“The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity”.

“An idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person's mind”.

If you look for these definitions in the Oxford Dictionary you will not find them under Bodybuilding, you will find them under Obsession and Addiction. The following blog is about my experience over the past months competing and my current lifestyle thereafter.

Its 01:00am, and for as long as I can recall, this is the same time I have been waking for the past several weeks. Despite knowing my body needs to rest, I am eager to get to the gym and tick my morning cardio off, which will allow me to eat my 1st meal of the day and provide me with some sanity. I arrive at the gym to face the dreaded stairs of hell (stairmaster), many of times I have considered opting for the treadmill due to my energy levels being rock bottom; not once did I ever. Searching through Youtube for the most gruelling of training / motivational videos, shouting at myself to motivate myself not to give in. Finally the machine beeps, my time was up, I get off the machine and reside for 5 minutes to regain some energy. Its now merely 02:00am and I am on my way back home. The next step is to wake my partner to take my daily check in photographs; whilst this may seem cruel, I didn’t care it was a process that I had adhered to for the past however many months of my life, whilst at first, the time was a more amicable 07:00am, due to the lack of sleep the process moved forward; even posing at this stage was proving exhausting.

Finally, time to eat; this was generally around 03:00am. How rice, turkey and almond butter tasted so good at that time I will never know. I had established that I had the most energy to train early in the morning before work; as pitiful as the energy was I refused to give nothing but 100%. One of my favourite memories is being able to pull 240kg rack pulls at 04:00am. I was so fired up, so determined, no energy deficiency would stop me. Maybe it was the sheer determination or maybe the impact of the Maxxmuscle Atomic Bomb (haha!).

By the time I had finished training and showered it was around 05:30am, time for the 40 mile drive to Manchester to start my working day. Having been stuck in traffic for around 2 hours I arrived at the office completely drained. I tended to sit in a corner on my own as I had no desire to communicate with colleagues. I would keep my head down in a bid to avoid conversation. Other than getting up 20/30 times a day to go to the toilet or to the fridge to eat, I didn’t move. Calls would be avoided, emails ignored and meetings cancelled. I had completely lost the ability to do my job. For the last 6 weeks of competing I would generally spend my day in work either buying bodybuilding clothes, equipment, supplements or on CampJansen members page were I would await updates on his Olympian diets, training I would then re-evaluate my peak weeks in accordance with his notes. This sometimes meant going home and putting days of food prep in the bin and buying new food to cook in accordance with his plans. The majority of the times, I would drive home completely exhauseted, falling asleep at the wheel, doing everything I would not to fall asleep. Many of times I come off the road and nearly crashed.

I didn’t have the mental capacity to complete my daily tasks as a construction project manager, I knew I was at risk of losing my job. I was exhausted, mentally unfit, unsociable and emotionally recked. Regardless of the thought of losing my job and numerous family members, friends, colleagues asking me why I am continuing this journey given the impact it was having on me, my health and my relationship with my partner, family, friends, I had no intention of stopping. My mind set was; I was willing to lose it all. With 2 weeks left competing, enough was enough I was beginning to have emotional breakdowns in work, arguments with colleagues and the travelling was to much. I had no holidays to take, therefore I opted to take the leave unpaid in a bid to retain my job, my health and ensure I could give it my all for the final 2 weeks.

It’s around 14:30 I am standing on the PCA British final stage; my final show, the end. The whole competition experience was always so enjoyable regardless of the result, I would come off that stage on such a high, greeted by my family and friends with smiles on their faces and always providing positive feedback, this feeling would remain for the forthcoming days, just in time for the next show. In a bid not to lose this feeling, this lust I entered consecutive competitions every week for a period of 6 weeks.

Back to the stage, I stand there knowing I have not placed in the top 6. This didn’t matter the smile on my face would remain and then it hit me. It was over, it was an overwhelming feeling and the tears began to pour down my face. This was not sadness it was relief; I would be back to living a normal life; no more cardio, no more sleepless nights, no more constructive dieting. That night we went out for a much needed binge of junk food and drinks, I went to bed happy. I woke the next morning feeling empty, like something inside of me had died. I needed to get that feeling back. There was a gym next door to the hotel I was staying in, I jumped out of bed and paid £7 for a day pass to allow me to do my morning cardio. At this point I regained that feeling of being a bodybuilder, I knew this would be temporary but I embraced the feeling.

I was due to go on holiday 2 days after the final and enjoyed some good food and downtime. However I had that niggle that still wanted to continue this lifestyle. The plan whilst away was to completely switch off no cardio, no training, just good food, drink and relaxation.

Its 06:00am in the South of France; Nice. I am plowing along the coast, yes morning cardio. I couldn’t switch off. On my first day I spotted a gym which wasn’t open at that time in the morning but that planted a seed in my head. I swore I would only go once to see what it was like, but on entering I knew that wouldn’t be possible, it was a proper hardcore bodybuilding gym; I paid for a weekly pass. In a bid not to ruin the holiday I would continue to get up at 06:00am to do my cardio, come home and eat and then walk 20 minutes back to the gym. I would be home most days by 10:00am which allowed me not to spoil the experience to much for my partner. On landing the first trip was to the supermarket were I ensured I put together 4/5 good meals a day to ensure I got my macronutrient requirements.

Whilst on holiday I was communicating with Anth Bailes; I acquired a training programme and diet plan which I began to implement. The planned normal life had gone out the window by this point, I was so hungry to get back on stage but would not compete again until I had made the required improvements and packed on some mass to challenge for a pro card. My goal is to get back on stage in September / October 2020 with an added 5-10kg of muscle mass.

On returning from holiday, I would not waste a day; the plane landed at 13:30, we were in the supermarket by 14:30 buying a months’ worth of shopping in accordance with my new diet plan. Whilst away I had purchased an exercise bike online and ensured it was set up for my return for my first morning of cardio. The plans of going back to living a normal life and just enjoying training was long gone, I was obsessed I couldn’t get bodybuilding off my mind.

For the first couple of weeks back, I found it hard readapting to work having had 4 weeks off. I felt like I was wasting precious time were I could be at the gym, at home relaxing, at home preparing food. I continued to spend my days researching, watching training videos being unproductive in work.

Over time, I have managed to regain a stable mind-set that allows me to go to work and complete my job. I also continue to appease my obsession with bodybuilding. I still get up every morning for cardio, go to work, eat like a bodybuilder, train after work and just enough time for some evening T.V. I eat some good food 2-3 times per week and have the occasional drink.

I get married next year and we fly to Mexico for our Honeymoon, I have even managed to add an additional flight from Mexico to Vegas to watch the Mr Olympia in September (how I got away with that I will never know). I am very lucky in that my partner is fully supportive of what I do, not once during my comp prep did she complain or give me a hard time about the lifestyle WE were living. If there was a toss up in life between bodybuilding and my Partner; I would choose bodybuilding…. HAHA that’s a joke as I know she will be reading this.