MANDIRIGMA on a MISSION...to OVERCOME to the MAX
Mini me and Micro me need Regular Me to be the best ME I can BE!!! HERE I COME!!!
Location Erie, IL
Age 41
Gender Male
Interests family time, church, MMA and boxing, both participating and watching
Smoke? I do not smoke
Drink? I occassionally drink
Education Graduated college / 2-year / AA
Favorite movies The Outsiders, Scarface, Raging Bull, Vision Quest... too many to list
Favorite music Switchfoot, Matt Maher, Staind, Foo Fighters, Dropkick Murphy's, too many
NUT-shell update 2014-2015

Just in case you don't know me my name is Duane!

Like a good percentage of you I too was looking forward to giving the Maxformation one last good run, the 4th quarter of the big game. Been on the bench and cheerleader in 2013, water boy in 2014... 2015 was the year to put back on my gear and give my family reason to cheer.

Because in 2012 I seen my potential, didn't live up to it but scratched the surface, got noticed a little, learned a lot (and continue to seek out more ways to improve). I did OK in 2012. Had a couple 15 seconds spans of notoriety instead of just being notorious!

Then a few weeks before the typically December 1st start date I was hearing rumors there would be no MFLC 2015. Ended up be truth and not rumors. My first thought “what about all those folks out there that may have been on the fence past years, wanting to step up and take their health back? The ones who watched lives change and finally thought “2015 will be my year!” Some need that 25K carrot waving in the distance to motivate them, but the true prize is your health, there's a good reason it rhymes with wealth. HEALTH is WEALTH!!!

I feel I'm unique in a few ways and can relate to a wide spectrum of aspiring transformations in the making. Growing up I was smallish and skinny. Hard gainer that wanted to be big, learned it can't be forced for great results. From a hard loser once I reached a point of obesity, I mean I'm only about 5' 9 and a half inches on a good day! I've been on a roller coaster for the past almost 23 years.

I weighed maybe 155-160 graduating high school, built myself up to around 175 my first year of college. Had a vision in my mind “I really want to weigh 200 pounds!” reached that in the next year or two through supplementation and over eating. Eventually my metabolism slowed down and through poor strategy nutrition wise and power lifting I shot up to around 255! Sure I had a lot of muscle and I was the strongest I'd ever been but there was also a lot of fluffy weight. I'm guessing for every pound of lean mass I put on maybe 3-5 of fat poundage.

I was training in boxing gyms throughout the bi-state (Iowa and Illinois) area from 91-98, little amateur competition and ring time sparring with local professionals. Had dreams of being a professional heavyweight but I was not meant to be a heavyweight. In 1998 an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) gym (before it was named MMA, we called it shoot boxing, NHB or no holds barred, vale tudo, Ultimate fighting) opened up in March in my neighborhood. I thought of convenience and it would be good to learn some chokes to help with my weekend bouncing job. 3 months later in late June I was in an 8 man tournament in a weight class limit 220. I had to cut down to that. Like the weight I packed on wrong I cut the weight wrong but made weight. I fought 3 times in one day and lost a decision in the finals to a guy with more experience than me.

After this first competition in August I faced the worst day of my first 25 years on this earth. I lost my brother to an automobile accident, he was my only sibling and my most trusted confidant, my best friend. So this was the start to a long dark period of my life. Always looked to my brother for that LiFT, you know? Never felt so all alone in my life, even when I was in a crowd of people. This one person that was there, had my back and was suppose to be here through all the bad stuff, after 21 years of having that voice telling me “believe”, it was gone in an instant.

I continued training to fight but never really reached my potential. I lost the fight in me and replaced it with a self loathing soul just doing enough to get by. If I was fighting in a match and I didn't score a KO standing and it went to the ground I'd find a way to quit like a coward. I seeked that standing KO gratification, wanted no part of grinding out a win on the ground. Left a lot of regrets on them mats inside cages and between them ropes. Parts of me still have holes that need filled.

Somehow maintained my job floating through my personal life, my job life kept intact. Drank and ate my sorrows away, or more like drowned them. I had bar tabs I would pay off each Wednesday, pay day, and start running up new ones for the next week. At times all that pent up emotion would find its way to boil to the surface and erupt at the worst times. No excuses, lots of regrets, loss of love and respect for myself, nobody else regardless of how low they could think of me could match how I felt about self.

So being overweight, low self esteem, emotional baggage and zero game it was really hard for me to meet people let alone find a girlfriend. Was not the greatest at “breakin the ice”. Did some online dating since face to face I never had the right things to say and didn't look good enough (in my own self assessment) to keep an audience long enough to get to know the real me. People who already knew me were friends and I was just the funny teddy bear to the girls, but behind the jokes and laughing was an angry, depressed beast... Finally in 2004 met my wife, married 2006, had first mini me in 2010 and second mini in January 2014.

