Desiree Walker’s Road to the Pro Card"
I use the “road to the pro card” line above as a kind of tongue-in-cheek wink at the industry and the catchphrases used to garner attention. But, whatever. Let’s get to it. Part 2 and 3 of this series on “genetics” is going to address two very different, real-world examples of genetics. More importantly these two examples are going to show the importance of proper application. As we will see in the case below, the best genetics in the world often cannot overcome improper, one-size-fits-all, contest-approaches. And we are just using contest-prep here as an example. This is true in any kind of physique-transformation. In other words the question is, “are you optimizing your genetic potential, whatever that may be?”
When Desiree Walker first joined with me it was obvious in my very first assessment that I was dealing with a pretty special individual. Desiree’s structural genetics for Figure were spot on; and her athletic skills were off the charts. And this was just a preliminary assessment. So I had to wonder how the hell she managed to almost ruin all of it in her previous competition. But it was this miserable competition experience that brought her to me. And in the very next contest she did with me; let’s just say her genetic gifts were unleashed, rather than imprisoned. So, what I am going to do here is three-fold. First we’ll just do a comparison to what she did to prepare in the contest before she hired me; then what she did to prepare for the contest after she hired me. We’ll also compare results. Then, I will let Desiree comment in her own words regarding the qualitative difference of the two experiences. Finally I will wrap this up with a summation that is important for everyone to understand. Yet, I’m sure even then, some of you will get it, many of you will not. And we’ll get Desiree to participate in the ongoing comments section afterwards as well. So here goes:
Desiree's Contest Preparation
- Began Diet 15 weeks out, weight 124lbs
-Diet was Low carb to No carb, NO starches
-Cardio began at 1.5 hours, ended at 2.5 hours daily
- Used alot of fat burners
End weight: 103lbs
Result: Last call out
Placing: 10th out of 15
Post contest experience: :
-Got very sick with stomach virus as soon as
started eating normally again
-Began Diet 15 weeks out, weight 124lbs
-Diet contained carbs, inculding starches all the way
- NO Cardio
- Used No fat burners
End weight: 116lbs
Result: First call out
Placing: Won class, won IFBB pro card
Post contest experience:
-Took 2 weeks off training and diet and barely gained any weight
“Scott had me go over old emails and he went over my file folder as well for this part of the Blog. This is what I remember the most between the two very different experiences: Before Scott, I was already paranoid about my weight so I was already “low carb” and then went to pretty much no carb, and no starches in my prep for that first show. I ate nothing but tilapia with either green beans or asparagus for weeks. I have not been able to eat tilapia since then. I have developed a tremendous emotional aversion to it. I did fasted-cardio in the morning and took lots of fat burners, sometimes even at lunch just to keep me awake. I really had no idea what all this was doing to my body. After all, I was following the most successful contest-prep guidance out there, or so I thought. I knew I was very tired. I was used to that part of it. I knew I didn’t feel great as well. I just thought that was how it was supposed to be. Isn’t everyone miserable at contest-prep? Insanely, I thought I was just supposed to be “strong” and “suck it up.” But this prep sapped other energies from me as well.
When I asked my husband what he remembers about my prep before for this show, he just said that I didn’t smile at all, or laugh very much. This prep had not only sapped my strength but my personality as well. I was a Zombie. And if you know me, for me to not smile and laugh, would be like being a fish that doesn’t swim. The other thing that really stood out was that my usual self-confidence was gone. I was second-guessing anything and everything I was doing. And this continued even after the contest. I was so afraid to take days off or even taper my cardio post-contest because of all the horror stories I had heard; and what I had seen of other girls blowing up after their shows. I was so beyond even being burned out. It was like I was just empty.
My mom works as a receptionist at the gym I train at, and people were asking her if I was sick during my contest prep. I’m sure they thought I had cancer or an eating disorder or something. But I appreciated their concern, even though it still didn’t click with me that something must be wrong with this scenario. And then yes, as soon as I started eating “normal” food after the contest I got violently ill. I just knew I could never go through something like that again. That contest-experience was more like a survival mission. And it hit me, that if I was to have to do all this cardio from now on, just to be and stay lean, then my life was never going to be in balance. I wanted to have a life and compete. I didn’t want competition to be my life. I knew there had to be another way, so I contacted Scott.
