Well, it’s finally here! The week leading up to the INBA/PNBA World Titles! It’s hard to express what a roller coaster of a journey it has been to get to this place in the journey, but I know as I get on the plane that I have done every single thing that I possibly could do to be in the best shape of my life. This competition will actually be my Pro Debut, having won my Pro Card five weeks earlier at the Southern Cross Titles in Melbourne. Now that was a day to remember! (A couple of pics from that show above) Whilst I have competed at and won World Titles internationally before with the INBA, to step up to the toughest level of competition, the Pro ranks, has taken enormous sacrifice, focus, dedication, suffering, hard work, blood, sweat, research, trial and error, tears, mental strength and overcoming several almost insurmountable hurdles. There’s no way on earth I could have done it without the support and guidance of my amazing husband Damien, my daughter Jade and my incredible sponsors Bulk Nutrients! There were so many times I thought about quitting, but it’s incredible to look back now and see what was achieved by just sticking out those hard times and keeping on putting one foot in front of the other.
First flight – a little prop plane from Launceston to Melbourne. A few hours in the airport and then on a big A380 for the 14 hour trip to Dubai! I had spent hours prepping all my food for the first few days of travel, so I could remain on track. It was pretty difficult to snack hungrily on lettuce when everyone around me was tucking into the delicious looking Emirates airline food!
I wore my compression tights under my jeans and made sure to walk around often and drink as much water as possible. The cabin crew were wonderful, and kept filling my water bottle with a smile. Travelling during prep can be quite a challenge and experts state that you can lose up to 30% of your conditioning on long trips, so everything we can do to mitigate this is vital. We broke the trip in Dubai for a night and a day, which turned out to be a great decision. Nice to be in 40 degree heat!
The next day it was a flight from Dubai to Budapest. Unfortunately my last prepped meal had gone off! Due to my hunger and lack of thinking clarity, I was still going to eat it but luckily Damien stopped me as to have made myself ill at that stage could have been a huge disaster. Thankfully we had a few samples of Bulk Nutrients Dessert Protein with us so I was able to enjoy that instead of rancid chicken!
What an amazing city Budapest is! There is no end to the incredible buildings, most of which are older than the colonisation of Australia! It has a very European feel, with its old buildings, the Danube River flowing past, and plenty of lookouts, cafes and quaint shops. For the next three days we toured all the highlights, took a night river cruise and visited many of the traditional bakeries. I can tell you, this was probably one of the hardest times on the trip! The bakeries were AMAZING! I was very depleted and incredibly hungry for these days, prior to an increase in carbs the day before the comp itself, but I wanted to be with my gorgeous family who have supported me so constantly, and build some beautiful memories with them, so to the bakeries I went, where I had black coffees!
I was also water loading during this time, so there were a few instances when I needed to find a toilet immediately! The first time this happened while we were out and about I was caught with no coins in local currency. This was a bit of a problem as in Europe you have to pay to use the facilities. I was very lucky that a kind American girl gave me the coins required until I could get to an ATM and withdraw some cash.
Normally I would stick rigidly to my peak week diet plan but because of the lack of cooking facilities at the host hotel, the tours we were doing, and all the walking (around 20 kilometres on some days!), I couldn’t prepare the exact food. So I used My Macros (My Fitness Pal does the same thing) to do some food swaps which meant I could use Bulk Nutrients DELICIOUS new protein mousse as my portable protein source and bananas as my portable carb source! I was a bit stressed to use this untried combo but I just got leaner and leaner, so it actually seemed to work in my favour! And it was super yummy! The memories we made as a family over these days made every sacrifice worth while. I also loved catching up with athletes from other countries as well as my Australian team mates during this time. In the hotel hallway I met up with a Greek Bodybuilder, Niki Zamagia, whom I had first met at the Natural Olympia in San Diego, USA, in 2013. We have been Facebook friends ever since and it was fabulous to meet up in person again. One of the positive sides to social media!
So comp day finally arrived! In good news, I felt so happy to be here, representing my country, with the people I love most in the world, in the sunshine, in a stunning location. In bad news, I wasn’t scheduled for stage until at least 8.30pm at night! We started the day with a walk around a nearby lake, some food prep (we had taken a portable steamer so we could cook our own chicken breast, rice etc), then it was on with the first coat of tan.
