How This Guy Got Sober and Packed on Serious Muscle

“I suffer from the disease of addiction,” says David Adesman, a 31-year-old creative director from Los Angeles, California. “I reached a point where I knew I needed to get help and started my recovery. A big part of my recovery was fitness.” Drugs and alcohol had left him thin and unhealthy; living at a recovery house, he and a roommate used to hit the gym every day.

“A year into my sobriety, my roommate and training partner relapsed and passed away,” Adesman says. “I was heartbroken. I decided to throw myself into fitness and health as a way to honor his memory.”

Before, Adesman hadn’t paid much attention to his diet. But he realized that getting fit meant being careful about what he ate. He was sober for a year and a half when he did his first cut, eliminating sugars and sweets and following a program he found online. “It was very strict and very clean,” he says, “and it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I just tried to take it one day at a time, just like my sobriety, and I made it through.”

He sourced his workouts online, too; he’d go to the gym by himself or with friends, and started out mostly using machines. The biggest changes came when he incorporated compound movements, doing heavy lifts like squats and deadlifts along with drop sets and supersets. “The biggest motivation to keep going was continually seeing improvements in my physique,” he says “The mirror was a big motivator.”

He bulked up quickly, putting on about 60 pounds in the first two years. “I was very thin and sickly when I first started,” he says. His gains began to slow and when he hit 190 pounds he shifted focus to maintaining rather than growing. “I like to say I’m the buffest creative director in LA (and as yet have not been corrected, hah),” he says, “so it has really become a part of my identity.” He’s also gotten certified as a personal trainer.

David Adesman

Looking back, he says changing his diet was the biggest challenge. It was hard to turn down things I used to enjoy,” he says, “and it still can be hard to explain to friends that I can’t go out with them to that restaurant or this one, because there isn’t anything there for me.” But he’s also loosened up a bit when it comes to food, while still tracking his macros. “I know I need a little freedom to remain the same,” he says.

The little sacrifices have been worth it for the boost in confidence and what he lovingly calls his “world-class pecs.” He’s working to maintain his physique while working a demanding job—one which, he notes, has a gym he can hit up during lunch breaks. For anyone looking to follow in his footsteps, he says it’s about finding a personal workout you can commit to: “Find out what works for you and really jump in with both feet.”

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