Wow, time is flying by fast! I have less than 2 weeks to go until I compete for the first time in 7 years. On Saturday, November 12th, 2011, I will be stepping onstage to try to capture the Natural Olympia title again. I will be competing in the Masters Pro division for the first time. The last time I competed was way back in 2004 so it’s going to be a little strange entering a contest again.
When I last competed seven years ago, I didn’t plan on ever competing again. I entered my first bodybuilding contest when I was only 16 years old and I competed consistently until I was 41 years old. That was a total of 25 years of competition and it seemed a good place to stop at that point. I had already won the Natural Mr. Universe twice as well as the first Natural Mr. Olympia title, in addition to many other titles, so I didn’t see any reason to keep going. I did not believe I could make my physique better at that age than I was in my 20′s and 30′s, when I had won most of my contests. If I couldn’t really improve on my physique, what was the point of continuing to compete?
I started promoting Natural Bodybuilding competitions in 2007 and this took the place of competing for me. I would have to prepare for these contests six months in advance by promoting them and, just like when I was competing, I would get more involved in the contest as the show date approached. I tried to make each show bigger and better than the last one by having entertaining guest posers and making the contests a great experience for both the audience and the competitors.
However, this year, I started to entertain the idea of competing again. I got into great shape for my Ironman Magazine photo shoot in May and lots of people were impressed with how I looked. Although I was lighter in bodyweight than I had been in years, my muscularity and definition were better than they had been in a very long time. I didn’t care what I weighed as long as I looked ripped and hard.
After the photo shoot was over, I stayed with my diet and didn’t gain much of the weight back. I went to Chicago in June and did another photo shoot and then shot with another photographer in August when I went back to Chicago to promote the Natural North America bodybuilding contest. Although I was allowing myself a few cheat days here and there, I never let myself get too far off the mark and I would quickly get back on my diet to stay lean.
In late August, I started to have problems with my lower back. I have compressed discs in my lower back so I always have to be careful with my training to avoid aggravating this area but this injury was different. I had somehow aggravated the sciatic nerve in the left side of my lower back and it was causing pain in that area for weeks on end. First the pain was in my lower back on the left side, then it moved to my hip area on the left side and finally it was in the hip flexors in my left leg. I was going to a chiropractor and a massage therapist to treat the area but it still took over a month to go away. They were doing their best to help but this injury was mystifying them as well as me.
By the time I went to the Mr. Olympia contest in Las Vegas in mid-September, it seemed the injury had finally ended. When I got back home, I started training as hard as I could to regain any muscle I had lost over the last 5 weeks when I had to hold back in my training because of this injury. I was still lean at this point so I continued to diet to get as hard as possible while hoping to add back some of my lost muscle tissue.
With two weeks to go, I am happy to say that I am really lean and ripped. I am very excited about competing this year because I know I will be my best condition in a long time, maybe even in my competitive career. I have increased vascularity all over my body, especially my legs. I think this is because the skin is so thin. It feels great to be so ripped at the advanced age of 48 years old. So much for being over the hill after 40!
I will continue to post some more pictures as the contest gets closer. My goal now is to maintain my muscle fullness leading into the show and compete full, vascular and hard! I’m really pumped up about getting back onstage in a couple weeks because I feel so good about my condition. Stay tuned for more updates!!