Damien left the apartment about 11am to help and support another client and was due back at 1pm but the shuttle buses were hopeless and he didn’t actually get back until 4pm! And even then he only got back because he had taken a taxi! I’d spent the intervening hours doing my hair (with Jade’s assistance) and makeup and trying to get my first coat of tan to dry, but without much success at all. I also caught up with Facebook, but didn’t look at any pics from the comp at all, as this always wreaks havoc with my confidence! For the same reason, I try not to look at anyone else when I’m backstage, otherwise I just keep thinking that everyone else is better, more muscular, more balanced, leaner and more beautiful than me! I have to keep reminding myself that this is MY race, I want to be MY best, and whatever anyone else has brought is out of my hands, and good on them for their hard work. I had done the absolute best I could possibly do at every second, so the cards will fall where they may. I could do no more than I had done.
Damien put the second coat on and OH NO!!! DISASTER!!! For whatever reason, no matter what we did, the tan just sloughed off and left hideous uneven marks all over me! At the professional level, at the World Titles, everything has to be PERFECT. This tan was ruined and there was no more time or tan to try again! My bikini was also a mess, covered in tan. I actually started to hyperventilate at this stage. The incredible amount of stress I had put myself under for the lead up to this competition and all the insecurities I had to endure, all came to the surface and I couldn’t breathe or think. It may seem a small thing, and unimportant to ‘normal’ people, but this ten minutes on stage was something my family and I had put our hearts, souls, money, time, focus and energy on for years. We had all made enormous sacrifices to be here, my sponsor had put an enormous amount of faith in me, and to have something like this go wrong could ruin and waste it all. I desperately tried to contact the tanners at the venue, even though clients had had to book in with them weeks before and they had started tanning at 5.30am. With no response, we decided to just get rid of all the tan off me and get to the venue to see what we could possibly do. I washed my bikini and we set off.
Again, no shuttle bus! They were meant to be running constantly, but in the whole eleven hours up to this point we had only seen one, so we had to take a taxi. It was over half an hour to the venue and I think I turned half my hair grey with the stress!
The venue was enormous, with a big back stage area and thankfully some larger weights for pumping up with. Normally when travelling we use bands to pump up with as they are light and portable but I’ve never really been happy with them and would much prefer moving some bigger weight around. Plus it helps get rid of some nervous energy!
I found the tan people and basically begged them to help me, and they managed to fit me in THANK GOODNESS and did a great job.
Now it was my favourite bit! The eating chocolate part! LOL! Pumping up, Jade helping me put on my stick on nails, Damien adjusting my suit and checking my posing, all the excitement of being part of the Australian Team and being here at this incredible event! It’s hard to believe that a 46 year old mum from Launceston in Tasmania could be here, about to step on the World stage! I always take deep breaths here and try to remember this feeling so I can keep it forever.
Lining up, the nerves are enormous! Walking on stage, remembering everything I’ve been practising for so long, seeing the seven judges spread out before me, hearing the yelling from the crowd, seeing Damien and Jade, there is a calmness at last – I know what to do, and the smile beams out, the nerves become excitement, the music beats so loudly the stage is moving, and I know I only have a few moments to convince the judges that I am the winner, to connect with them and show them all I have achieved and worked for. I make my movements bigger, more graceful, I’m proud and happy and I know I’m in the shape of my life! The quarter turns aren’t my favourite but the poses are where I want to shine the most, especially for Damien and Jade to be proud of me.
Then it’s over. It feels like just a few seconds on stage after the marathon of the day. The nerves are back, my breath is short, my muscles are aching from the tension, my knees are shaky. They call the numbers from last to first. Every time my number is not called, an extra bit of hope grows in my heart. Then they call second place and it’s still not me – I’VE WON! The PNBA Pro Physique World Champion at my Pro Debut! I thought I would cry if I won, but instead I feel alive with joy, humility, pride, relief and disbelief! I can see Damien and Jade in the audience! There’s almost no-one else there to support us, but it’s all I need! We shake hands all around then head backstage to take photos with my medal and the Australian flag.
One of the best moments of my life!
It’s all over, but this feeling is one I will never ever forget. Now, to Paris and Dubai to enjoy a week of much needed relaxation!
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me, in real life and over social media! You may only take a few seconds to like a photo or post a positive comment, but they all give me a boost and help me along!
There’s lots of exciting things in the works so please stay tuned! xxxxx