Game Over

I am not going to compete in September. There. I said it. Thats it. Game over. For this year…

I can’t believe it was only 3 weeks ago that I wrote ‘Game On’!

so why game over?

Well its been an accumulation of things really I suppose, ironically enough probably the least of it is actually my physical state.

My training has been progressing at such a rate that I think even has Aiden surprised – and he expected me to come back quickly. In just 3 weeks I’ve progressed from 2 sessions a week where we worked my whole body at each session to now so much of me is working so well that I need to do 4 sessions a week to fit it all in!

I’m up to about 75% pre surgery capacity on my back, about 60% PSI (pre surgery + injury) on my legs, about 50% PSI on glutes and hammies, about 50% PSI bi and tri, about 20% PSI on Chest and about 10% PSI on my shoulders.

For the first time in a long while this week we could put enough weight on me that I actually broke a sweat by the end of a set :-)

how much have I missed being able to work heavy enough to fail – its such a good feeling!

Aiden took photos of my back because he can’t believe how much it has changed in such a short space of time – and its all there, I’m lean enough that the definition is very clear…I’m even starting to get some shape back into my shoulders so that when I flex in my front pose I even look like I could be a figure competitor… :-)

but despite the amazing progress I’ve made in the last few weeks, I am not going to compete.

Its been coming for a while – I’ve had plenty of people tell me ‘You’re only as good as your last competition’  - and I did set the bar pretty high for myself by winning the novice title and coming second overall at my first time on stage…

I’ve had other people say ‘there’s always plenty more competitions’, again, its true there is – Clare Ross pointed out that there isn’t even a season anymore really, you can compete virtually year round.

I had a body talk session with Greg Dolman 2 weeks ago and things like ‘learning from past irresponsibilities’, interference, bringing me to my knees, crown chakra, worthy and wrong came up.

Taken individually that might not make much sense but in context of where I am now it makes perfect sense:

Last year I was irresponsible by being so bloody minded in pushing through my injuries to compete and that resulted in pushing my body beyond its capacity to the point where surgery was the only answer. That has literally brought me to my knees in terms of my ability to progress which, of course, has totally interfered with my plans for this year – was it the wrong thing to do? Very possibly.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing…as long as you learn the lesson. And I am probably a lesson in what not to do! :-)

Now that I am finally back in training and improving steadily will I be able to improve enough in time to be worthy of stepping on stage or is it the wrong thing to do? There’s 12 weeks until the ANB Victorian Titles, and I’m certainly lean enough to have a go at making it onto stage – but I am going to have to push my body bloody hard…again…which is irresponsible and would jeopardize the progress I have been making.

Would I be doing it for the wrong reasons? Getting up on stage just to to prove I can, is not the right reason to do it – I want to be worthy of my place up there, I am not going to be there just to make up numbers – I am going to be there to be competitive – that’s what a competitor does…but I’m not going to bring myself to my knees to do so…that would be irresponsible, and would certainly interfere with next years plans!

The crown chakra is all about ‘the universe’ and there’s so much going on in my life that just seems to be turning up all connected to my writing and creativity that I feel I need to allow myself the space to pursue whatever the universe is bringing my way – competing for the wrong reasons is going to interfere with this new path that is opening up for me…

My body has spoken, and for a change I might even be listening.

Let’s be honest, it was always going to be a massive uphill battle that depended on everything going right and my shoulders healing rapidly and well. And it just hasn’t turned out that way. With the rest of my body falling apart it has turned a tough job into an almost impossible one and the inescapable truth is that my body is not ready. I am not at 100%, my physio wants me to get an MRI on my left hip to see if there is any soft tissue damage, because it is just not healing despite all the cortisone and rest that I’ve had over the last few months.

I’m very disappointed, the possibility of being able to get back up on stage is what has kept me going through setback after setback, and being a spectator at competitions so far this year, whilst being fun for a whole host of different reasons has really confirmed in my mind just how much I want to be back on the stage instead of in front of it…

But I am comfortable with the decision – I have incredibly high expectations of myself, and right now I am not in a position to meet those expectations – I’m actually going to cut myself a bit of slack for once.

Maybe I’ve learnt the lesson I was meant to learn. It is the right thing to do.

And I did get a bit of a laugh out of it when I told Aiden that I wasn’t going to compete – he nearly had heart failure as he immediately assumed I meant ‘ever again’…

so I let him suffer…


for about 3 seconds…

He was very relieved when I clarified that I only meant ‘this September’  instead of ‘ever’.

So for all of you currently preparing for your next competition, good luck – this year I’ll be taking your photo from in front of the stage and writing about you in my competition report for Oxygen Magazine, and maybe interviewing you for…

Next year I’ll be up there with you!

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The Sex Issue!

Oh come on…every magazine or diary has some sex in it somewhere…and it’s been a long time coming in this diary that’s for sure!

And the last one come to think of it….

Anyway, I digress…

So why now? What has set this off…is it some crazy new career change I’m making?

No, it’s just that for the last 2 weeks I’ve been completely horny! Yep, that’s right the merest hint of testosterone in the air…

Ok, you don’t need to know this….and besides you might have been eating.

So all of a sudden I have a libido again…it didn’t really occur to me that I haven’t had one for a while, me being single ‘n’ all – haven’t really required one :-p

apparently its been on a looong holiday and now its back….

So where did it go and why is it back all of a sudden? I don’t know, but what I think has happened is that by gaining 2.5kg of weight in the last 5 weeks whilst doing the ADG I must have got to some crucial threshold of fat levels that my body now thinks its safe for me to have children…is my body stupid or something? a mini me? Ye Gods! The world is not ready for a mini me!! Hell I’m not ready for a mini me….the mind boggles…!

