My Vegan Month: 1 Week In

November 5, 2017

It’s not quite one week in to “World Vegan Month”, but Sunday seems a good day for a round up.

In case you missed it, I’m “going vegan” for the month. I’ve gone into this with no preconceptions, no expectations, and no particular concerns. So these round up blog posts will simply be what’s on my mind, and what (if anything) has surprised me about being vegan so far.

How have I felt?

Surprisingly, no different to usual. Hunger and appetite are about the same. If anything, I feel less hungry – more balanced – than eating my usual foods. I don’t know if this is an increase in fibre, or food volume? I should point out that I haven’t done a complete 180* in my food choices here. I was already eating a “good diet”, of “mostly whole foods”, with almost everything prepped from scratch by my own hands. I already ate a lot of veg, quite a lot of pulses/lentils.

So what’s changed?

Well, obviously no meat, fish, or eggs. I didn’t eat much dairy anyway (for some reason it makes me a bit queasy these days). But of course there is a bit of dairy in things like sauces, chocolate, dressings etc.

Snacks and “quick grab” foods are more difficult

The few times I have felt hungry have been the times I’d typically grab a quick “something”. Doing that is much more difficult as a vegan, it turns out. Maybe not once you’ve got used to it, I suppose. But where I might make myself a quick protein mugcake (EGGS!), or some scrambled eggs (EGGS!), I’m now left opening and shutting the fridge door thinking: “hmmm”.Β  There are plenty of things I can snack on, of course. But at this stage in my vegan adventure, I can only think in meals. (Thank you to Bulk Powders who gifted me a box of their Chocolate Coconut vegan protein bars which have been my sweet treats!)

Protein is a little harder to hit

It’s not difficult to eat protein as a vegan – plenty of plant sources have decent protein (tofu, pulses, lentils) and of course there is trace protein in pretty much everything. But it’s more difficult to – say – bump up a meal by 20g protein. Because vegan protein is tied in to other macros. So I have been having more servings of protein powder than usual (thanks again to Bulk Powders for this vegan protein powder!)

You have to rethink “meal construction”

As an omnivore, you tend to think of your macros separately. “OK, for my carbs I’ll do potatoes…. I’ll have chicken with that for my protein, and if I need any fats in there I’ll put some butter on top.” Or whatever. A bit more creative than that, but you get the idea. You can’t do that with vegan foods, because (as mentioned), the macros are all attached. So I’ve been trying to find higher protein versions of “carb” foods – like these pasta shapes (made from lentil flour and green pea flour), so then I can just have a veggie sauce on top and the macros are pretty decent.

Food shopping is eye-opening

I did a late night dash to the supermarket on the 1st, because I realised I didn’t really have enough food in the house to create a vegan meal. It was eye-opening. I realised how people must feel when they first embark on a “healthy eating plan” for the first time. All of a sudden, entire sections of the shop are off limits or completely redundant. You have to scrutinise labels (who knew that not all Quorn products are in fact vegan? Not me!) The shop took ages (see “scrutinising food labels”) but by the end of it my trolley was pretty sparse.

Question of the week

What is creatine? I mean, what is it actually made from? Is it… vegan? (I hope so! If it isn’t, please let me down gently!)

Um… what else?

  • Gym performance is absolutely fine. I’ve had a wicked week’s training actually.
  • My guts are fine, thank you πŸ˜‰
  • Sleep is fine/no different.
  • I haven’t craved/been hungry for/missed anything in particular.

Recipe

I will be using Fitproclientrecipes during the month, to try a whole load of new meals and snacks. I’ll report back.

For now, I will leave you with a recipe I’ve just made up on a whim. I call it Curried Cauliflower & Tofu, because that is what it is.

Ingredients:

  • 20ml oil
  • 400g raw cauliflower, chopped
  • 400g firm tofu, water pressed out
  • 200g tomatoes, chopped
  • Spinach (as much as you want, it will wilt away to nothing anyway)
  • 1 lemon (grate a bit of the rind, and squeeze all of the juice)
  • Garlic paste or fresh garlic
  • Fresh coriander
  • Cumin seeds
  • Turmeric powder
  • Red chili flakes or fresh chili
  • Ground black pepper
  • You could put more herbs/spices in if you have them – I don’t)

Instructions:

  • Heat the oil in a heavy pan (lidded one)
  • Put in the cubed tofu and all the herbs/spices apart from the fresh coriander
  • Let the tofu brown a bit (you won’t be able to tell, because turmeric makes everything yellow, including my fingers, my kitchen surfaces, and my utensils)
  • Add the lemon rind, tomatoes and cauliflower
  • Put the lid on the pan and let it cook away
  • Add the lemon juice & spinach, turn the heat down, and leave it.
  • Put the fresh coriander on top when it’s done

Macros per 1/4 of this recipe:

  • Cals 193
  • P 15
  • C 8
  • F 12

So. There’s my rather underwhelming update after 5 days as a vegan! Let me know if you have any questions (or suggestions).

