Q & A with Aldon Tibbs
Hey everyone! Drum roll please. I've been waiting and you've been waiting, to hear what this guy has to say. Am I right? If you were a fly on the wall here, you would quickly observe that everybody loves Raymond, I mean Aldon. Whether or not he's making movie suggestions or sharing his subtle tips and tricks, when Aldon speaks we listen. (Not sure if he realizes this, but it's true.) Well lucky us, he has spoken.
One thing I love about this Q & A is that Aldon proves he is always learning. From the time we first started talking about his answers to my questions, he changed them based on new things he is trying in his personal life. We kept all of it here so you can see the evolution. I love that from trainer to client, we are all learning in this place. Thank you, Aldon, for giving us an honest look into your daily life and habits, and for taking such good care of us all in the gym!
Q: Describe your morning routine, what does it look like, and what is the first thing you eat and do?
A: My morning routine consists of coffee first thing when the alarm goes off. I make myself some oatmeal and catch Robin Meade on HLN and then follow it up with a protein drink. This routine helps me get up and get moving for the day.
We have just slept for the last 8 to 10 hours. I’m big on having consistent carbohydrates and protein to give me energy to last throughout the day. Typically, I eat every 2 to 3 hours so after a long night of sleep, my body is ready for the nourishment right away. They call it breakfast because you are breaking the fast from the night before which is important to start your metabolism.
Q: As a trainer, what's your favorite way to bring cardio into the workouts you lead, and why?
A: I try to bring cardio into my workouts through many forms of weight training. People think weight training lacks aerobic benefits but lifting weights increases blood pressure and heart rate which elevates the cardiovascular system’s aerobic stimulus.
Q: Do you personally focus on cardio? If so, what’s your favorite way?
A: Ha ha ha . . . No, I don’t do much cardio right now except for taking the stairs from time to time! I get plenty of cardio with my weight lifting but I don’t go out of my way to do a specific cardio based movement. My fitness goal is to gain muscle mass and lift heavy weights, so that is my priority right now.
Q: What's your favorite lift or lifts when strength training?
A: The three things I focus on are squatting, bench pressing and deadlifting. I have always been a little bit weaker in my upper body so I really enjoy deadlifting. Recently, I have started to fall in love with squatting also.
Q: Why do you lift?
A: I lift because strength is the ultimate priority and passion to me right now. You really can’t explain passion. It’s kind of a weird thing to just try to lift heavy weights but you truly get a better understanding of how our bodies work when you are squatting, deadlifting and doing a press.
There are seven movements that human beings should all be able to do, loaded with weight - squat, bend (deadlift), lunge, push, pull, twist, and run. If we can’t do any one of these things under a load, it greatly decreases our quality of life, at any age.
Our bodies are made to last 100 years, and it is telling of the restrictions created from your lifestyle and habits if your body cannot do these movements, especially if it cannot do a full depth squat.
Q: What’s your food strategy?
A: I am the most fortunate person in the world because I have my lovely beautiful wife who takes care of all of my nutritional needs. I tell her from week to week what it is that I need and she adjusts her meal prep plan to incorporate it in a way that is creative and healthy. I try to stick to a diet that is largely meat and vegetables but eating clean definitely doesn’t come easy to me. I love protein bars and peanut butter. Dieting is the hardest part to any program. Dieting is 24 hours a day, working out is only an hour a day. Nutrition is just like anything else, it takes time, practice and patience as well as trial and error until it becomes part of your daily routine.
Meg: Recently, he’s been starting the day with my vanilla coconut protein pancakes.
- 8 eggs
- 6 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 2 tbsp coconut palm sugar
- ½ cup coconut flour
- ¼ cup arrowroot starch
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 3 tbsp pure honey
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (you can omit, and add an additional ¼ cup coconut flour)
- ¼ cup chocolate chips
- Whisk together eggs, coconut oil and honey in a medium mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix palm sugar, protein powder, flour, starch, baking soda and sea salt.
- Once well incorporated, combine the wet ingredients and dry ingredients and mix well.
- Heat a skillet or a griddle over medium heat and coat with coconut oil. Add two scoops of batter onto the pan and let sit for 3-4 minutes, until bubbling.
- Flip and cook for 2-3 minutes on the other side, or until a toothpick comes out clean when pushed through the center.
- Repeat, until you have 6 – 8 delicious coconut pancakes.
- Top with pure maple syrup, ghee and fresh fruits.
Meg: The other recipe that he wants REPEATEDLY are the oven baked burgers!
- 2 lbs grass fed organic ground beef (you can taste the difference, I swear)
- 1 small yellow onion, diced really small
- 2 tbsp gluten free soy sauce
- 1 tsp coconut aminos
- 2 tbsp organic worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all sauces, spices and ground beef.
