Natural bodybuilder Tito Dudley is a cancer survivor, a filmmaker, and a man dedicated to helping America find it's way back to a healthy lifestyle. His first film, The United States Of Atrophy, is set to be released in the spring of 2011. For more information on Tito Dudley, please visit his website tfitnyc.com, or check out his Youtube channel tnt0521.
Muscle & Strength: At age 15 you were diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Tell us about this period in your life, and how it lead you to bodybuilding and a focus on healthier eating.
Tito Dudley: This period was a challenging time in my life. The year was 1996 and I was 15 years old. It was late November and I remember clearly - waking up one morning with a lump on my neck. I panicked, ran quickly to my mother and told her we had to see the doctor. I knew something was wrong immediately. When we met with my doctor she told us that I would need a biopsy to find out what was going on.
We arrived at the hospital weeks later for the results and when my mom and I were walking down the hallway to her office I felt chills because I knew what it might be. The doctor sat us down and looked us both right in the eye and said “You are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease which is a type of cancer of your lymph node”. Immediately I felt like the world had stop! We began crying wondering if this was it for me. I felt sad and scared and thought about how I might never reach adulthood, live a normal teenager’s life or become somebody.
I did know 3 things: my family and friends would be by my side, exercise would be a great motivator for me through this time by giving me the strength to fight and that my faith in God would never waiver and he would guide me through this hard time. When I met Dr. Weiner who treated me at Columbia University he told us everything we needed to know. Things I needed to stay away from, the short term and long term side effects of chemo-therapy and that I would need to give up sports because my body maybe vulnerable to injuries.
My chemo treatment was bi-weekly. They implanted a device into my chest that would be the connection for the tube that would pump the chemo throughout my body. Some days were worse than others but what kept me together was my faith in God. I had to stay active somehow and so I joined a neighborhood gym and began working out to make my body stronger. This was the moment that I decided to change my lifestyle. I began to adapt myself to a bodybuilder’s way of life.
I changed the way I exercised and began to educate myself on proper nutrition. During this time my family decided to see a nutritionist. He introduced me to natural supplementation to help speed up my healing process and recovery to chemotherapy. I truly believed these changes would help me to fight the disease.
Six months after first learning of my diagnosis, in June of ’96, I went into the hospital to see Dr. Weiner about the results about my x-rays. He told us that there was no existing Cancer in my body! My whole family was there and when we heard the news we all cried, hugged each other, and thanked God for my healing. I felt like I could live my life again, like I could grow up and have a family of my own. I truly felt blessed! I decided from that moment that eating healthy, exercising and natural supplementation would be a life long commitment. This was the origin of my bodybuilding voyage.
Muscle & Strength: Tito, tell us more about your supplementation and diet approach. What are the cornerstones of each?
Tito Dudley: I truly believe supplementation and diet work hand and hand. Without the right macronutrients it is very hard to get the best results one needs. We live in a world today where the food quality isn’t as great as it used to be due to our massive increase in technology. This is why it is a good idea to incorporate supplements into your diet to help make up the loss or lack of nutrients.
I am a true believer in incorporating organic foods into my diet. The organic term can be used loosely, but to sum it up in a nutshell it is foods that are antibiotic free, hormone free, and grass fed. Grass fed animals are much learner and have not been fed grains which is not their natural food source - so the chances of causing digestive issues are less. As a bodybuilder I want to have quality lean meat. Granted there are so many different companies that are providing “organic” meats. It is always best to research the companies and find out if the meats are truly organic or not.
When it comes to your supplementation you also want to make sure to research your companies as well. Not every supplement lives up to their standards of quality. As a bodybuilder/consumer we have to continue to educate ourselves on the quality of foods and supplements. I have learn over years what supplements work best for me. I used to have issues with certain supplements such as bloating, stomach cramping and even constipation. These were signs that these supplements didn’t agree with me and for years I dealt with this thinking it was normal.