I’ve got some interviews with real actual (as in permanent!) vegan athletes lined up, as well as more recipes, review of vegan protein products, and anything else that comes to mind! Requests are welcomed.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


2 x World Champion!

November 24, 2014

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I’m back at my desk after a week away in Boston, where I competed in the WNBF/INBF World Championships as Team UK’s amateur female bodybuilder. I’m delighted to tell you that I won, thereby retaining my World title (blog posts about last year’s INBF Worlds are here and here) – and can now say I am a “2 x World Champion” (even if it feels a bit weird to say so!)

Like most sportspeople, I place significant amounts of pressure on myself. I’m very competitive and expect a lot of myself. With many things in life, the further you go, the more you need to achieve in order to fulfill your own expectations (even if those expectations are of yourself). Sport is certainly no different.

That’s why this World blog post will be a little different to last year’s. I’m just as happy, just as excited, just as proud of myself. I had just as wonderful a time out in Boston with the rest of Team UK, and feel just as privileged to have been given the opportunity once again.

But, this year, my pride and pleasure at winning are joined by seeing where I need to improve, how I want to move forward, and where to go from here.

First of all, a few words about the experience of going abroad to compete as part of the UKDFBA‘s Team UK.
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Once again, being part of the Team was absolutely fantastic. Last year was one of the best times (if not the best time) of my life and this year did not disappoint. The team were all great people (I knew some of them already but there were lots I hadn’t ever met or hadn’t really spoken to), the UKDFBA’s planning and organisation was flawless, our accommodation was really great, and we had some great opportunities to bond as a team (Team training at local Gold’s gym, for example). I come away from Worlds 2014 – as I did from last year’s Worlds – with solid friendships, amazing memories, and having been part of something very special.

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Onto the comp itself

As already mentioned, I won my class and thereby retained my World title from last year. Last year there were only four competitors (split into three LWs, one HW – me – and then an overall which I won). This year there was just one open class of three (no over all) which I won. πŸ™‚ Cheery wave to the other two ladies, if they’re reading this! It was great to meet you and share a stage with you πŸ™‚

I am of course delighted to have won, it feels great (if a little surreal!) to say I “retained a World Title” and to say I am “2 x World Champion”. But I’ve got mixed emotions, too, which weren’t present last year. I guess this is what makes competitive bodybuilders what we are! And what keeps us hungry, keeps us pushing forward, stops us ever settling for mediocre, average, for “just OK”.

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As much as I am over the moon to have won, I’ll tell you now that I wasn’t completely happy with how I looked. I did not look as good as I did at the UKDFBA UK show, and I wanted to look the same (or better!) I’d been really pleased – shocked, even – with how I looked at the UKDFBA show this year. But I was heavier, less lean, less conditioned at Worlds and I am disappointed and cross with myself for that. I know why – my diet and mindset weren’t 100% in those weeks between UKDFBA and Worlds. I did diet, of course, but it wasn’t perfect enough for me.

I need a little more think-time before I could tell you why this was. I know that I was so hugely focused on UKDFBA (and the goal of winning there and taking the Pro Card on offer), that when I came 2nd (especially when it was on a tiebreaker) I had a mental wobble. I don’t think I fully appreciated at the time, but a couple of weeks later I saw it had affected me more than I realised.

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None of that is an excuse, and I know that to be a successful bodybuilder I will have to develop ways to prevent things like this affecting me, and to refocus very quickly and turn my attention fully to the next goal regardless of how I am feeling. It’s unlikely to be the last time I fall short of a goal – this is sport, after all!