Anywho… even though I weigh about 3kg less than I did at Christmas I was still at about 9% body fat back then. Since then however I’ve lost about 5kg of muscle and my body fat has gone up by 5% – 2%in just the last 5 weeks. This last 2% means I’m probably at about 15% overall, but crucially the weight that I’ve gained in the last 5 weeks has all gone on my stomach and thighs (goddamit!)…there’s a reason for the expression child bearing hips…

And then I got round to thinking about metabolic damage  (tangential!) did I have some metabolic damage from competing? I didn’t think I did because I didn’t lose my menses at all, not once, for the whole 7 weeks of competition and I got down to 5% bf.

But maybe I did have some md and it has only now just rectified itself.

What I find more interesting about this is that I had my thyroid, liver and kidney functions all checked at the start of the ADG, and they were all perfect. But should I have had my oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels tested as well? Would that have shown up anything? Nicole Wilkins trainer recommends getting a full blood panel before and after competing just to make sure – do any of you do this? Do any of you worry about what you might be doing to your body by competing?

I do…

So my question is, if my body has just got back to normal am I going to damage it by cutting down again so soon? I just started comp diet this week, will I get adrenal fatigue if I continue?

Should I be concerned? I dont know the answer to this..

Maybe instead I should not worry about it, just get the itch, scratched and enjoy it while it lasts!


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Game On!

Well it seems like AGES since I last wrote anything but in reality its only been 11 days! 11 days of insane amazing things going on in my life – here’s just a few of them: Oxygen Magazine have invited me to … Continue reading

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I really do get my ideas for blog posts at the strangest of times!

I was just putting the doona cover on my winter doona and I was shaking it up and down in the air – its a king sized doona so its heavy – and it occurred to me that up til now I’ve been avoiding doing this because it might hurt my shoulders – it did a bit but not as much as I expected.

And I went to the gym yesterday.

so what? big deal.

well, it is a big deal. I’ve been avoiding going to the gym as well. I do my rehab at home and I don’t go to the gym – I was doing my rehab at the gym just to keep in the routine of it and to stay in someway connected with training, but then all my injuries degenerated and my shoulders got worse so I had to stop going to the gym and doing rehab completely. Since then I haven’t been going to the gym because it might hurt my shoulders, it might cause my elbow to relapse, it might make my hammies and hips worse.

Ok stuff does hurt, my range of movement in my rotator cuffs is not good and anything that compresses my shoulder causes pain from the acromium joint all the way down to my elbows, lifting my arm laterally or in front causes pain in the shoulder joint, my left leg is in pain from the hip all the way down to my ankle when I sit, walk stand – whatever


I think I’ve become afraid to even try to see if there any exercises that I can do – because it might make things go backwards again.

Have I gone too far the other way and so wrapped myself in cotton wool that I’m now using my injuries like a security blanket?

Am I using my injuries as an excuse not to train? have I become so comfortable with not training and not pushing myself physically that at some level I’ve decided to let it all go and say ‘never mind I tried, but it was just too hard’?

Am I using the injuries as an attention seeker…am I playing for a sympathy vote?

‘Never mind Sarah, you tried, but you did have a lot to overcome’

ooh now that’s a deep one…

anyone got a couch handy that I can lie on….


This is a very odd space to be in for me  - I’m usually totally kamikaze about things – I jump out of the plane first and then check to see if I remembered to strap the parachute to me - and if it doesn’t work, never mind, next!

Who else do you know that is planning on going ice climbing on volcanoes in Ecuador?

I’m still hoping to make that trip in December. Its my warm up trip for climbing Mt Aconcagua…

This is what I do…

and now I’m not.

Fear is a funny thing – it will stop you in your tracks, but it can creep up on you so slowly you don’t even know its there, it’s insidious – you just gradually stop doing things you once did – and you can come up with perfectly logical, rational reasons as to why you can’t do those things anymore, and then you start to look back on those things with fond memories of how you once were…

sound familiar to anyone?


Stop Stopping yourself!

That’s what I realised yesterday, that’s why I MADE myself go to the gym yesterday and I’m glad I did. Here’s what I found out – I don’t seem to experience pain when I do any rowing exercises, seated or bent over – good. This means I might be able to start training my back – not to muscle building intensity, but hopefully at least maintenance levels – I’m certainly going try.

I managed to do a set of leg presses without hurting my hammies – very light, but I haven’t pulled up sore today. This is good, I might be able to get my legs working gently.

I even did a set of hammie curls – with just the 5kg plate and I haven’t pulled up sore today. This is also good. It means I should be able to get some movement in them and shake out the cobwebs.

Lat pulldowns – no, chest press – no, bicep curls of any description – no, lat raise – no, shoulder press – forget it.

But, it looks like I have enough to do a very simple workout.

I am going to try – gently for a change – and yes I am afraid that it might not work – but at least if it doesn’t then I’ll genuinely be able to say that I tried, and I didn’t let the fear stop me.


Since I’ve put the cover on my lovely thick winter doona, I should be cosy and warm…wrapped up in my actual blanket


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ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships 2012

Wow! what a workout!!

and that was just my camera! :-)

On Saturday was the ANB Natural Mania Physique championships at La Trobe University in Bundoora  - my first ANB Show! Obviously I would have preferred my first show to be as a participant on stage, but due to my ongoing injury issues, today I participated behind the stage…behind the camera


So how did the day pan out?

I arrived about 8:45 ish, I wanted to get there early and get the feel of the venue and check out the lighting for my photos and just capture the finishing touches  - all the trophies were lined up, the flowers in place, the sponsors banners, chairs and tables all marked up and reserved – it all looked so different from Friday morning, when it was still just a cold bare space waiting to be dressed up for its big day.

La Trobe University Bundoora ANB Natural Mania Physique ChampionshipsLa Trobe University Bundoora ANB Natural Mania Physique ChampionshipsLa Trobe University Bundoora ANB Natural Mania Physique ChampionshipsLa Trobe University Bundoora ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

La Trobe University Bundoora ANB Natural Mania Physique ChampionshipsLa Trobe University Bundoora ANB Natural Mania Physique ChampionshipsLa Trobe University Bundoora ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

Vicki Arief swept in to the room like a glamour queen in her ‘Bendigo’ coat…I’m not quite sure how to describe it, I can’t say looking like Cruella De Ville! can I?

