It started innocently enough at The Hive, where TJS’s co-founder and CEO Jamie Stephenson saw Nathaniel Zinni buying all kinds of TJS juice…only to learn just how important it is in his juicy approach to a healthy, feel-good lifestyle. After chattin’ him up—he was in the middle of a 28-day cleanse, af
ter all!—Jamie’s entrepreneurial bones sensed Nathaniel would be January’s perfect poster boy for WHealth™ and glowing self. Boy, was she right.
Meet Nathaniel, a personal trainer and true Las Vegas newbee who in this month’s Friends Who Juice feature offers something of gentle soul’s master class in exercise, health maintenance, andthe ideology behind the two. (Just please think twice before sipping some of what he presses. There may be a reason why he likes TJS so much!)
All About Nathaniel
I was born and raised in…Massachusetts (the hometown of the Patriots), but I’ve spent the past 3 years in Arizona.
What brought me to Las Vegas was this: I moved to Arizona after I graduated college. I had made up my mind that to grow as an individual, I needed to embark on an unknown journey; one where I didn’t know the outcome, where I wasn’t quite sure if I’d make it. I needed to force myself out of my comfort zone, so I moved to a place I had never visited: Arizona.
It was rough in the beginning—couch surfing; spent some nights in my car—but I learned a lot about human will and our innate ability to thrive when all odds are against us. Those 3 years were so challenging, yet so rewarding, that I knew once I got comfortable again I had to make a similar change in environment and surroundings. When the opportunity arose to transfer with my employer, I jumped at it. And here I am in Vegas.
I literally have just been here for 3 months. I’ve done less couch surfing, but it’s definitely started off with its own unique challenges. But it’s the adversity that we grow from, so I plan on seeing this journey through.
In my experience, the biggest misconception about living in Las Vegas is…[that] the Strip [is] the main way of life, or the only way of life, that exists. Most people’s minds probably flash to scenes from the Hangover, or some other flamboyant movie about the Vegas lifestyle. They don’t consider people’s lives exist outside of that scene.
The thing I secretly (or not-so-secretly) love most about living here is…. the variety of people I have met. What’s cool about places like this—I think warm weather places in general, although from what I’ve experienced thus far, it hasn’t been so warm!—is that they are very transient states. So, I get to learn and interact with many different cultures and people from very different walks of life. When I compare that to my time spent on the East Coast, I felt like people and families just get stuck there for generations.
If I had to pick my daily mantra or a quote I try to live by, it would be….I always try to [live by] is incorporating is the “3 Ps” – Patience, Persistence and Positivity. Often, hope gets bleak and things go dark; but I’ve learned throughout my years not to be afraid of these moments, not to be afraid of the dark, because it’s in the dark where light shines brightest, and it’s in the dark, behind the lids of your eyes, where your imagination can run free. I think successful people believe in the dark, and they choose to embrace it and believe in what’s there, even if no one else can see. I think it’s those places that you find your dreams.
Music’s importance in my life is right up there, next to air. I truly enjoy such a wide variety. Don’t hold me to this, because this could change for me, but if I had to pick a theme song for my life…I’d go with They Move on Tracks of Never Ending Light by This Will Destroy You. It’s beautiful…the type of music you put your headphones on with and block out the rest of the world; and, it speaks to you without words. I’ve always felt one of life’s great misfortunes is a vast majority of people can name a Nicki Minaj song, but have never even heard this type of music. No offense Nicki….
A favorite Vegas spot for someone who really enjoys taking care of his or her health is…Lifetime Athletic in Summerlin (shameless plug). Seriously, I had never even heard of a Lifetime until I moved to Arizona, and becoming a part of its organization has truly changed my life. It’s a beautiful state-of-the-art facility, but that’s not even the best part about it. It’s the people inside that make it great. I’ve come across some of the smartest and most caring individuals the health and fitness field has to offer during my time with Lifetime. It really strives to provide the best people, places and programs to its members and team members. I believe it has truly separated itself in a congested field of fitness gyms and corporations. You won’t find a nicer gym in Vegas, and it’s something I am truly grateful to be a part of.