A note on the Pro Card thing

Pro Cards are only on offer at Worlds to class winners when there are five or more in the class. A lot of people have said they were sorry that a Pro Card wasn’t on the cards again this year for me. But to be perfectly honest with you? I don’t feel I deserved it. I do want to be a WNBF Pro – it’s my ultimate goal in this sport. But, based on how I looked at Worlds, I don’t feel I’m ready (in terms of physique or mindset). Not quite. Nearly… but not quite. The fact that I have “missed out” a few times now by a whisker kind of confirms what I feel: that I am very very nearly there (but not quite), that I still have lessons to learn and improvements to make. I don’t want a Pro Card until I’m ready for it.

My next steps?

A very good, very constructive off season. I may or may not take a year off competing. Either way, I’ll be training hard and heavy, making improvements to physique, mindset, my knowledge about training, diet and my own body.

Stay tuned for a blog post about what to do if you develop horrendous edema/water retention after spending 5 days celebrating in an American city after coming off a long bodybuilding prep diet and then get stuck on a middle seat on a night flight between two large sleeping men (I will come up with a catchier title, promise!)

Thanks for reading!

2 x World Champion! is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Training update: the countdown has started to 2014 bodybuilding competitions

April 15, 2014

A few people have asked for an update about training, competition prep, and generally “where are you in your off-season/prep?”

I find it tricky to blog about “prep” when I’m so far out from competition, but I know I love reading about other people’s training, nutrition, mindset etc, so hopefully whatever I end up blogging about here today will be of interest to someone (oh, hi Mum! πŸ˜‰ )

ukdfba nicola joyce

Am I competing this year?
You bet! I have goals firmly in place but don’t want to share all of them here just yet. One thing I am happy to share (because it’s obvious) is that I will be competing at the UKDFBA bodybuilding competition in Leamington Spa in September.

If we use that “A” goal as our marker, I am 24 weeks out. Actually, no I’m not: I’m 23 weeks and 5 days out. Because, let’s not fool ourselves, there is a difference!

As of this weekend just gone I am into “under 24 weeks of prep” territory. To some, that might sound like ages. To others (me included) it seems like long enough (if things are going well) but, at the same time, really not very long at all. 24 weeks to diet down to best-ever stage leanness. 24 weeks to continue working on size and shape, symmetry and balance. 24 weeks to make some noticeable changes to certain body parts. Oh and 24 weeks to design and perfect a free posing routine, improve compulsories posing and fine tune stage presence.

If we say “a little over 5 months” rather than 24 weeks, it all seems a little more pressing… πŸ˜‰

As anyone who’s prepped for a show will know (in fact as anyone who’s prepared for any time-specific and very detailed goal will know!), 24 weeks goes by in a flash. I know full well that I’ll be “20 weeks out” before I know it, and from there time will only seem to speed up.

I’m not working with a prep coach this year. I felt it was time for me to take charge of my own training, diet and prep approach and I feel confident that I can do it, if not better than anyone else, certainly as well as anyone else could. I may be wrong; we’ll see. One thing I know is that thanks to the help, guidance and education I’ve received from previous prep coaches and various bodybuilding friends and mentors over the past few years, I feel I have a fair bit of knowledge. And thanks to lots of reading, journalling, data gathering, monitoring and navel-gazing on my own part, I feel I know my body pretty well.

Before this post gets too long, I’ll briefly answer a few questions people have asked me recently:

What stage of prep are you at? (See above – 24 weeks out although I may do a show or two before UKDFBA… maybe…)

What does this mean diet and training wise? Am dialling in my diet slowly but surely, tracking my intake, planning my meals and sticking to a plan. Training is 5 days a week (lifting) and some cardio (as well as my twice daily power/dog walks). I’m not feeling any changes in strength or energy (yet) so am lifting very heavy and using quite a bit of volume, just because I feel it’s what gives me the results I want.

How is it different to this time last year and the year before? What have you going to keep the same? What are you going to change? The main difference I guess is that I am working by myself, no coach. I would say that I have taken aspects from my 2011 prep and my 2013 prep (we don’t talk about 2012 πŸ˜‰ ) and come up with an approach which I think will suit my body (because it’s a different body, certainly to 2011!), my lifestyle and also how I like to train. My diet is very similar to last year (so far) because it worked and I enjoyed it (thank you, coach Vicky Bradley!) although I will tweak it as I go along, as and when things need to move along a bit.

