How My Health Totally Transformed After I Stopped Working Out Just to Look Good

After years focusing on how he looked, Jim Spingler's switch to improving how he felt made a huge difference in his health journey.

Photographs courtesy Jim Spingler.

Changing your body takes hard work, persistence, and dedication. Here’s one local’s story. Want to share your Transformation Story? Email

Who: Jim Spingler (@unleash_your_potential_fitness), 27, an accountant and health coach

Height: 5’8”

Starting Weight: 225 pounds

Current Weight: 185 pounds

What inspired my change: “I had always been the small and skinny kid growing up. Throughout high school, I was a martial artist and barely 120 pounds. I sustained a neck injury that kept me from continuing martial arts which led me to weight lifting. I decided that I no longer wanted to be the small and skinny kid, and when I left college, I weighed 200 pounds. However, my true journey began about a year or so after college when I was prescribed an anti-depressant (to act as a nerve blocker) for the neck injury that kept me out of martial arts. Within a few months, I had ballooned up to about 225 pounds.

“After dealing with unwanted side-effects for about a year, I decided to come off the medication. I quit the medication ‘cold turkey’ because I did not know any better. This caused many mental and physical side effects. For the next two years, my issues grew. There was a dark cloud over me at all times. It was not until I finally decided it was time to change my life and deal with these issues that things started to turn around. I began to eat to support my mental and physical functions. I used the gym as a form of ‘meditative’ exercise and worked out for health and performance instead of vanity purposes.”

How I changed my diet: “The biggest problem I had in college was the mentality that all I wanted to do was ‘get bigger.’ I lifted weights and ate whatever I could to gain weight. After becoming sick, I realized I needed to not worry about getting bigger and instead getting better. I focused on eating nutrient-dense whole foods (organic whenever I could afford it). I ate as many green vegetables as I wanted and removed all sugar from my diet. I removed all condiments and dressings and replaced them with herbs, spices, and olive oil. Lastly, I drank only water and herbal teas and removed all alcohol.”

How I changed my exercise plan: “In college, I was focused more on a bodybuilding and power lifting phases for my training. All I cared about was how heavy I could lift and how much muscle I could put on my body. When I finally realized that my health was way more important, I vastly changed my workouts. I focused more on compound movements that worked as many muscles as possible. I greatly reduced volume and focused more on recovery. I started doing a lot more yoga as well as deep breathing exercises so that recovery was my number one priority. I noticed very soon that as my health improved, so did my body composition.”

One of the most important things I learned during this journey is to stay consistent. Only consistency in your diet and training will allow you to reach your goals.

The hardest part: “The hardest part of my transformation was changing the habits and mindset I was stuck in for years. For years, all I wanted was to work out harder and harder. I ran myself into the ground. When I reduced my training volume, my mind kept telling me that I wasn’t working out enough and I needed to work harder. However, within a matter of weeks, the reduced volume and change in training made me feel completely different and I knew I had made the right choice. My joints didn’t ache as much, my body wasn’t as stiff, my mood was better, and I had more energy.”

What I am most proud of: “I am most proud of the mental changes I made during this process. I realized that what matters the most was being healthy mentally and physically.”

What I want everyone to know: “I know that everyone is impatient. I have that problem myself. When I decide I want something, I want it now. One of the most important things I learned during this journey is to stay consistent. Only consistency in your diet and training will allow you to reach your goals.”

Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with Be Well Philly—here’s how: