The Natural Bodybuilder Who Ate Ice Cream Every Night

Recently we had a chance to sit down with Fierce Gentleman and competitive natural bodybuilder Matthew Repece, and chat with him a little bit about his journey from an “average guy” to a stage-ready competitive bodybuilder.

In this interview:

  • The myths of dieting and bulking
  • The most important thing both men & women miss when trying to change how their body looks
  • Why dietary restriction doesn’t work — how Matt was able to eat ice cream every night while preparing for a bodybuilding competition (say what??)
  • How to show up to the gym on a regular basis
  • Why we’re so bad at estimating our caloric needs
  • What it means to be a “natural” bodybuilder

FG: Alright everybody, welcome once again. It’s Drew with, and I am here today with Matt Repece. Welcome Matt.

Matt R: What’s up Drew! Thanks for having me.

FG: You’re very welcome. So I want to talk to Matt today, because Matt is a competitive natural bodybuilder, a lot of the guys in our community are looking to do things such as lose weight or lose fat, body re-composition, gain muscle. Even just get more active and show up to the gym on a regular basis, and be more active every day. And this is a challenge for most guys, this has been a challenge for me in my own life, at times, although I have a pretty regular gym routine now. But it’s a perennial challenge for men to stay active, to stay fit and stay healthy, as they go through a life that might include family, a lot of work, maybe entrepreneurship or a side business.

So I wanted to talk to Matt, because Matt I think you have, just through our interaction it’s become clear to me you have a lot of really good sound advice, and also tactics and techniques that you’ve learned through your own experience. As well as it’s been abundantly clear to me that you really care about helping guys, and I think women too, get to where they want to go in terms of physique wise.

So, I’m coming to you guys from my balcony here in California, overlooking the lake, it’s 8 AM, my roommate’s still sleeping so that’s why I’m outside. Matt you are coming to us a little bit later, from the future, in New Jersey right?

Matt R: Yeah, New Jersey. It’s not as beautiful at day as it looks like it is over at your way, but it’s still February in New Jersey.

FG: February in New Jersey, awesome. Well why you don’t just tell us, let’s start. I’d love to hear a little bit about your story. How did you get into competitive bodybuilding, when did that become sort of like the thing you decided “I’m going to do this, this is a great idea”?

Matt R: It’s a good question. I don’t know that there was like a definitive time where I just said “I’m going to try my hand at bodybuilding”, but growing up I was always athletic, involved in sports, and the weight training and be physically fit, was always an aspect that sort of came easier to me. I always kind of carried a little bit more weight and had a broader frame, so I always, just liked the look of being muscular. And got to college, and worked out less and drank more, and by the time I got out of college, I kind of took a step back and I was like “man, I used to be this guy that loved sports, and athletics and was very competitive, and now I’m not so happy with the way that I look, and the way that I feel on a daily basis”.

So I it was around, I guess my first year out of college, that I said I’m going to kind of just cut all this out, and I’m going to start hitting the gym. And so I was very active on the forums, which are actually still a really great place to gain a lot of knowledge and insight. And I found my way to the contest prep forums, it’s a sub-forum on the website. And at work, when I had downtime, I would just sit there and read these sub-forums, and listen to the guys that are competing in bodybuilding, and go and do the stages of a contest prep, and just thinking like “Man, this is awesome”. Like these are guys are shredded, they’re huge.

And I’ve always looked up to bodybuilders: Arnold, Sergio, Brett, and Franko Columbo. These guys, Mike Menser. They were just like Adonises and beasts, and it was always something that I thought…you know a lot of people think it’s gross, but I looked at it as like “Man, that’s beautiful”. Arnold compares it to a work of art, you know he’s famous for his line in the movie “Pumping Iron” about sculpting his body. And I thought that was a really clever way to refer to it. And it made the sport seem like this beautiful thing that a lot of people don’t see, and I saw it for that.

