I said I had a lot to write about, so I’m going to kick off with another retro. Just like last year I’m going to go through what worked, what didn’t work and what could be improved upon.
What could be improved upon?
After the results I just got?
Oh yes, there is still plenty that can be done –whatever I do next, I’m going to be up against pro’s and that’s a whole other world.(hehe – I guess I just confirmed that ‘retire’ has been crossed off the list of options!)
I so wish Aiden had been with me overseas – not only because he deserves to have witnessed our ultimate success, but also so he could check out the standard of physiques that I’m going to be competing with and he’d know exactly what we need to do with my training and what we need to aim for next year. Having said that, once I get a few photos from overseas and I can show him, then he’ll get a pretty good idea. He knows what to do 🙂
I thought I’d do my retro a little bit differently today and use a different style of analysis – Edward De Bono’s 6 thinking hat system.This method is brilliant for getting you out of your habitual thought patterns and forcing you to look at something from all angles.
Never heard of it?
Well it goes like this:
There are 6 coloured hats; White, Yellow, Black, Red, Green, Blue and each is associated with a different pattern of thought.
White hat: Is about information known, or needed: The facts, just the facts.
Yellow Hat: Symbolizes brightness and optimism. Under this hat you explore the positives and probe for value and benefit
Black Hat: Judgement – the devil’s advocate or why something may not work. Spot the difficulties and dangers; where things might go wrong. Probably the most powerful and useful of the hats, but a problem if overused.
Red Hat: Signifies feelings, hunches and intuition. When using this hat you can express emotions and feelings and share fears, likes, dislikes, loves and hates
Green Hat: Focuses on creativity; the possibilities, alternatives and new ideas. It’s an opportunity to express new concepts and new perspectives
Blue Hat: Used to manage the thinking process. It’s the control mechanism that ensures the six Thinking Hats guidelines are observed. Big picture. Planning the action.
Lets get started.
- 9 Competitions in 9 weeks, in 3 different Australian States and 3 different countries (2 different US states)
- 15 flights around Australia and the world – 2+ /week for 6 consecutive weeks
- 25 Categories entered for; 17 outright wins (10 of which were at world level!), 3 seconds, 3 thirds, 2 no places, 2 overall figure world titles, 2 overall figure state titles
- Pro qualified in 3 different federations
- Pro qualified in 6 categories
- 20 week prep
- Diet: Ketogenic.only 4 calorie adjustments made, starting point 2300 cals, lowest level 1850 cals, held at 2000cals for 9 weeks, returned to 2000 cals for last 6 weeks of competition.
- Starting macro split: 60-65%P, 25%F, 5-10%C. From 16 weeks out dropped all starchy carbs – except at 1 refeed meal/week. Finishing macro split: 70%P, 25%F, 5%C (all from fibrous veg)
- Training: 5 x 45min Resistance/week + 1 x HIIT for 10 weeks. REDUCED to 4 x Resistance + 1 HIIT at 10 weeks out and added 1 conditioning session at 4 weeks out.
- Came in 4 weeks prior to 1st show
- Conditioning maintained for 13 weeks.
Problems, pitfalls and dangers. What didn’t work, weaknesses…not much really.
The one thing that I won’t be doing again – and this is twice I’ve done it now – is backing up on consecutive days in different states.
Last year I had a long show on the Saturday in Victoria and flew up to Sydney on the same night – only just making the plane and not getting to my accommodation until after midnight then being up at 5:30 the following morning was all too stressful and it impacted my conditioning and hence results for the Sunday.
This year I decided I would fly up to Brisbane on the day of the show – just as well because the Saturdays show went waay over time and there’s no way I would have made even the last Brisbane flight on the Saturday. Whilst flying on the Sunday worked like a charm and the hair and makeup all ran like clockwork, my conditioning was ok for the first few hours on the ground, but a combination of heat, not being able to rehydrate gradually took its toll and by my main category (6 hours after flight) I could not cool down, was uncomfortable, stressed, sweating profusely and had softened up significantly.
