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What is the perfect contest prep?
Mark discusses comp prep with WBFF Bikini Pro & Oxygen Magazine Cover Model, Anna McManamey-Cashion and our expert contest Master Coach at Enterprise Fitness, Liam Fitzgerald.
This Wolf’s Den episode is rich with all-things stage related, watch (or listen to) these three experts discuss a variety of different areas on competing, and what it takes to be successful on stage.
The bodybuilding and physique world is a complex one, and a difficult one to understand if you haven’t experienced it from a coaching or competitor perspective. Although there are plenty of gains to be made (pun intended), there are a hell of a lot of sacrifices to be made too.
The podcast covers contest prep from both a coach and competitor perspective. Mark, Liam and Anna look back at their own experiences to cover topics such as:
- What it takes to succeed on the stage
- A winner’s mindset
- The importance of ‘pre-prep’ and ‘post-show’ prep
- What a bad prep looks like
- Competing and body dysmorphia
- Loneliness and dealing with social situations
Whether you’re thinking of competing, or a bodybuilding veteran, this podcast has got some absolute gems on show preps.
Listen on iTunes or Soundcloud:
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- How To Restore Gut Health | Wolf’s den with David O’Brien
Transcript From The Perfect Contest Prep | Wolf’s Den
(This transcription may contain errors)
Mark Ottobre: Please welcome to the show. All right, what have we got here? People from all over are coming to see him in droves.
Welcome to the show that punches you in the face with information. Welcome to the Wolves Den. My name is Mark Ottobre, and joining us is Anna and Liam, who are our fantastic coaches here at Enterprise. Both have competed, I know Anna’s probably in the thousands now, and Liam competed a couple of times.
Mark Ottobre: Today’s topic, we are going to be discussing the perfect comp prep. Anna, I don’t want to butcher your last name like I did just previously. But how do you say your name properly?
Anna M.: It is McManamey.
Mark Ottobre: McManamey, Anna McManamey.
Anna M.: Coach McManamey.
Mark Ottobre: McManamey. She’s a top WBF, now I’m getting the federations wrong, WBFF competitor, pro bikini competitor. So, what I want to start with is that, we’re going to be discussing comp prep. Is there a perfect comp prep? We were speaking off camera, you believe that there is no such thing…?
Anna M.: No such thing.
Anna M.: If anybody knows the perfect comp prep, please tell me.
Mark Ottobre: I thought, for this topic you could kick us off with what your beliefs are, and why is there no perfect comp prep, because I know there’s people watching this competing in all the federations, who are looking for that perfect prep.
Anna M.: Well, there’s never going to be a perfect time for anybody to prep. I mean, for anybody who has done a show, they’ll know that competing isn’t just you show up for training and then you go about your day. It takes over every aspect of your life. It’s a 24/7 gig. Things are always going to pop up. Life is still going to happen. It’s not going to pay your bills, you still need to go to work, you still need to take care of your family. Life still goes on. There’s never going to be a perfect time to prep. Everybody’s prep is going to look different.
Anna M.: My prep is going to look vastly different to say Liam. Male, female for one, different age brackets, competing in different categories. For all I know, Liam’s metabolism is probably a hell lot higher than mine so I’m going to have to diet a little harder than he would. Everybody is different, and everybody is going to respond differently. That being said as well, every prep is also going to be different. I’ve never had one prep the same. I usually finish in around about the same place in terms of calories, cardio, that sort of thing. But, every prep has been different.
Mark Ottobre: How many shows have you done?
Anna M.: 34.
Mark Ottobre: Out of those 34 shows, is there one that you go, “Well, that was close to perfect.”
Anna M.: Jeez!
Mark Ottobre: Because then also you need to define what perfection is.
Anna M.: Yeah. Well I guess if you’re thinking what was the easiest prep, and I say easiest because preps are never really easy.
Mark Ottobre: Easiest while looking the best.
Anna M.: Yeah. Probably looking back, and hindsight’s a wonderful thing, I would probably say my prep going into my very first WBFF show. I think the difference there was, it was mindset. So, I was just leaving another federation. I’d been with that federation for a number of years, and just it didn’t really matter what I did, I just couldn’t bring what they wanted for that bikini category.
Anna M.: I had a number of friends that had gone to WBFF, so many people had been saying to me for years, “Come to WBFF.” I’m a former dancer, so posing and stage presence, that’s where my strengths are, and that’s what WBFF awards very highly. So I thought, “Well look, let’s give it a crack.” I also admired the physiques that they were awarding in WBFF. Naturally, I preferred to get a bit leaner, I’m a much harder bikini competitor in terms of look. I don’t carry that soft look very well. I just haven’t got the right body fat distribution for that. So, that was going against me a lot, in the previous federation.
Anna M.: So I thought, “Well look, let’s come in a little bit harder. I can put on some more size, let’s just give this a go.” I didn’t know how I was going to go. I actually cross-competed bikini and fitness just to see where I best sat, and then I actually wore my pro cut, at the WBFF show.
Mark Ottobre: Amazing. In saying that, do you think it’s synonymous that almost the harder the prep, and this is completely out of the topic, but the harder the prep the better you look? Is that what you found?
Anna M.: Not necessarily because, I would classify my preps last year, so my prep going into worlds, and then I tried to back it up and do the Australia Pro Show at the end of the year. So, I did three pro shows in one year last year, I don’t recommend it. Lots of overseas travel as well. Throw into that a massive career change, a complete overhaul in my daily routine. So, I’d gone from having competed under certain life circumstances for so many years, and then all of a sudden, I was starting my day at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning, I’d come and train clients, and then I still had to do my own cardio, I was stepping out on my own as well, so I wasn’t getting that stable income coming in every week, and we had three overseas trips all booked, so, how was I going to finance it and competing is not cheap either.
Anna M.: So, I had so many other life stresses going on, body fat just did not want to move. We had to grind hard to get me to stage. Honestly, by the time I got to stage in October, I woke up on show day and I was actually quite fluidy through the midsection. It wasn’t such a bad thing because I was a little bit lean for that show, and that was the feedback as well that I came in a little bit too hard throughout my life. But, it just wasn’t my best. Throughout that whole prep, I just wanted to be done. I was like, “I’m not going to step away because I’ve committed to this.” It was the first Australian pro show as well, so I wanted to show my support to the federation, but mentally I was done, I was good.
Mark Ottobre: I suppose where I’m going with it though is, we’ve started talking about unwinding this concept of perfection for a comp prep, in that, is it really the balance of looking the best you can whilst also being easy. I was just wondering if that’s actually an impossible task to actually get.
Anna M.: I think it’s a mental thing. You can have a really hard prep in terms of having to go low calories, do lots of cardio, train until your eyeballs are ready to pop out. But mentally, if you’re ready and you’re like, “No, I am doing this,” then it’s actually not that hard. If I look back at some of my earlier preps, so back in like I think 2014, and that was when I was still competing in figure back then, I would say that’s probably about the leanest I’ve ever got. I was scary lean. I was also doing crazy amounts of cardio. I’m talking like an hour and a half run nine times a week.
Mark Ottobre: Wow!
Anna M.: Insane. Mentally, I don’t know if I could do that again, but crazy amounts of cardio. I was only having like, when I tallied it up, and this was my own fault for not really knowing at the time, I was still relatively new to the world of competing, and to the world of coaching. So, I was still learning a lot myself. But, when I tallied it up in MyFitnessPal later down the track, I was like, “Jeez! I’m only having about 800 calories. How was I still standing?” I think my fats were something like 12 grams of fat. But I did it. I looked freaking awesome.
Anna M.: But when I look back at that prep, on paper, it’s like, “Holy crap! How did you do that?” I don’t know, I just did it. It was just like, “Oh, it’s what I’ve got to do.” So, it’s that mental switch. When you’re ready to go, you just go and then the process just becomes easy, you just do it.
Mark Ottobre: It brings to mind the first time I competed in 2004, I would have been 20, and living at home with the folks. So, I could never do this prep again. But, I did everything you could possibly do wrong. I don’t know how many calories I was on, I was getting some really, really bad advice, twice cardio day plus training, getting up, I was studying design actually at the time. This is when I decided not to do design. I got down to I think 68 kilos, and I normally walk around at about 88, 85. 81 is light for me, but 88, 90 is where I was hovering around. So, that taught me a whole lot. That was probably the worst prep for me. What comes to mind is the starvation factor, not enough food, training was incorrect, too much cardio, just the knowledge just wasn’t there.
Mark Ottobre: But from a personal level, that was instigated for me to actually go on and learn more. I had to come last in that federation. If I did well, that was the worst thing that could have happened to me at that stage of my life, because I would have said, “Well, I already know enough.” But, coming last actually prompted me to be a great trainer, and have the answers for other people.
Anna M.: That’s the thing too, isn’t it? Sometimes you’ve just got to go through the shit to learn and to become better. Whether that’s a better trainer, a better competitor, better in business, whatever, you need to go through the mistakes for it to really hit home I think. It’s like as a kid, jumping on the bed, it doesn’t matter how many times your parents tell you don’t jump on the bed, you do it anyway until the day you fall off the bed and hurt yourself. Then you don’t jump on the bed anymore.
Mark Ottobre: That’s why they’ll tell you to do that.
Anna M.: It’s kind of the same thing.
Mark Ottobre: Liam, what are your thoughts?
Liam: I think with comp prep, I think there’s all the people that want to do the comp prep and they don’t really know their way. Like Anna said, I think you need to manage all variables especially in the off season. I think everyone’s really keen to do this core cutting phase where they get really, really shredded. They look good, they feel good, they’re not really ready to do the off season work. What I find is, all the people are wanting to do this competition because they see other people do it and they think, “Oh, that’s cool. My friend walks like this, I’m going to do that.” But, they’re not ready to give the sacrifices. Their calories aren’t in the right spot.
Liam: I think it just puts people out a lot more than what they actually need to be. From a health point of view, it’s not the right way. But then again, if Anna was competing and someone’s like, “No Anna. You need to bring your calories back up, and you can’t do that show.” That pro-athlete or that athlete is going to be like, “Well hang on a minute, I want to do this show.” So, that’s where I find the problem is with the comp prep. It’s not that-
Mark Ottobre: You brought up a number of topics there. So topic one, if we just get onto this, because I know Anna you have some thoughts on this too, but it’s almost like the prep to the prep. A lot of people come in… I remember I had a lady, she came in and she was probably about 100, 110 kilos. I’m going to say 110 kilos, and she looked at me and she said, “I want to compete in the next 12 weeks.” I said, “Realistically, us really talking about comp prep is probably two, maybe even longer years away from us really looking at this as a serious goal. You need to lose the weight, then we need to balance you out in terms of you need to be doing the lifestyle and not rebounds, and do that for a long time. Then and only then will I talk about actually competing with you.”