And as I got deeper on the sub-forums, I started thinking to myself “Listen, I’m not playing any sports, I’m not involved in any extracurricular activities, I got to work, and I come home. Why don’t I try this”? And it was a really great way to get my competitive juices flowing. So I made a phone call to a guy named Alberto Nunez, who is a head coach of the team, the bodybuilding contest prep team, 3D Muscle Journey.

And at the time, they were pretty small. They had a following, but it wasn’t like they are now. If you Google “3d muscle journey” and Alberto Nunez, they’re just, they’re global, they’re huge now, and for a reason. There incredible coaches, and they’re incredible bodybuilders in their own right. So I got a hold of Alberto, I joined team 3D Muscle Journey, and he became my coach for bodybuilding, and we started on a 6 month contest prep when I was 24. 24, and 185 lbs. when I started my first natural body building contest prep.

FG: Wow, that’s a fantastic journey. I love that you just kind of became, you went from killing time at work to like “I’m going to make a phone call now, and do this thing.”

Matt R: Absolutely.

FG: Great, taking action. I wish more people would see it that way, because the body is something that to a certain extent we have some control over, right, in terms of what we put in our body, and what we do with our body. So it’s like, yeah it is aesthetic, and I totally share with you what you were saying, to have a strong physique, like Arnold, and even not to that level because he’s exceptional. But even to have a really fit… you can tell when someone’s put a lot of effort into sculpting their physique. And it’s very admirable, because it speaks not only to the physique and just the beauty of it, but it’s also there was willpower and discipline that went into that, and a lot of work, and consistency I think as well.

That’s really cool, so you joined the team and then what was your experience of like going through your first bodybuilding competition?

Matt R: Oh man. It was, yeah it’s a whole other world. People look at bodybuilders and think that they’re weird. There’s a lot of stigma that comes with bodybuilding, and natural bodybuilding kind of gets lumped in with “Bodybuilding”. And people of think of bodybuilding and they think of Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman, these massive guys that are super-shredded and 280 lbs. on stage. And that’s a whole heck of a lot different than doing it naturally.

I bring that up because when I got on stage, my first show, I was 150 lbs., and most people think you’re supposed to be big and huge on a bodybuilding stage. But as a natural really, you can only carry so much muscle, and when you get leaner without any assistance you lose weight. That’s what it is. To get shredded you have to lose weight, and lose body fat. Some guys on the other world of bodybuilding grow into shows, naturals, they get smaller as they continue to prep. And it’s really hard.

So my first experience with it was a humbling one, because at 180 lbs. and in decent shape, I was like “You know what, I lose 10 lbs. and I’ll be ripped”. That’s not how it works, that’s not how it works at all. So I had to lose 25, close to 30 lbs. to get on stage, and even then I probably still had a little bit waste to go, because I wasn’t as shredded as I could have been, for the first show.

But I think that’s a problem, not a problem, but it’s a misconception that a lot of people have, as they think they carry a lot more mass than they do. And they think their body fat is a lot lower than it actually is. And that makes it for a really trying journey when you try to diet down.

FG: Yes, so I want to address this, and thanks for sharing a little bit about what it means to be natural. I was actually just going to ask you really quick like, “what’s the definition of natural, or what does that mean to be a natural competitor”? Because I think people should know what they see in “bodybuilding” isn’t unassisted, right?

Matt R: Right, yeah. There’s a lot of stuff on the internet about that, there’s “Fake Nattys”, that’s a term that people throw around on the internet a lot.

FG: Oh interesting.

Matt R: Yeah. Being naturaleach organization where you compete in has different standards, different tests, different ranges of supplements that you’re allowed to have, and what you’re allowed to not have. But really anything anabolic kind of kicks you out of that, that natural state.

Some organizations say you can use natural anabolic steroids, but it had to be within 7 years, like 7 years since your show. There’s all different kinds of standards. There’s for the muscle building supplements, they’re prohibited. Then there’s things like clenbuterol, things that help guys shred down, there’s diuretics.

