All kinds of crazy shit in America and it’s goin’ down!  During my 12 years in the National Guard, I obviously hoped I never had to shoot anyone, but quite the contrary with my first co-driver.  Sergeant Wittig.  He had already been in long enough to retire when I got in, in ’97, but he said he was definitely staying through the new millennium at least, in hopes of being able to finally shoot civilians.

I guess that sounds really bad, if you’ve never served.  We just thought it was funny.

Wittig, you were only 20 years too early!  I hope you made your way into a militia at least.

He also called seatbelts “body recovery devices”.

Anyway, I don’t want to write about that, because I need to write about a dilemma I’m having:

Nick wants to do another fitness competition; do I?  He did a bodybuilding show 1.5 years ago (and won), but I never have.  My life was always too chaotic to allow for even the thought of a commitment like that.  But it could be possible now.  I mean, really really possible.  But training for something like that is a whoooooooooole big deal, and would displace so much.  It would displace a real writing commitment.  I have a moldering manuscript.  And I’m not even sure, in post-2020 America, what the fuck to even try to publish about.  I mean; our national dialogue about everything has changed.  Actually maybe it’s a good time to keep that on the back burner.  Music — I’m sure I can still work that into the margins.  Narrating is on-track enough to pay the bills.

Am I talking myself into this?

What I most enjoy, fitness-wise, is just passively adopting whatever programming he’s running.  So if he’s bulking and doing heavy triples, I’m bulking and doing heavy triples.  If he’s leaning out and doing high volume, I’m leaning out and doing high volume.  It’s all an interesting experiment for me that I’m happy to have someone else be in charge of, plus — and this is really silly — my body looks almost the same no matter what I do.  In an okay way, thankfully, but I’m not exaggerating.  Nick’s body changes dramatically, depending on how he eats and trains and all that — plus, the whole thing is in service, for him, to some more overarching goals.  That’s right: my boyfriend has two year, five year, and ten year weight, composition, and lift range targets.  If I were to try that approach, it would be like:

2 years: tall and skinny.

5 years: tall and skinny.

10 years: still tall and skinny.

That’s the reality, which I guess is different from a goal.  It’s just hard to imagine otherwise.  I wouldn’t even know where to start with body weight goals so it would have to be lift ranges, but — I just have such a different mentality.  I want to keep working on lifting and keep enjoying it, and if I stop enjoying it, then I don’t want to be doing it, so putting the mental pressure on myself of some specific lift ranges feels almost more like stacking the deck against myself, than for myself.

Nick and I have discussed this kind of thing exhaustively, on long walks etc.

Essentially, I’m not sure I have a “winner’s mindset”, here lol.  In fact I just bailed out of a workout last night, because I got started too late and it was too buggy and I didn’t feel like doing it anymore.  I lose all motivation when I split my programming from his, but I just wasn’t sure I wanted to do 5×5 deadlifts — I feel like I just barely got used to the volume programming we were running.  Which is what I should keep running if I’m not gonna train up with him, but if I’m gonna train up with him, then — should I just go ahead and pull the trigger on a competition?  I’m all confused.

Also, I’m 44, will be 45 in May.  I mean probably it’s too late to think about having kids, but if I was gonna think about that, I would need to start thinking about that asap.  Bulking up as fat as I can get and then shredding down to single digit body fat, and taking performance enhancing drugs (I’m sorry, but everyone who competes uses *something* along those lines, and you’re fucking high if you think that’s not true), and accounting for every calorie, and doing cardio twice a day with a waist-trainer slathered in coconut oil, and spending months working on posing, and spending $500 on a sequined bikini to glue to my ass, and the entire tsunami of ALL THAT, is the complete antithesis of a pregnancy mindset.

But more realistically, I would use that as an excuse not to do a competition, and also not have a kid because we’re probably not ready for that, and also not married, and god knows what would even be going on with his virility during competition prep — probably nothing good.  I mean, TMI alert, but sex just drops out of the equation during competition prep in my experience and from what I’ve heard.  Ain’t nobody got time or energy or literal calories for that.