Mark Ottobre: I’ve had many people, mostly the comps roles, comp prepping folks who’s mostly female, so I’d have females come in, and I remember I had another one who very strong minded said, “I want to compete in 12 weeks.” I said to her, “Look, you could do that. I just won’t train you for it because I don’t recommend that you do that. If we do this, it’s going to be shoving shit uphill, and you’re going to have to diet very, very hard, you’re going to have to do a lot of cardio, and quite frankly, I don’t like the consequences that come later.”
Mark Ottobre: She didn’t like that answer, so she ultimately found a coach that would support that ambition. But for me, it was a matter of, “No, I’m not going to back down from this. I’m not going to train you. Frankly, if you want to prep with me, we’ll do probably a 20, probably maybe 24 weeks to get this girl ready.” I mean, she had a little muscle mass on her too, she just had a little body fat to lose. So, I think there is this day and age people looking on Instagram, “Oh, that girl competed, she’s lean.” So has that one good photo where the light magically hit your muscles, and you put the right filter on, or whatever it is, and you look awesome, and people look at that, “That guy is not that lean.” But it’s easy. I think that creates more of a thing around competing, but what are your thoughts on this?
Anna M.: Well, I think like what Liam was saying too, going back to the why. If we think about, well, let’s just say there’s a perfect prep. I think it’s easier to say what a perfect prep is not, than what it is. I think first thing, if you’re going right back from the start is, why do you want to do the competition? Because, if it’s just to get in shape, if it’s just to prove to some dickhead at the gym who called you fat, I’m telling you now, it’s not the right reason to do a comp.
Anna M.: I think that to some degree, there’s… Well, I think what most of us would agree here on this table that we all found fitness at a time where there was some form of body dissatisfaction.
Mark Ottobre: Void.
Anna M.: Yeah, yeah.
Mark Ottobre: Fixated a value where we had to seek and get mastery. I mean, I was a fat kid who wasn’t smart enough, so I wanted to not be the fat kid. I wanted to be the rip kid.
Anna M.: Yeah, 100%.
Mark Ottobre: He wants to be taller.
Liam: Yeah, it’s true.
Anna M.: I think it’s some-
Mark Ottobre: The late stage is still not working for him.
Anna M.: We need to go back to like why do you want to do the comp in the first place. If it’s simply because you hate your body, and you must have a set of abs, or someone at the gym called you fat, then that’s not the right reason to get into a show. Because I’m telling you now, when the hammer drops and you need to grind, and I mean grind hard, you’re going to feel like shit, and that point will come for most people. That’s not going to be enough to get you through.
Liam: Anna, how would you frame that to a client? So, if I came to you right now, and very low training experience, how are you going to explain to me and frame to the hunger pains, that time away from family, all this stuff that you have to sacrifice when doing a pretty tough competition, how would you frame it to me?
Anna M.: What we need to do is set up a pre-comp prep phase. It’s the first thing to do. So, if you’re someone who walks in off the street, you have a fair amount of body fat to lose, not much training experience, you’ve never meal prepped, in fact, you don’t really know what you’re eating, you’ve never had a diet log, you don’t know how to track, then jumping straight into a comp prep is not a good place to start. You need to establish the lifestyle first.
Anna M.: First of all, you need to show me that you can follow a plan and follow it consistently for a period of time. So then, once we get you to a more optimal level of body fat, so, I’m not talking stage shredded, I’m just taking healthfully lean. You’re feeling good, you’re moving well in the gym, you’re getting stronger, you’re making progress, and you just feel good. I think like other competitors would understand what I’m saying here in that, when you get to that point in the off season where you just feel good, like you’re strong, you’re not 100% fixated on food 24/7, that’s when you know, “Okay, I’m in a good spot now.”
Anna M.: On top of that, I would also be looking at getting your bods done. So, not only mentally, physically, but also hormonally you need to be-
Mark Ottobre: Objective markers as well.
Anna M.: Exactly, you need to-
Mark Ottobre: That go further than just what calories you’re eating and what macros you’re hitting.
Anna M.: Correct.
Mark Ottobre: What are your bods actually doing? Now, one rabbit hole I didn’t want to go down, because you mentioned it but we didn’t get into it, you said its easy to say what a bad comp prep is, or what it’s not. So, what is it not?
Anna M.: Well first of all, getting into it for the wrong reasons. That’s number one. Second of all is not finding someone who can guide you through the process. I think trying to go off what you read off the internet, or just going to any OPT down the road, it’s not the way to go about it. You wouldn’t go to a brain surgeon for heart surgery. Competition prep is the same thing. Like I couldn’t have a footballer walk in the door here and say like, “I want to turn pro football.” I’d be like, “Okay, that’s just not my specialty.”
Anna M.: So, comp prep’s the same. It’s an art form in itself. So, I would recommend, if you’re looking at doing a show, find someone who knows what they’re doing that’s been in the trenches themselves, I think understands it. So, they’re able to empathize with the client, understand what they’re going through, and be able to guide them through that process and do so healthfully, well, as healthy as a prep can be. Because at the end of the day, it’s an extreme sport. The body doesn’t want to each stage lean levels of body fat. If it did, then it’d be hell of a lot easier, and we’d all be walking around shredded, but we’re not.
Anna M.: So, I think understanding too that what you’re getting into is not healthy. There will come a point in prep where you need to go beyond what is healthy and what is realistically sustainable longterm as well. On that note, I think having a coach there that understands that, that has prepped others or has done it themselves, and being able to guide you through that minefield… Because, prep doesn’t stop when you step off stage. Prep continues long after that. I’m telling you now, the first four weeks post-comp in my experience in 34 times competing, that’s the hardest. It’s coming out of you’ve been so regimented, you’re freaking starving, you want to eat everything, but you don’t have that deadline anymore hanging over your head. You don’t need to jump up on stage in a thong and have someone judge your ass in the next couple of weeks.
Anna M.: So, staying on track post-comp, and reestablishing your goals, that’s harder I think than the actual prep itself.
Mark Ottobre: So, there’s two things that I want to highlight in what you just said. One of them was, it’s like I always talk about when I teach supplementation is that, the bell curve, the bell curve of dosage and what I refer to it as is, let’s say we’re dosing zinc. A little bit is ineffective. It’s not going to work. Too much is going to create toxicity of zinc, like you take a whole bottle a day let’s say for example, and then you have an optimal amount which maybe that’s like two tablets twice a day, whatever it is.
Mark Ottobre: We’re always searching for that optimal amount. For me, the visual analogy that comes to mind is with comp prep, there’s that point where a lot of people start at because they might be overweight or self-conscious about their bodies, then they’re getting to that kind of optimal leanness, optimal bigness, optimal for health body composition, where they can comfortably sit all year round and they’re pretty healthy, but actually do a comp prep to be in competition by definition. They actually have to move the needle into the extreme, into the unhealthy segment where they get very, very lean. Which by definition has to be moved back at some point.
Mark Ottobre: Now, I do truly believe that what you… The next part of this is the four weeks after, people get addicted to the extreme, and they think I can stay here.
Anna M.: It completely warps your perception.
Mark Ottobre: I know I’ve had it where I’ve looked at myself in the mirror and I’m like, “Wow! I’m so lean. Can I just stay like this forever?” Then you eat something, and you get full up of fluid, and now you’re back to that probably even a little bit-
Anna M.: And you look in the mirror and you’re like, “Oh my God!”
Mark Ottobre: What happened?
Anna M.: You look terrible. You’re still leaner than 99.9% of the population.
Mark Ottobre: You’ve got to play that psychological game. Another thing I learned from John, before we go into the four weeks after, what your experience has been there, what I’ve personally found saying I learned from a mentor of mine John D. Martini was that, “Any part of your body that you infatuate with you will resent. Any part of your body you resent, you’re going to infatuate with another.” So, it basically talks about the philosophies, which I do 100% agree with, because I’ve experienced it personally and seen others is that, let’s say for example you’ve got a competitor, and they infatuate with their ass, like, “My ass is the best thing since sliced bread. Look at my ass.” Selfie, selfie, selfie, my ass, my ass, my ass. But they probably to balance that out, that perception in their brain out, they’re probably going to resent another part of their body.
Mark Ottobre: Let’s say in this example it’s their shoulders. They hate their shoulders, their shoulders are too narrow, they’re too small, to balance yourself out. It’s a function of the ego, because otherwise we would start believing our own bullshit. Often, if we don’t do it ourselves, we’ll have external forces do it for us and say, “Oh, you’re looking a bit fat today. You’re not quite as big as you used to be,” or whatever it might be. It balances our perceptions out so we don’t become too high on ourselves.
Mark Ottobre: I know certainly when I was competing, I’d look good without my shirt on, but I put clothes on, I look small. I was like, “Oh, I look smaller.” When I was in a normal off season, it’s like I put clothes big. But then when I’m technical, I’ll look fat. So, either way, it’s that balance of things. But, let’s get back to what you were talking about with the four weeks pose, and I’d love to hear Liam’s thoughts on this too, but you said that is the hardest part. Why fundamentally is the four weeks pose the hardest part?
Anna M.: Anyone who has ever picked for a show, and has been absolutely peeled dry to the bone, just that crisp pristine physique that you see on stage, anybody who’s actually achieved that would understand that anything other than that just feels huge. It feels disgusting. Yet, anybody else around you will be like, “I want to look like that.” You’re still 10 times leaner than the average person walking down the street. But, because I guess your perception of what is lean has changed, it’s moved the goalpost.
Anna M.: So first of all, it’s being ready to accept that you’re not going to look like that post show day. Very important to remember that. When you’re picking for a show, you are literally picking for like that 24 hours, or in some cases even 48 hours. But beyond that, the body doesn’t want to stay there. Fluid levels need to balance out, you need to put on some body fat, particularly as females. Our bodies cannot stay that lean for extended periods of time. But then it goes back to that, your perception of what is lean has changed.
