Our First Pet Funeral

About two months ago, I finally caved and let me daughter buy a hamster.  We allowed her to save her own money and if she saved up enough, we would contribute half towards getting her a hamster.  We tried everything to distract her from this idea.  Yet my daughter was persistent and wouldn’t let it go.  So she smiled at me with those hazel eyes and said “daddy, will you take me to get a hamster tonight?”  I couldn’t say no.  The girl has me wrapped.  I’m aware and I don’t apologize for it.  I made her aware that a hamster is a big responsibility and she will be the main person that takes care of him.  She was ok with this.  Enter Nibs.

Nibbles, or Nibs, as she called him was a dwarf Siberian hamster.  She took really good care of him.  He had survived our cat twice.  Two times my daughter forgot to shut her bedroom door and the cat knocked the hamster cage off her dresser.  Both times we found Nibs unharmed.  I really think he was some type of ninja hamster or possibly a 007.  She loved that thing to death.  By the way he let her hold him all the time, he loved her too.

While at worship practice last night, we got a phone call from my in-laws that Nibs died.  I could feel my daughters heart breaking.  They said she was crying but she was ok.  We got home and hugged her little 5 year old body while she cried.  I told her that we could have a funeral for Nibs and she said she would like that.  So I went down to the shed and got my shovel and found a nice spot under a big tree in the backyard that doesn’t get mowed over.  I even got her a little hand shovel for her to help and be involved, hoping this would bring some type of closure.  We made the hole about 8 inches deep so that it was deep enough he wouldn’t be dug up by scavengers.  Then we went and got Nibs.  We carried him down in a little shoe box and laid him in the hole in the ground with only a spotlight flashlight illuminating him.  “Can I pet him one more time to say goodbye?”  We told her she could And asked if she wanted to say anything to him before we buried him.  She said she did.  These are her words: 

Jo: “He was a very good hamster.  I just wanted to say goodbye to him.  I’m trying not to cry though.”

Me: “He was a very good hamster.  You took very good care of him.”

Jo: “He was and yes I did.”

Me: “But you know what? Jesus is going to have a very good hamster now.”

Jo: “He is.  Its Nibbles.”

Me: “I bet he’s playing with Jesus right now.”

Jo: “I bet he’s playing patty-cake with him.”

Me: “He probably is. And you know what? I bet there are other little boys and girls hamsters that died that are playing with him now.  I bet he’s so happy. Are you ready to say goodbye to him?”

Jo: nods head  “goodbye nibbles. I didn’t want him to pass away though.”

As I covered the little guys body, my daughter had a little fake flower that she brought with her to put on his grave.  We stuck the flower in the ground and headed back inside.  She found a rock that she wanted me to paint with nail polish as a headstone.  She wanted me to write: “Nibs…great hamster…by Jocelyn.”  She insisted on putting one of her prized littlest pet shop toys on his grave.  

So there in our backyard lies Nibs, a flower, a littlest pet shop toy, and a lot of little 5 year old tears.  Rest in peace Nibs.

My First NPC Physique Show Recap

So it’s been one day since I stepped on stage for the first time as an NPC Physique competitor.  The day was a long one and the day before even longer.  I don’t think I’ve ever been more stressed out before a competition before.  Here’s what happened.  

