Well I guess I'm finally dieting. I know that sounds stupid considering I actually started dieting almost eleven weeks ago, but for the first time it really feels like I'm dieting. I had a few flashes of it in the first eleven weeks, but for the most part it’s been pretty easy and I haven't really struggled at all. Staying lean this year in the offseason has allowed me to coast into this show…until now. It was weird; it’s like one day I was fine, workouts were fine, mood was fine, everything just seemed easy, then all of a sudden…diet mode! I don't cheat on my diet and I never miss workouts, therapy or cardio so what does this all mean?

It’s the little mental and physical differences that someone who has never competed before wouldn't really understand. Anyone of you who has done a show, level 1 or pro, when you diet hard the same feelings applies. A couple days ago I was doing chest and all of a sudden I just didn't have the same power I had the day before.

The day before I had trained legs and had the same amount of strength I always have. In that instant I lost a whole plate off my bench; it’s almost like the strength was still there but only for a few reps. I know it’s because my body is really getting low in body fat and glycogen (so it’s explainable), but it still wreaks havoc on my mental game. It’s really a test in mental toughness to see your lifts drop week after week and keep a positive outlook on the task at hand. The only thing I have going for me is I have been doing this so long I have learned to cope by using other intensity techniques to make sure the muscle is really being taxed while I'm at the gym.

 Along with the strength loss I have noticed a few other things. It’s almost like when I get this close to a show and I'm actually in the dieting mode I turn inward for the last few weeks. I just like chillin at home, watching movies, reading, even writing this blog…lol. Some people are different, when they get into crazy diet mode they get out and do more things to keep themselves occupied, I'd rather be relaxing alone. My mood is definitely changed as well, when I get to the gym lately I am more focused and not as likely to joke and laugh with my training partners.

Luckily for me they have competed and also understand me, so I get a pass for being an ass or not having a sense of humor. Last but not least, cravings have finally set in. Most bodybuilders like to portray this perfect image of a person who is on top of it all, never has cravings, is powerful all the way through and dieting is a breeze. Well, I'm not here to blow smoke up your ass….I want some pizza. Actually I like my McD's so that sounds pretty good right now, but then again I could also go for a Blizzard…wait a minute I think I'm off track…lol. The point I'm trying to make is even though I'm eating about 5000 calories a day, it’s all completely clean and since I am totally strict on my diet the sweet tooth and grease cravings are kicking in.

At the end of the day that’s all it is though – just a craving. I would never jeopardize my conditioning but it’s fun to think about. I just want to talk about one more thing before I go. One of the biggest clichés for bodybuilders when going into a show is this: “I am only competing against myself, I don't care who shows up, I just want to be my best." I can tell you that in my past and I'm pretty sure in a lot of other bodybuilder's pasts, this thought is bullshit. In my past I always tried to find out who was competing, what they looked like, what they weighed…it almost consumed me.

When I did the Houston Pro in 2008 I knew the top ten guys who were competing and I thought about them daily when I was dieting and how I could beat them. A couple years ago when I did the Tampa Bay Pro I knew Dennis James was doing it and I thought about how I could beat him every time I trained. This past year that I have had off I have done a lot of mental study and learning about the psychology of sports and competition. It has been a long year and along with trying to balance out my body I have been trying to balance out my mental approach to bodybuilding. One of the things that I have learned is that the old cliché I mentioned above is true. It took me eleven years of competing to believe it or understand it but finally I do.

People tell me all the time, "Aren’t you worried that Dexter's doing the show?" I tell people I don't care who does the show and for the first time in my life I really mean it. I wouldn't care if anyone in the IFBB was competing and that’s not because I think I am the best and I can beat them all; it’s because I realized that being your best will eventually get you to the top. If you are successful at something and you are consistently trying to beat your last performance, eventually you are going to reach YOUR best. Most likely reaching your actual best will coincide with reaching the pinnacle of anything you are doing in our life. I think I am much better than the last time I hit the stage and I am on track to be in much better condition.

If those two things are true than what more could I ask for? After I prepare in every way I know how, there is nothing more for me to do but enjoy the ride. In this sport you bring your best and let the judges sort'em out. Sacrifice Without Regret, Fouad 'Hoss' Abiad www.fouadhossabiad.com