By Mark McConville
MEET the sculpted security guard who was teased for being a skinny kid and became overweight after stuffing himself with 5000 calories per-day before pushing himself to achieve his current ripped physique.
Joe Brennan (22), from New York, USA, was a 13-year-old child American football player who weighed just 7st 10lbs and decided to hit the gym after a punishing season.
The then-teenage Joe worked out consistently to put on muscle to aid his dream of football glory, but when he left school and football at 18, he no longer felt he had anything to strive for.
With no purpose to his diet and exercise routine, Joe ballooned to 16st 7lbs but a focus on bodybuilding has left him at his current weight of 14st.
“Most of my life I have suffered from issues regarding my weight,” explained Joe.
“I have been extremely underweight and very overweight, so I know the burden of both. I have been made fun of by “friends” and even talked down to by others for being too skinny and being too fat at other points in my life.
“I started lifting weights at 13 years old after playing a football season at 5’6″ and 108lbs. I was so small and would constantly get destroyed in practice as a Linebacker and Running back. I decided enough was enough and started my journey then.
“After years and years of training hard, research, I put on A LOT of muscle. It was an addiction, getting stronger and bigger month by month, year by year. By the time I was 18, however, my metabolism had completely reversed.
“Being so used to shoving 5,000 calories down my throat per day, it was very hard to readjust once my metabolism started to slow down.
“On top of this, my main focus of lifting (even though I was a bodybuilding fan) was football. I had a fire burning inside of me so deep that every practice, every set, every rep, every meal had a purpose and I was determined to be the best I could be on the field.
“Once I was done playing and graduated, I had nothing to shift that focus back into. My diet started to become even worse on top of a slowing metabolism, and I piled on weight fast.”
In 2015 Joe was eating fast food every day and despite working out four or five days a week he had no focus and so made no real progress.
The New York native is now two weeks away from his second bodybuilding competition, which means his diet is even stricter than usual.
Joe is eating just 1500 calories a day and no carbohydrates in preparation for hitting the stage. He explained how bodybuilding gave him a new focus in life after his football dream ended.
“Ever since I was a kid there was always a fire burning deep inside of my soul,” he said.
“I can’t really explain it. I always had a determination to become somebody and do something with my limited time on this planet. Once football was done and over with it was almost like I lost a part of myself. That fire was there and I had nothing and no direction to go.
“I became very depressed, life just started to take control of me instead of the other way around. I wasn’t insecure so much about my weight gain as I was still in the gym and strong, I was more mentally distraught because I knew I had the ability and mindset to do incredible things but had no direction to place it.
“Bodybuilding has changed my life forever. The discipline it took to completely reconstruct my mindset and force myself into places of extreme discomfort and pain has done a lot more for me than just change my body.
“I now know this is a tool that I will carry with me for the rest of my life on this planet. I know I can conquer anything I put my mind to, and that’s what I will dedicate the rest of my existence towards.”
When Joe was at his heaviest his metabolism had crashed and he needed to relearn his body. He became extremely carb sensitive and needed patience to find what foods worked best for him.
Despite his physical transformation Joe claims his confidence comes from the mental reconstruction he went through to achieve his goals and offers advice for anyone wishing to do the same.
“I’m more confident than ever and that has nothing to do with my physical transformation,” he added.
“It has to do with the dark places I have gone and continue to go to see my dreams realized. Knowing I can walk up to any challenge in life and laugh, there’s no better joy than that.
“You need to reconstruct your mind. There is no “diet” or “workout” that is going to do you any permanent good until you change who you are as a person.
“You have limited time on this earth, and when it is all said and done you will be nothing but soil in the ground. Do you want to actually life the life you want and take control, or be miserable and let life take control of you until it is your time to die?
“When that really sets in, that is when you will change. It’s more than weight loss, it’s about taking control of your life and conquering it.”