Something my family instilled in me about health is….what not to do. I grew up in a big Italian family, where not finishing your plate was a crime against humanity. Looking back, food was a big part of the culture when there were get-togethers. However, no one ever seemed to take the time to consider what he or she was putting in their mouth. As a result, I saw many of my cousins, aunts and uncles struggle with weight. I knew I never wanted to go down that route, and wanted to set an example for them and the people I came across. I always hope to be the spark to light change in their lives, and others, through my actions.
Something my parents did with me as a kid I’d NEVER do with mine is…Honestly? I would never let my kids watch television… That probably sounds crazy to a lot of people. But, if I think about all the time I spent growing up watching other people live out their dreams from behind a screen, it’s kind of depressing. I developed the mentality that I need to get busy working on my dreams and not worry about what everyone else is doing or thinking. I haven’t owned a T.V. in 5 years. and when I have children, I don’t plan to change that.
On Staying Healthy in Las Vegas
I’m the assistant head of the personal training department at Lifetime Fitness. When people ask me where I work and what I do, I tell them…that I change lives. My goal is always to educate and leave the individual in front of me better physically, mentally, and emotionally than before they met me.
Best perk about my job is…taking away someone’s pain. As a personal trainer, I think we often get typecast into roles of being people who facilitate weight loss and body composition changes. But the personal training and fitness field is much more dynamic that that.
One of the many hurdles to achieving a person’s aesthetic goal— the first step, really—has to be a person’s injuries and assessing their overall movement dysfunction. I never come across a person who couldn’t be moving better. I have always bought into the phrase, “If you can’t move your own body, what gives you the right to move other objects?” I see this time and again, and as personal trainers, especially at Lifetime. We pride ourselves on not only reaching that person’s fitness goal, but also improving their overall quality of life.
I think successful people believe in the dark, and they choose to embrace it and believe in what’s there, even if no one else can see. I think it’s those places that you find your dreams.
I can’t tell you how many countless people I’ve encountered who are just suffering, from the complex neurological disorders like Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD); to the everyday aches and pains of shoulder impingements and low back/knee issues, and everything in between. When these types of things become debilitating and keep people away from completing simple daily tasks, or the activities they love to do, the most rewarding thing about my job is seeing someone’s face after taking away years of pain and watching them lead a normal, unrestricted life again.
A typical workout schedule for me is…I am very routine, so every morning I wake up and do some manual soft tissue work and pair that with various movement drills. Our joints love to move and the best thing you can do for the health and longevity of your joints and tissue is to move constantly, and with a purpose,
Then, I typically break up the middle of my day with some strength and conditioning workouts. This might include exercises like Single Leg Deadlifts, glute bridges, or upside down kettlebell walks. It will all depend on the goal of that particular phase of programming I’m working on.
I think a lot of common gym goers don’t understand the necessity behind programming. If you have a goal, you ideally, systematically, build toward it through well-thought and designed phases and programs. You can’t just throw darts in the dark and hope you hit the target. Like anything worth having in life, you need a plan. I always make sure in my plans to include exercises that will challenge me through different elements of fitness. I make sure, at minimum, to do movement every morning and do some set gym exercises four days a week. .
I haven’t been in Vegas very long, but I can tell you the difference between the healthy-living scene here and many of the other places I’ve been across the United States is…that, stigma aside, Vegas definitely has more pressure and opportunity to take part in a very unhealthy lifestyle. That being said, a lot of places and companies like TJS have risen to combat this lifestyle, and there are more alternative choices here than any other place I have been.
No matter how busy I get…preparation and planning are the keys to how I make sure I eat healthy meals during the week:
It’s like studying for a test you really want to pass. You develop a game plan and you execute. That could be meal prepping, or making sure, come hell or high water, you get your butt in the gym. A lot of people prepare for school, work, a family, a vacation, but they miss the boat on preparing for the most important thing of all, and that’s long-term health. Unlike many of the aforementioned things, your body is the only thing you will keep with your from birth to death. It’s always boggled my mind that our society as a whole puts it to the back burner.
Veggies make up a vast majority of my kitchen. Choosing one is hard, but for ones you’ll always find in my kitchen…it would be tough for me to part with broccoli, spinach, asparagus or sweet potatoes. I’m not a huge fruit eater, but blueberries and alligator pears seem to always find their way into my kitchen.
