Thursday, April 23, 2009

Joe Jusko

As well as being one of the top fantasy illustrators around, Joe Jusko is also a devoted fitness enthusiast (and a great guy!). I thought it would be fun to ask him a few questions to post here.

Me: Boris and I have always been interested in the human physique, first through our own experience with bodybuilding, then in fantasy art physiques, but we know of artists for whom it was the other way around. What came first for you--bodybuilding or paintings of highly cultured physiques?

Joe: I read comics and drew from a very early age, so I was always intrigued by larger than life physiques. I started lifting in junior year of high school after I bought an issue of Iron Man or Muscular Development with Mr America Kalman Szkalak on the cover. I was amazed by him and wanted to look like that. Unfortunately I discovered that not everyone could attain that type of condition without the proper genetics (or lots of, ummmmm........"help"). LOL

Me: After spending a long time at the easel, do you feel more like you want to get up and exercise or do you feel more lethargic?

Joe: I prefer using training as a relief from work. I normally stop about 3PM and work out. I put in a Parabody smith machine, treadmill and a set of Powerblock dumbbells to make the transition easier. I loathe going to an actual gym. Too much prep and travel time, wasted time waiting for equipment, etc. I much prefer working out in my own space and at my own pace. I find I'm stronger and more focused later in the day, also.

Me: When we have tight deadlines looming, it's easy to feel like skipping the gym, but we usually push each other to stick with our exercise plans. Do deadlines interfere with your exercise program?

Joe: I'm a bit of a compulsive personality in that if I'm cramming on a job I don't like to stop. If I do, I get distracted 180% in the opposite direction. I do tend to forego the gym if I'm pressing at work. That, in turn affects my diet as I mentally tie them both together. I find it very difficult to keep a healthy diet when not exercising for a period of time as I think one feeds the other. That mentality has made my overall condition fluctuate back and forth over the years. I'm back in training mode now and hope to stay there. You two are lucky in that you have each other to spur yourselves on. It's not always easy if your partner doesn't share the interest.

4. What's your favorite snack?

Favorite snack or junk food? I like mixing up two scoops of chocolate whey protein powder into 8oz of plain, non fat yogurt. It tastes almost like chocolate pudding and you can really have it whenever your sweet tooth acts up with no guilt. My cheat/junk food fix is PIZZA. If I could eat it all day, every day I would. LOL Unfortunately I can't as I'm cursed with a really slow, slavic metabolism and put weight on by just looking at pizza. As you know we have incredibly sedentary jobs, also and if I didn't work out I'd be 500 pounds! Even so, I'll be 50 in September and find it increasingly difficult to drop weight when I put it on. What used to take a few weeks takes considerably longer today.
Joe at 23 dressed as Captain America

Thanks, Joe! And I'm seriously jealous of your Powerblock dumbbells. Have to check into that!


  1. Great interview Julie! I'm wondering if either of you take any particular supplements, especially ones that might rev up aging metabolisms. I'm with Joe; my mostly German genetics have given me a sluggish metabolism that only gets more so with time, but that just means that we have to stay one step ahead of our genes, right?

  2. I miss ephedra! Nothing works as well as that did. I never had an issue health wise with it, though I did cycle it 8 weeks on, 8 weeks off. There are so many on the market now that I wouldn't know what works, Each magazine promotes the brand they're in bed with and athletic endorsements don't mean anything because they're under contract. I use whey and casein protein and creatine. I also take a 750/600 Glucosamine-chondroitin supp and a multi vitamin.

  3. Thanks Joe! I also use creatine, glucosamine-chondroitin (gotta keep arthritis at bay!) and a multi-vitamin. My doctor is a big fan of DMAE, DHEA, GABA (before bed only) and alpha lipoic acid taken with acetyl l--carnatine (sorry if my spelling is off) along with a good b-complex vitamin. Believe it or not I find that those "5-hour energy" shots really can give a person a nice boost! It's mostly B vitamins, folic acid, niacin and a few other vitamins. It has a little caffeine in it but not enough to give any sort of buzz. I'm always looking for the next great natural supplement that doesn't go the way of ephedra!

  4. Thanks for the info guys!

    I have one question regarding "road nutrition"

    Do you find it hard to stay on the path with diet and workout routine when away from your usual routine (at conventions, etc)?

    Do you prepare ahead of time or allow for a few days of eating "road food"?

    BTW, Julie - your breakfast is a HUGE hit here. Friends and family are loving it as well - thanks for the blog.

