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          So I am going to go ’Memento’ on your psyche right now (apologies to the millennials for the old movie reference). Yes, this is part two, jumping on to the day of the show, I just want to make my occasional blabber a little exciting for you readers out there, at least all three of you; Radha-my trusted unpaid and under recognized proof reader, myself and hopefully one more. I was thinking, there is not a lot of twist to my story anyway, just like watching the ‘the passion of the Christ’ or ‘Jose Rizal’. The show concluded with me getting in the fourth place, shy of third and ahead of fifth, yes fourth, fourth and victorious! Let us start in the morning, like really early morning. I did not get a lot of sleep that night, I think I got a shuteye around 12:30 in the morning and woke up 2 hours later with my heart beating so fast of anxiousness, excitement, thirst and hunger. Did I tell you I have been off, rather restricted of carbs, sodium and H2O roughly since Wednesday of the the week leading to the Saturday morning show? My macros, sodium and H20 intake were measured to the gills with every minute detail monitored depending on my body’s response to them. We are all built different, so unique that even Siamese twins are never the same. I know genetically that I am leaning towards endo-mesomorph body type and that my body is quite sensitive to carbs. My body reacts to it so bad that the sight of rice makes me bloat. To look tighter, I cut carbs way ahead of all my macros early on that week and along with controlling my H2O and sodium (I’ll discuss the basis of this later). I can say that it delivered and worked for me at least subjectively as you can see in the photos. Yet, when I looked at myself in the mirror, though very happy with my chiseled built, my prominent hip bones still looked wide in proportion to my shoulders making my waist not as tapered as it has to be for the ‘physique’ category. What surprised me though was my legs (hamstrings, quads and calves. The striations and the proportion on all angles were crisp and I fell in love with them immediately. Yup! Right then and there, I was sure that ‘physique’ is not the right category for me, it’s just not. With all humility and honesty, I chose ‘physique’ underestimating it at first, my exact thought was, it looks to me like it does not require a lot of work compared to let’s say a ‘classic’ or ‘heavy weight’ body building category. The athletes’ smile on stage gave the impression that it was just a walk in the park, the same walk took me forever to learn during my prep. You see with ‘physique’ you have to show enough built, good enough to showcase the shoulders, abs and waist, some back and little to nothing for lower extremities. You also have to learn how to pseudo flex (flex but not actually or pretend not to or half-baked flex), imagine isometrically contracting your chest, arms, back and abs with an open fist, so effin’ hard to coordinate, mess it up and you are ‘Edward Scissorhands’ all of a sudden. Everything has to be fluid, done with enough grace and gusto. By the way, you are in board shorts, so you really have to make it look like you are just showing off on the beach. On top of all these, you have to show your best smile to the judges and the crowd. Seems easy right? But no Sir/Madam, to smile with extra dry mouth (yup, you are water depleted) is the hardest thing to do, the skin inside your cheeks sticks to your teeth, your tongue gets stuck to the roof of your mouth then you lose total control of it. You will be forced to lick your dry cracking lips with your even drier tongue only to end up inaudible, talking senseless with gross glue-like residue all over the corners of your mouth. Yuck! ‘Physique’ category I can tell now is not something to look down upon, it is not in any way, shape or form easy.


