Time Away From Competing: Opportunity Or Loss?

December 8, 2015

Those of you who know me in real life, or who have been reading TFW for a while, will know that I competed in bodybuilding competitions from 2011 to 2014 (several shows a year). I haven’t competed this year. People are now starting to ask me whether or not I’m going to compete next year.

I don’t have an answer to that question yet.

But it did start me thinking about an interesting topic: whether or not to take a year (or more!) off. And why some do, and some don’t.

It seems to me that there are two types of (bodybuilding) competitor. The “every other year” guy (or gal) who competes every other year or perhaps two years out of every three.

Then there’s Mr or Ms “every season” who – for whatever reason – feels compelled to compete every year.

Which are you?

I was a Ms Every Season. I’m now a Ms “Time Off, Thanks Very Much”.

The way I see it is that bodybuilding is the sport of building your body. Yes, being lean on stage is one aspect of that, but just as important is the training, the building, the growing, the improving.

As natural bodybuilders, the only way we get lean for shows is to diet – sometimes aggressively – living in a near-perpetual calorie deficit. Muscle does not grow out of thin air. Particularly when you are a drug-free female pushing 40 years old (holla).

Hence my decision to take time off: quite simply, if I step on stage again, I want to be improved (size, mass, symmetry, balance… as well as condition/leanness). And I don’t feel I can make those improvements if I diet every year for 6+ months of the year.

Plus, I love training and sport in general. I’m really enjoying training for a powerlifting meet at the moment, and I’m loving boxing which I only tried because I wasn’t prepping. I had a lovely Summer being out on my road bike and doing a few sportives. I’ll never not train, it’s what I do. But there’s so much out there I want to do – in addition to my bread-and-butter bodybuilding training. I have a sneaking suspicion that other sports and other styles of training will benefit my physique, too, but that remains to be seen I suppose.

There are other reasons for the time off, too. Enjoying all life has to offer. That kind of thing 😉 Birthday cake on my actual birthday (in the middle of comp season). Channelling time, energy, brain power in to my business, my relationships. Doing things I need to be on the ball for (buying a home). Turning the spotlight off just one thing and shining my considerable energy on to lots of things, not just one thing.

But I know not everyone agrees with taking time off from a sport and a passion. Some feel that if you want to do it, do it now. And others know they probably should take time off if they want to improve, but they love competing so much they’d rather just crack on, even if it means less-than-optimal results.

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Here are a few thoughts from my bodybuilding friends on the topic of “why do some bodybuilders seem to fear taking time off from competing”.

I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences…

I think some bodybuilders feel it is competitions that define them, rather than realising that it’s what we do day in and day out that defines us!

I think competitors worry that they will lose their identity if they are not actively competing year in year out.

People fear getting too out of shape and losing focus.

Some people fear falling off the radar and being forgotten about in comparison to the athletes who compete year in year out.

The attention one gets when in show shape is quite addictive. If you struggle to control body composition without an event to be working towards, it is easy to get out of shape. If you feel that your value comes from being in good shape, some can feel inadequate without that. Maybe the key is to work on being more self-aware and self-assured?

For some people bodybuilding IS their life and competitions are the highlight of it. Not competing can leave a huge void for those people.

Competition gives a massive buzz. The run up to competing, being on stage and everything that goes with it. However if you want to improve in bodybuilding you need time off the stage. This also gives you mental space to improve other areas of you life.

In reality each workout is the competition

It is foreign to some people’s thinking to consider themselves a top athlete in a sport yet have a 2 year interval from actually competing in it.

The stage is addictive. Being on stage matters more than substantial progress to some people

It’s the fear of being forgotten. It’s also that yearning to be on stage with your pals year after year and to see what you need to improve (that being said, if you don’t take the time to improve then you won’t!)

My body is telling me a year out. My mind is telling me I have unfinished business and I’m not getting any younger so I need to finish this. If I thought I was not making progress year by year I would take a year out but also I think it depends heavily on other commitments and finances as well. I, for one, work better if in regular interaction with a coach

I’ve wanted to take a year out for 4 years and still haven’t, simply because every year when others start to get their shreds on I just get pulled in… I genuinely wanted to take a year out this year but a few people advised me to stay on the circuit and it doesn’t take much persuading

LOTS more to say on this topic but I’ll stop here – maybe a few follow-up posts to be done!

