NGA Pro JC Astorina Interview: Part 1

Here is Part 1, of the two-part interview with JC Astorina. JC has begun his own column, Natural Bodybuilding with JC, here at Lifestyle and Strength, and we will be posting it every Monday morning. His first offering was a must read, and I for one look forward to his next article.

L&S: When Did you decide you were going to be a competitive bodybuilder?

JC: The decision to become a competitive bodybuilder is still a relatively new one. After many months of consideration, I finally made the decision in November of 2010.

L&S: What led you to that decision?

JC: It took a while to come to this decision. I had been lifting regularly for two years and had made significant gains compared to my starting condition. I would frequently get approached in the gym, and people would ask if I was preparing for something, or if I had any advice to give on how to “look like me.” As flattering as it was, I never saw myself as anything beyond the average guy at the gym. I have always been a smaller guy, and my Ectomorphic body style has really made it difficult to put on good quality size. After enough compliments I figured it might be worth looking into.

L&S: Why did you choose to be a natural bodybuilder?

JC: The reasons are endless. To list a few of the important ones – I have a wife, four kids, a career, and a drive to succeed where others say it is not possible. These take priority over all else, and I will never be able to justify jeopardizing any of these things for the sole purpose of adding muscle to my body.

L&S: Has fitness always been a big part of your life?

JC: I would say that the “idea” of fitness has always been a part of my life. From a very young age I was obsessed with big muscles. From video game characters to real life actors, I wanted to look just like them. I remember as a child taking my mother’s broom and securing bricks on either end to do curls in the backyard! Up until my decision to get serious about bodybuilding, I adhered to the most basic of nutritional guidelines that I thought were healthy and correct. I obviously had a lot to learn, but the idea of being healthy was always on my mind.

L&S: When did you start training?

JC: I initially started hitting the weights when I entered college in 2001. I had free access to a gym and I was in there about 4 times a week. I knew nothing about the subject. My workouts were haphazard and so was my nutrition, but it kept me happy. My senior year is when I met my wife. Once we started dating my workouts got pushed aside and eventually stopped. By the time I had graduated I had stopped working out completely. I didn’t hit another weight until a month after the birth of my third child. My daughter was born at the end of February 2008. My wife had gained a lot of weight throughout the pregnancy and we both made a pact to get fit. We joined a gym and the rest is history-my wife took the commitment very seriously and lost over 50 pounds.

L&S: When did you get serious about it?

JC: This is when it got serious – I knew my addiction to the iron would return so a disclaimer was put out right away. I told my wife that once I start I would not stop – even if she chose to. I stuck to my haphazard routine for quite some time, researching along the way, until the decision to compete was made, and all of a sudden things just got REAL.

L&S: What is your pre-contest diet like?

JC: I want to say things like intense, strict, relentless, grueling, painful, beyond compare, perfect…but what competitive bodybuilder wouldn’t say these things? Contest prep is hard no matter how you do it. The best way to describe it is DISCIPLINED. I have my diet, and I stick to it. In its simplest form we are looking at high protein, low carb, and moderate fats (from avocado, PB, mac oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and eggs).

L&S: How do you deal with cravings, what do you crave most when dieting?

JC: I cry and throw a fit, and then vent about it on social media sites! My cravings kick in the same time every day, and that is at about 4:00pm. I crave everything, but my weakness is for donuts. I have never been a pizza kind of guy, but in prep all I want is a pizza with everything on it. Pancakes is another soft spot. Let’s just say I want anything that has massive amounts of fat and carbs, with little or no regard for protein!

L&S: What is your off-season diet like?

JC: In terms of training it is the same. All heavy all the time, so to speak. Training is intense as it should be. I probably don’t rest as much as I should…

In terms of diet, it is structured but not so disciplined. I make sure I get my minimum requirements, but I don’t fret about the extras that come from snacking and “cheating.” This is especially true if I only have a small break before I need to start prepping again. Just ask Jason Kaiman how I eat when coming off a show. It is shameful…

L&S: What are the goals you hope to achieve through fitness, related or otherwise?

JC: Besides the immediate physical and long-term health benefits to myself, I hope to instill the same values on my children. I have four kids that get to witness every step of my process. From eating, to training, to dieting, to competing – my kids see it all. My kids are aged 10, 6, 4, and 2. I don’t make my kids eat what I eat all the time. I’m a little more realistic than that. Kids won’t live on sweet potatoes and chicken, but I explain meal options and choices to them, and explain to them the importance of each item. If the only thing I ever accomplish in all of this is to set the stage for my kids to live healthy and productive lives, then I can consider myself nothing less than a huge success.

L&S: What else do you hope to accomplish through bodybuilding besides success on the stage?

JC: Success on the stage is a huge pat on the back for the hard work it took to get there. I am not so naïve that I expect to be famous or make a career of this. Sure, it’s my biggest hope and dream – but I have since accepted the fact that it most likely will not pay my bills.

Bodybuilding has practical applications to every aspect of everyday life. It is not just a hobby, but a lifestyle, and a life-long commitment. Bodybuilding has helped shape who I am today. I want to share my passion to help others enjoy the benefits and rewards of a healthy lifestyle.

L&S: What would you tell someone who is considering both the natural route, and competing to help them along?

JC: Be patient and work hard! Giving into the temptation of the easy way out will not help form the character and integrity that comes from natural competition. Put aside all preconceived notions of bodybuilding. Most importantly, keep yourself well-informed and do research before you do anything to/put anything into your body! Having confidence in yourself is the key to success in natural bodybuilding.

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Happy Lifting!

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