Derek McGuire  is a fitness expert that goes by the motto – “you gotta wanna.” He has become a close family friend over the last seven years. He was temporarily my trainer and has been my wife’s trainer for the better part of seven years. When I first met him, he was an affable, good looking and intelligent young man dedicated to his craft. Over the ensuing years, I have gotten to know Derek and am amazed. I have been going to the gym for 35 years, and I have never seen anyone, including professional bodybuilders, be able to transform his or her body like Derek. He has done it day in and day out for seven years. He has won a host of bodybuilding competitions. Here is a short list:

  • Natural Pro Card at INBF Southwestern Natural Championships
  • 2011 Optimum Classic in Shreveport, LA, 1st Novice, Heavyweight and Overall
  • 2012 DFAC Jersey Naturals 1st Light Heavyweight
  • 2012 INBF Hercules 1st Light Heavyweight, won Pro Card
  • 2013 WNBF Pro Americans 5th in Heavyweights
  • 2015 Mid Atlantic Naturals 1st Light Heavyweights and overall champion
  • 2015 Team Universe 6th Light Heavyweight

This list continues to grow as Derek challenges himself.

But Derek’s success has come with many challenges. At the age of ten, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. This is a lifelong disease that requires insulin and has the potential for multiple medical complications. To be healthy, he had to adopt a rigorous diet and exercise routine. Despite this challenge, he was a high school All-American athlete in the shot put. This is surprising, although Derek looks like an athlete, he does not have the typical shot putter’s body type. He is 5’10” tall, with a compact, strong body. I asked him how he was so successful. His response was: “I like being the underdog. Shot putting is about form as much as it is about strength.”

In Derek’s final year of high school, he had another medical emergency. He was trying to qualify for the nationals after winning the New York State championship. Suddenly, his throw was going down precipitously. They went from the low sixties to the low fifties. With no obvious explanation except that he was feeling weak, he went to see his doctor. Fortunately, a very astute physician quickly detected celiac disease, and Derek was soon throwing in the low sixties again. Celiac disease is an allergy to gluten. Gluten is in an amazing number of foods besides pastas and bread. (He can be a difficult guy to go out to eat with.) Despite these challenges, Derek set the NYS high school discuss record with 190’9” and the NYS indoor shotput record with 64’11”. (Being a sports fan, I looked those numbers up and they are very impressive.)

Derek went on to become an All-American at the University of Mississippi. At 5’10’ and 250 pounds, he was considered the best college shot putter pound for pound in the country. Unfortunately, his third – and hopefully final – medical condition reared its ugly head. In his senior year, he required two back surgeries which ended his shot-putting career. At this point, competition was in his blood, so he contemplated his next challenge. As a shot-putter he had to force himself to eat 4-5000 calories a day. This was a conscious choice mandated by the rigorous nature of shot putting. As soon as he focused on bodybuilding he quickly lost 60 pounds. This is an excellent example of conscious eating and achieving your ideal weight. Derek is in control of his body; 250 was ideal for shot putting and 190 is ideal for bodybuilding. As soon as he made the decision to become a bodybuilder, he completely realigned his lifestyle to accomplish that goal.


Derek claims that realignment is the key indication that you are on the road to success. If you have a goal to be thin, in-shape and healthy, you cannot eat a pizza and drink a six-pack of beer nightly. You must re-engineer your life to be consistent with your goal. He reorganizes every aspect of his clients’ lives to help them be consistent. This takes planning and forethought. What are your daily demands and distractions, and how should you plan for them? Don’t let the inevitable mistakes get you down, and don’t quit. Most people quit just before they see results. A week or a few days more is all they need.

Once you see results, you are hooked. Eventually, it becomes harder not to work out than it is to work out. The health, energy and vitality you feel is addicting – not to mention looking great in a bathing suit. The key takeaway is to realign your life; don’t let little bumps in the road throw you off course, and most importantly don’t quit. There is a path to success if you stay committed.

You Gotta Wanna

There are three words that will guarantee your success: you gotta wanna. Body building is more about who you become in the process than anything else. You cannot buy six-pack abs at the store. It is a personal journey where the results truly speak for themselves. It takes tremendous commitment.

For Derek, it is about being the underdog. He was an undersized 5’10” All-American shot putter who could have gone to the Olympics if it were not for his back problems. Many genuinely concerned people said to him that he could not overcome his diabetes and his back problems to be a champion. He proved all the naysayers wrong. What would motivate you to adopt a healthy lifestyle? What are the challenges you face? You can realign your life for success.

Summary and Recommendations

Besides having tremendous personal success, I have witnessed many of Derek’s clients go on to great success, as well. The following is a list of recommendations Derek has for your success:

1. You gotta wanna. You must decide exactly what you want in life and then make a definitive decision to achieve it. Once you make that decision, you will attract all the resources you need to make it happen.

2. Realign your life. Determine all the things that must change in your life to be consistent with your new goal. This includes mindset, food, exercise and rest. Your diet will change dramatically. You will need to workout every day. You will also need to rest so your body has time to regenerate.

3. Don’t quit. Most people quit right before they achieve the results they are looking for. Keep moving forward because once you see results you are hooked forever.

4. Overcome mistakes. If you overeat, have dessert or go off your diet plan, learn from it and move on. If this happens occasionally, it does not mean you are failing or not committed; it means you are human. If you consistently go off the plan, reconsider if this is something you really want. Make sure to never beat yourself up in the process.

5. Forethought. You know the challenges you will face on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Plan so that you can remain consistent with you vision. Business trips, the holidays and special events can be get you off track. Proper planning will help you fully participate in these events while remaining consistent with your goals.

6. Get a coach. Make sure you have a coach who has gotten or is getting the results you desire.

Derek is evidence that you can overcome challenges to achieve your goals. A massive goal like competing in a bodybuilding show takes commitment. If you “wanna” and take steps to realign your life, you will succeed.

Dr. Steven Cangiano began his college career with aspirations to become a high school teacher. These aspirations took a turn when he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and go into the field of podiatric surgery. He completed his medical school training at Temple University and his surgical residency at the NY College of Podiatric Medicine where he was chief resident. He continued his academic career and fulfilled his early teaching aspirations by becoming an assistant professor of surgery at the age of 27. He was board certified in foot and ankle surgery at the age of 28. As residency director of the Franciscan Health System of NJ, Dr. Cangiano grew the program into the largest in NJ. Dr. Cangiano published multiple articles in medical journals and spent a total of thirteen years in academic medicine before venturing off into the world of complementary medicine.