Anchorage Alaska will forever hold a special place in my memory in regards to bodybuilding. In the summer of 1992, I traveled north to Alaska to spend a week with my cousin Valerie and her husband at the time, Bill. They owned a gym in Eagle River and Bill, an avid competitive bodybuilder, introduced me to the iron and the discipline of the bodybuilding lifestyle.

Fast forward to June of 2016 and the inaugural edition of the IFBB Arctic Pro. At that point, I’d competed in 29 IFBB pro competitions since winning the NPC USA Overall title in 2004. A winless streak of 29 competitions over the course of 12 years snapped with my first ever pro victory at my 30th competition — the 2016 Arctic Pro. I went on to win the Chicago and Vancouver, BC 212 competitions last year as well.

The Field of Competitors

As 2017 rolled around I set my sights on defending my title again in the land of the midnight sun - Anchorage, Alaska. The competitive field varied greatly from 2016, with a total of 11 competitors spanning the globe. Calling it an international event would be an understatement as the countries represented included - Sweden, Iraq, Czech Republic, South Korea, Ukraine and several others from the US.

Battling Illness

On the Thursday prior to the event and my last official training day I woke with a horrible sore throat. Attempting not to panic, I knew what was on the horizon and the impact it might play on my depletion and loading for the day of competition. Sure enough by the time Christina and I departed for Anchorage, Thursday afternoon, head and chest congestion set in. Friday I awoke worse than ever and at weigh-in, I faked it when asked how I was feeling, “Oh, I’m doing great!”


I gained a new dose of sympathy for Dallas McCarver at prejudging. Dallas passed out and ultimately pulled out of the Arnold Schwarzenegger Australia in March of this year due to severe chest congestion. I thought the same might occur with me the morning of prejudging. I simply could not get enough oxygen during the call-outs. It ranked as the worst experience to date for me personally. Thankfully prejudging concluded with me front, center and appearing on my way to another victory.


A long nap that afternoon left me feeling much better going into the finals. The time between my posing routine and final confirmation round helped assure I didn’t exceed my respiratory capacity. While I felt the gentlemen in 2nd and 3rd both possessed great physiques, I was able to synch my first win of 2017 and an Olympia qualification with straight first place scores from both prejudging and finals.

Score Card

What’s Next?

Aside from the Olympia qualification, my next competition will be just north of the US-Canadian border in one of my favorite cities - Vancouver, BC. The Vancouver BC Pro/Am is two weeks away so I’m hoping to kick this head and chest cold and come in 10% better. My entire family will be traveling with me again to the event which makes it all the more special.

What I Did Differently

A few things stand out in this season’s competition prep. The biggest change related to diet. Over the course of the past few years, I became increasingly concerned about my digestive system. Dieting became a time when running to the bathroom was frequent and abnormal. I feared a linked to colitis or some other issue which haunts many long-time bodybuilders. Last year I eliminated protein shakes and caffeine with marginally successful results.

RECENT: Information to Insight

This year I discovered the culprit – sensitivity to eggs along with the previous issues attributable to dairy based protein shakes. Biotest Finibars became my new best friend and filled the gap for breakfast. I ate at least one every day and was able to reintroduce caffeine. There really is nothing better than a Dark Chocolate Crunch Finibar with a cup of coffee with stevia and coconut oil!


As for protein shakes, they are still absent from my diet and I replaced them with vegan protein sources. Yes, vegan...I can’t believe I just typed that word, lol. The one other gut-friendly foundational diet piece I included daily was organic beef bone broth.

On the training front, I continue to give John Meadows credit for his programming genius. I stayed relatively injury free this past year while working around my typical problem area: lower back. Cardio took a backseat to my prep this time around. I think I only walked on a treadmill 2-3 times for 15 minutes each the entire prep, meaning cardio was pretty much non-existent if you don’t count the three 60 minute hot yoga sessions I performed each week. Namaste.


Words can’t adequately express my gratitude for those who support my bodybuilding career. My bride, Christina, tops the list. Attempting to love and shepherd three daughters through the turbulence of their teen years with a husband pro bodybuilder is not easy. She is the often unseen and unsung hero that makes me the man I am today.

I would also be remiss in not pointing out Dave Tate, EliteFTS - CEO, and Tim Patterson, Biotest/T-Nation - CEO, who not only support but provide me a platform in which to engage with the followers of their respective sites. It’s rare to find men as passionate as Dave and Tim. I count myself blessed to associate with their teams.

Lastly, the IFBB founders Joe and Ben Weider, along with Jim Manion for carrying on their legacy. I’ve been the beneficiary of the international organization these men built and continue to advance.

Now, back to the grind and see you in Vancouver, BC!

Header image courtesy of Frozen Glass Photography