Mindset is the driving force in the quest for success and achievement. A mindset that combines discipline, strength, confidence, and ambition is a powerful mindset. This can achieve anything it sets its sights on.
Off-season: The Transition to Prep and the Decisions Behind It
As a new IFBB Pro, I came out of the 2020 season with judges’ feedback that I was quad dominant and needed to bring up glutes while slightly bringing down my upper body. I focused on doing just that in the off-season. My training programming was lower body focused with heavy emphasis on glutes, and I moved upper body to maintenance volume. After roughly 5 months of off-season, the 2021 season was fast approaching. I had been working strategically to improve those areas and it was time to evaluate my physique to determine if I had changed enough to be competitive on the Pro stage.
Looking at the progress I made over the course of those 5 months, it was apparent that I had solidified the growth that I needed. After evaluating my improvements and talking with my coach—John Jewett, who also happens to be my husband—we decided it made sense to choose a show and go all in for the 2021 season. Looking over the show schedule, we decided on the Puerto Rico Pro. This show gave me a good timeline for prep, which would be about 20 weeks, and due to Covid restrictions it would be taking place in the Bahamas. Who wouldn’t want to go to the Bahamas for their Pro Debut! So, just like that, prep for my Pro debut was underway.
Puerto Rico: Problems Arise
If prepping during 2020, with multiple show cancelations and reschedules, taught me anything, it was to be stubborn with my goals but flexible with my plan. As with many things in life, some things are simply out of our control. Four weeks out from the Puerto Rico Pro, I was on track to step on stage. Unfortunately, new travel restrictions and requirements due to Covid made it impossible to get the necessary documentation in time for travel. This meant canceling our original plan and figuring out a new one. I had been working toward this particular show for the past 16 weeks—the work I was doing every day was dedicated toward this show—so it took me a few days to switch gears and get on board with a new plan.
I now had my eye set on the Chicago Pro, held in Atlanta this year. This meant I had an additional 4 weeks for prep, which was fine because it only meant I was ahead in this new prep timeline. It also meant I could turn around just 2 weeks later and compete at the Tampa Pro, giving me two opportunities to compete for the 2021 season. But best of all, it meant I would be doing my Pro debut with John competing at the same show. The thought of being able to share in this experience with him had me even more excited for this new plan.
Thankfully the show schedule worked out in a way that we would be able to be backstage with one another. I would go on first for prejudging then John would go on for prejudging just a few hours later. This was great because we could help one another with things like glazing and suit gluing. It was also nice because he could see me in person and tell me what to eat and drink before going on stage and when to start pumping up.
The Debut: Lessons Learned and the Drive to Continue
In no time at all, 20+ weeks of prep flew by and we were on our way to the Chicago Pro. Everything had been going smoothly up until this point. I was right where I needed to be. I was ready to bring my improvements to the stage. Unfortunately, my body decided to make this difficult on me. As much as we try to control all aspects of peak week, shit happens, or in this case, doesn’t happen. Despite my best efforts, including preplanning my meals and keeping water consistent during travel, constipation hit me. It was like a 10-pound chicken in a 5-pound sack.
We flew to Atlanta on a Tuesday; when I woke up the next morning my look was great. By that evening it was apparent that my digestion was off and needed some intervention. Suddenly any confidence in what I would be bringing to the stage was crushed by the fact that my once svelte midsection was giving Homer Simpson a run for his money. I’ll spare you the details on what I did to remedy this situation, but here are some tactics to use if you ever find yourself in a similar predicament:
Dulcolax tablets: typically you can expect a bowel movement within 12-72 hours.
Magnesium citrate: this is a saline laxative that works by increasing fluid in the small intestine. It usually results in a bowel movement within 30 minutes to 3 hours.
Fleet saline enema: this is the last resort if the two milder products mentioned above don’t work. This will result in a bowel movement in 1-5 minutes.
If this peak week taught me one thing, it’s this: you won’t always be able to control every situation and its outcome, but you can control your attitude and how you deal with it. I’ll admit that when this issue came about I let it get the best of me. I allowed worries and negative thoughts to rush through me. “I can’t go on stage like this.” “Twenty weeks of prep and for nothing.” At one point I even told John these exact words: “I’ll never compete again, I don’t even like it.” I really had to sit back and think for a moment. All was not lost. Once I let go of the things I had no control over, I was able to start enjoying the experience of the show, focus on the positives, and rid my mind of all those negative thoughts. You only get one Pro debut and I was going to make the most of it.
Chicago Pro will always hold a special place in my heart. Not only was this my Pro debut but it was also when I realized my potential as a Pro. I had no expectations going in to this show. For me it was about bringing my improvements to the stage, seeing how my physique fit in among the other pro physiques, and getting feedback to improve. I walked away from a competitive lineup with a 3rd place finish. I was ecstatic! To have such a favorable outcome after a challenging peak week made it that much sweeter. Looking back at this show, I can truly say I enjoyed every moment—the highs and the lows—because memories were made, lessons were learned, and the drive to continue was ignited.
Every wonder what it was like to prep and compete in the Olympia? To actually see and experience it through the eyes of a competitor? How would you feel and what would you do? Well, leave the guessing out of it and read Renee Jewett's first-hand account.