I stumbled across Parrillo supplements and realized how great their products work for me. They consist of all natural ingredients and I have had no digestive issues. Over the years many companies have manipulated their supplements so they can produce more in a short time, which made it harder for our bodies to digest because of the ingredients being used. Same thing applies to our food industry. Our food industry has genetically modified so much of our sources of food and found ways to produce a faster supply, which in turn affects our health and well-being.
If you find the right supplements and proper nutrients for your body you can get amazing results! I do take into consideration that not everyone can afford the organic lifestyle, but by making simple changes by eating leaner foods, organic or not, can still make a difference in your physique. Eating organically grass fed is a long-term investment.
Muscle & Strength: Eating healthy and organic is often seen as expensive. Is this true? And do you have any tips or suggestions about how to make the healthy eating lifestyle as cost effective as possible?
Tito Dudley: Eating healthy is expensive! I can’t afford organic! I hear this all the time. The truth of the matter is our body is an investment. If you invest in quality you will get quality. The amount of money that people spend on their insurance and medication just shows you that we don’t see the big picture. Eating healthy or organic may seem to be expensive in the beginning, but in the long run it is actually cheaper.
These foods are higher in the nutrition that our bodies need and recognize so that there aren’t any issues with digestion or mineral depletion. Remember when your body gets the proper nutrients it needs per day that is when it will function properly. If the body is functioning well that means fewer doctor visits and medications. Eventually you will find yourself straying away from the medication because your body is receiving the proper nutrition.
Granted, getting proper nutrients is just one part of the solution to a healthier lifestyle. Sleep and exercise contribute to optimizing the results one is trying to get. So, is eating healthy and organic expensive? Absolutely not! In the long run it is cheaper and promotes longevity. My advice to someone that can’t afford organic foods will be: start by purchasing foods that are hormone free, chemical free and stay away from refined and processed foods. Small changes are always good changes so do what’s in your means to make adjustments. Then eventually if you can afford organic switch over. Until then start making small changes to a better lifestyle. You won’t regret it!
Muscle & Strength: I want to switch directions for a moment and ask you about training. Can you tell us a bit about what an average week in the gym looks like for you...what types of splits do you use, do you change routines frequently, and what are some of your primary training philosophies?
Tito Dudley: As personal trainer and bodybuilder I believe that everyone needs a coach or partner. It allows you go the extra mile and really focus on keys areas that the body may lack. I'm old school. I love reading about what the old school bodybuilding regimens from Reg Park, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Colombo, Lou Ferrigno and Frank Zane. Not knocking the advanced science we have discovered over the years in the fitness industry, but I believe by applying old school and new school can bring forth great results.
For the last few years of competing I have been working with coach Cedric Stewart who have create the concept “Float Your Soul”. I gravitated to this unique concept because it emphasized on the areas that I lacked and built a well portion body. The workouts consist of compound movements, functional and core training. Over the last year we have been exploring the uniqueness of this program by illustrating specific exercises to target my calves, hamstrings, shoulders, arms, abs as well as the rest of my body.
One of my biggest issues with my legs was trying to balance my hamstrings with my quads. My arms had always became an issue because every time I diet down for a show I would loose so much mass in my arms, but now we have done some adjustments to maintain that mass. As we continue to experiment in the LAB (GYM) we started to get great results and improvement in all areas of my body. Chef Cedric Stewart was able to put the right ingredients together so I can get fast result from show to show this year. With the important knowledge Cedric Stewart as instilled in me, I have became not only an educated bodybuilder also a well rounded personal trainer – taking training to the next level.
In addition to massage therapy, which I will soon be studying, I have also branched out and got certified through the CHEK Institute in HLC 1&2 to advance my knowledge of nutrition. Adapting to the bodybuilding lifestyle had already given me the understanding on how to eat. Exploring the nutritional curriculums in school and many different workshop just continue to build my knowledge as I continue to grow in the health and wellness industry.
Tony Danver was one of the first guys to take me under his wings and show me the ropes to how a bodybuilder should eat. He has been a tremendous help in being available for me and teaching me the ropes. I then took all of my knowledge and began to apply it to my body and my clients are discovering these great results. An old saying is not every diet works the same for everyone, what may work for me, may not work for you, but may harm someone else.
