A New Sport Every Month: Roller Derby

September 29, 2017

What’s got 8 wheels, a gum shield, and a witty pseudonym?
A Roller Derby athlete!

Yep, I did Roller Derby.

I’ve decided to try one new sporty thing every month. Partly to stop my training from getting stale, partly to meet new folk, and partly for the LOL factor.

Because we all know I’m no good with:

– falling down (or prospect thereof)
– jumping/moving both feet off the ground at the same time
– any form of agility

September’s A New Sport Every Month was pretty funny (…mostly for the instructors…)

What Is Roller Derby?

Just about the further thing from my comfort zone that you can imagine.

No But Really, What IS Roller Derby?

Roller Derby is a contact team sport on roller skates. Two teams of five players skate counter-clockwise around a track, during “jams” (point-scoring bouts) that last up to 2 minutes.

One of each team’s five players is the “jammer” who can score points. The other four are “blockers” – defensive/offensive players whose role is to block the other team’s jammer, and to protect their own jammer so she can lap the other team to score.

Two things really appealed to me about Roller Derby.

1) It originated as a female-only sport, and men’s teams are a much more recent thing. Roller Derby is closely tied up with themes of feminism and body positivity and, at entry level, it’s an amazingly encouraging, empowering sport for women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and fitness levels.

2) The names. I mean, come on. At my trial session I met Demi Lition, Hellen Degenerate, and Brute 66. In teams around the world, you’ll find Brazilian Whacks, Tess of the Derbywheels, and Nancy Raygun.

Roller Derby has been around since the 1940s, but fell off the radar until recent years. It’s enjoying a massive surge in interest now, so when I realised we have a local team, I signed up for the Open Day.

I didn’t get to actually play (that would have been asking way too much of my first hour on skates!) But I learned some of the basic skills: how to fall (various ways!), stop, speed up, and turn. We got to watch the Rec League in training, and then saw the main competitive team practising.

I asked Demi Lition, Founder of Kent Roller Girls, to tell you more. about Roller Derby.

Who is Roller Derby suitable for?

Pretty much everyone. You don’t need any experience or fitness level to start, and there’s no particular shape or size of person it suits best. You just need to be prepared to fall over a lot!

What does basic, entry-level Roller Derby consist of?

Most teams run a variation of beginners sessions. These can be a course over a set number of weeks, or continual drop-in sessions. My team – Kent Roller Girls – runs a recreational league. Skaters can join at any time with any level of experience, and we will teach you everything you need to know. You can take as long as you want/need to learn the skills, before getting to the level of playing games. Our rec league needs absolutely no experience whatsoever to join! Just the willingness to learn something completely new

Can you do Roller Derby as exercise/training and never compete (if you want)?

You can indeed! Recreational teams are great for this. There’s no pressure on skaters to compete, and you can focus on the fun side of the sport and of skating. There’s a place for everyone in the sport.

What does Roller Derby do for a body?

Roller Derby is all about the bum and thighs! (Nic: I concur! I “do legs” twice a week but the day after trying Roller Derby, my adductors, abductors, and glutes were sore!) You spend the majority of your skating time in a stance known as “Derby stance” – a slight squat position – which you definitely feel when you start skating! You build a lot of power in your legs to get yourself around that track. And as you make your way towards actually competing you need to be able to skate at a certain speed for a length of time which really helps with improving cardio.

Roller Derby has done more for my body confidence than anything else ever has. And a lot of people will say the same. It’s a sport for everyone, no matter what body shape, and we’re all as valuable to the team as each other. We all have our strengths based on our sizes and we all learn how to use them to our advantage. I’ve gone from hiding in baggy shirts and tracksuit bottoms, to wearing shorts in front of crowds of people. I hadn’t worn shorts in public for 15 years!

Thanks, Demi! :)

Go and visit Kent Roller Girls’s websiteΒ or KRG on Facebook. Where is your local Roller Derby team? Why not look out for an open day, or pop along to their Rec League to give it a go.

Do you do Roller Derby? I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks to Kent Roller Girls for the open day πŸ™‚

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.


Guess who’s back! (And where the hell have I been, anyway?)

October 9, 2015

*tap tap* Is this thing on?

HELLO, WEMBLEY!

I haven’t blogged here since April. In fact, my last post (an event report from a Strongwoman comp) was exactly six months ago.

Yeah, sorry about that. Really no excuse other than getting out of the habit (and being busy).

I’ve got a huge list of blog posts planned. But, before I launch straight into things, I’d better bring you up to date.