Anna M.: So, if you’ve ever prepped for you first show, like I remember about eight weeks out for my first ever show, I was like, “Yeah, this is the best I have ever looked. I feel really good. I’m still strong,” and I was loving myself sick. Then of course yeah, you’ve got to keep going because it was eight weeks out, we’re not stage lean yet. You get to stage lean, and for about, it would have maybe been like a week after show and I remember thinking I was dreading going to the gym because I didn’t want mirrors, I would avoid the bathroom mirror, I was just hating myself left, right and center, yet I was still leaner than what I was eight weeks ago.
Anna M.: But again, just coming back down to that perception changes. So, comp prep will alter how you see yourself. In many respects, like for some people, it can create body dysmorphia issues. On the flip side, it can also help you control them, and in many respects almost heal disorders like that, and things as well. I’ve seen that as well. I’ve seen it in myself. But, those first four weeks pro show, it’s your body is going to go through a lot of changes. You’re going to be putting fluid back on, you’re going to be gaining some body fat just as you’re eating more calorie dense foods, you start bringing your calories up.
Anna M.: It’s also too about resetting your goals. You’ve been so laser focused on this one day, but now it’s over. People experience and those sorts of things that athletes talk about it with the Olympic games, and theirs is a four year build up. For a lot of comp preppers, it’s like 20 weeks.
Mark Ottobre: And they get hammered on the news when they get stoned after they compete.
Anna M.: Yeah, yeah.
Mark Ottobre: It’s like of course, it’s tied to the Olympics. They have just spent four years in the trenches. But, let’s not talk about getting stoned. Let’s go to Liam and talk about your experience of the four weeks after, and what you found as a coach, and also what you found as an athlete.
Liam: Yeah definitely. With comp prep, it’s definitely a lonely road. I remember times when I was a couple of weeks out, and I’d take my partner out [inaudible 00:25:02] and I’d walk out and I’d be like, “Whoa! That thing looks amazing.” It was a really hot summer day and I was like, “Wow! This thing’s amazing.” Then a couple of weeks later, when I’m eating normally again, I’m like, “It’s just fruit. It’s just in a side bowl. It’s not overly special.”
Liam: That’s where I think an experienced coach can really help you. Like for example with myself, I’ve done it 50 times now, that I know what to expect. That cold, isolated road is very tough but it can be easily… I don’t even think about it now. When I get to that competition leanness, I’ve already gotten a new goal set in place.
Mark Ottobre: You said it’s a cold, isolated road. Why do you feel it’s a cold, isolated road? Is that for everyone, or just you specifically?
Liam: Well, this is all person dependent. I don’t think it’s for everyone, because I’ve had some females that are eating heaps and heaps of calories. They have been eating a lot more than what they normally eat in their everyday life leading into a show. So, I think it’s person dependent. But, I think if I look at the times that I prep, I prep over my birthday, my Christmas, I’ve got all those functions, dinners, and I can’t go to them because I can’t calculate my food, I can’t wear this, I can’t calculate macros, all this stuff, I might miss out on training one of them’s for the late night. I don’t want to be around people who are drinking. I want to be focused on my goal.
Liam: So, that’s where it gets quite hard for people. I think in today’s society, it’s like if people say they want to do the comp preps, and they want to look good and all this stuff but they’re not willing to work, they’re all talk, I find in just today’s society, I think that’s just the way it is.
Mark Ottobre: You said, I’m going to come back to this cold isolated road, so are you identifying a cold isolated road with more so the social events you’re missing out on, or are you identifying with the food that you don’t get to eat, or it’s this thing completely that we’ve missed?
Liam: No, no. The food that I eat like when I’m waiting up to a show is pretty similar to what I’m eating outside of the show.
Anna M.: Just less.
Liam: More sauces, just less.
Anna M.: I think it comes down to our feeling thing as well, like you’re depleted, you’re hungry, just your overall mood is generally lower. I know when I’m in off season, I’m a lot more talkative, I’m a lot more up and about. When I’m in like the depths of comp prep, I’m trying to conserve my energy. I don’t have the energy to be as up and about, to be as talkative.
Anna M.: What Liam said about it being isolated, it’s certainly a very selfish sport. It’s not a team sport where it’s you and a bunch of other guys out on the field. It’s just you. A lot of the time, unless you’ve got people around you who have been down that road themselves and can understand it, a lot of the time people just don’t really get it. They don’t understand like, “Well, why do you have to eat your food out of taper ware? Why can’t you just have this? Surely, one meal’s not going to hurt.” It’s like, “Well, it actually will.”
Mark Ottobre: It will, it does, a lot.
Anna M.: It’s actually going to set me back like another two weeks and I don’t have that under my sleeve right now.
Anna M.: I remember my first prep, I was not in a fitness environment. So, I used to be a news reporter. I was working in news, and the people around me, they used to get Macca’s for lunch pretty much every day. They didn’t really train. They used to drink enough, jealous. So, when I started bringing my food in, taper ware containers, and heating up my fish in the microwave, and stinking out the whole office, they gave me a hard time. They, a cameraman, Red if you’re watching, would put lollies on my desk so I’d get back and there’d be a Starburst sitting on my computer and I’d be like, “Yeah, thanks guys.”
Anna M.: But, I was also so fixated on my goal, I didn’t really let it get to me. I think that’s, again, it comes back down to if your why is strong enough, then you’re able to see it through. What I also found after that first prep was, you very quickly learn who your true friends are. Those who feel intimidated by what you’re doing will try to bring you down in every way, shape and form. They’ll go, “Oh, you’re getting a bit big there,” or, “Why would you eat that?” They’d just make these snide remarks and you’re like, “You know what? I’ll show you.”
Anna M.: Then sure enough, you compete, you step off stage, you’ve created this rocken rig, and then sure enough, they’re the ones that come to you asking for professional help. But, I think it’s understanding why you’re doing it, and then you naturally find the right people will gravitate around you. I know a lot of people will struggle too with family, and family pressures, like families who like to have big family get togethers all weekends, and things, and then all of a sudden you’re showing up with your taper ware and Auntie Betty is going, “Why aren’t you having a second slice of apple pie, or any apple pie at all.” It’s having to explain yourself that way, I think that’s what’s really difficult for a lot of people. But that’s why it’s important to have the right support network around you.
Mark Ottobre: Absolutely. One of the personal experiences that I always like to share with clients is, I always used to have people coming up to me at like seminars and stuff like this, “Why are you eating that?” Because I’d go to like business seminars and mindset development, and there’d be regular folk, “Why are you eating that? Why are you eating that?” Then at one point, I remember something in me changed where I just stopped caring. If someone started asking, I would almost look at them blankly and you go, “Because,” then just keep eating. I wouldn’t even register.
Mark Ottobre: But funnily enough, when I stopped caring, people stopped coming up to me and saying, “Why are you eating that?” Then, they started coming up to me saying, “I wish I could be like you. You’re so disciplined.”
Anna M.: I wish I had your discipline.
Mark Ottobre: I wish I had your discipline. It’s that factor of, like I say this for people watching is that, you do especially for people who are new to this lifestyle, you bump up to that resistance of eating it, and people will say, “Why, why, why,” until you start becoming comfortable with it, and you stop caring about what other people think, like truly stop caring. It’s almost in that minute people stop questioning you in your beliefs of why are you doing this, and they start accepting and wishing that they could actually be like you. I find that a very interesting switch.
Mark Ottobre: So Anna, one question or one thought that I do want to get back into is, you spoke about how competing can be used as a tool to heal bod dysmorphic issues. Now, I know that is a topic that’s quite close, dear and personal to your heart, because you’ve come from that background of having body dysmorphic issues, and you said you used it as a tool to help you, and you’ve also seen other people use it. So, I’d love for you to talk on that.
Anna M.: Well, I mean really, it can go either way. I’ve witnessed people come into the sport with no real body dysmorphic issues at all, and unfortunately gone back the other way. However, I’ve also seen it and experienced it myself work the other way, in a more positive light. I guess for me, I was a competitive dancer and gymnast growing up, came from a very high performing family. It was the mentality of if you’re not first, you’re last, sort of thing.
Anna M.: So, I’m that classic type A personality. So, I was just a ticking time bomb really. I had all the makings for an eating disorder. So, my eating issues started from when I was about 13, 14 and then they got really serious when I was 16. Then, I suffered anorexia and bulimia, swung back and forth between the two for a good seven years. At that point, I stepped away from competing with gymnastics, and I was at the time pursuing a career as a journalist. So, my focus became not so much on my body as much, but more about my intellect and what I could do in front of the camera.
Anna M.: I still had a lot of underlying body dysmorphic issues. There was still a lot of self hate going on back in those days. For me, it got to a stage where I was just so sick of being sick. I was sick of looking at other people just be able to just eat anything, and just get on with their day. Whereas for me, it was like, it was all I thought about. All I thought about was counting calories and thinking about what I can and can’t eat, and then going, “Oh, if I have this, what is that going to mean? How many hours will I have to spend at the gym?” It’s just, I was done.
Anna M.: So, I had recently just signed up at a gym. It was my first time ever stepping foot in a commercial gym. I’d never picked up a weight in my life, and I was about 21, 22 at that stage, and started getting into group fitness. This one group fitness instructor, she was competing. I remember walking into the room that day, and she was probably only a couple of weeks out because she was peeled. I remember looking and just going, “Holy crap! How does someone look that good?” What I also couldn’t get over was, “How is she not eating nothing? How is she not spending seven hours in the gym? I’m doing all these things and I look and feel like crap. How do I do that?”
Anna M.: So, this was back in, it would have been like 2006, 2007, right about that time. So back then, body building wasn’t what it is today. I feel like every second person you speak to has done a show, or they’ve got a friend who competes, or something. Back then, I feel it was just a lot quieter. It was like this own little secret community.
Mark Ottobre: Cult almost.
Anna M.: Yeah.
Mark Ottobre: Everyone wore black T-Shirts and went to Campbell or Civic Center in Melbourne, with the tiny backstage that stank like tan.
Anna M.: Well, I was at Sydney. So, it was still very much an isolated sport. We didn’t have Instagram back then. I’d noticed that there were a couple of other people that were competing, there were other females. Again, they were training hard. They were strong, and every second I looked, they were eating. I was like, “How do you do this?”
Anna M.: So, I went, “All right, I need to learn your secrets because what I’m doing right now clearly isn’t working for anybody, and I want to do what you’re doing.” So, I contacted one of the trainers at the gym, who was prepping a lot of people for shows, Steve Bordeaux, hello. He basically taught me how to eat again. I came to him, and I think my diet diary, which I had kept religiously for like eight years, it was nothing but asparagus, coffee, and the occasional fruit. That was pretty much it.
