He was one of the very best in the world at his job. He played for 10 years in the NFL, won a Super Bowl, and earned millions. When it all ended abruptly—as it always does—he was, improbably, right back on his feet and onto the next thing. Two years removed from football, Steve Weatherford’s second career as a fitness personality and motivator is thriving. His future is now perhaps brighter than it was when he was playing. He owes this at least in part to a New Year’s Resolution he made on January 1, 2016, and he wants to show you exactly how he did it.
BY MATT TUTHILL
Punters are just supposed to be happy to be on the team. The fame and prestige that goes along with playing for a premiere franchise and winning a Super Bowl, as Steve Weatherford did with the NY Giants in 2012, is supposed to belong to position players who are on the field for every play.
But there isn’t anything typical about Steve Weatherford’s life and career. Yes, he was a punter but his insane fitness levels were what made him such a standout. In 2013 Muscle & Fitness magazine named him the NFL’s Fittest Man. The year-round definition of his physique is the envy of many fitness competitors.
Yet, there’s something about Weatherford’s career that only makes sense now in the light of a recent revelation. He wore a long-sleeve spandex shirt under his pads throughout his career not to keep warm in the elements, but because he says he was embarrassed about the size of his arms.
“I was comfortable with taking my shirt off, but my arms were never up to par,” he says.
Free from the constraints of sport-specific training after he retired, Weatherford made a New Year’s Resolution for 2016—to grow his arms a full two inches in 90 days, bringing them up to 19 inches. He wrote down the very program that blew up his arms; he calls it #ARMageddon and it’s available for purchase HERE.
Considering the size and shape of his arms at that time of his resolution (about 17” and cut), the rest of mortals are free to speculate as to the severity of Weatherford’s body dysmorphia. But our interview with Weatherford isn’t really about guys who want monster arms (or ladies who want to tone theirs for a strapless dress). This is all about Weatherford’s methodical process for executing his resolution, which is the area where he says most resolutions fail. Whether your New Year’s Resolution has to do with health and fitness or is a different goal entirely, Steve’s process can be applied to get you where you want to go.
Read on and heed his advice. It might just change your life.
Robert Irvine Magazine: You’ve been in tremendous shape for a long time. You don’t strike me as the kind of person that needed to make New Year’s resolutions about his health and fitness each year. But last year you made a resolution to grow your arms to 19 inches.
Steve Weatherford: I’ve always been an overachiever, able to accomplish things in my life that nobody ever thought that I would. One of the reasons I’ve been able to do that is because I do an incredibly good job of creating goals and plans for myself. The reason that I’ve become successful is because of my execution of the plan.
Being very goal-oriented is something that’s really important to me because with extreme ADHD, having a life plan, I thrive in that setting. But when I don’t have a plan or a direction for my day or for my life, I’m worthless.
RI: Are you clinically ADHD or is that something that you kind of say metaphorically?
SW: Oh, yeah. It’s not just ADHD. It’s an extreme case of it and it’s not just as a child. I have extreme adult ADHD.
RI: How does that manifest for you?
SW: It’s very difficult for me to focus on any one thing for longer than a very short period of time, but one way that I’ve been able to use that as an advantage is once I do create goals and a plan, I’m able to achieve a hyper-focus that people who don’t have ADHD cannot achieve. The inability to focus in life in general has obviously negatively affected me as a child and as a young adult, but the older I become the more I’m able to use what most people view as a disability and use it as an advantage. My greatest weapon as an adult is that I can craft an effective plan. That’s what ARMageddon is. It is my goal from January 1st of 2016. I had other resolutions too; I wanted to become a better communicator with my wife. I want to have a 60 minute of no electronic family time—no TVs, no iPads, no iPhones, just time invested in my family to nurture that relationship.
To become a better communicator, I decided that instead of text messaging my wife as a primary source of communication, that I was going to call her on the phone more. Instead of just getting the point across via text, I would call her on the phone and that would give her an opportunity to tell me her thoughts more. That has worked really well.
When I created the ARMageddon plan, it was never a business venture. It was never something I was planning on putting into an e-book. I just did it for myself. I created a very detailed plan through nutrition and training. I mapped out every single exercise variation, every set, every rep, because I knew the more detailed I went, the more time that went into creating that plan, the more effective the program was going to be. It’s kind of the ideal of measuring three times and cut once.
If you look at every single game that I’ve played in the National Football League, you’ll never see a game that I played in that I had short sleeves. That was always something about my body that bothered me—the size of my arms. When you play in the NFL, every single part of your body is covered up except for your arms and that was my weakest body part. That was the body part that I could not get to grow. That was kind of like my dirty little secret. When I retired, I wanted to fix the thing that bothered me the most. Not for anyone else, but for myself.
