Wednesday, February 04, 2009

New Media Douchebags

I can't believe this video has been on YouTube for more than a year & I've only discovered it today. I LOVE the first rule, Don't do real work. I've often wondered how social media "experts" make money since many of them don't have - and have never had - a real job in any form of media-related field. My question gets partially answered by the amount of emails & DMs I get from so-called experts asking me if I know any of any real media job openings. They can have their social/virtual/whatever media, I'll practice my profession in the real world.
New Media Douchebags

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Contest Prep: The Day Before

Tomorrow is the day. Day one of contest prep. I really don’t mind contest prep. I mean it’s not the most awesome 12-14 weeks of my life, but, being through it many times before, I know what to expect. I know that I’m going to be hungry and tired constantly for the next three months. I know I won’t be able to drink anything but water. I know I’ll be spending most of my evenings cooking plain chicken & sweet potatoes. I’ll be irritable; my sex drive will be all but nonexistent. It’s definitely not sunshine & rainbows, but it has become my routine, and I readily accept everything that comes with it because I’ve seen the results of the hard work and dedication. But it’s going to be a little different this time.

My next show will be my first as a pro. The game’s a little tougher now. As an amateur, I became accustomed to winning. I have as many first-place trophies as I have all other places combined. It has never been a walk in the park, but I’ve seen the score sheets after the fact, and I know that several times I've been picked as the winner unanimously by the judging panel. In my last two INBF amateur shows, no one has come close to beating me, but I’m not so naive to expect that at the pro level. For the first time as a bodybuilder, I’m a little bit nervous.

I’m not going to get into the specifics of my contest prep (it will bore your socks off), but since I’m asked about it a lot, I will give a rundown of what I need to do to go from fat boy to shredded in time to step on the stage.

I call myself fat in the offseason, but actually I never really get higher than 12% bodyfat. I eat like crazy and don’t watch my diet, but I don't need to because I’m blessed with the metabolism of a 17 year old (let’s hope that keeps up). I’m what’s known as a hard-gainer, a once-skinny kid who has a hard time putting on any weight. Burgers, beer, pasta, pizza. These are my weight gaining weapons in the offseason. My body also adapts quickly, so when I’m ready to begin my contest diet, I jump right into it. Some competitors begin to eat clean – cutting out unnecessary fats and simple carbs – several weeks or even months before they begin their contest diet, but I’ve found that I can drop a lot of fat weight relatively quickly if I just get into it.
16 weeks before my contest date, I make an early morning trip to the Meredith College Human Performance Lab. There, Dr. Chris Eschbach performs a complete body composition test on me. He determines my bodyfat & lean body composition and provides me with a printout of how much I should weigh at 12%, 10%, 8%, 6%, 4% & 2% bodyfat. I then have a scale to determine when I should begin my diet and how on-track I am throughout the contest prep phase.

The goal of the contest prep diet is to lose weight as slowly and steadily as possible while maintaining as much muscle mass as possible (now is not the time for gaining muscle mass; that is done in the offseason). A properly designed and executed diet will ensure that I am reaching my optimum body composition exactly at contest time, a process known as peaking (which we will cover later). I have my own set of equations and other guidelines that I go by to determine my daily nutritional intake, but, for a beginner, the Basic Metabolic Rate Calculator and the Harris Benedict Equation are good starting points.
Once I know the number of calories I need to be consuming each day, I divide by six to determine the average number of calories I need to be consuming per meal. I then decide on the best methods to cycle my macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates & fats) to take in the optimum number of each at the optimum times of each day. Once all that is determined, I’m ready to begin my diet cycle. What does each meal consist of? Some combination of the following: Egg whites, oatmeal, chicken, tuna, sweet potatoes, broccoli, green beans and a little bit of red meal. No sauces, minimal spices. All fat trimmed. Raw or baked. That will be my menu for the next three months.

In my next few blog posts, along with a mini journal about that I’m doing each day, I’ll cover more about the diet as well as my training routine, supplementation, peaking, proper recovery and the amazing phenomenon known as the cheat day.
Stay tuned…

Unheard Radio Podcast

On Jan 23, we played a show at the Pour House in Raleigh with Parmalee & The Influence. The show was podcast live on Unheard Radio.
If you were unable to attend the show, you can still hear the podcast right HERE.
Simply click on "Live Broadcast with Parmalee, Downfall, and the Influence."

