Mezza writes for the Beef mag - The Great British Magazine - Article 3

I did feed on cake but the gym didn't go away. How could it? I am like a cat - I have two homes. My life without the gym would be like life without family and friends.

My 1st time my 1st show, happened almost by accident. Looking back to when I was around 17 years old the gym owner would say “Come on Andy, do a show you won’t have to diet. Just go in as you are.” I would think yeah, right, me stood on stage in a pair of posing trunks in front of hundreds of people. I would think to myself when I look like the men in the muscle mags then I will be ready to compete. I continued to train month in month out year after year but my body wasn't growing like I was hoping and wishing it would, I started to get disillusioned with the sport of bodybuilding I started to get very down and depressed, my life suffered in many ways. I Knew I would never look like I wanted to all the years of hard work in the gym and good food I thought it was all for nothing, I felt like I had nothing to live for. My ambition to one day become a successful Pro Bodybuilder. Every day up until around 20 years old I was on the road for this, well at least I thought. The dream was to become one of the best and live in California, train at Golds gym, live the life I was hoping for, it was all in my imagination of course, as I didn't know what it was like in California I would just imagine and look at the pics in the mags, because I trained so hard when I was going up I created my physique that many thought was not possible with hard training and food, when I would go out with my friends on a saturday night I would get all sorts of silly remarks shouted at me, mainly from woman believe it or not. I would find it strange as I wasn’t big, well to me anyway, but yet they noticed me out of everybody. I am sure many reading this have gone though the same, and I find it strange that a lot of people have the nerve to disrespect us because we have built our bodies. This is a true story: I remember going out with this girl, I had been seeing her around 5 months we got on great and had some wild times, Claire and me went to see her dad at his local pub just down the road from her house, I was nervous for sure I new he was very strict, and I new I kinda stood out to the man on the street any way Claire had lots to drink and was dancing the night away, not knowing that as soon as I said I like to train with weights at the gym, and her dad said are you a Bodybuilder, I thought here we go, but I said yes. Her dad then interrogated me well it felt like it, and to cut a long story short, Claire phoned me the next day crying, and her message from her dad was, if I ever go near his daughter again he will have me lying at the bottom of a river, he wouldn't do it but it would get sorted. I cried my heart out, and never saw Claire again.

From that day forth I learned to say to any girls family that my hobby was going to the gym and working out and eating clean food, as the word BODYBUILDER for many is too Scary. I mean come on if you break down the word Bodybuilder, its just Building your Body. The thing is Bodybuilding is the foundation for so many sports. They can call it weight training or weight resistance training if it makes them feel better.

But that was when I was around 18 to 22 just before my first show, it all came about like this: There was a very good bodybuilder in the gym and he was dieting and training for a Natural Bodybuilding show. I said I didn't know there was such a show, but I got all the details from him and sent off for the info and membership form. It came, and it stayed on the table for many weeks. My mum would say “Are you going to send off your entry?.” I would say, yeah yeah. To be honest I didn't have the bottle to do the show. Then the day came when I just filled the form in and sent it.

I had no clue on how to diet for a show, but I was very very lean due to my clean diet, but I never did cardio. So my upper body was ripped but my legs were smooth. I was working with a landscape gardener at the time. Six weeks out - that's all I had from the show date, so I cut all my carbs out that week. I remember laying grass turf and almost collapsing. I knew my diet was not right, all I was eating was chicken and salad.

When I could afford it I would get on the bus and go to Bodyactive in Bradford, and would buy either Metamorphosis or a protein called Die-hard. I remember seeing on the side of the Metamorphosis a technical help line, but I didn't dare call the number. Don't forget a was a very shy person, but my mum pursuaded me to call, and a pleasant voice at the other end said: “John speaking.” I told john what I was doing and to my surprise he said “Come down and see us.” So I did just that. My mum drove me down to Denton, and the Company was Chemical Warfare. I remember being so nervous I felt sick getting out of my mums car. I got to the big factory doors and asked for John Hodgson. John came out, shook my hand and said “How are you’re looking?” and I said “SmalI”. We went in to the office he said: “Let’s have a look at you then.” So pulled off my t-shirt. He said “How about your legs.” I looked down and flexed my legs and John shot out of the room to get Kerry Kayes. Kerry asked me to do some poses, Scott Gledhill showed me the perfect way to hit the poses. They gave me so much confident and helpful advice, and John wrote down my diet for the show. In fact I still have the diet sheet to this day and show the sheet and Diet on my DVD.