The reason I shared the resolution on social media is because I’ve always prided myself on being a source of inspiration or motivation for life in general. Whether that’s as a father, as an athlete, as a gym guy, as a philanthropist. I always was very motivated to be that person in people’s lives. I wanted people who viewed me as their source of inspiration to be my source of inspiration and my motivation. Because if I share that goal with them and I don’t achieve it, that’s going to affect my credibility with that person, with that relationship that I hold so dearly.
The messages I get from people sending me gratitude for the motivation that I give them—I get more fulfillment from that than I did from any NFL game I’ve ever played in.
To get to 19 inches, I had to grow 2.25 inches, which I hadn’t been able to do in the previous two years. How did I think I was going to do it in 90 days? I took a risk and it was the first time in my life that I concentrated solely on that being my number one priority. In all the years prior to that, whenever I went to the gym it had to be about becoming a better football player—never about getting bigger arms
RI: And as soon as you put it out there, a ton of people were following your progress.
SW: Yeah. As the time went on, week four, week five, week six, week seven, people started to notice the size of my arms growing and they started to become more and more interested in the workouts that I was doing. Then week nine, week 10, week 11 roll around and my arms literally look like they blew up overnight. Then people are like, “Dude, you’ve got to put this into a program.”
I measured on the 90th day and I was 18.9 inches and I went home a little bit disappointed but at the end of the day I grew 2.24 inches in 90 days. I was obviously super proud of it but I didn’t hit my goal. So I went home, and really focused on my nutrition and my water for like three days, and came back four days later all carbed up and I hit 19 inches.
RI: You said before if you don’t have a plan you’re useless. What kinds of stuff has happened in your life when you’re not really focused on a goal that you’re obsessing over every day? What kinds of traps are you prone to?
SW: Just wasting time. We all do it. We all get on to Facebook because we wanted to check a messages. Then, 45 minutes pass and next thing we know, we haven’t even looked at all of our messages and we went down the rabbit hole of looking at what our friend from high school’s ex-girlfriend’s cousin is doing. You know what I mean? That’s pure waste. That’s not being efficient with the opportunity that every day brings in our life. Every day is a blessing and if I don’t have a goal and a plan, I waste my life.
RI: To say you were ashamed of your arms is interesting. I remember that you wore spandex over your arms, but they were still so well defined that you could see the cuts through the shirt. That almost seems to be bordering on body dysmorphia, but maybe playing in the NFL will do that.
SW: I don’t know if I was ashamed of my arms, but think about it this way: when somebody gives you the title of being the fittest man in the NFL (which Muscle & Fitness did in 2013), you have to live up to that title. Although I did believe that I was the fittest man in the NFL, I wasn’t the biggest, I wasn’t the strongest, but even previous to getting that title, it was always something that bothered me because my arms were really stubborn and it didn’t look like they matched the rest of my body. I didn’t have trouble taking my shirt off, but my arms were lagging behind.
RI: Why would women want to do ARMageddon?
SW: Well, I’ve had hundreds of women that have done this program and the reasoning for them is different every single time. Some women want to do ARMageddon because they have a wedding day coming up and they have to wear a strapless dress. Or maybe another woman wants to do it because they’ve seen the success stories of other men who have done it who have actually lost three inches off of their waist and increase the size of their arms by an inch and a half. They want to lose weight and they want to turn their flabby arms into harder, more shapely arms.
Remember, there’s a big difference between the way men and women are able to build muscle and strength. I would be insanely impressed if a woman is able to put a full inch on their arms during ARMageddon. Women don’t have the same testosterone levels, and the way a woman’s muscle fibers are constructed, they will increase strength on a massive scale before their muscle fibers will actually start to do any type of growth.
RI: What is your all-time best piece of nutrition advice?
SW: Everything in moderation. I think the bodybuilder mentality of living on chicken and rice is not healthy. I think we all have, in the last couple of years, realized that our favorite bodybuilders from 10 years ago are getting hip replacements. They’re having heart attacks. They’re having all of these physical issues and it’s because of bodybuilding. They’re supposed to be the picture of physical health and a picture of human capabilities, but that lifestyle, and I’m not just talking about the drugs that they take, but their diet and training as well, isn’t very healthy. The training that they’re doing is negatively affecting their life.
I have to take my own advice a lot of times because I’m a very obsessive and excessive person. When I set a goal for myself I become so hyper-focused on it that I will neglect relationships, I’ll neglect my own health, I’ll neglect sleeping because I’ll be so focused and so consumed with achieving that goal that I forget about all the other things in my life that are important. That’s a piece of advice that I try to remind myself of: everything in moderation. I think that bodes well for nutrition, fitness, and relationships. Vegetables are great for you, but if you only ate one kind of vegetable indefinitely, your body would develop a sensitivity to it. You can love to work out, but you can work out so much that you actually get weaker. In relationships, you could be so madly in love that you want to spend all of your time with that person. Then when you do, what happens? The pendulum always swings back.
