It’s been a couple weeks now since the Arnolds and I have had some food, some fun and it’s about time now to get back to the real world. I dieted for about 18 weeks altogether from the start of my FLEX Pro prep to the end of the Arnold and it was really nice to get back to normal life for a bit.
Most people think it’s the food we all miss and yes that’s part of it, I mean who doesn’t like a good Blizzard or nice slice of pizza but that wasn’t all of it. The things I missed the most was just hanging out with my girlfriend, my friends and my family. It was nice after the ASC to just go out for dinner with my girl and not worry about ordering properly or it was cool to just go hang out with my boys, BBQ and see my friend’s new baby (that I hadn’t seen in a month or so).
My girl’s B-day just passed and luckily I wasn’t dieting so I took her to Buffalo where we did some shopping and hit the Cheesecake Factory! I breakdown the day for you: Shopping, shopping, shopping, Mile High Chocolate Cake….and that’s about it...lol. It was a fun day for sure and those are the things you miss most when you’re dieting for a show.
Okay, so let’s get into some of the meat and potatoes. 2011 isn’t over, it’s just begun and the first part of the contest season is in the bag. It was bitter sweet for me since I did exactly what I wanted to do at the FLEX but then my body just couldn’t pull it together for the bigger more important ASC. I’ve dealt with it and now its time to put it all behind me and move on to the next goal.
People have been asking me what my competition plans are and to be honest I’m really unsure; it may depend slightly on sponsorship. I currently am looking for a supplement contract and that could mean competing in a couple more small shows, competing only at the ‘O’ or even taking another year off to get over that hump from the 2nd tier to the 1st tier. Since waiting to figure it all out is not an option, I am training right now as if the ‘O’ is the show I am getting ready for. You know what that means…MORE SIZE!
I have it targeted, not just more size anywhere. Hany and I have decided a little more in the legs, but mainly arms and shoulders to match my chest and back. I think another inch on my arms and legs would really make me even more complete and help me break into the upper echelon of the IFBB.
So how are we doing it you ask? Well I’ve devised some new plans for this off-season. First I’ve decided cardio will be part of my regimen all year, something I have never done before. Secondly, I have decided that seven meals a day really made my body look different so I will be doing seven instead of six meals all year. I guess that ties into the first part since without the cardio I don’t think I would have the appetite. Lastly I have changed my split to emphasize my weak points (arms, hams) even more than in the past to really bring out that change. Along with this I have added a new training technique that so far has felt pretty good, resistance bands.
Powerlifters use chains and power bands to get stronger in their lifts employing constant and increased tension to their lifts. I think that the strength will actually be secondary benefit while the constant tension is more of what I am looking for. It’s not something you can use on all exercises but so far I have used it on the leg press and military press and really felt a difference through the range of motion. Keep an eye on FLEXONLINE.COM - I will be posting some videos of some of the exercise I do with the bands.
Lots in the works for 2011 and I’m excited to see how it all pans out in the next few months. I’m excited at the idea that by the end of this year my physique could be at the next level and I could be a top ten Olympian…who knows maybe even top six if things go according to plan…
Sacrifice Without Regret,
Fouad ‘Hoss’ Abiad
Well the ASC is over and I have been getting tons of emails and people asking me what happened and why I didn’t bring it the way I did at the FLEX. It’s a pretty simple answer: My body just wouldn’t respond. After the FLEX I had a couple days of shoots and then flew home to get back to work. On the Tuesday I decided not to train legs because I had been flying the day before and felt I was still a little dehydrated from the shoots and show, I trained arms Tuesday and saved legs for Wednesday.
When Wednesday came around I was feeling pretty good so I thought time to smash legs! We got in there and I had nagging pain in my hip from a week before the FLEX that was still kind of there but not too serious. I ignored it and kept blasting through sets, we did four sets of Lying Leg Curls, Leg Extensions, Leg Press and then Squats. I was feeling great and the pump in my legs was incredible. The pain in my hip was minimal and I was feeding off the motivation from the FLEX show while squatting. On the last set of squats, on the last rep I got down in the hole and on the way up I felt something pop in my left TFL (small muscle just above your outer sweep). My spotter grabbed me and we pushed to the top together but on the way up it popped again. I knew it was bad but I also knew I had the ASC in a week and a half. I couldn’t do anymore quad but I burnt through about eight more sets for hamstrings and then got home. After icing and seeing Alvin Brown (my therapist) the diagnosis was a strained TFL. It was a little bruised and discolored but not bad.