- Using your hands, mix it all together until the seasonings and sauces are nicely intertwined with the beef. You don’t want only a couple burgers to have all the flavor!
- Form into 6 – 8 patties, depending on how big you like your burger; and place on the parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 25 minutes then remove from oven, flip and put back in the oven for 5-10 minutes depending on your burger thickness. Using a meat thermometer, make sure each burger reads an internal temperature of 160.
- If you’re adding cheese to your burger, add with about 2 minutes left on your oven timer!
- Then, top as desired and enjoy!
- My favorite toppings include avocado, bacon, and red onion. Aldon likes to eat his burgers between two pieces of toasted Ezekiel bread with cheese and onions. I eat mine without the bun. You can get really fancy, and enjoy your burger on a bed of arugula with crumbled feta, like I did the last time I made them and top with Special Sauce of course! The options are endless!
Q: When you lift weights what do you eat before and/or after a workout, and why?
A: This is a great question, and it is something that I have been doing a lot of research on lately. For strength and weight gains, we have a feeding window when our bodies are most ready to make gains and stimulation on the muscle. That window is usually between 3-6pm. In a perfect world, that’s the time that I would choose to be working out. I always try to eat carbohydrates and sugars before my work outs. Some days, I even eat donuts before I weight lift because the sugar helps me sustain a longer workout without feeling fatigued.
Since answering this question the first time 8 weeks ago, I have changed my diet to follow a mostly paleo or natural way of eating. I’ve completely cut out donuts, and any other processed foods as well. I switched over to fruits in order to get the sugars that I need to sustain myself during a work out - I’ll eat strawberries, blueberries and anything else that is a natural unprocessed fast digesting sugar and carbohydrate. Fruits digest in our bodies really fast, giving an instant energy boost. I don’t ever eat fruit alone, I always accompany the sugar with a protein. I drink BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids) during my workout, this helps our body’s ability to absorb protein and also prevents fatigue. Ever since I started working out, I have always eaten a banana and protein shake immediately after weightlifting. I follow that up with my biggest meal of the day afterwards which always consists of a protein like eggs, chicken or beef and carbohydrates. It’s important to eat within an hour of your workout because it helps your muscles recover and grow.
Q: Since changing your diet to mostly unprocessed foods, have you stopped drinking protein drinks?
A: I still have two or three protein shakes a day, but I switched to an all natural protein powder from Optimum Nutrition. It’s a natural whey protein with no additives. It doesn’t have a great flavor, but it’s healthier than the other options out there that taste better.
Q: In additional to personal training at the gym, you have worked with many at our gym to prepare for weightlifting competitions near and far. What kind of training and ability is needed to participate in a competition and why do it?
A: You have to know how to use your body, be willing to put your body in uncomfortable positions, and you have to be able to bust your ass like you never have before, feel like your stomach is coming through your throat and your butt at the same time, and somehow, find a way to enjoy that. Those are the abilities needed to compete in a weightlifting competition! I think that strength is the most empowering thing we have as human beings, and participating in competitions gives you strength and empowerment. I think that’s why so many people are our gym are competing.
Q: What are you reading right now as it relates to fitness and food?
A: Right now, I’m reading Deskbound by Kelly Starett and the Metabolic Type Diet by William Wolcott. I think even before we learn to exercise, the most important thing we need is to learn how to correctly move our bodies.
Q: You’ve been talking to Tom about breathing and to me about supporting my back with my stomach in a better way? What are the mistakes we are making when it comes to breath and taking care of our backs?
A: Most people breathe into their chests and that is only a shallow half breath. Our bodies are designed to breath deep into our stomachs and with that comes bracing our stomachs for movement. Also, most people bend at their waist, lumbar spine and thoracic spine, which leads to muscular dysfunctions and back pains. Our bodies were designed to bend at our hips.
Q: In order to take care of yourself, is there anything in life you have had to let go of in order to be healthy, strong, and your best self?
A: I try to have as little a social life as I can, because so much of being social is a distraction from trying to reach the goals. For example, I don’t go out and party on Saturday nights because lifting on Sundays is so important to me. I have also had to give up foods that I love to eat in order to be healthier. In order to prepare for my next meet I am trying to eat as healthy as I can for my body type which means cutting out foods that I really like and sticking to a cleaner, more organic way of eating.
Q: What are you currently working on and learning about as it relates to fitness and/or food?
A: Movement. Finally at 35, I am really learning how to use my body the way it was designed and undo years of bad habits when it comes to movement.
Q: Favorite quotes?
“Strength is the most important thing in life.” Mark Rippetoe
“Strength is never a weakness.” Mark Bell
“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” Mark Dell
Thanks, Aldon, for letting us in on your habits and for all the ways you push us and encourage us along the way. We are ALL so grateful!