So if you don’t use any of those, but you use creatine, protein, powders, beta-alanine, I mean there’s a lot of supplements that you can use that are completely natural, because they’re occurring in the body. That’s fine. But anything anabolic, you are not considered natural anymore.

FG: Gotcha. So I think you made a great point, that it’s so much harder to do body re-composition if you’re not using some kind of steroidal assistance.

Matt R: Yeah, and that’s not to say that those guys that use steroids don’t work their butt off, cause they do. They are monsters, for a reason. So a lay person can’t take steroids and become this big massive guy. It doesn’t work that way.

FG: So what are some of the other components, because not every guy is going to go into competitive bodybuilding, but for guys that just are looking to maybe shred down a little bit, or lose some fat. They want to see their abs again, for whatever reason, or they want to just add a little bit of muscle to the upper body, like my case, like we talked about my situation like I just want to bulk up a little bit.

What would you say are the necessary components, putting all the supplementation of the table, because that’s what everyone starts thinking about, they’re like “Oh I want to gain weight, what supplements do I buy”? Because it’s really easy to buy supplements, but it’s harder as you and I know to actually do the things, take the actions that actually get the results. So what are the core results that people need to think about, when they’re thinking about either losing fat or gaining muscle?

Matt R: Well yeah, you’re absolutely right. Supplements are precisely that, they’re supplemental to a really good nutrition protocol, and a sound training protocol. So the first thing, really the first thing in either goal is your calories.

So if you want to drop fat, you have to be in an adequate caloric deficit. That’s simply what the answer is. It doesn’t matter if you eat clean, or if you generally eat healthy, or if you subscribe to a vegan lifestyle, overall calories, it’s what’s going to matter. And if you’re weight training, like a lot of guys do, you probably need more calories than you think you do, to lose weight, which is the first misconception that a lot of people have.

A lot of the clients that I’ve worked with, I’ll give them, I’ll tell them “Here’s what I think you need to consume on a daily basis” and they think “Oh, there’s no way”. There’s no way I can eat that much food and lose fat. But really, you have to feed your body. You have to feed your body enough calories to effectively lose weight, and in the same respect you have to feed your body enough calories to gain muscle.

But contrary to popular belief, muscle gaining, you only need a slight surplus over maintenance. A lot of guys go the complete opposite direction, and they’re like “I’m bulking now, I’m going to eat every 2 hours, and I’m just going to crush shakes. I’m going to buy mass gainers”. And they may gain 10 pounds in 2 months, but they gained 9 pounds of fat. And that’s not the real goal. So what’s been shown recently in the research is that really, you only need a couple of 100 calories over maintenance. So you don’t need to go completely overboard.

But once you get your nutrition on both sides of the spectrum kind of where they need to be, then as far as the training goes, you should be using a training program that utilizes compound movements, focus on the squat, the bench press, the deadlift, the overhead press, and they should be properly progressive in the overload scheme. So you can’t stay at the same weight and the same reps and the same sets, over a given amount of time, that’s not how you build quality muscle. There has to be a progressive overload component to it. So increasing the amount of weight that you lift compared to the prior workout, increasing the amount of sets, the amount of reps, the time under tension, there’s a lot there, but for basic purposes, having a full body day, 3 days a week, is really good for beginners. In either case, if you want to gain weight or lose weight that should be the basics.

FG: Yeah, and I think one of the hacks that I think is really cool, and correct me if I’m wrong, maybe this is not even true, but I believe this right, that muscle per pound, muscle actually has a higher caloric requirement than a pound of fat. So if you have more muscle for a given weight, you’re going to have a more active metabolism.

Matt R: Absolutely yeah. Carrying more muscle increases your metabolic rate, for sure. So if you and I were the same weight, but you had more muscle than me by a couple of pounds, you would probably have a higher requirement for calories than I would.