My main concern was cardio; I only do the stepmill so I wasn’t sure how that was going to feel. The next day came and I did my cardio, kind of limping through it but I got 50min in and felt good. I couldn’t train legs again before the ASC but I did do all my cardio. Anything heavy was too much of a strain on it but I was hoping the volume would be there come show time….it wasn’t fully but I think it held up ok. Not really what I was hoping for at the biggest show of my life.
Anyway, when I got to Columbus things kind of snowballed from there. I couldn’t really get myself filled out at all. Hany and I worked on many different things from Wednesday to Saturday trying to get my body to fill out but nothing would work. I would eat a meal and my weight would go up a couple pounds, I would look kind of full and then an hour or two later the weight would just drop again. I ate upwards of 700-800g of carbs on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and my body just wouldn’t absorb any of the carbs. I just chalked it up to my body being tired from the long diet and double shows even though I have done them before.
To top it all off I did my food shopping in Columbus on Thursday morning after running out of the food I brought from home. This was always the plan, bring some food and then when you run out buy the rest and eat it fresh leading into the show. I bought my Tenderloin at a farmers market near by, it was very fresh and tasted great. The chicken I bought from a Kroger grocery store with some other things I needed. When I got back to the hotel I cooked a bunch of food and packed it up. I headed out to the athletes meeting and fan meet and greet with my chicken and potato. I ate the chicken and sweet potato and it tasted a little funny (not bad just different). The next morning I had the chicken again with regular potato and then I realized what the different taste was. The chicken was salty! It was pumped full of shit and sodium and I had no clue. I thought fresh chicken was fresh chicken but apparently that’s not the case! Some of the ‘fresh’ chicken at Kroger is pumped full of sodium and preservatives and when your on a carb load where every last bit of sodium, sugar, water, anything is measured, this can really throw a wrench into things!
About midday on Friday Hany took a look at me and I was watered over; I all of a sudden looked smooth. The sodium from the chicken really messed things up and the look I had was gone and never really came back. Before the chicken I ate I had a grainy look to my skin and even though we were having problems filling out at least I was grainy and shredded. Now after basically sodium loading with that chicken we were now flat and smooth because of the water retention.
It really was just one thing after another throughout the entire time from the FLEX to the ASC and it was no ones fault. Hany did everything he could do and I didn’t mess with anything or cheat on my diet, it was just a few hiccups that couldn’t be remedied in time. From the injury to the chicken it was a roller coaster ride.
I don’t like to make excuses for anything that’s why I didn’t say anything before the show. Now that the show is over and I have had a whole bunch of people ask me what went wrong I felt it was a good time and good place to get it all out so people knew that I wasn’t at my best and its not because I’m lazy. I have attached a shot for you all to see what I looked like before we started carb loading. I was flat but things were where they needed to be. Just goes to show how perfect things have to be for it to all come together.
Sorry to all my fans for the let down, I know we were riding high after the FLEX and it was a far drop from there but I promise you all we will get there again! Its all part of the journey and the next Fouad you all see on stage will be bigger and badder than the one you saw at the FLEX - you can bank on that!
Sacrifice Without Regret,
Fouad ‘Hoss’ Abiad
I’m six days out from the Arnold Classic and I have been trying to put in perspective what just happened at the FLEX Pro, while still focusing on my daily activities to get ready for the biggest show of my life.
My plain landed at 2am on Monday night (or Tuesday morning to be technical) in Detroit. My girlfriend and I hopped in my Jeep and headed home to Windsor, I think that 30min drive is where the past weekends events really set in. I said to myself, “I just beat a top five Olympian,” I was saying it to myself like I wasn’t sure if it was all a dream or not.
I really busted ass this year trying to make adjustments and in that drive home I was able to replay all the gut wrenching leg workouts and the back workouts that left me crippled. I remembered days doing back and hamstrings together and thinking I am absolutely nuts this has to be overtraining but I kept going anyway. I would be in the gym for and hour and half and I hate to admit it sometimes two hours! I know that’s a big no-no, but I have two training partners and sometimes I don’t know when to stop, so time just passes. I remembered times when I didn’t feel like eating, but found a way to make the food taste good enough to get it down. I remembered all the money and five hour drives I made going to see my physiotherapist. Don’t get me wrong, there was good memories like sushi buffets that lasted two hours and made me sick…I don’t know is that a good memory?..lol
The point is, all of these things came rushing back to me in just that half an hour drive from the airport to home. I couldn’t help but feel an overall sense of accomplishment and feeling like I could do more.