           I have no recollection of the last time I represented myself on stage, I am not a competitive person, not in sports or in academics. I was raised in a household where we had enough and sometimes not so financially. My parents raised us to be contented with the small things that we have, maybe to protect us from feeling bad about our situation or maybe so we do not expect too much from their already difficult status. They also instilled the trait of planning ahead (this explains why I am always 3 hours early for a domestic flight every time Tatay drops me off to the airport) and hard work that I found to be very effective combined until now. Luck is when opportunity meets preparation anyway. They believe that with the right timing and your stars align perfectly, you better grab on to it tight and never let go because it’s yours for the time being, for as long as you keep on kindling the fire that brought you there. The traits I inherited from my folks may have its loopholes but what I got from it the best is that I never had a bit of ‘envy’ in my system (except Brad Pitt…. I hate that guy), envy is responsible for setting wrong dreams/goals/aspirations and for ruining a lot of them too for a lot of people like a castle made out of sand. ‘No envy, no fear’ from the song was my mantra since, it helped me with goal setting, to move on after adversity and saved me from a lot of heart aches may it be about goals or relationships. It allowed me to enjoy existing endeavors like this competition and it did not matter win or loose. I thought I was going to have difficulty projecting on stage. My biggest fear was the idea of passing out in front of the crowd with the sudden onset of agora and xenophobia (fear of open spaces and people) the moment the spotlight would hit me as I got up on stage. It was the opposite for me, the feeling I had when I did the individual posing routine and group was ecstatic, the difficulty I had the whole contest prep practicing how to smile and flex at the same time suddenly felt natural. I clad my best genuine smile all throughout the competition (I even think I went over board with smiling but I did not care at all) even after landing on the fourth place. Looking back at all the pictures I received from the show (kudos to @muscleinfocus ), it was evident on my face that I had a blast, even my wife would attest to that. On the regular, I always carry my natural grumpy-old man look. My baptism in fire to the body building world competition was one of the best experiences of my life and definitely will not be the last. It has just begun and I expect more from myself next time around with an open threat to my new competitor-friends, give it all your best shot because I am coming back with the 2.0 much better. I joined a lot of art competition in elementary, but it is in no way comparable to a competition such as this, for it did not really allow me to showcase myself in front of a crowd. Joining WNBF open physique was in a lot of ways a big leap for me, an introduction to a lot of new things, an adventure to the unknown, most importantly, I was half naked doing it.

               The wait from 2:00am until the 6:30am assembly seemed like an eternity for a famished and thirsty person. I tried to hold loading carbs a little longer because I was too afraid of spilling over (bloating from excess carbs) that would make me look fluffy instead of ripped. Remember, this was my first time so I was a little by-the-book on this, obsessive-compulsive with the details that still confuses me until now with everyone claiming to be an expert having contrasting concepts and opinions about what to do on the final week. Man-scaping was my next agenda along with exfoliation as prescribed by the tanning experts (kudos to @spartanasia ). I stayed quite a while in the shower being born a sasquatch, I murdered the blades of 4 fresh cartridges of razors that morning which I hope did not clog the drain on the shower of the Airbnb I rented for my stay. I overdid the exfoliation part I guess since I am still healing from several loofa burns all over the important crevices of my body (I chose not to give any more R-rated details on this). It was time to eat afterwards. There is such a thing as carb-loading for shows like this. Let us put a little science to this, reducing to taking off carbs the week before peak day is an effort to deplete your body’s glycogen levels. To make it simple, carbs turns into glucose, and chained glucose molecules is called glycogen. Glycogen fuels the body or can be stored in the muscle or liver for reserve. Glycogen in the muscle holds water giving it that plump look.  In theory, the purpose of dropping carbs for a while will force the body to overcompensate the moment you start to load carb again with even higher glycogen levels. Higher glycogen levels equal more water in the muscle equals bigger muscle appearance.  Along with the restriction of water intake, it will pull mostly the ones remaining from under your skin, this will give you an even bigger-shredded appearance. I prepared well for the carb load phase, candies, chocolates, almond butter, bagels, etc. (as seen on the photo). I know I could have chosen better carb sources than what I had on my arsenal that day but being restricted of dirty yet so yummy carbs for quite a while erased logical and scientific thinking on my part. Maybe not taking them before the show would have helped me more or maybe not. I guess I will find out next time around for comparison. I started loading carbs around 4:00am with sodium-sugar free almond butter on plain bagel and double rinsed canned tuna in water. The meal was spent standing in
