How I Stay In Shape These Days


Image shot by Tim Sevard in October of this year.

Since many people have been asking me about how I have been keeping in shape these days, I decided to devote a blog post to the subject. Though I am retired from competing, and am no longer bodybuilding stage-ready, I model frequently, and I also hold myself to very high standards when it comes to body conditioning. The most important factor in staying lean year round is FOOD, so I make sure to eat clean about 95% of the time. I consume about 100 to 120 grams of protein daily, all from whole foods rather than protein powders, and I drink plenty of water throughout the day. I limit my consumption of sugar and avoid processed foods.

Supplements are also an important part of my daily life. Most of the supplements I take have been in my daily regimen for many years, and I rarely miss a day’s dose. They are what I rely on to keep my body healthy at the cellular level. My goal is to maintain my health without ingesting prescription medications. In fact, the only prescription substance in my regimen is bioidentical progesterone cream.

I continue to challenge my body with frequent exercise, and still rely mostly on weight training for the bulk of my exercise. However, I incorporated aerial classes into my regular routine a couple of years ago for an extra challenge. At one point, I had been taking aerial classes 3 to 4 days per week, but my body was screaming out in agony. After a visit with my orthopedist, we discovered that I had arthritis in both elbows and my neck, and numerous issues in my shoulders, so I decided to back off from the intense aerial schedule I was following. These days, I only take a lyra class once every couple of weeks.

I have also been attending kundalini yoga classes on average of one day per week, and I love the unique physical, mental, and spiritual challenges which they present. Though kundalini yoga is a highly meditative form of yoga, the movements (called kriyas) are INTENSE, and I must often take breaks during these movements. I highly recommend this form of yoga for anyone who wants an intensely spiritual experience.

As for weight training, I train an average of six days per week when I am in town. I have adjusted my weight training to support aerial arts movements like straddle mounts, single knee hangs, pullovers and splits, and work my posterior chain (back, glutes, hams) more vigorously than my anterior chain. I usually follow a split consisting of three leg days and three upper body days which are further split (eg, back/arms, delts, chest/abs). I have also been changing the exercises, rep ranges, and lifting styles on a weekly basis to keep myself challenged. It’s definitely worked, because I am getting delayed onset muscle soreness from almost every workout.

The Bikini Box

It may be considered strange by some people, but I perform scheduled purges of my belongings on a regular basis. Why? Because they enable me to stay organized, and they also force me to get rid of items I don’t need. Recently, I decided that as part of a household purge, I would go through every single bikini in my bikini box.

The bikini box I am referring to is an underbed storage box which holds all of my bikinis. I established this system several years ago when I began to accumulate bikinis and would use them in photo shoots. After struggling to sort through my collection when I packed for a slew of photo shoots over the summer, I realized that there were suits I had never worn, suits which had been shot too many times, suits which no longer fit, and suits which had never fit.

I tried on every single suit, assessed fit, and determined whether to keep it or give it away. If I decided to keep a suit, I then made sure the top was tied securely at the neck, and also secured the side ties on bottoms, to make it easier to put it on when at a shoot. I also cut off tags so that they wouldn’t poke at me or stick out and create extra editing work for photographers. I also labeled the bags I stored the bikinis in so that the styles could be easily identified without me having to remove the suit from the bag.

It took me five hours to go through that bikini box, which means I averaged about 20 suits per hour. I gave away close to 20 suits and kept the rest, making sure that each suit was in a slide lock sandwich size storage bag. The suits are organized by color, making it easier for me to select suits for a shoot.

Now I am ready to shoot!

The Challenges Of Modeling

If you’ve never balanced on a craggy boulder, while freezing your ass off and also managing to muster a facial expression which makes everyone believe that you are having the time of your life, then you have no idea what models often have to endure in order to get “the shot”.

Shot by the late Weiferd Watts in 2010

Modeling often is hard work. Those of you who are snickering need to hear me out. Those elegant or sexy poses which you will often see models in are often incredibly uncomfortable, especially when there are boulders, creepy crawly things, nasty wind gusts, and weather extremes to negotiate as well. Outdoor locations can be teeming with insects, or they may have shards of broken glass everywhere which makes it quite treacherous for a model to strike a pose. Models often have to “cheat” a shoulder or limb, meaning that they have to turn a body part in a certain way to create an angle which looks right in the camera lens, but which feels completely unnatural and often sparks muscle cramps which linger for days after the shoot wraps. I still remember holding a pretzel pose for a full ten minutes while the photographer happily shot away (see blog image at top of this post), but because I put myself into a bit of a meditative state, I was able to hold the pose without much discomfort. Alas, as I have gotten older, my joints are far less forgiving, and I must take a brief break after several frames are shot.