My mind is focused on the Arnold now; I am focused on bringing in a little tighter package and maybe a little more full than at the FLEX. I started training right away on Tuesday this past week: Cardio and everything as if I never even stopped. Doing two shows in a row isn’t easy, but I’ve become used to it so I know how to get myself back in the zone and ready to go again.
As I type this, my rebound from the FLEX is gone and I am sitting at 248lbs which is exactly where I need to be before carb loading, so I am a little early which is good. I have Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to sharpen it up a little more. Then its time to pack up the Jeep and head to Columbus, its about a three and a half hour drive and I’d rather go road trip than plane any day!
I am getting really excited about the show, but I’m trying to keep myself calm. I have been going to this show since I started bodybuilding ten years ago and to finally step on that stage is going to be surreal. Who knew a little 190lb beach body kid from Windsor, Ontario would eventually go on to turn pro and step on the Arnold Classic stage? I remember saying to a friend of mine one year at the show, “One day I’m going to compete on that stage.” He looked at me like I was crazy, but sometimes it takes a little crazy to achieve a dream.
Sacrifice Without Regret,
Fouad ‘Hoss’ Abiad
I’m actually on the plane home from LA as I write this and I have this overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. Its not just because I qualified for the O at my first showing this year. Something else happened this time around; I have been doing a lot of mental work and mental preparation for this show and for life in general. I didn’t want to admit this to anyone at the time but a couple weeks out from this show I felt like I didn’t want to do this anymore, I don’t know if it was the starvation talking or if it was really a feeling of fear and nervousness about the outcome.
Regardless, I broke through my roadblock and it only took me a couple days and I was back on top mentally. It was weird, as I got closer to the show instead of becoming more nervous, anxious or stressed out, I actually became more and more calm as the big day approached. My girlfriend, trainer, brothers all noticed this change in me, they all kept saying, “you’re so calm!”
I decided about a week out from the show I would live in the “now.” No thinking ahead and no reliving the past. I decided that I was going to do everything I had to do for the day I was living the best I could and when the time came to get on stage I would be ready since everything leading up to it was 100% focused.
A weird thing happened when the day finally came though….there was still no nervous, anxious feeling. All I could feel was power. I know it sounds strange but its true, I woke up the day of the show calm and had this feeling overcoming my body that just said “you have done everything you have to do and are ready to take the placing you deserve.” As I got backstage it only got stronger, I felt more and more powerful in my body and mind as I started to pump up. Mentally I was on top of the world and nothing could break me.
I walked by guys pumping up and normally I would be the one looking around and feeling anxious but not on this day, I walked tall with authority and felt like I knew my place in the order and was ready to do battle. When they called my number I didn’t get shaky like normal, I popped up from my chair to get oiled and get in line. As I walked to the line I could feel my energy getting stronger and stronger, as I got closer to line up I became more powerful than I’ve ever felt in my life.
They called my name for the 60 second individual and before I walked out I pointed up at my father because I know he’s watching over me and said, “I know you’re with me.” When I walked I didn’t just waddle out like normal in fear, on this day I strutted out to the center of the stage trying to actually put a hole in the ground with each step I walked. When I finally got to center stage I turned to face the judges and the crowd and it was like there was a field of energy emitting from my body and everyone could see it!
You guys know how the rest of the story goes, Evan won, Dex to second and I landed in third. Although the placing wasn’t a win, that feeling of complete control over my mind and how things were going to play out was a victory for me. The mind can be destructive or it can make you more powerful than you could ever imagine.. Which person are you, do you run and hide from your fears or do you look them straight in the face and own them?
Sacrifice Without Regret,
Fouad ‘Hoss’ Abiad
Its 6:30am and this morning my flight is leaving for LA. Its been a long 16 weeks and Hany and I have worked very hard on this one, I have to give him credit where its due: I have never seen a trainer work as hard as he does. The guy calls me twice, sometimes three times a day to make sure I'm doing everything right and to check on weight, pictures and make changes. I have never sent so many pics in my life...lol. The journey is the fun part though; a lot of people get caught up in trying to reach the end and just wanting to see the next goal come to fruition without actually stopping to see what they are doing day to day.