Thats soo not what I’m trying to say! maybe I’ll quit this line of wording whilst I’m behind!

Vicki Arief ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

Anyway, Vicki made her grand entrance in plenty of time to set up the final crucial bit of the stage – the centre ‘X’ – the spot on stage that all competitors want to stand on…with a trophy in their hands and a smile as wide as the grand canyon – knowing that all of the hard work, and dieting, and discipline has just paid off – knowing that no matter what happens next, doesn’t matter…because they won their category – they are a champion and nothing can take it away from them - its a feeling that just can’t be beaten.

speaking of champions…

ta da!

Vicki Arief ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

Happy with the placing of the ‘X’ Vicki then asked me if I could take photos of the Black and Blue fashion parade, of course I was happy to oblige, and wrote a few notes for other requests. By now it was just after 9 and competitors with their guests were beginning to arrive and find their seats or tables and get themselves settled and ready for the competitor brief at 9:45. The room was starting to change from a dressed up empty hall, to somewhere that an event was going to happen and the atmosphere was beginning to build – there was the growing background buzz  of competitors exchanging quiet conversations with their trainers, helpers, families and friends,  old hands at this game sauntering in, completely at home on familiar territory, new arrivals looking lost initially but once they saw a few familiar faces smiles and greeting hugs broke out. There were plenty of people I recognised and chatted with, and competitors I recognised from the INBA Melbourne titles 3 weeks ago who were backing up in this competition. Its all like a big family reunion!

Greg Dolman arrived so I went over and had a quick chat with him – he asked about my shoulders which to my growing frustration are not healing at all well and I just can’t seem to find anyone who can give me any answers. He suggested we have another body talk session when he’s back down in Melbourne in June, which I will do – the last one was very insightful – I did write a whole blog post about the epxerience, but the computer crashed as I posted it…and I had no backup! :-( it wasn’t meant to be..

I was already getting into the swing of things clicking away taking photos – trying to capture the non stage atmosphere and activity that  is going on the whole time, the anticipation was growing…

At 9:45 (ish) Maria called everyone together – competitors and crew and briefed us all on how the show was going to run. The running order had been changed late because some of the categories had been dropped and other categories were going to be on stage together as there were too few competitors to have their own stage time, so Maria wanted to make sure everybody was aware of how the day was going to work and then Tony Haranas who was co hosting with Lindy stood up and gave a brief speech to the competitors.

Tony Haranas ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

After the briefing was done, the first categories were told to go backstage and get themselves tanned up and ready to go…

By now, Lindy Olsen had arrived, she was the MC for the day and after a quick word with Maria to find out where things were at, she got together her notes and started to prepare for what was going to be a long day stood on stage in front of a crowd of people.

Lindy Olsen ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

By 10:45, you could feel the tension in the air, the nervous excitement, competitors with their ipods plugged in to try and focus on themselves and their own final preparation, guests milling about waiting for the show to start…

I was roaming about between front of stage and backstage clicking away catching the last minute tips from trainer to competitor, competitors pumping up – theres a particular smell backstage – fake tan and Dream Tan! and then there is the slap, slap, slap as a competitor stands there whilst their helper pats them down and makes sure they look perfect. The last thing any competitor wants is their appearance to be ruined by a bad tan!

11 oclock arrived all of a sudden and then..

Show Time!

First up there was the Black and Blue fashion parade with the team from Spartans Gym. The guys and girls all looked good and looked like they were having fun, except for a couple of the shyer guys maybe (Matt, Jarryd???) …not!   First they came on wearing outerwear followed by another run through with the sportswear – plenty of variety and styles to chose from and Lindy provided expert commentary. After a chorus line bow and exit stage left we were on to the serious stuff.

Lindy handed over to Tony Haranas who was doing the calling and it was the turn of the Novice Men – I was watching out for Omid and Ben who both attended the last ANB Get the Edge workshop 8 weeks ago (!). At that workshop, Omid had already committed to competing, but Ben hadn’t so I was surprised to see him there and pleased for him that he’d decided to take it the next level. Both looked good – and both posed well – Vicki’s coaching was showing through…

Omid Ben ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

I was interested to see how Omid and Ben were so different on stage – Omid was smiling the whole way through and Ben definitely looked like he meant business and it must have worked because he came 3rd! The winner of the Novice men was Jamie Bren Van Kessel and he also won the best posing routine award.

There is one award that the ANB has which I don’t think any other federation has, and this is what sets it apart from the crowd. There is an award on the day for the most inspirational male and most inspirational female competitor. As competitors we all have to overcome a lot in order to get up on stage. We sacrifice our social life, put our family life on hold, turn down outings and ‘normality’ for the sake of giving ourselves the best chance to look our absolute best, but there are those of us who have done it extra tough – overcome terrible injuries, debilitating illness, personal tragedies and many other things that require that person to find extra strength from somewhere to keep going and Omid has done that. Omid overcame years of abusive bullying that took away his confidence, self esteem and self belief – but he kept going, and he set himself a goal and yesterday he achieved that goal. And for it he won the most inspirational male competitor award and well deserved to.

He also did a pretty good routine – nice coaching Vicki! :-)

Omid Lindy Olsen ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

Omid ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

After the novice category things were moving quickly through the mens categories – Intermediate Men won by Kareem Kilany, then Juniors Under 22 men won by Jamie Bren Van Kassel – a good days work for Jamie, and straight into the overalls later in the day. Next up were the weight categories  - the Under 65, Under 70 and Under 80 groups were all on stage together because there was only 6 competitors across the 3 categories. I was keeping my eyes on Rhyan Corpin in the under 70′s and Halil Alusoki in the under 80′s – both guys were backing up from the INBA Melbourne Titles where they were both in outstanding condition and they both won! Halil won best posing routine as well which was impressive given the fact that Rhyan can certainly bust a few moves of his own – if I said ‘moonwalking’ and ‘bodybuilder’ in the same sentence you’d think I was crazy…not so!

