Parenting and Mercy

This isn’t my typical exercise and fitness post. I haven’t even posted in a long time, but for some reason (maybe it’s the Global Leadership Summit I attended today) I felt compelled to write. Every now and then, our hearts need some exercise too. Maybe someone out there will be touched by this.

So tonight, my seven year old daughter made a choice that she shouldn’t have. She had been warned that if she made this particular choice, she would have her Kindle taken away. This upset her a lot because she loves to listen to “Adventures in Odyssey” to fall asleep. She cried the entire way home. After we got home, I got down on one knee with her and we talked about it. I asked her what I should do in this situation.

She looked at me, with tears filling her eyes, and told me that I should take her Kindle even though she didn’t want me to. She then burst into tears.

I had a choice here. I could take the Kindle and follow through with the consequence I had put forward earlier. Or I could show mercy.

I thought about it.

I looked in her tear-filled eyes and told her that I was so proud that she did the right thing by telling me I should take her Kindle even though it hurt her heart. She could have easily told me that she didn’t deserve a consequence and that I should give her a second chance. Or she could have told me I could have taken something else away that wasn’t as important to her. But she didn’t. She told me exactly what she deserved. And it hurt her…a lot.

I look at that girl with so much love. It reminded me so much of the love that God has for me. I deserve a consequence. We all do. We are all born into sin and deserve a consequence. I asked her if she ever heard of “mercy”. She said she kinda did.

God showed us mercy by sending His Son to die on the cross so we didn’t have to.

John 3:16 says “God loved the world so much that he gave His only son so that whoever believes in Him would not die, but have eternal life.”

We deserve a consequence but God loves us so much that he didn’t give me the consequence I deserve. Instead, He died for me so I didn’t have to. It takes a lot of love to do that!

I decided that I wasn’t going to take the Kindle even though that’s what she deserved. I told her we should always do the right thing even if it hurts our heart. I told her that it doesn’t matter if she is 7, 8, or 30, I always want her to do the right thing. I always like to catch my kids doing good things rather than catch them doing something wrong.

I don’t know if I have this parenting thing figured out or not. I do know one thing though. I feel like I taught her more tonight about a father’s love and God’s love than I ever could have by giving her a consequence. I know that she is going to bed knowing that her dad loves her and that God loves her so much that He is willing to show mercy and grace even when she doesn’t deserve it. To me, that matters more than anything.

Fitness Model Opportunity

About four months ago, I came across a website called  I’ve made it no secret that my end goal is to one day be a fitness model and see myself in a magazine.  I want to walk into the grocery store and see the look on my daughters faces when they see daddy in a magazine, that look of being proud.  I looked into what this site is all about.  Turns out, this is more than just a website, it is a resource for those in a fitness lifestyle.   Some of the features are a fitness model directory that is viewable by some of the best in the biz, an apparel line, a nutritional line called FM Nutrition, photography services, an opportunity for members to receive income by being a seller of FM Nutrition products, but most importantly, it’s a community for those that love fitness to interact and gain insight into the sport that we love.  

The community is exclusive and required me to apply for membership.  Membership does cost a dime.  The first time I applied, four months ago, I was denied.  I was required to submit a headshot, as well front, back, and side body shots.  I was not what they were looking for.  Two months later, I reapplied and was accepted.  The community is amazing and I’ve learned so much from people that have been doing the fitness lifestyle, and I use lifestyle on purpose, for much longer than I have.   

The apparel line is great and fits a muscular body great.  The apparel is not too tight, not too loose, but is form fitting in all the right places.  They carry tees, sweatshirts, tanks, beanies, as well as duffels and meal prep bags.  

What I’m most excited about is the nutrition line, FM Nutrition.  They contain all the major products that I would use: protein, BCAA’s, a sleep/recovery formula, a preworkout, and one of the flagship products ISOSplash.  ISOSplash is a zero calorie, zero sugar flavor enhancer that is simply amazing.  I used it in my prep (cookies and cream flavor) to flavor coffee, egg whites, protein drinks, etc.  These come at a price point much better than similar products and actually tastes better.  My favorite product is probably “Dream Matrix” which is the sleep/recovery formula.  Within five minutes of taking it, I was knocked out.  That stuff is legit. also provides sponsorships for athletes.  They provide cash payouts for select shows if you place.  This is all significant because this is an organization that is doing something FOR the bodybuilding community.  This is more than what can a fitness model do for me? This is designed to benefit us and help us in our fitness journey.  

I am honored and humbled to be accepted into an elite community like this.  If you feel you have what it takes and the fitness lifestyle is something you want for yourself, give it a shot, go to the website and sign up!  Use my name as a reference and grow in your fitness journey!  I’ll be happy to help any way I can!!!

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.