1) What’s your backstory?
My backstory is pretty typical for your average overweight high schooler. I had been a bit “husky” throughout my life and always lacked self confidence in my own skin. I really wanted to make a change and finally get girls to notice me (haha). I remember my friend and I set a plan to run a mile every day of the summer before our freshman year. What ended up happening is that we ended up sitting on the bleachers hanging out instead of running and eventually found ourselves at the Pizza Hut buffet more often than not.
After that failed attempt, I started with P90x during my sophomore year of high school and eventually got into decent shape. I was an athlete throughout high school and eventually made it to college where I wasn’t as talented of an athlete as I thought and ended up without a D1 sport scholarship or spot on the track team. After a short stint with the crew team, I focused on my weight training and bodybuilding. I competed in my first Men’s Physique show in June of 2013, looked like an emaciated kindergartener… and that fueled me to learn the actual science behind strength and physique sports and nutrition.
So, at first I was motivated by wanting to be noticed by others, but I eventually fell in love with the challenge and progression of this fitness journey.
2) What advice do you give to people who struggle going to the gym and being consistent?
SCHEDULE. We all have the same 24 hours ever day. During my pharmacy school rotations, I was working 50-80 hours each week while trying to balance school and my two businesses (Hejnasty LLC and Buff Penguin LLC). The #1 thing that helped me balance and still incorporate my workouts was to wake up early. VERY early… Most mornings I would wake up around 4-4:30am. This ensured that I would be able to get to the gym at opening around 5 or 6am and get my training in before rotation started at 8 or 9am. It would also give me the night to eat, work on my emails and spreadsheets for coaching clients, write useful instagram captions instead of the generic “no pain, no gain” cliche quotes that dominate, and edit YouTube videos.
You have to find what works best for your schedule. If you only have 30 minutes that you can make it to the gym, GO! Schedule that time in and make it a PRIORITY to get there. We have time for what we make time for. “I don’t have the time” is an easy out. But in most cases, it is not true. We can wake up earlier, we can sacrifice some Netflix time, if it means enough to you, you will make the time for it. I found it easiest to make that time in the morning, but it is honestly no more impressive than making that time for yourself in the evening. Some people think waking up at 4am makes them “hardcore” but no, some people can be more effective late at night and it may fit their schedule. I do have the feeling that you can make the most of your days by waking up early and using the early morning to focus on yourself without distractions while being productive with the daylight.
A lot of scrolling on Facebook and Instagram happens between 8pm and 2am. I think by sleeping during that time, you can be more productive from 4am to 10am.
3) What’s your mentality on fitness and what do you recommend to other people in their mentality?
Don’t be so restricted. Make eating within your means a lifestyle and not an on/off switch. If your goal is to get leaner, that doesn’t mean you have to swear off sweets or the foods you enjoy. You can get lean by eating more variety than chicken breast, brown rice, and broccoli. Focus on what truly matters than staying to solely “clean” foods (whatever that even means). Total calories are king when it comes to weight gain and weight loss. Focus on how many calories you are eating each day and adjust that to get towards your goals. Use the 80/20 rule, 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts. Calorie intake is a major part of that 20%. Brown rice vs. white rice is more of the 80%.
Closely following calorie intake, in importance, is protein intake. ESPECIALLY if you are lifting and/or want to see that muscle tone, you need protein to recover and build those muscle. By “build” I do not mean that you will accidentally look like a bodybuilder overnight. These high level bodybuilders are often trying their hardest for YEARS to look as big as possible. Hell, I’ve been trying 9 years to become a machine and I am far from looking anything like Mr. Olympia or even a typical IFBB pro female bodybuilder (haha). Protein is also very satiating per calorie and will definitely help you adhere to a lower calorie diet.
I also highly recommend increasing most peoples’ vegetable and fiber intake. Vegetables are high in fiber and water content so they satiate very well and are often very low in calorie density. Like protein, increasing consumption of vegetables will make it easier to adhere to a lower calorie diet. Fiber is similar in that it is very satiating and also has research to show it helps lower blood levels of cholesterol.
