What would you do? What would you do differently? Would you stay living in the same place? Would you stay in the same relationships? Would you become physically active?
If you've ever had the misfortune to look down the barrel of a loaded gun, you know what it means to look death in the eye. If you escaped uninjured, consider yourself lucky because others haven't been as fortunate.
But, what would you do if you had to look down the barrel of that gun every time you looked in the mirror? Would you develop nerves of steel, or would you tire and give in to fear?
If you've been around the iron game for a while, then Paul Stock is a bodybuilder whose name you probably know, and if you don't, you should.
The Canadian bodybuilder who hails from NewMarket, Ontario, Canada has become an inspiration and bodybuilding hero to tens of thousands of athletes across North America and an example to all people everywhere of what determination and commitment can accomplish.
You see, Paul has multiple sclerosis - a serious and often fatal autoimmune disease that disrupts nerve signals and muscle function; a disease for which there is no known cure.
| Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) was first described in Holland by a 14th century physician. It is a disease in which the nerves of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) degenerate.
Myelin, which provides a covering or insulation for nerves, improves the conduction of impulses along the nerves and also is important for maintaining the health of the nerves. In MS, inflammation causes the myelin to degenerate and eventually disappear. Consequently, the electrical impulses that travel along the nerves decelerate.
Late in the disease, the nerves themselves are damaged. As more and more nerves are affected, a patient experiences a progressive interference with functions that are controlled by the nervous system such as vision, speech, walking, writing, and memory.
Despite this challenge, Paul competes, trains, and continues to inspire every one he meets. He continues to push his boundaries while inspiring and encouraging others to do the same. He is a natural bodybuilder doing what natural bodybuilders do best - building and maintaining his health. He is, simply, bent on overcoming the odds.
I sat down with Paul just as he was hot off a busy competition schedule.
[ Q ] Hi Paul. For the record, where were you born and what's your age?
I was born in NewMarket Ontario on August 18th 1973. I am 31 years old.
[ Q ] Did you play any sports growing up?
When I was growing up I played hockey when I was in my early teenage years. When I was a senior in high school I played football for my school. I was also a good water skier, but I never reached the competitive stage of waterskiing.
I will always regret never competing in waterskiing because I will never know how good I really was or how good I could have become. I guess that it wasn't the right time for me to be a competitor, but this happened 17 years ago.
[ Q ] Describe your physique before you started training.
I began to workout around 5 years before I was diagnosed with M.S. I was in fine shape in my early 20's. In my high school days I was a big person. Not muscular - big - just fat big. From the age of 18 until this spring at age 31, I lost a total of 97 lbs. Even though I have M.S. now I look a lot better than I did when I was healthy.
[ Q ] What got you started in fitness?
I have enjoyed working out for about 11 years now but since I received my diagnosis over 6 years ago I have been pushing myself to the limit for just over 3 1/2 years.
[ Q ] How tall are you and what is your contest and off-season weight?
I am 6 feet tall and my contest weight is between 150 to 160 lbs. I try to gun for 155 when I look my fullest and my off-season weight is 195 lbs.
[ Q ] What is your contest history?
I have competed in 10 contests so far and one posing display at the Molson Indy last year. I have no plans to stop at all. This is what I do for fun.
[ Q ] What is your favorite body part, and why? The one you like the least?
My favorite body part to train is my
legs. Although I have a hard time walking these days, I don't want to appear as though I have a condition. So, I keep my legs looking cut all year long and it makes me feel great just knowing that I still look like a bodybuilder.
My least favorite to train is my back and chest. I still train them just as hard as everything else and maybe a little bit harder. It is a trait in my family - to have a smaller ribcage - so to develop muscles that wrap around my ribcage, they don't develop as well as the rest of my body. But I still keep on trying to build my back and chest.
[ Q ] What keeps you motivated to keep training hard and eating right?
Too many people tell me that competing and dieting is making me worse. They are so wrong about that because if I didn't move around and push myself, then I would cramp up and seize up big time.
Also, the fact that I have been on stage many times has done so much for me as a person to better myself, and maybe my story might help out someone who lacks motivation.
This is how I want to live my life, to give it a type of meaning and to prove to myself that the worse that my M.S. gets, it will never take away my desire to be my very best and to compete with the best.
[ Q ] What kind of routine do you follow?
As far as a routine goes, well, for this coming off-season I am going to try something different.
- Monday's I will do from my waist and up
- Tuesday will be my legs
- Wednesday will be my abs
- Thursday will be the same as Monday
- Friday will be the same as Tuesday
- Then, I will be taking Saturdays and Sundays off.
This will be very hard to do, but with the proper diet and with this routine then I will look so much bigger and fuller for the 2006 season.
[ Q ] When you diet for a show, how long out do you start?
When I diet for a contest, I need to give myself several weeks to look as cut as I can get. This year I keep my weight around 15 to 20 lbs. heavier then I am when I compete. I try to give myself enough time to look as good as I can.
These days I have to watch everything that I eat because I can't do as much cardio as I used to, so I have to monitor my diet so I don't blow up.
Click To Enlarge.
Paul Gives Himeslf Several Weeks Of Contest Diet Preparation.