I had to kind of guess the questions you lot might like me to answer. Here goes (if there’s still anything you want to know, let me know in the comments!)

Am I competing in bodybuilding this year?

Nope! My last comp was WNBF Amateur Worlds in November last year. Since then, I’ve been “off-season” (not dieting, not “prepping”, trying to be as normal as a bodybuilder can be). I knew I needed a break from the rigours of competition prep (mentally, physically, emotionally, socially…) and so… I took it!

Am I competing in bodybuilding again ever?

Ooh. Good question. Honest answer? I don’t know. Never say never. I still love the sport, I still have goals and target which I’d like to achieve. But, right now, I have no desire to compete. Or perhaps more accurately: I do not have enough desire to compete. Comp prep is intense, and I believe you should only do it if you really, really want to. If I compete again, it will be to look better, to show improvements, with the goal of achieving more than I already have. My life, head, emotions and focus aren’t in that place at the moment. But… never say never.

What does my training look like?

Since I’m not prepping for bodybuilding comps, and since I am well-fed and full of energy (!), I’m enjoying all sorts of training
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Weights: the core of my training is still lifting weights in the gym. I tend to go 4-5 times a week and still follow a bodybuilding-type split.
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Boxing: I’ve also added boxing sessions (twice a week at my local boxing club) into the mix. I absolutely love it. The first time I went, the warm up was so hard I nearly walked out (and I don’t walk out on things!) But I stuck it out and, although it’s still the hardest training I’ve ever done, I’m now able to push myself rather than just survive! It consists of a 10 min warm up, 30 min partner session on the bags and pads, then a 20 min circuit. It’s proper boxing at an actual boxing club and it’s exactly how you imagine boxing training would be. I adore it.

Road biking: this is something I really missed when I was doing bodybuilding prep, so I’ve reintroduced into my life with joy. I try to get out 2-3 times a week (weather dependent) and like going out for 2 hours or so at the weekend. I’ve done a couple of events since April: a fairly hilly 60-mile sportive and a dead flat 50-mile sportive in July, and a very hilly 55-mile sportive a couple of weeks ago. I’ve entered an 82-miler in November. Eek! But it starts a couple of miles from my house so… I kind of have to, right? (I’m on Strava here if you want to follow my adventures on the bike.)

What’s my diet like at the moment?

Diet? Let’s call it “nutrition”. I have to be honest: diet/nutrition/food has been a struggle since my last bodybuilding comp in November. This is something I will blog about in more detail when I am feeling a bit braver. But I’m sure what I have to say will resonate with plenty of fellow bodybuilders and fitness industry folk, and nothing I’ve experienced will come as a surprise.

Getting back to “normality” after bodybuilding contest prep will challenge even the most balanced of brains. I’m still a work in progress. But it’s all good!

I am trying to eat 3-4 times a day, to listen to my body’s hunger and satiety signals, and to eat mostly healthy, “real food” meals, but not to be worried about eating junk and treats as well. Lots more to say on this topic – you have been warned! πŸ˜‰

What’s my next goal in sport/in life/in general?

My goals at the moment are mostly to do with life and business, rather than sport or body. I’ll always train, and I’ll always (try to) eat well. But at the moment, my focus is on some exciting (and slightly scary) business plans (I can’t wait to get you involved!) Training will be an important part of my day/week just as it’s always been. But I don’t have any one single, big sporting goal. I’m just staying healthy, getting strong, and enjoying being fit and sporty.

What have I been doing with my time since April?

When you put it like that… um…
– buying a house
– pushing my copywriting business forward
helping my fitness industry clients with ebooks, email marketing, website content, blog posts, books, content marketing, sales pages, newsletter copy and social media
– planning a new business venture which excites me so much I want to cry πŸ˜€
– dating (with varying degrees of success, but plenty of LOLZ)
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– going on holiday (I’m just back from a week in Croatia with Tara of Sweat Like A Pig fame)
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– I did another Strongwoman event at the end of July, which was fun. Highlights included 95kgs deadlift for reps (60 seconds) – Terry Hollands was counting my reps. And I did a truck pull (here’s a video of it)!
– riding my bike, going boxing… and not writing my blog! πŸ˜‰

How is Frankie thefitdog?

He’s absolutely fine πŸ˜›
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Right, that’s quite enough for now. I promise to get back to a regular blogging schedule from now on (twice a week) and will be talking about my training, sports events, diet/nutrition, as well as about copywriting and content topics, and industry trends. If there’s anything else you want from this blog, lemme know!