Another major challenge which models constantly face is that they have to evoke certain moods and looks at the drop of a hat, even if they feel ill, tired, bloated, or otherwise uninspired to shoot. If a model can’t convince the photographer, and more importantly, the camera lens, that she is indeed the vision which is called for in a campaign, she can forget about lining up much work as time goes on.

Over the decades in which I have been modeling, I have learned so many tricks which increase efficiency and reduce the risk of injury while on the job. I know what essentials to pack in my bag, even if I end up not using them at all. When shooting on location, I always bring a large black robe, which I refer to as my changing robe, and which gets so much flak from the photographers because it makes me look like a transient when I wear it. If I have to put my bikini-clad ass on a felled tree stump which threatens to deposit some splinters into my flesh, I grab a small towel or scarf to protect my skin. I have also adopted the habit of wearing aqua shoes when on location so that my feet don’t get scorched by hot sand or torn up by rough terrain.

Believe me when I say that being a model isn’t just about standing in front of a camera and looking pretty. Good models WORK HARD, and they maintain a positive, cooperative attitude. Even when the ocean water is freezing cold, or the weather is so blazing hot that makeup is literally melting off, models who know how to be professional will honestly grin and bear it unless it is actually causing frank injury.

New Vino D. Shootout Locations

Vino Darius Calloway has outdone himself again, with new shoot locations for the Vino D. Utah Shootout for next June! I had the opportunity to shoot at these new locations last month, so I wanted to provide the models with some tips on how to prepare for them.

INFINITE TATTOO AND ART GALLERY:

This awesome location is in downtown Ogden, which is about an hour away from Park City. It’s a great place to shoot in if the weather doesn’t cooperate, and most of the shoot locations are inside the building. Infinite Tattoo and Art Gallery is a tattoo parlor, an art gallery, and a barber shop, and is filled with great furniture, art pieces, and outdoor murals. There is a lot of red and burgundy in this establishment, so colors which pop against red tones work best in this location. If Vino chooses this location, you will most likely leave the house late, perhaps around 3 pm, since you would be able to shoot until around 9 pm during the summer.

MOAB:

Moab was an amazing find, and though it is quite far from Park City, it is well worth the long drive. Moab is a four hour trek from Park City, situated in the southeast border of Utah, and is blessed with the warmest temperatures, making it a great shoot location if mother nature decides to fling some cold weather and wicked wind around Utah. Prepare to leave the house around noon. Once wrapped at this location, you ladies won’t return to the house until 1 am or later! Be sure to pack food for this long trip. Restroom facilities are VERY scarce in Moab, so be prepared to wrap a beach towel around you and find a bush to crouch behind to do your business. I always recommend carrying some tissue or a roll of toilet paper with you for those situations.

Shot at Infinite Tattoo and Art Gallery

Moab has some beautiful spots to shoot in, with panoramic canyon views, but the silt is slippery, there are rocks, twigs and brambles everywhere, and broken glass also litters some spots. For these reasons, it is imperative that you wear rubber-soled shoes or aqua shoes while climbing around in those areas! Keep your eyes open for any broken glass, and hold on to sturdy branches while climbing up and down the embankments.

You might be thinking that it would be better to avoid drinking any fluids, just so you can minimize your restroom breaks, but with the hot weather, you should hydrate throughout the day. Bring water with you to drink while traveling in the van. Every day that I was in Utah for the 2017 Shootout, I drank close to a gallon of water. My skin looked great as a result, and I didn’t have any issues with belly bloat.

It’s also a good idea to carry some extra water which you can use to rinse your feet and legs when at Moab, Salt Flats or Little Sahara.

Moab, Salt Flats, Little Sahara and the marina can get VERY windy. If you have long hair, I recommend shooting so that you are facing the oncoming wind. This way, you’ll avoid having your hair whip in your face and ruin the shots. I also recommend putting your hair in a very durable style, such as crimped waves which won’t unravel when the wind blows. Use a good setting spray to hold your hairstyle in place.