Rhyan showed how its done!

Rhyan Corpin ANB Natural Mania Physique ChampionshipsRhyan Corpin ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

Just as an aside, for those who are new to the world of bodybuilding competitions it can seem all very serious, with the turns and poses done in response to the call from the compere, then there’s the shuffling of competitors from one end of the line to another, then there may or may not be a routine depending on the federation and finally there is the posedown, which can seem completely random and not really serve any sort of purpose. From a competitors perspective, however, there is a whole lot more going on – theres the showmanship – the ‘look at me’ factor trying to draw attention to yourself when hitting a pose, for the guys it is the sense of theatre, maybe taking a little longer than the others just to make sure you can flex something else to catch the judges attention, for the women, elegance, grace and flair all come into play. Given 2 identical physiques, the quality of the posing can tip the balance. Whilst the compulsory rounds provide limited opportunity for a competitor to stand out, the routine is all about the individual competitor – this is their chance to shine and most competitors seize that chance to own the stage. Then finally there is the posedown – the final chance for the competitor to outdo their opposition and show the judges why they should be the winner. Sometimes, when you have competitors who are good friends or compete week after week or year after year in the same category, they may ad lib a bit of  an informal stage routine, have a bit of fun with each other – its always good to see when competitors are having fun up on stage…


The Rhyan and Halil Show!

Rhyan Halil ANB Natural Mania Physique ChampionshipsRhyan Halil ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

Rhyan Halil ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

After the Rhyan and Halil show, the big guys were  up  - under 90s and over 90s  - there was only one competitor in each category so they were both brought up on stage at the same time. Sergio Taranto was the under 90s category winner and Joshua Prager, a fellow ANB blogger, took out the over 90s.

Here’s Josh.

Joshua Prager ANB Natural Mania Physique ChampionshipsJoshua Prager ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

Not to be outdone by Rhyan and Halil, Sergio and Joshua had a bit of fun of their own during the posedown.

Joshua Prager ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

Despite how smoothly things may appear to be running from the spectators persepctive, no show runs completely according to plan, and this show was no exception, with last minute merges of categories and having to change competitor lists, not to mention some of the tongue twisting names of some of the competitors, like the pro’s that they are, Tony Haranas and Lindy kept up an ongoing commentary and battle of wits to keep the crowd entertained, and when the competitors were up on stage you could be sure that the judges were watching each and every one of them like hawks for every tiny nuance of conditioning or posing flaw that might mean the difference between winning and a place.

ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

I was flitting in and out of the backstage area and was so absorbed in both the on stage and backstage action I had no idea what time it was and was really starting to run out of energy – we’re not even half way through the day yet!  Then I started to get the shakes and couldn’t hold my camera steady..then I finally remembered that I hadn’t eaten anything since 7am, except for a black coffee at about 10:30.

It was 1:30…

no wonder I had the shakes! Fortunately the first intermission was announced so I hoed into a chicken salad, some rice cakes and an apple and sculled about a litre of water!

Its thirsty work this photographer business!

By now the hall was packed every table was full, some tables had really got their act together and had big platters of food, for those that wanted desert could head to the Chobani yoghurt stand where Dave was being kept extremely busy handing out all the samples that he could! The noise level had risen several notches as everyone discussed the mornings events and dissected the results – did the judges get it right, who should have won or placed higher, who had the best routines – there was a million differing opinions out there!

ANB Natural Mania Physique ChampionshipsClare Ross Nikki Smith ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

These shows are always like big family get togethers – theres groups of people who have been around the bodybuilding industry forever and seem to know everyone – they couldn’t walk more than 2 steps without someone else coming up to them to say hi, then there are the people who are just getting started and may have only been to a few shows, and then there’s people who are somewhere in between or who have been out of the scene for a while – its a close knit community and once you’re in, you’re in – I for one enjoy the camaraderie and seeing how everyone gets to catch up with each other. There’s also an additional perspective to be found within this community, an inner sanctum if you like, and that is determined very simply by whether you have competed or not. If you have competed, then going to a show is more than just a chance to catch up with friends – there’s stuff you know and understand and can see that other people can’t – you watch every competitor and you can tell whether they have practiced their posing, or their routine, or dieted hard enough or have given themselves enough time to prepare. You know if that competitor is having a good day or a bad day or whether they have come up as well as they did at another show -  its like having private access to the directors cut of a hit movie – its a good place to be…but you have to earn your stripes!

ok, Energy restored – time for round 2!

Now its was the women’s turn, and even though there were not many competitors in each category, I think the novice was the biggest at 7, the competition was strong. I have a special affinity with the Novice category probably because I’m so new at this myself and because I won the Victorian Novice Title at my first show – I really feel for those girls up there for the first time – it can be nerve wracking. But they all did well, and on the whole their posing was a lot better than a lot of novice line ups! Something that struck me about the novice category was that I thought that all of the girls looked better when they did their free routines than when they did their compulsory rounds. Some of the women I didn’t think quite had the muscularity or definition, but when they did their routine, all of a sudden their physiques popped – and I was right at the back of the room at this point – it was that noticeable. I have to say, I was sceptical about the free routine thing, but now I see the value of it – good for you Maria, for keeping it in the shows. Another Maria (Tsihouris) won the Novice and best posing routine.

The intermediate category had 5 competitors in it, and again I was really interested in watching this category, not only because including fellow ANB bloggers Wendy Hardy and Natalie Taylor were in the lineup along with Pheobe Robinson, fresh from her 2nd in the Rising Star Physique category at the INBA Melbourne titles, but this is probably the category that I’ll be competing in next time I’m on stage – so I was checking out the potential opposition!

