Courtesy of Matt Shepley
How bad was it for Mikhail Kniaziewicz, who once grew up in a wealthy Philadelphia suburb and earned a place in the college football squad with his left leg, feeling depressed, lonely, out of shape and overweight, wondering if that Was life worth living?
“It got to the point that on some evenings I was sitting alone outside listening to music with the suicide hotline number in hand, ready to vote. Fortunately, I never got to a point where I felt I had to call it, ”says Kniaziewicz.
For that – and for the amazing turn that followed – we have to return to the beginning of his journey.
From the parking space to the grate
"When I grew up, I was a very active child," Kniaziewicz recalls. He and his older sister had been in sports for as long as he can remember, and he took it seriously. “I think you could say I was a little trophy hunter when I was growing up and I spent a lot more time concentrating on sports than I ever did schoolwork. I was just so in love with professional athletes and trained and was the absolute best in every sport I was in. "
He assumed that soccer would be his mainstay, but after excelling in youth leagues, he couldn't make the cut for his high school soccer team as a freshman. Disappointed but unwavering, he brought his ingenuity to the soccer field instead. It's stuck. "In the end, I attended King & # 39; s Division III College in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and played there for four years," he says.
Then the problems with his weight started. He entered college weighing about 170 pounds 5 to 7 inches tall – but after just a semester, the so-called "Freshman 15" turned into the "Freshman 45", which brought him to 215 pounds. However, it wasn't just the typical college culprits at fast food and parties that kniaziewicz spiraled.
"My first experience of depression came after my last high school soccer game last year. I missed a game-winning extra point that cost us the game and eliminated us in the playoffs," he says. "I received threats on social media that night and my house was plagued. My teammates didn't support me. You contributed to the bullying. It was so bad that I sat alone at lunch for the rest of my last year and didn't even go to the prom. "
The pain continued for a few years when Kniaziewicz did not seek professional help. Eventually, however, he came to a crossroads in his head – and decided to turn the negative energy into a positive change. “I wanted to use pain as a tool to further achieve my goals. It sounds crazy, but I wanted to keep thinking about these bad memories because it motivated me to be very successful in life, not just to find self-esteem, but to prove that they are all wrong. "
Kniaziewicz was already savvy in the weight room after starting high school training when he joined the soccer team. But as a junior in college, he really focused on his quest for fitness. He trained with a mix of heavy, low-repetitive powerlifting moves and high-intensity exercises to failure that helped him drop from £ 215 to £ 165 in six months. "I train twice a day, watch videos of workouts, and read articles in Muscle & Fitness," he says. "For me, bodybuilding and the gym were my antidepressant, and I loved spending time there."
From a nutritional point of view, he dropped as many processed foods as possible from his diet. "I just stuck to foods that came closer to their natural shape," he explains. “I ate fruit, vegetables and every kind of meat every day with every meal. I also spent a lot of time learning about supplements, how they work and when to use them. I have regularly taken whey protein, BCAAs and fat burners based on green tea. "
When an older Kniaziewicz saw that his football career was coming to an end, he turned his sporting ambitions to bodybuilding and aimed at the men's bodybuilding department. At the same time, he decided to use his BSBA degree in marketing for a personal training career. But an old enemy was about to raise his head as he prepared for his debut in October 2019.
"I had pancreatic problems for the first time in my senior year," said the 24-year-old. "It wasn't that bad back then because the nurses only let me eat snacks (instead of full meals) to rest my pancreas. But I had my second attack 10 weeks before the show and it was easily a 10 on the pain scale."
After some difficult treatments, including fasting and infusion feeding, Kniaziewicz found that his preparations for the show had been postponed for at least three weeks – but he wasn't ready to stop. "From a training perspective, I had to eliminate all abdominal muscle training and keep cardio to a minimum so that my pancreas was not further damaged," he explains. “For my diet, I had to switch from a keto to a low-fat approach and keep my meals small, which restricted my growth. I was basically about 70% competitive. "
However, this 70% was enough to finish fourth in his class at the OCB Chesapeake Classic 2019 – and now he wants to compete in two more competitions in 2020. "I spend a lot of time getting stronger mentally and physically so that I can show my true best physique and hopefully earn my professional card," he says.
In retrospect, Kniaziewicz also attributes that he missed the kick because he changed his life for the better. If this fateful boot had sailed through the posts instead: "I would never have discovered myself, my love for health and fitness and even my passion to help others and improve their lives," he emphasizes. "Strangely, I'm very grateful that it happened."
Kniaziewicz & # 39; Training Split
Monday: Back, triceps
Tuesday: Chest, biceps
Friday: Biceps, triceps
He will also do three 30-minute, low-intensity cardio sessions per week.