Success Story: Former Drunk Gets a Different Kind of Six Pack
This one-time major league prospect let alcohol and junk food derail his fitness before making a change.
Hometown: Hollywood, Florida
Weight Before: 190 lbs.
Weight After: 172 lbs.
AJ Grace has been playing baseball his whole life. His parents encouraged the hobby and as he grew, so did his talent. He even landed on a scout team during his teenage years, traveling around the country and playing in tournaments to increase his exposure, hoping to earn a spot on a college roster. It worked. Grace played for Nova Southeastern University for two seasons and even a half season at Florida State. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it to the big leagues.
After his career on the diamond ended, his career in litigation services beganand so did his drinking. “I was drinking close to 1,000 calories a day,” recalls the 28-year-old Florida native. “Five out of seven days of the week I was out and about partying. Late night pizza and stopping for Taco Bell afterward, too.”
The partying took its toll. By the age of 27, the 5'9" Grace was a pudgy 190 pounds and his drinking was seriously beginning to affect his social life. “Sometimes I even felt imprisoned in my own house,” Grace recalls. “It was like 10 PM and I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t go anywhere because I was wasted”. But things got worse. Grace was also slapped with a BUI (Boating Under the Influence) after he crashed a boat during the legendary Columbus Day Regatta. “I was one of the dumb people that decided, ‘I’m drunk, I want to drive my boat.’ I got into a collision, and it was minor damagejust some fiberglass broke off,” Grace says, “but I did get arrested. It was a low point in my life, and that’s when I knew there was a problem.”
"It’s very difficult because there is so much information. Zero in on what you feel will work best. If you stay consistent and look towards the long term goal, that’s the biggest factor."
Grace continued to spiral out of control for an additional six months before an encounter at a friend’s birthday party in Key West changed the course of his life forever. “I drank as much as [I ever had] in my lifetime,” Grace recalls. “Then I met this [girl] who made me realize, ‘hey, you’ve got to go out there and make something of yourself.’ She was really into fitness, and even on vacation, she was telling me how she was going to wake up the next day and go on a beach run. That’s when I decided to quit drinking.” So he dropped his booze habit completely and when he returned to Hollywood he started running around his waterfront neighborhood a few nights a week.
Grace cleaned up his diet, too. “I try to stick with proteins and vegetables. I’m not a big believer in a lot of the starches,” he says. By modifying his diet and avoiding alcohol, Grace slimmed down to 160 pounds in three months time. The next step was hitting the weights and adding some quality muscle mass. “I lift about five days a week and I bike or jog five days a week,” Grace says. “I try to mix it up as much as I can.”
After a year of clean bulking, Grace has upped his weight to a ripped 172 pounds and has gotten his drinking habit under controlnow its one to two drinks, max. He’s still running and participating in 5Ks or Spartan races whenever he can. “After I finished that first race, I had that [rush] of endorphins and I was hooked,” he says. He’s also stepped up to the plate with his old teammates from his high school scout team. Grace is running circles around those guys. “We play in these charity tournaments and they start at 8 AM and the championship game won’t be 'til like 8 or 9 PM,” Grace says happily. “Everyone is sucking wind and I’m still running the bases, hitting fly balls and hitting the ball with good pop.”