RI: People have a really hard time with the idea of starting from scratch. They feel like starting a new job, starting a new program, starting a new diet—it makes it feel like they’re giving up on everything they’ve been doing. Then you take you, at 33 years old, you transitioned out of the NFL and seamlessly moved into a new career and have actually built more of a following outside of football. That’s unprecedented because you didn’t play a high-profile position. What enabled you to make such a smooth transition?
SW: Well, it may seem from the outside looking in that it’s been a seamless transition and like, “Oh, he decided, after being one of the best in the world at what he did for 10 years, now he’s just going to retire from that and try to become one of the best in the world at something else. Must be so nice. What a charmed life.”
But I started preparing myself for this very transition five years ago. I was doing some soul searching after my sixth year in the NFL and I’m like, “What do I want to do when football is over? What do I want to do with my life?” I started to realize I’m not going to be able to play this game forever. I started to ask myself, “What am I truly passionate about? What brings me the most life fulfillment?” I think about all these different occupations and professions and the thing that I always kept coming back to, and the only thing that’s really remained constant in my life over the past 20 years is fitness
It’s the only reason I was able to earn a scholarship to college, play in the NFL, have the career that I did, win a Super Bowl, enable my family to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle… It’s all because I committed myself to a lifetime of health and wellness when I was 14.
One thing that benefited me was my self-identity, how I viewed myself, was never what I did. I played football as a professional. I never viewed myself as a professional football player. I think that’s really benefited me because I don’t feel like I lost my identity when I retired. Now that I’m not a professional football player, that chapter of my life is over but my life isn’t over, you know? That’s why a lot of professional athletes struggle, and that’s why the divorce rate is 75%. Three out of four people within 24 months of their career being over or them retiring, are either bankrupt or divorced.
RI: What kinds of mistakes you see people make with their New Year’s resolutions?
SW: It’s pretty simple. People get very excited and they set these very lofty dreams and expectations and goals and resolutions, which is great. I encourage people to do that, but they’re doing themselves a disadvantage because they’re only getting one part of the equation correct. You want to set big goals and dreams for the next year, but you also need to lay out your plan and figure out exactly how you’re going to execute it. How many people do that?
The formula that has made me successful is very, very simple. I use it every single day of my life. It’s very consistent. It’s applicable to every facet of life. It can be applicable for the 14-year-old kid that’s 108 pounds as a freshman in high school like I was, or it’s applicable to the 62-year-old grandmother. It’s applicable to the person that’s 23 years old and they don’t know what they want to do with their life once they graduate from college.
I call it the Formula for Prosperity. It’s a four-step process. The first step is identifying your vision or your goal. The second step is setting micro-goals to be able to make that dream come true, but then the third step is to write a detailed plan on how to achieve the micro-goals. Everyone does part one. A few people do part two, and far fewer do part three. The fourth step is where 90% of people fail in making their dreams become their everyday reality. That’s the execution of the plan to achieve the goals to make the dream come true. Execution is just another fancy word for hard work.
I used the formula for prosperity to get into the NFL. I knew I was going to have to get bigger, faster, stronger, so I created goals. In the first year, I want to get to 140 pounds. Then the next year I want to get to where I can bench press 200 pounds. Then you’re constantly creating micro-goals that are going to get you closer and closer to the end goal. Like anyone else, I can become overwhelmed by the big dreams and goals that I create for myself. However, I am humble enough to seek advice from mentors in my life.
When I knew I needed to get bigger, faster, stronger at 14 years old, I didn’t know how to do it. You couldn’t get on the Internet. That didn’t exist. I would go to the library and I would read books and then I would also go to the biggest, strongest guy in the gym at the YMCA in Terre Haute, Indiana, and I would ask him questions. I probably annoyed the crap out of this guy. His name was Jim Crews. He played basketball at Indiana State. I just followed him around like a puppy dog. I did everything that he did and I asked a lot of questions. I was able to take that knowledge and that advice and the knowledge that I learned at the library from reading books, and I was able to get bigger, faster, stronger. I graduated high school at 220 pounds. That’s 112 pounds I gained in four and a half years of high school.
RI: What about balance? I see a lot of dads get out of shape. I see a lot of moms get out of shape. The child becomes the focus and then it kind of throws everything into chaos. You’ve got four kids. How do you balance the gym commitments with everything else you’re doing because most people can’t even do nine to five and the gym. It’s too hard for them to put together on a consistent basis.
SW: One of my resolutions for 2017 is to find better balance. I didn’t get enough sleep in 2016 and I know I need to do better with that. I think what’s key to remember is that family and work—those things are not an obligation. They are an opportunity and a blessing. So how do I fulfill the opportunity, obligation, and blessing of being a father and a husband, but then also build a business around my passion in fitness? It’s really, really simple man. If things in your life like your goals and your dreams are important to you, you’re not going to find time to put the work in to get closer to them. You will make the time.
Originally published in Robert Irvine Magazine.