It all started at the beginning of 2015 with a goal to enter into my first bodybuilding competition. My intention was to challenge myself to achieve optimal conditioning to the best of my 'natural' ability, to be able to inspire my clients, and to prove to myself that all dreams can become reality. I was confident that this could be achieved with a clear vision, hard work and sheer determination.
I chose to compete in the International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA) which is the largest drug free federation in the world. Within 6 weeks of my first state level competition I enlisted in the Men's Physique category. With the competition date set for September 20th I was locked in and my journey began. Preparation was both mentally and physically challenging. I followed the traditional method of a calorie deficit model, eating fewer calories than I burnt just above the calories required for my bodies maintenance, and consuming a high protein and fat diet with minimal carbohydrates. I trained vigilantly 5 days a week using a split body part regime incorporating heavy compound movements. I stepped on stage and was happy with my conditioning that I had achieved at my first state competition. It was a nerve racking experience competing in front of an audience of over 2000 people and against the best natural body building athletes in Victoria. I achieved a top 5 placing out of 26 competitors.
Placing top 5 at state level qualified me for a shot at the Australian National Championships in Canberra on 4th October. With only 2 weeks till this event I focused even more on my conditioning and sought advice from a top judge on improving my mandatory poses to bring out the best of my physique and to enhance my stage presence. Upping the anti paid off and I was fortunate enough to place again in the top 5; I was officially ranked number 4 athlete in the Australian National rankings for men's physique. My stage presence and my conditioning had improved dramatically since my first event and I was eager to pursue further competitions. I qualified to represent Australia on the world stage at 'The Natural Olympia' in Las Vegas on 13th November, which is the pinnacle of natural bodybuilding. This was a dream come true and an achievement I had not imagined accomplishing so quickly.
I had 6 weeks till the Natural Olympia and was feeling energy depleted and had high cortisol levels. My body was going into ketosis from such a high protein, low carbohydrate diet . I knew that changes had to be made as my current regime would not be sustainable. I sought advice from the world Number 1 natural bodybuilding champion, Tim Martin, who provided me with the support and expert advice on how to raise the bar on my journey to Olympia. Tim made drastic changes to my diet to which at first I was sceptical. He had me on a calories surplus consumption of up to 1000 kcals over my maintenance intake with a largely high carbohydrate diet, moderate protein levels with low fat. All food consumed were the same quantities daily with the same whole food choices. It was a very bland and repetitive diet with absolutely no 'cheat meals' or food that contained any additives, preservatives, colours, flavours, sugars or trans fats. Food was only seasoned with mixed herbs and spices.
Despite the calorie surplus and high carbohydrate diet my weekly check ins with Tim indicated reduced body fat measurements and increased lean muscle about which I was ecstatic. This disproved my naïve theory that as an athlete a low calorie and low carbohydrate diet was the recipe to healthy weight loss. Tracking your macros (protein, fat, carbohydrates and fibre) with precise weight measurements with consistency ensures that you can track your progress and make minor adjustments where needed. What also assisted me in dropping body fat was my regular infrared saunas at Sunlighten which assisted greatly in flushing out toxins, increased circulation and metabolism and burnt fat and calories. I also increased my physical training sessions to 6x a week with a rest day that incorporated stretching or yoga.
The day finally came and after 4 months of controlled dieting and strong dedication I arrived in Las Vegas to compete on the world stage representing Australia. Who would have thought a goal to 'give it a crack' at competing would have led to this moment? I enrolled in two events, Mr Physique Novice and the Men's Open category. I was up against the world's best natural athletes from many countries. The atmosphere was electric and it was a truly surreal experience to stand on stage at such an iconic event that was being televised internationally. I brought my 'A game' and presented on stage full of confidence and a positive attitude to give it my all. I beat a number of professional athletes and was awarded a silver and a bronze medal in both events on two consecutive days. What an epic result to a truly magical experience in my first year of competing.
My take home message in order to achieve your ultimate fitness goal is that it takes hard work, total dedication and self discipline to follow strict training and dietary guidelines. Sacrifices need to be made for longer term competitive success. You too can achieve anything you put your heart and soul into with clear goals, the right support network, and the burning desire to succeed. My mantra would be, 'Reach for the stars, but set yourself bite sized goals that are attainable, and keep raising the bar to greatness.'
Thanks for reading this post and hope that this blog has inspired you to pursue and achieve your goals for 2016! May this be the best year yet!
If you are serious about your training, I am available for one on one personal training or online programming and nutritional advice. I can be contacted for further info below:
Natural Olympia Athlete - Silver medalist Men's Physique.
*Sunlighten does not provide medical advice. We recommend you consult with a health care practitioner if you are unsure if using an infrared sauna is right for you. For best results, our saunas should be used in conjunction with an appropriate diet and exercise program. Individual results may vary.