The sun’s rays can be brutal on location, so make sure you slather on sunblock, and use sunglasses to shield your eyes from the sun. If you shoot without sunglasses, and you have difficulty with squinting while facing the sun, close your eyes and have the photographer count to three, then open your eyes for the shot.

How To Keep Cool At Night

The one part about summer which I never miss is the endless string of hot nights which keep me tossing and turning. In an effort to keep the ambient temperature as comfortable as possible while I slumber, I have tried many different methods to cool down, and some still do the trick quite nicely. Thankfully, the mercury should start dropping soon, and the blazing hot nights will abate.

Here’s what has worked nicely for me in my quest for a cool sleeping environment:

1. Central A/C is always set for a certain temperature. We have it set at 77 degrees because at 78 degrees or higher, the entire household (there are four of us) bakes like incubating baby chicks.

2. The ceiling fan in my bedroom is always on. There’s nothing I can do about the fan placement, and often lament the fact that the fan is positioned over the foot of my bed instead of over my head, but the bedroom is huge. If I owned the place I live in, I would install three ceiling fans in line so that I could stay cool in bed, sitting in front of the television, or sitting at my desk on the other side of the room.

3. I have two sleek tabletop fans on my nightstands which are wonderful on hot nights. They have a slim profile, and are relatively quiet.

4. I always use 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, which have more of a tendency to stay cool than sheets which are a lower thread count or made of synthetic materials.

5. I have a cooling mattress pad on my mattress. The brand I have, PureCare Frio 11 Inch Cooling Mattress Protector, is acceptable but not great.

Frio Cooling Mattress Pad

Several other bloggers have recommended the Slumber Cloud Nacreous Mattress Pad which is available at slumbercloud.com, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it does a better job of cooling than the Frio.

6. When I was dealing with the worst of my perimenopausal nights sweats, I would place an ice cold gel pack between my shoulder blades and sleep on my back so that I could maximize the surface area which came into contact with the pack. After two summers of using gel packs on a nightly basis, I am thrilled that I haven’t had to resort to such craziness this summer.

7. On the hottest summer nights, I will take a tepid shower before retiring. The shower ritual cools core body temperature and primes the body for more restful sleep.

8. I will often kick a foot or an entire leg out from under the covers to cool down. This has been scientifically proven to decrease core body temperature. Some researchers even recommend that people sleep with their feet completely unencumbered by socks or bedding.

What did NOT work for me was a bed fan. I had seen the BedJet Climate Comfort Cooling Fan and was intrigued by it, but the steep price ($300 and up) caused me to lose interest quickly. When I learned that there was a Brookstone version of the bed fan, and that it was $99, I quickly purchased it, only to be so disappointed by the performance that I returned it. Even with the lightweight sheets I have on the bed and a simple coverlet (no blanket, no heavy comforter), and with the fan cranked up to the maximum setting, the device spewed out just enough air power to keep the toes of one foot cool.

I am intrigued by the Breezy Buddy fan-cooled pillow and wish I had known about this product when I was in the throes of hormonal night sweats. However, I no longer need such a device.

If you are looking for ways to cool down your bedroom, you might want to try a few of the suggestions I have discussed here. Here’s to a restful and cool night’s sleep!

No Olympia For Me This Year

Fun times from Olympia 2011 with Anca and Farinaz

For the past seven years, I have attended Olympia every year and have always enjoyed the whole experience. This year, however, I will not be attending since the main sports supplement company I work with, SWAT Fuel, will not have a presence there this time around. What is strange for me is that I am not bothered by the fact that I won’t be rubbing elbows with the fitness and bodybuilding icons I have come to know over the years. In some sense I am actually relieved that I will get a break this year, since I have been traveling more this year and could use a staycation.

For those of you who are wondering what event I will be at next, please come by and say hi at the Ferrigno Legacy on November 18th and 19th. I will be at the Flexpo, handing out samples of SWAT Fuel’s 9mm+P, which is a combination preworkout/endurance/thermogenic formula unlike anything else on the market!

For more information and tickets to the Ferrigno Legacy, please visit: https://www.ferrignolegacy.com/