So I bought a new car off my grandparents on Wednesday of this week.  I installed my Bluetooth head unit from Clarion, put my Spartan sticker on the back window, stuck my Baltimore Orioles fuzzy dice in the window, installed my 12″ subwoofer in the back, all is good in the world.  I made my mark on a 2004 Pontiac Vibe with 88,000 miles.  Fast forward to Friday on my trip up to Allentown, PA for my show and the battery light is on.  Weird.  A little bit later my head unit shuts off.  Weird.  Maybe I wired up the wiring harness wrong?  No worries.  All of a sudden, a few minutes later, we hit traffic.  As I slow down my dash lights go off.  This is not good.  I make my way over to the shoulder and there she dies.  Mandatory check-in is out the window.  I’ll never make it there by 8.  Luckily AAA to the rescue.  We called AAA only to find that our AAA membership expires oct 1 (which would have been tomorrow at that time).  The guy said we were cancelled.  So I had to 3 way my parents who are the head of the AAA plan to get things sorted out.  Meanwhile, I am sitting with my wife and 4 month old infant just feet off a very busy interstate.   Not a happy camper.  After a few minutes, we got things sorted out and AAA was on their way.  They made us a priority since we had an infant and were there within 5 minutes.  They determined that it was the alternator and they had to get us off the interstate.  So they had two trucks, they put a battery pack on my car and shut the hood down a little, and told me the plan.  One truck drove in front of us, the other truck behind us, and they escorted us a mile up the interstate on the shoulder off the interstate to a gas station right off the exit.  Come to find out, the first thing they asked is why the alternator was all slimy.  Turns out my dad thought it was a good idea to use engine cleaner under the hood and spray down the engine.  Water and electricity don’t mix.  I called the venue and the event promoter was totally understanding and told me that I could come in early at 8 instead of 9 to check in.  So we had to tow my car back 70 miles to a shop near our house, get our other car, and head back to Allentown, PA.  12:30AM we arrived at our hotel.  Long day and sleep was sweet.
We woke up at 6:30 and checked out of the room and went downstairs to the free breakfast.  I had my morning carb up meal of sausage, eggs, and two pancakes with a glass of water.  We headed over to the venue and got checked in, got my height checked (a requirement in my class) and got ready to roll.  Come showtime, Mens Physique was about halfway through the show.  There were 119 competitors in total.  The event was great, very well organized.  About 40 minutes prior to my showtime, I got oiled up from my coach and started my pump up routine.  Curls, push-ups, working with a band, anything I could do to get the muscles going and the veins popping.  I wasn’t the biggest guy there by a long shot but I wasn’t the smallest.  I also was not the most conditioned but my conditioning was pretty dang good compared to some.  My time came and they called my name.  I heard my family cheering and saw my daughters sign that said “Go Daddy!” on it.  She showed it to me later, with the flowers and jewels and the boulder she drew that she put on there because she said I could lift boulders because I was so strong.  I hit my poses and felt really good about it besides the cramp in my lower back and oblique.  And that was it.  Four months of hard work, prepping, dieting, lifting, and cardio for 30 seconds.  Was it worth it? Absolutely.  I set a goal for myself and accomplished it.  There is no greater feeling than that.  

Finals were at 5pm, so we grabbed some lunch and headed back.  It was around this time that I realized I stank.  I hadn’t showered in 3 days (at least not with soap) because of the spray tan.  I had oil on me.  It was a bad combination.  The finals required us to do our posing routine one more time for everyone.   There were four guys in my class, Novice A.  They were all super nice and we were fist bumping each other and encouraging one another to go out and have fun.  They called my name and I went out, smiled big and hit my poses.  I managed to eliminate the cramping by eating a banana a half hour before stage this time.   I made it a point to wave to my daughter before I walked off.  They had us line up on the diagonal line taped to the stage as they announced the winners.  I placed 4th out of 4 guys but that didn’t really matter to me. 

 Yes, I got a pretty cool trophy but even that didn’t matter.  I did it.  I wanted to completely transform my body from the skinny 150lb marathon runner to a Physique competitor.  I did this in a year and a half.  I was proud of myself.  I was proud that I saw it through.  I was proud that I put in the hard work and chose to endure the 4 months of dieting and prep that went into getting myself ready for this moment.  

It was also in this experience that I realized I have work to do.  My conditioning was good but there were many guys, even in my own class, whose conditioning was just as good but they were bigger.  I know exactly what I need to work on for next year.  I need to grow my back and chest and come in a little more conditioned.  But now I know how it’s done.  I’ve learned from this experience and can go on to do better next time.  

There isn’t anything anyone can say that will take away from this experience.  All the support that I’ve had along the way has been incredible and I hope to put on some size and make them proud once again at a show next year.  This isn’t the end of me.  This isn’t the end of bodybuilding for me.  This is just the beginning.  I’m hooked.  I caught the competitive bug and I’ll come back stronger.  Mark my words.

