In the first chapter to this story I discussed how I successfully used bodybuilding to help me through a very difficult period in my life (Winter 2003). As I wrote that article I was in the middle of preparing for my first competition in 15 years.
I entered the first competition with little preparation and during a period of huge stresses as well. The following is the conclusion to the initial personal account of my experiences.
Flashback November 6
It was an overcast day, 2 weeks prior to Thanksgiving. While at work, I ran into a co-worker... a 6 foot plus, 240 plus co-worker who worked in law enforcement rode a motorcycle. Picture a huge framed man with state trooper looks (buzz cut and the thick mustache to match).
This man was also a huge bodybuilding fan. As such we hit it off well, as he knew I used to compete. He knew by my "frame" he used to say. He would often tell me the contest results (unsolicited) and ask me training advice.
Well, on this overcast day he had not seen me in awhile and noticed my sunken face. Not realizing that the 43 pounds I had lost in less than a month was not being design (I was lean to start with). Being the ever positive person he assumed "I was ripped" and suggested that I enter a competition.
I was flattered, but while walking away, I quickly discounted his complements and suggestions to compete, knowing he was unaware of the time and commitment it takes to ready yourself for a competition.
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Even though I laughed it off, I checked the competition schedule and noticed that the only show remaining this year was 3 weeks awayâ€¦.competing in 3 weeks after not lifting for such a long time? Impossible! Now, one might ask, why not pick a show for later in the year.
Truth be told, I was so overburdened mentally with many things that trying to stay focused for 4 weeks would be an arduous task in itself.
I thought the whole idea was silly, since I had not even competing in almost 15 years. I thought the idea was so silly, that I repeated his suggestion to a boss and a coworker. They were both very supportive and said why not?
I explained to them the time commitments and preparation that was necessary to compete at a high level. Time to develop muscle, refine the symmetry and balance. Time to diet. Time to create a routine. Time to practice a routine. Time to choose the music. Time needed to pose. Time needed to tan.
I also explained to them that the only show left in the year was three weeks away, and that this show was a national qualifier (big) and not drug tested. Since I was approaching 40, but not 40, I would have to compete against others half my age who had trained all year for this competition.
Additionally, I would be required to compete against those shall we say, that could not enter a natural (drug tested) show.
Then again, my body was in shambles. I was as low as I could go. I needed something to focus on short term to force myself to eat, to train, and to forget the stresses that had entered my life.
Never a quitter and never one to take the easy way out. I went online, filled out an application to compete 4 weeks later in Culver City. I would make my debut at the 2003 NPC Excalibur Bodybuilding and Figure Championship.
When I accepted the challenge of entering a competition, I knew I was up for a huge challenge. My desire was to try to gain some muscle in four weeks, while also losing some fat.
The Rest Of The Story
Always the one to set goals, I wanted to weigh as close to 154 Â¼ (the upper class limit of the lightweight division) as possible (I weighed 143 pounds 4 weeks out). My second goal was to be able to pose at the night show so my family could at least see me. This meant that I was shooting for a top 5 placing.
More Distraction And More Bad News
Less than 2 weeks after making the decision to enter the NPC Excalibur Bodybuilding and Figure Championship on December 6 I experienced more bad news. My car was stolen, along with my license and other important documents and information.
This had several disastrous effects. Obviously having a new vehicle stolen, along with your identification, credit cards, and money was bad enough, but I also had no way to get funds from my bank account or rent a car without my identification.
No vehicle meant no ability to get to the gym. Additionally, add the harassment from the insurance company (I was NOT in "good hands".) Bottom line was a lot more stress, another week of missed workouts, and only 2 weeks to contest time.
Two Weeks Out
I was able to finally rent a car and get to the gym. Problem was I had not posed or choreographed a routine in 15 years. I also did not have any music chosen (would men at work still be popular, LOL). I still was VERY white and needed the contest tan.
|The road back.
November 2003 2 weeks before the Excalibur.
I still needed to purchase the posing trunks and oils. These "little" yet very important issues were seriously stressing me out. Such stress raising cortisol levels and can smooth you out, in addition to losing sleep.
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Thanks to a good friend named Tony Mederos, who helped me mix some music together at 1 am in the morning in his recording studio I may have had to pose to Billie Jean, Beat it or "the men down under".
Since 1 week out you do not want to train because you can risk holding water, I basically did not train this week either, because I did not want to be so sore that I could not move, to try to gain some muscle from a weeks training.
|The road back. 1 week before the Excalibur.
