At the gym the other day a 73 year old man who attends the gym three times a week, mentioned to me that he was shocked by something that happened to him a few days ago when he climbed up a ladder to fix his roof. He went up and down the ladder once but needed to go up again. When he descended the second time one of his legs lost all power and he became stuck. “I must be getting old,” he said. “Do you do any machines to strengthen your legs?” I asked. “No,” he said, so I immediately introduced him to a number of leg press machines. Failure to strengthen the legs is a common story even with seasoned bodybuilders. At bodybuilding championships I’ve seen many male bodybuilders with great upper bodies perched on, what I call celery legs. I don’t think anyone enjoys the leg press. I certainly don’t. In fact it’s the one machine I dread the most. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with the leg press because, although it’s hard work, I value greatly what it does for my leg strength. The message is if you don’t work on strengthening your legs they will surely let you down.
The concept of bodybuilding has become quite diverse since I began competing in 1999. In natural bodybuilding championships these days, there are a number of female divisions which are Bodybuilding, Physique, Bikini Divas, Bikini Mamas, Bathing Suit Beauties, Sports Model and Ms Figure (Two Piece), Ms Figure Classic (One Piece). In my view the only two divisions which fit into my idea of bodybuilding are the bodybuilding and physique divisions. Of these two I compete in natural bodybuilding rather than physique because, for me it’s the real thing. In the physique division, competitors wear enormously high heeled shoes. Because of this some of one’s presentation is dependent upon how well one can perform on stilts, not how well developed and tailored one’s muscles are. The physique division was created to provide a more level playing field for smaller and more slender competitors. Well you say; how come you compete in the bodybuilding division when you are so small and slight? My answer to this is that I consider the bodybuilding division to be the genuine article, because with the bodybuilding division one is on stage with only body and bikini. If women are to be taken seriously in natural bodybuilding, I believe that they should be judged similar to male bodybuilders in terms of the muscle size, muscle definition and symmetry they have achieved, with no extra adornments like high heeled shoes.
In my opinion, the glamour focus of the various female divisions, detract from the essence of strength, vitality and excitement about life and self. Adornments take away from what I’m endeavouring to do, which is to promote health, strength and feeling good about self. It’s a great feeling to be able to feel confident wearing the clothes you want to wear and know that you’ve really achieved something without adornments to rely on.
I like the natural approach and so I don’t take protein powder. It’s not natural for people to swallow protein powder. I want to show that one can get good results with ordinary healthy food, exercise and dedication that you can have the body you want and live the life you want to live and have the energy you need to pursue your dreams for as long you live. I’m out to prove this. I’m 72 years old now and on my way. There’s nothing more exciting for me than, at age 72, to be able to wear the clothes I want to wear and feel good in them, and to be able to dance and have fun and join in activities. When I look around at people in my age group who don’t exercise I’m sure that if I didn’t exercise and eat good food my life and choices would be severely limited. You don’t need adornments to feel good and excited about life and yourself, you can feel great just as you are.
On stage in Dubai- Gold Medal in over 60s
AFTER JUDGING, BEFORE RESULTS
I’m back, and it’s all over and I have another gold medal to add to my collection but what an experience! There were over 400 competitors and would you believe, the computer crashed which created utter chaos but we managed somehow. Because of the huge number of competitors posing routines were cancelled. All that practising for nothing! The venue was a huge sports centre with an indoor soccer pitch and a great gym. It was a very different experience competing in such a venue. Another little aside was that every competitor had to be drug tested both with blood and urine. Oh what a joy! It’s none too easy giving a urine sample with someone waiting right outside the toilet door. Anyway the Championships were super exciting, with all sorts of compliments and adrenaline rushes. Perhaps the greatest adrenaline rush was being interview by Swiss Public Television. What buzz and I’ve been promised a DVD of it too! The attached photos are after judging and before results and the Australian Team.
AUSTRALIAN TEAM DUBAI
Well two weeks tomorrow is the big day for the INBA Pro-Am World Championships in Dubai! I’m pretty happy with my results so far but I’ll be glad when next Friday comes and I can modify my preparation intensity. Regardless of how I go I am satisfied with my effort. I’ve done everything I can. I’ve entered the over 50’ and over 60’s and I’ve tried to enter an over 70’s division as I did in Greece in 2013 but although the over 70’s is offered for male bodybuilding, it is not, at the moment, being offered for female bodybuilders. I feel that it’s important for a sport, particularly for one that is so focussed on health, strength and fitness (including diet) that pathways not to be blocked, particularly when, most likely, today’s 70 year old will be tomorrow’s 50 year old in terms of health, fitness and strength. Entries close on May 31 and at the moment there is one male competitor entered in the over 7o’s male bodybuilding.