Mark Ottobre: It must have been very exciting for you, unbelievably exciting like, “Wow! I can-
Anna M.: It was, yeah. I was like, “What! Holy crap! I can have this? A protein? What?”
Mark Ottobre: What was that like? What was that like? Because you’d been-
Anna M.: I was really constipated for the first couple of weeks, which I at the time… So, I was just thinking about this the other night because obviously now as a coach, you coach your clients through it if they’ve got digestive issues and what not. It’s like you need some enzymes to support that, and you look at their diet and change things up. I look back at those first couple of weeks and I pretty much just went balls to the wall, flip 180. I went from eating sweet buckle, to I’m having 100 grams of protein every single meal, having oats, and this and that, and this and that, and wondering why I didn’t poo for like a week.
Anna M.: It’s like, “Well clearly, you don’t have the enzymes to support it. Your body is very damaged right now,” and probably jumping into 100 grams of protein at every meal wasn’t such a good idea. I remember back then, I was taking like Benefiber, and there was this other stuff that tasted like sand. I don’t remember what it was, but I remember having to chug it at night. Anyway, you learn the hard way.
Anna M.: What I started to see, and we were only training twice a week. So, it was just two weight sessions, and then I also saw instructing group fitness at that time as well. Just with those two weight sessions, and following the plan that Steve had given me, and he was checking in with me every week and we were doing skin-folds and the whole bit, I couldn’t get over the changes that I was seeing in my body. The scale was going up, that was freaking me out, but at the same time, all my clothes were getting looser. I was getting caps, belts, my body was chiseling away. The whole shape of my legs completely changed, all of this was, I’m not going to lie, it was a real mind fuck to get your head around.
Anna M.: That was for the first time where I felt like, “Okay, I’ve actually got control over my body and how I look, after all those years of feeling so completely out of control and just jumping from one stupid starvation diet to the next, and just living in a world of self-hatred.”
Mark Ottobre: In that process of going through that, was there a time where you had all the apprehension, you’re eating all this food, you’re not going to the toilet, where you were like, “I want to pull the pin.” Or was it-
Anna M.: No, honestly because I was just so done, and I saw the results that he was producing and I was like, “No, if I just stick at this, that will be me one day.” I mean, I was looking at some of the figure girls that he was prepping, and I was like, “Oh no, but I don’t want to do that.” Like two years later, I’m a figure pro. So, that was funny. But, no I think it just comes back to that, it was that mental switch. I was like, “Well, clearly what I’m doing now isn’t working. So, here’s a proven formula, he’s got the results in front of me, let’s just do this.”
Anna M.: Then, that was it. We were training together for about a year and a half I think. At that point, I was like, “You know what? Let’s do a show. Let’s see what we can do.” Literally one week into prep, I then landed my dream job with Channel 7 and had to move to Rockhampton. So, those competing dreams got shelved. At that point, moved away from Sydney and boy was that a culture shock. If anyone’s been to Rockhampton, a lot of cows.
Mark Ottobre: It’s slow, moo.
Anna M.: I haven’t been there in a number of years, well a long time. I’ve heard it’s a lot more, there’s a lot more going on these days. In fact, we see a lot of competitors coming out of Rockhampton now, but back in 2010 when it was, it was a lot of cows, and a big brown river.
Mark Ottobre: Not much else.
Anna M.: Not much else. So, as soon I moved up there, I had looked into… I was trying to find a prep coach because it was still like this was just something I just had to do. There wasn’t really anybody local. Back then, online coaching wasn’t really a thing. So, I thought, “You know what? I’ll wait until I-
Mark Ottobre: This is 2011?
Anna M.: This is 2010, so I was in Rockhampton through all the big floods of 2010, Cyclone Yasi and all that. So, work was-
Mark Ottobre: If you’re watching Cyclone Yasi, thank you.
Anna M.: Yes. So, work was very much the focus. I was still trying to keep up the lifestyle, but I wasn’t perfect with my eating, and I’d swing back and forth between being on and just being right off. So, I wasn’t seeing the progress in my physique.
Mark Ottobre: Did you have any relapses with eating?
Anna M.: Yeah, yeah, no definitely, and it was just purely stress. New environment. My now husband, he was just my boyfriend at the time, he was still based in Sydney, so he was still in the army. So, I was up in Rockhampton pretty much on my own, the whole time. It was pretty, pretty lonely. Weekends were kind of like, “What do I do with my life? There’s nothing here. I’ve got no friends, I’ve got no family.” I’d work friends, but when you’re around each other 24/7 like Monday through Friday, you want your space.
Anna M.: But so mentally, I struggled with the transition there. Then, it wasn’t actually until I moved up to… So, I got promoted up to the Cairns Bureau, and I knew that there was a big body building community up in Townsville Cairns. So, Jim and Rhonda Barnes had been hosting the A&B Body Building Competition out there for years. They had been long time competitors themselves, so I knew there was a body building community up there. So, I was like, “Right, I’ve just got to get to Townsville at Cairns, and then it’s on.”
Anna M.: Sure enough, as soon as I got that promotion to Cairns, before I even looked for a place to rent, I was looking for a corporate coach.
Mark Ottobre: So, you’re competing at this stage though, right?
Anna M.: Not yet.
Mark Ottobre: No, not yet.
Anna M.: No, no, not yet, no. It was just very on the radar. It was just something I was just bursting to do. I think too, my first prep, going back to what would have been your most perfect prep, well, that one was pretty darn good because I had no expectations, I was just purely in it just to see what I could do. By that stage, it wasn’t about hating my body. It was about seeing what I could do. It was about committing to something 100% and not wavering through the whole process, and seeing what… Just being the best version of myself.
Mark Ottobre: Is that your why?
Anna M.: That was my why. Again, it still is. I don’t compete… There’s certainly no body hate that comes into me wanting to compete, now it’s just about well you just keep setting higher and higher goals for yourself. So, my first season competing, I competed at the North Queensland A&B Show, and won the overall fitness model. So, it was first show ever, and then went on to compete… I did another five shows that one season. We were on. We were traveling all over the place. We went like Townsville, though we had our own in Cairns, and then we went down to Queensland for the states, then we had another one in Townsville, the NBA, or the NBA back then, there as no ICN, then down for the nationals, the A&B Oxygen Nationals, and I placed third that year.
Anna M.: That was the year a good friend of mine in the industry Laura DeBenedictus won, and she landed the cover of Oxygen. So I was like, “There’s the next goal.” So, I stepped off stage for my first ever season. I did not have a great post comp experience, and I think we’ll get to that in a minute. We’ll talk about post comp. But, I wasn’t ready for the post comp effects of like you’re not going to-
Mark Ottobre: This is after your first comp, right?
Anna M.: This is after my first ever prep. This is back in 2012. So, I wasn’t ready for the weight gain, I wasn’t ready for just the lack of guidance I guess. Back then, my coach at the time, she didn’t do off season. It was like you’re either prepping or you’re now done, which I can’t do that as a coach. When I see my athletes through the stage, it’s like, “No, no, no, we’re not done. Not yet. We’re just getting started. The hardest part is yet to come.” I’ve learned that the hard way through my own experience.
Anna M.: So, I still kept up the routine, I was writing my own programs, and-
Mark Ottobre: So, a different question. Why do you think you enjoyed it so much?
Anna M.: I’ve been an athlete my whole life, and I think someone who’s just always been… I’ve always had goals, and I’ve always been a very athletic girl. So, it was always like dance, I was all in, like between school, I keep knocking that, between school and dance, that was my life. Everything was about being a better competitor. The goal was always to take national titles. I thank my mom for that really. She was a high performing athlete herself. She competed in the Commonwealth Games way back when, and that’s just the mentality that we were brought up with. It was like, if you’re going to do something, you’re going to do it to be national champion, not just to like do it on a weekend and run around with your friends.
Anna M.: So, some would argue that that’s perhaps not a very healthy mentality to have, but I think it’s who I am, and it’s helped me get to where I am today in all facets of life, career, not just competing as well. Now it’s just about just constantly setting new goals, setting the bar higher. There’s always something more. It’s not about, “Oh, I hate the way I look now. The only way I’m going to get in shape is if I do another show.” No, that’s bullshit. It’s about being better than I was last time.
Anna M.: That’s the thing, that’s the cool thing about body building is like, you’re never done. It’s body building. It’s you’re constantly bettering yourself season, after season, after season. That’s what keeps me coming back, and I’m not done yet.
Mark Ottobre: Amazing, amazing. WBFF pro now, so you hold the… I suppose the torch is being passed, you’ve been on the cover of Oxygen, amazing as well.
Anna M.: Yeah, it was 2014. I came back after my first season, after having stepped off stage coming third and going, “All right, next year I want that national title and I’m going to get an Oxygen cover.” That was the goal, and when you put it out to the universe, amazing things happen. I just busted my ass that year, trained hard, and then when it came time to prep, I did season A, and I actually did that with my husband. That was his first and only ever prep, which he’ll probably kill me for even putting that out there. But yes, our first one is on the internet.
Anna M.: We did that together because he wanted to experience that himself, and he quickly realized that dieting’s not for him. Then, I backed it up with season B, and the goal there was to win the A&B Nationals. Did that, then submitted my story to Oxygen, and that’s what got me the cover, not just… Winning the national title put me on their radar, but it was actually going the extra steps and actually submitting my transformation story and talking about my eating disorder history, and how learning to live the fitness lifestyle helped me overcome that and lead a healthier life.
Mark Ottobre: Getting yourself out there and sharing.
Anna M.: Yeah, that’s right. Nothing’s ever handed to you.
Mark Ottobre: Lighting other people’s torches.
Anna M.: Exactly, yeah. That’s really what it’s all about. That’s what I still endeavor to do with social media. It’s all about now coaching others to become their best selves whether that’s overcoming body dysmorphic issues, or wanting to step on stage or win their pro card, it’s very rewarding to now be in a position where I can give so much back. I guess you’d get that because you have been through the trenches and now look what you’ve built here. It’s the same thing.
Mark Ottobre: Well, let’s get into a different topic and shift gears into, we’ve spoken a fair bit about what happens after the comp. Now, one of the things that gets thrown around a lot on social media is reverse dieting. Some people say reverse dieting is a nuance, and it’s not really a thing. Others are like, you have to reverse diet, and all this kind of stuff. One of the thoughts that I want to throw out there is that, what happens when people compete as we’ve spoken before about is, you get into the bell curve where, say you’re overweight, you get in the optimal shape, the health and body composition, then you go to that extreme, and that extreme by definition is competition shape, and that is a temporary.
