One of the biggest changes involved his sleep routine. Patel was a night owl—he’d hit the gym at night, which meant he wouldn’t get to sleep until 1 a.m., then have to wake up for work a 6:30 a.m.. He decided to get up early instead, working out at 5:30 a.m. before work, then winding down for bed by 10 p.m.
“It has really changed my life in terms of productivity and even sleep quality,” he says.
He also stopped skimping on cardio. “I thought like so many gym bros that cardio would kill all my gains and I would end up skinny fat,” he says.
Instead, he began low-intensity, steady-state cardio. Within a few months, his resting heart rate had dropped from 69 to 50. His resistance training workouts improved, too, and stopped feeling sluggish and tired.
He stuck to his plant-based diet, but paid more attention to his calorie intake. Looking to lose fat but retain his muscle, he cut out junk food and ate more fruits and vegetables. Nightly meal prep kept him from straying from his diet during the busy workday.
In two weeks, he’d lost more than six pounds; at the end of 13 weeks, he’d lost almost 20 pounds. “I felt lighter on my feet, more alert and my gym performance had gone up significantly,” he says.
Looking at his before pictures, he almost couldn’t believe they were him.
“Patience is everything,” he says. Following a routine and trusting the process got him where he is—and doing it while vegan proved that you don’t have to eat meat to get ripped. “For anyone thinking of going vegan,” he says, “don’t feel that it will set you back in your training goals.”
This article originally appeared on Men's Health