I was always one of the smaller kids growing up. I started lifting at age 13 and my house soon became the gathering point for weight training where my friends and I competed against each other to see who could lift the most. I continued working out all through junior high and high school while participating in football, basketball and baseball. In football, I began to focus on punting and kicking and as a result earned a scholarship at Youngstown State University. While at Youngstown State, I was a part of 3 National Championship teams.
After college, I continued working out, spending up to 2 hours in the gym 4 or 5 days each week. Keeping in shape was important because I was working as a Parole/Probation officer. I didn’t spend that much time worrying about my diet because I thought the workouts were all I needed. Over the years a number of my friends encouraged me to compete, but I knew I had some serious work to do in the areas of nutrition and cardio. Gradually, a healthy eating plan began to evolve. I started by cutting out alcohol, sodium and sugar. That meant no more sports drinks, chips, or ice cream. I started carrying a water bottle with me everywhere I went. I learned how to calculate macronutrients and calorie intake. Once I found the right combination of foods including lean protein at every meal, I noticed my body becoming stronger and more fit. I added cardio to my workouts and little by little, my body began to become more defined.
After a number of years, I decided it was time to give competition a try and entered the Music City Muscle contest in Nashville, TN. I finished 7th in my first competition, happy to have competed, but I knew I could do better. Now, I really started to zone in on my training, supplements, diet and cardio. My next contest was the Great Lakes Ironman in Michigan. I finished 2nd in the Master’s Division. I’d learned that staying lean year round was a big advantage when it came time for pre-contest dieting. I ate at least 75% clean between shows and kept my bodyfat percentage in single digits. My next competition was in Memphis, TN and I finished 2nd again. I was a little disappointed, but knew where I had to improve and continued to work on my problem areas.
Then, one morning, I woke up with severe pain in my left hip. I had no idea what was wrong and finally went to an orthopedic doctor for a diagnosis. Well, the news wasn’t good; I was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis and was in need of a hip replacement. Besides that, I had a slight rotator cuff tear, bone spurs and severe arthritis. I probably don’t have to tell you that this was very disturbing news for someone who is only 43, has been active his entire life, and was making plans for another contest.
Since then I’ve continued to train, but had to make a number of modifications to my workouts. I take daily medication for the arthritis and get cortisone shots periodically. My workouts now contain a lot more volume – more exercises, sets, and reps ’ but lighter weights and shorter rests between exercises. Gone are the days of lifting heavy weights. I have noticed increased vascularity and definition from the higher volume workouts. Many in the gym couldn’t believe the progress I was making by lifting light weights with high reps. Several asked questions regarding my new workouts and when I explained my injuries it turned out that many had some of the same problems and became interested in training with me.
Diet & Supplements
It took me many years to fully understand that diet is the most important component in training to compete. Over the 30 years I’ve been training I have tried all types of diets and supplements, but not until the last few years have I finally got my nutritional program where it needs to be. I started eating more protein (lean meats in particular), vegetables, and the right kind of complex carbs. I got myself on a comprehensive Beverly International supplement plan and I started seeing things in my physique that I didn’t know existed. I strongly believe that proper diet and supplements account for 85% of your success in competition. Getting the correct amount of macronutrients are critical to having the physique you desire. Once you get that down, you will see the weight come off and definition start to appear. I tell my clients if you stay on a proper nutrition plan for 2 weeks you’ll notice positive responses to your body. If you stick with it for 4 weeks, people close to you will begin to take notice. If you stick with it for 8 weeks, the gym crowd and public will notice your hard work. You have to trust the process and give your body enough time to make a positive response to your training and nutrition. If you give it enough time, you will see results.
Here’s a dieting tip. Build your diet around foods you like to eat. Here’s what I’ve found works best for me.
- Meal 1: I sip on a Chocolate UMP shake mixed with almond milk as I prepare my breakfast. Breakfast is 2 whole eggs, 6 egg whites, 1 cup spinach mixed into an omelet; – cup of ground bison; – cup of plain oatmeal.
- Meal 2: UMP shake (chocolate is my favorite); 2 tbsp almond butter or protein bar
- Meal 3: 4 slices Boars Head low sodium turkey breast; 2 cups spinach and 1 cup quinoa made into a salad with light balsamic vinaigrette dressing
- Meal 4: ½ cup of grass fed ground beef; ½ cup of brown rice, 7 asparagus spears
- Meal 5: UMP shake with 2 tbsp of almond butter
- Meal 6: ½ cup ground bison, (filet mignon on Wednesday and Sunday); 7 asparagus spears or 1 cup broccoli
- Meal 7: UMP shake, 1oz. almonds
Throughout the day, if I need a snack, I always turn to almonds, walnuts or a Quest protein bar. In addition, I make No-Bake Energy Bites for on the go or in between snacks.
No-Bake Energy Bites
- cup natural creamy peanut butter
- 1/3 cup honey 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats (raw) 2/3 cup coconut flakes
- cup ground golden flaxseed meal
- 6 tbsp chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli mini chips semi sweet)
- 1-2 scoops UMP Chocolate
Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl, stir together, then shape into 1 inch balls and place in refrigerator.