I'm sure I'll get more into facets of my continuing Quest to be my best but feeling like I'm getting a bit long winded like I been accused of. But that's one thing that morphed in me, better face to face communicator. But in all serious sense of this QUEST or fitness journey we are on, I find myself at a health crossroads. Been a couple intersections and warning signs in my past, I'm sure I'll get to them in another long winded rambling. But this time, it's not so much as a “I want to get back in shape” or “I think I need to get ready for the beach.” its getting to the point of “I NEED to get my health back! My boys need their daddy!” Failure is not an option. Let's WIN our health back fit-siblings! HEALTH is the grand prize! Thanks for listening.

12-05-12 Updated profile story recap...

Where do I begin, I guess I can start with hello, my name is Duane Franzen Jr. and this is my second year participating in the Maxformation. Managed to place in the top 25 last year and was shocked I didn't break the top 10, I think a lot of people were, but hey, stuff happens and life isn't always fair. I managed to get myself in the best shape I had been in in a long time, ran multiple area road races, met some amazing new friends near and far (my intentions if I won would have been to meet each and every one of them in person).

In hindsight if you ask me "Do you think you did enough to win it all?" my answer would be "Did I win? No, then obviously not. I didn't do enough, I left room for doubt that I deserved top placing. I do believe I out worked almost everybody but... was I visually the best looking transformation? Nope." This year I plan to make jaws drop with my transformation...and intend to look the part of a cover model and champion!

Personal info about me and my home team, I'm happily married to my best friend, my lovely wife Stacy and we are the proud parents of a highly spirited 2 and a half year old boy we'll call Mini Mandirigma here. We recently relocated the Franzen Family compound and are still settling in and trying to get the former home ready to list. We also have every intention to give Mini Mandirigma a sibling to grow up with. I am a devote Christian and a big reason behind our relocation. Our church and the school system were the major driving forces in our decision.

Some stuff just about me personally, maybe you read my profile description below already or some of my journal entries from last year. I released a ton of demons through my journals and exposed soul and told everyone here something I had kept secret from even my closest friends. Around mid 2011 I decided to be checked for low testosterone and found I was deficient in both T and vitamin D. I will go into greater detail in a future journal I imagine but I decided to get checked when I figured out my depression was not always accompanied with a reason for it. I had some pretty bad stuff happen to me in the past so low T kind of just slithered into my life under the radar. I hope to keep learning new and better natural ways to deal with my affliction and want to share what I learn with the world because I do believe it is a problem that gets worse and more common with each passing generation. My boy is who inspired me to share my problem to help all the mini's of the future.

I'm here to help and here to be inspired, I hope to be inspiring and have positive value to each and every one of my new and present brothers and sister of fitness and health! Now let's achieve what we believed to be unachievable and crush challenges under our sneakers every step of the way!!! 2013 is our year to SHINE!!!


original profile below...
I'll write more later, i need to get working out while the wife and baby boy are sleeping.

Me in a nutshell:
About Me? What's there to say, I guess I'm a fairly average guy, but different in many ways at the same time. Grew up in the Midwest, eastern Iowa in a medium size working class town on the Mississippi river, Clinton IA. I guess back in the day it was known to have the most millionaires per capita in the lumbermill times but not anymore. Mostly factory workers and construction folks.

I guess growing up I was a smallish kid, wirey build. My dad was a big guy and my mom is from the Philippines so she's tiny. Being a little smaller most my childhood I was kind of picked on until I developed a fiery attitude, you know it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Anyhow I was a bit of a shy kid, felt different, always wanted to be big. I was always fast, had the quick twitch muscles back then, but I wanted to be thick. Around middle school I started lifting weights, maybe a bit earlier than should have , mostly concentrating on arms because everyone wants big guns and my back because I was a huge Bruce Lee fan and envied his v-taper lats. I never really got all that massive through High school, graduated weighing between 155-160 lbs. During college I started using weight gain supplements trying to put on size, mostly buying whatever had the biggest 4 digit number printed on the from Mega Weight Gainer 4000 or whatever. So between that, EAS releasing the first creatine powder, over eating and two a day lifting schedule I started packin on weight, not the best quality weight but I really didn't know what I was doing diet wise. My goal in college was to get up to 200 lbs from my 174 lbs thinner body weight. Well from this point I just kept want to get bigger, I passed up 200 and eventually ballooned up a little past 250 in about 5 years through continued bad diet, weight gainers, and whatever new legal stuff that claimed to deliver steroid like results. Of course I was powerlifting and learning on the job and tried every type of workout there was. So spending all that time trying to get bigger, now I'm working hard trying to get smaller again, but fit and healthy. So that's my physical story...

