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How I Started Bodybuilding!

My bodybuilding experience began October 23rd 1999 at the Midwest States Natural (aka Monster Mash)...

My bodybuilding experience began October 23rd 1999 at the Midwest States Natural (aka Monster Mash). I had decided to pursue bodybuilding following the death of my father due to metastatic carcinoma (stomach cancer). Having weight trained for years, my dad had always asked if I would ever try bodybuilding. After his passing, my training intensified to help relieve the pain that I felt inside and I knew I had to try bodybuilding to cope with his loss. At the Monster Mash, I place fifth as a Light Heavyweight and weighed in at a solid 198 lbs. I was very disappointed but I used it as fuel to my fire. I had trained hard and knew I needed to work on my diet before my next show.

I planned for my next event to be the Battle of Champions National Qualifier on March 25, 2000. I then began reading every bodybuilding or health magazine I could find that would give me insight on how to competition diet properly. So much was out there. I was overwhelmed with information and tried to piece it all together. I started dieting about 8 weeks prior to the Battle of Champions. My diet consisted of little or no fat but moderate in carbohydrates (low and high glycemic) and high in protein. My improvement was noticeable compared to the Monster Mash and I placed 2nd as a Light Heavyweight weighing in at 190 lbs.

I was now nationally qualified but I still knew I could improve. I asked for a critique from the judges following the event and was told that I needed to be more conditioned, that I needed more separations in my legs and abdominals, and I needed more rounded shoulders. The judge offered advice and said to try running sprints and hitting the heavy bag. I did. My next competition would be the Mr. Cincinnati on April 15, 2000 which was only 3 weeks later. I did the sprints and hit the heavy bag twice a week and no more than 20-30 minutes each session.

I also adjusted my diet. In preparation for this next competition, I ate 5-6 meals per day consisting of lean meats (chicken, turkey, fish), vegetables ( lettuce, green beans), egg beaters, grapefruit, sweet potato, and a supplements (protein, thermogenic, creatine, liver tablets). The results were amazing. At the Cincinnati I was far more conditioned than before, however, I still was not finely tuned and placed 2nd as a Light Heavyweight and weighed in at 187 lbs.

Although I didn't win, I was told by a judge that he was really amazed at my transformation from the Battle to the Cincinnati. I planned to make the Mr. Ohio on June 24, 2000 my next event. Again, I adjusted my diet and tried to tune it based on feedback I received from the previous judges. I followed the same diets and reduce the number of calories overall and weighed in at an astonishing 177 lbs for the Ohio. I was much lighter and tighter than before but still barely managed to stay in the Light Heavyweight class.

I placed 4th in this event. Unfortunately, I had taken an extreme route with my diet and avoided carbohydrate intake and didn't increase protein which resulted in loss in muscle mass. I then increased my protein significantly (1 to 1 1/2 grams/lb body weight). I also increased carbs using a carb load phase. The last meal of every third day would be high in carbohydrates (8 oz. sweet potato, 1 1/2 cup brown rice, 6 oz. banana, and 1/2 grapefruit). I would do this until the week of the contest. My strength increased, my energy increased, and my size increased and to my amazement, I stayed fairly lean.

I then decided to enter the NPC Washington D.C./Virginia/All Armed Forces Bodybuilding Championships in Virginia Beach, Va.. Without a doubt, I felt and looked better than ever. I weighed in at a solid 188 lbs and went against the most fierce Light Heavyweight competition yet. With 17 competitors in my class, I place 2nd. Although it was not a first place finish, I was very pleased with the result.

When I returned from Virginia, I decided I would prepare for the 2000 NPC Ohio Governor's Cup. For this show, I incorporated sodium loading and more posing into my final preparations. I increase posing from 15 min to 1/2 hour each day to 1/2 to 1 hour each day for 3 weeks prior to the show. The importance and benefits of posing was always taken lightly. It did however teach me a valuable lesson. I achieved greater striations and conditioning than ever before. I also tried sodium loading by maintaining the same sodium intake as normal until the final two days. At two days out, no sodium was added to any meal. At one day out, sodium was completely eliminated. The day of the show, moderate sodium was added at each meal. Also, during the final three days, my water intake was reduce by 25% all the way until the day of the show. The day of the show, water intake was on an as-needed basis and sipped only.

I came in to this show with my skin shrink-wrapped to my muscles. On the day of the show, the sodium loading, water intake, and carb-loading that I did resulted in a swelling of my muscles that I had never seen before . I knew I had finally achieved the best conditioning yet!! I was filled with confidence and could not wait to compete later that day. Following the morning weigh-in, several competitors commented on how tight I looked. I weighed in as a Middleweight for the first time at a solid 174 lbs but felt a lot bigger. My confidence began to soar. 17 middleweights competed that day. As any bodybuilder knows, that could mean a long and exhaustive prejudging event, however, I never tired. The posing practice definitely paid off and I had learned a very valuable lesson. I won my class!!! I then had to go for the overall title. This was unknown territory for me. I was terrified. My pose down strategy was to focus on using my strengths against my competitions weaknesses, I would try to find the best stage lighting, I would try to control the stage. In the end and after several failed attempts to succeed in the past, I won the 2000 NPC Ohio Governor's Cup Mens Overall Championship.

To beginner bodybuilders everywhere, always be persistent in finding out what works for you. When you find it, you will be unstoppable!

"To be what we are and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life"
- Robert Louis Stevenson