Earlier this month, I contacted the Editor-in-Chief at Bodybuilding.com, Jeff O’Connell, to be the first interviewee for our new “Fitness Luminaries” section.
Q: What would your friends/colleagues say you’re really good at?
You’d probably get a more entertaining answer if you asked them what I’m bad at, but I hope they’d say I have a knack for identifying a good story and then pairing that concept with the writer ideally suited to breathe life into the idea. I hope they’d also say that I’m open-minded and fair.
I think an Editor-in-Chief needs to be the last person standing at the gates, so to speak, in defense of what’s in the best interests of readers, as opposed to other constituencies.
That duty can be even more challenging when you’re EIC at an e-commerce company, rather than a traditional publication.
I’m very fortunate in that the executives at Bodybuilding.com agree, putting their readers above all other constituencies, too. They’ve never wavered even once in that regard during my tenure. In the end, satisfied consumers lead to a website’s success.
Q: Fun fact most people don’t know about you?
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. once threw an uppercut at me on a private jet. 50 Cent was along for the ride, and I was there writing a book with 50. The punch was in jest.
Q: What advice would you tell your 13-year-old self?
That kid was skinny as hell and painfully shy, so I’d tell him to start working out every day.
Q: Who’s your favorite luminary? Why?
Favorite luminary… Man, that’s tough. When he’s not talking to empty chairs at political conventions, Clint Eastwood is an amazing American figure, I think. He’s worked at such a high level both as an actor and a director, and he’s still doing amazing films well into his eighties. The unexpected late-career masterpiece, like “Unforgiven,” is always kind of exhilarating.
Q: How do you go from shopping DEA and FBI careers to writing a bestseller to Editor-in-Chief at Bodybuilding.com?
I was interviewing for jobs at the FBI and DEA because that was my plan as a Latin American Studies major at UCLA.
I liked the idea of doing something that was physical, cerebral, and exciting.
Freelance writing took me into the fitness magazine business instead, and I eventually started writing books on the side—one of which, “LL Cool J’s Platinum Workout,” became a New York Times Bestseller in 2006.
I joined Bodybuilding.com in 2011 after working at Men’s Health (executive writer) and Muscle & Fitness (Editor-in-Chief).
Q: If you had to choose, which of your books is secretly your “favorite child?”
“Sugar Nation,” which is part memoir and my only solo book to date, is my favorite.
The collaborative projects are fun and rewarding, but you succeed by capturing the other person’s voice and vision.
“Sugar Nation” is my personal story, as well as an exposé on the causes of America’s type 2 diabetes epidemic: too many carbs and too little exercise among the general population, and a misunderstanding by the American Diabetes Association of the disease in its name.
Q: If you had to choose only three exercises, what would they be?
- Burpees. You can do them anywhere and they’re virtually a full-body workout.
- Walking lunge. Works most of your lower-body and burns a ton of calories.
- Prowler push. This is great for overall conditioning and HIIT. I had a really bad herniation in my spine at L5/S1 that had to be surgically repaired in 2012, and the prowler works better than running and other forms of cardio for me.
Q: If you had to choose only three supplements, what would they be?
- Greens formula. Most of us don’t consume a diverse enough array of fruits and vegetables, so Green Vibrance, the product I use, covers those bases.
- Protein powder. Isopure is compatible with my low-carb diet, and helps with muscle repair and recovery.
- Fish oil (or flax seed oil for vegetarians). Supports cardiovascular health, which only grows more important as you age. The one I take is made by Nordic Naturals.
Q: What has been the biggest change in fitness you’ve seen in the past 10 years?
I’m tempted to say the emergence of CrossFit, but I think social media has had an even greater impact. People posting workouts and healthy recipes and inspirational memes—sure, it becomes annoying at times, but I think it’s had a profoundly positive impact by motivating people, creating communities, and so on.
Q: What do you predict will be the next big change in fitness?
In the next 10 years, I think climate change will begin affecting all forms of human activity, fitness included, in profoundly negative ways. Outdoor training may have to be modified. Many summer events will be unbearably hot, and it’s going to be harder and harder to hold winter events because of a lack of snow.
I’m sure Apple and Nike will have developed all sorts of amazing wearable computing and clothes, etc. by then, but it won’t matter when you want to go for a run, and it’s 125 degrees outside and there’s no water because it’s rationed. The California drought is a harbinger.
Q: How does fitness contribute to your success today?
The more you’re a practitioner, the more tuned in you are to what you’re writing or editing on the subject. It also makes you a more focused, more energized person regardless of your occupation.
Q: Do you meditate? If so, please walk us through your practice.
I just started meditating, and I’m way too inexperienced to claim to have a “practice.” Right now, I sit still, close my eyes, and focus on breathing with my diaphragm. I’ve learned the hard way that we need stretches of deep relaxation, whether it’s meditation or whatever.
I think it’s awesome that some vegetarians pursue bodybuilding. They have to be a little more creative with forming complete proteins than non-vegetarian bodybuilders do, but a vegetarian can have an amazing physique.
“Plant-based proteins can build muscle, too, and the category is growing.”
Q: What’s your next big project?
I have two literary collaborations coming out in early 2016: “Spartan Fit” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), which is the sequel to the New York Times Bestseller, “Spartan Up!” and “15 Minutes to Fit” (Avery), a collaboration with Zuzka Light.
To follow Jeff:
To learn more about how plant-based proteins can build muscle and lose fat, watch this video – How To Eat To Build Muscle & Lose Fat (Lean Bulking Full Day Of Eating)
Chris Willitts (creator of V3), is the founder and owner of Vegetarian Bodybuilding.
V3 Vegetarian Bodybuilding System is a mixture of science and author’s advice, providing users with optimal diet and exercise. This system is designed for vegans and vegetarians only.
A lot of research has been put in this program. Furthermore, a lot of professional bodybuilders and athletes tried and tested the program, praising its progressiveness and efficiency.
The program is about taking control of your own body and health according to your potential and needs. And worry not; you’ll get plenty of proteins with this system. It will boost you with energy, and you’ll feel just a strong as any carnivore would (perhaps even stronger, depending on how much you invest in your exercise). It avoids vitamins deficiency and provides you with a lot of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Instead of saying things like “I think a plant-based diet is good for athletes and bodybuilders,” the V3 Vegetarian Bodybuilding System claims “I know a plant-based diet is good for athletes and bodybuilders, and I have results to prove it.” To find out more, visit the website at V3 Bodybuilding – How Plant-Based Proteins Can Build Muscle and Lose Fat