Fitness competitions are this weird thing — actually a lot less weird if you ever actually go to one and sit in the audience and watch all the divisions, which is what I did when Nick competed.  Total meritocracy, underlined by genetics.  Suffice it to say, I’m sure people reading this have a lot of resistance to the world of fitness competitions, and I get it, but I don’t personally.  I think it’s cool.  I will say, though, that I wonder if many fitness competitors have some kind of spiritual imbalance going on, because it is a suffer-fest and nothing but a suffer-fest, and why would you do that if you weren’t even more of a suffer-fest left to your own devices?

And see, that’s the issue with me right there.  I can just sit in a room happily, almost indefinitely.  Nick is way more like, “MUST…FLING MYSELF AGAINST SOMETHING, STAT” than me.  He’s always the one saying, “Okay let’s go hit our workout,” and I’m like, “I was just gonna keep sitting here…but alright…”

But!  And this is a big but: I came into this world equipped with an almost infinite fuel source of feminine vanity.  (I think most women do, if they’re honest.  It’s like cats and cardboard boxes.)  And it used to cause me to work really hard — really really really hard — before I dialed in my lifestyle so that staying femininely appealing is just built in.  So, doing a fitness competition presents an opportunity to level up significantly, and for realistically the rest of my life.

Now, I understand that sounds like a big overreach, but I’ll tell you what I mean.  Fitness competitions are not, in themselves, healthy.  Like, Nick’s little sister has all these outfits and high heels she’s saving for when she’s stage lean — she’s doing a fitness competition this summer, because I guess this shit runs in the family — and she’ll often end sentences with the phrase “…when I’m stage lean.”  “…when I’m stage lean.”  “…when I’m stage lean.”  And Nick is always like: guess what?  When you’re ‘stage lean’?  You take one sip of water and boom, you’re not ‘stage lean’ anymore.

It’s a HIGHLY unnatural, unsustainable state, achieved only through the forcible manipulation of numerous variables.  And each of these variables resists manipulation like its life depends on it because, as far as your body knows, it does.  Bodies don’t want to look that way, point blank, in the same way that they don’t want to starve to death.  The body is like “nnnnooooooo” and the competition prep process is like “yyyesssssss”, and this dialogue continues for months.

It’s pretty brutal.

Am I talking myself out of this?

But anyway, the point I’m making is that — well, let me just put it this way.  Now that Nick has competed, his body never looks like someone who hasn’t.  It’s a game changer, long term.  That couple we ran into at the beach the other day?  The guy just competed a couple months ago, and the girl was between competitions and on a bulk cycle.  So neither of them was “stage lean” by any means, but they were also unmistakably the fittest, sexiest people on the beach, except for Nick, obviously. (I look like a relatively attractive but firmly normal person, which is exactly what I’m saying here — you just don’t look like that unless you’ve paid the dues.)  It’s a look that looks REAL good, permanently (unless you just blow it with lifestyle, afterwards).  So yeah — the ‘stage lean’ part of it is very ephemeral, very fleeting.  But the hard-won changes in compositional ratios seem to be quite enduring.

On the negative side again, though, I really like having boobs, and fitness competitions are the end of boobs, for women.  That’s why a lot of them get implants — there’s just no body fat to keep.  It’s a flat-chested dealio.  Laaaaaame.

Sigh.  I’m really interested.  It feels like I’m going to interested until I just do it, so I might as well just pull the trigger.

I just don’t know that I can be truly competitive, though.  My suffer threshold is real fuckin low.  Not like suffering through a tough workout — I’ve been doing that and frankly enjoying it for two years now — but I mean real anguish.  Like, I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m fatigued, I’m so far from the light at the end of this tunnel.  That kind of suffering.