I’ll be back soon with another update, I’ve realised that there is a fair bit to say I guess, if people want to read it! I’ve had some great training sessions recently with visiting female bodybuilding pals – I’m so sore from this weekend just gone that I had to physically roll sideways out of bed this morning – so perhaps I’ll detail those for you. Or a day’s eats? I had homemade burgers for breakfast today! πŸ˜‰

Do you think 24 weeks sounds ages, or like no time at all?

Hope your prep, training, gym visits, and sport-specific activities are going well. Whatever it is that you do, I hope you enjoy it. Cos, ultimately, that’s what matters!

Training update: the countdown has started to 2014 bodybuilding competitions is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Happy New Year from thefitwriter: 2013 in review

December 31, 2013

What a year it’s been! I’m looking forward to the opportunities and adventures which 2014 will bring. Here’s how 2013 went down in my world (and on the blog)

nicola joyce inbf world champion

I did five bodybuilding competitions and experienced the lows of not placing at all right through to the highs of competing in the USA and winning an overall World title!

comp 1) BNBF Centrals – 6th place physique
comp 2) BNBF Midlands – 2nd place physique
I was then invited to do the (new) Athletic class at BNBF Finals and decided to go for it
comp 3) BNBF Finals – 4th (of 5!) athletic
comp 4) UKDFBA Open – 3rd place bodybuilding
A few days later, I was invited to be the amateur female bodybuilder on Team UK at the INBF Worlds! Getting that phone call was one of the best moments of my year and I think I’ll remember it forever.
comp 5) (aka What the whaaaaat?! :-O ) What an experience… competing at the INBF Worlds as part of “Team UK”. I won the women’s bodybuilding HW class (by default!) and then competed in the over all against the LW winner. I won it, and became the INBF women’s bodybuilding overall winner and World Champion for 2013!

You can read the UKDFBA’s report of the INBF/WNBF Worlds 2013 here – it’s a great read and I encourage you to take a look.

I won a two awards in the naturalmuscle.com end of year awards (Best Journal, and I tied for Toned Glutes, LOL) – thanks, chaps!

WordPress.com has generated a handy summary of my blog stats for 2013. Have a look, see if you spot yourself in there! thefitwriter 2013 blog activity.

My most active blog commenters in 2013 were
Tara of Sweat Like A Pig (a fantastic strongwoman blog which tackles some meaty issues about training, women in sport, nutrition and competing – read it!)
Trish (she doesn’t have a blog but give her a cheer anyway, she’s probably making her bodybuilding debut next year)
Helen of Diary of a Newbie Strongwoman (as the name suggests – a strongwoman blog charting Helen’s journey through training and competing)
Rooobarb & Custard of Adventures in a Campervan (a wonderful blog about adventures in Ruby the 1967 split-screen campervan)
Fiona of HiFifi’s Transformation (a blog about a one-time (and future?) figure competitor who’s working out a way to eat and train for life)

Thank you, ladies (and gent)! But really it’s a big thanks to all of you who read, share and comment πŸ™‚ Apparently people read this blog from 155 countries, mainly the UK, USA and Australia.

Most popular post and product reviews in 2013 were

Tesco Nutri1st Advanced protein products
Monkey Nutrition whey isolate Primal26
Bio Synergy
Bio Synergy and Melanie Sykes supplement range
What I learned from the Phil Learney Fat Loss & Performance seminar
(You can see all my product reviews here)

Big up yo bad selves

I’d like to say a big thank you not only to my blog readers but to my friends and supporters in sport and business. Clients, agencies, PRs, collaborators, designers, editors, interviewees: thank you all. You can find me (wearing a slightly more professional hat) on my website, my linkedin and linkedin company page.

To anyone who has read, shared, liked, commented on or visited this blog in 2013: thank you! If you stick around into 2014 I promise to bring you plenty of interesting content, training info, competing reports, and behind-the-scenes news from a competitive bodybuilder who writes a lot. Hey, 2014 might even be the year in which I actually write more about the business of writing πŸ˜‰ You never know.

Happy New Year from thefitwriter: 2013 in review is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


thefitwriter on local radio Academy FM Folkestone

December 5, 2013

Morning! Just a quick one to post up a link to a radio interview I did last weekend

I was invited in to speak to the guys on the morning show at Folkestone’s Academy FM and we managed to quickly rattled through the sports I’ve been involved in, from Channel swimming to endurance sports like triathlon, to my recent bodybuilding win at the INBF Worlds.