I’ve been cooking 3lbs a fish a day, eating up to 9 meals a day some days, and had plenty of the nights like tonight where there is so much excitement and pent up energy (and starvation) I can't sleep. Everyone always asks me, "are you excited about the show?" I think to myself, I'm excited about my next meal, my next training session. I'm excited to pack all my stuff and fly to LA for work....that’s my job! The journey is the satisfying part, getting into the gym every morning at 8-9am and burning through cardio and destroying abs, the feeling isn't comparable to anything else.
At the end of it all comes the bonus; I get to stand proudly with the best in the world and display and compete to show what I’ve done with youry time off, like an artist who just kept painting the same painting over and over again until it was finally perfect. I know many of you know how I feel, but not all of you realize that the journey in painting that masterpiece is the most enjoyable part and the part. You should stop to realize what you are doing while you’re doing it.
You know I spoke to Hany last night and we start carb loading today, so we were going over some of the game plan. The one thing he said to me was we both killed ourselves getting ready for this prep and now it’s time to go out there and have some fun. I am about to prepare my food for the day of travel ahead of me and couldn't agree with him more. Usually there is a sense of stress that has filled my body and mind as I get closer to something like this and I'm not going to sit here and lie; there have been some anxious moments but never like before.
Today and for the next three days I will be calm and cool knowing that I did everything in my power to bring the best package I could to the stage on Feb.19th. I have never worked this hard and I am excited instead of scared to see the finished product. I drove countless hours back and forth to see my therapist Alvin Brown and to see my other therapist Dave Cowie. I have put my girlfriend through hell and my training partners have been there every step of the way to see me through this. I am ready, there is nothing more to do except enjoy life and watch it unfold. The one thing I always tell my girlfriend and this goes with her work usually the same as mine, "there is no way a person can work this hard and the universe can ignore them, at some point in your life the universe will reward you for all the giving you are doing. It’s just a matter of time; do you have the patience to keep pushing until that reward comes?”
Sacrifice Without Regret,
Fouad 'Hoss' Abiad
Well it happened. Last night at about 3:30am I was eating a large fries with ketchup all over them from McDonald's and damn they were delicious. No, Hany didn't tell me to and I know the show is only a week and a half away but I just couldn't resist....then I woke up in a panic!!!!! I thought "OMG I just F**kin ruined my whole prep! What was I thinking!!" That’s right, I said I woke up, I can't believe it, I am dreaming of food to the point that I thought I was cheating and it was all just a dream.
I remember back in 2003 getting ready for my first nationals and having to diet for 22 weeks because I was on the “see-food” diet all year. I lost 80lbs that year and went on stage at 206lbs, luckily I was shredded and qualified for the following year but that 22 weeks really took its toll on me mentally. I remember feeling exactly the way I do now, I was dreaming of food. I'm at the point in this prep where everything taste great just because I'm so hungry, I hate fish but right now I look forward to it just so I can eat!! I have rerouted my trips to the gym to try to avoid as many fast food places as possible, I change the channel or turn my head and do something else when food commercials are on t.v. and today I made a friend of mine change the channel on the cardio theatre because someone left it on the FOOD NETWORK!
Ok, I think you all got the picture, I'm hungry…lol. Anyway, other than that I realize it doesn't matter if I'm hungry or not, there is only one task at hand here and that is showing up at the FLEX at my best ever. Once I have done that I can be satisfied with myself knowing I gave it my all and never wavered from the plan in any way. I have been working with Alvin Brown (look him up on FB) in the physiotherapy area of my prep as well as the mental focus of my prep. See, Alvin has a Psychology Degree as well as being an Osteopath so I can work body and mind. I know you laugh and say oh he's seeing a shrink but sports psychology is no joke, just ask my girlfriend. This prep I have been able to think clearer about the show and not let any other crap enter my mind, not letting myself get stressed out or taken off course.