FG: And so one of the things that I think the reason that applies for losing weight, and it seems like it’s always a good recommendation for weight training, even if for people that are wanting to lose fat is, well if you boost your metabolic requirement, that’s going to help you, have to do less to get closer to that deficit you were talking about. Even in a resting state, someone who has more muscle is going to be of a higher resting metabolic rate, and so they’re going to have to work less hard, to cut the calories and get down.

Matt R: Right, and that’s the big problem that I see with muscle magazines putting out a blanket diet. Because even if we were the same weight, my diet wouldn’t be anything close to yours, because of that. So that’s another problem with online coaches, they kind of give some, there’s some really great ones out there, but there’s a lot of them that have cookie-cutter diets that they give to every athlete that they have, and more often times than not, if it’s a fat burning phase, they’ll just throw really low calories at them, because anybody can lose weight on a 1000 calories. But it really should be individualized, yeah.

FG: So that’s a great point, so I wanted to ask you also, what are some of the common problems, because I know you’ve worked with guys, you’ve created transformation individually. So what are some of the common challenges you see, over and over again, when guys or girls come to you with a physical either they want to lose weight or see the six pack or whatever it is. What are the most common thing, obstacles that people have?

Matt R: Well I think the first and foremost, the biggest one is that people generally don’t think, like they’re not prepared to work. They think, just like I did in the beginning, like “Oh if I lose 5 lbs., I’ll be beach ready”. It’s not always the case. And a lot of times I tell them ahead of time, before I take on any client, I have to know that they’ve completely bought into the process. And the process is, it’s not going to be easy, you’re going to get hungry, and accept this fact, right now, because if we start, you have to be committed, you have to trust the process. That’s a phrase that my coach used to always see “Matt, trust the process”. And until I fully bought in, to trusting the process, then I was kind of a head case, because somedays my weight would be higher than other days, for no apparent reason. So you really have to accept that there’s going to be hiccups along the way, and you kind of have to roll with the punches because it’s not something that comes overnight. It’s not something that happens in a week. I don’t care what infomercial says “Lose 7 lbs. and 3 inches in 7 days”. It’s not sustainable, and that’s the biggest thing. The biggest piece of everything that I try to get across to my clients is to say “Well, are you sure about this approach, because I’ve used this diet plan and it worked for me”? Ok, well then why are you contacting me?

FG: Right, why are you here?

Matt R: Exactly, so the biggest thing for people to understand, is that their diet and their training has to be in line with their lifestyle. And you can’t go, you just can’t cut carbs out. Like you can’t just say “I’m done eating carbs, for the rest of my life”, because it’s not really realistic for a lot of people. And that’s something that’s really difficult to get across a lot of times but once they fully buy in, they have results going.

FG: Yeah I think that’s such a key point that you have to have an unusual level of commitment to get results. And that’s true in every area of life that we’ve seen, but I think particularly when body composition, because eating is personal, right? Going to the gym, these are very personal things. So all the stuff you were saying about tracking calories or knowing what your maintenance is, going to the gym 3 days a week, learning how to do proper form, progressive overload, right? These things, they may be simple but they’re not easy. If you want this there’s a lot of different area that you have to get right, it sounds like.

Matt R: Yeah, 100%, absolutely. It’s going to take preparation, and again it goes back to lifestyle. If you are a busy mom that’s got 2 kids and a husband that you cook for, it’s going to require you to think about on Sunday night, what you’re going to eat for the week. You know, maybe plan out a menu for your family. So you know roughly what the calories are, and you’re comfortable in that, and you’re not reaching and just grabbing for the “CHEEZ-IT” box on the run you know.

You can plan ahead, and really set yourself up for success. Also if you’re a super busy person, you can layout all your gym clothes and put it by the door before you go. I do that, I do that all the time, just to help ease the process. Cause you don’t always feel like getting up and going, but you know you have to, and it is what it is.

