For all the skinny kids who had sand kicked in there eyes... this interview should be an inspiration for you.
IFBB body building pro, Eddie Abbew, started as a poor, skinny kid from Ghana and has sweated his way to become number 1 British Body Building Champion and a premiere international competitor.
Eddie not only gained muscle living in England, but he also gained a good dose of lovely British manners and some great life philosophies.
So let's hear from Eddie...
Gabrielle Reilly: What/who was your first inspiration...
Eddie Abbew: I first started lifting weights at school when I saw some weights in the garden of one of my teacher's. I did not have any intentions of being a bodybuilder until I saw a magazine carrying a photo of Sergio Oliva. I was fascinated by how he looked. I also noticed a change in my biceps size after training them for 2 weeks. As a result, I found myself drawn towards becoming a bodybuilder.
Gabrielle Reilly: At what age did you start training?
Eddie Abbew: I started training at the age of 16. I was in a boarding school called Starehe Boys Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. We had limited weights so we made our own weights using metal bars and empty tins filled with concrete. We thus, did not know how much we were lifting.
Gabrielle Reilly: What do you do to keep motivated?
Eddie Abbew: My goal when I decided to become a bodybuilder was to change the way I looked. I was very skinny (under 140 lbs at 6 feet). What motivates me mainly now is helping people achieve their goals in terms of changing the way they look. I enjoy coaching and passing on the bit of information that I have acquired through bodybuilding to people who have the same goal as I had when I was skinny.
Gabrielle Reilly: Do you have days when the last thing you want to do is step foot in a gym?
Eddie Abbew: I do have days when the last thing I want to do is go to the gym but the advantage I have is that my training partners, Carmen Knights, IFBB Pro Figure, Ricky Welling, IFBB Pro (who is also blind) and Chris Mylona, who is yet to do his first contest, depend on me to lead, suggest the exercises and help them execute them properly. I take that responsibility very seriously so I make sure I am always on the ball in the gym.
Gabrielle Reilly: Do you change up your routine to fight boredom or do you use straight discipline and stick to the same regiment?
Eddie Abbew: I never do the same workout twice in a row. I believe the body quickly gets used to routine so I change my workouts weekly. My training partners never know what movements we are doing until just before the workout. I believe that makes it interesting for them also.
Gabrielle Reilly: Do you have allocated binge days/meals?
Eddie Abbew: I tend to eat the same food at the same time every day but unless I am dieting for a contest, I usually relax on Sundays where I eat with my kids and sometimes cook for them. Pre contest, I have one cheat meal every Saturday where I spend an hour eating whatever I want. This is stopped 3 weeks before the contest.
Gabrielle Reilly: What do you do when you feel like breaking your diet?
Eddie Abbew: I have a very fast metabolism and as such I see results very quickly when I diet for a contest. I think this makes it easy for me, mentally to adhere to my precontest diet regimen. I hardly ever have days when I feel like breaking my diet. When I have had such an urge, I have just broken my diet and eaten whatever I wanted but obviously closer to a contest, this would never occur.
Gabrielle Reilly: Were you really muscular as a child/teenager?
Did you play any sports?
Eddie Abbew: As a child, I was quite skinny but this all changed by the age of 16 when I discovered weights. I played hockey, basketball, table tennis, tennis and tried my hand at soccer, even though I was not very good at it.
I just loved sports as a child and I was in the school Athletics team with Paul Ereng, who went on to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
Gabrielle Reilly: When did you leave Ghana, Africa?
Eddie Abbew: I left Ghana in 1978 after I won a scholarship to go to a boarding school in Nairobi called Sarehe Boys Centre. My father died in 1969 when I was almost five years old leaving my mother with ten children. It was a great miracle when I won a scholarship at that age. I have always been thankful to God for that miracle.
Gabrielle Reilly: For parents out there concerned about their children's health and obesity, what word of advice would you offer them on fitness, motivation and diet for children?
Eddie Abbew: I am a parent with three children and I think feeding them is one of the most difficult tasks. Children are inundated with advertisements about junk food. As a parent who is determined make his children eat healthily, it's sometimes very difficult to contradict the messages that the advertisers convey. We only buy foods that we think are healthy for our children. Very rarely would you see cookies, white bread, cakes, fizzy drinks, etc., in our cupboards and fridge.
I think eating healthily encourages your children to eat healthy also. I know most parents will find this time consuming but cooking for your children daily is also a way of ensuring your children are eating healthily. My children are encouraged to participate in the cooking. It can be fun sometimes to select a recipe and prepare it the with the children.
As a child growing up in Ghana, I was always out with my friends playing, something I will be afraid to allow my children to do in the society that we live in. To compensate, I make sure that they are involved in various after school sports activities. Television watching and computer games are limited to a minimal and only allowed after their homework has been done and at weekends. This ensures that they are not sitting, vegetating in from of a screen of some description.
I have a twelve year old son and his response when asked if he would follow his dad's footsteps in bodybuilding is a resounding "NO".
Gabrielle Reilly: What age do you think kids should start lifting weights?
Eddie Abbew: I didn't start doing weights until I was about sixteen. I think that is about the right age.
Gabrielle Reilly: Do you work outside the fitness industry?
Eddie Abbew: I work as a personal trainer now although I am a trained and registered nurse. I worked as a nurse for a few years after I qualified. Bodybuilding overtook my desire to be a nurse and in the end, I surrendered to bodybuilding.
Bodybuilding is a passionate sport. There is not that much money to be made from it, especially in Europe. It had always been my dream to become a pro bodybuilder regardless. I think sometimes most of us are just motivated by money. This worship of money has in a way killed passion in our society.
If you are after a making lots of money then bodybuilding is probably not the sport for you. If bodybuilding is your passion, then by all means go for it. It might be difficult for some people to understand you but at least you're not being dictated to by society. As long as you're happy doing what you're doing and paying your bills, go for it.
For more or Eddie Abbew visit his site at Eddie Abbew.
Thanks for your time and inspiration Eddie. It has been my privledge to get to know you better. Homage.