By the time I got home after the Brisbane show I was exhausted – I’d been up at 5:30am on the Saturday, didn’t get home until 9:30pm, had to pack, de-tan, re-tan and got to bed about midnight, only to have to get up at 4am for the Brisbane flight, fly, get car, find hair and makeup location, find venue, get bikini, compete in 3 categories, fly back. I got home about 1am and had, only had about 4 hours sleep in the whole weekend.
It wiped me out for the whole of the next week.
Stress – I always allow lots of spare time between getting hair and makeup done and getting to a show. Lots of time. Like hours. All to ensure I can take it as easy as possible, stay as calm as possible and not be stressed – People have told me about how cortisol affects conditioning but I’d never really experienced it until this year. One of my makeup sessions took nearly 2 hours!! Which chewed up all of my leeway, I then didn’t have time to eat, had to divert out of my way to get cash to pay for the makeup as they wouldn’t accept online payments, then I got stuck in traffic on the way to the show, arrived ½ hour late with only ½ hour to prepare for my first category! Then I didn’t have anyone to do my tan so I was in a complete stress. It didn’t help that Aiden couldn’t help me that day because he was away, I always prefer having him around as he keeps me calm.
After the show was over one of the judges came up to me and asked what I’d done with my food between my 1st and 2nd categories as I looked significantly better in the 2nd. The answer was, I was able to relax and de-stress!
Stage fright! As a result of certain circumstances, I’d started to associate being on stage with lack of confidence and self doubt, and that translated into serious nerves and shakiness, which impacted my ability to perform to my best. It probably took me 5 shows before I started to feel comfortable and my final performances reflect that.
Physique-wise I still need to work on my abs and bi’s!
The big picture was to compete at state level in order to achieve Elite status, win prize money or get airfares/accommodation to National level competitions. Compete at National level to win prize money or get airfares/accommodation to world competitions, as well as get a really clear understanding of how my physique had progressed from last year and try to get a gauge of how I would do overseas or which categories I’d be best suited to.
Compete at world level because that is the goal I’d set myself ever since I started competing.
The process was simple – do a longer, gentler prep to bring me in gradually so we didn’t have to resort to extreme measures. Having set such a huge task it was essential to ensure that I would have the stamina to be able to complete it – no calorie slashing or cardio smashing. Ever.
Smart training – we built the intensity within existing sessions so that we didn’t have to add extra sessions. I always had 1 or even 2 full days off a week. I had scheduled rest breaks of up to 5 days throughout the prep.
I made sure my diet was on point at all times – having taken the time to learn exactly what works for my body and what doesn’t, I made my diet as simple and repeatable as possible to minimise effort, maximise nutrition, reduce the chances that I wouldn’t be able to repeat it once overseas and most importantly could return to immediately post each comp. Eat virtually the same thing, at the same time, every day, but I also knew exactly what I could get away with which allowed me the luxury of being able to maintain ‘normal’ habits e.g going out for brekky all the way through.
After a flight in Australia the process was get to the accommodation as quickly as possible, re-hydrate as much as possible and rest – stick exactly to what’s worked before.
After a flight to a different country the process was find a gym, find the closest supermarket, work out how I was going to prep my food for comp day, train as soon as possible after the flight, re-hydrate as much as possible. Keep it as close as possible to my existing process.
Phew! What a rollercoaster! After a first up disappointment, I was crushed. I totally took it personally and let my belief in myself and my confidence take a beating. I started questioning everything – What was I doing? Was I doing the right thing? Why was I doing this? Was I actually any good – did I have a good physique or not? Were people blowing smoke up my arse by telling me I had a great physique?
For the first time in ages Aiden’s broad shoulders were required for tears, and leading up to my 2nd show I was so fearful, I couldn’t even stand on my heels in the gym without getting the shakes – how on earth was I going to get up on stage again? How could I put myself through the wringer again? I was starting to associate being on stage with negativity, anxiety, fear, confusion and disappointment.
I even resorted to going to see a hypnotist.
