The Road to the Trophy

30 Apr The Road to the Trophy

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WARNING! What you’re about to get yourself into:

  • 2-3 minutes reading time.
  • 2-3 minutes away from the newsfeed.
  • 1500-ish words.
  • A slightly witty but informative article.

Hamstring reattachment surgery, pushing the mid-fifties [1]; no previous weight training experience other than what she did during our few years together; an open mind; largely determined; super positive; a keen attitude; and of course, faith in her coach (ie. the guy writing this) – especially when he was taking her through a weight gain diet that had her put on around 10kg (more on that later).

So, at the weekend, this lady that I am talking about in the first paragraph, got on stage to compete in her first ever figure competition against some incredible talent. Much to our excitement, she managed to take home a first place trophy in one out of three of her events.

But, as strange as it may sound, this “win” isn’t just about the trophy.


She is the one in pink.

The trophy.

It’s kinda stupid to say, but it really and truly is not just about the trophy or the win that she earned. As corny as it is to say, it is most definitely about the entire journey she went through.

The whole journey. The ups and downs, the setbacks, the triumphs, all the dietary changes, the heavy weights, the drop sets, the DOMs, the posing classes, the five hundred spray tans (relax, it wasn’t that much). The grind. All of it, led to her here.


Was it all worth it? Well, getting there (see pic above for reference as to where ‘there’ is) is not related to the physical changes that she achieved, but also the mental and attitude changes, too.

Shut up, Hayden.

Yeah, while I know these types of words and sentences are nothing short of being highly cliché – and I am literally contemplating deleting this section – it is the complete truth.

Without her attitude to go through all of it and complete the whole journey, there’s no chance she could’ve got up on that stage and flaunted it to the hundreds of onlookers at the venue.


To the contrary of a large number of people and their mentality and opinions on achieving something like this, surprisingly, she managed to do this without ever participating in any ‘eat 6-8 meals to speed up your metabolism’ diets; she managed to do this without ever having to worry about the time of day that she ate her first or last meal; she managed to do it without the common understanding of having to starve herself, consuming only chicken, broccoli, and protein shakes in the lead up to the event; she even managed to do it without being overly strict and counting calories every single day.


Really, there’s no doubt about it that…

Anyone can do it.

How did she do it? Simple really.

By following simple energy in and energy out ratios; knowing what she had to load up with and cut down on; being consistent in the gym and not falling victim to the lure of magical, instantaneous fixes with magical exercises and approaches; understanding the process of proper progression (especially following her hamstring reattachment surgery); not trying to speed everything up; and, fitting her training, her diet, and her goals with her own personal preferences, family, and lifestyle.

It might sound like a lot, but I say this because I believe that yes, anyone can do what she did. That is, anyone that doesn’t put up boundaries without ever even attempting something.

And, without wanting to sound like I’m beating a dead horse [2], if someone knows what they want, understands that there aren’t any shortcuts, and are ready to work until they reach it without falling back on unnecessary and negative outlooks upon their life, then that someone can get anything they want.

Literally [3].

Her win – and again, I don’t mean just the trophy – shows what kind of person she is. It goes to show that no matter who you are, no matter what kind of experience or background you have, anyone can achieve something that they put their mind to.

For that, Jen [4], you should be super proud of yourself.


Pushing the scales.

In regards to the weight gain that I mentioned at the beginning of this already rather long article, throughout the journey, Jen increased – necessarily – in mass by an entire 10kg before dropping – again, necessarily – it, plus more, all again.

Why the necessary increase, you ask? Well, after going years and years (and years) with an extremely low caloric intake – unknowingly, of course – and constantly living in and around the infamous ‘plateau period’ that was keeping her from dropping any further to reveal those highly sought-out abs, we had to make her sad, hungry hormones and body – at a physiological level – happy again.

The starvation method epidemic.

A lot of people don’t think too much about this, and with the amount of people I speak to practically on a daily basis about this very thing, I figured this is as good time than any to write about it.

But listen, for your body to do what you’re trying to make it do – whether that be drop or even gain weight/mass – you have to make sure that it is happy and able to do the intended feat.

If you have yo-yo dieted, starved yourself, or constantly gorged for any number of months or years, then obviously the first step is to rectify this fiasco.

I mean really, there is no point trying to constantly cut calories to drop that weight – along with killing yourself in the gym – if you haven’t first yet dealt with your inner workings. Unless you’re okay with withering away and losing all your hard-earned lean body mass, of course [5].

With Jen being a guilty yo-yo dieter, and her weight and physique not budging when we first began attempting to drop weight, we first had to take her through what is known as a ‘refeed period’ where we loaded her up through incremental stages of slight increases in her energy intake, right until around the 1800-2000 calorie mark [6].

Literally doubling her consumption. And it goes without saying that when you increase someone’s energy in consumption, whilst also keeping their energy out the same, weight gain is always inevitable.


To the counting calorie haters.

Methods for weight loss (or gain) that involve counting calories always seem to have a bad reputation. But, who has ever said that counting calories needs to be an everyday thing for the rest of one’s life anyway?

Look, if you’re attempting weight loss and refuse to see where your energy in and energy out ratio sits, then how long will “just eating healthy” work? Actually, how has it worked for you? Of course a lot of the time it can work, but is that approach sustainable long-term? Will your body get over it and start to put up defense mechanisms when you keep the same energy intake at such a low point? (Yes.)

If you’ve eaten like a one-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people eater for any length of time and have the added weight to show for it, of course “eating healthy” is going to work for you for a certain period of time.

I mean, after consuming all those humans and then all of a sudden sticking to vegetables and grilled chicken for six to eight weeks, then of course you’re going to see rapid weight loss!

Because you cut calories!

But, before you freak out, I am in no way advocating that counting calories is necessary for weight loss (or gain), and I am most certainly not advocating the necessity of counting calories for the rest of your life, but surely it can’t hurt to see where you’re energy ratio sits if you’re struggling with decreasing (or increasing) your weight, right?

Following this, you can then simply adjust to meet your own personal required amounts along the way, and only have to check back in here and there with an appointed two to four days to readjust – sometimes even less.

This very approach is what I used with Jen. And hey, I think it worked rather well.

What’s stopping you?

Now, of course this wouldn’t be a true article if I didn’t leave you with something to think about when hitting that share button (and/or like button) after finishing it.

So, while certainly not everyone has desires to get up on stage and pose in front of a large crowd, everyone surely has to have something to work towards, right? [7]

I mean, how long until you stop believing that achieving things, like Jen did, is only for a select few in the world? Despite what you may have heard, Jen really is just a normal human being with unlimited possibilities and chances.

Just like you.


I’m the one on the right.


[1] Sorry Jen – had to say it!

[2] I’ve always found this expression weird to say.

[3] Except for a teleporter, a pet dinosaur, and a spaceship. And probably a few other things, too.

[4] Ha! Hopefully you read this!

[5] I talk about this more in depth in Episode Five and even Episode Seven (of The Real Talk Podcast) where I go into detail of what can happen when you starve your body too long.

[6] After working out her regular diet that she was on for many years, we saw that she was pushing close to 800 – 1000. That is, completely wayyy off from what her body needs (and wants) to be happy and functioning optimally.

[7] Conflicting article on this very point coming in the next few weeks!



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Hayden Perno
Hayden Perno