Interview with Paleo Athlete Tony Camper
Tony Camper is a Paleo athlete who has competed and won, in both powerlifting and the “Physique” fitness category. He has been weight training for over 10 years and currently trains individuals for free on his downtime. Tony is currently serving Active Duty in the United States Air Force.
He adopted the Paleo lifestyle in 2011 during a yearlong tour to South Korea. A veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and he is deploying back Afghanistan for another tour this April. Tony has started a health & fitness based company called, No Cubed. One of his company goals is to bring more awareness to the Paleo lifestyle and its many health benefits, so I interviewed him to help him achieve this goal.
Mario Singelmann: First off, congratulations to you Tony on your recent victory. You are definitely representing Paleo athletes well! You’re off to a great start and look to be just beginning your competitive career. Can you share with our readers the details of your accomplishment and its significance?
Tony Camper: Thanks, Mario. Well, the show was this past March’s NPC Natural Outlaw, here in Arizona. I took 1st place in the Men’s Physique (Novice) category. I was rather surprised by my win, seeing as how this was my very first show. I was up against some pretty big guys on stage, so I really relied heavily upon my conditioning to be the difference maker on stage. Fortunately, it was. I definitely have the Paleo lifestyle to thank for that. My diet leading up to this event helped me get down to a 5% body fat, the leanest I’ve ever been.
Mario Singelmann: Now this isn’t actually your first victory in the past year. Can you elaborate on your other physical competitive pursuits?
Tony Camper: Back in November I competed in my first sanctioned powerlifting event. It was the 2014 NASA (Natural Athlete Strength Association) Western States Nationals. For this competition, I took 1st place in all 3 of my divisions. In the process, I broke the NASA Powerlifting records in squat, bench, and deadlift for my divisions in the state of AZ.
Mario Singelmann: Well done, props! In the fitness world, everyone kind of finds their own path. When and where would you say the “fitness bug” bit you?
Tony Camper: Honestly, I started lifting weights to help distract me from a bad breakup. It was and always has been great therapy for me. Once I saw those newbie gains, I was hooked!
Mario Singelmann: I think the gym has been a haven for many men and women looking for a positive distraction from relationship issues. Or any issues! Free therapy, indeed.
Mario Singelmann: Tony, you’re competing as a Paleo athlete. How long has Paleo been part of your background?
Tony Camper: I first tried Paleo during my year-long “short tour” to Korea. I had recently learned about the Paleo diet from my wife who had discovered it through her boss. I really liked the philosophy and the science behind it, so I decided to use my year away from America try it out. Needless to say, I quickly saw significant improvements in my physique, energy levels, and my overall health. I used to have a beer belly for years that I was never able to lose. l had a six pack by the time my year in Korea was up. Again, I was hooked!
Mario Singelmann: I share that path too Tony! Once I went Paleo I discovered that my six pack had been just waiting for me to stop eating inflammatory foods! I just never knew! So with life’s challenges, how did you come to incorporate Paleo as a lifestyle?
Tony Camper: After the success, I had with Korea, there was no way I wanted to give up the Paleo lifestyle and go back to the conventional way of eating. I’m the type of person who doesn’t do things if I know they are really bad for you. It’s like that movie, “The Matrix.” Once I took the red pill (Paleo), there was no going back for me.
Mario Singelmann: How prevalent would you say Paleo is in the fitness community?
Tony Camper: I think Paleo is definitely evident in the fitness community. A lot of the CrossFit athletes that I’ve met practice the Paleo lifestyle. From my observations, it seems like the more serious the CrossFit athletes is, the more likely they are to be Paleo. I don’t think Paleo has reached out to the mainstream weightlifting crowd as much, though, but I know that I stay preaching the benefits to everyone I train or give diet advice to. It has definitely been a goal of mine to spread the “gift” of this amazing lifestyle to as many folks as I can.
Mario Singelmann: You are really making an impact in the fitness community. Can you detail some of your current efforts and projects?
Tony Camper: I recently launched a company with an old friend from high school called, “No Cubed”. In a nutshell, our goal is to partner up with athletes and personalities in the health & fitness industry and help them build a brand that not only benefits them but their audience as well. We ultimately want to be able to help the people of the world become healthier and stronger. There are a lot of big projects on the horizon, so you’ll definitely be hearing more from No Cubed.
Mario Singelmann: I feel we would be doing a disservice to our readers if I didn’t ask you to detail what you have accomplished through your Facebook “The█─────█ Life” page. How big is the forum now?
Tony Camper: The barbell life is about to hit 9k members. Not bad for a little group I created on my couch while I was laid up after knee surgery. I just wanted a place that I could go to chat with like-minded individuals about the gym lifestyle. A big reason I made my own group is that I didn’t like most online forums because they were filled with a lot of negativity.
So my goal was to create somewhere that anyone could go to socialize or ask for advice without fear of getting attacked by the typical “keyboard warriors” you see in most threads. I’ve done my best to create a family-like atmosphere in the group.
A good example of this brotherhood type mentality was seen just a few months ago when a newer member of ours started posting a series of home videos of himself training. These weren’t your typical videos though. He was shooting them from his bedroom and his fitness equipment consisted of a makeshift bench made out of plywood and a barbell fashioned out of a broomstick and water jugs tied to each end for the weights.
These videos really motivated and inspired a lot of us in the group. Eventually I asked him why he didn’t just go to a local gym and sadly I found out that he was out of work and living off of disability. He was suffering from muscular dystrophy and scoliosis.