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Time Away From Competing: Opportunity Or Loss? 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 🙂 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 😉 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.


Biosignature assessment at 2 weeks out

July 8, 2013

I’ve been having biosignature body fat caliper tests throughout this prep (as I have in previous years) – I had one at about 8 weeks out, one at about 4 weeks out and one today (just under two weeks out – eek!)

As mentioned previously, what I’m always most interested in when it comes to these tests, and like to compare each time, is the skinfold measurements themselves.

Here are the readings from today –
8 weeks out vs 4 weeks out vs 2 weeks out!

Chin: 5.6mm/3.8mm/3.6mm (-0.2mm since last time, -2mm total (so far!))
Cheek (face… !): 8.4mm/7.6mm/7.4mm (-0.2mm since last time, -4mm total)
Pec: 1.8mm/1.8mm/1.8mm (no change)
Triceps: 14.4mm/11.4mm/12.2mm (up 0.8mm since last time (hm!), -2.2mm total)
Sub scap: 6.8mm/6.0mm/5.8mm (-0.2mm since last time, -1mm total)
Mid aux: 3.3mm/2.8mm/2.6mm (-0.2mm since last time, -0.7mm total)
Suprailic: 6.4mm/4.6mm/4.4mm (-0.2mm since last time, -2mm total)
Umbilical: 8.4mm/7.0mm/5.8mm (-1.2mm since last time, -2.6mm total)
Knee: 6.6mm/6.6mm/5.6mm (-1mm since last time, -1mm total)
Calf: 13.0mm/10.6mm/9.6mm (-1mm since last time, -3.4mm total)
Quadricep: 21.2mm/17.0mm/15.4mm (-1.6mm since last time, -5.8mm total)
Hamstring: 17.6mm/13.2mm/10.8mm (-2.4mm since last time, -6.8mm total)

(Really hope my mental arithmetic is correct – it’s 9pm on a hot evening on my lowest carb day of the week with 13 days to go til comp. HELP ME WHERE IS MY ABACUS! 😉 )

I’m really pleased with the quad and hamstring (leg) readings – my legs were lagging behind and, although I could see with my own eyes that they’d started to come in well over the last two weeks, it’s good to have it clarified in numbers. I’m not sure why I now have a fat tricep! All I can do is press on, keep doing what I’m doing, and trust that it will come down eventually.

Biosig experts, if you have any thoughts, comments or suggestions on my tricksy triceps, let me know!

So, that’s a total of another 7.4mm off in these past two weeks, to add to the 21.1mm off between the previous two tests.

I’m pleased!

Running all the skinfolds through the Poliquin software today gave me a reading of 8.9% bodyfat today (-0.8% from 2 weeks ago and 3.5% from 8-ish weeks ago) which I’m pleased with for this stage in prep (don’t forget that I plan to have a good long season of comps – this first competition in two weeks is not the only goal). Putting the same skinfolds through the 7-site Jackson/Pollock bodyfat calculation brings me out at 12.08% which I’m also happy with.

Regardless of the final number, I use these test results as one part of an ongoing set of markers to chart progress.

That’s me done for the night! Byeeee!

You can get in touch with Aimee, who did my biosig, at her website – Tunbridge Wells Kent Personal Trainer or connect with Aimee on Facebook or Twitter.

Biosignature assessment at 2 weeks out 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.


Biosignature assessment at 4 weeks out

June 21, 2013

I had a biosignature re-test today (if you’re interested in reading more about biosignature testing, or seeing the results of all of mine, I’ve put all the relevant posts together here: biosignature test blog posts).

I had my first biosig of this prep four weeks ago exactly and went back to see Kent biosig practitioner Aimee Stevens today for a retest.

2013 prep biosigs

Here’s the screenshot with both tests on (click to enlarge). Ignore the weight (which is the weight of me, my bottle of water and my meals) and, to an extent, ignore the bodyfat % (I say that partly because every method differs, and also because the % takes bodyweight into account). What I’m always most interested in, and like to compare each time, is the skinfold measurements themselves.