So, all I did was pose, and start eating again, regularly. The constant posing and proper eating (I was only eating about 500 calories a day during the time I had the rapid weight loss) enabled me to actually start gaining weight.
December 6, 2003 - Contest Day
I arrived early, with some nervousness, not wanting to make a fool of myself. Although I had watched others look at me strangely as they saw me get harder and harder while growing in 3 short weeks, I was still nervous because I had not competed in 15 years.
I was now 39 years old, not 24 years old, and natural too boot. As I walked around nobody seem to notice me or care. I was an unknown, nothing for anyone to worry about. Little did many know I was blessed with round muscle bellies, symmetry and was fairly hard.
Since at weigh ins, everyone must disrobe down to their posing trunks, I knew this would be the opportunity to cause some "Arnold like Psyche out" --- even at my age. As other consistent watched each other weigh in, or pretended not to (but I saw the looks) I kept to myself.
As many flared their lats out, or beefed at the scale being wrong (i.e., "it must be light I weigh more than the scale says") I joked around.
Then it was my turn to weigh in. I slowly removed my shirt, purposely getting it "caught" over my head, so those pretending not to care, saw a ripped six pack WITHOUT flexing.
|The Excalibur, December 6, 2003. Second Place Open/Unlimited Lightweight Class
I anticipated what would come shortly thereafter. No longer being ignored, the questions were, "Are you a middleweight?" My answer to someone's dismay wasâ€¦."No, a lightweight". I knew then and there that for that person, he was already a beaten man.
I made a few mistakes that day. I almost missed my call out. I did not judge my time well, and did not get to pump up. I ate serious amounts of In and Out burgers and fries after prejudging and before the evening show, knowing there was no chance I would win the class (there was one athlete 10 to 15 years younger than me, a national competitor, who was shorter, more muscular and in fantastic shape).
However, I did have a good time that day and was glad that I entered the show.
I ended up that day taking second place in the men's open unlimited class weighing 152 pounds. Because I did not really get to train for the December 6 show, and placed fairly well, many surprised people suggested I do a second show. 11 weeks later I entered the 2004 GNC Max Muscle Natural Bodybuilding Championships in Anaheim California.
|March 14th Novice Lightweight class
and Overall Novice Champion
I entered this competition 10 pounds heavier. Not only did I win my class, but I won the overall Novice title beating out all the heavier weight classes including the light heavy and heavy weight class winners.
It was a pleasant surprise for me, since I know it is rare for a lightweight winner to beat out the heavier weight class winners for an overall title. Another pleasant surprise was a feature written about me in the July 2004 edition of Iron Man Magazine (special thanks to Bill Comstock and Lonnie Tepper).
|March 13th, Overall Novice Champion,
Open/Unlimited runner up.
The win also qualified me for the USA and Nationals. Look for me to compete next year as a natural middleweight in the USA or Nationals If I can gain the 14 pounds I am trying to gain. If I can not gain the weight look for me to compete in the Team Universe Qualifier in New York or Muscle Mania (both natural shows)
On the overcast day back in early November I made a decision that obviously in retrospect was a very important decision. Once again, bodybuilding (a sport many see as a sport of vanity) helped me conquer adversity, and put me back in a positive state of mind.
It helped me get my mental and physical health back. It brought back confidence. It reintroduced me to a sport and people I had long left behind. More importantly, I did not give up. I made a goal and exceeded that goal.
How did I do it? A strong will and a belief.
I think our past president Calvin Coolidge said it best, "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
More recently John D. Rockefeller also echoed the importance of perseverance by saying "I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature."
So, believe in yourself! That is the first step in becoming a winner.
- Picture 1 - Author at 143 pounds after the weight loss stablized. The author would step on stage for the first time a mere 5 weeks later, 9 pounds heavier and ripped (see pictures 2-6).
- Picture 2 - 1 week before the Dec. 6 Excalibur. See what a little tan can do
- Picture 3 - December 6. First Runner up Lightweight Open Class at the Excalibur BodyBuilding Championship - a National Qualifier.
- Picture 4 - December 6. First Runner up Lightweight Open Class at the Excalibur BodyBuilding Championship - a National Qualifier.
- Picture 5 - December 6. First Runner up Lightweight Open Class at the Excalibur BodyBuilding Championship - a National Qualifier. Photo credit Bill Comstock (http://www.graphicmuscle.com)
- Picture 6 - December 6. First Runner up Lightweight Open Class at the Excalibur Bodybuilding Championship - a National Qualifier. Photo credit Bill Comstock
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