As well as being mad keen on writing and studying and noir, I'm also seriously into bodybuilding - although I'm a compete newbie. I recently competed in a competition, the I Compete Australia All Female Classic. I was in the 40+ bikini division. And I lost! But I didn't care. Look at that face - I'm happier than the winner! A lot of people have wondered what possessed me to hump around weights for a year, eat a shitload of protein, then diet down, spray tan myself dark mahogany and prance around in front of people wearing a tiny pink sparkly bikini and five-inch stripper heels. I wonder myself, because I always thought my niche would be more competitive eating than competitive weight loss, but here's why.
1. It’s fun.
I love prancing around on stage wearing stripper heels and not much else. I really, really dig it, which is why I used to do it a long time ago. Unfortunately, there are not many avenues for a 45-year-old mother of two to indulge herself in this pastime, especially if you don't want to hear some dude yell 'get grandma off stage!' The irony is, I look more like a stripper now than when I was one. I was not of the hard bodied and tanned variety back in the day, but pale and awkward, with stomach rolls hanging over my suspender belt. The only guys who would give me money were old pensioners who felt sorry for me.
2. I lost a lot of weight in a 12 week challenge and didn’t want to gain it back.
By planning to go in a competition I knew I wouldn’t backslide and I’d be motivated to keep going to the gym. I put on about 35 kilos in both my pregnancies. I was fucking humongous. You know those people with the tiny cute baby bumps that look like they have a netball strapped to their abdomens? That was not me. I blew up like the goddamned Hindenburg. Two c-sections didn’t help things, and I ended up with diastasis recti – two years after my last child my stomach muscles were still separated about ten centimeters and if I pushed my fingers into my belly I could feel all my organs squishing around. And don't even talk about the attendant back pain and screwed up posture. I couldn't stand straight if I tried. I did Tummy Zip which helped to knit the muscles together a lot, but with the excess weight and the remaining separation I was asked when the baby was due EVERY SINGLE DAY. Fuck that. Lifting weights helped keep the fat off and closed the separated muscles even further and after 4 years I finally got out of elasticised pants and back into a pair of jeans. Hallelujah.
3. I’m lazy and terrible at sports.
As well as being uncoordinated and ‘doesn’t play well with others’, I’m a really lazy person. Why run when you can walk? Why walk when you can drive? I prefer to lie down when I can, because sitting is too much effort. My perfect day I'd be supine, reading a book, drinking wine (I spill a lot of it down my neck in this position, but it’s worth it) and nibbling on chunks of cheese. For some reason, however, lifting weights doesn’t seem like exercise – unlike cardio, which is a hideous chore. Lifting weights is fun. I get high off it. For an hour or so I feel like a superhero while remaining completely sober. Bizarre.
4. I like excess, dress ups, doing weird things that take a lot of effort, and hanging out with strange, obsessive people.
Fuck moderation. I hate it. Preparing for a physique competition is probably not THAT excessive if you give yourself time to properly prepare, drop the body fat levels over a long period of regular healthy eating and exercise, and stick to a modest caloric deficit. But did I do that? Hell, no. Six weeks out I hadn't leaned down nearly enough so it was all chicken breast and asparagus, low calories and only a couple glasses of wine a day (!) The week before the comp I drank crazy amounts of water, cut out salt, got tanned to within an inch of my life, made a funnel out of a plastic cup so I could pee in it and not streak my tan, then got made up like a drag queen. Backstage at the show was insane – all these intense women with, like, abs and glitter and sparkles and false eyelashes stuffing donuts in their mouths and slurping honey out of jars (carbs and sweets make your muscles pop) and pumping up with weights. It was weird. I loved it.
And then straight after the ICN comp I went on a 2 day bender. You see? Everything in excess.
My plan now is to do one competition a year and gradually move up in the divisions which means more muscle (yay!) and less body fat (that's the hard part.)
So that's the why. I'll go into the how at a later date - but it basically involved lifting heavier and heavier weights, eating more protein than you would think possible (I was on about 165 grams a day) and weighing and tracking everything I ate and drank. Alcohol, unfairly, has calories too. But with my 'Everything in Excess' diet plan I have figured out how to have my champagne and drink it too. I am the bad bodybuilder.