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On Top of the World

I am on top of the world. Why? I will tell you in a second. In a previous article I wrote, “Fuck Everything Else,” I talked about there being no better feeling in the world then that of accomplishing a goal that you set for yourself. I mentioned other things like taking what is inevitably going to be yours… Setting a goal and nailing it to the fucking wall… Taking a dream and making it a reality… It's the best high. Do you have that Animal lust in you? You do. If you want to that is… Just take the first step to get there by accepting that it probably won't be easy while remembering that you are going to accomplish your goal no matter what. So anyway, I am on top of the world because I just received my IFBB pro card. Fuck yeah. I feel good…

Rather than making this article all about my winning my pro card, I want to talk about how I got there, how to reach your goals. Let's start with “failure”. Not failure from quitting, but failure from physically not being able to crank out another rep. Did you give it your all? Or did you punk out and put your tail between your legs and go crying back to mommy? Tired? Sore? Hungry? Maybe you should be better prepared. Maybe you're just a pussy. Do you talk the talk but sit down when it's time to walk the walk? I said sit down but maybe I should just ask if you sit to take a piss…

Powerlifters and bodybuilders who have achieved their goals have done so because they can walk the walk. We put endless time and effort into what we do because we love it. Normal humans may think we are just big dumb meatheads but I think it's the other way around. Instead of being one of the many mindless sheep walking the planet calling themselves humans, find that passion inside you and go after it. Everyone has dreams, but those who go live them are not only lucky but they have that Animal instinct inside them. They are always pushing and striving. They are never satisfied with their latest achievement. I don't want a trophy. I want to fucking win.

Something holding you back? Yeah, it's you. Part of getting large and obtaining that freakish muscle size is not from sitting on your ass. Instead it's taking time to plan your diet, cooking, eating 6-7 times a day, training, sleeping and, most importantly, planning ahead to be prepared. Ah yes… Some of you are thinking, “Fuck that. I'll just do a bunch of supplements and shit.” Good luck. Even the most genetically gifted are not going to get that far shooting from the hip like that. It takes preparation. Time. It's a lifestyle. Not a very easy one by any means.

You need to pay attention to everything: vitamins, minerals and general nutrition. You need to pay your dues. Every pro or top ranked amateur has his way of doing things and getting prepared. The best advice I can give you is to turn yourself into a machine. Plan all your meals a head of time from breakfast to pre- and post-workout and even what you may want to eat when you wake up in the middle of the night hungry. Then do that for about three years. The more effort you put in during the beginning stages of making the lifestyle change the better and easier it will become in the future, I promise you.

Welcome to the real world of training. Pain is weakness leaving the body. There is no time for bullshit if you want to grow. Growing requires attention, food, balls-to-the-wall training, sleep and none of that crying and whining bullshit. As I have recently stepped forward to a higher level of competing, some things have changed for me while others have stayed the same-motivation, desire, drive and that Animal instinct to go for the kill by sinking your fangs into the jugular of your goal and biting down, crushing its windpipe, making it gasp for air till it falls to your claim. It's mine and no one else's…

This is a typical day in my life as a newly crowned IFBB pro. Don't expect anything too glamorous… Nothing has really changed except I want more now… More size, more strength, more veins, and more victories. I wake up everyday to an oldies station at 9:30am. Why oldies? Because I can't stand the fucking shit and it makes me get out of bed. First thing I do is go right to the bathroom and sit on the throne for a while with my phone and planner. I can empty myself out and check my voice mail while taking care of any business calls I may need to respond to (I own a 13,000 square foot gym called Fitness Extreme and I have several clients that I personally train).

After those few things are taken care of, the next thing I do is go out to the kitchen and make a 1000 calorie shake that includes peanut butter, whey protein, raw eggs, oatmeal and an apple. Mmmm, mmm good. Don't take to long to swallow that shake down. Then I shave, shower, get dressed, pack my gym bag, and grab Cook (my black lab), and out the door I go. I get to the gym, depending on the day, around 11am-12pm. When Cook and I get to the gym, it's always the same routine. I walk her out front in the field across from the gym, then I take her to my office and give her some fresh water then she goes back to sleep.