My advice to someone who is having a hard time sticking to an exercise plan is…for them to remember why they started. It’s cliché, but true. Develop a tangible and emotional attachment to that reason. What I mean by that is when you really want to adhere to a goal—not just a fitness goal, but goals in general—it has to be more meaningful. It can’t just be, “I want to lose weight to look good for summer.” There’s no substance behind that. Goals have to have feeling to them, otherwise they’re rarely achieved. An example of that might be taking that same weight loss goal, but making the “looking good” a byproduct of the true purpose. Your true connection for losing weight might be that growing up you watched your aunt suffer through Type 2 diabetes. Now, everyday when you wake up, you might have a picture of your aunt on your wall or by your night stand. Under it, you might write, “I can and I will, for you, Aunt Karen.” Now that goal just became larger than you, and now, every time you want to quit or give in, you aren’t just quitting on yourself, you have more to keep fighting for. You’re carrying your aunt’s memory and spirit with you every time you step in the gym.
Fitness is way harder mentally than it is physically: if you get in it for the right reasons, you should have no problem sticking with it. (I’d be remiss not to mention Rashon, Ali, Steven and my Mom, who serve as part of that bigger reason why I always find ways to get through the setbacks and heartaches.)
Nathaniel On Juice
The reason I drink cold-pressed juice is because…I ran into a health situation as soon as I left Arizona where I cannot eat without feeling like I’m going to pass out. I am dizzy, fatigued, confused and have been suffering from unexplained pain for months. To this day, I am still undiagnosed. I have had multiple diagnostic tests, and plenty of medication thrown at me…but I just completed a 28-day juice fast, and it’s been the only thing that has brought me any sign of relief. I’m a firm believer in finding ways to heal your body through nutrition and exercise.
The reason I drink TJS’s cold-pressed juice is because it’s convenient and it’s better than anything I could make on my own.
This is how I try to incorporate cold-pressed juice into my lifestyle:
Instead of reaching for some caffeine, I flood my system with green juice. Not only that, but I’ve replaced a lot of the fake and artificial workout drinks that have grown in popularity over the years. I can just sip on some fresh cold-pressed juice during my workout and stay hydrated.
I can also use the juice mixed with some protein to help with recovery. Juice is very versatile, and that’s why I have adopted it. Not only that, but I have convinced many of my clients to incorporate it into their lifestyle as well. Many of them have trouble getting a wide variety of nutrients into their busy days. Some of my clients, like Mylene, work jobs where it’s impossible to sit down and have a meal. She’s a doctor, and with long and hectic shifts, instead of starving for 12 hours, she can quickly grab a juice and help keep her energy stable, while adding some valuable nutrition to her long days.
Yes or No: I press juice at home. Yes.
True or false: Making juice at home is a royal pain in the ass. True. Pressing at home is very time consuming, especially if you do not have a quality juicer. I use home pressing mainly in a pinch, or as a way to experiment.
The benefit of cold-pressed juice that I think is most underrated is…its convenience of health. I hear so often, “I don’t have time to (insert excuse here).” Well, when you have pre-made juice and an assortment of choices, it makes it really easy to add some healthier components to your daily routine.
The funniest thing that ever happened to me while drinking juice OR when I was on a juice cleanse, was…I was playing around with different concoctions, and one of the recipes I was looking into called for 3 cloves garlic, 1 inch ginger and 4 carrots. Well, I misunderstood the recipe, and instead of putting in 3 cloves of garlic, I put in 3 heads, and really without even thinking, I pressed this and just immediately started chugging. Needless to say, it was the most disgusting/devastating drink I may have experienced during my time here on Earth. It felt like my insides were being burned alive. I nearly passed out. I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone, unless you are into things like the cinnamon challenge.
My advice to a newbie juicer is…don’t just do it for a fast, or because it’s “trendy.” Figure out ways to make it a sustainable part of your lifestyle, by adding it for a morning, an in-between meal snack, or a morning treat. Make juicing a habit in your everyday life; that way it’s not just a 10-day stint of nutrient-packed juices, and then back to the Standard American Diet. What’s the point of that? There’s no reason not to stick with something like juicing for the rest of your days.