BUT!  And I’m sorry I’m dragging everyone through this mental labyrinth — this is kind of a big caveat, and back to the positive side now.  Plant-based competitors don’t suffer NEARLY to the extent of their meat-based peers.  Nick ate carbs and bananas and all kinds of whole foods, all the way to show day, ALMOST; and then his posing coach got in his head and he thought he better drop carbs.

Then it was a train wreck.

Meat-based competitors can drop carbs, and indeed they have to drop carbs, because they have to work so so so so hard to shed that tox-y, puffy fat that having a meat-based diet gives you.  I saw so many of them on stage, and I was like: damn, even at 7% body fat I can see the dairy on you.  Plant-based is just a whoooooole different look.  It’s a major hack, huge advantage.

But, Nick was a disaster, mentally and emotionally, after he dropped the carbs, and his body took a turn for the worse, and he was good but not great on show day.

Then he went home and ate a normal plant based meal and all the muscles just popped, massively, one day too late.  He looked like an actual god — the day after the show.  He took first across two divisions and third overall, and the guy who won first overall had like ten abs and no one stood a chance against him, but I think if Nick had stayed with the carbs (given that he’s plant based) instead of getting shook, he would have actually taken second overall.  It was that close.

The point being, the dietary suffer is a thing, for anyone, but it’s significantly more humane for vegans than everyone else.  We’ve listened to tons of Nimai Delgado podcasts since then, interviewing very successful plant-based bodybuilders, and they’re all just like “yeah I eat clean and taper calories to show day” but they still eat a full array of basically normal foods.  So some of the ambient suffer mentality around this whole decision really is just holdover from bro-science thinking.  Realistically Nick and I are both shielded from the worst of it, due to being vegans.  And I know that’s one reason Nick has wanted to compete again.  He’s mad that, at the eleventh hour, he let that stupid meat-centric thinking get to him.  ‘Tilapia and asparagus’ — thefuckouttahere.  He wants to go full vegan Godzilla on Tokyo, this time.

Here’s where my head’s at, probably, after all this exploration:

First of all, I put some sourdough bread in the toaster, which I will eat with a lot of Earth Balance, just in case I decide I’m going to eat cleaner.  God I love toast.

Second, I’ll talk about this with Nick, but unless he’s like “yeah let’s def try to have a kid in the next year” I’ll probably just go for it.  The world is so stupid that it doesn’t even make sense to lean hard into any particular kind of book or music thingie right now, so why not.  Maybe by the time I’m done competing it will make sense to put the energies elsewhere.  And, I could blog and vlog my way through it, and then monetize that somehow as an ebook or who knows.

Nick’s mother is going to be so bemused.  She doesn’t know why anyone, anywhere, would involve themselves in these bizarre, inappropriate, and frankly fetishistic fitness competitions, let alone half her children, and now perhaps extending into the sphere of their significant others as well.  I’m sorry, Janet!  It is really weird.

Welp, maybe it’s just the heavily buttered toast, but I’m feeling quite positively towards the whole idea!  I think I’ll post this and then go walk up the big hill with the little dogs.  We have this huge hill to climb to get out to the main road, so it’s great exercise, and then when you turn around to walk back down? — it’s just OCEAN.  Ocean everywhere, billions of acres of ocean, and for some reason it actually looks like the ocean’s far horizon is slanted up and looming above the land.  I don’t know why.

Mainly I just don’t want to be on a different fitness program than Nick. To be totally honest.  How funny — to put myself through this kind of hell just because I’m such a tag-a-long girlfriend lol!!!  It’s a fun thing we have, together, every day.  We’ll have to do a big ole bulk and then a big ole shred, depending on target date.  I’m not sure what is my weakest area.  Probably everything, except my shoulders.  I mean, I look fine for a normal person but this shit ain’t normal.  I’m going to have a looooooong journey ahead of me.  Ooh, maybe Julie and I could do the same show!  I think she wants to get back in the saddle on all this, too.  That would be fun to have a girlfriend in the trenches too.