FG: Yeah, and I think that’s a really good point, is to just mention to everybody listening that, we all see the Instagram and the muscle magazines, whoever is right? And the Photoshop, people on the internet, and you know fitness right, and like the fitness models. And I think people think there’s a misconception, about how much effort it takes to close that gap, between the average physique, and the physiques that we all want to look like. And actually, you need to think probably in the terms of years, not months. Would you agree?

Matt R: 100% man. 100%. Some of the guys that you see on Instagram, or some of the girls, you see their photo pictures, their photo shoot pictures, but you don’t see the years that they put in behind the scenes. And it’s amazing that people think that they can achieve that, you know unless you’re part of the genetically elite. For the average guy or girl, you’re going to have to work your but off for a long time, to get to look like that figure model, or that person on the “Under Armour” commercial. It’s going to take a lot of work, and it definitely doesn’t happen overnight.

FG: Yeah, and I just think one thing that I would add to that, in terms of that is, well if you’re really committed to a certain goal of how you want to look, or health right, performance, whatever it is, I think you need to think about it more as a lifestyle change. Like “I’m not just going on a diet”, and I’ve been super interested to hear your perspective on this, but I think of it as “It’s not that I’m going on a diet, it’s that I’m changing my diet, to a diet that’s going to get me to my goals”.

Matt R: Absolutely, and that’s what I was saying before about your lifestyle has to fit your diet. Because the best diet, it doesn’t matter of its paleo, it doesn’t matter if it’s Atkins or a Zone, the only one that’s going to work, is one that can be sustained over a long period of time. That’s it, so it has to fit your lifestyle, 100%. You have to change, you have to adapt, and not to say that you can’t drink alcohol and be in great shape, because those 2 can definitely, they can co-exist. But maybe you have to drink a lot less than before, you still enjoy yourself. But, fit it in when you can, and really make it count.

There’s also kind of like the “Live or Die” type of mentality with dieting. And if you’re not competing, if you’re not doing it to step on stage, or for a photoshoot or something like that, then I tell all my clients “You can take your foot off the gas a little bit”. You don’t have to nail your macros and your calories every single day. You don’t have to stop going out to dinner with your husband or wife. Just be more mindful, take a step back and enjoy those moments with your family and friends, because those are what really matter, not how ripped you are.

So it’s a balancing act inside your head, you know you have a goal and you have to be strict. You have to work your tail off. But you have to enjoy yourself along the way, cause if you get there, and you look back and say “Man, here I am, 8% body fat and looking pretty good, but in the last 12 months, I haven’t seen my friends, I haven’t taken my wife out to a nice dinner”. And what’s it for?

FG: Right. Who cares how you look, really? What’s really the goal? Yeah that’s really good, it’s so interesting. I was going to ask you this question, but your take on cheat meals I would say is like “Yeah, go for it”.

Matt R: I definitely don’t subscribe to the notion of cheat meals. Just because the way that I like to approach nutrition with my clients, there doesn’t need to be cheat meals. Because if there’s a cheat meal, that means you’re restricting something, to a really high level. You should enjoy all the foods that you enjoy inside of your diet, which I think is a problem in a lot of people because they do. They’ll restrict so much Monday to Friday, and then say “It’s Saturday. This is cheat meal Saturday”. They may have put themselves in a nice caloric deficit all week, and then because they enjoyed themselves too much on the weekends, because they “earned it”, now they’re back in a caloric surplus and they’re not losing weight.

FG: They erased all the progress.

Matt R: Exactly, yeah. So if you track your macronutrients, which is the way that I found to be the most surefire way to get to your goal, whether it’s muscle gains or losses. If you track your macronutrients, it’s a really easy way to fit in any food that you like. Literally any food.

When I was dieting for my last show, I had ice cream every single night, because I made sure that there was something that I enjoy, and I fit it into my nightly macronutrients. It’s easy. So it makes the process a lot more enjoyable.