Prepping for Physique Eating Chick-fil-A Twice a Day

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  If any of you have read my previous blogs, I’m in the middle of contest prep for my very first NPC Physique competition.  15 days, 1 hour and 56 minutes to be exact.  It’s safe to say that I have a completely new outlook on what it takes to be a bodybuilder, or any elite fitness athlete for that matter.  I don’t claim to be elite or even a bodybuilder really, but one thing is for sure, I’ve worked my rear off to get to where I am.

The picture above is me 1 1/2 years ago in 2015.  So how am I progressing?  What’s the latest on your prep?  For my day job, I work as the Kitchen Director for a Chick-fil-A in PA.  This is a job that requires a lot of time, attention to detail, and a love for the brand.  One of the perks is I get to eat Chick-fil-A whenever I want.  The problem is one would not usually associate meal prepping for a competition with a fast food diet, but I have to make due with what I have.  Why don’t you meal prep and take it with you? Sometimes I do.  I take a Tupperware container of rice with me on carb days.  For the majority of the time though, it’s the restaurants food that I’m eating.  

Seriously?  You’re seriously prepping for a NPC Physique show eating fast food on a daily basis.  Yes, yes I am.  Here’s how I do it.

 First, it takes sooooooo much will power to not eat the strips, the waffle fries, or the delicious chilled grilled sub (my favorite item on the menu).  It takes so much willpower to not smother my food in Chick-fil-A sauce or Honey Roasted BBQ.  But I don’t.  I stick with what I know I can eat.  My meals usually consist of 6oz of chicken every few hours.   Usually I can throw unmarinated chicken on the grill and eat that.  If I feel I need a little sugar boost, I’ll throw 6oz of the chilled grilled chicken from the market salad in a bowl.  

Second, I don’t drink soft drinks or sweet tea.  Blasphemous right?  No sweet tea?  I have a remedy for this too.  I carry in my pocket a bottle of Stevia drops found in the organic aisle of most grocery stores.  Some unsweetened Tea, add a few drops of Stevia (zero calories and organic mind you) and boom! Sweet tea that is zero calories.  If I feel adventurous, I’ll throw in a splash of diet lemonade.  

Third, I have an incredible support system.  My team believes in me.  Do they pick on me for eating “bird food” as they call it all the time? Of course they do, but they got my back.  Just the other day, the nuggets tasted a little off so we had to try them.  They were very careful to not let Gerad try them, “it will ruin his diet! He’s not allowed!!!”

For those that aren’t as strict as me and just want to lose a few pounds, Chick-fil-A offers the superfood side that consists of kale and broccolini, fruit cups, or any of the salads that can be purchased with grilled chicken instead of fried chicken.

This isn’t meant to be an informercial or an advertisement for Chick-fil-A, it is merely to show that with a little determination, despite working in a delicious fast food restaurant, you can still achieve your fitness goals if you want it bad enough.  In total during this contest prep, I have lost 23lb and went from 14% body fat to 8.5%.  I did this all eating Chick-fil-A twice a day, five days a week.  I still got 15 days, 1 hour, and 33 minutes to go til show day.  We shall see where I end up.  I’m determined to bring my best package to the stage.  I may not place or be the best physique there, but as soon as I step on that stage, knowing all the hard work I’ve put in and seeing my complete body transformation….I’ve already won. 

New and Improved Qalo – Improving On The Rubber Wedding Band

So you guys may have seem my post before on the Qalo wedding band.  If you haven’t, you can find it HERE.  Ever since I found these wedding bands, I’ve been hooked.  I don’t know what I would do without it!  So how can they improve upon a good thing?  

A little bit of a back story – I lost about 45 lb a few years ago.  I went from chunky to skinny and my ring no longer fit me.  To remedy this, I bought a little contraption that clamped onto my ring to make it fit better.  It was the cheapest option compared to resizing and the little metal balls they adhere to the inside.  The little clamp pieces worked their way out a little and it was overall uncomfortable.  When I started working out, I found the skin being pinched under my ring.  I hated that!  I would often take my ring off to wear sports because it was heavy and I wasn’t about to have my fingers pinched over a softball bat. 

Enter Qalo!  The silicon wedding band that is comfortable, lightweight, and a fitness lovers friend!  Qalo now has a new body style!!! Check it out!!!

