People often ask me, “So when do you start training for your next show?” I’m sure a look of extreme aggravation quickly appears on my face, before even beginning to formulate a response. I honestly find this question insulting. Do these people think that there are times of the year that I just stop being a bodybuilder, stop working out and resort to sitting on my ass while eating pizza and doughnuts??? This is a job! It’s not a part time job! It’s not something I do during certain months of the year for fun! It’s my life!
Competitively, it began when I was 21, but the journey towards building my physique started well before that as a youngster and has been a continual process throughout my life with no end point. At no point during my 17 year career have I ever stepped away from this. I have remained focused on the task at hand even during years in which I did not compete. My reasons to take a year off have been for progression, not a break. Each year I have devoted more time, energy, effort and focus towards improvement. Every day I wake it’s about what must happen in that twenty-four hour period to become better. It is how I challenge myself each day to provide purpose in my life.
I will only step away from competing if get to a point where I either feel I cannot make further progress or I just simply do not enjoy it anymore. I will never stop training, though and I will never discontinue a regimented lifestyle dedicated to health and fitness. At this stage in my life, working out and eating in a strategic manner is about more than just bodybuilding and competing. As a personal trainer and nutritional consultant IT IS MY JOB to practice what I preach, regardless of whether I’m getting onstage or not. Performing year round conditioning, eating clean year round, working my butt off in the gym every day and taking care of my body are all part of my belief system.
Some people go to church…I go to the gym!
In order to be able to respect others you must first be able to respect yourself. You can’t respect yourself if you do not take care of yourself. The gym is my place of worship as it has taught me many things over the years. It has enabled me to gain strength and self confidence. It has shown me humility. It has taught me about consistency, persistence and determination. It has provided a means to measure myself against an unwavering and unchanging opposing force. In that regard, it has taught me how to honestly assess myself. It has taught me what I’m capable of. It has taught me how to believe in myself, when I had nothing else to believe in. If you choose to believe in something and it defines your character, then you believe in it EVERY DAY and your actions reflect it ALL THE TIME!!! This is called passion!
One of my favorite excerpts from the Book Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshun reads,
- Peace is a lie. There is only passion.
- Through passion, I gain strength.
- Through strength, I gain power.
- Through power, I gain victory.
- Through victory my chains are broken.
For me training to step onstage clearly defines my fitness related goals and gives me purpose on a daily basis. Without purpose and the goals that are defined by such, you might as well be dead, because there is nothing to guide your spirit and you will become lost in the see of mediocrity! Beyond this, your passion is the driving force behind your purpose. You can choose to challenge yourself with anything (it doesn’t have to be bodybuilding), but if you don’t truly believe in what you are doing, then you cannot be passionately invested in your purpose and you will fail to reach your goals. If you find nothing else in your life, find your purpose and find your passion and your life will be one worth living.
Additionally, it is important to recognize that one’s relentless pursuit of excellence, which is driven by his/her passion is about something greater than themself. This is big picture thinking and can only happen for the right reasons. I never got involved with bodybuilding for any materialistic reasons (we all know that even as a pro you spend far more than you’ll ever make). I was never interested in seeking attention (if anything I do my best to avoid mentioning that I’m a bodybuilder and I don’t like attention). I never trained to improve my physique with the idea that it would make me more attractive to females (I would have given up long ago if that were the case). I have been passionately invested in health and fitness for a long time and am simply programmed to push myself as a result. There is nothing motivating me beyond my own personal pursuit of excellence and fear of mediocrity. I do this for me! At the end of teach day I can look in the mirror and being happy with the person looking back at me. I may not have a lot of money, I may not have a lot of friends, and I may not have many possessions, but I’ll always have inner peace, which is the result of knowing that if I died tomorrow, I did something with my life.