By: Sarah Wolstoncroft
During his battle with testicular cancer in 2016, Justin Birckbichler realized keeping his mental health in check was important. It was then that he discovered the therapeutic power of humor and a good pun.
If you missed part one, click here to learn more and to check out how Birckbichler, 27, created "A Ballsy Sense of Tumor" to reach out to other young men dealing with testicular cancer.
However, while his mental health was getting stronger, his physical fitness was taking a hit from cancer treatments. In March 2017, Birckbichler entered remission and in August that year he made a vow to get back in the gym and on a healthier routine.
"Fitness and healthy eating has become a huge part of how I take care of my body," Birckbichler said. "I gained a ton of weight on chemo and let the unhealthy habits rule."
Now he's down 40 pounds and feeling stronger than ever. Keep reading as Zeus Beard breaks down his revamped fitness, diet and beard routines.
Weeks before his cancer diagnosis, Birckbichler competed in his first Spartan Race. During the competition, he completed around half of the tasks, giving climbing tasks what he deemed "a hard pass."
However, in October 2018, Birckbichler competed in his second Spartan Race after being in remission for a year and a half. This time around, his new fitness and diet routines helped him complete nearly all of the obstacles in the course.
"I traversed the monkey bars and the rings. I carried the bucket of rocks without putting it down every few feet. And, I climbed a rope to ring a bell, which is something I've literally never done before," Birckbichler said on his Instagram, joking that having two testicles was weighing him down before.
Proud of his accomplishments in the race, on Instagram Birckbichler attributed his success to embracing a new healthy lifestyle.
"I go directly to the gym after work, which helps me keep the positive momentum going," he said.
His gym routine is typically split between running and weightlifting.
"While hitting the weights, I usually pair a major muscle group, such as chest, with the inverse minor group, such as biceps. In the running realm, I'm a big fan of negative splits and intervals," Birckbichler said about his gym routine.
Recently, he also became a fan of incorporating the battle rope into his workouts to add some variety and difficulty to his routine.
Fitness was only one half of the equation when it came to Birckbichler's health. To really revamp his routine, he knew that true change needed to start in the kitchen.
He began by trading in junk food for whole foods and home cooked meals.
In addition, he started weighing his foods before cooking and monitoring his meals in the FitBit app to track his nutrient and calorie intakes.
However, his diet isn't all work and no play.
Birckbichler said he allows himself to indulge every now and then but keeps it in moderation.
"Since making all of these changes in August 2017, I've shed over forty pounds, dropped nearly ten percent of my body fat, increased my running stamina and nearly doubled my maximum lifting stats," he said.
Haircare wasn't a missed step when it came to Birckbichler's new health routine. In addition to working hard in the gym and the kitchen, he also reconsidered his shower habits and the products he was using on his face.
"Initially, I grew a beard when I was in my early twenties to look less like a pre-teen and more of an adult," he said.
A goatee and chinstrap served as his ideal style because he said it was easy to grow, aside from some occasional patchiness.
To keep his beard clean and feeling soft, he uses Zeus shampoo and conditioner in the shower and beard oil and beard balm right before bed.
"I am a big fan of the Zeus products. My favorite products are the Verbena Lime conditioner or the Spiced Maple oil. It was too hard to pick just one," he said. "I also like that the products are all-natural, which is a plus to me as I focus on taking care of my health."
When it comes to beard plans for the future, Birckbichler is ready to take his grooming skills to the celebrity level.
"My plan is to continue letting it grow out until I get somewhere between Jason Momoa in Aquaman and Jude Law as young Dumbledore," he said
"No Shave November"
Another part of beard culture that was right up Birckbichler's alley was the ability to participate in "No Shave November" and "Movember" men's health campaigns.
"No Shave November" and "Movember" hold inclusive beard and mustache competitions during the month of November to promote men's mental and physical health, raise money and awareness for cancer studies and celebrate facial hair.
"I do participate in 'No Shave November' and 'Movember' but I make sure to focus in on the men's health discussions more so than just growing out my beard," Birckbichler said.
He said it is important to express that a man isn't manly just because he has facial hair but also because he allows himself to be open about important health matters.
"I hope to use this platform to connect with more men to inspire them to talk openly about their health," Birckbichler said in regard to his Zeus ambassadorship.