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Growing up I was always known as “Little Michael”, mostly because my dad has the same name. The other reason was because I only weighed 128 lbs. when I graduated high school. I was always athletic but never had any size on me. I played baseball hockey and my favorite sport, basketball. Once I got into high school I got with a group of friends and spent less time on the court and more time on the streets. After I graduated high school I got into drugs. I was going to raves taking ecstasy and after a few months of that I went down the rabbit hole and got twisted up with meth. At the time it was fun and life was nothing but a party but I was quickly become smaller and most importantly unhealthy. I was oblivious to what it was doing to me and how it was affecting my real friends and family. After a year and a half I had completely withered away, had bags under my eyes and a six pack but that was from malnutrition. I was averaging no sleep for 5-6 days straight, sleeping 36 hours without waking up and doing it all over again. Finally by the grace of God I got arrested and the partying days were over. My plea bargain was joining the Navy and be gone in 6 months and that’s exactly what I did.
Once I got out of boot camp they had fattened me up to a whopping 140 lbs. which was a lot to me. I traveled to a school to become trained in my rate and learn my job. I had a friend Robert that went through boot camp with me and stayed in my dorm. After 1600 when school was done we were free to do whatever and with my addictive personality I had one option: drink until midnight wake up hung over and then repeat. But one day Robert convinced me to go to the gym. I went in and saw this short guy benching 275 for reps and I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I got on the bench and could barely rep 95 once. I got discouraged and said screw it but these words from Robert I will never forget… “Everybody starts somewhere. Give it six months and people will be looking at you like you are looking at him.” I don’t know why but that stuck with me. I ordered protein and some protein bars, got a preworkout and creatine. I learned different workouts, started increasing weights and reps, and started to see a little muscle. In 6 weeks’ time I hadn’t put on much weight but I was stronger and felt great. The biggest thing that came from it was it made me feel good and alive the same way I used to use drugs or alcohol.
I was enlisted in the Navy for four years and during that time I trained all the time (probably over trained as well but I was young). For me it was a reason to not go out and get drunk and not stay out all night. When you are an ectomorph and it takes a year to put on 5 lbs. of muscle you do not want to lose those gains. I purchased Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding and read it 3 times front to back. I had found my passion in bodybuilding. Anything I read I retained…I would spend countless hours reading online articles, studying kinesiology and finding out how the body worked, what nutrients did what and how to recover quicker and come back stronger. On the ship everybody knew at lunch time I would be training. They even called me stupid names like “Shep Smash” or “Juice”. I didn’t care because they were right, that’s exactly who I was and I loved it.
After I left the Navy I went back home to Tennessee. My shipmates said I wouldn’t lift once I got out I would just go wild and party and lose all my gains. Well they were wrong about that. The day I got back I signed up at the gym and kept it moving. People I hadn’t seen in years were blown away. Half of them didn’t recognize me and the other half thought I would have been dead by now. But I used that as fuel for the fire. I knew that when I went back home I was going to show up and put “Little Michael” to rest. I stuck around Tennessee for another 2 years but it was slowly going back to the way it was. Same people doing the same thing, the city had no opportunities and was boring, economy was struggling and not many people care about fitness like me back home. So I made a plan to move to Florida and one thing I’ve learned from bodybuilding is you set goals-short and long term ones. I accomplished all of the short term ones and within that 6 month window I loaded up my car and a U-Haul and I moved to Florida.
Once I got to Florida I realized that the people around here understand fitness and physiques. I tried a couple gyms but none really felt right until I went to Beach Street. It was grimy and old, all day long the sound of iron and steel clanging together with an odor of chalk and grizzlies grunting in the squat rack. I had a friend who worked there and was telling me about competing and I told him I always wanted to and suggested I try. I found a coach, Jim Nitti who collaborated a game plan with me and in August of 2012 I started my first real game plan to step on stage. Everything changed from that point on. I learned the right way to do what I needed to do. I was eating consistent meals, 8 times a day with chicken sweet potatoes basically every meal but measured out. I was training but only 3 times a week versus 6 days. The extra time gave my small frame time to digest and store all of the calories I was consuming. I went from 178 in August to 203 in March. I started dieting down and weighed in at 171 in July and competed at middleweight. The feeling of walking out on stage after 9 months of eating, training sleeping, not drinking any alcohol, no parties, just focused on that one moment and then it’s there before your eyes…no words can ever describer that feeling. And then to my surprise, I win! And not only did I win my class, I ended up winning the whole thing!!! After that I was hooked. Since then I have done 2 more shows and have put on another 10 lbs. of muscle. I competed and weighed 192 and 198 on stage and I sit about 210-215 on the off-season. I plan to get to 225 in 2015 and cut down to 198 for a national qualifier in 2016.
Out of all of this the one thing I hope anyone can take away from this is don’t listen to anybody about who you are or what you are capable of. I was completely addicted to methamphetamine, a drug that is an epidemic in this country and I got off and turned my life around. And I didn’t have to go to rehab, or see a counselor, go in the penitentiary or any hoopla like that. All I had to do was find that one thing in my life that I love, that I have passion for. Luckily for me it was fitness. I think it can benefit everyone personally. To go in and not be able to lift that weight or only do so many reps and to tell yourself I’m going to overcome this and come back next week and do 5 more lbs. or 2 more reps and then go in and succeed is the best feeling in the world. And don’t be scared to step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself to new ventures and tasks in life. I am very camera shy and far from the “Look at me” type of guy but I’ve never done fitness modeling and if I don’t like it oh well at least I tried it and can actually say I did but if I do like it maybe something will come from it.
My experience with John of BBpics.com was exceptional. It was my first photo shoot of any kind so I didn’t know what to expect but when he got here we clicked and worked well together. I was given freedom to try a couple shots I would like with no confrontation. We were able to capture some great shots and 6 different locations. Stress free shoot and was able to follow his lead to get what I was looking for.
1- 5 egg whites 3 whole eggs 1 tbsp coconut oil
2- 8oz beef 8 oz baked potato 1 cup veggies
3-50g protein shake 2 tbsp almond butter
4-8oz beef 8ozwhite rice
5-50 g protein shake 1tbsp coconut oil
6- 8oz beef 8oz sweet potato 1 cup veggies
7- 1 cup yogurt ¼ granola 1tbsp coconut oil
My workout plan varies depending on lagging parts. I prioritize lagging parts 3x week with 1 time being just a 3 set reverse drop set for one lift just keeping muscle anabolic. I use time under tension. Basically the setup is 2 sets of 15-30 reps varied on how I feel for that day trying to maximize blood flow and pump the muscles. The last 2 sets(working sets) are for 8 reps heavy then drop weight 50% and do 5 second negatives until failure then drop another 50% and do 5 second negatives AND 5 second positives(totaling 10 second full reps) until failure. This has worked wonders for my body while not taxing my joints with extremely heavy reps. I usually finish with a workout with something doing reps of 20-50 and pumping as much blood and squeezing as hard as possible to shape the muscle bellies.