It's the new year and you have a laundry list of goals. You're eager to succeed, but not sure if you're on the right path. In this conversation with natural bodybuilder and male model Anthony Catanzaro, Anthony tells you how to stay on track, achieve your goals, and make 2010 the best year of your life.
Muscle and Strength: So Anthony, here we are on January 1st, 2010. So many people wanting to turn their lives around, but so many people will fail. What's the first real step in turning a "goal" into a "reality" in 2010?
Anthony Catanzaro: Well first off I would like to wish everyone a very happy new year! I know a lot of you are hoping this is the year you finally get your body into shape. You're saying to yourself, this is it - I'm going to do it this year. I'm going to go to the gym. I'm going to stick to my diet. I'm going to do it! But unfortunately, a lot of you will fail, and the reason you fail is because you're not on the right road to begin with. So if you're not on the right road to get where you want to be, you will never get there and will therefore fail. But what if you were on the right road and applied all the right actions and confidence toward your goal, what would happen? You would succeed! There would be no doubt about it!
I'm here today to get you on the road to success! Yes the "Superman of Fitness" is here to save the day!
To begin, you have to visualize your goal weight and how you want to look. Stop obsessing about how much weight you need to lose and how out of shape you are. Start visualizing the body you want and the weight you want to be. Everything starts with the mind!
Let's say your arms need to be bigger. Stop thinking that your arms are small and start seeing them huge! The first key to success is visualization.
The second thing you need to do is develop what I like to call a "Lifestyle for Success". Like I always say, "if you want to fly like an eagle, you can't think like a chicken."
Plan a daily routine for success. This means develop the right diet and exercise plan to get you where you want to be and stick with it! You're not going to change overnight, just like you didn't get out of shape overnight. If you stick to a clean, well-balanced diet on a daily basis, you will get closer and closer to your goal every single day. This is a problem with most people. They don't have patience. They go to the gym, and if they don't see results within a week they give up! You have to have patience, trust me! Also don't surround yourself with people who don't support you, or are trying to get you to quit. These people are not your true friends and could never help you to succeed.
And last, you have to move! You're not going to get in shape sitting at your desk or watching TV. Even if you eat grilled chicken and salad every single day, it doesn't matter, you will never get into shape unless you apply action! For me, the best way to get in shape is cardio! I know you hear this a lot but cardio doesn't just mean treadmill or elliptical for 30 minutes, 4 times a week. Cardio can also mean taking a dance class or aerobic class or karate. Anything that will shock your body by doing something it's not used to. If its used to the treadmill, it's not going to work anymore! You have to shock your body. The same goes if you're trying to gain muscle. You can't grow lifting the same weights day in and day out. You have to shock your muscles into further growth!
Like I always say, change brings change!
Muscle and Strength: In planning a routine for success, how does one know which diet and exercise plan to use? There are a thousand opinions on the Internet, and - it seems - a thousand possible diet and exercise combinations.
Anthony Catanzaro: Yes, this is problem. There is too much information out there, and everyone is trying to find the right answer when there isn't a right answer. It all depends on your body and what you want to do. Let's say you're a person who has been overweight forever. You need to understand that you need to be on a very light diet, consuming small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism up and to keep your blood sugar stable. You also have to burn more than what you take in.
So many people starve themselves for this very reason. They think "I just wont eat and I will lose weight". Yes, you will lose weight. But the weight you lose will most likely be muscle and water - not fat! You will also not feel well, and then when you do eat something, your body will store it as fat for survival thinking you're starving yourself.
The same goes if your trying to lose body fat and gain muscle. You need to eat the right foods at the right times in order to accomplish this.
I have always said your metabolism is like a fireplace. You need wood to start the fire, and keep feeding it a little bit of wood at a time to keep the fire going. The same goes for food. When we eat, our metabolism is turned on. When we don't eat the fire goes out!
The trick is eat small meals low in sugar and starch with the same amount of calories 5-7 times a day.
Maintain a proper diet and exercise program and stick to it. The right answer lies within you.