You can always find me on Facebook (mostly copywriting and marketing stuff), Twitter (work, personal, training and everything in between) and Instagram. Oh and I’m on snapchat too (therealnicjoyce) Come and say hi πŸ™‚

Guess who’s back! (And where the hell have I been, anyway?)t 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.


Why does winning matter, anyway?

August 18, 2014

I’m in a philosophical mood this morning. Chatting with a friend about my goals in this sport (happy to share them: WNBF Pro), and sharing photos of current female WNBF Pros who inspire me, I realised that I’ve set myself a really very difficult challenge.

Why have I bothered? Why did I let the idea in, and why do I continue to pursue it? Why not just compete for fun? Why compete at all?

Being competitive is a blessing, and a curse. It’s helped me thrive in business, and succeed in most challenges I set myself. But being highly competitive, single-minded, with tunnel vision and “laser-beam focus”, is sometimes more trouble than it’s worth.

It pushes you outside your comfort zone and doesn’t make for particularly easy living. So why can’t we just settle?

(I’m sure my family and friends wouldn’t mind if I didn’t compete. And, whilst it does help that I “walk the talk” as a copywriter for the fitness industry, I’m sure my clients would be fine if I was “just” someone who trained hard.)

Because – like many of you – I’m like a dog with a bone. Give me an idea, and I’ll either reject it immediately, or obsess over it. When I’ve got a goal, my mind sees it in vibrant technicolour, and turns grey towards everything else.

Sometimes, I wish I’d never heard of this sport, never started, never had the seed sown. I’m just being honest! Most of the time, I love it, and I definitely think the plus points outweigh the negatives. It’s true that you can’t “unknow” what you learn about nutrition, diet and fat loss during bodybuilding prep, but – on balance – I’m glad I know it. That’s probably a different philosophical discussion for another time though!

So, why does winning matter, anyway? Why do our goals – whether that’s a World Record lift, a competition win, a particular title, or Pro Status – matter so much to those of us blessed/cursed with the ultimate of type-A personality?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And here’s the photo, stuck to my kitchen cupboards, which both excites and terrifies me every day. It’s last year’s Pro Heavyweight FBB line up at the WNBF Worlds.
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Why does winning matter, anyway? 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.


Routines+habits=success?

March 14, 2014

Apologies for not updating more frequently! Busy times. I’ve had a blog post in the back of my mind for a while…

I’ve been thinking about the power of routine and good habits. How fostering a sense of ceremony around your sport and training can contribute to success. It strikes me that many of the most successful elite and amateur sports people I’ve ever known, in all sorts of sports, have their own ingrained habits and routines around training and race/event day. For some, it’s almost OCD. For others, it’s simply an automation, so everything that needs to happen just flows.

Do you have habits, routines and maybe even some slightly-odd quirks which you think contribute to being successful in your sport?

I’m not necessarily talking about success in competition. Although I think we all know that very personal habits on competition day can act as anchors, putting us in a positive mindset (whether that’s happy, relaxed, aggressive, confident, focused…)

I’m referring to the day-to-day habits some of us develop. Some are mindful: vision boards which take a while to create and compile, journalling every day, using countdown timers or calendars. . Some seem more instinctive: preparing for training in the same way every time, listening to music, getting yourself psyched up, using the drive to the gym to focus and get in the right headspace.

Here are some of the things I do – I’m a very visual, wordy person and get inspired by things I can see and read.

Vision boards: every year I create a new vision board for my competitive season. It can change as the year goes on but usually stays pretty much the same. I put it somewhere I’ll see it every single day (several times a day) and it can include things like photos of other competitors, photos of past competitors who inspire me, motivational quotes (maaaan), posters of events I’m training for, words which mean something to me.

Countdowns: I have a countdown app on my phone which ticks away the days and weeks (I realise some people would find this a lot of pressure – I find it motivating and exciting).

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I also did this last year, although I haven’t done it yet (with nearly 40 weeks til my competition, I don’t think I’ve got enough Post-Its. Or enough bathroom wall!) I loved taking that day’s sticky paper off the wall whilst I was brushing my teeth every night. HAVE IT, “10 DAYS TO GO!” πŸ˜‰

Calendars: I’ve got an A4 calendar of the year in my kitchen, with competition dates marked in red, and the weeks written on counting backwards from the main event. Every day of prep which I complete to my satisfaction gets a black cross. Days which aren’t as good get a red mark. Last year’s calendar was fascinating (I’d show you but I threw it away). Quite frequent red marks at the start of the year. Barely a single one by the end of the season.