Wendy was in fierce condition, as was Pheobe and I had them pegged as the ones to beat, along with Laura Badman.

Figure Intermediate ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

I was right! Pheobe won – and I’m hoping its because she definitely had the leanest legs – if so, that bodes well for me when I compete! Wendy was 2nd and Laura 3rd.

Phew! my eyes were about falling out of my head by now – I needed to grab a drink, I was so absorbed in trying to get as many good shots as possible that I was forgetting about trivial things like eating or drinking some water!

Next categories up were the short class figure, won by Kaliopi Tsavdaridis and the tall class, won by Anita Niolaou – she was fresh off a win at the INBA Melbourne Titles as well so whilst the lineups were small they were of a very high standard.

Time for some more backstage roaming. Now it was the turn of the fitness models, I was particularly watching out for Natalie Vilchez who was being prepared by the evergreen Bruce Hatfield

Bruce Hatfield

Handsome devil isn’t he?


Bruce Hatfield Natalie Vilchez

Another thing that the ANB do slightly differently from other federations, is that all of the fitness models are escorted on stage by a male chaperone – its a tough job, so usually Vicki has to bully some poor souls in to doing it and this year I think she found two of the shyest, quietist choir boys that ever walked this planet!

they were positively terrified at the prospect of getting on stage wearing just their pants and a ‘playgirl’ bow tie and cuffs….

please step forward Matt and Jarryd!

Matt and Jarryd Spartans GymMatt and Jarryd Spartans Gym

Matt and Jarryd Spartans GymMatt and Jarryd Spartans Gym

Matt and Jarryd Spartans Gym Natalie Vilchez

yeah, tough gig….!

The fitness models (male and female) have 3 rounds – swimwear, sportswear and eveningwear. I found myself a nice position just behind the stage that looked directly down to where the competitors walk up the steps onto the stage – its the place where each competitor stands right before their name is called – its the place where you can see the nerves, the last minute mental run through of the poses, steps, catwalk, or routine, its the place where last minute checks on bikini, hair or costume are made – its the place where you see the competitor switch into stage mode.

ANB Natural Mania Physique ChampionshipsANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

And if you are a bit nervous well I would imagine it would certainly be very reassuring to have such charming escorts… :-)

After the first two rounds there was another intermission – thank goodness! I needed a cup of tea!

Right, refreshed and alert once more it was back into the fray – now we were up to the most venerable competitors – the Grand Masters men over 40 and over 50. Jason Walters another ANB blogger took out the over 40s, andGraeme Edgely took out the over 50′s. the masters women over 35 was won by Sharon Horner and the over 50′s was won by Janet Bramble.

by now it was beginning to get quite late – its  a long day and most of the competitors had come and gone, so the hall was starting to empty out – it was beginning to look like the party where you get the guests who just wont go home…and even Lindy had stepped out of her heels!

Thats the strange thing about bodybuilding shows – the best is always saved to the last, but relatively few people stay around to watch it. Unless ‘your’ competitor has made it to the overalls, then most people go home after their category is over – for a well deserved cheat meal and shower to get all that top coat off!

The evening wear round of the Fitness Models resulted in a win for Lawrence Templar and Korina Garcia – she also won 3 weeks ago – watch out for her at the nationals.

Natalie came fourth and was also voted most inspirational female competitor

Natalie Vilchez Lindy Olsen ANB Natural Mania Physique Championships

Alright! Now we’re at the business end of the day – the overalls.

First up, the women. Six category winners and I was keeping my fingers crossed for Phoebe – but it was going to be tough. Anita Nicolaou was in fine form and is a very experienced competitor, and this is Phoebes 2nd show.

Fingers crossed!

The symmetry went well and then the compulsories – also completed very quickly. there was not much discussion from the judges – Anita won and Phoebe got second! Good work Phoebe!

And that led us finally to the Men. In the mens there were 7 competitors and when they were all lined up together you could tell it was going to be a tough decision. Tony called the sysmmtery and the poses, then 4 were called out – Halil, Rhyan, Sergio and Jason Walters. They were all giving it their best and the sweat was pouring off them causing their tans to run. After another set of symmetry and compulsory poses, the field was narrowed down to two – Rhyan and Jason….

And after a lot of discussion from the judges the winner was…Rhyan!!

What a good effort – its only his second show!

must be those crazy legs of his… :-)

Never mind the competitors – I was exhausted! After running around all over the place all day, forgetting to eat properly and holding my camera at odd angles all day my shoulders were in a lot of pain – my camera only weighs 3/4kg but given the fact that I can hardly lift my arm at the moment, holding up a camera for 9 hours was definitely making itself felt.

To sum up, it was a good day – another show done, all those tropies that were lined up in front of the stage in the morning had found deserving new homes to go to, so after a few last conversations and goodbyes, I was time for me to head home too.

I’d like to say thank you to Maria for all your hard work in pulling the event together, your tireless devotion to the fast growing sport of natural bodybuilding is wonderful – people like you will take this sport to new levels and that is a wonderful prospect. I’d also like to thank all the judges for giving up their time – its a long day sitting at those tables watching every move of every competitor, making split second decisions and having to decide who wins or places based on the minutest of details – its a tough job, and there was a high standard out there today, which makes it all the tougher – my eyes were falling out of my head from taking so many photos, so I can imagine how you are all feeling by the end of it!

Tony Haranas – what a great job as compere and Lindy Olsen, as ever the true pro – things never go according to plan in a show – competitors go missing, or line up in the wrong order, the running order changes, categories are blended if there aren’t enough competitors, but Lindy kept up with it all, taking everything in her stride – even more impressive when you consider she had to be up at 3am to fly down to Melbourne – you’d never have guessed! And it was great to see Lindy giving Tony as good as she got in the verbal ‘competition’ as well :-p

All the backstage helpers – the show couldn’t go on without you – as a competitor if you don’t have your own backstage helper its reassuring to know that you’ll be in capable hands to help you get tanned up, be given appropriate time warnings and be ushered out to the collecting area. Special mention to Donna McInnes Irons, Anna Quach and Skye MacDonald – nice hands ladies! :-)

Thank you to the sponsors – again where would the show be without you? Black and Blue, Body Attack, Physique Nutrition and Chobani Yoghurt – they were handing out as much as they could – just wish I had gone back for more! The Pineapple was delicious!

