It's now been almost a year since I last competed. In July of 2013, I competed in the NPC Team Universe in New Jersey, then the NPC Masters Nationals in Pittsburgh two weeks later. The diet in total was 18 weeks, and I put 100% into my training and nutrition to be absolutely sure I would have no regrets should those have been the last contests of my entire career. And lest you think I am about to announce yet another 'comeback,' fear not. I announced my retirement after the Masters, and as of now I am still retired. But.
But I can't say the fire to compete is completely gone. There are still a couple embers smoldering deep down.
Why would I even entertain the idea of ever competing again? There are a few reasons why it's not out of the realm of possibility. First of all, I love being shredded. Pure vanity? Oh, you betcha. Those deep separations, the clear striations, the veins criss-crossing my legs, arms, chest, calves, shoulders, back, I freaking love it. It's the ultimate reward for anyone who spends so much time and puts out so much effort into building his or her physique: to actually see what it looks like with all the obscuring bodyfat and subcutaneous water stripped away. It's a cliche I know, but for a brief time you actually do look like an anatomy chart. I actually feel bad for the bodybuilders who spend their lives in a permanent off-season mode, never once dieting down and seeing all that.
And because I talk about motivation a lot, I have to be totally honest with you guys. I can't motivate myself to get into that extreme level of condition unless it's for a contest. It takes 100% strict dieting for at least 16 weeks for me at this point, plus a generous amount of cardio (though I don't exceed 45 minutes per day anymore), and I can't put myself through that just for the hell of it. For what? To look good in the gym, or at the beach? Nope, not enough incentive there for me. I have to know I am going to be up on stage trying to beat a bunch of other athletes who all want to beat me. Without that pressure and sense of urgency, it just isn't happening.
Also, I am very competitive by nature. I train and compete to be the best I can be, but a huge motivation is training to win. It's been a few years now since I took a first place, but getting second at the 2011 Team U in the Open Heavyweights and fifth last year in the Over 40 Masters at that show without a weight class was pretty sweet. I beat a lot of very good bodybuilders in those shows, and I take pride in that even though I still wasn't the winner. It's not even so much about beating anybody really, it's being acknowledged for what you bring to that stage. As I said, I work very hard to look my best when I compete, and it's knowing that I am doing it all to win that gets me up to do early-morning cardio or to stop eating when I could very easily keep chowing down.
Finally, seeing good friends of mine diet down and compete does make me feel like I want to do it again. Not so much with Jose Raymond, because he's a pro and this is how he earns his living. It's really more guys like the man in two photos today, Dr. Matthew Puglia. Matt is a husband and father of two just like me, and he works full time as a Physical Therapist. He does want to win his pro card, as do all of us who compete at the national level; but he trains and competes out of sheer passion and because he relishes the challenge. How much harder can I train? How much leaner can I get? These are the things I get excited about in prep, and watching a close friend go through the process I have also been through so many times; it's very tough to not want to do it again.
So when will I compete again? Maybe never. Maybe next year, two years from now, or five. I have no idea. Even if I never do compete again, the love for competing will always be there. Once you have it, it's in your blood!