How did you get started with bodybuilding?
I am a dentist in Toronto, Canada. I was raised by a family of ectomorphs who placed tremendous emphasis on academia. The philosophy was, “work first, play later”. Because I was always studying or practicing the piano, I was unfortunately unable to incorporate sports or fitness into my daily regime. When I was 18, my parents started gaining weight and decided to hire a personal trainer. I was so captivated by their thrice weekly workouts, that I decided to join them.
And this was the decision that forever changed the direction of my life.
I decided to pursue my certification in personal training. Shortly thereafter, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from McGill University. My desire to interlace science and artistry resulted in my pursuit of dentistry. After obtaining my DMD from McGill in 2005, I had more free time to devote to exercise. I became so enamored by fitness that I became a certified SPINNING and jump rope instructor, and I enrolled in gymnastics and dance.
I met my personal trainer, Lyzabeth Lopez in 2006. For the following 3 years, she unsuccessfully tried to convince me to enter a fitness competition. I made up every excuse imaginable: “I can’t because I’m a dentist, I can’t because I have cellulite, I can’t because I’m too old…” The true reason was that I did not believe in myself.
One day in July 2009, I came to the realization that I was my own worst enemy. I emailed Lyzabeth and said, “let’s do it”. By November, I entered and won my first fitness competition at 32 years of age. Entering into the world of fitness modeling is one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself. Not only have I met incredible friends, learned multiple new skills, ameliorated my self-confidence, eliminated my cellulite and learned proper nutrition, but I have also learned the importance of tapping into my full potential. Never again will I leave opportunities unrealized.
From where does your motivation come?
I am fortunate to have been raised by successful people who have not only taught me strategies to achieve success, but who have also presented me with every opportunity imaginable. When I was 10 years old, my dad gave me a walkman and Anthony Robbins’ course. I was only 10 at the time, but I still remember this quotation, “never set attainable goals”. Over the years, I have learned that the greatest reward for achieving is the opportunity to do more. I have also learned that there is no shortcut to success. It took me 8 years of university to become a dentist, 10 years to advance to grade 10 piano, and 2 years to be able to do 10 unassisted chin-ups. To have success, it takes obsessive focus. I do not consider myself to be naturally talented. My success is a result of hours and hours of practicing, studying, training and honing my skills. While the others are sleeping, partying, or watching television, I’m busy working towards my “unattainable” goals.
My motivation is derived from both internal and external sources. I am motivated by watching other people succeed. I am also motivated by fear. I try things which scare me. And no matter how silly I look, I keep trying until I get it right. Confucius said, “he who says he can and he who says he can’t are both usually right”.
What workout routine has worked best for you?
I engage in cardiovascular training 6 days a week for 45-60 min. My cardio regime consists of spinning, jump rope, steady-state elliptical training and HIIT on the treadmill. I constantly mix it up to keep my body guessing…and burning fat! I am enrolled in 4 dance classes a week, as well as a weekly pilates class to strengthen my core. I strength train 6 days per week: 3 of these days are with the guidance of my personal trainer.
If you have to pick only 3 exercises, what would they be and why?
- Chin-ups: My favorite exercise period. They are the most beneficial overall muscle and strength developer. There’s nothing more gratifying than mastering your own bodyweight!
- Planks: There are so many benefits to planks. They improve the endurance of the core muscles that are needed to support, stabilize and engage movements of the torso. This is beneficial for preventing and rehabilitating back injuries.
- Arnold shoulder press: Although cumbersome, it really blasts your deltoids – the extra range of motion results in additional muscle fiber recruitment. Great bang for your buck.
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What is your diet like?
My successful body transformation is mostly a result of proper nutrition. For years I thought I was eating “healthy”, and it eluded me why I never achieved any results despite religious exercising. My areas of expertise include dentistry, medicine, physiotherapy and fitness, but I am the first to admit that having no educational background in nutrition was hindering my ability to achieve my “dream body” and succeed as a fitness model. Not only did I start researching the topic, but I also hired a nutritionist who was able to devise a personalized nutrition plan for me. This was money well spent. I consume complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats every 2-3 hours for a total of 6 smaller meals a day. This ensures my metabolism burns steadily throughout the day.
I minimize carbohydrate consumption after lunch, and finish all my meals at least 3 hours before bedtime. I prevent myself from deviating from my nutrition plan by preparing 5 days worth of meals in advance and carrying them in a cooler to work (with an ice-pack). I always carry a water bottle with me, and never wait until I am thirsty to drink.
This is an example of my typical daily menu:
- Meal 1: ½ cup soaked oats with cinnamon & flaxseed, small apple
- Meal 2: 1-2 organic free run hard-boiled eggs
- Meal 3: ½ cup quinoa, 1 cup green vegetables, 4 oz organic chicken breast
- Meal 4: 1 cup steamed green veggies
- Meal 5: dark green salad, 4-5 oz Tilapia
- Meal 6: Protein shake
They say that the pre and post-workout meals are the most vital meals for the day, what do yours consist of?
Because I work as a full-time dentist, I engage in cardiovascular training in the morning before heading to the office. At the end of the workday, I eat my dinner and then I leave the office and drive to the gym (bypassing home!) to engage in strength training. I consume a protein shake containing 1 tbsp of glutamine within 30 minutes of completing my workout.
When trying to cut down, do you prefer to use HIIT or just normal cardio?
I do not want my body to know what to expect every time I jump onto the treadmill. I love subjecting my body to an extremely effective surprise known as high intensity interval training (HIIT). This really fires up my metabolism, and studies suggest HIIT is more beneficial for fat loss. I like incorporating 2-3 sessions per week of HIIT to my regular regime of steady-state cardiovascular training and weight lifting. I further enhance my metabolism by engaging in 2 workouts a day: a morning cardio session and an evening strength training session. This allows me to stimulate my metabolic rate twice a day!
What is your supplementation like?
I prefer to eat my food rather than swallow a pill. I always recommend researching and critical thinking before engaging in anything new, especially when considering ingesting supplements. Because I engage is such tremendous physical daily activity, I have added the following to my fitness model diet: bee pollen, whey protein, fish oil, maca, flaxseed, a multivitamin, BCAA’s peri-work-out and glutamine post work-out.
My favorite fitness model is my personal trainer and nutritionist, Lyzabeth Lopez. I am truly blessed to have Lyzabeth as my mentor. I often joke that she represents to me what Schumann represented to Brahms (except they were pianists and we are fitness models). Lyzabeth has forever changed my life. Her wisdom, confidence, professionalism, work ethic and kind heart have been a tremendous inspiration. The breadth of the skills and lessons she has taught me will be amplified over my lifetime. I look forward to her continued support and would like to acknowledge her help with a deep sense of gratitude. Her influence on my life is immeasurable – thank you to Lyzabeth Lopez for making me a better person inside and out.
Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt.
William Shakespeare, “Measure for Measure”, Act 1 scene 4
The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places
Ernest Hemingway, “A Farewell to Arms”, 1929
(I tattooed this on the side of my body)
Nothing will come of nothing
William Shakespeare, “King Lear”, Act I, Scene I