Easton Elliott
How I Stopped Smoking 35 Cigarettes a Day, Became a Personal Trainer and Got Really Fit


We talked with Easton Elliott in September, 2019. Follow Easton on Instagram
Country:
Canada
Age:
25 years
Weight:
89 kg
(196 lbs)
Height:
180 cm
(5'10)


Instagram, @eastonelliottfit - photo by Julia Bureacenco

Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training

My name is Easton Elliott and I am a personal trainer in Canada. I’m 25 years old now, but only recently got into fitness within the last 4 years.

Growing up I was active outside, but as high school hit, I became “that fat kid”. I was up to a pack and a half (35+) of cigarettes a day and my diet was garbage. For the longest time I said “maybe one day I’ll quit, maybe one day I’ll start eating healthy”.

Well, I asked myself what I was waiting for. I was waiting for nothing really, so I started then. I quit smoking, went out bought a pair of running shoes and started jogging.

I never went outside much to be honest. I spent all my time inside, programming on my computer. I actually didn’t play a lot of video games, I just didn’t do much.

I swear I almost died when I started running that day. I just quit smoking (and I smoked for 5+ years), haven’t been physically active and it’s the middle of June in 25 degree weather (-4 degree celsius).

At first, it was very difficult to quit smoking. For those that do not smoke, you begin to associate things with smoking. Coffee? Cigarette. First thing you do in the morning? Smoke. After dinner? Smoke. Driving? Smoke.

What I did, which ultimately helped me beat the addiction, was channel the energy elsewhere.

When I wanted to smoke, I would go for a jog. I just ran and ran until I stopped thinking about how bad I wanted to smoke a nice, tasty cigarette. If I already ran that day, I would use that energy into making a healthy meal for myself.

After getting into weight lifting, I have realized now that what I most struggled with in life was structure.

The gym, and I suppose fitness in general, gave me structure in my life through necessity. I had to add some form of fitness in my life everyday and that started with a daily plan.

I never really played sports or did any serious form of training before so the gym was completely foreign to me. Once I realized that consistency bred results is when I really started seeing results.

While fitness and the gym isn’t my entire life, I enjoy spending time outside either camping, hiking or 4x4ing. I think it’s important to disconnect from the gym for a time, otherwise sometimes you can loose track of yourself.

Going deep into the forest and losing the sense of time is something that I love doing. Less cell service the better.

Describe a typical day of training


Nothing feels better than lifting heavy stuff up and putting it down again.

The most important part of my training starts with recovery, which includes sleep. A bad sleep means bad results for me.

Next is food. If my food the day before sucks, either not enough or just crap food, my workout today will suffer. So, I ensure I get a good night’s rest and keep consistent with eating.

Generally, I aim for 7.5 hours of sleep a night. I find anything less than 7 doesn’t help me much, and my workout the next day suffers.

Before going to the gym, I’ll have typically 2-3 meals beforehand. 1 to 1.5 hours before the gym, I’ll have a small meal that mostly contains carbohydrates for energy. A normal preworkout meal is 2/3 cup steel cut oatmeal which equals about 300 calories and 56 grams of carbs.

I enjoy having a more significant sodium intake with these meals, as you lose a lot of electrolytes while you sweat. I have gotten a better pump as a result.

Preworkout-wise I just take caffeine pills and sometimes ephedrine (legal in Canada). Nothing more, most of the time it’s just caffeine (400+ mg). I don’t have a particular brand of caffeine, it’s whatever that is cheapest. Caffeine pills are just that, you don’t need to spend the money here.

I train the typical split: chest/triceps, back/biceps, shoulders/whatever else, legs and repeat.

Rest days are as I feel the need to. I will also alternate with heavy and light days. I typically workout before I train clients, sessions are usually 1 to 1.5 hours up to 6x a week. Since I workout at the gym where I also train clients, I spend a large portion of the day just moving weight and getting up and down.

With the group classes I run, I’ll also join in on the class itself and complete a few exercises. I find it’s an easy way to get more lifting in.

As I heavily dislike training biceps (I find it boring as hell), I’ll spend more time training back. Nothing feels better than lifting heavy stuff up and putting it down again. Sometime caveman-like about it, really.