Taking that into consideration as a bodybuilder you really have to be sensitive to how your body feels in order to find out what works best for you. For years I would bulk up and eat all sorts of carbs and protein to put weight on, thinking I am finally going to put on some muscle. That wasn't the smart thing to do. I sacrificed so much muscle and size because I spent so much time putting on more fat than muscle causing me to work much harder to come down to your ideal weight with happens to be the weight I was at before.
My best results have been from eating clean all year round, especially if I am looking to build quality lean muscle. Eating quality foods really can give you the best results you need. I would typically give myself one cheat meal a weeks with allows me to stay mentally stable and it promotes weight loss to some degree. At the end of the day it's always great to reward yourself especially if you have been good with eating clean.
Like I have said previously, I am a big organic believer, but if that's not the route you want to take you can still get the results you need for a show if you chose natural and chemical free foods. But also remember organic meats are much leaner, and the leaner the better. Another idea is to eat low glycemic carbs that break down slower in your body and eat lean meats that are not fried and processed. My philosophy is if you eat right, train smart and rest hard, you will see amazing results. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
A typical training week would look like this:
- Monday - Leg press (5 sets 12 reps), squats (5 sets 12 reps), leg extensions (4 sets 12 reps), box step ups (4 sets 12 reps).
- Tuesday - Standing push press (4 sets 10 reps), lateral raises (4 sets 10 reps), dumbbell press (4 sets 10 reps), rear fly (4 sets 10 reps), bicep standing curls (4 sets 12 reps), alternate bicep curls (4 sets 12 reps), cable curls (4 sets 12 reps), skull crushers (4 sets 12 reps), tricep extension (4 sets 12 reps), dips (4 Sets 12 reps).
- Wednesday - Stiff leg deadlift (5 Sets 12 reps), lunges (4 sets 12 reps), single hamstring curls (4 sets 12 - 15 reps), machine leg curls (4 sets 12 reps).
- Thursday - Repeat Tuesday with higher reps 15 - 20 reps (3 Sets). Cable crunches (4 sets 20 reps), hanging leg raises (4 sets 20 reps), stick twist on decline bench (1 minute).
- Friday - Pull ups (3 sets 15 reps), barbell bent over row (4 sets 10 reps), lat pull down (4 sets 10 reps), single arm row (4 sets 10 reps), chest press (4 sets 10 reps), incline dumbbell press (4 sets 10 reps), cable fly (4 sets 10 reps).
* I usually stick to the same program for at least 12 weeks then change. Change promotes change.
Muscle & Strength: So many people obsess constantly about their weight and body; they start diets and purchase all the latest home exercise equipment. Yet they can't seem to focus their energy and dreams into motivation and dedication. Do you have any diet and training tips for someone who wants change, but is spinning their wheels? And how should they start - gradually, or by diving into the deep end of the pool?
Tito Dudley: It sounds like more of a psychological issue than just a diet plan, which brings me to this point of my explanation. One of the main reasons people struggle with their weight is because of their lifestyle. What someone surrounds themselves with will show in their diet. You take a business man or woman, for example, they wake up early in the morning and decide to grab a small meal or sometimes none. Finally getting to work already stressed out because they are going to have another long stressful day which means they may or may not have enough time to have a nice well balanced meal to help sustain their energy and stress levels.
So they decide the best choice may be a salad, thinking ‘I have to watch my weight because I have been gaining so much over the last few months and holiday season, plus my job always has these delicious cookies. And let me not forget, the donuts are to die for!’ I am sure they are! The cookies, donuts, coffee, sugary foods, yes, they will help supply you with energy for a short time because they act as stimulant.
Not eating enough sustainable nutrients will cause the body to gain weight, have hormonal imbalances, and cause GI issues. Consuming more refined sugars and conventional foods is going to be easiest escape because it’s easily accessible. They are all processed and have no nutritional value to it. It’s literally like putting empty calories into the body, which in return causes your body to start pulling vitamins and minerals from other parts of the body to help digest these horrible foods causing the body to deplete in many areas.