Mark Ottobre: But, what often comes with that is a mindset shift. The mindset shift is to become very, very obsessive, and unhealthy. Along with that becomes labelings of foods that are normally “healthy” now become I’m not going to touch that because that’s an unhealthy food, for the purposes of getting shredded or as we say dick skin lean. So then we have to get, when that show finishes, we need to go from being this extreme competitor, to then going back to being a healthy person who eats healthy foods that build and nourish our own body.
Mark Ottobre: Now I find personally, a lot of people really struggle with that, and they try and do all kind of calculations and macro accounting and all this kind of stuff to do that. But often what it is is almost a rebelliousness in people’s psyche to go, “I’ve been strict for so long. Fuck this diet. I’m just going to eat. I can eat. The brakes have come off so to speak, and let me just feed it.” I think really what I like to do, and again, opening it up to Liam to begin with.
Mark Ottobre: But what I like to do when competitors get off stage is having a consult with them pretty much the day after and say, “It’s quite normal to put on weight. You’re going to establish a new homeostasis in your brain, but you’ve got to bring the learnings with you from your comp prep, because there are a lot of good learnings. But, you’ve got to remember who you were when you started this. Who you were when you started this is that you’re a healthy person who eats healthy foods that build and nourish your body. Let’s go back to that, not the extreme athlete. You don’t need to view the world with the lens of the extreme athlete.”
Mark Ottobre: I think a lot of these perceptions around what happens after can somewhat become dumbed by just an understanding of the mentality from being an athlete who is getting ready for competition, to just back into, “Now I’m “civilian” who is just a regular gym junky like everyone else. So Liam, I know you’ve had a lot of competitors. You are quite fancy with the way I see your plans go, and you like to do the deficit 10%, 20%, 30% and all that kind of stuff, and bring people up. But, give us the rundown. What do you do, take it any way you like, but what do you do post comp?
Liam: All righty. So, as you said, I-
Mark Ottobre: If you can just get closer to the mic first too.
Liam: As you said, I basically bring them down to their goal. Now, if I’m training a bikini girl, I know that on calipers, they’re going to be somewhere between 9% and 12%, maybe there are some 10, maybe between like 70 mil, 40 mil for their quads and hams, and lower.
Mark Ottobre: This is skinfold testing for the recording.
Liam: Skin fold yes, dexter’s probably a little bit higher.
Mark Ottobre: What I’ve personally found with dexter is, I used to get… I had a few clients who wanted to test how accurate my testing was, and I was usually about 3% out for females.
Mark Ottobre: And about 2% out for males.
Liam: Yeah. Pretty similar. So with post comp, this is person dependent, but really I’m working with them from the time that I get them to way past they finish their comp. That’s because I know how hard it is personally being in that post composition. Now, I’ve done it all from post comp binging where I was eating just whatever I wanted because I had no brakes on like Anne was saying before. I’ve also reverse dieted [inaudible 00:53:13], and I think it depends on the person, and how they are in their mental state.
Liam: So for some people, yes, I have to be really slow, and me personally, it’s not my favorite way to do it. I like to get them back to baseline as quick as possible, but sometimes I have to really slow the brakes down and increase calories by 1-200 every couple of days a week and slowly work in macronutrients and all these other things to rebuild them back up at a slow pace.
Mark Ottobre: If we were to look at that from like a tangible, or application side of things, you’re counting out the macros and calories for them and telling them these are the foods I want you to include, or how are you mapping that out for the folks?
Liam: I do both for some individuals, but I prefer to make sure they’re not missing any food groups. So, I’ll always give them a plan, and I’ll always give them their post comp couple week plans with their peak week, and I’ll put a big emphasis on how important post comp actually is. So, if you think about it, I-
Mark Ottobre: You’re going to like staple them together and it’s like here’s the peak week, and on the back side here’s the post week-
Liam: Yeah, I give it to them.
Anna M.: Yeah, like you’re not done when you step off stage. It’s like, here’s your plan for tomorrow.
Liam: Yeah. I think obviously for years now, I’ve got this approach from Mark about being healthy. So I really from day dot, I’m really hitting them with this is what you do now. One of my clients lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time. He came in and said, “I want to do this comp prep.” He came in, and when he should have came in in the off season, he didn’t, and then he came back like 20 weeks out. I was like, “Oh my God! This guy has like 30 kilos he needs to lose.”
Liam: I dieted him pretty hard. There were times when I’d be re-feeding him, and I’d be like, “Jeez! Does he really need this re-feed? Should I be doing this? Is he going to get the best result?” But I was always educating him. When I saw him eight weeks later, I almost didn’t recognize him. I was like, “Wow! This guy is still very, very shredded. I thought he was going to gain a little bit of weight because, I always gain a little bit of weight.” But, it was only up like five or six kilos.
Mark Ottobre: He lost 28 kilos, right?
Liam: 28 kilos in 16 weeks, 18 weeks. He was doing a fair bit of cardio, but that was what he wanted to do. I originally said no a couple of times, and he moved back and forth on it, and I know next time when he preps, he’s going to be a lot better because he’s gotten to that point now where he knows actually how hard it is. I’ve got a lot of good things out of where he said, “I’m never going to put on that much body fat again. I’m stopping the alcohol. I’m stopping the burgers. This is what I’m doing, this is my lifestyle now.” That I think is the most important thing.
Liam: Whereas, some females for example I’ve just had to let go for a couple of days. I’ve had some that haven’t really dieted super hard, and they have gone off and had their food, and going out for drinks with the girls and stuff like that. Then a couple of days later, I’ve had to call them back in because they’re upset that they have gained a little bit of weight, and this, that and whatever.
Mark Ottobre: Why do you think that happened?
Anna M.: I mostly work with pretty much exclusively work with female competitors. Generally speaking, I think first of all, it comes down to what’s the goal post comp. Are we looking to back up another season. So, this comes back to laying out the big picture with them. When I first get a client, I want to know like, what shows you’re doing, what are you doing currently, if they’re a new competitor but have competed before, I want to know what’s your history been like prior to this.
Anna M.: So, I’ve already got a map all planned out for them already. So, if they’re a first timer and then they’re looking to step away into an extended off season and then potentially compete again down the track, then that’s where we go, “Okay, let’s look at where we could have done better this prep. What was the feedback from the judges? If we didn’t get the placing we wanted, why and how are we going to implement that now into our longterm strategy moving forward?” So, I’m already getting them to think about next show, or their next goal.
Anna M.: So, it takes that focus away from like that one day, and now it’s starting to give their plan purpose. I think if you just give someone a training plan, and a post comp macro plan and just let them be on their way, they’re still lost. They don’t know why they’re going to the gym. Like if they’re not someone like ourselves that have just lived this lifestyle forever, then they need something more than just showing up and training. I mean heck, even the amount of years that I’ve been training now, I still need a purpose to go to the gym. But again, it’s always about setting that longterm goal.
Anna M.: With my female clients, first of all setting, what’s the next goal, what are we looking to do, and then it’s about judging their mentality as well. So, females post comp I feel we probably struggle a little bit more than guys only because of the social pressures that are usually put on females. Gaining weight for females is like the worst thing ever. Whereas for guys, “Yeah, you look-
Liam: Fat, yeah.
Mark Ottobre: Fat bod.
Anna M.: Yeah bro. Whereas females, “Oh no, no, no, we don’t want that.” So, I’m a lot more conservative with my reverse diets. If I know that there’s someone who might completely lose it if they’re adding too much too fast, then we’re going to be very conservative with how we bump up their calories.
Anna M.: However, if it’s someone like mentally they’re just in a really good place, if their metabolism is really responsive, then the goal is always to get them to baseline as quickly as possible, because that’s where you’re going to start feeling good, and in many respects, that urge to binge post show is going to be less because you’ve already got plenty of food in your plan anyway. But that being said, it’s going to take your body a lot longer than just a couple of weeks of reverse dieting to actually feel normal.
Anna M.: For my last prep in October, it probably took me until about April maybe of just feeling normal again, like not always thinking about food.
Mark Ottobre: What do you mean by that?
Anna M.: Well, I think it’s feeling strong in the gym. The biggest thing for me I find, like the mental switch is your fixation on food becomes less. When you’re in a harsh calorie deficit, all you want to do is… I remember I used to make food lists of like all the stuff that I was going to eat first. I’d be doing my cardio in the morning, and I’d be like, “Yeah, I’m going to get this, I’m going to get this.” It’s really sick and twisted.
Liam: [inaudible 00:59:55].
Anna M.: That’s what super low calories can do, right? So, I think it’s once you’re at that point where you’re not fixated on food all the time, you’re feeling good, you’re not hungry all the time, you’re feeling strong, and you’re just living the life and enjoying life, that’s when you know, “Yeah, all right, we’re-
Mark Ottobre: Have you ever had the dreams, you know the dreams I’m talking about?
Anna M.: The dreams?
Mark Ottobre: Yeah, you wake up and you’re like, “Holy shit! Did I just eat that banana sundae?”
Anna M.: Did I just eat that whole chocolate cake?
Mark Ottobre: Did I do it?
Anna M.: Oh God!
Mark Ottobre: I’m still in my bed, it’s okay, I didn’t ruin my prep. Actually, everything is fine, I did not eat the banana sundae. Let’s go back to sleep folks, let’s go back to sleep.
Anna M.: Yep, yep, many times.
Mark Ottobre: Liam, back to what you were doing with your reverse dieting. In terms of the numbers, are there some numbers, because I know there are some folks who are watching you count the calories side of things, I know that you’re right into it. What are some hard and fast rules that you follow? Are there hard and fast rules that you follow?
Liam: In terms of food?
Mark Ottobre: In terms of reverse dieting.
Liam: Yes. I try and get people back to baseline as quick as possible. I automatically lower their physical activity levels. So, I drop down their steps, remove all cardio, I try to bring in a wide range of different foods because I don’t really like the idea of stopping a whole food group for a certain amount of time. I just educate them through this. I bring down training volume a lot, and I personally believe that once you’ve done a show, it can take a day, a week, a month, eventually you’re going to be all right. You’re going to come back up into feeling strong, lifting heavy-
Anna M.: Being okay with what you see in the mirror.
