Figure Competitor

Post Comp Part 1: Retro!

In a former life in one of my many alter ego’s I used to be a computer programmer. Yes, I know, you’re already skulling that extra scoop of white lightning pre workout to keep you awake at the thought, but bear with me, this will go somewhere!

Now that I’m not a computer programmer any more,but am a Business Analyst….

(Aaargh!!! it gets worse! More white lightning!!!)

Look, I’m in I.T. Ok and in I.T there is a methodology called ‘agile’, I have posted about this before and it’s a particular methodology that I really enjoy using….it’s quick, high turnover, small chunks of work, fast paced, just enough information to get the job done and deliver something usable to the customer in short rapid iterations, showcase (present) your Stuff to the customer, get approval, get them using it and move on to the next small chunk of work. You work on ‘stories’, you groom them, flesh them out and work out the details, the when your current collection (iteration) of stories are finished, you check in with yourself and the team to see how you did.

You hold a retro…

Retro as in ‘what we did yesterday is sooooooo 3 decades ago…’

As with anything retro, some things worked, some things didn’t, some things should never see the light of day EVER again (thinking stone washed patterned jeggings here….in fact jeggings,full stop…and neon coloured thong aerobics gear….and…ok that’s enough, get on with it!)


and there are always some things could be improved upon.

I know a very select few of you are still in comp mode, but for the vast majority of us, this ‘iteration’ is done. How did you do? Did you go as well as expected? Did it all suck? Did you do better than expected? How was your conditioning, your prep, your diet, your energy, your training?

Do you know what you need to do to get it right next time?

As your resident Victorian, Australian intermediate and Agile ‘champion’ I strongly suggest you hold a retro on yourself.

The format of a retro is totally…informal, you sit on your couch, the beach, plugged in to your favourite death metal album, in your favourite cafe with a full fat mocha-frappa-latte-chino with 2 and a side of mud cake (you’re in off season! Chill out!)

You need something to write with, lots of colours are good and something got write on – the wall, the floor, back of a fag packet, spray can on factory wall….I don’t care, just don’t get caught.

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

What went right?

What went wrong?

What could be improved?

Or another way of looking at it

The good, the bad and the ugly.

This is a legitimate exercise….do it, don’t just go through it in your head or go ‘yeah, whatever’, writing it down makes it real.

I can’t tell you the number of competitors I’ve been following and watching over the last 2 years, with all the shows, workshops I’ve been to, photographed and written about, but it’s a lot.

Yet I see some competitors who go round show after show and they don’t change. I’m seeing competitors with great physical potential not going anywhere or even going backwards. There are competitors who are serial offenders at not hitting their conditioning.

Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m telling you as it is.

None of these competitors is holding their own personal retro…or maybe they are, but they are clearly not learning, changing, adapting from their competitions and results. Maybe they don’t care…I don’t know.

To my way of thinking that’s strange….why put yourself through a comp prep time after time, get results that don’t change or get worse and then don’t do anything about it? Maybe that’s just me, I always strive to learn, grow, seek new goals and challenges and if something appears to be broke, I’ll shake it until it rattles to find out why and then I’ll bust my arse to fix it.

So do it.

Write it down.

Look at it

Learn from it

Come back next comp with the weakness fixed and smash it.

Ok, now that I’ve got off my soap box, here’s my own personal retro.

Starting Weight: 64.5kg

BF%: approx 23%

Stage Weight: 53.7kg

BF%: approx 5-6%?

Fat Loss: 10.3kg

BF % Loss: approx 18% in 20 weeks

Muscle Loss: Minimal

What We Did Right:

– The whole prep! It was text book and it worked.

– Due to off season over compensation, early start was necessary – 20 weeks was a good amount of time, no extreme measures were ever required.

– Diet: Small frequent changes and tweaks kept my body guessing.

– Diet: No drastic calorie cutting – Aiden wanted me eating as much as possible for as long as possible to ensure my metabolism stayed in top gear. It worked. Perfectly.

– Diet: Fat loss consistent rate of 0.5-0.7kg for majority of prep.

– Diet: Never got down to starvation levels, always managed a relatively substantial amount of effective food. People at work could not get their head around the fact that my plate was always full of food right to the end, yet I was disappearing in front of their eyes. They could see it, but they couldn’t believe it.