front of the mirror for biofeedback concurrent with practicing my routine poses. I kept ingesting carbs in small portions every 30 minutes until I was very close to going up on stage.  The 15-minute walk from the Airbnb to the venue was therapeutic for me that early in the morning, nothing much on the streets aside from street sweepers, stray domestic pets and occasional taxis carrying or waiting or passengers. During my walk, I realized that after several months of hard work in training and monitoring my nutrition, I finally get the right to participate in an event such as this in which not a lot of people would even dare join.  The challenge was great and the required discipline was top notch in its own ways, this is it, the big day, my time to shine. Reminiscing about day one until the day of the show made me smile and think of what I acquired from it. We were all judged based on the physical attributes we brought on stage, a very easy thing to assess, if only the judges and the crowd would put into account with higher percentage value, the laborious effort and both physical and mental torture myself and the other athletes experienced to be on the spotlight, then it will definitely be a different ball game. I am very certain that I acquired more from the preparation than the show itself. I cannot stress enough the discipline required but it was not all of it. In our household, I teach my kids (Kai for now) 7 basic but important terms and virtues they need to uphold and nourish in their daily lives, I make him enumerate them every night after his evening prayers. The same terms came out if someone would ask me what I learned from all of this. Let me enumerate them starting with the 7th. ‘HAVE FUN’, I think I failed on this one, though all the fun accumulated when I went up on stage, I’ve had more depression bouts leading up. Not realizing early on that I was in the wrong category, all along I have been chasing weight and waist line, I failed to put enough enjoyment and appreciation on the preparation which I should have especially the things I gained. Next, ‘GRATITUDE’, the lyrics to the song, ‘people who needs people are the luckiest people’ is so true. I will not make it to the show if not for the unsung heroes on my corner that requires another blog in itself to be recognized (next blog), thank you for now. ‘BE HEALTHY’, this I can say is pretty much covered from day one. The only unhealthy part coming from a health care professional point of view was the last week leading up, manipulating a lot of variables especially my nutrition, though scientifically based, I should have not allowed my body to be pushed to the extreme. With that, I am back to the drawing board in finding better sustainable options in the future. ‘DO NOT LIE’, the trait that I placed so much weight and emphasis on. WNBF promoting and hosting only natural body building competitions caught my attention and respect as soon as I learned about it which is the reason I joined. I have no right placing judgment towards ‘assisted body builders’ out there because the same athletes for sure undergo the rigors of training and are also putting in the work, maybe even harder than what I gave to  compete. It is just that, I am a father and a therapist, a template to my family especially my children, my patients and clients, a crutch of any form is a compensatory strategy counterproductive to what I promote, total opposite of independence and self empowerment. Despite my qualifications, putting what I know to practice is different, I gained a lot of humility preparing for this, ‘LISTENING’ to other people who have experienced the tediousness of preparation and being on stage catapulted what I know a hundred fold and I am glad I did, because now, I am so much more. Close on top is ‘HARD WORK’, it is beyond measure for me, I really put in the work from day one until the show, gave and sacrificed a lot of myself and fortunately gave my competitors a challenge, a good fight. On top of the list, ‘FAMILY’, sad to say but I failed miserably on this especially with my immediate family. With all the preparation, I was not able to provide them with enough time and energy they deserved, especially my two beloved kids. There is no single acceptable reason for this but to acknowledge and sincerely apologize to them whenever they get the chance to read this in the future, of course to my wife who took majority maybe all the responsibilities on my behalf on top of caring for my needs too, the patience and resilience on this woman was extraordinary and exceptional, for that, I thank her and I am really sorry love. 

             I learned a lot about myself from the experience. It changed me in so many ways especially with the level will to push through and keep on moving forward despite the odds and the curve balls thrown my way. Lastly, it made me aware of my priorities and what is important. Yes, I really enjoyed the whole experience from that last big meal on Christmas day before training until the big day witnessing the proud smile on my son’s face when I blew him a kiss while posing on stage. Body building is now part of my life, I am sure about that, but it is not my life. Like everything else, balance is the key. I will move on and keep improving, this time around, I’ll make sure I won’t miss on what really matters, my family.

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