Summer was rapidly coming to an end, and so was my contest diet. Labor Day was just around the corner, and I had three weeks left before I got onstage again, all oiled up in little posing trunks—truly a manly sport! It was the home stretch of the diet process, but by no means was it a time to coast.
Carbohydrates had been lowered and replaced by more healthful fats from salmon and raw nuts to keep up my energy, but that didn’t stop the inevitable fatigue that became my constant companion. When my bodyfat is lower and I am doing more cardio, I’m unable to sleep for more than six hours without snapping awake.
We are all unique individuals with our own bone structures, muscle attachments, metabolisms and temperaments. An exercise that works spectacularly for one bodybuilder might be ineffective or even dangerous for another.
Since cardio is more effective at burning fat when done on an empty stomach, I usually toss down a few caps of branched-chain aminos, wash them down with a mug of strong Colombian coffee and head to the gym for 45 or 50 minutes on the StepMill. If you’re not familiar with it, the StepMill is a lot like an escalator—except that you have to walk the steps instead of going for a little ride, and you never actually get to the top.
Also, of course, I was starting to crave certain foods—pizza, ice cream, cookies, sugary cereals like Apple Jacks and Kix Berry Berry, Chinese food, fruit (a no-no due to the fructose, or fruit sugar, when you’re attempting to get down to low-single-digit bodyfat), KFC or pizza. Oh, wait, I already said pizza—but I freaking love pizza! I suspect that if Biblical scholars really did some digging, they would discover that the manna that fell from the sky to feed the Israelites in the desert was actually—you guessed it—pizza. Possibly with some garlic bread and a large Diet Pepsi.
So at three weeks out from my contest I was looking phenomenal and feeling like crap. Being tired and hungry tends to make me an irritable grouch. Little everyday concerns can become overwhelming problems, and though I am normally a gregarious and affable gentleman to all I meet, in the final stages of a contest diet I can be an unsociable wretch. The irony is that even though I am definitely a friendlier guy in the off-season (the phrase "fat and happy" is appropriate), I tend to be approached for training and nutrition advice far more often when I am looking lean and mean.