In February 2015, I decided that I wanted to compete in the Global Powerlifting Alliance World Championship. I had let myself go after winning my last meet in September 2014 and gained about 8 kilos from well, being lazy and eating like a pig through the festive holidays (I am the last person you would hear use ” Lift Big, Eat Big” as an excuse for being fat – I ate like a pig, that’s all there was to it).
I decided that I wanted to compete at a lower weight class. The plan was to drop to the under-90kg weight class. So I started counting my macros and drawing up a program to achieve this.
In May, I met with an accident during a heavy squat session. The bar came off my shoulders when I went up and landed back on it, causing an existing disc injury I had had for 8 years to pop out even further. This triggered an intolerable pain that prevented me from sitting or lying down. I underwent major surgery and my dreams of a GPA competition were smashed. I remember being emotional before the operation and when my mother asked if it was due to the pain, she was pissed when I told her that it was really because I badly wanted to compete and that I now couldn’t with the injury. I had already dropped to 97kg by this time without any loss in strength and had set a new PR on the squat in the gym a few weeks prior.
That same night at the hospital, My good friend and PITbull athlete Feng, visited, and she gave me some hope – there was a bench-only competition at the world championships and I could train for that. “You can be a Bench Beast, buddy,” she said.
There was light at the end of the tunnel, and I looked forward to a speedy recovery so that I could get back into training, pronto.
Dr Kevin Lee of Pinnacle Orthopedic and Dr Chua Soo Yong of the Centre of Orthopedics performed my surgery; I remember not being able to move when I woke up. The physio came in the second day and “forced” me to walk around the ward. The minute I took my first step, I reminded myself, “If you can take one step, you can take a hundred more.”And that’s what I did. A week later…
…I was discharged. I spent the week walking around my housing estate and stayed away from the gym. I took the time to meet friends, got my act together and started planning a program for when I could go back to the gym, which I did exactly seven days after. My stitches were still in and the scar was still tender. But armed with a belt and a dose of “suck-it-up-buttercup”, I came “home” and did my first bench set.
My back got better with time, and after I was admitted in hospital one more time for a stomach ulcer (that’s another story), I was back training every.single.damn.day.
But I faced a different challenge. My weight was stuck. I contemplated getting a nutrition coach online but then thought, “I ALREADY know someone who can help me!” I called Feng, and we sat and chatted about what I was doing wrong with my macros. Once I started applying her suggestions, my weight started moving again.
I learnt so much from this period of time about myself and my nutrition. I was eating more, leaning up and believe it or not, getting stronger. I started prepping my meals ahead of each day – a habit everyone with a fitness goal should try. This helps so that you know exactly how much you are consuming.
Too many people think of eating clean as JUST eating the “right” foods. But you know what? An apple a day may be good for you, but a load of apples is still going to make you fat. Quantity and Quality are both important. And if you are counting your macros and doing it right, you will realise that when you eat quality foods, it will help you hit your macros easier and build that sweet bridge between quality and quantity.
Remember, I started dieting in February and so a ‘slow cut’ is always best. It was only in the last few weeks leading to the competition that I cut my calories again, but still making sure I had enough calories to train and not lose muscle.
The initial goal was to make it below 90kg.
1 week before the meet…
I hit 84kg: hydrated. Might as well gun for the Under-82.5kg weight class…
Now for the water cut. If you are reading this and think, “Hey, water cutting seems like a good way to lose weight quick!”
Water cuts are dangerous if not done right and can mess you up really bad. I learnt how to do this properly from PITMaster Juan, who is a MMA fighter and Sanshou Champion.
After 7 days, I weighed in at 78.9kg
(For the record, this is not a healthy weight for me to be in). The water cut was painless, but anyone who tells you that water cuts are easy is either very, VERY, VERY strong-willed, or a liar.
For rehydration post weigh-in, I drank a cocktail of pedialyte, glycerol and water. It is important to NOT eat immediately after the weigh-in. Food is consumed approximately 2 hours after you replenish your electrolytes. This part is not a difficult process as compared to the dehydration – if you plan ahead.
You just drink a lot of fluids and eat a lot of salty carbs. The salty carbs help with retaining water. To make it simpler to understand: cocktail of electrolytes, and potato chips. Eating too much protein is only going to make you feel bloated and under perform.
I also consumed a calculated portion of Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Chromium Polynicotate and creatine with my meals. I had good handlers – PITbulls Naresh and Kon were there to help ensure I was fed and hydrated. They may not have much experience in powerlifting, but they were the best handlers I could have asked for. Why? Because they gave a damn. They genuinely cared and they wanted to see me do well.
A couple of hours later, I was back to 84kg and ready to beat a world record.
You can watch the video here.
In these few months, I have re-affirmed a few things:
- You need to be relentless. No doubt, you also need to know when to quit. But you should never give in too early, or easily.
- You need to have a plan. You can never just “wing it to win it”. Have a plan of action and always stay the course.
- You need to surround yourself with like-minded people. If you surround yourself with negative people or people who zap your energy, you will get nowhere, guaranteed.
- When you have doubts about your programming, diet, etc, you have to eat humble pie and ask someone with more experience. You can’t know everything, there is always someone out there with more experience and know how. For me, I prefer to ask ONE person and one person only. Because there is more than one way to skin a cat. And too much information and programming ideals will only confuse you and probably work against your existing programming. Stick to your guns, and again, stay the course.
The rest is just putting in the work. That’s what most people find difficult to do – A lot of “wants” and “needs” but not enough grit and tenacity.
If it was easy, everybody would be a champion
Remember, it is all about a process.
If you are committed to a process, and stay committed, who knows where that will take you.
Keep grinding and see you at the PIT.