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Birth date: August 19, 1982
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 185lbs
Hometown: Oklahoma city, OK
Current Residence: Huntsville, AL
Occupation: Certified Personal Trainer
Sport: Natural bodybuilding

Why did you become vegan?
initially became vegan for health reasons. I wanted to get my stubborn body fat down, but I wasn’t consuming many fruits or vegetables. I had been avoiding meat for a while and wanted to learn about the non-meat eating culture. I started reading a book that encouraged a vegan lifestyle and began to learn more about it. I didn't let the book convert me until I read more about how animals are treated on farms and especially how they are treated right before slaughter. It amazed me how much cruelty there is in the commercial farming industry. It really opened my eyes to learn that many products we use every day have animal by-products in them, and I thought to myself, 'do I really want this stuff in and on my body'?

When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I graduated high school at a skinny 150lbs, in a rough part of my hometown. There are a lot of places you cannot even walk around in your own neighborhood without the fear of someone coming out of their house, or jumping out of a car, and messing with you. So in a way, my pursuit of building muscle was a way to defend myself in case a situation ever did arise. I read books, magazines, and the internet before I ever stepped into a gym. Once I got the hang of the exercises I had learned, I fell in love with fitness and the sport of bodybuilding.

How would you describe your nutrition program?
I would describe my nutrition program as pretty spot-on, but with room for improvement in certain areas. I do not eat meat, dairy eggs, or foods with hydrogenated oils (synthetic trans fats), high fructose corn syrup (cheap sugar), excessive salt, gelatin, or foods that contain more chemicals than real food (I read labels). I eat so much fruit that I have to think of ways to incorporate some protein into my diet which can be a challenge when I don't want to go beyond my 'fruitfulness.' I prepare a lot of my own food so I know exactly what I’m putting into my body.

How would you describe your training program?
I am always striving for improvement with my training. My workouts change every couple of months to avoid boredom or stagnation, and my body from getting used to the same exercises, which happens with a lot with people. I prefer heavy compound lifts with total body exercises mixed in.

What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
I try to keep my body as pure as possible, but sometimes my body needs a little kick when I'm too sore or I need a muscle boost, in which case I’ll use supplements. I use L-glutamine for muscle soreness, L- arginine for increased blood flow to my muscles on days I want to feel 'swole,' glucosamine for my joints

when I lift heavy, and sometimes vegan protein powder. I prefer brands that make the cleanest products, such as Vega and Sun Warrior.

What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
Some misconceptions about vegans are that we don't get enough nutrients or protein. A lot of uninformed people think all their nutrients come from meat, but yet people who think this are typically over weight, out of shape, and have multiple health problems. Our society glorifies meat so much that we tend to forget about the real and nutritious foods. I tend to lecture about how hormones and chemicals are added to meat, but most people still believe that meat is best. I work hard to dispel this myth living by example as a healthy and fit vegan.

What do you think the most important aspect of fitness is?
The most important aspect of fitness is simply enjoying your workouts, followed by the actual results. I see a lot of people who workout but clearly don't like it, and they don't see the results they wanted. I see others who love fitness and their passion for it shows. You have to love it and love to learn about different aspects of training to get the most out of it.

What do you like best about being vegan?
I love to teach people about my vegan bodybuilding lifestyle. Being vegan sets me apart from the general public because when I tell someone I am vegan, they ask about it and are surprised by what I tell them. Many are unaware of what they are really putting in their bodies. I also like that I can go out to a restaurant and feel good about eating a meal that didn't hurt an animal.

What do you like best about being fit?
I like being able to do activities inside and out without feeling winded or weak. A few years ago I was focusing on bulking up. I shot up from between 190-200lbs to 223lbs and was feeling out of shape. I could go to the gym and lift heavy weights, but when it came to running or even bending over to tie my shoe, it was challenging. The added weight became a problem and blood would rush to my head simply when putting on my shoes. Even though I was lifting weights, I felt out of shape and had a poor cardiovascular capacity. I went to the playground one day and tried to swing across the monkey bars and couldn't. I could hang there for a short time but could not swing to the next bar. That was the day that changed me. Since then my weight has never been over 195 pounds and I consistently keep a very lean, fit, and healthy body.

What are your strengths as an athlete?
My main strength is my dedication to what I do. When I start a program I tend to finish it to the end. Being a personal trainer, anything I make my clients do, I have to make sure I can do too. If they do 20-30 reps on a particular exercise, I better be able to do it as well. This was not the case when I was heavy. The same dedication goes with my diet. When I say I'm not going to eat bad foods, I don't.

What advice do you have for vegan athletes who are just starting out?
Read and absorb what you read. When it comes to working out, it’s all about trial and error. We’re all unique and everyone adapts to different workout programs in their own way. Working out is about putting the right exercises back to back to maximize the results for your body. Anyone can go into a gym and lift weights, but if you don't put the right exercises together, you might not get the most out your workout. For example, have you ever gone to an online fitness message board and asked which exercise will make your biceps (or any other body part) better? If so, then you know there are a lot of schools of thought out there and you should experiment with your exercises and observe how your body responds. Specifics including exercise sequence, could be important.

Additionally, if your diet isn't in check, you could be hurting your gains. Whether you experience fatigue, have excess bodyfat, or another limiting issue, your diet can definitely help you improve. Diet can ultimately hurt or help you depending on how you manage it. Maintaining a proper diet is also trial and error, finding what works best for you. Talking to experienced and successful vegan athletes is another way to gain insight, learning new ideas. Most people who know what they're talking about have the physique and performance levels to prove it. Listening is a great virtue.

Be patient. Nothing happens over night. Take time and learn about your goals. The more you learn the more you'll grow both physically and mentally. After a while you'll figure out what activities or nutrients your body needs.

What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Go vegan for the right reasons and enjoy the transition.

What motivates you to continue to be a successful vegan athlete?
Knowing I don't have to eat meat to succeed as an athlete motivates me to be at my best while inspiring others. I love eating a salad or a big can of vegetarian beans before or after I train. People are amazed how well I carry my low body fat all year round, and I give all the credit to my vegan diet and lifestyle.

How has the website www.veganbodybuilding.com helped or inspired you?
I have learned a lot from everyone who contributes frequently to www.veganbodybuilding.com. People here keep me motivated and updated on animal issues, and informed on different, but delicious fresh foods I've never heard of. When I see and talk to more people like myself, it makes me comfortable knowing the information being shared will likely be more accurate than information presented on just
a regular online bodybuilding message board.