The Fridge of Motivation
I think I’ve posted a photo of my fridge before? It’s no ordinary fridge… in that it’s absolutely plastered with quotes, photos, words which motivate (and scare me a little!) It also has a small square of magnetic whiteboard on it, on which I write very specific goals. Obviously – being my FRIDGE – I end up seeing this many times every day!

Of course there’s also the more obvious things which I think help success in any sport, fitness or healthier living goal: making sure you have a training plan, preparing ahead of time, knowing when you’ll train (putting it in your diary if necessary), having your gym bag ready at all times.

How about you? Do you do any of these things, or anything similar? How about very different habits or routines which keep you focused and motivated?

Or do you think I’m completely mad? πŸ˜‰ It’s OK… I can take it… brb just off to walk up the street backwards with a saucepan on my head so the aliens can’t send signals to my brain *twitch*

Routines+habits=success? 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.


Christmas gift ideas for gym folk

December 9, 2013

15 days til Christmas! Eek! If (like me) you still have to do all your Christmas shopping, allow me to help out with this little list of gift ideas for the gym goer in your life.

Everything here has been tried and is recommended by me (unless I state otherwise), so it follows that the items are more relevant to female gym bods than buff blokes (but, hey, guys like baths too!)

Have a skim through and see what you think. Hopefully it’ll solve one or two of your gift-buying dilemmas.

A healthy, hearty cook book
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Everyone seems to be recommending the Fitter Food cook book this year (see Ben at BTN and Anna at Proteinpow‘s gift guides!) but for good reason. It’s a beautiful, and beautifully-written, cook book which is far more than a bunch of recipes. It encourages you to create tasty, simple recipes with meats, fish and other natural, basic ingredients (and tells you why a “real food” approach is such a good idea, too!) Anyone interested in clean eating, paleo/primal eating, whole foods, the real-food movement (and all those other labels… !) would really appreciate this book.

Foodie items
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Think outside the hollow chocolate Santa for the gym fanatic in your life! How about some amazing coconut oil? They almost certainly know about the health (and beauty!) benefits of this lovely oil – and they could even use it to crisp up the Christmas spuds, if they’re in charge of cooking on the day itself. My favourite at the moment is Monkey Nutrition’s coconut oil – a 100% organic cold-pressed oil. It comes in a glass jar (so no plastics can get into the oil), is great quality and has a lovely taste.

Gadgets
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Your gym-goer probably has all the gym kit they need by now, so why not think about something a bit more relaxing and lifestyle-focused? We all know how important rest and recovery are to strength and performance in the gym. As someone who struggles with getting enough quality sleep, I swear by my wakeup light dawn simulator and can honestly say that if I’d received this as a Christmas gift I would be forever grateful! It’s this one – Philips Wakeup Light. You can opt to gently fall asleep as the light dims naturally, and wake up to a slow “dawn breaking” light and the tweeting of birds! It’s bliss.

Something I’d seen a lot of my weight-training buddies talk about is an airfryer. I can’t recommend it personally, as I don’t actually have one, but I’ve seen plenty of pictures and recommendations on people’s Facebooks feeds and it does look amazing. Essentially, it fries food using air rather than oil (you still need a bit of oil, but hardly any) – so your healthy-eating gym freak can still enjoy crispy “fried” food without derailing their nutrition.
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If that’s too pricey for you and you’re after more of a secret-Santa or stocking-stuffer type gift, how about the iHat beanie, with built-in earphones? I used to wear my humungous noise-cancelling headphones in the gym, for cardio and whilst walking the dog. The only trouble is, they’re really cumbersome (and look a bit OTT) for dog walks, and get very sweaty (for cardio). This hat has built-in earphones, making it ideal for listening to music or podcasts whilst out walking. My only criticism is that there’s no pause button on the cord, and the earphones aren’t noise-cancelling, but for walking and cardio it works really well! I love it.

Shaker bottles
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Even though most gym types have plenty of shaker bottles cluttering up the kitchen, Smartshake ones are really worth getting. Not only do they look great (I love the neon ones) but they’re really handy, with extra sections you screw on to the bottom, ideal for supplement tablets, a serving of protein powder, or for storing hair ties/jewellery.

