By: Peter Pham
This week we look at another duo that rocks the pages of MachineMuscle.com. One is an Attorney and the other is a Mechanical Engineer: Jason and Stephanie Theobald. Time to get to know this rocking pair of trainers from Cincy!
Jason and Steph are VERY close friends of Katie and I. As you have read here, Jason is also my “third eye” when it comes to show prep. He is a prep wizard and above all of that, an amazing guy. Steph is also one of the nicest, sweetest women to ever grace this Earth. All other things aside, these are close family friends and to know them is a blessing that Katie and I cherish. So read on, learn, and take in all that is good about this industry.
Peter: For those that don’t know who you guys are, could you give us a little background info on you two?
Jason: I’m a corporate attorney, licensed Nutrition Consultant, national level bodybuilder and a contest prep coach, a real Renaissance man—I’m kidding. I run ScoobyPrep at www.scoobyprep.com and Stephaney is a licensed Nutrition Consultant, national level figure/women’s physique competitor, general nutritionist/prep coach and runs Natty Nutrition at www.nattynutrition.com.
Steph: Renaissance man??!! I just nearly spit out my ground beef! lol But yep leave it to Jason to be short and sweet, lol. I’ll give you a little more background. Jason and I have been married for 5.5 years and have a 7-year old that lives with us part-time (he’s technically my step-son but I HATE the whole “step” term because it feels like he’s basically my own – especially because I’ve helped raise him since he was about a month old). Both Jason and I grew up in and around the Cincinnati area and have been involved in athletics just about all of our lives – though we did NOT meet because of health or fitness in any way… we actually met at a bar, 2 separate times! But we’ll save that story for another day!
In addition to my nutrition experience, I actually graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and then completed an intense Leadership Program at GE and did a stint at Johnson & Johnson before leaving to run Natty Nutrition full time. I think it’s this diverse background and experience with Fortune 50 companies, along with a rockstar attorney-husband well-versed in the legalities of small business, that really gave me the tools necessary and the courage to act as if I know what the heck I’m doing running a business. How’s that for a run-on sentence?!
Peter: You guys are the owners and operators for Natty Nutrition and Scooby Prep. Where did both these business stem from and where in the world did the names come from?
Jason: Natty Nutrition came about in early 2008. I was being contacted by quite a few people to help them with their preps. The response was becoming so overwhelming that we decided it was either start a business and help them all or turn everyone away. So the business was born.
The term NATTY was three-fold: 1) it was a play on “Cincinnati” being called the “nati”, 2) at the time I prepped mostly natural competitors so we changed it to “natty” which is a term you see a lot on message boards referring to drug free bodybuilders, 3) Natty means “smart” and we pride ourselves on using SMART nutrition based mainly on wholefoods. Scooby Prep came around later as Natty Nutrition grew and morphed. Steph was working with a lot of general nutrition clients under Natty Nutrition and we felt we came to the point in our business development that we needed a separate entity for bodybuilding and show prep. Scoobysnacks is a nickname I’ve had for a while and I post on the message boards under it, so I thought ScoobyPrep would work well.
Peter: Can you share any future plans for Natty Nutrition and Scooby Prep? Maybe a new product or service?
Jason: We are expanding the Natty Nutrition supplement line, which is home to Slin-Trol MAX, Whey-Trol, Case-Trol and Gluta-Trol, to include a BCAA product that is a naturally sweetened product (which is great for me, along with many others, who suffer from stomach bloating and cramping from artificial sweeteners in many other BCAA products). PerforMAX will launch soon and Blue Cotton Candy will be the first flavor. Watch for it!
Scooby Prep has also been an instant success and we will be having some big teams at the NPC Northern Kentucky and Jr. Nationals this year, along with many other major shows.
Scooby Prep has also added 3 IFBB pros to the team after the three athletes teamed with me last year to work on their preparations and earn their IFBB status.
Steph: I’m SUPER excited about the PerforMAX that Jason mentioned. This has been a pet project of mine for a good while since my stomach doesn’t handle sucralose or aspartame very well. But I love what BCAAs do for my training (plus I have a sweet tooth and love to drink BCAAs randomly throughout the day when I’m dieting), so a naturally sweetened BCAAs drink is PERFECT for me, and I’m confident many others will feel the same!!