It worked and I got through my 2nd show, but I couldn’t shake the underlying lack of confidence and belief that affected me, and, at almost every show I suffered a lot of anxiety before getting on stage, had the shakes on stage and waiting for results was awful, as I just couldn’t get over the feeling that I simply wasn’t good enough and didn’t deserve to be there.
Don’t get me wrong, I did have plenty of fun moments, but there was always that element of anxiety.
Until I got overseas.
What a complete reversal!
Maybe because I had no expectations to live up to, or simply had no idea what to expect, I was able to relax and go with whatever happened a bit more – it was new and exciting, ferocious curiosity took over – meeting people from all over the US and World, watching how the shows were run differently or the posing was different – I soaked it all up and started playing with it a bit – it was fun!
And then I won…my first overall!! I couldn’t believe it! I was stunned, I cried with disbelief, joy and relief – time slowed down, I saw everybody in the crowd super clearly –they were cheering…ME! The judges were all smiling at me and nodding, my fellow competitors all congratulated me – some even said ‘told you so’. I had to pinch myself – I did it! I won a world title, I’ve got my pro card – everything I have worked so hard for, for such a long time has all come together in the best way possible – I floated off stage, to more congratulations backstage, my first thought was that I had to get a photo and tell Aiden, I knew he wouldn’t mind hearing this news even if it was the middle of the night. After that it was all a bit of a blur – Megs (fellow aussie) and her lovely family gave me a lift back to my villa and I wandered around in a daze for a while not sure what to do, still trying to take it all in – looking at all the trophies, picking them up and putting them down again – it didn’t seem real. Eventually I got round to getting out of my backstage clothes and going to find some food.
From there on it was more of the same! Heading off to Toronto I was looking forward to being part of a team and catching up with some familiar faces. I thoroughly enjoyed Toronto, walking around and randomly bumping into other Aussies in our team jackets, catching up for coffee or training, or dinner. Having someone else from home, made it seem so much friendlier. It’s such a different experience being ‘on holiday’ yet being there with a specific purpose in mind – the touristy stuff taking a backseat to training, food prep/comp prep routine. When arriving in a new place my first concern was always; Where is the nearest gym? Where am I going to get my food from? Will I be able to prep my food for comp day? How am I looking? What do I need to do to come in for the day?
The Toronto show was great fun – so well produced, the format was very different with every competitor on stage at once in a single long lineup – no call outs. T walks for figure, physique competitors do not wear heels…that threw me for a loop! I was waiting to go on (in my heels) and I got told physique competitors didn’t wear heels – I was like ‘how am I going to pose if I’m not in my heels?’ – all the other competitors were wondering how I COULD do the posing in heels! A simple demonstration cleared that one up for them :-p
I won the physique and came second in Figure, so I was stoked – pro qualified again! I could get used to this!
Leaving Toronto was kind of sad – most people had finished their season and were starting to celebrate and relax. Leaving everyone behind and heading off on my own again all of a sudden seemed quite lonely, I was going to miss the spirit and camaraderie. But I only needed to stay focused for one more week, I knew I could do that.
2 from 2 and one more to go! Could I do the three-peat? I started getting a bit nervous when I thought about it and by all accounts the last show in Boston was going to be the toughest – it certainly was the biggest, 240 competitors from 15 countries. Being polygraphed was a strange experience – electrodes sprouting from fingers and heat rate and breathing monitors strapped around my body and the same questions were asked 3 times! First you write the answers on paper, then the examiner reads them out to you, then he reads them out again v-e-r-y-s-l-o-w-l-y…I had a little chuckle to myself at that point and answered them all v-e-r-y-s-l-o-w-l-y. Fortunately it didn’t change the result and I was cleared to compete – woohoo!!
I managed to watch a bit of the pro show and was very interested to note that there were lots of call outs and shuffling of competitors. It also appeared that if you got called centre spot and held it, then you were probably the favourite and everyone else got shuffled around you. Hmm…very interesting.
My turn – Fitbody masters and open in each lineup I got placed in the centre straight away and held it, this had to be good right? I posed as hard as I could – fortunately Nancy was yelling at me from the crowd to make sure I nailed it. That really helped, having that bit of support and soon enough there were other people in the crowd yelling my number which was great.