– Diet: Weekly cheat meal, until 4 weeks out

– Diet: going fully ketogenic – cutting out all carbs early, approx 8 weeks from main comp.  Totally works for my body, energy levels high all day, no peaks or dips.

– Diet: Carby cheat meal 2 days prior to comp to fill me out

– Diet: Big High Protein virtually no carb meal post comp gave me plenty of energy to back up in better condition the following day.

– Training: Increasing exercise intensity intra sessions rather than increasing number or duration of exercise did not deplete my energy levels or overtrain me and meant I recovered well, was always fresh, could take days off.

– Training: Max 2 HIITs/week and only for 2 weeks

– Training: Not overtrained so energy and strength good all the way through.

– Training: Not overtrained so recovery excellent.

– Training: Not overtrained so able to backup well – stamina excellent.

– Practice Comp: Allowed a trial run at the process – water loading, carb loading, tanning, hair/makeup, look, backstage routine, pump up process and timing.

– Practice Comp: Nailed process first time, allowed repeatability.

– Practice Comp – to get nerves out of the way, very much needed.

– My look – attention grabbing – best bikinis, crowd loved ‘Pink’.

– My Conditioning – perfect at each point in time (except the last show)

– Pumping Up Process – short intense bursts leaving it as close to stage time as possible, no pumping up constantly and for hours beforehand, wasting energy that will be needed on stage.

– Timing

– Backstage attitude – relaxed until game time, then purposeful and efficient

– Posing: when I nailed it was excellent

– Physique: Legs!

– Physique: Shoulders!

– Physique: Back!

– Physique: Glutes!

– Competing: Trying out all the federations to find out what I’m best suited to

– Competing: always putting myself in the strongest categories, brings out the best in me.


What We (I) did wrong:

– Over competing – backing up on consecutive days in different states, cost me conditioning for the 2nd show which was the more important of the two.

– Entering wrong category at IFBB Vics, having to change on the day – not a good idea to piss off event organisers!

– TAN! Feedback at most shows was about tan, rather than physique.

– TAN! Backing up using different top coats resulted in blotchiness and cost a placing.

– Entering too many categories in a show – turns out more pressure brings out the best in me not more categories

– Posing – being told I looked arrogant when I had finally managed to relax and really get some confidence at first show was a bit of a kick in the guts

– Posing – allowing previous negative feedback to undermine my confidence in every subsequent event. Affected my performance prevented me showing my physique to the best of my ability.

What Could Be Improved:

– Physique: Biceps

– Physique: Abs

– Physique: Chest can improve

– Posing: Flow

– Posing: Stage Presence

– Diet: Do not blow out so much off season

– Diet: No more crazy diet experiments, we know what works for my body so stick to it.

– Competing: Do not back up on consecutive days in different states

– Competing: Allow a full day recovery if flying interstate, 2 days if international

See, it’s easy to do.

Have a go, you might uncover something you hadn’t thought of and it might just be the difference that makes the difference next time…


Quacks, Hacks and Misinformation: How to Avoid Screwing up your health

Ok I’m pissed off today, in fact I’m livid. Lets look at what has made steam pour out of my ears.

‘Try eating white fish for a few weeks…just to see how you go’

‘Only eat 30g of greens per meal’

‘Don’t eat spinach – its too high in sodium’

‘expect to feel like shit’

look fairly innocuous so far doesn’t it?

well no.

It isn’t. Not in my book.

This is ‘advice’ that I’ve heard recently being given to people preparing for competition by ‘experts’ in a position of trust who have the responsibility of someones health in their hands. When you have someone else’s health in your hands it is your responsibility…no…it is your duty to have the best, the correct, the safest, the most ethical information at your disposal. It is your duty, to obtain your information from a number of credible sources so you have the most up to date, in depth understanding of how to apply that information and specifically tailor that information to your clients needs and progress so that you can do the right thing by your client. Competition Preparation is about your client being in the best health they can be when they hit stage not necessarily the number on the scales or the lowest % body fat.

When I was being prepared for competition, I was lucky enough to be in the safe hands of Melita Jagic (and Matt Nicholson).  Melita has a vast wealth of experience in preparing men and women for competition. She doens’t turn out girls who look like skinned rabbits, or lose their periods for months or even years afterwards. She doens’t turn out competitors who are anaemic, or sodium depleted or overly dehydrated, she doesn’t subscribe to complicated loading/depleting regimes for sodium/potassium/carbs.  There is no ‘try this’, ‘have a go at that’…just to see what it does…She knew exactlywhat would work specifically for my body, she knew exactly when to change things, she knew exactly when to keep things the same. At no point did I have to change from drinking tap water to filtered/bottles water to minimise my sodium intake. At no point did I have to load with potassium. At no point did I have to eat just one type of protein for 2 weeks. At no point did I specifically have to load or deplete carbs.

