“I didn’t have a huge belly, but at the same time I didn’t have a six-pack,” he says in a new episode of Brand New Me. “When I was playing rugby I used to think ‘oh yeah, it’s OK, I need to be big, I need to be strong.’ But then as soon as rugby stopped, it became a lot harder, and I realized I’m not a rugby player any more, I’m just an overweight guy.”
That difference became apparent once he moved away to college at 18, and his lifestyle changed as he started to drink alcohol and eat junk food regularly. “Before university, I was living the life of an international rugby player; training camps every weekend, no house parties,” he says. “Then all of a sudden I came to university, to Leeds, which is a huge party city… I kind of just went wild. There were so many red flags that I was living an unhealthy, unsustainable life.”
At his heaviest, he weighed at least 240 pounds. “I don’t have an exact figure for my heaviest weight, because I was too scared to step on the scales,” he says.
It wasn’t until he got away from that party environment during the third year of his degree, while studying abroad in Hong Kong, that he began to lose weight. “I didn’t really know what the best way to train was, or what I wanted to be doing in the gym, I just knew something was better than nothing,” he says. “Over the course of a year, I created a bunch of new habits and changed my lifestyle.”
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After losing a total of 70 pounds, Dominic began to put on weight—this time in the form of muscle—and eventually started competing in (and winning) bodybuilding events in the classic physique category. Now aged 25, he’s been doing it for three years, and is currently preparing for his fourth competitive season. His daily workout consists of an hour of weightlifting, however during the pandemic, he’s switched that for a lot of resistance band training in the absence of gym equipment.
“I was really miserable and I wasn’t happy when I didn’t have this healthy lifestyle; I didn’t have any drive or ambition,” he says. “A lot of people say bodybuilding is a vain sport, but they don’t realize you get a lot of positives from bodybuilding. It teaches you how to be accountable, to work for yourself, to be your own source of motivation.”
Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues.
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