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Interview with Donald James: A Fitness Model and CEO of Anabolic Animal

Donald_JamesDonald James had the pleasure of living in California his whole life, and don’t have plans to leave anytime soon. Donald was born in San Jose and lived there until he left to go to college. Growing up he played competitive junior tennis and spent many weekends traveling around California and the rest of the country to play in different tournaments. He went to college at UC  Santa Cruz where he continued to play tennis on their men’s team. This was an awesome experience because not only did he get to bond with a great group of guys, but as a team they also won the NCAA championships twice, something which he is very proud of.  After graduating with a degree in Business Management and Economics, he stayed around and interned at Santa Cruz to work at a technology start up company while still in school called 0cog. After a year, he ended up leaving the company and moved to a small city called Campbell located outside of San Jose where he currently reside and work out.

When did you first find interest in the fitness industry? What and/or who inspired your decision to pursue fitness as a part of your lifestyle?

I was always curious about fitness in regards to how it could help me with my tennis. It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in college however, that I began thinking about using fitness to transform my body. That’s when I began scouring the web for resources to help me find out what else I could do to improve my body. Researching what I would do to maximize my training lead me to discover how important the nutrition aspect is, and this caused me to clean up my diet and take my health more seriously. As I found more sources of good information, I got even more excited and motivated about everything. I remember when I first discovered bodybuilding.com, I was checking for new articles on almost an hourly basis. Another site that I frequently checked was simply shredded for their athlete and fitness model interviews. The first interview I saw was with Pham Vu, and I was immediately inspired to build a better body. Along with inspirational use, these interviews also helped give me an idea of what people were doing to achieve these bodies in terms of their training, diet, and supplementation. This allowed me to learn and get inspired at the same time.

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Can tell us more about Anabolic Animal? How did you get started and what inspired you to start the business?

Anabolic animal is a health and fitness website for natural physique optimization. The idea for it came to mind shortly after I graduated from college. I was still researching fitness as much as I could, and felt I had learned a lot of valuable information. I also was motivated to provide a website to help others learn, the way I had found and used so many sites to help me learn. Unfortunately, I had no experience with working with any programming languages, any CMS, or any design programs. So I spent some time learning some coding and design skills and then way  ready to begin building my site. Flash forward to now, and www.anabolicanimal.com is now live, and updated frequently. The mission of my site is to fully encompass and promote health and fitness, so that neither is compromised for the benefit of the other. By that I mean there are many ways to LOOK better that don’t make you FEEL better and we’re not about that. We believe that when you truly optimize your body, it means bettering both the inside and the outside. The articles on our site cover topics such as training, nutrition, and supplementation as well as more in depth topics such as muscle symmetry.

Taking your passion for health and fitness, you also train others with their fitness. How has that been and have any of your clients influenced you in regards to your own health and fitness?

Sharing my passion and knowledge of it with people is something I look forward to every time I get the opportunity to do so. Knowledge is power and in this case the more you know the more you grow. I really enjoy helping people structure their workouts and diets to help them reach their goals faster. When I work with people who are dedicated and see the progress in accomplishing their own endeavors, I get fired up to work even harder on accomplishing mine. This pushes me to keep being better and better which in-turn motivates the people I work with. That’s what I call full-circle motivation!

dsc_4219-web2You are an individual with a passion to help others achieve happiness through living a fit and healthy lifestyle. What advice would you give someone who wants to transition their life towards a more healthy and fit lifestyle, but don’t know where to start?

Start now. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get to where you want to be. The most important thing to keep in mind is that mistakes and setbacks will happen. No one is great at anything when they’re starting out, and this isn’t any different.

We’re curious, what does your daily diet look like? Do you give yourself “cheat days”? Do you have any favorite clean recipes you would like to share?

My diet changes through out the year in accordance with my goals for my body. When I was preparing for my shoot with you, my diet strategy revolved around getting as lean as possible. To do this, I carb-cycled for around 8 weeks, gradually reducing the total amount of carbs I ate after each week. Now my goal is to put on more muscle, and my diet includes a greater amount of carbs and calories each day. An example of my current diet is:

*Each meal also contains around 2 servings of olive oil

(Pre-workout) Meal 1: 3 – 4 Eggs, 2 slices of organic bacon, 1 english muffin and 1 scoop of protein powder (Dymatize).
(Post-workout) Meal 2: 5 – 6 ounces of chicken breast, 2 slices of Daves Killer Bread, guacamole, 2 – 4oz of cashews, and 1 scoop of protein powder.
Meal 3: : 5 – 6 ounces of chicken breast, guacamole, 2 – 4oz of almonds.
Meal 4: : 5 – 6 ounces of chicken breast, 2 slices of Dave’s Killer Bread, guacamole.
Meal 5: : 3 – 5 eggs, 2 strips of organic bacon, 2 – 4oz of almonds, 1 scoop of protein powder.

