Name: Eugene Katchalov
Hometown: New York, NY
Occupation: Professional Poker Player
Weight Before: 230 pounds
Weight After: 180 pounds
Duration: 14 months
Does winning truly revolve around how strong your mind-set is? If 31-year-old Eugene Katchalov is any indication, it probably does. Katchalov is a world-renowned poker professional and a member of Team PokerStars (@PokerStars) who thrives on an intense, year-round travel schedule that sees him visiting virtually all corners of the globe. To maintain his level of notoriety, this champion card player diligently plays poker 12 hours a day while using his quick wit to carefully craft and execute a winning strategy. And, as it turns out, he uses that same dedicated approach in everything he pursues.
Case in point: When Katchalov was being considered for the Ukrainian version of The Bachelor, he didn’t sit around waiting for producers to make up their minds. Instead, he evaluated the situation and concluded that he’d better lose some weight. “I realized it wasn’t going to look too good if I was overweight on the show, and I wanted to increase my chances,” Katchalov said. With that one decision, he immediately dove into an intense training regimen. “In the end, I didn’t get selected,” Katchalov recalls, “but at the same time, I felt so good and I saw so much progress—even in just three or four weeks—that I really wanted to keep going.”
From there he soon discovered he’d need to drastically alter his diet too if he was going to continue to see results. Previously he’d eat everything and anything he wanted, which included lots of fried potatoes, red meat, rice, white bread, and very, very oily and buttery foods. “I think food made me happy,” says Katchalov, “and that kind of resulted in me starting to gain weight after my teens.” But with help from his trainer, Lincon Rodrigues, who travels on the road with him and handles his nutrition, Katchalov learned how to stack the deck in his favor. He now eats a “protein-heavy diet” and avoids carbs in the evening. To ensure he stays on track, Katchalov allows himself one weekly cheat meal. “It’s helped me to actually really appreciate those foods and I find myself waiting for these cheat days,” he says.
The poker pro also found another way to stay motivated—not surprisingly by making fitness-related poker bets with one of his Team PokerStars friends and teammates. Combining both his new and long-standing passions helps keep Katchalov in the gym and his eye on the goal. He works out six times a week for as long as two hours per session, where he makes sure to hit every muscle while performing a lot of everything, including CrossFit. So far he’s won two of the three bets. The stipulation of the wager he did lose? Katchalov had to perform 1,000 pushups, a feat he ante upped and completed in around three hours.
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When reflecting on his incredible 14-month transformation, Katchalov indicates “nutrition and exercise were both equally responsible” for his amazing 63-pound weight loss. He’s since taken the last three months to successfully bulk up by 13 pounds, bringing his current weight to 180 pounds. But, numbers only partially explain his story. When it comes to proper nutrition and exercise, “you can fall in love with it.” And, this love affair has already yielded impressive results. “Now when I’m at the poker table,” Katchalov explains, “I feel like I have much more concentration, much more energy, and I just feel healthier and more mentally aware.” With that combination, it’s clear Katchalov will continue to capture more royal flush victories, not only in the game of poker, but also in the game of life.