Here are the readings –
8 weeks out vs 4 weeks out
Chin: 5.6mm/3.8mm (-1.8mm)
Cheek (face… !): 8.4mm/7.6mm (-0.8mm)
Pec: 1.8mm/1.8mm (no change)
Triceps: 14.4mm/11.4mm (-3mm)
Sub scap: 6.8mm/6.0mm (-0.8mm)
Mid aux: 3.3mm/2.8mm (-0.5mm)
Suprailic: 6.4mm/4.6mm (-1.8mm)
Umbilical: 8.4mm/7.0mm (-1.4mm)
Knee: 6.6mm/6.6mm (no change – hmmm!)
Calf: 13.0mm/10.6mm (-2.4mm)
Quadricep: 21.2mm/17.0mm (-4.2mm – yippee!)
Hamstring: 17.6mm/13.2mm (-4.4mm – also yippee!)

If my end-of-the-week maths serves me right, that’s a total of 21.1mm off – with the biggest changes being in 1) hamstring 2) quad and 3) calf. Looks like it’s been all about the legs this past month!

What I liked about today’s retest is that (most of!) the areas which were a bit too high for my liking last time have come down (legs in particular). And now everything is a bit more in line and even – with the exception of that knee reading!

All the number-crunching gave me a reading of 9.7% bodyfat today (-2.7% from 4 weeks ago) which I’m very pleased with. Whether or not we think it’s a true 9.7%, it doesn’t matter – I use it as a measurement and a set of numbers to compare against each other each time. Given that I was (by biosig testing/measurement methods) 6.7% in 2011 around the time of my qualifier competition, and then 4.1% for the BNBF British Finals, I feel in a good place given that I have four weeks left until my qualifier this year.

As long as everything’s moving in the right direction, I’m happy.

I’ll be heading back for another test in a few weeks – by which time I hope to have leaner knees 😉 (and leaner everything else for that matter).

So, here we are with 4 weeks (on Sunday) to go til my qualifier! I’m having a long catch-up with coach Vicky next week, to discuss training and diet changes for the next few weeks. Exciting! 😀

Have you ever had a biosignature assessment?

You can get in touch with Aimee, who did my biosig, at her website – Tunbridge Wells Kent Personal Trainer or connect with Aimee on Facebook or Twitter.

Biosignature assessment at 4 weeks out 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.


New biosignature assessment for 2013

June 4, 2013

Nearly two weeks ago now (where is the time going…?!) I had another biosignature assessment. Long-time readers might recall that I had my first biosig about a month out from the BNBF British Finals in 2011, and a follow-up assessment just a few days before the Final, and then one biosig last year, as well.

Whilst I recognise that they’re not necessarily completely accurate (what method of body-composition testing is, other than autopsy? 😉 ), I do find the data fascinating. For more information about the biosig method and assessment, take a look at my previous biosig blog posts (linked to above) or Google it. Briefly: it’s a skinfold test, using calipers, which assesses 12 specific sites on the body that relate to individual hormones. The result shows your hormonal profile, and the practitioner can then advise on lifestyle, training and nutrition tweaks you can make to get you healthier (and leaner, if that’s your bag).

And, like any form of measurement, I like using biosig tests as comparisons as I make my merry way along the Path of Prep.

So, I had a biosig test two weeks ago with a biosig practitioner here in Kent – Aimee Stevens. She hasn’t calipered me previously and it’s worth bearing in mind that different practitioners will do things slightly differently, no matter how hard they try to replicate the process. My reading came out as 12.4% bodyfat which I was pleased enough with at the time (just over 8 weeks out from my qualifier) although I would hope (and am confident that) it’s come down from then. I’ll be going back in a few weeks to find out!

Here’s the report (clicking on it ought to enlarge it)
photo

And here’s what Aimee had to say:

The Biosignature Modulation body fat assessment is a testing criteria devised by Charles Poliquin, based on the hypothesis that individual body fat testing sites are hormone modulated, therefore allowing practitioners to target site specific fat loss.