The little dots are holes in the band that allow breathability in the fingers.  The old band, while comfortable, also caused a reaction on my finger much like being in the shower too long.  Qalo also made the ring thinner and lighter which makes it so easy and comfortable to wear.  Sometimes I even forget I have it on.  The silicon is strong, fairly elastic, and stylish.  

Where Qalo really shines is in the fitness arena.  Ever grabbed a dumbbell only to have your finger skin pinched by your ring?  No more.  The silicon acts as a padding and the elasticity keeps your finger from being pinched.  

Qalo offers rings in a variety of colors and styles.  They have the athletic collection, a glow in the dark collection (I have one of these too, way cool), a neon collection, a couple of sparkly ones for the females, and bands such as the thin blue line and thin red line to support law enforcement and firefighters.  They carry both male and female collections for that cutest couple that likes to match.  Qalo has my full support in what they are doing.  Thanks to them, my MUCH more expensive wedding ring is safely nestled on my dresser in my bedroom.  I still really like my original wedding ring, but the practicality and comfort in my active lifestyle puts my Qalo a step ahead.

If you’d like to check out Qalo wedding bands, go to Qalo.  You won’t be disappointed.  

*I am in no way affiliated with Qalo.  I have received no compensation for this blog.  The opinions in this blog are solely my own.  I am just a huge fan!

From Marathon Running to Bodybuilding Physique – My Hardest Challenge Yet

If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for the next big challenge.  One of my goals that I had since I was younger was to run a marathon before I was 30.  Through some hard work and dedication, I completed the Baltimore Marathon when I was 29 and 8 months.  Then I felt like running wasn’t enough so I took on obstacle course racing.  I completed my Spartan Trifecta before I turned 31.  Now what?  I thought to myself, “you know what would be crazy? What if you competed in bodybuilding physique?” Yea…this skinny runner guy trying to get swole.  Funny right? 


Look at that skinny dude!!! I was able to ease into things a little bit.  I found out really fast that if I wanted to do well at obstacle course races like Spartan Race, I needed to be stronger.  So I started lifting weights so I could at least get the sandbags off the ground at the Herculean Hoist.  I also found out that I was never going to put on weight running as much as I was.  So I cut out cardio almost completely.  I also needed to EAT! Without a calorie surplus, I was never going to get any bigger.  That’s just science.   I’ve managed to accumulate a small home gym over the years, so religiously I spent my nights after work down in my basement.  Sometimes I was down there at midnight finishing at one in the morning.  I chose this because 1) I don’t to compromise time with my daughter and 2) I worked late and it was my only choice.  A year and a half has gone by since I started this journey.  I put on 35lb and managed to keep a relatively low bodyfat percentage in the mid teens.  So now what?

No one is going to do well in a physique competition with bodyfat in the mid teens.  So my cutting diet started six weeks ago.  I put myself on a strict macro calorie diet.  I’ve lost 10lb in those six weeks, most of prob water weight.  I have a limit for how many carbs and fat I can eat per day as well as maintaining a caloric deficit.  I’ve managed to cut out all foods with added sugar completely.  I’ve also put cardio back into my routine to work on getting cut.  The trick is losing weight at about 1-2 lb per week.  This is so I can lose bodyfat without losing muscle mass.  I’ve done hours of research on this and I’ve managed to get sponsored by a local tanning salon which has a team that competes in bodybuilding competitions.  Those guys have been a tremendous resource and inspiration to me and I hope to make them proud.  

Sticking to a diet that leaves me absolutely exhausted and without pizza has been killing me.  This isn’t a post to boast about myself.  I’m not looking for pats on the back.  My goals are just that, MY goals.  I set out to do something that seemed impossible for me at the time.  It isn’t until I look at myself from a year and a half ago that I realize how far I’ve come.  Maybe there’s a goal that you’ve always wanted to achieve.  Maybe there is that one thing you’ve always wanted to do but it seems impossible.  I think anything is possible if you are willing to put in the work to get there.  If there is one thing that Spartan Race has taught me, it’s that your body is capable of far more than you give it credit for.  On October 1, I step on stage for my first ever physique competition.  I hope I do well, but even if I don’t, I will know that I accomplished something far greater than any trophy or medal.  I will have done what seemed impossible for me.  AROO!