My body reacts to carbs very quickly and it is far to easy for me to loose my 6 pack that I try to obtain before a contest. For example, in the spring I did cheat before a contest about 2 weeks out by eating 6 soda crackers, and because of that I gained 4 lbs. overnight.
I will never forget that because it does sound crazy. So, with the little bit of salt on the crackers and the cracker itself, my body absorbed everything. My diet is very important to maintain.
[ Q ] What does your supplementation plan look like during the year, and also before you go into a show?
What I do is keep my
protein to about 220 grams per day,
carbs are 200 to 300 grams per day, and my
fat intake is around 50 grams per day. Before a contest I go through an 8 day program.
[ Q ] As an athlete with MS, do you have to prepare for a show differently? Are there any special foods that you consume or avoid?
I don't need to prepare any different than any healthy person at all, but I just have to maintain my diet very seriously because my cardio days are not what they used to be.
One food that I enjoy is oatmeal. I have to cut the oatmeal at least 5 days before my contest because I bloat quite a bit so I need to focus on my diet all the time.
[ Q ] Having MS, how much harder do you have to work than other athletes without MS? And, what has your MS taught you about the value of hard work and dedication?
I don't think that I workout any harder then a person without M.S. But, I do workout a lot differently - meaning that I have to think about everything that I do.
This is another reason why I stress that diet is a huge part of training and also understanding your body and everything about it. Releasing the natural growth hormones in your system comes from compound movements which I incorporate as often as I can. It all comes down to how bad you want something and right now I will do what ever I can to get my pro card.
[ Q ] We first met at the FAME show in 2004 when I ran the Bodybuilding.com booth in Toronto. We met again when I ran the Bodybuilding.com booth at the 2004 Toronto Pro Invitational show.
What was it like when you were on stage at the 2005 FAME competition, and I, along with 2000 other people, was cheering for you in a standing ovation?
Clayton, it is hard to put it into words. When the crowd gave me the ovation I could hardly even move because I was stunned at the response. It was a feeling that people wonder about, and I was one of them, and to be on the receiving end of the ovation, WOW.
That ovation made me realize that doing what I am doing to make people aware of M.S. or any disease - talking about how it can be something to help inspire the uninspired - is something that I must keep on doing and push myself even harder.
[ Q ] What is the biggest highlight of your career?
The biggest highlight was at the FAME contest which was held in Toronto this past June. The ovation that I received from the crowd is something that not many people will ever experience
[ Q ] What tips can you give to people who want to get into bodybuilding and make it a career?
This is a tip for people who want to transform their body.
Working out and doing all of the movements - with proper form - will increase muscle gains, but the largest part of creating an impressive build is based upon your diet. Building a good physique is one of the most difficult things to do.
When I was in my teen's I would thrive on beer and fast food. Since I have taken these two items away from my diet, I have lost over 80 pounds. Learning to control your diet is very difficult, but if bad food is taken out of your diet and replaced with good food, it can be done over a period of time.
Changing a diet is very hard because you have to deal with cravings as well.
Keep it simple to start, like substitute cream and sugar in coffee with just milk instead, and then make another small change a week later. This is not that hard to do and everything becomes a habit and you will stick to it.
The reason that I say this is because I now don't even crave beer or hamburgers or any fast food at all. To sum it all up, don't rush into trying to be a health freak because it will backfire after a week or so and then you will tend to eat so much junk that any weight lost will be regained and doubled. This happened to me several times. You can't rush perfection.
[ Q ] In five years from now, where do you see yourself and your career?
I am not to sure that my M.S. will allow me to compete in the next fie years. Even though I totally enjoy competing in bodybuilding and am still holding out for a cure for this disease.
| MS Statistics
About 250,000 to 350,000 people in the U.S. have MS. Usually, a patient is diagnosed with MS between 20 and 40 years of age, but MS has been diagnosed as early as age 15 and as late as age 60. MS is twice as likely to occur in Caucasians as in any other group. Women are twice as likely as men are to be affected by MS earlier in life. Later in life, the incidence of the disease in men and women is almost equal.
So, what I am doing is this: I will donate any money that I receive from competition to the ERASE M.S. FUND. This fund is great because they put ALL of the money donated into research.
Learn About The Erase M.S. Fund Here.
Montel Williams began this fund several years ago, and my biggest goal right now is to raise as much money as I can and present the money to Montel himself on his T.V. show.
Learn About The Montel Williams MS Foundation Here.
This may be a crazy dream to have, but four years ago I thought that competing was out of the question also. I proved that wrong.
[ Q ] Is there anything you want to let people know about you? Any messages that you want to give to the world?
This may be easy for me to say because I have time to workout and diet year round - I'm a single man and I have a dream of obtaining a bodybuilding pro card. This may take me several years.
My other goal is to get onto the Montel Wiliams show.
Setting a goal for yourself is one of the biggest things that anybody can and should do to give your life a reason, and to make you feel great as a person.
I put all my faith in myself, and this reflects in my determination to be the best bodybuilder that I can be - and nothing will stand in my way.
Not even Multiple Sclerosis can stop me.