Now we get to the meat and potatoes, my emotional and psychological story. When I was 4 I finally became a big brother, my brother Michael was my life long confidence booster. The shy kid had someone looking up to him, it felt good. We had each others backs, he was my closest person all through childhood and into young adulthood. He continued to be the one person in the world that made me feel like I could do whatever it was in the world I wanted to, scolded me if I was doing things that would work against my goals. Had dreams of being a professional boxer, we watched fights together, sparred, went to the boxing club together, he always made me feel like I had potential to be as good as I was willing to work hard to acheive. Eventually MMA started popping up around here in about 1996 and in 98 I switched to MMA training. A gym opened in my neighborhood and I lived there half the time training 6-7 days a week. My coach was team mates with Pat Miletich and we use to bounce back and forth between our gym in Clinton and Pat's in Bettendorf about 30 minutes down the river. I fought my first 8 man tourney 3 months later made it to the finals and lost a decision, but was runner up and quaified for nationals. My brother was there and bragged to everyone about how I would be a champion one day. That same summer about a month later I lost my brother to an auto accident. It crushed me, all of a sudden I was alone with nobody to boost my spirits, I depended on his confidence in me because I never really had it for myself. When he died a big part of me died as well. It was like if Pinnochio lost Jiminy cricket, who would be in my ear helping me believe in myself? I went on floating through life a shell of who I was before, the next 5-6 years were the darkest of my life.

In the spring of 2004 after many unsuccessful attempts with online dating I met the woman who would a year and a half later become Mrs Franzen. Life started looking up but there was always something missing, I still lacked in my confidence and in a way was still like a lost puppy dog.

It took a couple years and some ups and downs in life but in the spring of 2010 I finally became a dad, the greatest thing to ever happen to me, but also an eye opener. Where to find time for taking care of myself. I probably got into my unhealthiest state, emotionally I was getting better and learning that sometimes I need to find the confidence myself, I'm still the same guy that my brother believed in and he'll always be in my heart and now I have a lil man who has my brother's name as a middle name. My new lil guy needs to have a daddy worth looking up to and bragging to his friends, you know the saying “my dad can beat up your dad!” “naa-uuuh!” “Yes huh!” I want to be that dad all the kids know is the ALPHA DAD, TA-TA...TA_DAAAAA!

You know eventually I just came to a point, had an aha moment and thought I need to get my SSHHHI-stuff together and kick myself in the AAAS-BUTT! No more quick fixes, no more cutting corners. Health screenings for health insurance discounts was a catalyst, why did I feel dread whenever that time of year came around, I should be prepared anytime, at the drop of a hat. I should always be the picture of health! I had entered the Maxformation barely before the middle deadline thinking I can do this, I need this pressure, everyone else has a 3-4 month head start but I'm a different kind of animal. Well dead wrong, I was not mentally prepared and I still hadn't adjusted to fatherhood. I fizzled shortly after, leaving me feeling like a failure. Well after regrouping, adjustments to my lifestyle and responsibilities and a nudge of the scare of not passing my health screening I entered the Maxformation at the beginning brimming with a new drive and with new incentive to give it all I have, mind, body soul and with all the heart, blood, sweat and tears that can be twisted and wrung outta me. AHA MOMENT OF TRUTH!!!

There is a song from the late 90's by a group that was known as Destiny's Child, I know you've heard of them but this was when there were 4 members and before the group split up since everyone thought they'd do better as solo acts, Beyoncé did but I'm talking about a song from the foursome, it's title is “My Time Has Come” It starts off sounding like a person lacking confidence:

“It's too far, It's too fast, It's too quick, It won't last
It's not right, But it's not wrong, There's no time, Move along...”


a familiar theme for me in the late 90's, doubting myself before even trying, underestimating my own abilities. The song progresses:

“It's okay, Be afraid, It's alright, You just take that fear
Turn it in, To your strength, It's called life,And that's why we're here...”


Was this song written about me? Kind of makes me wonder. This final snippet beings tears to my eyes just listening to it, it describes what I'm feeling and believing right now, being in balance, coming back from the dark times, becoming a husband and father, my victory period I intend to never let go of:

“It's so close, It's been a long time comin, It's here right now,And I know it'll last
It's so right That it can't be wrong, Now's the time...For me to be strong

And I've come, Much too far, And I know what's in my heart
And I know what I feel, And this time I know it's real, My time has come

I know that I just gotta', Keep movin' on
I know what's in my heart, I can feel it, My time has come”


I believe all this with every shred of my being, not holding anything back, failure is not an option. In a way I'm still that skinny kid that had to puff out his chest and let the world know I have a heart bigger than yours, the size of the fight in this dog is beyond your imagination. I've been up and down, had my share of victories and felt lose at the deepest level imaginable but you know what? I'm bouncing back stronger than ever. To call this my victory period is putting it lightly, this isn't a period because that makes it sound like eventually it'll end. I'm here, right here right now to be a legacy, to be a standard that is compared to the greats. I'm hungry for a huge victory, I know how it feels to lose, I know how it feels to quit and not give it 110%. I won't ever feel that again because my time has come, now it's all up to me...
MANDIRIGMA on a MISSION...to OVERCOME to the MAX's Wall
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