For the whole 10 weeks of comp prep, I think Melita only tweaked my diet 3 times, once to take out my afternoon apple, once to take out my brown rice at lunch and once to reduce my breakfast carbs from 100g to 50g. That was it. I was free to eat as much green veg as I liked and I was rather liberal with the flaxseed oil and I was putting salt on my meals right up to 2 days out from competition. Yep you heard that right, I was ADDING salt onto my salads and veggies – just for a little flavour! I was even poaching my chicken in stock on competition day and I still came in lean and hard…and won.

Balance at all times was the key, because it is when you make wholosesale changes or make rigids restrictions, that dietary balance goes out of the window and the body has to react more strongly to keep iteslf going. I think in the last 3 weeks of comp prep I did not change my diet at all. It wasn’t broken, so there was no need to fix it. I came in at a gradual perfectly tapered pace that at no point unduly stressed my body. I had energy to spare and I was doing PB’s in the gym 2 weeks out from comp.

ok, I’m just warming up here.

lets move onto statement number 2.

30g of greens at each meal?

WT!!! what else are you eating to add volume, to fill you up?

Green Veggies are so low in calories and high in fibre that your body has to work very hard to digest it. This increased digestive effort and associated thermogenic impact ultimately causes your body to burn fat faster – I’m not going to go into the more intricate details – thats a whole other thesis!

Why restrict something that actually AIDS the fat burning process? Do you know just how LITTLE an amount of food 30g is???

take a look at this image – each portion of each individual vegetable in the picture is 30g – not much to be re-fuelling your body with after a hard days exercising – sure you’re going to lose fat, but you’re sure as hell going to be losing your muscle as well, not to mention the ensuing deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function correctly

I eat 350g of green veg AT THE SAME MEAL and I eat that amount 4 TIMES A DAY!!

AND in the last 2 months I have lost 6kg….with no exercise!!

You don’t have to starve yourself to lose fat.

words fail me at this point.

right lets get on to too much sodium.

Ok, here a list of some typical competition diet foods:

100g Chicken                                                                                     41mg

100g tuna                                                                                           240mg (tinned in springwater)

100g salmon                                                                                     280mg (tinned in springwater)

100g salmon fresh                                                                         42mg

100g tuna fresh                                                                               39mg

185g tin Sirena Tuna in Oil                                                770mg

100g white fish (raw)                                                                    72mg

100g beef                                                                                           56mg

100g kangaroo                                                                                47mg

100g spinach                                                                                70mg

100g Broccoli                                                                                  22mg

100g zucchini                                                                                  1mg

100g asparagus                                                                               2mg

100g snow peas                                                                              1mg

100g cucumber                                                                              21mg

100g rocket                                                                                     27mg

100g tomato                                                                                   8mg

100g oats                                                                                         7mg

100g Whey Protein Isolate                                                       212mg

100g Musashi ISO8                                                                       101mg

100g Venom WPI                                                                          196mg

Ok so of the typical green veggies people eat on a competition diet spinach does appear to have a lot of sodium. But lets get real here – look at how much sodium is in a tin of tuna or salmon even when its in springwater! look how much sodium is in your average protein shake. I was eating a 185 g tin of sirena tuna in oil everyday for 10 weeks and look how much sodium is in that! If I was really bothered about sodium I would NOT be picking on spinach as the culprit!

cutting out spinach is to cut out a ton of essential vitamins and minerals again – for example, 100g of spinach (spread it over 3 meals maybe??) contains:

48% of your daily folate (B9), 312% Vitamin A, 47% vitamin C, 402% Vitamin K (eesential for blod clotting and bone health – osteoporosis anyone?) , Calcium 10%, Iron 34%, Magnesium 20%

Another thing, when you make your salad its not ALL spinach, you mix it with carrots, tomatoes, rockets, cucumber…whatever you like..this will lower the OVERALL proportion of sodium in the meal. And think about it you’d p[robalby have about 30g of spinach in a typical salad which is roughly 25mg sodium? well the 100 – 150g of chicken you eat with the meal has more sodium in it

So you STILL think spinach should be cut out of a competition diet? Get real.

and lastly ‘expect to feel like shit’

now I’m all for setting peoples expectation to realistic levels, but when you’re dealing with people who are getting ready for their first competition or are at the stage where they’re thinking about it, but they’re not sure and its all a bit scary you don’t go and tell them that they’re going to feel like shit.