I check my e-mail, write out bills, put out fires or train clients till it's my turn to train with the boyz (usually around 2 or 3pm depending on everyone's schedule). Yes I said everyone… I usually train with 2 or 3 other guys. It may seem like a large group, but workouts go fast. We work hard and our training is sick. My pre-workout meal is usually a shake high in carbs, aminos, and protein. We usually finish training and getting sick around 4:15pm-4:30pm. I have a couch in my office to lie down on after workouts that require some time to get myself back together. While resting after the workout, I throw down some Animal Pak and Animal Nitro, and a high carb, high protein post workout shake.

From 5:00pm-6:00pm, I usually have a client… Then it's time for my next meal of solid food. Normally its 6-8oz. of a meat, some brown rice, 1 cup of veggies and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. Then till about 8:00pm-8:30pm, I train people or do other various things that need to be done. Sometimes I run around like a wild dog chasing and harassing people while lifting my leg to mark my territory. When this happens someone is usually kind enough to tell me I have been here to long or that I need to go relax.
After that I need food again.

I repeat the last meal before leaving the gym. What I do at this point after I leave the gym usually depends on what's going on in my life. After the gym, Cook and I go home to get her some food. While she eats, I unpack my gym bag, maybe start some laundry or whatever it is I have to do such as cooking, food shopping, writing articles, spending time with a little lady or kicking back with a few friends over a bite to eat. It's off season so no cardio or posing tonight, just relaxing.

I go out from time to time, more so over the holidays but I don't do much that would interfere with my training. After I do my nightly chores, or whatever I have planned that night, I need to eat. If I have not already included a meal in my plans, then it's to the fridge to prepare a meal. I do another meal just like the last two. I spend more time eating then I do anything else in life… Making sure to get at least 5 meals, sometimes 8, if I can a day.

Food is everything to bodybuilders. You need to feed the machine to keep it growing and burning. If I happen to go out that night, I either include a meal out as part of my plans and if I can't do that then I have a cooler with me with at least two meals in it. Freak? I hope I am. This is all I know. It's the only way I was able to get myself to grow. You need to stay on top of your meals and nutrition NO MATTER WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON IN YOUR LIFE.

Oh yeah, it makes for a lot of bathroom stops as well… Occasionally stopping on the side of the road if needed. I didn't say that… Well, maybe I did, but let's pretend I didn't. You know what they say, “Shit happens,” and if it needs to happen, then so be it. Just to add a little more detail, I drink about 1.5 gallons of water a day.

So let me ask you this. Do you have the discipline to eat, and be prepared each and everyday to turn yourself into an Animal? I'll tell you what brother, it can be a long lonely road, but it doesn't always have to be. Surround yourself with good people that know your goals and want to see you reach them. Once you start down the road, never go back. There is nothing but question, heartache, and worry when you look to the past. Keep going forward. Keep your eye on the prize and chase it down. When all is said and done, what will be will be. Hopefully, you will have claimed that goal as your own and be rewarded. Fuck everything else… Train Animal style.

I have been training consistently for fourteen years. I pay attention to my food intake, continually switch my workouts, make those personal sacrifices during heavy training periods, and never really let my abs get too far out of sight during the off season. Because of my constant attention to my meals and training, it had only taken me three weeks prep to win the overall at the North America. That's right, three weeks...

I had some real upsetting things take place in my life, but after all the drama, I decided to call Gary Udit to see if I could be a late entry for the North America competition. I was in good shape and I wanted to keep busy to keep my mind off of things. Gary said, "Yes, as long as you get your application in today." So that is what I did. With a few changes to my training and a newfound drive, I pushed harder than normal and buried myself in my training. I also had a lot of really good support from my two training partners, Anthony Cocco, 2004 Mr. PA, and Jordan Kramer. Family was great too.