Cardio is done after resistance training. Incline treadmill, stairstepper, and the rowing machine are my go to.

I find LISS (low intensive steady state) works for the best for me. I aim to complete 30 minutes of cardio a day.

With my day job as a personal trainer, I’m moving for a large portion of the day. As a way to get more core work in, I’ll sometimes choose to do core work with clients or in the group classes I run. Easy to way help with motivation and burn more calories.

I train alone, and always alone. Music full volume, tunnel-mode vision engaged.

Nothing special after the gym, get a good meal and and get some good sleep.

How do you keep going and push harder?


I’m dreadfully scared of going back to how I was

Motivation is sometimes the hardest. Body dysmorphia is real and difficult to deal with.

I take lots of measurements and progress photos, that way I have sometime to rely on to see how far I’ve come. I find that is a very visual way to see the work you’ve done.

Whether you’re bulking or cutting, you can see what the mirror shows. For me, progress is a huge motivation.

I think I’ve kept going for so long now is that I’m dreadfully scared of going back to how I was, eating like crap and smoking cigarettes.

The image of how I could possible be without fitness is scary, and something that I’d rather not think of to be honest.

I know deep within myself that it is really easy for me to return to that state. Knowing how I feel and look now, I know that there is no way I’d return to how I was.

Before I became a personal trainer, it was difficult for my to schedule the gym into my life. 40+ hour work weeks, plus 1hr commute each way. If you really want something, you’ll find a way how. Find the time and just do it.

Before my career as a personal trainer, I was in telecommunication sales for 7 years with different companies. I started as a sales rep, moved around companies and eventually moved up to management.

While I was good at my job, I didn’t enjoy it as much in the later years. I realized the reasons why I got into the industry in the first place (new technology, helping others) is what I currently did. So I quit and started doing what I love.

I spend a lot of time on the computer as a kid and growing up. Some video games then later on getting into computer programming. I started with web development. I ran a popular Bittorrent tracker based on PHP for a time being. I loved being able to show people things.

Eventually I went a bit deeper and developed my own Linux distribution, SnackLinux. I spent a lot of time (and also money on computers) with programming.

I enjoyed it immensely, but as I got into fitness I had less and less time to spend in front of a computer. Currently I don’t do much web development or other programming, unless it’s for maintenance. I was never able to show many people my programming projects and accomplishments, but it sure was easier showing people my improved physique.


Instagram, @eastonelliottfit - photo by Julia Bureacenco

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

I’m making fantastic progress right now. As I become a more experienced trainer, I am constantly learning new things. The feeling of accomplishment of nailing a new exercise or being able to move in a new way (mobility) is something that I chase every day.

Eventually I’d like to compete in a bodybuilding show in the next 5 years, just to see if I can do it. Don’t care what place I get, it’s just something I’d like to do. Last year I said to myself I wanted abs by Christmas. Well, I did whatever I could and got abs by Christmas (two weeks early too). Setting and achieving goals are the bread and butter of my life.

While I enjoy my role as a trainer, I would like to see myself in a more specialist role in the future. Wether that be strength and conditioning, bodybuilding, powerlifting, or dragon boat racing, I know I can do it.

I think it’s also every meathead’s dream to open a gym. It’s also my dream too (haha).

How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?

Recovery and injury prevention is huge to me. I’ve never been seriously injured, never even broken a bone. If an exercise feels funny or something isn’t working as it should, I stop. It’s no use getting yourself hurt. If you hurt yourself, how long will it be until you’re back in the gym 100%?

If I do get a small injury, such as a temporary impingement, I take time off of the joint and use the energy else where. I modify exercises accordingly (eg, neutral grip vs supine grip).

Sleep quality is important. Deep, uninterrupted sleep is the goal. Dark room, no distractions, and a good pillow are all the qualities of a sleepable bed. At minimum, I aim for 7.5 hours of sleep. On my days off, I sleep up to 9 hours.

If a schedule change comes up, or it’s time to party, my sleep schedule is thrown off and takes a day or two to fix. Just getting back into the same bedtime works for me.