While it’s not the most exciting diet I’ve ever been on, it does give me the calories I need to grow without putting on excess fat. Plus, all these items are sold in bulk at Costco, which makes grocery shopping simple.

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What does your training routine consist of? (Please include a few details – training split, sets/reps, exercises, types of cardio, etc.).

Like my diet, my training routine also gets switched around during the year depending on what my goals are at the time. Right now, I’m particularly focused on building my chest, triceps, delts, and forearms. My current workout program reflects these goals by emphasizing these muscles in my current split along with different HIT techniques to further boost growth.

My current split is 6 days and includes the following:
Day 1 – Back & Forearms
Day 2 – Chest & Triceps
Day 3 – Deltoids & BicepsDay 4 – Quads, Hamstrings, Calves
Day 5 – Chest & Forearms
Day 6 – Deltoids & Triceps

Muscle fiber type determines the typical rep range I use for each muscle. I aim for 12 – 20 reps on most sets for leg exercises, and aim for 6 – 15 reps on most sets for upper body exercises.

In addition to your diet and training, do you believe in supplements? If so, which kinds do you use and what results have these given you?

I think supplements can be tremendously beneficial and have the potential to augment your results when used correctly. Currently, the supplements I’m taking include whey protein powder, fish oil, creatine, beta-alanine, and caffeine. I cycle through the creatine and beta-alanine but include protein powder, fish oil and caffeine in my supplement stack throughout the year. I feel this supplement stack really aids in recovery between workouts and I am enjoying the results they have given me so far.

Where does your motivation come from to stay consistent with your fitness and strive to assist others with theirs?

I get motivation from a variety of ways that all help contribute to fueling my passion for fitness. One thing that get’s me especially motivated is seeing the results of my training reflected in my physique. I love setting a particular goal, creating a plan to accomplish it, and then doing the work and seeing my body change in response. This keeps training exciting and makes me look forward to my workouts. Helping others with their own fitness is another big motivator for me.

We had the opportunity to work together in creating amazing photographs. How did you discover Natalie Minh Photography and came to the solution to work with us?dsc_3818-web2

The last step in launching my website was finding a photographer to take the pictures of me that Natalie did, and then use those pictures on the site accordingly. I started browsing the portfolios of local photographers and after not feeling completely satisfied with what I found, I began to look for photographers in Southern California. I found Natalie’s portfolio, and it really impressed me. Not only did her pictures look fantastic, but she clearly had significant experience in the fitness industry, which would be really valuable. After reading her bio and learning about her former years as a competitor, I knew she would have the type of experience that could be exactly what I needed to have a successful shoot and began setting up a date with her team.

Can you please describe the development and production process of your photo shoot, with Natalie and the team? How was your overall experience?

Natalie was awesome to work with. She was extremely knowledgeable about how I could look my best on camera and about fitness in general. She knew exactly how my body should look during any of the poses I did, and was able to help me create great pictures. After we finished shooting at the gym, we drove to the beach where we finished the shoot. Natalie had planned the start of our shoot so that by the time we got to the beach it would be sunset, and sure enough it was. The colors looked amazing, and all in all I was ecstatic with how the experience as a whole turned out.

What is next for you in this new year? What are your future plans and goals?

Next year, anabolic animal begin selling customized workout plans that are created on 0n individual basis to help each person reach their goals sooner. Writing all the workout plans I have made for my previous clients has allowed me to refine the workflow of creating custom workouts, and I am at a point where I feel it is refined to a high level and ready to be available. The final product is something I am very proud of, and am extremely excited about offering this service at the beginning of 2015.

Any shout outs?

I like to give a shot out to Julian Lloyd, Vanessa Sienkiewicz, and Art, Beth & Trevor James. You guy’s are all awesome and it without your
help and support I would certainly not be where I am today. So thanks, you all rock!

Lastly, where can we find you on the Internet?

You can find my website at www.anabolicanimal.com

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