Muscle and Strength: Speaking of diet, what are the foods that must go?
Anthony Catanzaro: There are certain foods that do little or nothing for our bodies. Say goodbye to these foods and beverages - all soda, white sugar, white flour, soft drinks and juices, foods in a can, foods in a box, frozen prepared foods, foods that contain preservatives and MSG which is in almost everything. It also could be under a different name like "spices". A lot of people don't know that.
I have always said, "If God made it use it. If man made it lose it." I'm a true believer in whole foods! I believe this is the way we're supposed to eat. When food is in a can or box it's stripped of all its nutritional value. It's not the same anymore. It goes through so much between the processing, preservatives, and artificial flavoring. And what about our meat and poultry? The animals are fed antibiotics, growth hormones and raised to live in a stressful environment. Even our fruits and vegetables are sprayed with tons of pesticides. I believe this is the main cause of cancer and disease.
Learn to eat organic foods. There are many supermarkets who offer organic or all natural foods.
Muscle and Strength: What about protein? What types of protein foods should be added into a daily diet, and how much protein is needed to help lose fat and tone up/gain muscle?
Anthony Catanzaro: Protein is key to getting toned and gaining lean muscle mass. You have to understand that if you don't eat protein you cannot gain muscle, and will in fact lose muscle mass.
The best source of protein come from sources that can be digested easily like chicken breast, fish (fillet, salmon, but not shell fish), turkey breast, egg whites, cottage cheese, low fat milk and Greek yogurt.
I know a lot of natural bodybuilders love beef, but beef is a problem and I'll explain why. When you eat beef of any kind, it takes very long to digest and eliminate from the colon. If you eat beef on a regular basis, I can guarantee you're overweight and sluggish. I personally eat beef twice a month. Also, try and eat more fruits to help digest protein better. There's a lot of info out there as to how much protein your body needs. Well that all depends on how much muscle you have. I eat about 200 grams per day. But an average woman who is 130 lbs and just wants to tone up would do well with 100 grams per day.
Muscle and Strength: Let's take a step back for a moment. Why do so many people fail at making the changes they so desperately want? Why do these New Year's resolutions never happen?
Anthony Catanzaro: The number one reason why people fail is they're not willing to change. I'll explain. Just today a guy came up to me at the gym and said damn Tony you're still at it! How do you do it? You always look great, I don't understand it. I replied, why shouldn't I. Shortly after I heard him talking to someone saying I have to eat whatever my wife cooks. I cant tell her I want grilled chicken and this and that. I could do it for a week or so and that's it. I then told him, well then what do you expect? That's the same as saying I want to be a millionaire but I don't want to work or put any effort into it. He looked at me and said, you're right.
The bottom line is if you want something bad enough you must be willing to go through whatever it takes to get it!
Muscle and Strength: So you're saying that the change has to be looked at as a new lifestyle; something to be adopted and used to replace old, bad habits...so what role does willpower, or the power of the mind play in making - and keeping with these changes? And can one develop willpower or inner strength if they feel hopeless and out of control?
Anthony Catanzaro: Absolutely change brings change. If you do the same thing day in day out how can you expect anything different to happen? In order to change the way you look you must first change the way you think and live.
This is another reason why the power of the mind is so important. Everything starts in the mind. That's where everything good of bad comes from. So let's say you have to diet for like 8-12 weeks and you have to do cardio every day but in your mind you're saying, I cant do this. I don't want to. I'm tired. You must first come to understand that you must stick to your plan no matter what! Yes, there are going to be days when you say I just won't go to the gym today, I'll go tomorrow, or it's ok if I eat this cookie, or I'll just start fresh next week. All of these things are excuses, and the wrong mindset to succeed. You have to look forward to working out. You have to look forward to eating the right foods. Remember, it's all in your mind.