Instagram, @eastonelliottfit - photo by Julia Bureacenco

How is your diet and what supplements do you use?


Cheat days are BS

I follow a not so interesting diet: eat your protein, adjust carbs to energy levels, fats to preference and sugars to low intake.

Roughly lean bodyweight in pounds to grams of protein intake (eg, 150 pounds body muscle mass equals 150 grams of protein), carbs to energy level (200 to over 1000 depending on goals) and trying to keep my sugar intake low.

I don’t count calories anymore but have a rough idea. I’m also much more careful of eating out at fast food restaurants (but I still do!). If I go out with friends or there’s a social event, I don’t usually hold back.

I try to stay away from things that don’t make me feel well. Sometimes cheese and fatty foods bloat me, so I try to avoid them. Other than that, I indulge. I work my ass off everyday in the gym, you’re damn right I’m having a beer.

Cheat days are BS, cheat meals can work as a way to get more calories in. It’s not an excuse to eat dirty all the time.

I don’t use many supplements anymore to be honest, mostly because they’re costly. Some I haven’t taken for over a year and I am still progressing in the gym. I ran out of some vitamins, didn’t have the money to replace them, then realized I didn’t need them anyway.

As an aside, this is the part that I most dislike about the fitness industry now. Advertising is done very well by supplement companies to target regular gym goers to buy their product.

Supplements are supplementing the training and diet. If the training or diet sucks, supplements won’t do anything. Diet and training are much more important.

For the vitamins and supplements I do take, I take them because there’s hard science with studies to prove. That, or it makes me fit in with everyone else.

I’ll regularly take citruline malate and beta alanine pre-workout. If I have it on hand, I’ll take creatine as well.

I try to buy the most cost-effective brand possible, as these supplements are just itself. There’s no blend or other stuff added in.

If it was whey protein, where there’s different protein percentages and other things to think about, but these pre-workout supplements are pure.

I’ll spend the money I save by not buying mixes and blends on more food. Money well spent.

When I do choose to cut, ephedrine works very well. It’s legal here in Canada but check your local laws.

It suppresses your appetite so it makes cutting much easier. Add on caffeine and you now have more energy than when you were bulking. Cut the carbs a bit back, keep protein high and that’s all I do diet wise.

What has inspired and motivated you?

I’m motivated to the best version of myself. Seeing myself progress and how far I’ve come is enough to keep me going.

I know I have much more to go and I want to see where I can go.

Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?


I find that most people can improve their diet.

Never stop learning. You lose once you stop listening and learning from others. There is so much knowledge out there and so much you can take away and add to your training.

Read the good and also read the bad. Once you read the good, you’ll know what the bad is. There’s lots of fitness garbage out there now. Start with the true and tested and branch out from there.

I’ve increased my lifts just by reading up on technique. Arnolds book, The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding is golden and must be read.

Find technical textbooks about sport science if you can, I’ve found great books at thrift stores.

Starting Strength and Sport Nutrition (Human Kinetics publisher) are also great books.

I find that most people can improve their diet. I wish my beginner self knew the importance of diet, because I know I could have gotten here faster.

Between not eating enough and not eating right, diet is critical for your body’s health. Doesn’t matter if you’re bulking or cutting, your body needs the right fuel.

Find what motivates you and work towards it every day. Really dive deep within yourself and find what makes you keep going. Apply that to working out and you’ll get a killer body in no time.


Are you taking on clients right now?

Yes I am currently taking on in-person clients as well as online clients. Session in-person last for one hour with ongoing support.

I enjoy helping in a face to face environment, because it really helps me get to know the person.

For in-person clients, I usually see them between 1-4x a week for at least a year. Results can be made in the first 3 months, but it’s what happens after that’s important.

Getting there is an accomplishment, staying there is even a bigger accomplishment.

Where can we learn more about you?

I have a bodybuilding and fitness website that I write articles and review products, GrowThatMuscle.com

I am also active on Instagram @eastonelliottfit

Github profile, github.com/snacsnoc


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I’m Mads Phikamphon, founder of Bulk Hackers.

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