I also have a new service starting in 2012 called Team Natty P.I.N.K. (which stands for Prepped In Natty Knowledge). This is going to be a great addition to my already successful figure and bikini contest prep. I’m bringing on Nationally-Qualified Bikini competitor and Personal Trainer, Jen Main, AND our new IFBB Figure Pro, Sue Knott, to help coach our figure and bikini girls and give them a more well-rounded team. So not only will our girls receive the top-notch dieting service they’ve come to know, but they will also have access to more individualized training and will be polished for stage by an IFBB Pro who knows what it takes to get to the highest level. And perhaps the biggest benefit will be the amazing TEAM environment and support that will be fostered through more organized interactions. Details are currently being worked out, but I’m excited to launch Natty P.I.N.K. soon after the New Year!
Jason: My dad lifted in my younger years, he never competed, but definitely lived the lifestyle so seeing him big and in shape inspired me. I also played soccer in college and the coach repeatedly told me he needed me to gain some size so at age 19 I hit the weight room.
I made some pretty good gains my first year and I remember the first time I heard a member of the opposite sex refer to me as “ripped” I was certainly hooked. Yeah I said it, I also started training to be more attractive to the opposite sex, yep certainly a vain reason, and I still train to this day to look different than the rest. So, shoot me.
Steph: Well I’ve always been into sports in general because I grew up around a lot of boys in my neighborhood. Plus I’m the 3rd in line of 4 girls (no brothers), so I think by the time I became a toddler and my little sister came along my dad gave up all hope of getting a boy and hence turned me and my little sister into tomboys. But what got me focusing on a fit lifestyle was going through what I like to call “my chubby period” where my sisters made fun of me and I hated the way I looked – so from 7th grade on I focused on exercising more and “eating right” (which at the time just meant running a lot and hardly eating at all!) What really got me into “bodybuilding” and where I am today is Jason. From the beginning we clicked because we were both very health-conscious, but I quickly realized that Jason knew a lot more than I did about reshaping the body. So I learned a LOT from him and things just grew from there.
Peter: What keeps you both motivated through it all?
Jason: I really can’t see myself not training. I stay motivated because I love to feel strong and in shape. For me training seems to be the one constant thing I look forward to daily during the work-week. When work is stressful, or the other daily chores of life weigh on me, I can rely on my 1.5 hrs in the weight room to rejuvenate me and make me feel good about the day.
Steph: my motivation is a little different. Yes what Jason says rings true with me, but I’d be lying if I said that was ENOUGH to keep me motivated. I’m a very goal-oriented person so I feel like I need something more tactile to keep motivation high. Many times it’s a looming competition that keeps me in check, but more often lately it’s my drive to help others that keep me motivated. What I mean by this is that my best way to help people right now is through Natty Nutrition and teaching others how to be healthy. But in order for people to come to ME for advice I need to “look the part”. I mean who wants to come to an out-of-shape “hot mess” for advice on how to better themselves?? So I figure I need to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Oh yea, and everything Jason said works sometimes
Peter: Do you have any current goals, such as a show or competition you are planning to compete in or new physique achievement for yourselves?
Jason: I plan to do Junior Nationals as a welterweight this year with the same conditioning I had at Nationals in 2010, but 10 lbs more muscle than in 2010. I’ve set the goal to win my class as a welterweight. It’s a lofty goal, but one I’m ready to attack.
Steph: I am planning on doing Jr. USA and Jr. Nationals again in 2012 but this time in the new Women’s Physique division. With the way Figure judging is going at the National level I’ve decided my physique just doesn’t fit with the judging. But WP seems much more in line with what I can bring – something about my body is that I carry most of my fat around my midsection, then add to it that I’m super short-waisted and my midsection looks even wider with all that fat being more compacted (great visual, huh?!) My point in telling you this is that for me to bring in my waist and get that V-taper I have to diet hard – but in order to bring in my waist I end up pretty lean everything else, and the judges end up telling me I’m “too lean” for figure. But I think this will be an asset for me in the new division.