Nicola Joyce 24th May 2013
Body fat percentage is currently 12.4% (lean body mass 55.6 kgs)

Priorities:
Hamstrings (estrogens)
Calves (growth hormone/sleep)
Triceps (testosterone)

Body fat is good/lean, therefore it is perhaps more insightful to look at each individual site reading comparatively and set targets from here in order to achieve increased leanness for competition. One thing to bear in mind: the Biosignature Modulation testing is devised solely as a tool to reduce body fat, therefore – no matter how optimal the site readings are – it will always point out priority sites 1, 2, and 3 for focus. Under ‘normal’ circumstances I would encourage Nicola to maintain this body fat percentage, however for competition it is a different ball game!

Very optimal sites are seen in her chin/cheek, representing a good overall leanness. The pec site reading is low, as is sub-scapular (hypothesised to represent high carbohydrate tolerance), mid axillary (thyroid), supra-illiac (insulin), and umbilical (cortisol).

Hamstring – first priority – would be the first port of call for reducing body fat in this case. For a female, 17.7mm is a good lean hamstring, and as discussed this is no cause for concern. For Nicola to reduce this further we would firstly look at any exogenous exposure to estrogen toxins (for example non-organic produce, plastic exposure, cleaning products, cosmetics, etc). My second step would be to optimise Nicola’s ability to detoxify:
– Improve gut health, mainly through a high quality pro-biotic and increased fibre
– Ensure diet is antioxidant rich, greens supplements are a fantastic way of boosting levels
– Supplement with a good B complex, high quality fish oil, magnesium, possibly zinc

I do not personally feel Nicola would need to follow an estrogen detoxification specific protocol at this point, but would encourage her to keep her (filtered) water high, and drink lots of green tea. It is interesting that Nicola’s quad reading is 21.2mm, which is slightly high for 12.4% body fat. The quad reading is hypothesised to be indicative of estrogens that your body is producing, for example being on the contraceptive pill. In combination with the guidance above, perhaps sauna protocols (infrared if it is available) might be useful in reducing this site.

Calves as priority 2 is slightly high again for a lean girl, so 12.4% (double the fat as on her hips for example!), therefore lifestyle changes to induce sleep should be put into place at this important stage, and increased magnesium should help. Triceps being third priority is slightly unusual for such as muscular lean girl (14.4%). I often find that heavy weights reduces this site. I would expect this to be well below 10mm for Nicola. Her next training stage is higher volume, which should lead to a reduction in this site, but Nicola could also look at boosting zinc which is a testosterone modulator.

profile_aimeeAimee is a registered biosignature practioner, holds credentials from top UK universities, further certification from the Australian Performance Training Institute, and has worldwide experience of training 100+ clients across 3 continents.

You can get in touch with Aimee at her website – Tunbridge Wells Kent Personal Trainer or connect with Aimee on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks Aimee and see you again soon!

New biosignature assessment for 2013 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.


NPA British Final 2012 photos

November 9, 2012

Sorry for being AWOL – I’ve been moving house 🙂 I still don’t have broadband or a phone (<— self-employed person's problems) but I’m making do with dongles.

Anyway, 2 minutes ago I realised that I’d promised you a second blog post about the NPA British Final (my write-up is here) once I’d got the official photographer‘s pics. Well, he sent them ages ago, but I forgot.

Here they are! Enjoy 🙂 (I think you click on them to make them bigger if you want) And all the very best to the British Team who are preparing to step on stage at the INBF/WNBF Worlds today and tomorrow in Atlantic City.





















I’ll be back soon with a blog post about breakfast. Yes, it’s the off-season, which means eating and baking and cooking oh my!

NPA British Final 2012 report 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.


NPA British Final 2012 report

October 31, 2012

Hello! I owe you a show report – Sunday was the NPA British Final, my last comp of the year.

Well, guys, I don’t really know what to say because… I came last. Yup! 6 in my class (Ladies Physique 55kg+) and I came 6th.

There it is. There’s no point sugar-coating it, or giving it all the “yes I came last but think of all the people who didn’t even compete!” or any of that balls. 6 of us in my class, and I placed 6th.

