One week after my contest in Reno, Nevada, I headed out to Miami, Florida for the NPC Nationals. I was trying to stay on my diet this week following my competition because I was scheduled for one more photo shoot out in Miami. I was looking good on Saturday, November 19th as I was preparing for the long drive to Miami when I got a text from the photographer. He told me he had to cancel the shoot because he was running behind from the day before (thanks Tony from OMG, you owe me one!). I was disappointed to hear this because I had already booked a hotel room in Miami and I had stayed on my diet the week after my contest in order to be in good shape for the photos.
I decided to go anyway because it was too late to cancel the hotel room and I had some friends that were going to be in Miami and I was looking forward to seeing them. I left around 9 a.m. that morning and started my 4 1/2 hour road trip to South Beach. I had to make a lot of bathroom stops because I had eaten plenty of asparagus the night before to lose any subcutaneous water. My waist was down to 32 1/2 inches that morning and my weight was down to 188 pounds so I was definitely lean and ripped. I even applied a spray tan the night before so I would have good color for the pics.
When I finally got to Miami around 3:00 in the afternoon, I checked into my hotel on Collins Avenue. It was a different type of hotel where the rooms were located next door in sort of an apartment type setting. Inside, however, the rooms were very nice and modern. One thing I loved was the assortment of candy and cookies that were available (for a price, of course) in the room. Since the weather was so nice out (85 and sunny), I decided to take a walk outside and visit the beach as well as the restaurants and shops along the Ocean Drive.
The beach was crowded because the weather was so warm. The ocean was pretty wild with lots of waves so most people stayed on the sand. As I was checking out the sights, one young man came walking toward me and motioned me forward to tell me something. Since Miami can be a little shady in some areas, I kept my distance as he approached. “Dude, check out the chick playing frisbee topless. She’s got tassles on her nipples man! It’s the BEST!”
I saw a beautiful young lady in the sand playing frisbee with a guy wearing cargo shorts and sporting numerous tattoos on his torso. I couldn’t tell if she was really topless so I walked toward her to make sure (all in the name of good investigative reporting, of course). Sure enough, the “chick” in question was really topless and the tassles were in place, just as previously reported. No question, South Beach is a great place to hang out!
Since the diet was now officially over with the cancellation of my photo shoot, I decided to relax a little and get something to eat. I saw a Mexican restaurant on one of the main streets so I decided to stop in and have lunch. I haven’t had Mexican food in probably six months because I’ve been dieting pretty much all year. I quickly ordered some chicken tacos and a strawberry margarita as I dived into the chips and salsa waiting for me on the table. Three strawberry margaritas later, I was feeling very content as I went looking for some dessert. I stopped at a frozen yogurt shop and ordered a large with some added Oreo cookies and M&M’s sprinkled on top.
I was feeling a little buzzed as I went back to the hotel room to get ready for the finals at the Nationals. I took a quick shower and got dressed before starting on my journey to the Jackie Gleason Theater where the evening show was going to take place. With over 900 competitors, this would be the largest national level bodybuilding show in the history of the NPC. The additions of Men’s and Women’s Physique have no doubt added to the large number of competitors in the national level events.
As I entered the theater, I ran into a group of natural bodybuilding competitors who recognized me and wanted to take some pictures with me. The guys were entered in the Men’s Bodybuilding Lightweight Class and the lovely Mylien was competing in the Bikini division. Mylien was explaining to me that she didn’t know if she should compete in top shape because than she may be considered too hard for Bikini or if she should come in softer. After she showed me her abs, I told her she looked great the way she was. What do these judges know anyway? ;)
One nice thing about the 2011 NPC Nationals was that there were several bars in the lobby along with the many exhibitor booths. For someone like me who had just ended about 10 months of dieting, it was nice to have something to drink besides bottled water. I ran into my friend Jose Raymond, top contender in the 202 pound division. Jose was also taking a break from his diet, having recently placed third in the 202 Olympia in September. Jose’s girlfriend, Toni, was also competing that night in the Figure division.
One of the highlights of the evening for me was meeting 8 time Mr. Olympia and one of the true legends in the bodybuilding world, Lee Haney. Lee looked great, very lean and in shape at 52 years old. I told Lee that I had recently competed and, to get psyched up for my contest, I was watching some of the Mr. Olympia videos from his era (1984-1991). I complimented him on not only his great physique during his reign as Mr. Olympia but also his fantastic posing routines as well as the class and professionalism that he always displayed onstage and off. That was really one of the best times in bodybuilding, in my opinion.
I also was glad to have a chance to hang out with my friend, Mel Chancey from Chicago. Mel is a former training partner of mine and we had some killer workouts back in the ’90’s when I was bulking up to win my Natural Mr. Universe contests. Mel got married the weekend before to his lovely bride Melissa and he was in Miami celebrating his wedding as well as attending the Nationals. Since I moved from Chicago to Florida, I don’t get a chance to see my old friends as much so it was great to see Mel. He’s looking as large as ever!
After the contest ended, I went out with Mel, Melissa, Dennis James and several others and we went to get something to eat in Miami. I had one of my favorite dishes, chicken parmigiana, and I ate everything on the plate. It was great being off my diet and just being free to eat whatever I wanted. We hit a few clubs after dinner and I ended up getting back to the hotel at 3 in the morning.
I was planning on eating breakfast and taking off early on Sunday because I wanted to be back in Tampa in time for the Chicago Bears game at 4. However, I got a text from my friend Mercedes Perez in the morning asking me if I wanted to go out for Mimosas and breakfast. Mercedes was competing that weekend in the Bikini division (how this girl hasn’t gotten her pro card yet is beyond me) so she was ready to eat.
I met her at one of the restaurants on Ocean Drive and we had a big breakfast and about four mimosas each. After that, we made a day of it and went walking around South Beach, stopping at several more restaurants and eating whatever we wanted. There’s nothing better than eating and drinking to your heart’s content the day after a contest or photo shoot! We even had some Cuban food along with some mojitos before we left and Mercedes found a pair of boots that she was in love with.
All in all, I had a great time in Miami! The timing was perfect because I wasn’t dieting and I got to enjoy all the food and drinks I wanted without any guilt. I also got to visit with some good friends of mine while taking in the 80 degree sunshine of South Florida. Of course, I was a little shocked to see that I added about 10 pounds and over an inch on my waist when I got on the scale Monday morning but it was fun while it lasted.