If you’ve ever wondered what I sound like (my opinion=”weird”!), would like to hear me speak about my feelings on going to the Worlds, or are interesting in finding out how a Channel swimmer becomes a bodybuilder, have a listen. The interview is just over 9 minutes long.

Thank you to the guys at Academy FM for inviting me in!

thefitwriter on local radio Academy FM Folkestone is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


An A-Z of baffling bodybuilding lingo

December 2, 2013

A is for… “Ass to grass”
A rarely-seen but highly sought-after squat consisting of good and proper technique, whereby the glutes (“ass”) travel almost to the ground (“grass”) before the person completes the concentric phase of the squat (ie stands back up again)

B is for… “Broscience”
The dubious wisdom, typically based on anecdotal evidence, first-hand experience or Google searches, of bros. A bro is a male (although a first-generation of female bro can now be found) who appears to walk around with an invisible rolled-up carpet under each arm, and whose diet consists of 85% protein shakes. An example of broscience is “bro, I’ve got to drink this SuperMaxProGainzZz shake within 20 minutes of my workout otherwise I’ll go catabolic, bro, and I’ll totally lose my pump”. This youtube channel – BroScienceLife is a hilarious resource for broscience comedy.

and also for…. “bulking up”
Also known as “off-season”, the time of year when your beloved bodybuilder turns from a small, lean, wizened figure to a somewhat larger version of themselves. Some bodybuilders purposefully bulk up over Winter in a bid to add more muscle size underneath (so they’ll be larger next time they diet down to get on stage). Others just enjoy their food a bit too much after they come off their diet. Either way, how effective bulking up is as an actual strategy is open to debate.

C is for…. “Catabolic”
The hormonal state which bodybuilders fear even more than PMT. Catabolic – the evil twin of anabolic – is the state in which the body is breaking (rather than building). Of course, catabolism is actually necessary (you can’t build without a bit of breaking) but the key is in knowing how to manipulate the situation. Too much catabolism (typically through stress) is not what we’re after.

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and for… “Christmas tree”
Nothing to do with getting festive, but everything to do with getting lean for a bodybuilding competition. The Christmas tree refers to the pattern created by the muscles of the back where they lay across each other: a pattern you can only see when a person is lean.

and for… “clean eating”
A term to refer to real foods, ie ones grown in the ground or sprung forth from their mother’s wombs, as opposed to processed foods made in a factory or by a marketing man. Clean foods, clean eating and the dubious dichotomies encouraged by such thinking are behind perhaps the biggest row in the health and fitness industry at the moment. Washing your food with soap will not make it clean, by the way. Buying it from a farmer’s market (or Whole Foods), apparently, will.

D is for… “DOMS”
Not specific to bodybuilders but often referenced as a dubious matter of pride. Bodybuilders love to hate (and talk about) their DOMS. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness can result in problems sitting on the toilet (after leg training).

and for… “drop set”
A method of resistance training whereby a number of reps are performed at a heavy weight, and then the weight is immediately lowered (ideally, your training partner will remove some of the weight from the bar or stack so you don’t have to get out of position) and more reps are performed. The process can be repeated a number of times until you are left wondering why you can barely get a handful of reps out at a weight lighter than your Nan’s handbag.

E is for… “ego lift”
The lift you just about manage to struggle through after an attractive/younger/new person walks into the gym just as you are about to perform an exercise. Mistakenly thinking they are a) looking at you b) have calculated how much weight is on your bar and c) care, you add just a tiny smidgen more. Because you are the bodybuilder in this weights room, bro!

L is for…. “lean muscle”
Excuse me a moment.
I’m back! I just had to stab myself in the eye with a spoon. LEAN MUSCLE?! LEAN. MUSCLE? What other kind of muscle is there? Muscle tissue is, by definition, lean. It is the meat of the body. Body fat is the fat. Then there’s bone and fluid and all manner of other things. Please, don’t talk to me about lean muscle. Unless you’d like to explain what other kind of muscle there can be?

and for “lean bulk”
I have to be honest. I don’t even know what this means. To me, the term lean bulk combines the worst of all broscience. Bulking… horrible term which is meaningless really. And the idea of a lean bulk, presumably, is one whereby the bodybuilder puts on size, all of it muscle, and none of it fat. If anyone ever anywhere in the history of time has achieved this, please let me know. I’m even more interested if it was a natural bodybuilder. Because… just… no.
See also: “quality mass”.

