Welcome everyone to the final edition of The Prep Diary!
Yes, it’s true, the big day came and went and now it’s time to reflect, analyse and plan for the future. There’s so much to discuss and talk about that it’s actually difficult to pinpoint a reasonable place to begin, so I’ll recap what brought me to the stage in this, the first of three parts.
2016. It began as a difficult year for me personally, which is perhaps a topic for another day. As many of us do after a devastating turn of events, we delve into a new hobby, passion or whatever it may be in order to distance ourselves from the pain and reclaim our own identity. That was especially true for me and not for the first or last time, the weights were my salvation. I’d been “lifting” for roughly four years at that point and was beginning to take an interest in the competitive side of the sport, spurred on by seeing friends and others blaze their own path by winning trophies and putting their bodies on display for all to see. I didn’t realise at the time, but I’d been badly missing a competitive facet in my life, as I no longer took part in gaming seriously, football was all but given up and those were my two main competitive outlets for years.
Bodybuilding opened up a new opportunity for me. To preface, I don’t consider myself a “bodybuilder” as to me, that phrase is reserved for those in the same conversation as the Arnold Schwarzenegger’s, Franco Columbo, Frank Zane and so on.
Back to the point, I looked at what I had at my disposal; my body, my gym, my friends, those I trained with and my mindset. Two years. That’s the deadline I gave myself to transform my physique from average to show ready. Within those two years, a lot changed and my life moved on as it does, but my goal never shifted. I had no doubt that I would step on stage in 2018. Originally, I was thinking about competing in April of 2018, but that would have been far too soon for where I was. At that point, I had put the relevant mass on, but my condition was nowhere near ready.
Witnessing several of my friends compete at Pure Elite, Margate in April 2018 gave me a real mixture of emotions. I was excited to think that in just three months, it would be me in their place, but then I was also hit with a brief moment of trepidation as I realised my goal, which was set all those years ago, was finally approaching reality and it would be my day of reckoning. Yes, that may sound wonderfully over the top, but that was honestly how I felt. I would either be proud of myself on stage or think “I could have done better.” Margate was a true turning point for me and made an already focussed prep turn up a notch into an unwavering, unfaltering grind to the finish line, where, unfortunately, sacrifices had to be made.
Sacrifices come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Whether it’s your diet and all of the “fun” things you like to eat, your relationships, both personal with friends or a partner and with your work. Being in a calorific deficit, yet expending more energy than you ever have before, with intense training, cardio exercise and a day job, things have to take priority and this is where the aforementioned pieces of your life can suffer, and did for me. You have to turn down social invitations, family dinners, time spent with loved ones and in general, just completely immerse yourself. It’s not for everyone, and not everybody will understand or support you. It’s a selfish sport and lifestyle, there’s simply no getting away from that. There’s no team, nobody else to hold accountable, just you.
That being said, motivation and encouragement can be found in abundance from the right people and those who are also on the same journey as you. I’m very fortunate to train in two gyms (GoGym and Kings Gym) that offer an environment filled with like-minded individuals who spur me on with kind words, impressive physiques and just general camaraderie. It’s a handshake and a genuine, positive comment from someone that helps push me through a workout and keeps me focused on the goal. Suddenly, I didn’t feel isolated and I was able to shift all of the focus from myself outward; I didn’t want to let anybody down who had supported and encouraged me. That may seem like I’m putting myself upon a pedestal, but that’s not what I mean; I allowed myself to get out of my own head and become part of a team, where I had a part to play. Yes, of course, the reality is, that it’s my show, my body and after a few weeks when the dust has settled, the hysteria will die down and all results, good or bad, will likely be forgotten. But for the run-up to the show, every advantage, particularly mentally, was snatched with both hands.
That concludes Part 1 of Journey’s End, hopefully, this helps put things a little more in perspective for you all. Part 2 will explore the events leading up to the day, the Friday before the show and of course the show itself. See you all next time!