Success was the result of a lot of hard work, sweat, perseverance and clean eating for three individuals from Carlyle on April 30. Jason Duhaime, Erica Nicolson and Adam Swanson, - all of whom are first-time competitors - were three of many participants at the Saskatchewan Amateur Bodybuilding Show in Saskatoon.
All Carlyle competitors did exceptionally well in their respective categories. Adam Swanson, the youngest of the competitors from Carlyle, placed fourth in the Junior Category (21 years and under) and sixth in the Welterweight category. Erica Nicholson placed third in the Figure Short class, out of a total of 12 competitors. Jason Duhaime was pleased with his fifth place finish in the Heavyweight men's competition. "I feel I had a very good score at 35 [points] and am quite proud of the accomplishment. I had some competition in that divisionthat were amazingly huge, not too often do I feel like the smallest guy at 214 pounds."
Jason said his highlight of competing was "watching my transformation from the start of dieting/training until the end. It was amazing to see my body change from one week to the next." To compete at that level takes "unwavering determination, dedication and sweat. Hours of cardio, weight training, stretching and a diet meant to cut excess fat and build muscle mass."
"The road leading up to the competition" was the highlight for Adam. "Training hard every time I was in the gym, getting compliments from people all the time, and watching my body change constantly always kept me busy and brought a great feeling of energy into my life."
Erica was "extremely excited to place in the top three. That was the highlight for sure. When I first decided to compete, my goal was just to do it and I didn't really care about placing. But as the months went by and I invested so much time and energy into it, I hoped that I would do well. The whole experience was amazing. You're basically at the competition all day and it is such a positive, high-energy atmosphere, I never wanted the day to end!"
Time required to prepare one's body for this type of competition varies dependent on a number of factors. Jason said that he began contest preparation in mid-January. "It is unbelievable that in 3.5 months of dedication, a person can be in such great physical shape." Erica trained for the competition for a total of 20 weeks. "I trained six days per week and did cardio seven days per week. In the beginning, I was spending about two hours a day at the gym, but for the last two to three months, it was more like three hours a day, which adds up to around 20 hours a week!
Adam stated that "the time it takes to prepare for a competition varies from person to person depending on how their physique looks. For me I started exactly one year away from competition...because I didn't have enough muscle mass. From April to January, I was on a muscle gaining diet where I gained as much lean muscle mass as I possibly could. From January to April, I followed my pre-contest phase, where I maintained all my muscle mass but cut all the fat off of my body. So depending on how your physique looks and what your goals are, will depend on how much time it takes for you to prepare for a competition."
Not only does the competition require a lot of physical training, a large amount of time goes into nutrition and the preparation of food. Erica said "I ate six meals a day, so you go through a lot of food.Iwould alwayscook/prepped in big quantities so that it lasted a few days. My days started at 5:20 a.m. with 1.5 hours at the gym, then I'd go to work for eight hours, then back to the gym for 1.5 hours. [I would then go] home to do more cooking, tackle the mountain of dishes and pack for the next day."
Competing in events such as this take a lot of determination and focus. Erica says "It takes a lot ofdedication and commitment. It's not always easy or convenient to stay on track. For example if you have to go away for a day or weekend, you have to figure out how to get your workouts in, and you have to pack all your food. There were lots of days when I'd eat in the car and then go sit in a restaurant with my husband so he could eat. It's easy to think that missing one workout or substituting one meal won't make a difference, but you can't think like that. Every choice counts."
Erica said that the key to her success was doing what she was told by the people that knew what was required to compete in a competition like this. "I did everything my trainers told me to do, without questions! I made every single training session and cardio session and stayed 100% true to my diet."