Sure tell them it will be hard – because it is. Tell them that they may experience emotional up and downs – because they will. Tell them that they will have days when they’re completely lacking in energy, motivation, willpower or they just want to sleep – because it will happen. Tell them that they may experience cravings – because they will – although if their diet is correctly balanced and nutritious they wont – I didn’t.

Set their expectations that it is not going to be a walk in the park, and that they are going to need support from their friends, family, trainer or communities of like minded people – they need to know that if it was easy then everybody would do it, they need to know that if they do this it will set them apart from everybody else, they need to know that it can be incredibly isolating, they need to know that it takes hard work, discipline, focus and determination but they also need to know that the rewards are worth it and that once they know they can do this then they will be able to do anything they set their mind to.

Tell them all this.

And they will go into their competition much more prepared mentally for whatever is about to come their way. To tell them to expect to feel like shit makes the mountain ten times higher in their heads than it needs to be and is likely to turn them off before they’ve even got started.

Get yourself the right information from the right people to get yourself up on stage in the best shape of  your life inside and out – not your worst.

T minus approx 12 hours…

ok here we go again – shoulder number two goes under the knife tomorrow at 11:30am.


I think I’m more nervous about this one than the last one – maybe its because I know what to expect this time.

I’ll get there and check in then I’ll be trollied to the waiting room where I’ll have to put on those delightful tea bag bloomers and compression suspenders – no more photos! nobody needs to see that a second time! 🙂

then they’ll knock me out and I’ll wake up at some point later and be really thirsty – like on comp day, but I wont be able to drink because my throat won’t work from the anaesthetic and I’ll end up breathing the water instead.

After about an hour they’ll wheel me to my room and I’ll probably sleep for the rest of the day. Mind you I was quite perky last time and my appetite certainly didn’t suffer! just as well  my brother smuggled in that grilled chicken! 🙂

maybe I’ll take my laptop this time – I have the rest of series 1 of Downton Abbey to watch and all of series 2 as well as the Christmas special!

thats my brothers fault he got me on to it whilst I was up in Sydney!

The only bit I’m really dreading is when the drugs wear off in the middle of the night – that was excruciating last time – the nurses couldn’t fill me full of morphine quickly enough!

apart from that it should be relatively easy – drugs and sleep! 🙂

I was trying to decide if I’d be classified as a paraplegic after this –  things you take for granted…like getting dressed cause a lot of pain in my left shoulder because I can’t raise my arm to the side, front or across my body. Sitting at my computer at work and reaching forward to type on the keyboard triggers shooting pains and crunching in the joint.

Any movement that engages the front shoulder muscles is very awkward. Even by the end of the day if I haven’t had my arm resting in a sling, the sheer weight of my arm hanging from my shoulder makes it very sore all the way down to my elbow.

Training of course is going to be very difficult. Today I was pretty much restricted to stair intervals – having done heavy legs/hammies/glutes/calves/abs at the weekend I didn’t want to do them again.

Next week is going to be even worse – I had my left arm in the sling at training today to prevent me from using it as a counterbalance or leverage when doing 3 steps at a time or frog jumps up 3 steps, but at least I’ve had my right arm to be able to stabilise myself holding on to the handles on the leg press or leg extension machine – next week I wont be able to do that as, anything that involves pulling or pressure on my left arm feels like its tearing the whole arm off!

its going to be a challenge thats for sure, but I have to think thats its for the best. I couldn’t keep going with my shoulders the way they were as I wasn’t able to do any heavy training with them at all last year, at best I was just maintaining and I was in constant pain. If this just fixes the pain aspect then that is progress and once I get through rehab then getting back into some real training is actually something to look forward to – I’m curious to see what sort of progression I can make…and how quickly!

within reason of course! Much as I want to get back into comp mode, I’m not going to do anything stupid…


that would be a first for me! 🙂

time to be more princess than mad dog…

Before then though, I’ve got veggies to chop and meat to bake whilst I still have one good arm!

see you on the other side!