I was born in communist Bulgaria (one of my mentors said I am ”a former commie, turned capitalist”). I moved to the US in 2002 after earning a MS. in Industrial Management at the Technical University in Sofia, Bulgaria.
I was a normal teen, but I wanted to be big and muscular. I began training with weights in the 9th grade. I knew nutrition plays a big role, and I also knew that I should avoid eating fat in order to be lean.
I began competing in bodybuilding in 1999. Soon after that, in my strife to be even bigger I ended up big… and fat – at 5’7” I was 220 lb (my setpoint is 155 lb). It happened because of my total avoidance of any fats and the overconsumption of carbohydrates. This photo was taken around that time:
My first contest in the States was the Musclemania Superbody in Miami in 2003. I placed 4th in the welterweight class. Later that year I took the 3rd place in Musclemania World in Redondo Beach, CA.
The following year I entered and won my class and the overall title at the NPC Tampa Bay Classic in Tampa, FL – at a stage weight of 160 lb.
For some reason it was still a priority back then to be even bigger… and natural. So, I tried to gain more muscle again, but with my knowledge then what I gained wasn’t muscle only.
This didn’t feel right, so soon after that I abandoned the idea of being big as a bodybuilder. I’m glad I did.
I entered in a total of 10 bodybuilding contests. My last show was in 2008 – Musclemania Universe in Miami, FL. After that I retired from competitive Natural Bodybuilding
In the mean time – more than 6 years after I came to the States – I was still struggling with the visa situation. My green card application had been denied and my options were to get a last one-year extension to my non-immigrant visa and try to apply for a green card one more time. It finally worked in 2009 – my 2nd residency application was accepted and I became a US resident.
That same year – 2009 – a year after I retired from competing, I opened my own Specialty Healthy Bakery and a storefront in Tampa – Viitals. There I developed, made and sold functional foods in forms that people should recognize from their childhood (like muffins, cookies, cupcakes, organic protein smoothies), formulated in a way that enhances their health – high in proteins, low in omega-6 and total fats, lower in carbohydrates and gluten-free.
Well, after 3 years I eventually closed Viitals in June 2012. Here you can read why.
During the 10 years I’ve been in the States I underwent a big personal evolution. My priorities have changed a lot since then. Now, my big goal is to further my education in the science of nutrition. I want to pursue a Ph.D in Nutrition.
So, I am going back in school for that – 12 years after I graduated in Bulgaria. I want to understand obesity and how exactly the food reward system works to make us overweight and obese. I want to be able to explain the problem and to offer solutions and education to the general population – all based on hard science.
Along with that, being a person of wide interests, I want to become better and excel in areas that I’ve always feared a lot. One is public speaking. In 2010 I became a member of Toastmasters International. In 2011 I took acting classes, as I was sure that they’d help me face even more of my fears and help with my public speaking.
As far as training goes, I’ve never stopped training (although I felt worn out a couple of times and did home strength exercises and outdoor running for a few months – didn’t want to see a gym), and I’ve never gone over 8.5-9 percent body fat.
But, my priorities now are on developing the efficacy and efficiency of the human body as it pertains to every-day life situations. I have always known that lifting heavy bench press doesn’t have much application in real life…
Nowadays I am fascinated with gymnastics and calisthenics. Read My Training Evolution and Goals page to see how I’m trying to improve myself as an athlete.
Along with gaining ultimate control of the body I also want to develop a technique that allows me to fully employ this control and further challenges my body AND mind in a totally different way. One day I want to pursue Jiu Jitsu – I am fascinated by it. It’s on my list of self-improvement goals.
My personal improvement interests stretch over many areas. Some include: impromptu speaking, social psychology, character types and traits – cultural and non-cultural, late 19th and early 20th century high-level English, logic, reasoning.. and overall richer life experiences.
I am also learning to ride a motorcycle (conquering a fear of a motorcycle that i developed 20 years ago when I dropped my motorcycle and a public transportation bus almost ran over me). I also want to learn to fly an airplane – when I was in high school I wanted to become a pilot. So, eventually I am going to go back to my dream.
All in all, at 38 years of age I feel and function better than ever – my physical fitness abilities are improving. I am now better than I was when I competed in bodybuilding, but I won’t stop here. I have goals to tackle – on body and mind level… and I am seriously going for that…
After all that’s why I came and fought to be able to live in the US – because living here comes with the utter advantage of being able to do what you want and be only limited by your dreams. Ultimately, I will be very, very rich…