With their first competition under their belts, the competitors have a number of suggestions for those that may be interested in getting involved in training and competing. Adam suggested that the first thing to do is "to get a trainer. My trainer and nutritionist are Colin and Leigh Keess. Without Colin and Leigh I wouldn't have known what food to eat or how to build solid lean muscle massSecondly, I would strongly recommend that you sit down and write down one long term goal that you would like to achieve out of competing and one short term. This will give you a guideline and lead you to where you want to go. Without goals you are aiming nowhere and have nothing to achieve. Lastly, I just want everyone who is interested in competing to know that you can do it! If you believe in yourself 100% there is no doubt in my mind that you can do anything you want. Stay focused on your goals that you set out for yourself and stay disciplined, dedicated, and committed to achieving your goals and it will be impossible for you to fail!"
Jason reiterated this. "Ensure you have support at home, find a trainer and get to the gym. This has been an amazing experience and would like for everyone to share in the same. Setting this goal has put me in the best shape of my life and gave me the physique I've always wanted. I have been gymin' for a lotyears, but setting this goal was a driving force in going to the extreme in health and fitness."
The time required to compete and train for these events has a real impact on your life. Erica said "I would just tell people to take time to think about it seriously. It affects every part of your life - family, friends, finances, work - so it has to be something you really want. If you decide that you're ready to make that kind of commitment it is an amazing experience, definitely one of the highlights of my life."
"It takes a lot of commitment, determination, discipline, and dedication, Adam said. "You can't just wake up one morning and say, "Okay, I'm ready to prepare for a competition. It takes a lot more preparation than that. You have to tell yourself that you are going to be committed to achieving your goal and dedicate each day to prepare for this competition. You have to be disciplined enough to follow a structured diet and workout plan for a long period of time. If you follow these steps the determination will come. Once you start seeing positive changes in your body you will become more and more determined to see more results."
Although Jason has thoroughly enjoyed his experience, he recognizes that this type of competition is not for everyone. What he does hope for is for everyone to find a way to live a healthy lifestyle. "The gym is not for everyone andcan be a very intimidating place for people who have never been here. I would just ask that everyone find a way to stay healthy and fit whether it be in a gym or any other kind of physical activity. Our community has so much to offer you and your family to stay active. Find a way to sweat for 30 minutes everyday."
The three competitors are quick to acknowledge that their success would not have been possible without the help of a number of people. Adam stated that the key to his success was his support system. "I think my key to success for this competition would have to be my mom. Without her I wouldn't have been able to compete. She worked hard for me every single day leading up to the competition, preparing my meals and cooking all the food I needed. She also made sure that all the groceries that I needed were always in the house and when I ran out she made sure that it wasn't for long and would run up town to go get whatever I needed. She was so awesome and I'm sure she is glad that the competition is all over!" On top of that, he recognized the help and support from the owners of the gym where he trained. "I want to give a big thanks to two of the most grateful and generous people in the world, Jason and Tara Duhaime! Thank you so much for your support and thanks for sponsoring me for preparing for the competition. I could not have done it without you guys. Jason and Tara, you are awesome! I also want to thank my dad, because if it wasn't for him I would have never got into the sport of bodybuilding. He was the main reason why I started this. Thanks a lot!"
Jason sent a big thank you out to "Tara, Hannah & Halen!! Without my family supporting me through this, I wouldn't have been able to focus on the hours of gym time it took. Also the extreme support of my trainers Chad & Ceanna Kerr was amazing. They continued to push me in every way possible, every step of the way."
"I was lucky to have a lot of people to cheer me on during my contest prep," said Erica. "I'd like to thank my husband Scott. He was my biggest supporter throughout this journey and I couldn't have done it without him! Whether it was picking up special groceries in the city, helping with the endless dishes, getting up at 5 a.m. to take pictures for me, orpushing me out the door to the gym on the days I didn't think I had it in me, he always had my back. Next, I have to thank my trainers Lyris & Ryan Cappelle. They are experts at preparingathletes for competition and I always felt like I was in good hands. I want to thank Tara & Jason Duhaime at Built for Life for their support. I appreciate you both and am grateful to have such a great gym to train in. Finally I want to thank all my family members, friends, gym buddies, my boss, co-workers and everyone else who helped me along the way."