Hitting mid-life, a history of shoulder dislocations, an herniated disc, a wrist tendonitis, and a growing discontentment of how he felt and looked, Juval decided to regain control over his health.
Being a late bloomer with four years of regular lifting under his belt, he finally decided to take on a body transformation challenge that, unprecedentedly, allowed him to “go the distance.” He was hesitant to compete, at first, because he was anxious that he wasn’t big enough: “I didn’t have any models to emulate. All I saw on the stage were big boys.” At 5 feet, 4 inches, he started his journey weighting at 165 pounds, 26% body fat and a 35-inch waist. But his curiosity got the best of him and with much prodding and encouragement, Juval plunged into his first bodybuilding competition at the 2005 Designer Body Spring Break Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships, in Honolulu, Hawaii.
It was an on-going battle to overcome the challenges that he faced, such as, consistently sticking to his prescribed diet. He says that there were moments, more than he can count, that all he was thinking of were French fries and cheeseburgers or “kalbi” (barbeque ribs) plate lunches. It was easy to skip workouts specially after working full-time in a counseling profession that leaves him mentally exhausted at the end of the day. Complacency reared its ugly head and he had to constantly guard against it.
It was a painstaking and long-drawn-out process of seven months to reconstitute his body. In the end, he lost about 35 pounds of body fat and gained about 15 pounds of muscle. He competed at 140 pounds with a 28-inch waist. In his first show, he won first place in his weight class. He says with disbelief, “I competed only because I wanted to know how far I can go. I was stoked; this is more than I ever imagined.”
As a result of achieving his fitness goals, Juval perceives his world in a more positive light and he is able to tackle more of life’s challenges with vigor. He believes that “bodybuilding is a humbling sport. I realized that the body is malleable and impermanent. It should not be the only characteristic that defines you.”