What about a ketogenic diet? The ketogenic diet can also very effective, but there is no magic being done here. You are still held accountable to the rule of thermodynamics. Meaning you still need a calorie deficit. Although, by following a ketogenic diet and limiting the readily available carbs in our everyday diets, you will very likely end up reducing your calorie intake and losing weight. Take a look at your pantry right now and I’m pretty sure it’s full of ready to consume carbs. Most protein and fat sources take some time to prepare and are less readily available than a granola bar or bag of chips.
4) Do you measure your food intake? What barometers do you set for yourself and what formulas can people apply for their own fitness goals?
Yes, I have every day for a long time. I weigh most foods that I consume and log them into MyFitnessPal. I know that if I go and eat 5000 calories one day, then I will reduce my intake for the subsequent days to ensure a weekly balance. The initial days of tracking and weighing your food can be a major lifestyle change and difficult, but over time it becomes routing and nice to know how much you are consuming.
The barometers I set depends on current goals at the time. While I did a 12 week cut where I lost 20lbs while eating ice cream every single day, I reduced my calorie intake to see weight loss and overtime was eating 2600-2700 calories per day. During a weight gaining phase, I will work my calorie intake upwards while watching how my weight responds. At the end of my last “bulking phase” I was eating about 3800 calories per day.
Aside from total calories, I aim for a little over 1 gram per pound bodyweight of protein per day (250g), at least 14g of fiber per 1000 calories, and at least 5 servings of vegetables per day.
For someone who wants to improve their body composition in losing weight or gaining weight, I would recommend to start weighing yourself daily in the morning post urination before eating or drinking anything, track the calories you eat in a day using MyFitnessPal during a normal day, see how your weight responds over the next few days, adjust total calorie intake (or weekly intake) according to taking your weight in the direction you want, and then make small adjustments (50-200cals) as need be. I also recommend getting in exercise daily through lifting, walking, cardio, or whatever gets you to move that you ENJOY and CAN ADHERE TO.
(If guidance and accountability is needed with gaining or losing weight/muscle due to a busy work schedule then I also offer hands on coaching which can be applied for at Hejnasty.com/coaching)
5) How do you get yourself to the gym during the days you don’t want to go?
Oh man… this happens a lot (haha). I currently wake up at 3:45am to get to the gym early and many times, at 3:46am, I really want to go back to bed and put off my goals. However, I know that will not get me any steps closer to my overall goals. I want to be a competitive drug free bodybuilder and continue to progress in my strength and physique and that WILL NOT HAPPEN if I do not put in EFFORT. Nothing worth having in life comes easy. Everything will take some form of sacrifice (be that time, sleep, etc) and effort. Money is great, but you can’t buy an impressive physique. I also feel that if I do not take that one step forward for the day then I am ultimately taking one step back from my full potential. So it’s a good thing that I set multiple alarms for every morning.
I’ll be honest, it never really gets easier to get out of bed in the morning. Every time you get out of bed it kind of sucks (haha). You can choose to get up and out of bed on your own selected time, get moving, and make progress. Or you can lay there and let precious hours pass by and not get closer to whatever goals you have set.
6) What supplements do you recommend and why?
There are only really two supplements that I think EVERYONE with physique or fitness goals should take. That is creatine monohydrate and a multivitamin.
Creatine monohydrate is probably the most well researched and effective sports supplement in improving power output. It also can never be banned from competition because it is naturally found in steaks, meats, fish, etc. Because it is so tried and true, many new formulations have come out (krealkaline, ethyl ester, HCl, etc) that are more expensive than monohydrate. They may improve absorption or saturation times, but creatine isn’t a time dependent supplement (like caffeine where you need to take it right before a workout for benefits), creatine has to reach saturation in the muscles which takes days, so absorbing it 30 minutes faster is not going to really do anything except drain your wallet a bit faster.
I recommend everyone take a multivitamin because it is kind of an assurance that we hit the broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. It’s very unrealistic that we will eat such a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains that will hit every micronutrient that we need in the full amount. We often fall into a routine and/or have our favorite vegetables and foods that we stick to. A multivitamin just fills in the holes in our diets and makes sure we hit all those micronutrients.