Smellies
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Give a little thought to the quality and ingredients list of any smellies you give your gym-goer this Christmas. Many of us like to avoid parabens, mineral oils, SLSs and other nasties. I’m currently loving Nelsons Arnicare Arnica bath and massage balm (you can get it from Boots) – you can use it as a bath oil, a body oil or as a massage oil (not applicable for tragic singletons such as my good self). As the name suggests, it’s got arnica in it which is good for achy muscles, and it also has calendula, evening primrose, lavender and grapefruit oils. It smells lovely but isn’t too “girly” and I do think blokes could use it, too.
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Something else I’m loving at the moment are Mendill’s little “towelettes” (sorry but that word does make me giggle). They’re ideal for gym bags, if you want to freshen up after a particularly sweaty session or have to head off for a coffee or something and can’t grab a shower. Because they’re cotton, and have no nasty ingredients, you can actually use them to remove make up (even eye make up) and could use them to wipe down your kit (yoga mats?) too. They’re naturally anti-bacterial, use organic essential oils, and come in truly lovely scents: tangerine, lemon, orange, lavendar and (my favourite at this time of year) eucalyptus.

Supplements
Your gym-goer no doubt has their own favourite supplement stack, but how about helping them out at Christmas time with some digestive enzymes? I use Monkey Nutrition’s Digestive MX digestive enzyme matrix and will definitely continue to do so over Christmas and New Year! With a solid range of active enzymes to help the digestion of fats, sugars and fibres, the tablets ensure you can digest the nutrients in your food, help you digest meals comfortable should you…er…overindulge, and strengthen the immune system. Perfect for this time of year I’d say!

Other ideas:
– BPA-free food storage boxes (Sistema is one brand to look for)
– vouchers for online food suppliers – try Athleat, Kezie and Muscle Food
– iTunes vouchers (new music for the gym is always welcome)
Audible vouchers (audio books are a great cardio companion)

All my product reviews (gym kit, clothing, food & drink, sports supplements and more) are on this page – have a look through if you’re stuck for ideas!

Christmas gift ideas for gym folk 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.


A bodybuilder’s response to the “What I See” project’s question

September 20, 2013

Quick question for you. What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Tricky one. It’s not a simple question, and there isn’t one single, simple answer.
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“What do you see when you look in the mirror?” is the question I was asked when I was invited to take part in the What I See Project, and you can see my response here.
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(Excuse the “diet face” – I did my video the day after one of my bodybuilding comps)

What is the What I See project?

This non-profit organisation aims to unite women: initially, by asking that deceptively simple question. Women from all over the world and from all walks of life were invited to answer via a video clip and the resulting videos have created an amazing community. The projects acts as a platform for women to air and share their views on body image, women’s issues and what it means to be a woman in these visual and visible times.
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The What I See project hopes to recognise and amplify women’s voices, helping women to become more empowered.

It’s been a wonderful thing to be part of. I found the question a challenging one to answer and I’m pretty sure I haven’t even articulated 0.1% of everything I think about the topics under the microscope.

But that’s the point: the videos, the website and all the social media activity is just the start. It’s really about what happens next: the discussions and debates, opinions and thoughts. Ultimately, the project wants to help more women’s voices be heard more in more societies all over the world. I’m lucky: I’ve got this blog, a host of technology at my fingertips, and very little which has the clout to shut me up πŸ˜‰ Not all women are in my position.

Check out the project’s trailer video which explains more about the campaign (and includes snippets of some of our video contributions).
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Of course, you can also head straight to the What I See project website to take a look at any of the contributors’ videos (there’s an amazing range of women, views and voices and you can filter the videos by country and age range) and see 10 ambassador short films. The ambassadors include Eileen Cooper (the first woman to be Keeper of the Royal Academy of Arts), Jude Kelly (Artistic Director for London’s Southbank Centre), feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez and Martha Lane-Fox (co-founder of lastminute.com, and the youngest female member of the House of Lords).

You can get involved too.
The What I See project wants as many women involved as possible. You can get in touch (and submit your own video) via the website. Anyone who submits during the five-week campaign will be in with a chance of attending the launch event at the Science Museum.

Passing the baton
The What I See contributor up next is Dr Ceri Brenner – who describes herself as a physicist and a communicator with a mission (to bring “research to reality, through applied research, innovation and by spreading the joys of laser-plasma science). Quire a leap from me and my bodybuilding-based ramblings, to a post-doc laser-plasma specialist. Do keep an eye out for her blog post tomorrow and take a look at her video. You’ll be able to find both by following the What I See project on Twitter.Β 

Keep up with the What I See project on social media
The What I See project on Pinterest
The What I See project blog
The What I See project on Facebook
The What I See project on Linkedin
The What I See project on Twitter.