FG: That’s awesome right there. That might be the pro quote for our interview, “I had ice cream every single night, for my competitive natural bodybuilding show”. Cause that’s kind of mind-blowing.

Matt R: Yeah, well that’s the thing. That’s really why I don’t like the word diet, because it’s got such a negative connotation. You know people hear diet, and they immediately associate it with restriction. It doesn’t have to be that way at all.

FG: The other thing that I think people don’t get is, the relative weights of exercise vs calories. So I’ll often see people go out on a run for maybe 20 minutes, light jog, and they probably burned 200-300 calories or something, relatively minimal. And they’re like “Oh, I’m going to slam down a large pizza, because I earned it”. I need to slam down 1200 calories or 20,000, I don’t even know, but it’s really disproportionate. Like that’s one of the things that’s working against people, I think is our minds are really bad at figuring out, how many calories did I just spend as how many calories I ate.

Matt R: That is a big problem.

FG: So that’s why you have to track right?

Matt R: That’s exactly right. You know, I was just having a conversation with a woman the other day who wants to lose weight, because the beach season is coming. It might always be beach season for you in California, but in New Jersey we look forward to the summer time. And she was like “You know, I’m just going to walk my dogs for 20 minutes at night, and I’m going to focus less on carbohydrates and eat more fats”.

And that point, I’m just thinking “That’s not the easiest route to your goal”. Cause you have no idea what you’re consuming, you’re just doing little walk and that’s great, I encourage being more active, in addition to strength training. Especially for women. And really, just because like I was saying before, just because you stopped eating carbohydrates, but now you’re eating 2 handfuls of almonds for a snack every couple of hours, because they’re healthy fats for you. You may have just completely exchanged those calories, or gained some because there’s more calories for fat than there are for carbohydrates. And again, you’re no closer to your goal.

FG: Yeah, in fact you might even be doing a counter-productive thing now. So I think the message I’m getting here Matt is, you can’t just guesstimate your way to a healthy physique, or a beach body physique.

Matt R: Some people can, some people can. And in fact maybe for the very overweight population, maybe counting macro-nutrients isn’t the first thing that they should do in tracking their calories. Maybe just working on a whole new approach to eating, and being more mindful.

And there’s another strategy that I use, for people who find it too stressful to track their calories, because they have a very busy lifestyle, and I completely get that. Not everybody wants to weigh their food out on a food scale. I completely understand. So for a man, using your own fists as a measuring for protein, and using a thumb for a serving of almonds or fats. Your palm for protein, your fist for carbohydrates, whatever it is, that’s an easier way for them to kind of get on board with calorie counting, without really feeling like they’re calorie counting.

And that’s for that population, but for men and women who give themselves a timeframe, they say “Matt, I want to get in shape, I want to get lean in 8 weeks because by May 1st, I’m going to Vegas with my friends”, then I think the quickest way to get to that goal is by tracking your macronutrients and tracking your calories.

FG: Yeah, it totally comes back to what kind of results do you want. If you want really strong results, you’re going to have to put in more effort, more energy, more attention, and more fine detailed tracking perhaps. That’s the cool thing about personal development and about any kind of personal development, right? Especially this is so concrete, is if you want better results, you just have to pay more attention. And be more specific and discreet about exactly what it is that you’re doing.

I also wanted to ask you, because I know this is so critical, despite just having all the right information about what lifts should I do in the gym, how should I weight train, what types of food should I eat, how should I set up my diet. I wonder if you could share with us some of the mental hacks, or some of the mentality or attitude shifts that you found really helpful just for adherence, for sustaining this lifestyle change, being more active, being more healthy, eating better, eating more intentionally. What have you found in your experience, both personally and working with clients, that’s been helpful for people’s minds to change?

Matt R: I think the way that I could best describe it when it comes to achieving a fitness goal, is that it’s really this big beautiful bold momentum, and once you do the first thing, once people make the call to me and they say “Here’s what I want to do”, and now they have the accountability factor in. They have to answer to me every week, and they have to tell me what’s going on. And they get in the gym, like the first day, everything else seems to kind of fall into place.

