I was a skinny kid growing up, weighing around 115 lbs at age 16 and 125 at my high school graduation at a height of 5'9". I started weight training as a sophomore in high school in an attempt to become a better soccer player. Although I enjoyed lifting, unlike most bodybuilders I did not respond quickly to weights. It took me over four years of lifting 5 days per week to finally be able to bench press 135 lbs.
After high school I attended college and continued to lift, mostly as a way to relieve the stress from school. I trained fairly intensely, but I still ate "normally," which for a college kid meant whatever was in the cafeteria that day and maybe some pizza for a late night study break.
I worked as a mathematician for the U.S. Navy for 3 years after college, during which I continued to train with weights. I knew nothing about competitive bodybuilding until I returned to graduate school at Virginia Tech. While surfing online for a new workout routine, I made the fateful decision to submit my pictures to an amateur bodybuilder of the week contest. Even though I clearly indicated that I didn't consider myself to be a bodybuilder, several local people who saw it encouraged me to compete, and I got emails from as far away as England from people pushing me to give competition a shot. My first contest was a small local show in 2003, where I took first place out of a whopping total of 6 competitors. At that point I was hooked and continued to compete in 2004, doing fairly well at some slightly larger shows.
My outlook on bodybuilding changed in late 2004 when natural pro Kurt Weidner arrived in Blacksburg (home of Virginia Tech). I thought I trained hard and put a large amount of effort into my contest preparation, but meeting Kurt let me know just how much work was required to be successful in this sport. Kurt and I trained together from late 2004 until mid 2006, when I completed my graduate work and took a job in academia. During that time, I earned "pro" status in four different natural bodybuilding organizations.
I currently compete with the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF), and the International Federation of Physique Athletes (IFPA). In both of these organizations, each competitor is tested via urinalysis and polygraph methods at every show.