Once we got wind of his situation the group rallied up and started a fundraiser to get him some legit gym equipment. In less than 24 hours we not only met our campaign goal, but more than doubled it! This was the big turning point in the group that made me realize we’re so much more than just a group.
Mario Singelmann: When I saw that I was blown away. What you had begun as a forum had truly evolved into a community that looks out for and supports its own. And it’s awesome to see people bring the positivity and uplift each other. Most people think fitness competitors just train all day long. No, we actually have normal lives and real jobs. What is your lifestyle like? Certainly not just training and eating all day long!
Tony Camper: My “real” job is in the United States Air Force. I’ve been in the Air Force for 8 years. Most of my career in the service was spent as an Air Force Meteorologist. I recently cross-trained and now work in the Chapel Corps helping give back to the airmen I serve with through counseling, interventions, and unit visitation. I’ll be deploying back to Afghanistan this month and plan on trying to juggle my military duties, my training regimen, and running my business from abroad. So yeah, I’m definitely doing more than just eating and lifting weights all day.
Mario Singelmann: Through the experiences of competing in powerlifting and the competitive fitness world, what would you say have been your greatest challenge?
Tony Camper: The hardest part has got to be staying disciplined with what I eat when I am away from home. Eating a Paleo diet is easy when I’m in charge of what groceries I buy and what meals go on my plate. However, this isn’t the case when I am out traveling for military training or overseas in a deployed environment. In these instances, I am usually stuck with whatever the chow hall has to offer.
These food choices aren’t always the greatest and the food they serve is usually filled with preservatives, chemical additives, and GMOs. Since I’ve been on the Paleo lifestyle, I’ve learned what I can and cannot eat. I’ve gotten pretty creative with making the best with what I’ve got. Occasionally, I can’t avoid things like, what oil is used or if the beef is grass-fed or not, but I make it work nonetheless.
Mario Singelmann: Any tips or advice you can offer for some of our readers looking to more effectively incorporate Paleo as part of their fitness lifestyle?
Tony Camper: One word…Google. I’ve found so many amazing Paleo recipes online just by typing in the word “Paleo”. The recipes out there are so creative and most are pretty easy to make. Whatever “regular” types of food you’re craving, just type in Paleo and then that particular food and you’ll be amazed at how many Paleo versions of that dish exist. Other than that, I just suggest learning what foods are and aren’t Paleo. Once you know this, eating and grocery shopping is a breeze.
Mario Singelmann: I’ve seen you repeatedly stand up on your forum “” to keep the environment surrounding fitness positive, uplifting, and encouraging. Is there any topic that you would like to address? Is there a message you want to share with the youth, our readers, or those seeking to improve themselves through fitness?
Tony Camper: In my group, The █─────█ Life, I make it a point to keep the atmosphere positive. There are so many fitness forums online that are full of negativity. It’s almost a norm of sorts these days. I wanted to create a place where people could go without fear of being belittled or intimidated.
Far too often, people avoid asking questions or posting their progress because there is always that “one-upper” or “know-it-all” that is quick to throw out an insult or tell you that you’re doing something wrong. This type of behavior intimidates a lot of people who want to better themselves through health & fitness and sadly they will give up as a result. I think we need to quit this sort of nonsense in the industry.
Instead of trying to make someone look bad, we should do everything we can to help build them up. If you have a critic for someone, give a solution as well. Bashing someone is the most useless thing we can do as so-called “experts” in the game. In my opinion, if you can’t help someone out then don’t bother saying anything at all. There’s something I always say in my forum, “Keep it positive or keep it moving”.
Mario Singelmann: So for all our readers out there, we definitely recommend them checking out this page if they are looking for just such a resource.
Mario Singelmann: People tend to think if they can’t be perfect they can’t be Paleo. It’s a major misconception, and we are all human. I don’t even know anyone at the highest level of the Paleo world who is perfect. (So don’t feel bad everybody!) Help me out Tony, people think Paleo means “perfect.” Are you perfect on your diet? Or do you have moments when you stray from Paleo, and if you do, how would you explain your dietary discipline?
Tony Camper: When I first started Paleo back in 2011, I tried my best to be “perfect” with my Paleo. I used to really beat myself up if I ate something that wasn’t allowed. This is when I really thought Paleo was hard and unrealistic at times. However, once I lightened up a little bit and allowed myself to have the occasional cheat meal, it became less of a chore and more of a lifestyle.
Paleo definitely taught me a whole new level of discipline that definitely made contest prep much easier for me than it is for most. Matter of fact, during my contest prep for my recent physique show, I tried the flexible dieting approach and counted my macros.
This required me to step outside of my typical Paleo regimen and occasionally eat some rice or oatmeal in order to hit my daily carbohydrate needs. I rarely did this, but when I did I didn’t feel horrible for doing so. This is something I could have never done back when I first started because the guilt was so strong.
Mario Singelmann: Your accomplishments and efforts are definitely impressive. What can we expect from you in the future? Competing again? Any new developments with your fitness involvement?
Tony Camper: My recent win at last month’s show qualified me for Nationals this year. So my goal is to start training hard during my 6 months in Afghanistan and compete at Nationals when I get back later this year. I’m also planning on competing in another powerlifting meet upon my return as well. Other than that, I’ll be working on a lot of projects for No Cubed and The █─────█ Life.
Mario Singelmann: Best of luck Tony, I look forward to continuing to follow your efforts. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with the Paleo Movement Magazine.
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