A bodybuilder’s response to the “What I See” project’s question 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 from 4 days out

September 11, 2013

d663732af46811e295c822000ae80c95_7Yawn. Hello. This post is brought to you by black coffee and a not-insignificant amount of effort… yes, my bodybuilding British Finals is this Sunday so suffice to say I’m feeling very tired, very sore and very flat.

I remember how you guys liked my very first “random thoughts from…” post back in 2011, before my first ever competition. A few funny things have happened in the last few days (well, not BAFTA-winning standard of comedy, you understand, just things that have raised a wry smile). And since you found it interesting to read about weeing into a plastic cup, I thought you might find it interesting to read about the things that can happen at the sharp end of a prep diet.

This post could be titled: “Why does everything. Take. So. Long?”

Everything takes longer when you’re dieting right down for a comp. Maybe it’s just me! I hope not. But I seem on a permanent go-slow. I forget things. I stand in the middle of the room not even knowing if I’m coming or going, let alone what I’ve forgotten. You get the idea.

So, here are a few scenarios which go some way to answering the question “why does everything take so long?”

Because you have to double back on yourself
Today I went to train, and even took my shoes with me to get some extra posing practice in at the gym’s studio. Chuffed with myself for getting so many things done, I left and went off to my sports massage. Lying there, I had a nagging sensation which was nothing to do with my hamstrings. Where were my shoes? I don’t recall putting them back in the car. Please, for the love of Arnold, say I didn’t put them on the roof of the car before driving off. No, I didn’t. Phew! I also didn’t put them in the car. I left them at the gym. Worst of all, I left them upstairs. So not only did I have to go back on myself to the gym but I had to walk up an extra flight of stairs.

Because you knock things over more often then get a bit OCD about clearing it all up
Particularly in the morning. Make a coffee. Knock the aeropress off the cup. Decide it simply must be cleared up this moment. Slop water on the floor. Ditto. Pull some crockery off the side whilst moving the tea towel. By now it is half an hour later than you hoped it would be and the kitchen is in worse disarray than if you’d left the few atoms of ground coffee where they fell.

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Because you stockpile food like there’s a zombie apocalypse incoming
I do need more chicken, turkey and steak. But not this much. Is it just me who over-purchases diet food? Why! My fridge is bursting with broccoli. My freezer runneth over with meat. My sister is clapping her hands at random gifts of chicken and mince. And, meanwhile, my eyes still light up whenever I get an email declaring some amazing offer on chicken breasts and sirloin. Stop the madness!

Because you put things in the wrong place

Where is the tin of dog food? Where? I mean… just… where? Oh, sure, it’s in the freezer.

Because you lose things
I actually can’t even remember what I was going to write under this section. Does that make it even worse?!

Because things in containers are not always what they seem
On Sunday I went from the gym to my Dad’s to hang out with Pops and my nephew.

Here’s an adorable video which you simply must watch, about Matthew the caterpillar. I’m sure it’s quite the cutest video of a 3-year-old ever.

Anyway, I’d taken a meal with me in a plastic tub, just in case I hung out long enough. And I did. So I got the tub out of my warm gym bag, set it in the sun on the garden table and then opened it up to eat it. Oh, no. That’s not my chicken and veggies! It’s possibly the last thing you’d want to carry with you in a hot car, then in a gym locker, then in a hot car, then in a warm garden. Raw trout.

If you’re competing, racing or performing (Sista!) this weekend: good luck and enjoy!

Random thoughts from 4 days 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.


You know you’re getting leaner when…

August 19, 2013

As the days tick by to the Finals, us dieting bodybuilders are (we hope) getting leaner. With the shedding of body fat comes some odd and sometimes interesting experiences. Here, from the (increasing discomfort) of my office chair, are the good, the bad, and the weird of getting leaner…

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Sore bum
Sitting down in one place for any length of time is no longer an enjoyable experience. In the car, on a chair, even on the sofa. It’s just… not comfy. Take a cushion with you at all times. Or at least one of those little inflatable pad things. (What’s that you say, they’re for people with piles? Oh well, whatever works!) And as for sitting on anything like a wooden bench, a garden chair or a stool… brother, please!

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Psychological tricks

The body doesn’t want to be stage-lean. Why would it! So it teams up with the brain to try a few cunning tricks aimed at getting you to eat more so you put some body fat back on. Of course, it goes for the calorie-dense stuff. It’s not going to encourage you to eat more broccoli. Hence why yesterday I found myself wanting – really, really wanting – a fish finger sandwich. I do not like fish finger sandwiches. Given a choice of all foods, it would be way down there on the list with, oh I dunno, cheese scones. I can’t recall when I last had one and I can’t think when I last wanted one. But, sure enough, my brain tried to tell me yesterday that a fish finger sandwich would be just the thing.