The reason I brought Alvin up is we had a good talk the other day about competing and how when things get tough you have to push through to be true to yourself. One thing I didn't realize was this show and this struggle is not just about the FLEX, but it’s about my life in general. We all have struggles in our lives and these are things we need to conquer if we're ever going to be successful in our lifetime. It really hit me as we were talking and I figured out that if I don't come in at my best or at least give it my best, I am not only letting myself down for this show but I am going to take the easy way out from here on in when it comes to anything. People either fight or flight when it comes to struggle, more often than not its flight. That’s why so many of us have meaningless jobs that we just plug away at because somewhere along the line we gave up on something somewhere. Giving up is not an option for m;, cheating, not training my hardest, not doing extras, these are all forms of giving up and I can't do it. I don't want to think the next time in my life something tough comes along that I can just half ass it. I want to know that I can dig deep, take it head on and as Alvin says "Go through the fire!"
It all comes down to this: I am almost a week out from the show. I'm starving, moody, isolated but continue to push through barriers. When my body says "oh just rest you look great your already in shape," my mind says "get off your ass and get in better shape!" See, one of the other things I realized in talking through this was this show isn't just about me. I have a support system that I talked about in a previous blog and they are all counting on me. Even bigger than that are the people I don't know. That’s right, the people I don't know, the people that send me numerous emails in support or the ones that are always on FB giving their time; they are all counting on me to do my best. Being from Canada, I know a lot of bodybuilders feel like it’s impossible to break into the IFBB and do well and I think I have shown a new crop of bodybuilders that it can be done. I hear more and more young guys in the gym talking about being pros one day because they know if I did it they can do it too! This show is not just about me. I need to come in at my best and I owe all the people who are my supporters and young guys looking up to me to bring my best package.
Thank you all for being there for me, without you who read my blogs, watch my videos, send your emails and even post little things on the boards here and there, this wouldn't be as satisfying as it is. I want to bring you all along for the ride and that’s why I write my blogs and that’s why I like to stay in touch. We are all going to the top one step at a time....ABIAD's ARMY is coming!
Sacrifice Without Regret,
Fouad 'Hoss' Abiad
18 days. It seems so far but in actuality its right around the corner and nervous energy has set in. Unlike other years, it’s not a stressed out feeling it’s more of a, “get me to that stage aleady,” kind of feeling. A little more craziness has set in as well. Every year before each show as it gets closer and my cravings get worse I usually make a list of foods or restaurants to eat at after the show. The goal is to finish the list within one month of the shows and somehow it never gets done. I told my girl yesterday though I promise this year I am going to eat all the food on the list; I feel like it’s something I have to accomplish because I never have before..lol. Anyway enough of that, I could talk about food all day at this point so I don't wanna ramble.
Things with the prep are going good: Hany has just decided we're going to go up another level from where I am. I'm pretty sure I've never been here before while holding this much muscle. Some of you that have seen my pics in the past have seen me shredded and in good condition but I was much smaller, the goal this year is going to be to bring in a higher level of conditioning while keeping all the hard earned muscle I put on over the long time I had off.
Strength is up and down; some days I'm benching 405lbs and some days its 315lbs but I don't let that get to me at all because I know things like that happen as you get more depleted. The one thing I do try and do is always push as hard as I can. I always try and make sure I'm lifting as heavy as I can because I know my body and as soon as I start doing too many supersets or lifting too light my body gets stringy. Yesterday I trained legs and things felt really good, strong, endurance was good and separation is really coming in. Legs have always been a point for me to really improve on and I did have some quad injuries this year so the fact that I am squatting and staying full and round in the lower body means things are all positive going into the FLEX.
All in all this prep has been very good for me, the people in my life have noticed a change in me and I think it comes from experience. I think after years of training and competing I am finally starting to feel like a real professional in every sense of the word, not just in the physical sense. It’s important to me to go the extra mile and take care of fans needs and always give back. It’s important to be appreciative for the people in your life that are always there for you. Every last little detail of this prep has been thought of and nothing has been left to chance. Tanning, icing, physio, mental visualization, eating, sleeping, training, food prep, posing and all the extras like ab work, stretching are all being done for the first time in my career. I think I got by on whatever genetics I had and they got me to where I am today and I always thought I was working hard until I realized there is SO MUCH MORE that can be done. It’s not just doing but doing with 100% focus and intensity. In 18 days we're going to find out if putting all these pieces to the puzzle together will create the picture in my mind I have had for the last 14 months.
Sacrifice Without Regret,
Fouad 'Hoss' Abiad