  5. I haven't had much experience with supplements that specifically target the metabolism, but I do have plenty to say about other ways of boosting it. The short answer is: (a)no artificial or refined foods, (b)frequent short bursts of exercise (10-20 minute fast walk, just enough to get your heart pumping) a couple of times a day in addition to your regular workout, and (c) drinking an extra few glasses of water through the day. These things really do work and I'm going to write more about it soon.
    As for road food, yikes! It's definitely best to plan ahead and not let yourself be at the mercy of chain restaurants and fast food. Sometimes, you have no choice, and that is when you realize how much difference there is between eating clean, whole foods and the usual un-food served at fast food joints. It's best to find a grocery store if you can and get real food that you can have in the car.
    I'm so glad that you're enjoying our breakfast! That makes my heart so happy!

  6. I love this blog---great interview and thanks for the response about boosting metabolism and supplements.

  7. I forgot to mention that the supplements that my doctor recommends are for those over age 40 (healthy aging is a big focus of hers). Another question for you both; if you only had very limited space for a home gym, then what absolute essentials would you have in it?

  8. I do well with the three I mentioned, plus an olympic set. As far as dieting while on the road, I gave up trying to be crazy strict about it. Carrying food is such a hassle. I just try to make smart choices or look at the time as my cheat time. I live on eggs, oatmeal, tuna, salmon, tilapia and chicken at home, so I don't mind splurging on a dinner out, but even if I get a lean steak I'LL have a dry baked potato on the side or shrimp cocktail as an appetizer. I seldom go for really heavy stuff anymore.

  9. Jen, you can do an amazing workout with just your bodyweight, too. And even though I'm only of average flexibility, I'm a huge fan of ashtanga yoga, which needs only a mat. A chin-up bar in a doorway is a big help, but one of my favorite portable equipment pieces is the Pro-Gym-In-A-Bag
    Joe, I don't see any vegetables in your list! No, potatoes don't count.:)

  10. Thanks Joe and Julie! So you've got a pretty high protein diet going there Joe (sans oatmeal and potato, that is!) hopefully you're getting your greens too! I started almost every morning with a veggie omelet for the past few years (no 3pm cravings) though now I'm doing Julie's "breakfast of artists" on most days; it's as good as the omelet for keeping hunger pains away-and without the cholesterol!

    Thanks for the link to the pro-gym-in-a-bag Julie! That was just the kind of thing I was looking for for doing resistance training at home. Like Joe, I find making the time to drive to the gym every day tough. I was in the best shape of my life when I lived in a apartment complex with a great nautilus equipt gym just a hop, skip and a jump from my front door. But then again, I've seen friends get in the best shape of THEIR lives doing yoga, so it's time that I give it a serious go too!

    Lots more ideas for blog posts here Julie. When you do get to putting it all together in a health and fitness book some day it's going to be quite a hefty tome!

  11. LOTS of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots which I should be commended for because I LOATHE broccoli and cauliflower! I eat tons of salad and fruit, too! My mother would be astounded by this.:-)

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  13. About sugar.I was told that pure sugar can sugar was better for you then refined sugar due to your body's ability to process it better.Is that actually healthier?or should would try to stay away from sugar altogether?

    Same with salt.I was also told that non-refined sea salt was better and could be more easily processed than refined.

    As for walking,Julie is 100%.I know this from personal experience.When I work out and walk to work and walk on my breaks my metabolism is much higher.All total I do about 40 minutes of walking which adds up to about 2 miles a day.


  14. Sugar is sugar. You'll get a few more minerals from raw sugar than refined, but unless you're just chewing on sugar cane itself, it's still refined and, because of that, it's still going to cause an overreaction of insulin from your pancreas. Even honey will do this. There are other natural options to use as sweeteners (brown rice syrup, agave nectar, stevia, to name a few) that don't cause as much of a reaction.
    As for salt, I like sea salt because, once again, it has more minerals, but it's still sodium, so if you're sensitive to sodium, you should still limit your salt intake.

  15. I haven't added salt of any kind to my food since I was 14. I don't miss it at all. I just think there's enough naturally occurring in most foods. I do have a nasty sweet tooth, though. I justify it by only giving into it on occasion. :-)

  16. Thanks Joe and Julie.I will try some of those natural sweeteners and Joe I love pizza too,i feel your

  17. On the sugar topic, one benefit that raw sugar gives you is that it does not go through the chemical processing that causes it to be white. Acids and other chemicals are added to refined sugar to get it that color which in my opinion is something that should be avoided if possible. Flour is bleached in a similar way to make it white. Unbleached flour would be better in my opinion as well.