Well done to all the competitors, its a long hard journey to get onto stage and every single one of them gave it their all – and some clearly had a bit of fun up there too – and why not? You deserve your time in the spotlight!

And last but by no means least a special mention to Matthew and Jarryd, the playgirl boys ;-p

I sound like I just won an academy award!

I think I’m meant to cry now…aren’t I?


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Following your dreams

I soo need an ipad – when I need to write, I NEED to write.. and its been a long time since I last wrote anything (well…for me that is!)
anyway today I just felt the need to write, when inspiration hits…or when I’m pissed..a bit like now! then I need to write :-)
so why do I need to write?
Well, I’ve just quit my job.  Today was my last day and we went to the pub – I’ve had a couple of pints of cider. :-p
can’t remember the last time I drank anything alcoholic so if this isn’t 100% coherent then you know why!
But I’ve quit my job and its all a bit surreal right now – I posted up on my fb page last night that I’ve jumped out of the plane without a parachute – no safety net, no holds barred. As of now, I have no form of income…at all.
Am I crazy – quite possibly! I’ve done crazier things – like decide to come to Australia on a whim – which involved shutting down a company, selling almost everything I owned and turning up in melbourne not knowing a soul with 1 suitcase containing the remainder of everything I owned in the whole world.  When I did that, it was surreal as well – I just had a feeling that it was the right thing to do – I can’t explain it, it was like a solid, unbreakable, unshakeable knowledge inside me, a total belief that I was doing the right thing and nothing or no-one could budge me from that decision – and that turned out ok!
 I have that same feeling now.
This time I have quit my job so I can follow my passion which as you’ve probably become aware is diet, nutrition and being the healthiest version of you, that you can be.  How many of you have struggled with weight issues? how many of you have been there and done the yo yo nightmare? how manay of you have read the magazines, followed the advice got some results only to see it all disappear and even worse go backwards? how many of you feel overwhlemed and confused about the sheer amount of contradictory information out there? for instance drink coffee, don’t drink coffee, eat eggs, don’t eat eggs, red meat is good for you, red meat is bad for you, high carb, low carb, no carb, high protein, high protein is bad for you, eat fish, be careful of the mercury in fish! its endless!  how many of you are struggling to sort out the good information from the bad – even from people you know and trust and who genuinely have your best interests at heart?
how many of you have got up on stage as a result of an amazing transformation? how many of you once you get up on stage, have all of a sudden been on the recieving end of an avalanche of compliments about your physique – how many of you can’t quite believe that its YOU up there looking so amazing, how overwhelming is it to you to receive those compliments because its the first time in your life that you have received compliments on your physique? its a head spinner!
Over the course of my own transformation and journey I have come to the increasing realisation that what I want to do is help other people experience what I have – going from self conscious, having low self esteem perhaps shyness and poor body image or lack of self worth to realising you can have the health and body you always dreamed of. It doesn’t necessarily mean to get up on stage, it might just be to lose those last 2-3 stubborn kilos or it might be 25kg. I’ve been there. I’ve done it and now I want to help others navigate their way through the minefield of mis- and disinformation to find something that works for them…for the rest of their life.
Call me crazy for quitting my job – and you’re right, I am. But this is the belief I have, I believe in myself and I believe that I need to give my self the space and opportunity to make this happen. Its not going to happen overnight – when I think of the amount of work I need to do I am petrified and want to scurry back to the safety of a job – but then how would I feel? knowing I quit on my dream? how many of you do that? how many of you have a dream but you won’t let yourself dream it or even try it?
of course I have all the noise going on in my head – how am I going to pay the bills? mortgage? eat? right now – I don’t know.  I am terrified, I am excited, I am overwhelmed with fear and self doubt, I am anxious and worried – its all perfectly natural when you put yourself out there to do something out of the ordinary, but at least I’m having a go – and if it doesn’t work then, no regrets, at least I tried.
Its weird, I’ve been walking round town almost in a bit of a daze – I feel light and free, I see people rushing around me – busy! busy! busy! yet as I sit here with my coffee and flourless chocolate cake (treating myself!), I am in a bubble of calmness and serenity – the fear and doubt have been put away for a while. I’m going to Port Douglas tomorrow for 4 days of well earned rest – I need to try and switch my brain off and just be, for a few days…and then…
let the craziness begin!
so what is my point? follow your passion, give yourself permission to do what you are supposed to be doing – just have a go – you will not regret it. Its never too late to get started.
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Filex Sydney 2012 (v2)

Yes it is version 2. I almost never get to version 2 of any blog post I write – I generally sit down and write whenever the idea appears, as it is, in the moment, and I post. If for some reason I don’t post it right away then I generally don’t post it – because the moment has passed, it wasn’t meant to be.

But Filex gets a second chance – why?

Because its personal.

Filex represents a new start and a return to the start – a coming full circle. It marks a transition from the outer to the inner –  a whole journey has happened in a Filex year – my other blogs Fat To Fantastic and So You Think You want To Be A Figure Competitor capture some of that journey, and this blog is continuing on from where they left off.

So what happened to version 1 of Filex? This time I thought I’d try a different approach – after I’d gone through my millions of photos, I thought I would try writing a really good objective piece that outlined all the activities, the displays, the clothing, the products on offer (the freebies! go on…admit it…you like a good freebie too!), the entertainment – crossift games, the INBA Sydney Titles, the MMA and boxing ring, the challenges for prizes on the equipment stands and the difficulty of narrowing down the choices from the ‘too many seminars, lectures and demonstrations to pack into just 3 days’. But it just didn’t work – I couldn’t get into it and I found plenty of excuses and other things that were suddenly more important – seeing how many ‘likes’ and comments I was getting on my photos on FB for instance!


so I’ve gone back to being me and here is version 2.