Peter: What do your current training programs look like?
Jason: I train Mountain-dog style, this is a training program designed by John Meadows who is very good bodybuilder in his own right. You can check it out online. The main belief of this system is that most bodybuilders under-train these days. So John’s workouts are higher rep, heavy and high intensity; they are very tough, but I believe the new improvements to my physique will be very evident.
Steph: Well since I’m switching divisions I’ve been focusing on my arms a lot this offseason. In figure they don’t care so much about biceps so I never trained them super hard, but those WP girls have some guns! So I’ve been working hard to bring mine up. I’m doing a 5 day split, hitting arms on 2 of those days. I’ve been doing high weight/low rep for so long that I’ve been playing with higher volume this offseason. This is also the first time I’ve ever hired a personal trainer for weekly one-on-one sessions because I felt my workouts were just getting stagnant. As of right now I’m working out with Dave Uhlman (Elite Personal Training) at Cincinnati Premier Training once per week on arms and once every couple weeks on legs/glutes.
Peter: How about your diets? Any eating tips or quick recipes you want to share?
Jason: Diet is very unique to each person. Every person has a unique metabolism then factor in work activity, age, gender, body-type and you can see why I believe nutrition has to be tailored to each person.
My biggest tip is to track your nutrition. I think it’s important to know what you are eating so you can better understand what works and does not work. Ive been doing this so long that I could do much of it by feel in order to maintain a low body-fat, but when I compete I track it all. And I feel if you want to be shredded you need to know your macronutrient intake so you can better adjust it. Maintaining 8%, or getting to 10%, is completely different than hitting the stage with shredded glutes and a x-mas tree lower back.
My bonus tip is to find balance in your nutrition. Allow yourself some tasty foods in your meal plans especially off-season so that It can become a lifestyle. In other words don’t eat chicken and rice six times per day and think you will maintain a lifestyle on that, Its not very fun nor necessary.
1 scoop vanilla Whey Trol
35 grams blueberries
40 grams oatmeal
170 grams egg whites
36 grams yolks
small amount of baking powder
blend then cook in skillet to about 3-4 small pancakes
top with sugar free Waldens Maple
Above recipe is about:
45P/30C/15F adjust for your own nutrition
Steph: Obviously I agree 100% with what Jason said – it’s all about learning what works best for YOU. Jason and I follow VERY different diets since we have VERY different body types… he can do a cheat meal and LOSE 2 lbs whereas I eat an extra bite of oats and I go up 2 lbs. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea – my body hates carbs (hence the midsection fat!) So I generally carb cycle through the week and follow a carb-timed diet most days. This means that I only eat carbs and spike my insulin when my body needs them or can most efficiently use them (generally first meal, preworkout and postworkout). But much like Jason I’ve been doing things long enough that I often change things based on how my body’s feeling.
Peter: You probably saw this one coming, but I’m going to ask anyways. What’s your supplement regimen? What recommendations do you have for new people?
Steph and Jason: We’re not just “plugging”, we actually USE all of these!
Natty Nutrition Whey-Trol
Natty Nutriton Slin-Trol Max
Natty Nutrition Gluta-Trol
Primaforce Creaform (Creatine Monohydrate)
Primaforce L Carnitine (Jason)
Primaforce Lean Grean (Jason)
Bevery International 7 Keto Musclean (when a fat burner is needed)
BCAAs (we use Scivation Xtend right now but will be switching to our PerforMAX when it comes out)
Peter: If you could go back to your own starting point, what kind of advice would you give yourself?
Jason: I think my biggest issue was caloric intake, simply not enough. I ate 6 small meals that were suited to be ripped, but for my metabolism it simply was not enough food. I could have eaten more been much bigger and stronger and as lean if not leaner. That said I’m happy how I did things, when I started, I was not trying to be a bodybuilder. I enjoyed my college days and didn’t compete until I was 24 years old.
Steph: Agreed I wouldn’t change anything just because I like where I am today and I believe I could be in a very different place if just one thing was different. BUT a piece of advice I would certainly give to people starting out is that “eat less, do more” is not the best advice – it’s not that simple. You actually have to EAT to shed fat – starving yourself out and doing crazy amounts of cardio may get you to drop weight at first but it will not set you up for lifelong success. I encourage everyone to really LEARN about proper nutrition and the right kind of training for their goals and not just look for the “easy way” or the “quick fix”.