And you have to be committed, you to tell yourself “I’m going to do this, I’m giving myself 12 weeks”. I’m going to reach this goal that I have, and then you have to put every ounce of commitment that you have behind it. It can’t just be a half-hearted decision, and the people that go into it like that, who’ve never achieved their results for fat loss or muscle gain, they never reach, that because of that half-hearted mindset. You have to make a concrete decision, and then you have to start doing things to assist yourself.

Like I said, a big thing for me because I get up at 4:30 and go to the gym, so the big thing for me is to have everything laid out the night before. I wake up, I even put ice in my shaker cup that I sip when I work out, and I put it in the freezer, so I don’t have to spend time cracking the cubes out and putting them into my thing. Everything that I do is laid out the night before, down to my socks and shoes. Everything’s perfectly right there for me. That’s just a thing that I use to make the process a little bit easier. Planning out your meals, that’s huge.

The night before for the people that track their calories, the night before I tell them “If you’re sitting there watching TV, take 10 minutes and think about what you want to eat the next day”. And these cellphones now have calorie tracking apps that are free and they’re excellent. So you can literally layout every meal the night before. It completely takes out the guess work. It’s honestly the easiest thing that you can do, to ensure that you’re going to nail your nutrition the next day. And then a lot of times, once you have that in your phone, it doesn’t matter if you go to work the next day and somebody brought in doughnuts, because you’ve already got your breakfast planned and packed, you’ve already got your lunch squared away, and you know that you’re set. So I think that part is, if you’ve already made a conscious decision of what you’re going to eat that day, and you’re not going to stray from that.

FG: Right, that’s so critical. I think in all behavior changes I’ve seen, it’s just defining the environment, so you that you can’t really get out of the path you’ve set for yourself, and it’s already set. That’s exactly the reason I do all my lunches for the week on Sunday night, the exact same lunch, I always know I’m going to have a healthy lunch.

For that matter, I even eat the same meals 3 days a week, or 3 times a day, pretty much 7 days a week. That’s just what I found to be effective, I mean it’s not only is it keeps me on track with eating mostly green things, but also its like, I don’t have to think about it, and that’s what I really like about it, is that I don’t have the burden of choice, if I just preplan everything. I think that also can be applied to your workout and your gym, is that you don’t have to make the decision to go to the gym, if you already premade that decision. Tomorrow’s gym day, everything ready, there’s literally no excuse for me not to go.

Matt R: Absolutely yeah, and if you have the nutrition down, and you’ve got a plan, you wrote it down, this what you’re going to do every day, and you have the training down, again, Monday-wednesday-Friday, you’re going to go in, Monday’s squat day…these are things that once you get into the routine you start to look forward to it. You start to really get excited like I do.

On a heavy leg day, I get like butterflies in my stomach, you know when I’m going to the gym because I know “shit, todays a day where I’m scheduled to push some heavy weight”. And it’s exciting, it’s scary, it’s a lot of fun.

FG: Yeah and it feels really good also like, in the times when I’d been with a gym routine and I’ve gotten a heavy leg day or a PR, a personal record on the bench or whatever it is, I actually feel really good for the rest of the day. It feels like just a great accomplishment, and then its early in the morning and then you’re like “Ah that was great, I feel really happy the rest of the day”.

Matt R: Yeah exactly. Honestly, that’s sort of the crux behind the Fit Life Journey movement that I’ve created. It’s because it’s so much more than getting shredded for a bodybuilding show. I know that’s not everybody’s goal. I don’t know that if I’ve met too many competitive bodybuilders in person, outside of being at a competitive bodybuilding show.