N is for… “natty”.
Natty can refer to peanut butter, or to bodybuilders. Both usages refer to the fact that there is nothing untoward added. Natty (“natural” or drug-tested) bodybuilders are tested – by urinology and sometimes polygraph – for banned substances. Peanut butter is not, but it’s probably a good idea to check the label for added sugars, oils and salt.

O is for… “one rep max”
Something bodybuilders rarely test, because we don’t need to (and don’t get the chance). Your one rep max (1RM) is the maximum weight you can lift for a certain lift, usually “the big three” (bench press, squat, deadlift). Bodybuilders don’t tend to train in a low enough rep range to ever really test their 1RM, and it can take so much out of you that we’re not normally willing to devote the recovery time to it.

and also for “off-season”.
ie now! The period of the time between the final competitive show in your bodybuilder’s season and the fateful day when they begin dieting for the next. Off-season typically starts the minute the bodybuilder exits stage left (“where is that Tunnock’s Tea Cake! I know I put it somewhere in my bag!”) and ends… well, that rather depends on how crazy they go in their off-season.

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P is for “pump”
“Pumping iron”, “pump up”, “get my pump”… it’s all sounding slightly sexy on the gym floor but no, no, honest, we are just talking about muscles. (Does that make it worse?) The pump (the coveted pump!) refers to the swollen look a muscle takes on when it is full of blood (please, somebody pass me a shovel for this hole I’m digging myself into…) A pumped-up muscle looks rounder, fuller and harder (stop!), and therefore optimal for displaying to the judges in a bodybuilding show.

Q is for… “quality mass”
The elite standard of muscle tissue a bro embarking on a lean bulk intends to gain. As opposed to (one assumes), substandard mass. Quite how one is to assess the difference between quality mass and all-the-other-kinds-of-mass, I’m not too sure. Other than the obvious: when it’s body fat. But people intent on gaining quality mass rarely, if ever, gain any bodyfat in their quest. Ahem.

R is for… “refeed”
A bona fide nutritional protocol, refeeds are misunderstood, misused and misrepresented, often masquerading as “having a great big massive meal because I feel like it”. But bodybuilders have to give everything a label (and, when they’re dieting, have to justify every nutritional move they make). Used properly, a refeed is a meal (or part of a day) with increased calories, usually from carbohydrates, serving to boost a flagging metabolism, rebalance grumpy hormones and cheer up a dieting bodybuilder. What a refeed is not: a night out, followed by a takeaway on the way home, and then a few rounds of toast when you get in. That’s just lack of judgement (and real life!)

S is for “swole”
See “pump”. Swole – short for swollen, one assumes anyway – is to 2013 what pumped was to 1977. Often used by bros (see “broscience”) and sometimes confused with off-season.

W is for… “wheels”
A term used to refer to a bodybuilder’s legs, particularly when they are notably large or well-formed. I admit to not knowing why, other than the obvious: wheels are a method of transport, as are legs. Who knows. Some bodybuilding competitions award a “Best Wheels” prize.

and also for… “weeks out”
“Just squatted 1.2xBW ass to grass for reps, 3 weeks out”, your favourite bodybuilder might Tweet. What the bobbins are they on about now (and who cares?) Weeks out has come to be shorthand (helpful for Twitter!) for “the amount of time remaining in my diary between this day and the day on which my bodybuilding show is to occur.” Purely as an example, 3-4 weeks out is usually the roughest time for me.


What have I missed? I’ll pop it in a part 2….

An A-Z of baffling bodybuilding lingo is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


You ask, I do my best to answer: part 2 (INBF Worlds Q&A)

November 18, 2013

Here’s part two of you ask, I do my best to answer! (INBF Worlds Q&A) – thanks for your questions!

“How did you manage your food and water intake on the plane? I was surprised that you were allowed to bring your trophy back in your hand luggage – she’d make a good club if you were so inclined!”

It actually wasn’t difficult at all, thank goodness. I prepped all my meals up until we got to arrivals, and just ate those in departures or on the plane (had to refuse all plane food, including little packets of mini pretzels with the drinks, and had to hope nobody near me minded me eating turkey and broccoli out of a tub!) No food could be taken through the other side, so I just had to make sure I’d eaten it all. I then had quick-grab foods (oats, whey) in my hold luggage so I knew I’d have some sustenance if they journey to the hotel was longer than anticipated (it was – I was very glad of that whey!) Water was a different matter – you can’t take that through departures – so I just made sure I drank a lot before going through, and then bought a couple of bottles for the flight.

