Back on Track


Nelson Saenz IT guy, busy dad, former athlete
Starting weight: 235
Ending weight: 220

Light-Bulb Moment: Four years ago, Nelson Saenz went to pick up his daughter and felt a twinge in his back that sent him to the chiropractor. “At the time, I was only 32, and I thought to myself, I am way too young to have back problems,” he says. While in high school, Saenz competed on a nationally ranked basketball team, but more recently, work, family and the busyness of life forced him into a sedentary lifestyle.

Lifestyle Face-Lift: Determined to get physical again, Saenz began running three to four days a week, starting with a mile or so and working his way up to two to four miles per session. Soon afterward, his company acquired this very magazine. Inspired by the workouts within, Saenz ventured back into the gym and added strength training to his routine. “Fortunately, I have an athletic background and can make my way around the gym pretty well, even though I’m a nerd,” he says, laughing. “But I am definitely not creative, so I rely on the workouts printed in magazines and online for my routines.” Three to four days a week, Saenz can be seen carting around his phone or iPad, practicing the latest strength routines from Muscle & Performance. His favorite so far: The “Fitter, Faster, Leaner” three-month series.

The Payoff: Since getting his lift on, Saenz has become leaner and stronger, and his back is no longer an issue — and just in time: He now has a 16-month-old son as well as his toddler daughter to contend with. “But besides the physical benefits, lifting is very therapeutic for me,” he says. “I have time to think and reflect while I’m working out, and I find I can focus better at work if I work out first thing in the morning.”

His lifting also helped improve his running time. “I’m a lot stronger now, and I went from running a nine-something mile to one in the low sevens,” he says. Next up for Saenz: the L.A. Marathon. “My goal is to run it before my 40th birthday, so I have a few years to prepare.”

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Nelson’s Advice

  • Don’t be a garbage disposal for your kids. If there’s half a slice of pizza left over from your daughter’s dinner, you don’t have to eat it.
  • I like to get in 50 to 60 grams of protein in a shake first thing in the morning before I work out. That gives me the energy to train while providing my body with the material necessary to build muscle.
  • Make the most of your time. Some days I only have 20 minutes to work out, but I go to the gym anyhow. I’ll sprint on the treadmill or do a quick bodypart workout. Anything is better than nothing.
  • Use technology to motivate and inspire you to set goals and achieve them. There’s so much out there these days, you’re sure to find something that inspires you.
  • I brown-bag my lunch every day, relying a lot on chicken and broccoli. That way I’m not tempted to get fast food.