“I went to nationals for track here in California,” says John Carter of Los Angeles. “I was a triathlete—a strong swimmer, especially. In karate, my other hobby, I won the world championship when I was 15 years old.” Carter was clearly an accomplished athlete in high school, but his slender 130-pound frame was the subject of criticism from both friends and family. For the most part, he didn’t let it get to him—after all, the accolades were piling up.
It wasn’t until he graduated from high school that he realized he needed to make a change. “I woke up one day and saw myself in the mirror, and all those negative words I heard in high school sparked a fire in me,” he says. “They motivated me to transform my body into [what] I wanted it to be.”
Carter had no problem making his way to the gym, but once he got there he didn’t know where to start. A chance encounter with another patron was the catalyst he needed to start making progress. “I met the [biggest guy at my gym],” Carter says. “He approached me and was like, ‘Hey, do you want to work out with me?’ I said of course, and he started giving me guidance.” Carter began hitting the iron with his muscular mentor. After six months, he was comfortable enough to lift by himself, and a year later Carter had managed to pack on 45 pounds of solid muscle.
Still, the weight room was only half the battle. “I ate well, but to be honest, I would have cheat meals and I would snack during the day,” he says. “Before, it was three meals a day. Now it’s six.” His dishes are crafted around chicken, fish, or steak, and he keeps a close eye on his carbs and fats.
Today, carter weighs in at a lean 175 pounds, and his hard work and dedication have earned him some well-deserved attention.
He’s been featured as a bodybuilding.com transformation of the month, starred in fitness DVDs, and even earned a sponsorship with a supplement company. “When I [started this journey], I wanted to do it for myself,” he says. “[Now], I think the No. 1 thing is the journey and the people I’ve brought with me.” Over the course of his evolution, he’s also picked up some vital information. “I know people hate this, but I used to do curls in the squat rack,” he says, laughing. “That doesn’t happen anymore.”