We can all learn some thing new every day. Yeah you probably heard that same line from teachers, parents or anyone else you thought was wrong about the in's and out's of life while growing up. When I was a kid growing up and I would hear that shit, I would think to my self, "Shut up and get out of my face." Well guess what? Take it from me, we are always given opportunities from which we can learn no matter what your age, no matter how much experience and knowledge you may have. There is always room for more.

You do get wiser as you get older. As our bodies are biological organisms, change will always cause a stimulus. To create change we must first learn what is working and what is not. In my case it meant the Overall win at the IFBB North America and earning my pro card. Damn I love how that sounds! I hope that you can say that about a goal that you have obtained one day for yourself.

Most bodybuilders would probably be considered extremists to normal people, meaning we take everything to the extreme. We push harder, go heavier, take it right to the fucking edge. Or we just have more drive, desire and balls. In some areas of this sport that is the best way to go at it, for example, heavy lifts, supersets, giant sets. All this in an attempt to break down more muscle tissue so that, in return, more will grow back and we become bigger and bigger to the point of being extremely large and muscular.

As a gym owner I try and create an environment that promotes pushing ones self to the extreme. I have quotes on the walls such as, "Pain is weakness leaving the body", "That which does not destroy me will make me stronger", "The more you sweat the less you bleed", "Give me a place to stand and I will move the world"... These are just a few of my favorites. We train hard at Fitness Extreme. It's especially important to have this type of atmosphere when getting ready for a competition. I don't think they do heavy dead lifts and squats at the LA Fitness's and Bally's gyms.

Good lifting partners are key as well. I don't think a good lifting partner has to be stronger, but he has to have desire and drive to feed off of. A good lifting partner also knows your limits and reminds you what they are so that you cannot escape the work that needs to be done. Even the best needs a foot up their asses once and a while. You can't hide anything under those stage lights, so if you don't work hard, you're fucked! One huge bonus to taking it to the edge and nearly puking after a workout is the release of endorphins that occurs after a hard workout... Being an iron warrior feels great. Love it, be it!

The very thing that has eluded me from pro status during my 5 years at the national level was the extreme measures I used to take while dieting. This is where my extreme mindset would do damage to my placing and hold me back. Learn from me, extreme measures in terms of your diet are not always necessary. During my prep for the North America, I was the most conservative I had ever been dieting and as every day came and went, I got better and better without doing the crazy extremes that I was accustomed to doing.

Also, I did a lot less cardio for the North America then I have for any other competition I had ever done. During my last minute decision to sign up for the North America only 3 weeks out, I was amazed at how good of shape I was in following a very simple diet. As I discussed before, I had a number of problems in my personal and professional life. So why would I decide to compete? Well through tough times in the past I have always had my training to make me feel better about things. Also, I tend to be much more focused in all areas of my life when getting ready for a competition.

The true deciding factor was that I just wanted to feel good and my two training partners could see that I was in very good condition, as I could as well. I took the plunge and committed to the competition. Anthony helped me fill some hours at the gym and also began cooking three of my meals a day, which was a huge help. With my second training partner Jordan helping out with the extra hours needed at the gym, all I had to do is keep going and push on...

In the past I did these huge de-carb/carb load diets, almost always looking better a day or two after the competition and kicking myself in the ass. It was especially frustrating for me because everyone I have ever trained for a competition has hit it on the money, but when I would do it for myself, I would always overdo something or take it to far.

So what did I do? I called Schak about 2 weeks out and explained how I looked my best right now and explained the things I had did in the past to mess myself up. Then I basically asked him for some advice since he has had years experience as well as my respect and has won a lot of major titles during his career. His first words to me when I explained my condition over the phone was the most obvious... Don't change a thing.

At the age of 29 you would think I would have known that by now, but when you want something so bad, you can be your own worst enemy. The will to win can be so great that you lose sight of what got you there in the first place-patience, persistence and perseverance. In my case, I had to settle down a little and realize that my diet did not have to be as extreme as my training. The foundation was already there and I just needed to let it happen and not force anything. After all, if what we do in life echoes in eternity, who wants to lose? Not me...

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