The City of Champions

I spent the first 18 years of my life in Pittsburgh, PA. I also spent my 27th through 30th years there. I love the town. I grew up there, my entire family still lives there, most of my friends are still there or at least in the general vicinity. That being said, there’s no way in hell I’d ever move back. I just don’t like the snow.

If you’ve never experienced pro football season in Pittsburgh, you’ve never witnessed true fanaticism. Wait, let me take that back. There’s no such thing as football season in Pittsburgh, only Steelers season. And it lasts 365 days a year. It ebbs and flows, slowly building in early August, and, depending on the results of the regular season & playoffs, either coming to an abrupt – although temporary – downturn in December, or, like this season, builds and builds to a Super Bowl championship crescendo. There may be some downtime for the players, but for the fans, there’s always something to cheer for. “Here we go Steelers” can be heard up and down Carson Street in the middle of the summer, and if you’ve ever worn black & gold through any airport in this country, you know you’ll need more time than expected to catch your next flight because of the number of other fans who’ll stop you to talk about their favorite plays, players or whole seasons.

Regardless of the outcome of each NFL season, Pittsburghers’ love for their football team never wanes. Unlike Philadelphia and Cleveland, which are notorious for their relentless treatment of a losing home team, the Steeler Nation stands behind their team like they stand behind their city. This steadfastness is evidenced by the fact that the Steelers have only had three coaches – Chuck Knoll, Bill Cowher & Mike Tomlin – since 1969. Journalists and sports historians are quick to draw similarities between the working class attitude of the Steelers and the grungy history of the clue-collar Steel City, but that parallel runs deeper than a simple Sports Center metaphor. We Pittsburghers know we’ll never have the glamour of New York City or the sunshine of Miami. The steelworker clich├ęs abound, but rather than live in denial or attempt to refute the unfair stereotypes we’ve been given, we embrace our history while knowing that the truth is we’re a cutting edge city still covered by the soot of the steel industry.

Carson Street, Pittsburgh's Southside after the Steelers Super Bowl win

Here are a few things you may not know about the Steel City:

  • In 2008, Forbes magazine ranked Pittsburgh #13 on its “Best cities for young professionals” list.
  • Entrepreneur magazine ranks the city ninth on the list of best cities in which to start a small business.
  • In 2007, Forbes ranked Pittsburgh as the 10th cleanest city (so much for all that coal smog)
  • Places Rated Almanac gave Pittsburgh the title of “America’s most livable city” in 2007.
  • Pittsburgh is the headquarters of nine Fortune 500 companies (ranks seventh in the nation).
  • The Carnegie Museum of Art opened in 1895 as the world’s first museum of modern art.
  • Pittsburgh boasts the lowest crime rate out of the top-25 US metropolitan areas.
  • Pittsburgh is home to 34 colleges and universities, including Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, two schools consistently ranked in the top 25 in the country.
  • Pittsburgh is second only to NYC in its number of theater companies.
  • Pittsburgh has more certified “green” buildings than any other US city.
  • The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center consistently ranks in the top 10 best US hospitals and is a leader in cancer treatment and organ transplant research.

Pittsburgh doesn’t brag about its accomplishments, doesn’t feel the need to self promote. It’s a humble city with a huge heart. The people that make up its population reflect the hard exterior, deep roots and unyielding perseverance of a town that was left for dead in the early ‘80s but slowly and steadily has reinvented itself. There was a time when Steelers football and four Lombardi trophies were the only pieces of metal left shimmering under the collapse of the steel industry. The last bit of greatness; memories of what once was. In the town’s hardest times, Steelers football brought everyone together. Now, more than two decades later, the Pittsburgh Steelers are on top, and the skyline of the Steel City once again stands tall and proud as the backdrop of champions without ever forgetting its past. Oh yeah, make that six Lombardi trophies.

I-279 (Parkway West) inbound, Monday morning