Desk to Stage: An Epilogue

It’s done.

I made a decision to compete around the Christmas period, put the plan in action over the course of sixteen tough weeks and executed the plan on June 11th of this year. Seems rather cut and dry when its phrased like that but day to day it was anything but.

Putting aside sixteen weeks to test myself to my mental and physical limit was an experience I won’t be forgetting quickly. It’ll be something I’ll take wisdom from going forward.

This was something I never thought I would be able to do is now in the rear-view mirror and it’s time to start building other projects to cap off the year.

What they are – I barely know myself. Plans have to be put into place – now would be the worst time to become complacent or rest on my laurels for the remainder of the year.

I’m a bit late getting to this, admittedly. I celebrated rather heavily the Sunday night of the show. My phone, which had already been severely cracked previously, was finally put to rest by a “merry” James. So my activity online has been impacted as such.

For arguments sake, let’s class “merry” as having way too many shots and falling asleep standing up against my front door.

I’ll take the final blog of this series to share my thoughts on the entire experience, what I enjoyed, what I would do differently, and my approach and so on.

Perhaps someone looking to follow the same path will get quality information from a topic that isn’t discussed as comprehensively as It should - well, the process side of things anyways.

Show week

I’ll start off my detailing the final week leading up to the show. Which I definitely thought was the most challenging – mentally and physically.

I started the week on roughly 2200Kcal a day. Fat was kept at 40g from foods, but I was also supplementing udos oil (a blend of Omega 3, 6 and 9) to help with motility.

As I had carbs so low and protein so high, I wasn’t getting anywhere near enough fibre in my diet and would cramp up badly.

I also began water manipulation on the Monday. Water intake was at 4 litres Monday and increased by a litre each day until Saturday morning. From Saturday morning until midnight, I cut water.

I was allowed 1 litre of water in this time. Remember I was on shift during this period teaching classes as well as ensuring I had everything sorted for show day (Spray tan included!). It was horrible.

The water cut was the single worst part of the entire experience. I was super agitated and had a massive headache the entire day.

Any task seemed insanely difficult as I was devoid of energy. I dropped down to 153lbs (69.3kg/10.9st). It took every ounce of my willpower to see the day out. This is the stuff you won’t see on social media.

In terms of training, I only trained Monday to Wednesday the week of the show. All short upper body sessions, 2 sets of 10 on each movement.

These were the most physically taxing workouts I have ever had – simply because I was running on empty and had nowhere to pull energy from. By the 4th rep of each exercise I was nearly purple in the face and breathing like an asthmatic

Show Day

The morning of the show I was up early. Bacon and eggs for breakfast and a few sips of water. Off to Newtownards, Co Down (Just outside of Belfast) for the show, eating rice cakes with peanut butter along the way to avoid looking “flat”.

Once I arrived, it was just a case of familiarising myself with the stage, getting my top coat of tan on, getting my shorts on for both of the classes I was competing in, and finally – getting pumped up backstage.

I was #29.

Once I heard “And next… number 29!” it was time to step out in front of a room of people and pose.

The first step out was the most daunting. It was even more so due to the fact that I had only really finalized my posing routine around an hour before I got up on stage! This is something I will address next time.

I finished second in both of my classes – which I was content with. As I had intimated before, anything after making it onto the stage would be a bonus.

If I’d been told how hard this journey was going to be from the outset I would’ve laughed at the thought of even making it to the stage. I can still improve in all aspects so I have taken it as a learning curve as well as a life experience.

My Thoughts

In terms my thoughts on the entire process. I would say that if anyone is thinking about competing, really consider what that choice entails.

Social media portrays it as a gradual decline into a low body fat percentage, you get the abs to pop out, you tan up and you’re ready to go – half of this is only indicative of what happens on the day of the show – AFTER – all of the hard work and toiling is done.

What it doesn’t show is the social events you miss out on, the time with the people you care about being significantly diminished, hunger pains, hyper fatigue, mood swings, doubts, insecurities, balancing all of these while trying to save face.

If you’re considering getting into this world – have a real think about why you want to do it and how much you’re willing to take in terms of the (many) obstacles I have named above.

If I was to do it again (which I intend to do), I would ensure that I am not balancing two jobs as I had been. I essentially bit off more than I could chew and only came to this realisation around six weeks out. So I became pig-headed and just grinded it out until the end.

Training became intuitive because I was so busy. “What haven’t I trained in the last 3 days?” & “What doesn’t ache?” became the rationale behind my training split. This wasn’t good enough.

If/When I compete again, I will ensure that I have a much more balanced life before beginning.

This way I can properly structure my training right up until I step up on stage, and more importantly, I will have more time to rest and maintain my relationships with friends and family at a much higher standard. That will now take precedence over shows going forward.

For the last two weeks I have been enjoying some good food and some good company, although I will use this time to take stock and put together a plan for the rest of the year both personally and professionally.

Hopefully I’ll be back up on stage in due time with a vastly improved physique – and importantly – a NATURAL one.

Now that this show – which has occupied half of the year – is done, I’m going to be dedicating more time to building my personal training business and maybe help someone do what I have done.

A phase of growing lies ahead where I will have to get back into the swing of things and regain my strength (and my sanity to a degree!) but I am looking forward to it.

Given that I have shown myself what I am capable of and the willpower that I possess (which I had no idea I even had) It’ll be interesting putting my mind to other projects that I also didn’t think I was capable of. Let’s see where things go!

I hope whoever takes the time to read these blog entries enjoyed them and took something from them that they can implement in their own personal or professional lives.

Even to the people who just thought it as a mildly interesting read or even a bit funny – Thank you. Hopefully by the next series I will have some more stories to tell.

James