Filex. Its an odd name really – FitX makes more sense for a FITness eXpo, but where does Filex come from?

I didn’t even know it existed until last year, but its the biggest Health and Fitness Conference and Exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere!  I had no idea!

Have I been hiding under a rock all this time?

Well no, you see what you have in your life depends on what you are focused on at the time. 2 1/2 years ago I was focusing on having a good time and we all know where that led me!  This time in 2010 I was utterly focused (obsessed??) on climbing Mt Kilimanjaro – so training for that became my life, and a happy accident of that was a complete body transformation. This time last year a run of bad things and I tipped into depression, but it was finding the lump in my armpit that really brought my overall health – both mental and physical sharply into focus.

And that is when I came across Filex…on the day it started! snap decision time – I couldn’t make it for the Saturday so Sunday it had to be – 10 minutes later flights booked and I was going!.

And I had a blast! I had no idea it would be so big and I was there abng on 9:30 waiting for the doors to open – and I was on a mission. I was goingg to to meet Michelle Bridges and Shannon Ponton from the Biggest Loser – I had questions that needed answers, I was determined to meet as many of the Oxygen magazine covergirls as possible and talk a few things over with them – completely by coincidence I was sat next to Mr Australia Rohan Ried on the plane up to Sydney and uncharacteristically for me I got chatting to him on the plane (I never talk to people on planes!) . I set out to take in as much as I possibly could and I succeeded, in spades!

Michelle Bridges was brilliant – I started to ask her my question and to my horror I burst into tears! in front of the whole queue! how embarrasing..but she was great, gave me some sound advice and I fled. Then later when I went to listen to Michelle speak, all of a sudden she was clambering through and over the seats, working her way towards me and in front of everyone she said ‘I felt I just had to come and give you a hug’ and she did. I almost burst into tears again! Nicky Jankovic was very sweet and spent ages telling me how she got started in the business, I met Lindy Olsen for the first time and I had my photo taken with Jamie Eason – she’s so cute! Jamie was the one who encouraged me to entered the Oxy Mag Covergirl Comp and paid me the massive complement of saying I almost looked like one of them anyway – I was looking good, I knew that, but for Jamie to say it meant so much more. I was stoked and by the time I flew home I was exhausted but buzzing and the next day was when I booked the photoshoot that has turned out to be the catalyst for my life heading in new and completely unexpected directions.

Jamie Eason Filex sydney

So Filex this year had big shoes to fill and again it succeeded. I had an excellent time. I think the toughest thing was choosing which lectures to go to  - what an amazing choice! there really was something for everyone in all aspects of the health and fitness industry – How are you supposed to narrow down such a lot of interesting and useful information to just a handful??? I decided in the end that my priorities were fixing my injuries and soaking up every last bit of information about body composition and weight loss/management that I could find. And the lectures were good. I had 3 that specifically dealt with lower body rehab, which may seem a little like overkill, but having reached the conclusion that resting my body and not training at all isn’t working, injections of all sorts of things is merely treating symptoms I need to find the root cause of this cascade of injuries. Fix the cause and the rest should fall into line and that meant finding out everything I could about hip and leg function.  I learnt tests for hip stability, glute functionality, running technique testing and most importantly some rehab techniques that focused on activating glutes, overcoming quad and adductor dominance, stressed hammies and hips.

In one of the sessions when the speaker wanted to illustrate how to check for inactive glutes, he asked if anyone had a flat bum – so I stood up…and he said I was ‘a perfect illustration’. bugger.

Right plan G needs to be activated. So I decided to start applying the practical information that learnt – and its working! I talked it over with Aiden on Thursday, we tried out a few things and for the first time I have DOMS in my VMO and Glutes but NOT my hammies! Perfect!

I’m going to keep working at this for the next month and if it starts showing results I’m really hoping I can get back to training in a few weeks…pleeeaaase work, I want to get back into training!

So in between lecture breaks I spent a lot of time at the Fitness Expo – again so much to see and the crowds were huge! People were queueing for miles to get in – check this out!

The show itself took up a full 4 halls and there was not a spare space to be had anywhere!

Filex Sydney 2012Filex Sydney 2012 BrasilfitFilex Sydney 2012

There were clothing stands, equipment stands, supplement stands, business stands, finance advice stands, education stands, training course stands,

Filex Sydney 2012

natural food, whole food, clean food and alkaline food stands…

Paulo Freitag Alkaline SuperFoodsPaulo Freitag Alkaline FoodsChobani Yoghurt David Halil

there were fitness demonstrations, with willing (and unwilling!) members of the crowd being roped in for their chance to raise a bit of a sweat,

Filex Sydney 2012Filex Sydney 2012

there were challenges for prizes – Musashi had people scrambling up rope ladders hanging from the ceiling…and its high!

Musashi SupplementsMusashi Supplements

Lorna Jane I think must have been on every womans list of must do stands – it was heaving!

Lorna Jane Filex Sydney 2012, Lorna Jane Activewear, Lorna Jane Fitness Clothing

There were activity stages – the Strength Stage where the INBA Sydney Titles were being held, the Crossfit area with the Corssift Games

and the MMA and Boxing ring were all big crowd pullers

MMA FilexMMA FilexCrossfit FilexCrossfit FilexCrossfit FilexCrossfit Filex

I went straight to the Strength stage where the INBA Sydney Titles were in progress. There was a good crowd so I squeezed in as close as I could get and started clicking away taking photos. I have to say I was a bit disappointed with the lineups – most were small, 5-6 people on stage, the standard across all female categories was very mixed. The bikini girls exhibited a huge difference in levels of leaness to the point where some could almost be described as ‘cuddly’!  There was only one competitor in the Open Physique (figure) category so it was merged with the Intermediate category. In the Intermediate category there were competitors with beautiful symmetry but no size or leaness, competitors with amazing leaness with no size and some in between – tough gig for the judges!

