100% Natural Paleo Bodybuilder
Mario Singelmann is a 100% Natural Paleo Bodybuilder competitor and Paleo practitioner who has competed in natural bodybuilding competitions since 2009 and has been Paleo since November 2010. A 2011 winner of the Southern States Classic Men’s Novice Medium Category, Mario is now competing in ”Open” categories for pro qualifying competitions in pursuits of becoming the first Paleo Pro Natural Bodybuilder.
Most recently Mario took third place in the 2012 Southern States Classic (a pro qualifier) in both the men’s “Medium Open” and “Missouri Natural” categories. Residing in Kansas City, Missouri he is working towards continuous improvement in his physique as he looks to compete and pursue a pro card in natural bodybuilding at the 2013 Mid America Championships, August 17, 2013, a Musclemania event.
****UPDATE: Mario won the Musclemania competition and is the World’s First Paleo Pro Natural Bodybuilder CLICK HERE
1. Mario, What Was It That Made You Know Without a Doubt That You Wanted to Go Into Competitive Natural Bodybuilding?
Mario: I was inspired to compete after watching a friend of mine, Nick Ruffin compete in a local show. He and I share a similar background in that he was like me in high school; skinny! We had both transformed our bodies since then, however, he was the first to take it to the competition level. In a way, I think I looked at Nick and thought “If he can do it, so can I.” Sometimes all you need is someone to tell you “You can do it!” Thanks, Nick.
2. You Decided to Go Into Competing as Well, Which Ones Did You Enter?
Yes, I did. In addition to the 3rd place showings of 2012 in the Open and Missouri Natural categories, I competed in the 2011 Southern States Classic and took home first place in the Novice Men’s Medium Division. I also competed in the Open Men’s Medium and took second.
It was my first competition under a strict Paleo (“Caveman”) Diet Program. I definitely credit the transition to my best showing. I maintained more muscle mass while dieting, and didn’t suffer mentally or physically as I had in previous competition diets.
I have also competed in the Gold’s Natural Classic in 2009 and 2010 where I took second in the Novice Medium in 2009 (my first show) and took fourth in 2010 in a surprisingly competitive division. Top five was extremely competitive and subjectively interchangeable.
One lesson you learn competing in bodybuilding: you cannot stress the judging. I now leave every competition (a lesson learned after losing my first) satisfied if I have peaked and looked my best. I believe, and preach to others, you should relish to moment and enjoy the entire process, regardless of the outcome.
3. Do You Have Any Advice to Give to People That Wish to Build More Mass and/or Get More ‘cut’?
Haha! This is the part nobody wants to acknowledge but, diet is the most important part of the training. You can train for years (and I have) and get stronger without achieving the size and dimensions you desire. People do not understand, lifting is the easy part!
If you want to take advantage of those grueling sets at the gym, you have to eat right! Your post-workout recovery meal is just a start! Dieting should be more of a lifestyle. When I hear “diet,” I think of a fad or a temporary plan of action. Paleo is a lifestyle. Crash diets are no bueno.
I have been lucky to be mentored and converted to a Primal Paleo lifestyle. Meaning, I eat like a caveman! I wholeheartedly tried this Paleo lifestyle in November 2010 under the advisement of Karen Pendergrass, a friend and my Paleo guru. One month later, I had nothing but glowing praise for Paleo.
Since then I have destroyed my strength plateaus, have the energy to spare, rarely get sick, and have been able to add muscle to my frame even during the last weeks of my competition before my show! I have never achieved such an impressive physique, I’m ripped year round!. I do not have an off-season.
4. Give Us a Break Down of Your Diet.
So I have already mentioned that I am a follower of a Paleo lifestyle. To start, I will mention what I do not or rarely eat. Grains, bread, rice, pasta, oatmeal— they all break down into glucose in your body, and with my lifestyle, managing and controlling insulin spikes is vital to my manipulated use of fat for energy.
I know this goes against the grain (forgive the pun) for traditional bodybuilders and conventional wisdom, but the requirement of these foods for energy is false! Spend a day training legs with me and I will show you what the body can do on a Paleo Program, and on an empty stomach!
Yes, I believe in the value of carbohydrates, and especially for bodybuilding, but I just want to make this point. Almost everyone in the general population consumes needlessly excessive amounts of carbohydrates… from poor sources.
I also avoid consuming dairy and beans/legumes. To simplify any scientific explanation about why, I will ask the readers, “What is your body’s typical reaction to consuming dairy or beans/legumes?” ‘Nuff said! Grains also cause me severe gut inflammation (which is typical to most) and were actually the reason I could never see my abs before! Not a problem anymore.
What I do consume a lot of is quality protein sources, with a preference for grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish, a diverse selection of vegetables, fruits, and selected nuts. I don’t count calories because when you give your body top-shelf fuel that it is genetically adapted to process, there is no need to!
I have also achieved great success with the Primal sect of Paleo that accepts fattier meats and saturated fat as an optimal fuel source (and not bad for you when you remove the grains and other insulin spiking foods from your diet/lifestyle). People are amazed to hear it, but I cut body fat with bacon as a staple in my diet!