All these internal actions can lead to many diseases we are currently facing here in America. Granted, we are talking about people that may have started their jobs for a variety of reasons. But, if they would look at the bigger picture from a different angle and really see they are setting their life up for a massive destruction. Their life span is becoming shorter and shorter by the minute and this lifestyle is being taught to our younger generations.
So when I hear someone say to me my son or daughter is diagnosed with a particular disease or dysfunction because it is inherited, what they don’t understand is that it is actually the lifestyle of the person that brings upon the diseases or dysfunctions in his or her life - most of the time. Really start to evaluate your lifestyle before worrying about what diet or new exercise you should get into. If you are living a stressful lifestyle and decide the alternate thing to do is to go workout - then think again.
Everything works hand and hand with each other. Don’t get me wrong. Exercise is a great stress reliever, but if you don’t handle your stressful lifestyle first, you can be setting yourself up to an injury in the gym or adapting to the wrong eating plan. I find when I work with clients on prioritizing their lifestyle first, then adding the eating and exercise afterwards – 99% times they will feel so much better and relieved of so many of the things that was holding them back from their dream.
Take a big look at your lifestyle and find out what your dream is, then evaluate what you really want to do and be and take it from there. Gear everything towards your dreams and goals. You’ll see that once you do you will have a clearer understanding of yourself and the people around you, which would then eventually help you with making the right food and exercising decisions. A lot people are walking around like a time bomb waiting to explode! Don’t let that be you. Make the change in steps and make a difference in your lifestyle. We only live once and this could be your time to extend your life span and live a happier, healthier lifestyle.
Muscle & Strength: You mentioned that you are entering culinary school. Can you tell us a little bit about this?
Tito Dudley: In my recent discussion I mentioned incorporating massage therapy in my career. I had some time over the summer to really evaluate my ideas and goals. I decided that the direction I want head in is culinary school. I spoke to a good friend of mine, Todd Elkins, at the JCC in Manhattan who knows me quite well and recommended The Natural Gourmet of Health and Culinary Arts.
At this school I will learn the proper use of kitchen equipment, basic cooking techniques for a wide variety of healthy supportive foods, the ability to identify a broad spectrum of natural ingredients, learning whole grain baking techniques, achieve a general knowledge of the basic principles of culinary science and much more! I am extremely excited to start this next journey of mine. I believe there is a huge need for tasteful healthy cooking in America.
Muscle & Strength: Tell me about the "The United States of Atrophy"...what is it, and where did the idea come from?
Tito Dudley: The United States of Atrophy is a correlation of me surviving cancer and becoming the educated bodybuilder I am today. The film gave me the opportunity to explore the world of nutrition and discover the truths and myths of the organic industry. I’ve learned everything from how our soil is affected to the way the food we eat is produced. We are living in a time where people are suffering more and more from the wrong food choices. Our children’s life spans are being shortened because of all the processed food they are eating.
I began to develop a desire to help everyone become better informed consumers, so I decided to create a film that could educate people on proper food choices not realizing I would be discovering new information on the food industry myself. As a cancer survivor, I believe through my example of choosing to live a healthier lifestyle and discovering the corruption behind the food industry, I can help people make wiser decisions on the foods and supplements they acquire.
The United States Of Atrophy - Official Trailer
Muscle & Strength: When will it be released, and where can this film be purchased?
Tito Dudley: The film will be released Spring of 2011. My goal is to submit it in a few film festivals and if that goes well that would determine what I would be doing next. The film will then eventually be available for sell on my website tfitnyc.com or any sites that I can advertise it on.
Muscle & Strength: You recently competed in the Mr. Fitness class. Can you tell us a bit about this?
Tito Dudley: Yes, I won my Mr. Fitness short division. There were 10 guys in my class. This was definitely an exciting experience for me. For those of you that are not familiar with this category it is very similar to the figure division for women. We go through our quarter turns in the symmetry round without flexing as hard. The judges look for overall symmetry, definition, possible fitness model, your overall stage present, your model walk and then they would finally add up the scores from the pre-judging and night show. They pick the top three, given them exposure and possible modeling contract depending on the show. They all would be presented with trophies and then only the first place winner would be given money.