Then everything changed. I had days off from training. And because I was eating carbs, I had energy to do other things as well. I ate carbs right through to the day of the show, starchy carbs all the way to contest day. I even ate some beef. My diet stayed the same from start to finish. My usual self-confidence was back again. Training was fun and invigorating. I remember reporting to Scott that I was hungry, but strong. I was excited and I felt prepared instead of worn-out. I even went to South Beach at 6 weeks out and danced all night long in the clubs for a few nights. It was a completely different experience. I didn’t feel stressed. I felt empowered. And I didn’t have to think and re-think anything. And then after the show, as Scott instructed, I took two weeks off of diet and training, and I barely gained any weight at all. It was for me a very sweet transition in the post-contest period.”
As I said in the beginning of this Blog my initial assessment of Des is that she was genetically gifted, not only structurally but athletically. So for me this was exciting because of all the options it gave me for training her. Why would I imprison her athletic prowess by sitting her on a bike, or putting her on a treadmill for hours per day? That would be like keeping a hunting dog in a cage all day. I knew I could use her athleticism and “challenge” her into the fat burning she needed for the show. Simple. Not easy, but simple. Next I knew that what she put her body through for that previous contest “should have” resulted in some kind of negative metabolic reaction. But since she didn’t blow up too much after that show, even in spite of what she did to herself, I knew she probably had a very good and resilient metabolism. So, we proceeded with a low calories, but carb-based diet. You see, in the first show, Desiree going from 124 lbs to 103 lbs meant she really lost mostly muscle mass and lean tissue. This is the biological response when you try to starve off fat, rather than burning it off. The body does not recognize the difference between diet and starvation. That is a social distinction.
So, this “suffering” mentality also explained all her psychological symptoms. In our contest approach, over the course of 15 weeks, Desiree lost a total of 4 lbs, burning off fat and fluid retention! No wonder there was no post-contest blow up or rebound.
And there are important lessons to be learned here, especially when considering “genetics” Des has some of the best athletic genetics I have seen, but she almost ruined both her athleticism and her metabolism. Had she done even one or two more shows the “popular” way, she most certainly would have suffered metabolic damage. Instead of imprisoning her athleticism in contest prep, we unleashed it. We solicited it to help us reach our goal. You can see here, in her example, even with advanced genetics, and even by following the common recipe for contest-prep; Des could only do as good as 10th out of 15. This is why I preach so much about individuality in application. It’s not only “what” a client needs, but when as well.
And this is why I say, when it comes to real coaching, “it’s not about the recipe, it’s about the chef!”
But there are the psychological elements to address as well. Even with blessed genetics Des’s mind wasn’t right. This is why in my book, The Coach Whisperer I talk so much about the “triangle of awareness.” Genetics is as much from the neck up, as it is from the neck down and inside. Desiree’s previous contest-approach had a faulty mind-set. It was a fear-based motivation. Therefore, everything behind it, had a fear-based negative attachment to it. Win or lose, the result would not be a positive experience. She started her prep for that first show with a low to no carb approach for “fear” that that is how you get lean and stay lean. The belief itself (which is an industry myth) was fear-based: the fear of getting fat. This led her to treating her body as some elusive “thing” to work “on” instead of some greater part of herself to work “with.”
She was scared before the contest, then scared after the contest. What were the results? All negative: A terrible placing, a terrible out of balance life-experience, and a post-contest violent illness.
If people are asking if you are “sick” as you prepare for a contest, something is definitely wrong!
And as I do with most people who go on and on about how much they love competing, I get them to ask their loved ones, the ones closest to them, what the experience was like for them; what they actually saw and experienced. For Desiree’s husband to say she seldom smiled and never laughed was a very telling detail about the qualitative experience of that first ill-advised contest-prep, not only for her, but for the ones who support her as well.
Shouldn’t this be examined as part of the contest-prep experience?
There is a vast qualitatively different experience between “suffering” and “sacrifice” Suffering is a lower mindset. It tends to lead into playing the martyr. And it definitely leads to a negative experience overall, physically, mentally, and especially emotionally. But sacrifice, that is a higher mindset. Every athlete in every sport knows and accepts sacrifice.
Compare Desiree’s two contest-experiences: What they prove is what I have been saying for years. Genetics or not, “force the body and it reacts, coax the body and it responds” All I did with Des was to coach her to get out of her own way and allow her body to take her exactly where she wanted to go.
So, the question is, competing or not, are you really getting the most out of your genetics, or are you merely following a generic recipe? It takes real expertise to coach the best experience out of someone. And this is what frustrates me most about what this industry has become: Because my mantra has always been, “clients and customers should be heard, not herded!”
By: Scott Abel
This should be a wake up call even to the gentically gifted!