The Figure lineups were also very good and again it was great to have Nancy yelling at me to flex hard! I was actually not going to flex at all, because I thought figure might be a softer look, but in this case it’s all about the symmetry and it helped massively to be provided with that direction. And boy did we have to work, but I was really enjoying the competition – this is what I wanted and I felt good.
By the time we did the T Walk for Figure, I was completely at ease – with myself, with where I was at, with what I’d achieved – I was in a very serene space, calm and centred. At that point, it really didn’t matter what happened – I’d proved beyond all doubt that I deserved to be there. I had exceeded all of my own (and anyone else’s) expectations. Walking on stage for what could be the last time this year, in those last few moments I was finally free. I floated – feet placed perfectly, feeling every muscle glide into the correct shape, turns executed seamlessly, engaging with the crowd, enjoying being there, absorbing every detail.
During the final intermission, the top 5 in each category are posted on the wall – it’s only the top 5 that get to go back on stage for the awards – I nervously scanned the lists…Fitbody…#132, Figure Masters…#132, Figure Open…#132 – holy shit I was top 5 in all categories!!
And then the magic happened…I won Ms Fitbody, then immediately had to come back on stage for Figure Masters…and I won that too. Then it was off stage and on stage for Figure Open (medium) and amazingly I won that too. By now I was in a bubble, everything was surreal, noise seemed to be muffled by cotton wool, yet everything was super clear…every time I came back out on stage people were cheering for me…I’d won the crowd over as well. Back onto stage for the overall…the quarter turns just flowed, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face and then we stood waiting…
And the winner is…
From Australia, number 132, Sarah Taylor!!
The crowd went nuts, Nancy and Gina were cheering, both the other competitors congratulated me, I nearly cried again – emotions charged through me battling for air time – relief, joy, disbelief, pride, satisfaction – I was speechless, numb, out of body –I’d done it – I’d won everything – 3 World Titles in 3 Shows in 3 different federations and pro qualified in all 3.
There really couldn’t be a more perfect way to end a very long season.
What are the positives and benefits of this season – as it turns out lots!!!
Long gentle prep – no calorie slashing, no cardio flogging.
Clever training and even a reduction in amount of training!
High volumes of food all the way through. High calories all the way through – even at minimum (1850) I was still above maintenance levels which meant – 0 muscle loss and plenty of energy.
Being able to do such a long season with so many shows and categories, flying so often and managing to maintain my condition, having the energy and stamina to even attempt it, really highlights just how good our process is and how well suited it is to me.
Even with all that upheaval and change, I was able to snap back to show condition within a day in most cases, 2 at most – the learnings, insights and knowledge I have gained from this experience is invaluable and will be very applicable next year when I have to travel again to compete
3 x World Champion!
My physique really is as good as people have been saying it is – I finally believe that for real – no more doubts, no more questions in my mind.
It means I’ll be able to step onto any stage, anywhere in the world and know that I deserve to be there. Which hopefully means…
No more stage fright
No more shakes
Exciting times ahead!
Stepping up into the big leagues now – Pro stages!
How will I go at this level? Who knows, but it’s going to be exciting to find out
Am I going to change my training? – Aiden has hinted at some interesting new things to try out, so I can’t wait to get started
Diet-wise I’ve got a few interesting experiments I’m going to test out, whether I stick to them all year or revert back to what works so well remains to be seen.
This off season I want to hold at max of 4kg above comp weight – I managed to keep to about 6kg last off season, so I want to do better again
It’s going to be exciting exploring where I can go – planning my next overseas assault – which shows do I do? Which cities do I want to visit? Do I do early season, mid season or late season? My choices are wide open
My new bikini(s)! Can’t wait to chat to Jo Rogers about what we can do this year – the bikinis I wore were a total talking point overseas – I even had guys commenting on how beautiful they looked!
So, there we go, a colourful way to summarise a massive season and take the learnings forward into a new year, to create new training, to develop my physique in new directions, to step on stage at a whole new level.
Will keep you posted!