Well, in honor of today’s dilemma, I will post pictures of the most ultimate dream dress I got my hands on, which finally came in the mail yesterday, from Spain.  This dress requires boobs, which I have, and which I’ll totally lose if I compete, so may as well pay homage now.  So I’m a collector of this particular Australian label, Spell & the Gypsy Collective.  Not sure how that happened, just did.  Cats and cardboard boxes.  I have a lot of rare, hard to find pieces, but this one was REALLY hard to find.  And since I’m a romance novel audiobook narrator, I can say in all honesty… “I need this for work”.

The prettiest dress ever made in the history of dresses imo.

And since I blathered so much about Nick and competition prep, let me just show you some pics of his journey over time:

This is Nick when I first robbed his cradle, about two years ago. He was actively working on pure strength gains, had zero interest in bodybuilding or fitness competitions per se.
This is Nick about nine months later. He’d decided to compete, the show was in October 2019, and these pics above are from early September and then late September, respectively. He spent the summer bulking and then was frantically trying to negotiate the timeline where he could keep bulking, as long as possible, but also have enough time to shred down. It’s a real judgment call, especially his first time, and even more so being plant-based, having to kind of make it up as he went, since it’s so different from meat-centric bro-science! So, September was the month he turned the corner with body fat, reluctantly.
Here you see half of our fucking income going to vegan protein supplements, and evidence of more shredding. Looks like Nick was still eating butter, based on the ingredients spread there, but he was a hungry, hungry camper most of the day, every day. Hollow cheeks. And before anyone comments “He’s carrying Collagen Peptides and those aren’t vegan!,” he was too hungry to know what he was doing and thought they were all protein, and we had to return that one.
This was Nick at weigh-in, the day before the show. Turns out you lose height when you go below a certain body fat percentage, because even your feet and the top of your head gets bonier. So Nick lost a quarter inch, and that put him down into a different height/weight division where he had to lose five more pounds at the last, and I mean LAST minute. Lessons learned. So he did the best he could with that, and had spent six hours alternating between the sauna and the hot tub this very morning, before we drove to this weigh in. I drove because he couldn’t drive. He made weight, though, and they gave him a spray tan, and he felt like shit and could barely talk or move. It was like having a really hot but disabled boyfriend.
Show day! If you ever go to one of these things, just remember these people’s significant others went through hell for them to look like this lmao.
I suggested the event photographer choose Nick as his guinea pig to dial in the lighting ahaha and that gave him a chance to get used to the feel of the stage and lose some of his jitters.
Real stage charisma, and I’m not just saying that.
Nick and his big ole medals. And just really hungry and thirsty. Like I actually made him pull over to the photo area and take these pics, he was heading for the water fountain but I was like “wait wait wait —”.
We call this picture “Buffy and the Bicep”. IFBB Pro Steve Kuclo was a guest poser at the show. We ran up and I stuffed Buffy into his arms and said “CAN WE HAVE A PICTURE”. I *needed* to add this to my “pictures of all kinds of people holding Buffy” album.
Aaaaand, show over, diet over, Nick’s strength training business over, my truck driver training instructor job over, United States economy over, Constitutional freedoms over, the whole world a bad joke, and, us working wildland fire camps doing just fine! This is Nick, back to his husky, gainz-minded self, about six months after winning the show.
Lifting in Hawaii — Nick still wants to get bigger but he keeps sinking his surfboard, so he’s been kind of torn. Hence the “every lift every day” volume workout we’ve been doing, but now he’s rabbiting off towards bulking for another competition, hence my entire blog.
Here’s Nick flexing his way out of the ocean after sinking his surfboard again — so that’s a problem — but also showing me how fat and small he’s getting. The photo on the right is me saying “you don’t have any fat on you” and him saying “yes I do, look” and me saying, “I’m taking a fucking picture to show you how ridiculous you are right now”. Life with a body conscious boo bear!
And finally, apropos of nothing, this was Nick showing me his best Instagram Influencer Girl pose, while we were making chocolate chip cookies last night