I was born and raised in the rainy city of Seattle. There I spent 29 years of my life going to college and laying the foundations for the career choices I have made thus far in life. My fascination with lifting weights at the gym started when I was 16 years old and has never diminished. I can remember getting up at 5 a.m. long before any of my classmates awoke and making my mother drop me off at a local gym that was the epitome of the sweaty and grungy muscle-head gyms that were popular back then. Today those types of gyms have all but vanished being replaced by the mega-million dollar franchise health clubs. I remember my first lesson on how to perform a proper squat taught to me by a professional power lifter named Willie, who's limbs were as thick as tree trunks and who's life was ruled by how many plates were stack on the bar. From there I attended college at the University of Washington studying Microbiology and Biochemistry. Yes, I was a lab geek. Even with working full time on the weekends and taking full semester loads I was still able to keep my commitment to weightlifting. It didn't matter how late I was up studying or drinking beer I still set the alarm for 5 a.m. and dragged my roommate out of bed to go workout at the university gym everyday. I can remember doing lunges down the length of the aerobics floor and feeling the burn and adrenaline rush through my body. It was here in college that my fascination with food developed. I had always loved to eat......I was a regular at the all-you-can eat pizza buffets and 5 Big Mac lunches were always on the menu for me. Yes, I was being gobbled up by America's love affair with fast food and I was rapidly becoming fat as a pig. I started cooking at this point for roommates, family, friends and girlfriends and I quickly became enamored with it. At first it was Hamburger Helper and Rice-A-Roni but soon I ventured out on my own and started reading cookbooks and cooking magazines and inevitably became intrigued by the countless possibilities.
Finally, after five long stressful years, I graduated college and became a full-fledged science nerd in a laboratory. I tipped the scales at 240 lbs and was portly looking with a double chin. There wasn't an ounce of self-esteem to me. I hated my body and myself. It was obvious at this point that despite going to the gym everyday my diet was not fitting into the equation of being in shape. Something had to be done and it was at this point that I attended my first bodybuilding show, the Emerald Cup, and bought a subscription to Muscle and Fitness Magazine. My life was forever changed. It was an epiphany. I can remember going cold turkey, trading those Big Macs for a can of tuna, the 48-ounce Big Gulps for protein shakes. I saw instant results in the form of strength and muscle endurance but I wanted more than just that, I wanted to compete as a bodybuilder. I set a goal that will be forever burned into the very depths of my soul as the single most excruciating and life-altering year of my life. In the course of that year I transformed my body from the average overweight male to a lean vascular statue weighing 212 lbs and 3% body fat. By the week of the contest I was ready to quite and head to the pizza parlor. I remember telling my wife that nothing else mattered in life except being able to EAT. I think I could've eaten a cardboard box at that point. I used to make my wife eat her dessert in the garage of our house and immediately hid the evidence in the trash as to not tempt me in my time of need. But I did it; I made it to the contest and competed on stage in front of thousands of strangers in nothing more than a string bikini. Afterward I swore to myself that that I'd do it again and again, each time honing my body to look better and better. Bodybuilding is not about winning or losing against your peers, it's about achieving your personal goals that you've set.
I soon felt the urge to return to college and earn my culinary degree in hopes of someday becoming a chef. I traded in my white lab coat for a white chef coat and my microscope for a bag of knives. I trained in four-star restaurants under talented chefs who taught me all the tricks of the trade that you don't learn in school. I learned to be creative and efficient simultaneously and I learned that to be a chef I was required to work 12-16 hours a day without breaks. The culinary industry is the toughest most demanding field I ever known, but it can also be one of the most rewarding. Over the years I've become an expert at Asian, French and Italian cuisine and have dipped my feet in every other aspect of the culinary world. I'm sure biggest question on everyone's mind is "how do I look like this and work in a restaurant surrounded by all the good food." The answer: Willpower. Other than using my tasting spoon that is with me always to adjust seasoning I don't eat the food I prepare. I show up to work everyday with cans of tuna and chicken breast.
After being a chef and a bodybuilder for so many years I decided it was time to meld the two professions together. When I meet the average person either at the gym or on the street who wants to improve his physical attributes the very first things he or she asks me is "what do I eat". What one eats is 90% of getting that Adonis-like body that we all strive for. Hence, the need for a website that offers advice on not only the subject of eating healthy, but working out as well.
Working with John Mitchell was an enriching experience for me both as a physique model and on a personal basis as well. He works with the model and for the model instead of merely in pursuit of his own agenda. As a photographer John has combined years of experience with fitness and landscape photography to produce a first-rate finished product. John is very accommodating and thoughtful which is sometimes a forgotten trait in this line of work. I worked with John over the course of the weekend and became not only good friends but un-official business acquaintances as well, agreeing to do more photo sessions and network each other's names to potential clients.
Over all, flying clear across the states in the middle of the night with layover and plane changes was worth it. I would definitely recommend John Mitchell to first time models trying to build their portfolios and to experienced models as well. Working with John was a pleasurable experience and I would do it again.
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