If someone was to say, Tony would you want this grilled chicken over a nice salad, or would you want this delicious chocolate cake? I would say, give me the chicken only because the cake to me is not appetizing. I'll eat it and taste nothing but sugar, and then will probably get a stomach ache after. You see, I already have my mind set. Don't give into feelings of I need that cake or I can't stay on this diet, or I'm tired, I don't feel well, I can't exercise today. Don't psyche yourself out - PSYCHE YOURSELF UP! You can do it!
Muscle and Strength: I have often heard that the best diet and training plan is the one you'll actually stick to. What are your thoughts on this for the average John or Jane as they plan their diet, training and goals for 2010?
Anthony Catanzaro: Yes, being able to stick to your diet and training plan is extremely important. This is why I always stress eating a balanced diet. You have to understand that a diet should never be restricted. You always need the three main macro nutrients protein, carbs, and fat in every meal to achieve the best results. If you eat a diet too low in carbs you're setting yourself up for major weight gain once you start eating carbs again. Low carb diets are the main cause of problems in dieting and health today.
When it comes to training, focus on what you need to do and the body you want. I still to this very day write down on a piece of paper the exercises I want to do, and rep range I want to complete. I stick it in my pocket. This way I'm sure to do everything I set out to do. You have to have a plan of attack otherwise you're just spinning your wheels.
Muscle and Strength: Are there any particular diet or fitness fads or pitfalls that you recommend people avoid while trying to transform their physique?
Anthony Catanzaro: Absolutely. There are too many to list! It all comes down to this. Everyone is looking for the latest and greatest fitness and diet fad. Everyone is thinking, well that person does this so I want to look like them! It doesn't work that way. We are all different. We all have different shapes, different metabolisms, etc. I'm a totally believer in old school type training simply because old school type training was, and always will be the "Real Deal"! Think of it this way, everything on earth that grows and develops has grown and developed exactly the same way for millions of years. The trees don't grow any different, the grass is always the same. This is simply the law of nature. Now what makes you think that your law of nature should change? Don't look for the latest fad in diet and exercise, look to yourself. The answer lies within you.
Muscle and Strength: One of the challenges on the road to achieving goals is to find the time to exercise and eat right. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to eat right and exercise, but feels that they have no time in the day to hit the gym or prepare healthy meals?
Anthony Catanzaro: This is a very good question and one I hear quite often. The best answer is to plan ahead. Luckily for me my fitness studio is out of my home. But when I'm traveling, doing a photo shoot, or on the road, I have to bring my meals with me. I can't rely on prepared food. On the outside you never know what's in it and how clean it is. The bottom line is that all restaurants, diners and food establishments are in the business to make money. So to make money they have to make the food taste good. So yes, butter, oil, flavorings, even msg will be added. I can't relay on that for my daily nutrition so I would rather eat what I cook. You can prepare your meals ahead of time and place them into ready to eat containers. This isn't as hard as one may think. It's a great way to eat clean, stay healthy and save money. Trust me, I love to go out to eat just as much as anyone else. I just do it occasionally.
Another problem is how to exercise when you don't have time to go to a gym. Well you don't need a gym to exercise. You can do push ups, walk instead of driving to local spots, walk up and down steps, any form of activity can easily be used as exercise. Like I always said, if you want it bad enough nothing can stop you!
Muscle and Strength: If a person fails or cheats on their diet or with their training, can they still achieve success?
Anthony Catanzaro: It's very common to cheat or to fall back a little now and then. We're all human and not machines - although we try to be sometimes. The mere fact of reality brings us back down to earth very quickly. Consistency and discipline in the right direction is always key to any type of success.
If you cheat, you're only cheating yourself. And it's almost impossible to make constant gains if your cheat. For instance, if I'm dieting down for a show, I'll usually give myself 9 weeks of dieting. During this time I'll eat the same thing day in day out. It can be very dull and boring, but this is the only way I can get my body fat down to around 4%. So cheating would only destroy my effort.
The same holds true for training. If your training is not consistent, and you're not pushing yourself, you're just wasting your time. The body wants to be challenged. It loves a challenge, and when you do challenge your body, you'll find you're able to do things you thought you couldn't do. And that my friend is what success is all about!