Obviously it wasn’t what I wanted, hoped for or (honestly) expected even right up until the moment my name was called (perhaps I’ve got reverse body dysmorphia, where I think I look OK when really I look shit haha!) But hey, it is what it is, and if this “annus horribilis” of mine has convinced me of anything, it’s that, really, it’s not a big deal. Not a bodybuilding result, not anything really! Has anyone died? No. Then we’re OK.

Despite a disappointing and upsetting result, I had a great day, and I’m happy to tell you a bit about it. I’ll also post some of the pro photographer’s pics (Fivos Photography) when I get them (regardless of what I looked like, the photos will still be fantastic because Fivos is the man!)

As with all my comps this year, my sister joined me for the weekend, making it a wonderful weekend away. The hotel we’d been recommended by the NPA was lovely! We hunkered down for the evening, sis with her room-service dinner and me with my tin foil parcels of cold turkey breast, and she popped a couple of coats of tan on me during Strictly Come Dancing.


I slept pretty well and was very pleased with how I was looking in the morning. I know I didn’t write much during the weeks between the UKDFBA comp and this one but that’s partly because I dieted SO hard and did a lot of extra training (mostly cardio) in a bid to come in with better conditioning. I didn’t have the time or energy to blog much and didn’t have a lot to say. Anyway, I really felt as though those two weeks of hell, fish and cardio had paid off: I looked tight and lean and was drying out nicely. I was really happy with how I was looking and felt I’d continue to improve throughout the day of the comp, too.


At the venue I checked in, weighing in a smidgen heavier than at last year’s NPA Final (57.1kgs, and they split Ladies Physique into under 55kg and 55kg+). There were 5 of us (and 4 in the lightweights) and the other 4 ladies were imposing names. I knew it would be a fantastic contest – as it should be, this being a British Final!

Then came the news that one of the favourites had weighed in a smidge over the cut-off, so – joy of joys! – she and her washboard abs would now be in our class. One more competitor, and what a competitor! I knew this would make our class even tougher, but I didn’t feel outclassed, I knew I probably wasn’t challenging for top 3 (I’d had so much to do getting condition back on track), but felt quite happy at the idea of battling it out for the other spots. And nothing would stop me from giving it 100%, after all, first place is there to be taken and nothing’s decided until they call the results!

A happy twist of fate happened when I found myself in a little dressing room with 7 times NPA British Champion, Carol Streeter. There was only room for one other person and I got lucky when I knocked on the door before anyone else. So, for the rest of the day, I shared the company of this lovely and inspirational woman who was a joy to be around. Thank you Carol for the chat, the posing tips and the feedback 🙂

On we went for “prejudging”, the bit in plain bikinis where you do your quarter turns (symmetry) and compulsory poses. I’d had a sneaky look at the other ladies, of course, and realised that I wasn’t the leanest (but also didn’t think I was the un-leanest), nor was I the biggest (but I wasn’t convinced I was the smallest either), and I felt happy about my symmetry and balance. In short, I still felt that I probably wouldn’t be troubling the top ladies but that the bottom half of the placings were all to play for.


Prejudge went well, I felt as if I hit my poses just fine and was certainly posing very hard! I’m told we were onstage posing for 15 minutes, which if true is ages! I was sweating and aching and shaking – a good workout!

We were all sent to the back of the stage, before the judges called us forward in turn for our “call out”. Everyone was called forward and arranged around the woman in the middle (first to be called out). Name after name was called… and then mine. Last. Now, people say it doesn’t matter where you are in the call out but I think it does. If the judges want to see you, they’ll call you first/second/third so you’re right there in the middle being compared side by side with the others. Then they stick the ones they’re not so fussed about out on the end. I was out on the end. I felt gutted, but knew there was no point acting defeated whilst I still had time on stage. Besides, I was enjoying myself! So I continued to pose as hard as before – harder, in fact. I don’t think I’ve ever posed that hard! Someone should set up a camera in the back of the stage sometime because I’m sure the faces we pull when we’re facing the back, doing our rear poses, are hilarious (mine certainly must be!)

