Those of you who have competed before know the grind of the process isn’t easy, especially if you have a full time job and family responsibilities. You go through months of constant hunger, food cravings, low energy, and mood swings. You have to train as hard as you possibly can every set every day. When you’re running on fumes with no energy in the tank, you have to make yourself trudge through cardio sessions. And you have to make sure to rest as much as possible so that you can recover and do it all over again the next day. All of this work is worth it if it brings you closer to your goals.
I always enjoyed training and learning about nutrition and supplements to improve my physique, but when it came to preparing for my first show I was clueless. I made mistakes like adding in tons of “zero calorie” syrups and sauces to my food. I assumed since it was zero calorie that it would not affect me. Well it did and it wasn’t pretty. I swelled up like a water balloon. Thankfully my coach, who helped me through the process, knew right away that this was a bad idea and we removed them immediately. My physique transformed drastically once I only ate what was on the meal plan without adding anything extra besides seasonings and condiments such as mustard and hot sauce.
I won my class in my first show. Two weeks later, I won my class again at a national level show. It was exciting and got me hooked on bodybuilding, but I was ready for an off season to enjoy some food, time with friends and family, and make solid gains for the next year.
My coach and I came up with a game plan to compete in three shows for my second year. Dieting down for my first show wasn’t easy. Two weeks after that show ended, I broke down and ordered pizza, burgers, appetizers, wings, and desserts. I ate so much that I was dry heaving and throwing up all night. My coach—not too pleased—instructed me to up my cardio immediately and lowered my calories with no refeed or cheat meal in sight.
Nine weeks later, I won the overall at NPC Junior Nationals. All the weeks of grinding were paying off even if I hit a road bump with my one time food frenzy. I was rejuvenated and ready to crush the next 6 weeks leading up to my most important show of the year, the NPC USA Championships.
I kept putting one foot in front of the other because I was determined to earn my pro card. Day after day, I gave everything I had to every set in the gym, to every cardio session, and to every meal I had to eat. I made sure to drink enough water and to get as much rest as possible. Even after all the work I put into being my best, I placed second in my class, which meant I was still an amateur bodybuilder. Although I was crushed, I trusted that something great was still waiting for me.
Last year was my third year of competing. It was my year to make a statement. I came back to the show where I had placed second to redeem myself. Nothing would distract me from my goal of earning my IFBB Pro card at the 2017 NPC USA Championships. I took everything seriously and professionally. I felt that if I wanted to become a pro, I should start acting like one. The words professional and professionalism were most important to me this year. Although I couldn’t claim that I was a professional until I accomplished my goal, I carried myself as if I was already a pro.
Not only did I win my class, but I won the overall title of Mr. USA 2017. My coach and I had considered competing in another show if I earned my pro card. Six days after earning my pro card in Las Vegas, I flew to Tampa for my pro debut in the 212 bodybuilding division at the Tampa Pro show. I have always been confident in myself and knew I could compete with anyone, so I wasn’t backing down. At my pro debut, I won the 212 bodybuilding division and qualified for the 212 Olympia competition, the pinnacle of bodybuilding.
It is every bodybuilder’s dream to compete on the stage at Olympia so I wasn’t about to take my opportunity for granted. I was going to give my all to this show as I have done in every one of my previous shows. While I had high hopes, I placed 5th. Top 5 in the Olympia is a big accomplishment for any bodybuilder. For me, it is just the beginning. I am happy with what I’ve achieved so far, but never content. I can always improve and get better. I plan on it.