The novice winner was a standout – she definitely deserved to win, not only did she have the best physique but she was also had the best posing and exuded a calm confidence that really shone. Good win.

INBA Sydney Titles

And something i noticed was that it seems like the INBA prefer the leaner look. Good. This works well for me.

I also wanted to see my friend Amanda compete in the Sportsmodel category. Amanda has followed a similar route to me – losing a lot of weight and finally making the decision to step on stage and this was only her second show, and she got a call out. I was very pleased for her – Unfortuantely I didn’t see the end of the sportsmodels aas I had to fly home

heres amanda:

Amanda Weekes MeVstheBulgeAmanda Weekes MeVstheBulge

After the sportsmodels were finished, I suddenly realised I was hungry. I had plenty of food in my bag – spinach, cucumber, broccoli, raw carrots, steamed green beans…

hmm…you know what maybe I should go and check out the product stands, you never know there might be a new gluten free protein bar or shake and well I need some Branch chains…ok product hopping it is!

Right next to the strength stage was Alkaline Superfoods, and my friend Paulo – I’m a big fan of the cookbook - and he has a new range of alkaline protein out – protein powders and protein breaks down to an acid base so how can this be? I had to try it – there was interesting flavours – cinnamon and vanilla, banana and chocolate and peanut butter – Sorry Paulo I still don’t like the chocolate and peanut butter! my favourite was the cinnamon and vanilla.

After Paulo, I headed to Red back – I did a lot of ‘research’ at their stand at FitX in Melbourne, but I thought I just needed to validate my conclusions…just in case… :-)

next up there were some organic gluten free low carb bars and then I notice hidden away in a corner – a caravan…

whats a caravan doing at a fitness expo?? Chobani yoghurt.

Now I do love my greek yoghurt and berries – and it was the only thing about comp diet that I missed. The trouble is since comp diet, dairy really hasn’t agreed with me – I talked about it in my post ‘Off Season Plan‘ – it makes my lips look like Lindsay Lohan after a bad bout of botox!

Hmm…but its all natural ingredients…no artificial sweeteners…and theres a blueberry version!  (and plenty of others!)

Ok I’m sold – how can I go past blueberry greek yoghurt?


thick,creamy, fresh not too sweet … disappeared before I even realised I’d opened the tub!



how I’ve missed my yoghurt and berries!

AND even better – NO LINDSAY LOHAN effect! yay! I think I’ve just got dairy back in my diet!  WooHoo!!

I got a box of it! :-P

just in case I got hungry on the plane journey home…

Chobani Yoghurt

Happy with a surprise find, it was time to head back to the strength stage to check out the new category that the INBA have introduced this year

Male Fitness Models…

I approve!

DEFINITELY a good move – well done INBA!! :-)

Lets just say, I was pretty happy where I was….


ok Sarah…concentrate! put tongue away….

er…where was I ?

oh yes, so once I’d mopped up the drool I think I was just about done. it was time to head home.

I came, I saw, I photographed, I ‘researched’, I learnt. I implemented.


Who cares why its called that – I had a blast, and I’ll be back there next year… maybe I’ll even be up on stage…

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My Competition Diet

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Yummy 3 Egg Omelette – Clean, Paleo

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Mission Impossible?

For those of you who were at Filex – did you learn lots? Is your brain fried? Or are you fired up with lots of new ideas and great information?

How hard was it to choose what lectures to attend with so much on offer?!?

I’d completely forgotten what I had chosen and when I registered I had to laugh – all my seminars involved either rehab for legs or a body composition/weight loss theme – very pertinent! and very important, I obviously had a mission in mind when I made my choices!

Mission Injury Source.

Mission Impossible? well, not necessarily!

I think I may have got to the root cause of all my injuries and why they’re not healing…

my butt doesn’t work!

or more precisely my gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus are switched off…completely.

Not a quiver, not a twitch and as a result my poor hamstrings and hip flexors are overloading themselves doing the work that my lazy butt muscles should be doing and the poor things are exhausted!  Then throw on top of that adductors and quads being waay too strong and you’ve got one out of whack set of legs and hips!

So what  was the key? Ever heard of the Trendelenberg Sign? No neither had I..until this weekend and then I heard it…lots.

And I failed it. Completely.

Basically this test is used for runners and it shows how strong your glutes are…or not…in my case.

I was advised never to run…at least until I’d got my butt working – no worries there, running is probably the one exercise I’ve ALWAYS hated doing!

In another seminar we tried another test – lie prone on the floor and lift your leg. Now the order the muscle should fire is: Glutes, Hammies, Back…mine went something like this:




and this is one of the rehab exercises I’ve been trying to do for the last 2 months and I STILL can’t do it!

In the same seminar, the speaker asked for ‘flat bum’ people…guess who was the flat bum model…yep, yours truly.

What does the flat bum indicate? Glute Amnesia!

So all this points to non functional glutes and everything else that should just be stabiliser muscles are acting as the primary worker muscles…no wonder they’re buggered and screaming out for a bit of help!

So Operation Gluteus Functionus is about to begin.

Tomorrow I am going to go through every single glute isolation exercise Aiden knows about and we are going to try every sinlge one of them until we can come up with a set that do not involve my hammies in any way shape or form.

Another area of imbalance that became clear is my overdominant quads and adductors and non existent VMO – all of which result in my knees dropping inwards when I squat. To fix that I need to get my abductors and VMO working by standing with my feet together, tying a theraband tightly around my knees, then standing with my feet hip width apart and THEN doing my sets of squats – this will work the external hip rotators, abductors, VMO  and glutes like you wouldn’t believe.

Wakey Wakey Glutes! You’ve got 42 years of catch up work about to hit you….

Mission Impossible?

I believe it may just turn out to be mission accomplished..

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