Along with the random cravings comes super-sensitive-suggestibility levels. This is why I can’t fathom why dieting bodybuilders willingly watch things like the Food Network, or Man vs Food, whilst dieting. Sounds like self-induced torture to me. I’m so suggestible when dieting hard: a line in a book, a lyric in a song, an overhead snippet of conversation and all of a sudden my brain is saying “yes! yes, that food/ingredient/brand you just read/heard/saw? YOU NEED THAT IN YOUR LIFE!” I don’t, of course.

Stop the noise!
Is it just me? Or is noise… noisier, when you’re dieting and getting lean? In fact, all external stimulus seems pretty draining. Why that would be, I have no idea. It’s not like it takes energy to hear police car sirens wailing, TVs turned up that little bit too loud, or people standing outside your house having in-depth conversations about local gossip. But it sure feels as it it does! Just…. shhhh.

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Bathtime
Ah, baths. Lovely hot bubbly baths. Bliss, right? No. Not when you’re getting very lean. You lower yourself in, lie back gingerly and finally get comfy. Then you have to sit up to turn the tap off/add more hot/increase the volume on Netflix. Ay carumba! What is that pain in your coccyx? Ah yes, it would be… the interface between bathtub and bum.

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Hoodies in August?
It’s sunny outside. But I work inside, and I sit pretty still for prolonged periods of time. I end up feeling so cold that I’m currently wearing leggings, a hoodie, long socks and woolly slipper/boot things.

Nanna Naps
I’ve given in to the lure of the nap. Some afternoons, I just can’t function past about 4pm, so I go to bed for a nap. The flipside of this is that I am often awake and at my desk by 7am these days so, you know, it all evens out.

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Yoga poses
I don’t practice yoga, but there’s one yoga-esque move I can only do when I’m pretty lean: the crossed-legs bit of an “eagle” pose, where you wrap your lower legs around and behind each other, wrapping your foot around the ankle (this is why I don’t do yoga, I can’t even explain the moves to myself) The lady up there ^^^ is getting her eagle on. Quite possibly you can do this all the time, I certainly can’t.

And one last funny one…
…walking my dog this morning, I went to pop his lead around my waist as I sometimes do when I have no pockets in my clothes. Evidently it’s been a while since I wore clothes without pockets on a dog walk. The lead fell right down off me.

By the way please don’t take any of this as a poor old me whinge, I know full well this is my choice for a hobby a choose to pursue – and, what’s more, I know full well that I’ll be back up to comfy bodyfat levels once I’ve finished competing this year. No drama! Just – hopefully – a bit of a fun insight into bodybuilding life.

Let’s hear from you – other bodybuilders and anyone else who’s had to cut weight for a sport, or who’s lost significant amounts of weight for health or lifestyle reasons (like my mate Chris – have you read his 14 stone/88kgs weight loss story yet?) What funny (or not so funny!) tales do you have to tell from the edge… ?

You know you’re getting leaner when… 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.


The grime behind the glam – female bodybuilding secrets revealed

August 7, 2013

If you’re a fan of female bodybuilding, Figure or bikini and have ever been to a competition or seen competitors’ show photos online, you probably think the competitor on stage looks a bit glam. The tan! The bikinis! The smiles, and sparkles, and stage lighting! πŸ˜€
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Want to know the truth about what goes into looking so smiley and slick for those few minutes on stage?

I ran a quick poll of female friends, asking them about the weird habits and pre-show rituals you probably wouldn’t expect, added my own and, well, here goes…

Gluing yourself in
Those posing suits we wear are small. And… well… things move about a bit when you’re posing. Can you even imagine if something fell out? Truly the stuff of nightmares. So the solution is to actually physically stick your suit to your boobs and bum. With glue.

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Or getting someone else to glue you!
Actually the solution is to get someone else to do it. Particularly your bum. Honestly, by that point, you’ve probably been tanned up (naked) by a stranger, near-stranger or a member of your family who hoped and prayed they’d never see you naked as an adult. You’ve likely got changed in front of a group of strangers. And you’ve possibly stood on a set of scales, wearing minimal clothes, in front of a queue of men and women. The bum/glue thing is really nothing by that point.

The problem of weeing…
What’s the problem with weeing? Well, it can… um… splash. Or splish. Just a little bit, but a little bit is all it takes to create water marks on your beautiful tan. The solution…. ?