We were sent off and I felt… I don’t know. In some ways I felt deflated because I gathered from my call out (and the fact that I’d tried to make eye contact with the judges and hadn’t noticed their gaze lingering on me at all) that I hadn’t made an impression. But I’d felt so good up there, and was personally pleased with how I was looking. Perhaps I’m deluded! Oh well.

I watched some of the show with my family and friends, chatted more with Carol and her husband and enjoyed the show, before it was time to get ready for the night show (sparkly bikinis and individual posing routines).


My routine went by in a flash and I was worried I hadn’t done it justice, because it seemed to be over before it had begun, but I got some great feedback on it and people said they really enjoyed it. Phew, cos I really enjoy it too!

We were asked to do a couple of poses (not the whole lot as we’re sometimes asked to do at the nightshow) before the fun of the posedown – always a laugh and no different this time! I was still feeling great and dared to think I might be in 4th or 5th place, although to be perfectly honest I had no idea at all.

We lined up at the back of the stage and 6th place was called.

Me.

Oh, hi! I came last!

Hey ho. I can’t tell you how I felt, not shocked or upset but just… sad, really. I haven’t yet asked for judges’ feedback (if any of you are reading, I’d welcome it!) but will do so because I would love to know where I went wrong. I’d like to think that I was just the “worst of a good bunch” – it was certainly a very strong line up of fantastic women, and perhaps I was just the weakest of a very good bunch. But, of course, I’d love have some detailed feedback so I can improve. It’s the only way!

How do I feel now? Well, I move house/office/life in three days time and have work to finish up, a house and office to pack, and an awful lot of emotional goodbyes to do. I don’t feel that I have the time or emotional “space” to think much about how I’m feeling about the result of the comp. I feel tired, very very tired. This year has sucked a lot from me, and I do feel that competition prep has taken, and taken, and given very little. I’m hoping that once I’ve moved, and settled, and drawn breath, I’ll be able to look back and assess where I went wrong, what I could have done differently (if indeed I could have done anything differently!) and what I could change for next time. And, of course, what I can learn from it all. Because there’s a lesson in everything. I just need to find it.

Thanks for reading. Photos to come!

(Puppy says he doesn’t care that it says 6th place. He can’t read anyway!)


NPA British Final 2012 report 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.


Random thoughts on show-eve-eve

October 26, 2012

Dum de dum.

The night-before the night-before a comp is weird. Kind of boring. But sort of exciting! Drags on f-o-r-e-v-e-r and then OMG it’s 9pm how did that happen?

In fact, it’s a bit like Christmas-Eve-Eve (don’t tell me we’re the only family to call it that?) Just like the 23rd December, the day before the day-before-a-comp:

– is boring
– but actually quite exciting
– makes you anxious to just get on with it (yes even the eating exciting treats aspect!) but can’t yet and if you do you’ll ruin the main day so you just need to get a grip and wait a bit longer
– starts off with you waking up and think “oh this day will go on forever”, then all of a sudden it’s 8pm and you haven’t wrapped presents/made canapes/shaved yourself all over and put a base coat of tan on*

(*delete as applicable)

So, an update on me. Well, I’m sitting here with my base coat of tan on – done by my good self. I never was much good at art or painting, and nothing’s changed. All I can say is, thank goodness this is a kind of “stain” base coat, which I’ll lightly shower off tomorrow. And thank goodness I have my sister, aka this year’s bodybuilding-comp support crew wunderkind, who stepped up to the plate without so much as a twitch of hesitation. She’s a master tanner, unflappable chauffeur and wonderful room-mate for hotel stays. Love you, sis!

Sunday is the NPA British Finals (click here for my report on last year’s Finals, where I placed 3rd in the Ladies Physique heavyweight (55kg+) category). How do I feel? Exhausted. Since my less-than-stellar performance at the UKDFBA British Open (5th out of 6! Reprazent!) two weeks ago, I have been dieting, cardioing and training myself harder than I thought possible. Normally, I’d have started my carb-up by now (Friday morning). Not this time. This time I’m taking it right up to the line, preferring to come in “a bit flat” than “a bit fat”. We know I pump up well, anyway. But this does mean that I’m still – still! – eating white fish (and that’s about it).