Liam: Being okay with what you see in the mirror. I do find it more so with females a little bit more challenging more so because of the walk and the social pressures that are put on them. But, my job as a coach is not to get someone the best result, it’s to keep getting them their best result while keeping them healthy. That’s where people don’t really get it still, and they’re just want a result.
Mark Ottobre: So, on the topic of the perfect prep, is there a client that comes to mind or yourself where you go, “Yeah, that was pretty close to perfect.”
Liam: Well, if I look at my two preps, I prep for 40 weeks because I want to build my calories up, I don’t want to be rushing anything. I want to look at myself and almost like symmetry and go, “What do I need to work on? My arms, my back, my chest, my legs are okay, here’s what I’m going to do over the next 40 weeks. 20 weeks of this is going to be a really serious gaining phase, and then I’m going to leave myself 20 weeks to cut down to get to 5% or whatever I need to be at.” Now that’s to say, I’m at around, I’d say between 15 and maybe 20, I’m probably closer to about 16 at the moment.
Mark Ottobre: Body fat.
Liam: Yeah, percent body fat. Now, if I’m 25% body fat, ideally to do that safely, that can take anywhere from 24-50 odd weeks to diet someone down. I think people try to put this into 10 week walks, and that’s where I think it goes quite wrong for people.
Mark Ottobre: Yeah. A lot of people throw out the term 12 week transformation, and then try and apply it to… You go get some of our transformations that we’ve done, they’re not 12 weeks.
Liam: Years, years.
Mark Ottobre: They’re multiple weeks or sometimes years where you really get that honed in result. Have we had 12 week hits? Yes you do every now and then, you get a 12 week hit.
Anna M.: They’re anomalies, they’re not the norm.
Mark Ottobre: Yeah. Usually, I mean, I have a 12 week hit that I always refer to, and I was [inaudible 01:03:36] he’s on our wall, he came to see me for the WBFF fitness model, and he did very well. But the guy had already competed twice. We turned that around in 12 weeks, very, very fast, and he had a photo, but he was just… He’s a guy who’s a super responder. I mean, he would think about lifting weights-
Anna M.: He was already a very well trained individual clearly. He was living the lifestyle.
Mark Ottobre: He was coming to me to step it up to another degree. I mean, there you have those guys. For me another one, I wouldn’t say his prep was perfect, but his prep was close to perfect. We did get a roadblock where he was at 7% body fat for three weeks in a row, and it was a matter of actually increasing his fats and keeping his carbs high. So, we actually had to bump up his calories, and bump up his food to get him to drop below 7%. He got to 5%. The guy was on. He was shredded. He was very much in an immaculate condition. I think to me, it seemed like he cruised, and I think you’d say much the same, he cruised into the show.
Mark Ottobre: The other one that comes to mind is a female I trained, calisthenics backgrounds, very, very just show her a movement, next minute she’s doing it perfectly. She was a trainer herself, 16 week prep. The way I planned it was, four weeks of it was going to be essentially getting her to petrify as much as possible. It has actually been eight weeks of apatrifry and then eight weeks of cutting. I think she was started at maybe like 16% body fat, but she was on. Came in, won the Victorian title, competed with the Australians just nailed it.
Mark Ottobre: I remember the story that always comes to mind when I think of her is, on the day when she walked into the prep, I was at the ICA and IMBA, ICN at the time I think it was, IMBA, whichever, I walked in and I can’t re who was sitting there that said to her, “You look happy. You look really healthy.” She was, “Yeah I’m great, I’m fine. I’ve been having wine once a week for the whole prep.” I think actually no, we cut it out two weeks before, and she was just all bubbly, and it was this contrast, and she had a huge smile on her face, looked healthy, looked strong, looked the way you want to look, and shredded. In a huge contrast, there were so many girls around there going, “I hate life. Where is my pizza.”
Anna M.: How would you describe her mindset throughout the prep? What was-
Mark Ottobre: She had a breakdown. She had a breakdown so she cried, which I would say is fairly normal in my experience of training any competitor.
Anna M.: Yeah, I think I’ve broken down pretty much every prep at some point.
Mark Ottobre: Yeah, because you get pushed to the point. She had a meltdown and she cried, and that was all fine, and then she moved straight on and got on with it. But, her mentality towards it was, she came at it, and I don’t know if it was her calisthenics background, she was a PT at the time, so I was mentoring her as well. But for her, I think really it was just she approached it as an experience. One of the different things with her was, a lot of people that find, once they get off stage, the first question they get asked is, when are you competing again.
Mark Ottobre: For her, she did the season, so she did the Ozzie’s, but her answer was, “I’m not going to do this again. I only have to do this once.” So, I think from that perspective was, she came in with this element of this is not who I am, but I am going to give this everything I’ve got. I’m an athlete first, and a competitor second, and I’m going to have some fun. I think to me, that’s how she approached it, as almost I’m experimenting with my body as a physical culture, rather than this is the box.
Anna M.: Yeah, and I think that’s probably the key. If we’re looking for the answer for what is the perfect comp prep, I think it’s how you go into it, and it’s what you want to get from it. No one’s forcing you to do it, no one’s holding a gun to your head. If you are just genuinely excited by the process and excited by seeing the limits you can push yourself to, then yeah, I think you’re in for a pretty, I’m not going to say cruisy because preps are never cruisy.
Mark Ottobre: It’s so hard. You’ve still got to push into that road zone, you’re still going to move the needle.
Anna M.: Yeah. But, I think when you’ve made that mental switch, it’s the process becomes easier.
Liam: Yeah, patience is definitely a big thing. I think you can maybe gain 100 grams, 200 grams a month, maybe muscle mass if you’re lucky, you can probably potentially drop maybe a kilo a week if you’ve got a lot of body fat, it’s just a long time. If I look at Anna’s years and years transformation, they’re quite good, but people don’t want to have that timeframe now. Even with myself, I look at my preps, in the lead up to the first classic, I didn’t really know what to expect dieting as hard as I did for this first time. I came in very, very lean, I was very lean, I came third on that day. Everything went wrong, it could have gone wrong that prep. People were on the treadmills when I needed to go on them, and this, that and whatever else.
Liam: The second time I prepped, it was much easier, and I put on five kilos, and I was comparing it to last year Arnolds. I was like, “I’m going to do really well here. I’m going to really do really well here.” I was looking at all the guys from last year’s Arnold and I was going, “Yeah, this is cool. I’m going to do really well here.” Then I get to the day that [inaudible 01:08:38] in VICs, and I walk in and I just see all these massive guys. I’m just like, “holy Hell! Who are these guys?” I’m 73 kilos, I just scraped down to 70, and I’m going, “Are these guys doing the under 80s? Where are the other under 70s? Am I doing it by myself?”
Liam: Anyway, there’s like six guys that are just huge. I remember getting off stage and I saw this guy called Scott Godwin and he was like, “That was the best under 70s lineup I’ve ever seen. You held very well.” I was just thinking like, “Yeah you’re right, I did. I did do quite well, but potentially I could have done better because I’ve put on five kilos, and at this amount of time I was-
Anna M.: But, you can’t control who shows up that day.
Mark Ottobre: No, you can’t.
Liam: I was like, “What is going on?”
Anna M.: That’s the thing with body building or any subjective sport. I think if you’re solely fixated on the result-
Mark Ottobre: You’ve missed the point.
Anna M.: Yeah, totally and you’re going to be very bitterly disappointed most of the time.
Mark Ottobre: The best answer to that was 2005 I said to Tony, it was my second show, Tony Dowdy, I said to Tony, because he was helping me prep for the show, “Do you think I can win?” He looked at me and laughed and said, “Well, you show me the competition, and I’ll tell you if you’ll win. There’s no way… Let’s say the guy who beat you, they have been training 10 years, you’ve been training 2. Let’s say the guy that beats you has some super genetics in parents. What are you going to do? Hate your parents?” I thought his answer was just so on point, so exact.
Liam: Perfect, yeah.
Mark Ottobre: That is actually how you have to approach it. The only person who you can beat is you really at the end of the day.
Anna M.: Yeah. It’s you versus you. If you’re solely focused on that end result on the day, I mean heck, you could have one judging panel they’ll see it one way, you would have a completely different panel and the results could be completely different. It’s all dependent on who shows up on the day, and what the judges are looking for on the day. Some categories, that can vary wildly. Like bikinis, it’s probably one of the toughest ones to prep for. One day they’re favor a leaner physique, another day they’ll go completely
Mark Ottobre: Soft and more curvier.
Anna M.: Exactly.
Mark Ottobre: I’ve seen it so many times and in different weeks. Like we had one at the VIC and at the Ozzie’s, there’s different judges and you’re like, “Whoa! With the VIC last week, they would have-
Anna M.: If that’s what you’re focusing on, you’re going to hate the sport very, very quickly. If you can approach it with the mentality of I just want to give this my all and leave no stone unturned, so when I look back on my prep, I don’t say, “Yeah, I probably could have done better.” Because if you come out and you have done everything that you can, if you have busted your ass day in day out, left no room for regrets and then walk out on stage looking the best you have, that’s a win for me. Anything on top of that, sure I’m a competitive person, we all want to win, but I’m not going to walk away from the sport if I don’t win-
Liam: That’s where it gets hard though.
Anna M.: … Unless I’ve lost more than I’ve won.
Mark Ottobre: Folks, we’re just about to head into a break, but before we do, Anna, where can people find you on Instagram?
Anna M.: Look me up Anna_ here we go, McManamey, M-C-M-A-N-A-M-E-Y, or IamAnnaFitness.
Mark Ottobre: Liam, where can people hit you up?
Liam: Liamfitz on Instagram.
Mark Ottobre: Is that with an underscore?
Mark Ottobre: Obviously I am Mark Ottobre, and you can hit me up on Markottobre on Instagram, and obviously do follow Enterprise Fitness on Instagram, and hit that subscribe button. We’ll see you after this break.
Mark Ottobre: Are you a personal trainer looking to maximize their career and profits? Check out the folks at Persnaltrainermentoring.com, who have sponsored this show. They have put together a website full of resources. You can download one of them today. It’s a $500 value pack, completely free. As a watcher of the Wolf’s Den, it includes three eBooks and an eCourse on how to screen and assess your clients. So, check them out. We also have some fantastic certification programs, the one they have just released is sales mastery for personal trainers. So, head over to Personaltrainermentoring.com and get your free gift pack today.