For people who have difficulty hitting .8-1g/lb of protein per day, I highly recommend protein powder because it is so convenient and low calorie for adding protein into their diet. I am an athlete for PEScience so I strongly recommend their Frosted Chocolate Cupcake Select Protein because it is delicious and packed with protein without sacrificing too many precious fats and carbs for the rest of the day.
Protein bars can be useful, but too often are they loaded with excess carbs and fats that make it less of a protein bar and more of a candy bar… But some bars are loaded with fiber as well and can really leave you feeling full for a long period of time because protein and fiber are very satiating per calorie. PEScience offers some solid bars that can help for work time lunches and hold you over until dinner.
Preworkouts are unnecessary for beginners, but can help those who train after work or early in the morning (due to stimulants like caffeine and also nootropics). Some preworkouts are also loaded with nitric oxide boosters which help enhance the “pump” during workouts. PEScience has great options for both in Prolific and High Volume.
Supplements can be helpful but they are part of the 80% of that 80/20 rule. Nothing will get you the results that you’re looking for more than controlling your intake of calories, protein, fiber, and vegetables and your training needs to be consistent and goal oriented. However, supplements are beneficial in most cases, and in some situations, can be very helpful in getting to our fitness goals. I am very fortunate to be backed by a company that is science based with products that I really benefit from. If you are considering trying any of the PEScience products listed above, use “KEVIN” at checkout to save yourself 15% at PEScience.com
7) What are some key hacks in fitness that you’ve found made huge differences for you?
Focusing on the compound movements in the gym that recruit a lot of muscles and really focus on getting stronger with them. If you can become a very strong squatter, bench presser, rower, and deadlifter, you can build a very impressive physique nearly on accident (haha). As I got more involved with powerlifting in college (I co-founded the powerlifting team at Rutgers, competed internationally in Belarus and South Africa, and got a lot stronger with the big 3), I noticed that my physique improved substantially. Now that I have shifted my focus back on bodybuilding, I am continuing to use those compound movements, but with higher rep ranges to get in more training volume (the main predictor of hypertrophy, or muscle gain). I’ve been enjoying the results so far.
Above all, consistency is key. Find a training routine that you can adhere to and enjoy while adding weight onto the bar over time. Find a dieting strategy that allows you to optimize the 20% while living flexibly and not getting burnt out.
Fitness should be fun and beneficial to your life. Don’t make your lifestyle fit fitness, but make fitness fit your lifestyle.
Moshe’s Key Takeaways:
1) You may not succeed your first attempt at your fitness goals, but stay at it. Change up your approach no matter how many times it takes to find what works best for you.
2) Pivot when needed. Kevin found that he may not be playing D1 sports, but he can make major things happen in the fitness realm. Therefore, Kevin pivoted towards that instead of allowing sports to weigh him down in life. We all have our own unique purpose and areas where we are more meant to excel than other areas, find your thing and own it, even if it wasn’t what you originally hoped or wanted. Perhaps it’s more what G-d had in mind than you. Sometimes, we don’t pivot, and sometimes we pivot and come back to something when its more relevant or within your grasp because of your pivot. Yet, it’s case by case, and one should consult a responsible mentor that has expertise in which they can help you decide what it means for you in such and such situation you find yourself. One should also heavily decide amongst themselves, but I suggest the additional guidance of a mentor to save one from making a decision that is based on self love and not the right choice.
3) Don’t be so restricted. Find your 20/80, and measure things, but don’t get carried away.
4) It doesn’t get easier. “You can choose to get up and out of bed on your own selected time, get moving, and make progress. Or you can lay there and let precious hours pass by and not get closer to whatever goals you have set.”
5) Everything takes sacrifice, time and effort. You can’t buy your goals.
6) Protein intake measurement, Creatine, and Multi Vitamin
7) Compound Movements are a gym hack.
8) Consistency. Find a routine you enjoy.