However, to keep the Christmas analogy going, only 48 more hours and I can delve into the box of Roses and plate of mince pies (so to speak).

It’s OK, really, I can do it. But man am I exhausted!

Those of you friends with me on Facebook will remember my update the other day where I said I cried three times that day. Yeah, that’s carb depletion for you! Once was when my dog ran off, rather than coming back to me, during our walk, and I had to walk oooooh about 3 minutes extra to retrieve him. I just could barely do it. And cried! The second was when I went for a sports massage and realised it was to be the last time I’d see my friend Diksha who does the massage. Yep, I cried! The third time is a bit personal and highly embarrassing but suffice to say I was walking through the centre of the town where I live… crying.

Oh dear! I have also had moments of fun and happiness – “carb-deplete euphoria” I call them – most notably whilst on the stepper at 6:40am. Why? Who knows.

To conclude this ramble of a post, I’ll just give you a top tip I learned by experience this week. Yes, it’s great to do your final cardio session. And, yes, it’s only polite to finally take your weighted vest home from the gym (where the gym manager has kindly allowed you to store it all year). After all… er… it possibly needs a wash. However, it’s not so great to unload the 10x1kg weights, put them at various locations about your person in your coat pockets, and then stagger home loaded down with 10kg extra plus your bag, all whilst severely depleted.

I almost cried… but not quite 😉

As always, I’ll be tweeting from the comp on Sunday from thefitwriter Twitter, if there’s a connection. Otherwise, I’ll see you on the other side! Then we’ll get talking off-season, goals and 2013!

Random thoughts on show-eve-eve 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.


Wordless Wednesday: a day in the life of a bodybuilder 4 days out from a comp

October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: a day in the life of a bodybuilder 4 days out from a comp 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.


UKDFBA – 5th place

October 16, 2012

You can’t win ’em all, as they say. Indeed you can’t place 2nd, 3rd or even 4th at ’em all.

I owe you a show report, but it’s going to be a very short one because I am disappointed both with the result and with my own performance at last weekend’s UKDFBA bodybuilding show in Rugby.

The show itself was fantastic – very well organised, extremely friendly and with a phenomenal level of competitors (not just in my class – each and every class was amazing).

But I wasn’t so fantastic. I placed 5th in a class of 6. I know, not great. Not great at all. On the plus side (because there’s always got to be a plus side), I have a shiny medal, which is kind of fun. It’s hanging at the top of my stairs with the side which says “5th” turned outwards, so I see it several times a day. Yep, it stings. It needs to.

(There were other plus sides, of course: lots of fun and banter backstage with the other ladies in my class, and with various other friends, a weekend away with my fabulous sister having some quality sister-time, the fun and excitement of competing, which I love regardless of my placing.)

I know what went wrong but I don’t know why… For something which is judged purely on the physical, bodybuilding is one hell of a psychological sport. I have a lot to think about, a lot of coping strategies to develop and also a bit of kindness to find for myself somewhere along the way 😉 I’ve had one hell of a year, none of it particularly conducive to a lonely prep and consistent dieting. I’ve done my best but at times that hasn’t been enough, and Saturday was one of those times.

I feel I need to apologise to those friends and family who came so far to watch me give such a below-par performance (some of you getting stuck on the M1 for two hours for the pleasure!)

What’s next? I wrestled with the concept of doing the NPA British Finals in (less than) two weeks. I asked advice, feedback and honest opinions. I took them all on board and spent a tearful evening asking myself if I could, should and wanted to go through two more weeks of prep (and they’d need to be extremely tough two weeks) in order to get on stage again.

The answer is yes. I like to finish things I’ve started, and I know I can be better than I was on Saturday. Whether or not two weeks is enough time to make enough changes remains to be seen, but I’m going to give it my all.

And, just so the Universe knows: next year, I intend to have a more peaceful, balanced, settled background for my prep, thank you very much! 😉

Wish me luck as I put my hood up and my headphones on, heading off into two weeks of fish, greens and cardio…

UKDFBA – 5th place 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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