As a teenager, Dominic O’Connor played rugby nationally, with his larger body being taken as an advantage.
“I didn’t have a big 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 played rugby, I always thought, ‘Oh yeah, it’s okay, I have to be big, I have to be strong.’ But when rugby stopped it got a lot harder and I realized that I wasn’t a rugby player anymore, just an overweight guy. “
This difference became apparent when he went to college at age 18 and his lifestyle changed when he started drinking alcohol and eating junk food regularly. “Before college, I lived the life of an international rugby player. Training camps every weekend, no house parties,” he says. “Then suddenly I came to university, to Leeds, a huge party town … I just went wild. There were so many red flags that I led an unhealthy, unsustainable life.”
In his heaviest form, he weighed at least 240 pounds. “I don’t have an exact number for my heaviest weight because I was too scared to step on the scales,” he says.
It wasn’t until he got out of this party environment while studying abroad in Hong Kong in the third year of his undergraduate degree that he began to lose weight. “I didn’t really know the best way to exercise or what to do in the gym. I just knew something was better than nothing,” he says. “Over the course of a year I developed a number of new habits and changed my lifestyle.”
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After losing a total of 70 pounds, Dominic put on weight – this time in the form of muscle – and eventually began competing (and winning) bodybuilding events in the classic physique category. Now at the age of 25, he has been doing this for three years and is currently preparing for his fourth season of competition. His daily workout consists of an hour of weight lifting, but during the pandemic he switched that to a lot of resistance band training without fitness equipment.
“I was really miserable and I wasn’t happy when I didn’t have this healthy lifestyle. I had no drive or ambition,” he says. “A lot of people say bodybuilding is a futile sport, but they don’t know that bodybuilding brings many positive benefits. It teaches you to be responsible, to work for yourself, and to be your own source of motivation.”
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