Mark Ottobre: Hey folks, are you looking to get in the best shape of your life, here at Enterprise Fitness, we’ve trained over 250 first place trophies and winners as well as literally thousands of people to getting the best shapes of their lives. So, check us out, it’s Melbournepersonaltrainers.com, we’re located at 381 Swan Street in Richmond, if you’re looking to get into the best shape of your life, you need help with your training, training programmings, nutrition, just want to feel your very best, reach out, contact us www.melbournepersonaltrainers.com.
Mark Ottobre: We are back, welcome back to the Wolf’s Den. We are going to get straight into it. So, what we’re going to do now is answer your questions from Instagram. The first question from Instagram is, can anyone compete naturally? I mean only diet and work out. If yes, how much time will it take?
Mark Ottobre: I assume this question is about drugs, so let’s just get to the point.
Anna M.: Or supplements.
Mark Ottobre: Or supplements. I’m going to imagine this question is about drugs, so I’m just going to answer about drugs, right? 100%, I’ve been natural my whole life. There are natural federations and untested federations as it’s referred to. Untested federations are basically just that, where the federation is untested. So, for example if you are taking performance enhancing substances of any sort, then it’s simply not going to test. That’s where you go if you want to take stuff.
Mark Ottobre: On the other hand, there are federations that are tested, and people argue those federations don’t have the money to test every athlete. Now, while this might be true, I think it’s up to us as individuals and as people and watching this and all this kind of stuff, I think your own individual moral compass would tell you that if you are going to use drugs, then don’t go in those tested federations. They are for the natural people. So, if you look at say for example the ICN as an example, that is a tested federation. So, if you do intend to be a natural competitor, then compete naturally. If you do intend to use performance enhancing substances, go to the federations that don’t test. It’s very-
Anna M.: And do your research.
Mark Ottobre: Yeah, and do your research, as simple as that.
Anna M.: Do your research.
Mark Ottobre: Yeah, 100%.
Anna M.: You don’t go back from that, particularly as females.
Mark Ottobre: Yeah, particularly as females. Unfortunately, there is a drug culture in this, and that has to be I supposed acknowledged at some point.
Mark Ottobre: The other aspect I just wanted to add on that is, it depends on what level you want to be. If you want to be walking around at 4% body fat and 105 kilos, well that’s probably not a result you’re going to achieve naturally. Let’s just say you’re about 6 foot tall, it’s quite a lot of muscle at a very low body fat percentage to be walking around. That’s not a natural. I do believe, if you do take the natural route, and it really is horses for causes right, that’s the route I’ve chosen personally for myself, and that’s what feels right for me, but I’m not going to condemn anyone if they choose to go on say a performance enhancement protocol, that’s their choice. That’s their physique, and that’s where they want to go.
Mark Ottobre: So, how long will it take? Well, I think it really takes the same amount of time. Obviously if you’re using substances, the results are probably going to be a lot more extreme. On the flip side, if you are natural, it might be a bit slow, harder, you’ve got to be a lot smarter with your food, you’re not going to get away with as much, you’ve got to really dot your Is and cross your Ts, but along the way, obviously if you are using substances, there’s a whole other kettle of fish that’s quite hard.
Anna M.: I think there’s a big misconception that it makes it easier. Well no, it doesn’t. What you’re adding is-
Mark Ottobre: You’ve still got to diet-
Anna M.: Exactly.
Mark Ottobre: You’ve still got to train hard.
Anna M.: You’re still going to do the work. What it allows you to do is work harder.
Mark Ottobre: Correct.
Anna M.: If you want to go down that route, and again, like you, I’ve got nothing against people who do, but particularly as females, this is serious. You need to think longterm. If you want to have kids down the track, well maybe going down that route isn’t such a good idea. So, you’ve just got to assess your values, and decide whether that’s something that you want to go down that path, because there’s no road going back from that. But, it won’t make it easier.
Anna M.: What you also need to consider is that, well, if you’re competing in an untested federation, the bar is much higher as well. I mean, I compete in an untested federation, and that is not to say that every athlete on stage is on performing enhancing drugs. It’s definitely not the case.
Mark Ottobre: Yeah, absolutely.
Anna M.: Absolutely not. But, it does raise the bar. So, it’s not taking the easy route, and there’s a whole other layer of complexity that’s going to come along with it, and ramifications down the track if not managed properly. Do your research.
Mark Ottobre: Absolutely. One of the case and points in athletes that’s I’ve coached for over a decade, I’ve coached them for over a decade, now Liam, Janet Kane, lifetime natural, she competes in untested federations, and she would win. The point is that, wipe the floor. It isn’t easy. In the natural feds, she won everything, and there really wasn’t anywhere else that she could take her career. We spoke, and we said, “Well, we know that you’re natural, you’re going to stay natural, but it doesn’t exclude you from competing against people at a higher level, and who are bringing it even that much harder. You can go up against them and beat them,” and that’s exactly what she’s done, stopped the show.
Anna M.: That all comes down to her work ethic. It just goes to show, if you… Janet is probably one of the hardest working athletes that I’ve ever witnessed. She comes in here and she just goes like an animal.
Mark Ottobre: Another level.
Anna M.: Yeah. Not everybody can do that. I mean, that’s just testament to Janet’s relentless hard work and dedication to her craft, that she can then step on stage against enhanced athletes and be able to wipe the floor like she does. Not everyone can do that, but Janet’s special.
Mark Ottobre: No, not at all. It’s meticulous to details, diet, training, food timing, all the others. I think we’ve answered that question. So, I’m going to move on to my next question. I know Liam you had one as well.
Mark Ottobre: The next question is from Natasha. So, Natasha asks, how long should comp prep be for someone who is doing it for the first time? I’ll let Liam take a swab at this one first.
Liam: Could you repeat the question?
Mark Ottobre: I just put my phone away. How long should a comp prep be for someone doing it for the first time? How long should a comp prep be for someone who is doing it for the first time?
Liam: That was pretty much the same as my question as well. I think this depends on what category they want to go to, what their current work is. If I can, I like to spend a minimum of 40 weeks. I know this is not ideal for everyone, because I would like to figure out what foods work for them, build a little bit of muscle first, and then I would like to start the diet process. What I don’t like doing is getting someone in 20, 15 weeks, 12 weeks whatever, and not knowing their body that well, not knowing what foods they like, not knowing where they’ve been with their food for the past three years.
Liam: I think the more I get to know the people who do longer preps, the better I do with them, just because we learn more about their body than what they’re probably going to know less being their own person.
Anna M.: On the same, if I have somebody that comes to me and says, “All right, I want to do a show in 12 weeks.” It’s like, “Oh, no, no, no.” Then if it’s that 12 week show, then I’m not the coach for you because I like to spend time with my athletes to, like you Liam, to get to know them, find out what foods work best for them, how they’re training, take that time to build a foundation.
Anna M.: The exception would be, if someone came to me that competed so many times before, they’re like 10% body fat, they have been tracking their food religiously for weeks on end, and they are ready to go, yeah okay, then I think they’re in a good place to like 12 weeks, yeah boom! Let’s go. But for most people, that’s just not the case. Most people who come to do a prep, and particularly first timers are generally first timers to the gym too. I’m not just saying like go in and do a body pump class and walk out, I mean proper serious resistance training.
Anna M.: Even like I know for myself, even as an athlete, even though I was playing around the gym for a while before I got serious in my prep, I wasn’t training hard enough. I’m still perfecting my movement patterns. So, if that’s coming from me with so many years of experience, then chances are most people walking through that door they’re not going to be in a position to step on stage in 12 weeks. That’s why I’d be taking the same approach. Let’s think longterm, let’s map out your prep to give you the best result.
Anna M.: I don’t want to just put people on stage just to, “So, I prepped another person.” No, I want you to step on stage, and I want you to win. I want you to get the best result possible. I also want you to enjoy the process as much as possible. You’re not going to get that if you have got like 20 kilos to lose in 12 weeks. You’re going to hate life by the end of it, and you’re not going to look very good. So, definitely time is of the essence I think. The longer you can spend preparing yourself for that, the better the result is going to be at the end. So, patience.
Liam: I think someone like Natasha, she’d get away with 20 weeks I think. I think she’s got quite a bit of muscle mass, she moves very well, she’s already pretty strong. I think 20 weeks she’d be very, very competitive.
Mark Ottobre: For the personal question, that means I should give a personal answer because of the person asking it. So, let’s move into one of my favorite segments of the Wolf’s Den, and that is the one word game. I hope you both are prepared for your one word. We’ll do a couple of rounds here. I’m going to kick things off-
Anna M.: I haven’t had enough coffee today.
Mark Ottobre: … So basically, if this is the first time watching it, we say a word, and we answer the first thing that pops in the head. Often, this game turns into the one sentence game and sometimes the one paragraph game, and maybe the one rant game, but we’ll try and keep it to one word. So, let’s kick it off. The word that I want to associate today is bikinis.
Liam: Hard to judge.
Anna M.: Glitz.
Mark Ottobre: Janet Kane.
Anna M.: Nicole Wilkins. My turn?
Mark Ottobre: Yeah, your turn.
Anna M.: This is how it works?
Mark Ottobre: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Anna M.: Training.
Mark Ottobre: You have to train hard to get a result.
Anna M.: That’s many words.
Mark Ottobre: That’s many words, hard. Hard.
Liam: Hypertrophy in different rep ranges.
Mark Ottobre: It’s back to me. Favorite comp food.
Anna M.: Mine is very limited right now, so I could say chicken, but-
Mark Ottobre: You can’t say salt.
Anna M.: Damn it, seasoning, mustard. No, mustard, truffle mustard.
Mark Ottobre: Truffle mustard. Yeah, Liam.
Liam: Pick week.
Anna M.: Peeing all the time.
Mark Ottobre: Can be complicated, yeah, can be complicated.
Anna M.: I’m going to add fun. I love pick week.
Mark Ottobre: Back to you.
Anna M.: Back to me. 10.
Mark Ottobre: I want to say pro 10, because you remember the 10 backstage you used to actually rub on?
Anna M.: Yeah, this is a protein.
Mark Ottobre: No, no, I’m talking about dream 10 sorry.
Anna M.: Oh, dream 10, oh goodness.
Mark Ottobre: Dream 10, that’s my answer.
Anna M.: I think that’s banned at more shows now.
Mark Ottobre: Yeah it is.
Anna M.: Yeah.
Liam: Is that the [crosstalk 01:24:26].