Peter: Cut and Bulk Cycles or Maintain All year round?
Jason:I’ve done both. At age 34 I’ve come to the conclusion that staying under 10% is the best. My last 9 site body-fat test was a few days ago and I was 6.4%. I prefer to stay leaner these days. I do think younger bodybuilders though should have a few seasons where they really push calories and get some big time growth even if it means 12% body-fat or a bit higher. But I am never maintaining I always train to be better and gain muscle.
Steph: Depends on your goals! But I think most people could benefit from cut and bulk cycles at some point – though it seems to be more beneficial to do it at a younger age (but not too young of course!!!) I think it’s good to “indirectly bulk”, which is what a lot of young athletes do and don’t even realize it. I see this in athletes who develop solid muscle through swimming, gymnastics, hitting the weight room for basketball, etc. AND eat by feel. They feel hungry so they eat and give the body the nutrition to grow. These people tend to have more lean mass and a healthier metabolism as they get older. I personally have been going through cut/bulk phases for the last couple of years but look forward to soon being able to just maintain. I like the way my body feels around 14-15%, lean enough to like the way I look but fat enough to be healthy and maintain my menstrual cycle, etc (sorry for the “M” word guys!!!). The past couple offseasons I’ve had limited time to grow so I’ve pushed calories and gotten up to 17-18% which I’m just not comfortable at, and then at show time I have to get so lean to bring in my waist I end up around 8-9% (based on 9-site caliper test) – this is NOT healthy to maintain. I’m hoping this is the last season I have to really grow so I’m excited to just focus on maintaining next year!
Peter: You are probably asked for a lot of advice just being out and about. What’s the most common question you get asked?
Jason: How do I get my muscles like you?
Steph: Well when I’m with Jason the question I always get is “is he a bodybuilder? how do I look like that?” If I’m by myself I get “what should I eat to look like that?” They never like the answer!
Peter: How do you handle people that ask you how to get in shape but always have some sort of excuse?
Jason: It depends on what kind of mood they catch me in. Sometimes I simply save my breath and stop offering advice and just listen— then try to change the subject. But if they keep repeating it, I’ll just call them out on their utter bullshit. We are all busy. I work 40 hours as a lawyer, run my prep business, meet with clients, I’m a husband and a father. I find time, they can too. Just state the real reason, you don’t want it bad enough.
Steph: Jason pretty much hit the nail on the head. Though I tend to be a little less harsh with my responses. Many of our clients can attest to that – we have very different styles in terms of delivering information! Sometimes I just nod and smile, but if I get a feeling someone really wants it and just can’t figure out how to get past excuses I will give them real-life examples of how I makes things work or how other clients of mine make things work. I work with a LOT of people who have crazy busy lives or huge obstacles to overcome and THEY do it – so why can’t you? I also have a few awesome clients who are willing to let me give out their email address to people who need some advice or support – but again I only do this on RARE occasions when I can tell the person truly wants to change and is willing to try to make it work.
Peter: It’s time to indulge and not factor in nutrition or training, what do you grab first?
Jason: Chipotle Burrito and a large DQ Chocolate Ice Cream Chocolate Xtreme Blizzard
Steph: PIZZA! Pretty much any kind will do I can also kill some milk and cereal!
Peter: What are your philosophies for the gym and for life?
Jason: You may not have the best genetics and there may certainly be smarter people than you, but NOTHING replaces hard work, determination and consistency over time. Those that win in life, bodybuilding or any other endeavor will undoubtedly display all three of those characteristics.
Steph: In life I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and even though we may not know why things are happening now we will eventually figure out why someone was put into our life or why we had to go through hardships. So based on this, don’t let things stress you out because it WILL get better and you WILL end up exactly where you’re supposed to be.
In the gym my biggest philosophy is if I don’t like an exercise it means I need to do it MORE! I generally don’t like things when I suck at it or feel weak – so obviously that’s an area for improvement and I MAKE myself do it until I get better.
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