But the fitness has such a profound effect on everything else in your life, that once you make that decision to eat better, to start exercising, you start to feel better, you start to get more energy. You start to put more into everything else in your life. It touches literally everything. Your relationship starts to build better, because you’re happier, you’re a happy person. You feel good, you feel confident, when you go into a room and you’re thinking “I look good, I’m busting my ass to look this good and now I’m in this room full of people. I look great in this suit, and I’m going to kill this business meeting”. There’s so much carryover to a really good approach to your training and nutrition.

FG: Yeah and that’s so true, and science has really validated that. And one of the reasons I respect you, is because I know you’re a guy who does the research and knows the journal articles in depth, and you have the citations for everything you say. But also you’re able to bottom-line it, and the bottom-line is, like the science does support that being physically active. I think weight lifting was shown in a couple of studies to be one of the best cures for depression. I think it beat out even Prozac or some other anti-depressant drugs, and when I read that I was just like “Man, there’s so many depressed people in this world, everybody needs to be lifting weights”. Like as a guy, if you’re not able to just go into the gym and push some iron around, you’re really doing yourself a disservice, you’re cutting off one of the best and cheapest benefits you can get for your mental health, and your mental strength.

Matt R: Oh My God absolutely. From anywhere to $10 a month at planet fitness, to $150 a month at like your more upscale New York City fitness facility, like you said, it’s pretty cheap. It’s a real really great way to destress, to unwind. And if I don’t do it 4 or 5 times a week, I’m a little upset about that.

FG: Yeah that’s so funny I noticed the same thing, it almost becomes thing that, and you do look forward to it, and you do gain a lot of strength from it, it’s like I noticed my days at work when I didn’t have a gym day it was just a little bit like “Eh”, it’s like a little bit weak.

Matt R: I can tell you that I used to be a 6pm workout guy, and so at work I’d get up and I’d go to work and around 10 O’clock I’d start to feel super tired, and then I’d have my second wind and then around 3O’clock I’m super tired, and then I have to really psyche myself up and drink a ton of caffeine to make it to the gym at 6PM.

And now for the last year, I’ve been 5AM, in the gym, squatting at 5AM type of guy, and the effect that it has on my day going forward, like I don’t need that second wind, because I don’t hit a wall. I mean it carries me through a whole day, and you know I’d come home now, its 6:30, 7:00 and I’ve got all this energy, and my wife’s like “How do you have so much energy right now? You’ve been up since 4:30 in the morning”.

FG: Yeah I’ve noticed the exact same thing, I’m a 4:30 guy as well as you know. I would suggest guys test this out, try it out. Cause I at one point, I moved my gym time, I tried it out at lunch, and I noticed that previously, like afternoons where I’d have these meetings and it would just be like “Oh these afternoon meetings, whatever it is”. When I did my workouts at lunch, the afternoons were so much better, I was like sharp, I was on point, everything was crystal clear, I could think more quickly. After lunch it was crazy.

So try out, when do you want the boost, like you said it can carry you the whole day. So you think mornings an excellent time to do it, but if you do it in the afternoon, lunch isn’t bad either.

Matt R: I think that’s awesome, kudos to you for doing that, because if more people did that, then I think their businesses would be better, because people would be coming back, and they’d be fired up, they have the renewed energy source, and be just so much more productive. I think that’s really great.

FG: Well, we have to work towards wrapping up here, but I really appreciate you for taking the time to share your wisdom with us. Where can people find a little bit more about you and fit life journey, and what you do?

Matt R: So anybody can look on my website, which is Blog posts, I try to generally to put up information regarding my online training and client success, and I’m going to be doing a lot more updating on that, to kind of get the word out.

FG: Yeah, and you’ve got some great blog posts already. I’m on your e-mail list, enjoy reading your blog posts, I like the one you did about the six pack abs. That was a great one. So I suggest guys go to, sign up for the newsletter. And you can also checkout some pics of Matt, competition pics that are great, as well as some client testimonials and pics as well, that’s really good stuff.

Thank you a lot Matt for coming along and being willing to share with our community, and much success to you in the years to come.


Also published on Medium.

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