It’s now countdown time for the INBA Pro-Am World Championships in Dubai and I’m tired, excited and apprehensive all at once. Training, including posing and routine practice is taking up a great deal of my time. There is however something I’d like to report and that is, that lately I’ve noticed a change with some young people at my gym. Those around 20-25, have been taking an interest in my training etc. In fact, quite a few of these young people have asked me all the details of what I’m doing and how I got started. Maybe it’s because they can see a more positive stronger image for their future than the aged stereotype would have us believe.
At the other end of the spectrum, a lady around 50 approached me last Friday and told me she was so excited about what I was doing because she could see that she could be strong and fit in her older age. She went on to tell me about her sister who was about the same age as her, and that her sister’s bones were now crumbling such that she had become very weak, in fact incapacitated. She said that she told her sister about weight resistant training (WRT) but her sister was not the slightest bit interested in WRT or in going to a gym because she had a poor opinion of gyms and of those who attended them. It always surprises me that some people think this way about gyms. In fact I’ve met quite a few. On the up side the lady in question seemed excited about her gym adventure and her new vision of her older age. She certainly saw WRT it as vital for a strong, healthy and vibrant future.
Ten weeks to go until the World Championship in Dubai!
I have a friend who is a wonderful photographer. He enjoys taking photos of birds, of the feathered variety. He takes pains to get just the right angle, the right time of day etc. Over many years I’ve seen hundreds of wonderful photos he’s taken, but the other day he said something that struck me. He said, “I took some photos of lorikeets the other day and I’m really disappointed. These birds are so quick in flight.” He sounded extremely disappointed since he’d tried so hard and travelled so far to take the photos. He went on, “I was trying to get a shot of under their wings but I just couldn’t do it. They move so fast.” I said “I’d like to see the photos anyway. So he emailed them to me and I found two of them to be nothing short of magical. Because my friend was so focused on the shot he wanted to take but, he failed to see the beauty of what he’d taken. He simply could not see the unique beauty he had captured. It then occurred to me that so many of us are like my friend. We are so set on what we want to achieve, we fail to see and appreciate what we do achieve. The message here is don’t miss out on appreciating the uniqueness and beauty of you and what you achieve simply because you are stuck focussing on something you wanted to achieve. In fact what you do achieve could be far more beautiful and unique, than what you set out to achieve in the first place. In other words, the dream might not be as beautiful as who you are or what you have created.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychological therapy tool that I employed regularly when practising psychology. While some clients found EMDR confronting, I found it to be highly successful in desensitising painful memories. During EMDR it is common for clients to see pictures of past events. Usually, amongst all the pictures that flick through the mind, one or more stands out and stays in focus. It is then kept in focus and processed. As it continues to be focussed on, the presenting stressful picture or emotion begins to fade until it is entirely gone, leaving the client free of that emotional pain. Sometimes we are completely unaware of why we are feeling uncomfortable. If this is the case if we focus on the emotion and keep focussing on it and allow it to do its worst, after a relatively small amount of time it will fade away to insignificance. When emotional pain is felt, many of us take to drinking alcohol or eating excessively to comfort ourselves. These are only band aid solutions. They are destructive and don’t solve anything and most of all they allow the destructive emotional pain to continue to exist.
My advice to those wanting to keep their weight the way they want it to be, is to start with your normal diet and gradually modify it by trading bits and pieces of it for substitutes that are lower in calories; lower in salt, sugar and saturated fat. This approach is far more likely to turn into a permanent way of eating than this or that diet. Doing it this way you’ll never be over weight again because you’re eating similar to your usual diet. Simply following this or that diet will have a beginning and an end. You want something that is never ending, a diet that you can stay with and enjoy forever. I started eating differently in 1999 and I enjoy what I eat and never put weight on. Sometimes I’ll have a small portion of so called treats and I enjoy that as a little change, but often when I do this my system doesn’t feel good afterwards. Once you’ve modified your diet the way you want it to be for your weight control you’ll be able to enjoy it and stick to forever. You’ll never have to worry about losing weight again. Always remember that you can acquire a taste after about six weeks. So persevere with each of your substitutions to your diet for at least six weeks. You might at the end of that time prefer your substitute item to your usual food.