Mark Ottobre: Dream 10 came in like a little red container like [crosstalk 01:24:28].
Anna M.: Did you ever go backstage and all you heard was-
Liam: Yeah, yeah.
Mark Ottobre: That’s what I figured.
Anna M.: That’s the Dream 10.
Mark Ottobre: Yeah, it was Dream 10. Then there was shimmer as well, which made you look a bit more bright and it was intense.
Anna M.: Yeah, it’s all about all that Pro 10 these days. It’s all Spray 10 now anyway.
Mark Ottobre: What’s your one word?
Anna M.: Arnold Classic.
Mark Ottobre: No, no, 10, you have to say 10. We’ll get to the Arnold Classic.
Liam: I just think it’s messy, I hate it, it’s just messy, I just hate it.
Anna M.: Patchy disaster is what I’m about to say.
Mark Ottobre: I remember I used to compete, I had to do like contest color, and then on top of contest color you had to put the Dream 10 on top of that.
Anna M.: Yeah.
Mark Ottobre: It was horrible. It was the worst process.
Anna M.: Yeah.
Liam: Three layers of 10 just-
Mark Ottobre: So Arnold Classic, there’s only one name that comes to mind when I think of Arnold Classic, and that’s Tony Dowdy, legend.
Anna M.: Second name that comes to mind is of course Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Mark Ottobre: Yes. Favorite competition or comp supplement.
Mark Ottobre: Sulforaphane. Some Xango issued in detoxification?
Anna M.: Yes. I’m going to say for me, Berberine.
Mark Ottobre: Nice. Really?
Anna M.: I like my GDAs, yes.
Mark Ottobre: Yes, a bit of a blood sugar control, antiaging.
Anna M.: Yes.
Liam: You don’t have any caps now.
Anna M.: No I don’t, but I still like it.
Mark Ottobre: I said my word, we are back to-
Anna M.: Back to me. Post comp cheat meal.
Mark Ottobre: I have to say what I did. It’d be like TGI Fridays, burger and potato skins.
Liam: I still keep it clean, I go to say Tony’s to get a gluten free pizza.
Mark Ottobre: Clean. We are back to you.
Liam: We are, yes. Favorite muscle group.
Anna M.: I’m going to say delts, but as bikini competitor, I should say glutes.
Mark Ottobre: Can I say posterior chain?
Liam: Yes you can.
Mark Ottobre: Yeah, posterior chain, that’s my answer, posterior chain. We’re at a bar, what are we drinking?
Anna M.: Pepsi max. It’s an addiction.
Liam: It depends where we are. It depends where we are, where we’re prepping. In prep, we’re drinking waters, and we’re not very happy. Out of prep, we’re probably drinking gin.
Mark Ottobre: Gin, okay. You want me to say what I’m drinking?
Liam: What are you drinking?
Mark Ottobre: Cocktails because alcohol tastes like shit. Back to Liam, one word.
Liam: Favorite hardest prep for a client.
Anna M.: For a client?
Mark Ottobre: Hang on. Can you quantify that question? What are do you mean? The client who’s the hardest prep?
Liam: Yeah, like everything went wrong, pick week mucked up, the car broke down on the way to the show.
Mark Ottobre: Like disaster story?
Mark Ottobre: Okay, do I have a disaster story?
Anna M.: I haven’t had a disaster story. I’ve had ones that have been harder than others, but I don’t know whether I should say names though.
Mark Ottobre: Yeah no. Mine is as a story, it was me. In my first prep in 2004, that was me. I don’t have a disaster story of a competitor, thankfully. It’s always gone-
Anna M.: You did it all for them.
Mark Ottobre: Made sure I printed out the checklist, gave it to them, made sure they had everything on time, but my disaster story was me 2004. You couldn’t get more of a disaster, I came last, dead last. I was that guy that you would look at and go, “That guy is not ready. He shouldn’t have been on stage. He’s a bit skinny, yeah, he’s a bit skinny.”
Liam: I haven’t came last, thank God.
Mark Ottobre: Well, I have. Your one word?
Anna M.: Barbells.
Mark Ottobre: Eleiko.
Liam: The big lifts are essential.
Mark Ottobre: We’ll go one more round, so you’d better make this a good one. The pressure is on.
Liam: My God! There is so much pressure right now.
Mark Ottobre: That’s jackety music just in case.
Anna M.: I see little beads of sweat starting to-
Liam: Stop it. The leanest person you’ve ever coached.
Mark Ottobre: I’m going to say Janet Kane.
Liam: It’s a tough one. That’s a very tough call.
Mark Ottobre: Janet. I mean Cream was lean, Cream was very lean but I feel like if I had to give it on male to female pound for pound athlete, I would give the best all round competitor that I’ve ever coached to Janet Kane. I mean, she’s one of the most decorated [inaudible 01:29:19] in Australia, so I think it’s well deserving, and tough to beat on that too. So, Janet.
Anna M.: Leanest. I work with mostly fitness and bikini competitors. So, I try not to get them too lean. My leanest bikini competitor was probably a young lady called Jemima. Gemma if you’re watching, you did a great job.
Mark Ottobre: Shout out to Jemima.
Anna M.: Actually, she was one of those people that just had an easy prep. I’d send out her plans and just be like, “Yeah, you lucky bitch.”
Liam: I’ve had those as well.
Mark Ottobre: Easy.
Anna M.: What I would give to be on your [inaudible 01:30:08]. She did really well. She competed in the rooky show a couple of years ago, and podiumed for all of her categories, she got top three for a while and-
Mark Ottobre: I don’t know if that’s coming through, but we’re getting some whistles on the way as people walk through Enterprise there. They’re liking what we do. Hello, thanks to the folks watching.
Anna M.: They’re whistling at you Mark.
Mark Ottobre: Well they are indeed. I’ll see you guys later. On my last round, my one word is, if… No, let me start that again. What is your spirit food? My spirit food, just FYI, is cacao. I’m just wondering-
Liam: Well, I’m Italian so I’m going to say pizza.
Anna M.: Spirit food, spirit food. Grilled burgers.
Mark Ottobre: Grilled burgers.
Anna M.: It has to be.
Mark Ottobre: I thought you might say something like that. To close it off, what’s the one word for you? What’s the last one?
Anna M.: Last one as we finish it.
Liam: Tick tock.
Mark Ottobre: Liam wants to get you back now hey.
Liam: Best, most memorable moment on stage.
Mark Ottobre: Okay, I’ll let you go first.
Liam: It would probably be this girl that I coached that had a lot of trouble, she was quite overweight, suffered a lot of anxiety, things like that, ended up cleaning for a year straight, won every show when really no one thought she could do that.
Mark Ottobre: My probably most memorable was I have two that come to mind immediately. The first one is a lady by the name, that I coached, she was a trainee here for a little while, her name was Nicole. Just mentally, she had a little bit of a tough prep. I saw her being a champion. There was a few moments where she had her breakdowns and that, and then she got up, and she won. It was like, “Thank fuck!” I just felt like she needed it, I needed it, I think we as a team, we really needed her to win, because we saw this potential in her, and she won. So, that was really quite a great moment. Then at the end of it, the whole team got up on stage, we got a photo, it was just great, it was a great moment.
Mark Ottobre: The other one was actually a girl 2014 at the VIC, took her on from another coach, had about six months, she looked skinny, emaciated at her previous comp. I took her on at six months to turn her around, and I did. She walked in and just she won. She was 2014, the winner at the VIC, standout winner, amazing. There was this other girl who was quite big, but she was too big. She had too much muscle, she looked body building. The thing about that comp is, we actually at Enterprise, we had first, second and third in the lineup. So, that for me was a very special lineup because I think two of our other coaches had girls who won, and then I had the winner.
Mark Ottobre: Just in terms of the physique that she presented in my head, it’s exactly what I saw. I have never been probably, with the exclusion of Janet, because Janet’s kind of, I’ve been coaching her for 10 years and a lot of the victories, it’s almost like now, I don’t want to say I expect Janet to win, but there is that element where we’re like, “We’re going into this to win.” We have that mentality. So, outside of that, that was a very special one because, I worked with someone who came from bare beginnings to then just boom and turnaround. So, that would probably be for me. What about you?
Anna M.: Well, there’d be a couple. For me personally, in my comp [inaudible 01:33:51] experience, definitely winning my WBFF Pro Cut was a big one, and winning the nationals in 2013, that was that big goal that I set from that first preps. That was a big moment.
Anna M.: Then with my clients, I’ve had two. One of them I wasn’t physically able to be there. I was actually in the States at the time. I was madly messaging like on Facebook and everything trying to stay on top of what was going on, and checking on her condition. That was my client Chrissy Warren who absolutely cleaned out last year and ended up earning herself two Pro Cuts. She just had the most amazing transformation herself. It was one of those people that came to me just wanting to get in shape, and then one thing led to another, and well then she’s like, “I think I might want to give this competing thing a go.” I’m like, “Yeah, I reckon you’d actually be pretty good.” And she was. That was huge.
Anna M.: Then my other one was another girl who ended up taking overalls at the VIC in the fitness category as well. For her, mentally really struggled towards the end of prep. She was going through a marriage breakdown at the time, and it was like, “Okay, we’re so close. You’re ready. We’ve just got to hold it together.” Literally two weeks out from show had the most horrendous weekend long binge, and then checks in with me on Monday morning and is like, “Yeah, I fucked up.” I’m like, “You know what? We’re going to clean this up, and we’re going to get you on stage,” and we did, and she freaking won. So that was-
Mark Ottobre: Wow! Wow! A good story. It’s always those ones, those stories of like nuance or-
Anna M.: Yeah, yeah.
Mark Ottobre: That’s awesome. Finally Liam, where can people connect with you?
Liam: Liam_Fitz on Instagram.
Mark Ottobre: And Anna?
Anna M.: I’m also on Instagram, that’s Anna, A-N-N-A_McManamey, M-C-M-A-N-A-M-E-Y, or my business page which is Iamannafitness, all one word.
Mark Ottobre: You are watching The Wolf’s Den, my name is Mark Ottobre, connect with me on Instagram at Markottobre, make sure you follow the Enterprise page. If you haven’t already folks, hit subscribe, and we’d be forever so grateful that you leave us a review on iTunes and podcasts. Hey look, if you’ve enjoyed this episode, do share it with your friends on all things social media, Instagram, Facebook, all that good stuff. Thanks for watching folks, and until next time, train hard, eat well, and supplement smart.