oz says.”
Just think, Nate Tebow started his lifting journey as a 115 lb, 6 foot boy with a body on the verge of breaking down, who had no direction in life and was battling with one of the most underrated diseases on earth, depression.
Now, he is an Internationally recognised fitness model who not only has a healthy and aesthetic physique, but has developed the ability to help and inspire others through personal mentoring, not to mention his strong-willed mindset that has afforded him the power to subdue his own mental hurdles. All this just goes to show that if you have the drive and the determination to make the necessary sacrifices, you truly can become anyone you want.
“You are the creator of your reality. Where you place your thoughts is where you place your energy. If you want something, act as if you already have it. Practice gratitude for it even though you don’t have it yet. Visualize yourself achieving or having what you want. This fitness game is largely a game from the neck up. The mind will always give out before the body does. Know with all your being what you desire, and work every day towards this. You deserve a great life. Believe it.”