I didn’t ask about the trophies; I just carried them! I thought there was a chance of an upgrade πŸ˜‰ (there wasn’t… but the flight attendant did bring me a glass of champagne!)


“What do the judges look for? Do you have a tick list of things you need to work towards in the gym?”

The judging criteria is clearly set out (for every federation) and, for women’s bodybuilding at least, doesn’t vary too much even when you consider that this is a totally subjective sport. You do have to remember that the judges can only judge what’s in front of them on the day, and can only compare the physiques which are up there. And some will prefer size over condition, some will value condition over mass, etc. But, in general, bodybuilding classes are judged against the following criteria:

Round one (quarter turns) – symmetry (top to bottom, left to right, back to front)
Round two (compulsory poses) – muscularity and conditioning
Round three (posing routine) – this isn’t always scored but can make the difference when it’s otherwise a tough call.

Then of course, as you hint in your question, we all have things we want to improve upon in the gym. I do always ask judges’ feedback after shows, and most of them get back to me with some suggestions. I’ve had good feedback from Worlds about my presentation, posing, confidence and condition. One suggestion was to put more size and density on my shoulders. Personally, I’d like to build more thickness and density in my chest, and build a bigger bum (bum and shoulders tend to disappear when I’m dieted right down). More back is always good, too, for folk like me with not much in the way of a waist!

“What sort of turnout from competitors was there? Were there people from all over the world? Was there a big audience – had people travelled to support the finals?”

There were athletes from eight countries: USA (who don’t need to qualify or be selected to compete), and UK, Canada, Barbados, Australia, Switzerland, Italy and Japan. It was hard for me to tell what size the crowd was as I wasn’t able to be out front watching for much of it (and people tend to come and go) but the auditorium was huge and I could sense a lot of people out there. Most of the countries brought large teams of athletes, coaches and supporters and there was cheering in plenty of different languages!

“How did the atmosphere at a US show compare to the UK? In my head it should have been all glamour and spotlights πŸ˜‰ “

The atmosphere was definitely busier, and more intense than at any UK show I’ve done, but this might have been down to it being Worlds rather than a qualifier or British. The atmosphere in the amateur ladies changing room was definitely down to the sheer number of women (and amount of sugary snacks being consumed!) Tee hee.

I had my hair, make up and tan professionally done and am so glad I decided to do so. Not only did it kill that awful dead time of hanging about, but it was fun! The ladies were upbeat, excited, and really got me pumped up in to a great, positive mood. And having my hair and make up done made me feel like a superstar, which I really needed. I needed my attitude and belief in myself to step up to the highest possible level, and having hair and makeup really achieved this. It was a lovely treat to myself and just added to my feelings of “wow” about the whole experience of competing at Worlds.

I also booked myself a mini photo-shoot backstage with Reggie Bradford and again I am really glad I did so. Not only are the shots a fantastic memento of such a special competition, but the it added a sense of extra glam to the whole day.

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“What I find quite incredible is how you have managed to sculpt your body over the years to perform several different functions, from triathlon, to channel swimmer to bodybuilder… In these days of body dysmorphia, I think you are an example of how our bodies are tools to make perform how we see fit. It is sad that impossible and unrealistic images are portrayed as something to aspire to through all the photoshopping and airbrushing done by the media. You are an example of how being in control reaps rewards.”

Well, thank you. I haven’t really thought of it like that but I’d be delighted to think that I am an example of that. I do believe that we can all do exactly what we want with our bodies (although competitive success isn’t guaranteed of course). Where the mind goes, the body follows. That’s the difficult part: knowing why you want to achieve something, setting goals, sticking to a plan and following through.

Like the lady who asked this question, some of you will know me from years back. Yes, I have swum the Channel (and similar swims), taken part in triathlons and other land-based endurance events. And now I’m competing as a bodybuilder. Different energy systems, different training, different nutrition, different mindset (and different levels of bodyfat!) But all me underneath it all.

So, yes, I do believe that our bodies are tools which we can persuade to perform as we wish. Very precious tools, and ones to be celebrated, but they are (or can be) at the beck and call of our brains. If we want them to be!

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You ask, I do my best to answer: part 2 (INBF Worlds Q&A) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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