Weeing into a cup
Yes, you wee into a little cup (or a sports-bottle, one of my friends told me), stop weeing, tip it out and then do it again as many times as you need to til you’re done. True fact right there.

The other weeing into a cup
I compete in natural – drug tested – bodybuilding. If you’re called for a drug test, as I was (at random) on Sunday, and as all winners are after the placings are given, you’ll need to wee into a cup. The process is all heavily monitored (so you can’t ever say that anyone tampered with your wee sample). So, you end up weeing into a cup, in front of a federation official. Needs must!

Protecting your tan at all costs
Need to brush your teeth? Better hope you don’t splash one droplet of water on your tan. Need to wash up the mountains of tupperware, chopping boards, pans and dishes you’ve created during the final few days of food prep? Tough luck. Best to leave them til you get back from your show. Far better to return to a kitchen full of dirty dishes than to run the risk of splashing about in a sink of suds whilst you’re tanned up.

Which means… no showering
Oh yeah. Don’t hug your favourite female bodybuilding competitor and expect her to smell of rose petals and baby kittens in a basket. She probably won’t have showered for around 48 hours, so all she’ll smell like is tan (and possible “The Sweat of Fear” – you know that smell)

And did you know we can’t wear deodorant (let alone perfume)?

She certainly won’t smell of anything as civilised as underarm deodorant. Anti-perspirant (and perfume, and perfumed body lotions) can react with stage tan and make you look green (my arm pits were a bit green on Sunday and I’ve no idea why since I didn’t use anything on my skin for days previously). We’d rather stink than be green!

Vaseline on your teeth
I personally do not put Vaseline on my teeth but a friend told me that this is something which happens. I guess if you know you get a dry mouth, it’ll help you smile! smile! smile! even when your lips are sticking to your teeth because your mouth is suddenly like the Sahara.

Brown body, white face
We tend not to tan our faces, just our bodies. Which means that, in the days leading up to the show – and once we’ve had that blissful post-show shower – we look…. quite a fright. Very very brown bodies, including neck and arms. White face. Nice look!
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Odd makeup selection
We do need to make our faces brown for stage, of course. So what we tend to do is use foundation which is designed for black skin. Yes, really. I use a Maybelline mousse foundation – the darkest in the range. Obviously I don’t use this at any other time of year. It’s going to last me quite some time…

Aching, tired and thirsty… but we come to life on stage!
If you found yourself backstage peeking into the dressing room, you’d find a bunch of brown women with their feet up, reading, Tweeting, trying to nap and generally hanging out. It’s not hugely exciting. As the day goes on we start to ache, we’re tired, we’re probably thirsty. Yet get us on stage and tell us to pose and we come to life!

And the tanning aftermath…
Those tans take a while to come off. Like… weeks. There are various stages of post-comp tan, ranging from the delightful “scaly reptilian” to the slightly worrying “leprosy 2.0”. It comes off in the end. Usually in patches. Plan ahead if you have a wedding to attend.

So, now you know why the top three things a female bodybuilding competitor will want to do once she’s off-stage will be:
– drink something
– eat something
– and SHOWER!
And probably not in that order!

If you have a female bodybuilder in your life, you could do a lot worse than buying her a small pot of lovely-smelling, really scrubby bodyscrub for her backstage competition bag. I guarantee it’ll be gratefully put to good use! πŸ˜‰

The grime behind the glam – female bodybuilding secrets revealed 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.


Next stop – British Finals!

August 5, 2013

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Just a quick update after yesterday’s BNBF Midlands qualifier (in case anyone reading this hasn’t already heard from me via FB, Twitter, instagram etcetcetc πŸ˜‰ )

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I placed 2nd in our class of five, and got my invitation to the BNBF British Finals in September! Mission accomplished! Phew and hooray πŸ˜€

I was pleased with the improvements I’d made since the competition two weeks ago when I failed to place and didn’t qualify, and I got some great feedback from judges and spectators.

I now have six weeks to train and diet for the British, where I plan on bringing in my very best condition (so far!) Together with coach Vicky and her plans and guidance, I feel I’m on track to be in my best shape.

I’ll get the official photos in due course but for now here are some to be getting on with:

Look, Ma! I’m in the middle of the call-out! (I was then moved along one, but, still πŸ˜‰ )
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Top three (3rd, 1st, 2nd – me)

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I was selected for a random drug test (the BNBF is a natural bodybuilding federation)

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Trophy and Finals invite!
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Next stop – British Finals! 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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