5. Do You Allow Yourself a Cheat Day? If So, What Is It That You Usually Eat When You Do?
A cheat day? Of course! I cheat all the time. Even with my Paleo lifestyle, I still live in 2013! If a caveman knew how tasty Reece’s peanut butter cup was he would eat it too! When I am in my own daily routine I find I eat very well, but when going out or traveling I am less strict because, for me, I need to enjoy life and food. I always do my best to remain on my Paleo program, but if I take a “cheat” I never feel guilty because I am so diligent the rest of the time.
Plus, after cheating with foods I don’t normally eat, or foods prepared in a manner I avoid, my body does not feel good and I do not want to cheat again for a long time! Once you transition to Paleo, you become much more in tune with your body like never before, and those cheats often cause noticeable, immediate reactions, which act as motivation to get back on track. Feeling great all the time is addictive!
6. Most Bodybuilders Take Supplements. What’s Your Stance?
I know everyone thinks supplements are the key to getting huge or ripped, but my cabinet is very bare. I do take basic creatine, as well as BCAA’s and Glutamine for recovery and repair. I also take high-quality fish oil to provide my body quality Omega-3 fatty acids. My best “supplement,” however, is eating quality food sources!
7. Can You Tell Us How You Have Gotten to Where You Are Today?
Looking back I would say every step I have taken in my path has resulted from being open-minded. No one wants to help “Mr. Know-it-All.” I was introduced and mentored by a friend who had competed in bodybuilding and saw my potential. He taught me a lot and helped start my path.
Along the way, I have also been mentored in powerlifting by another friend I made living in Dallas who saw my determination at the gym every day. He trained with some of the powerlifting’s pioneers, and the knowledge he passed down was priceless. Even better, he trained me for free. Why? He saw someone worthy of his time and knowledge.
Same story for being mentored in Paleo. One of my best friends, Karen Pendergrass of the Paleo Foundation and author of The Sustainability Diet has worked with me since my transition to Paleo in 2010. She has taught me so much and really furthered my progress and career, but it is my open mind that has made me so easy to work with that her only requested a form of repayment was to help spread the Paleo word and save lives, and we are/have!
8. Who Do You Thank for Helping You Get Where You Are?
I have to laugh to myself answering this because someone deserves special mention for all the wrong reasons. I would like to thank my big (now little) brother Jan Singelmann for bullying me growing up. My first “goal” in weightlifting was to make my brother stop bullying me. I’ve never gotten the chance to beat him up as payback, though!
Obviously, I have to thank Karen Pendergrass. She has changed my life in so many ways. All I can say is, “Thank you for everything.” You have become family to me. I would also like to thank my parents for supporting me in whatever I do. Of course, all of my friends and family who support my endeavors, thank you so much. I do believe everyone needs a support system.
9. If Could Give Your Past Self Advice, What Would It Be?
Great question. I wish I could take the Mario that is today and travel back in time and pass along all the knowledge I have learned about training, diet, and life to earlier Mario. I’m like anyone else, I have had to learn from mistakes in all three. I will say, however, I do receive gratification from helping others through my experiences. Though I’m jealous of clients that learn training technique from me in a fraction of the time it took me! I just remind myself to take it as a reflection of my abilities as a teacher.
10. What Question Did I Fail to Ask That You Think Deserves to Be Answered?
I would definitely like to promote two things. One, train naturally! We are aware of how girls grow up with a distorted perception of what a woman should look like from magazines, TV, and movies, but left out are our young men.
Believe me, I have spoken with enough of them, they want results at the gym and they want them two weeks ago! A lot of what is out there for our young men to idolize and observe as “perfection” is a false image. The way these bodies are created is unnatural, and unfortunately the need to “keep up” in the pursuit of such bodies, these young men take dangerous substances without even understanding the risks involved. Spoiler alert: the guys on all the magazine covers are NOT natural!!
I hope that through my example others will see what is possible through hard work and dedication both in the gym and in the kitchen. I have never used steroids, prohormones, or any substance in their league and never will because I take pride every time I am able to tell someone I am natural. I may not be as famous as a professional athlete, but on a lesser scale, individuals come to me for training and diet advice. What I say matters, and I take that responsibility seriously.
Second, I would like to encourage dialogue and further discussion of individuals about Paleo. Is it really so radical? To me, consuming grains, dairy, and beans/legumes while KNOWING your body’s (negative) reaction is a pretty easy signal to recognize. Ignoring the signs and/or expecting a different reaction to me is difficult to comprehend.
And is it really so controversial to advocate a lifestyle that promotes moderation in our consumption of sugar? You may not realize it, but bread, grains, rice, pasta; they all have potentially negative consequences for an individual. I could go on and on, but I would simply like to encourage everyone to learn more about Paleo and why eating like a caveman is well, logical! And if you have questions and want to learn more, contact me!
Singelmann is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and is the Founder of Evolutionary Strength. He boasts an Ed. Specialist Educational Administration, M.A. Education Administration, B.A. Elementary Education, B.A. Liberal Arts.