If I hadn't have called the number on the side of the supplement box, and if John had not invited me down to their headquarters and given me a good solid understanding of Nutrition, who knows? Without the diet plan I would not have brought to the stage the condition I displayed, never mind win the whole show. Not just then, but the many many times I went down or called them on the phone. Also Scott who had a remarkable physique as well. They gave me so much encouragement.

My first show was the 1998 ANB Yorkshire Championships. I stuck to the diet that John wrote for me. I used to think that my training was hard, but oh boy the dieting was harder. The foods were oats, banana, potato, turkey, and egg whites. That's it. I would say to my mates can you imagine eating a meal that you didn't really like for your tea, every night of the week. Then can you imagine eating the same meal 4 times a day for weeks and weeks, and many of those meals would be cold - argh! I gagged many times just opening my plastic lunch box - the smell of cold turkey. Then I had to eat the stuff. I wished I hadn't sent off the entry form. I had told so many of my friends and half the gym was coming to support me. I stuck at it and my body was hardening every week. When I looked in the mirror I thought “What am I doing to myself?” I didn't recognise myself, and people in the street who knew me would say, “Are you okay? You don't look so good.”

Then I had to learn a posing routine: I had some Technics 1200 decks, as I was really into mixing and Deejaying, so I recorded myself a mix onto a tape. I would then press play and dart to the centre of my bedroom and practice posing. I had being posing for years in the mirror in fact just about ever time I went past a mirror I would flex my biceps. I still do. ;0)

I would rewind and press play and start over and over again. When I was out doing my cardio I would be thinking of new moves to pose. My head was spinning, my thoughts every minute of the day was about the show. I was a nervous wreck. The stress level at home was terrible all caused by me. My mum and I were falling out all the time. Preparing the food that I didn't like. Oh I was so down.

One week out I had to shave myself. Oh my gosh what a carry on. I cut myself to bits especially under my arm pits. I felt like an Alien. Then it was time for me to tan up, but not in the sun. Competitive bodybuilders have to use special tan for the on-stage look, and it’s got to look right. So there's me stood in my bedroom with my trunks on and my mother had to tan me up. Bear in mind nether of us had any experience in the tan or how to apply it. My mum got underway, painting it on with a brush that was supplied with the Pro-Tan. I looked like wood stain to me, and of course I was saying “You’re not doing it right!” and my mother was shouting back at me. This went on all the way though the first coat. Not just just one coat, you gotta apply this stuff many times, and it has to be dry each time. I would use her hair dryer at night to help dry it, and in the morning shower off the excess tan. To my horror it looked like it was all washing off and going down the plug hole. Then before my mum went to work she would apply another coat. We used a bottle and a half, but we left my hands and face. I slept in a separate cover inside my bed as the first night lots of the tan came off. In fact even when I brushed my teeth any water that hit me would make the tan run. About 4 weeks prior - almost at the start of my diet - I could not sleep due to nerves. The last week before the show I drank lots of water and took plenty of Vitamin C. The day before the show I stopped drinking water at two 2 o'clock, and I was so looking forward to steak chips and wine. In fact I was well fresh, and I got my first good nights sleep in weeks. I didn't invite my mum to the show, I was two embarassed. Looking back now I wish she had been there.

My Crazy training partners James and Beechy came with me in the car, and as we pulled up I could see some of the other Competitors. You couldn't miss them. We all looked like we had been down the pit for 8 weeks. Oh man I was so nervous my legs were like jelly. As we got parked up and walked into the venue, all I could do was look at the other people who were competing, and in all honesty I didn't want to be there. They all looked HUGE to me.

It was time for us to go back stage and prepare. I got my pitch, took my clothes off, oiled up and then started to pump up. After around ten minutes I remember looking in the mirror and thinking “Oh my god look at me.” Remember I had never seen myself in contest shape, tanned up oiled up and now pumped up.

My muscles were almost bursting. I noticed a man who had watching me for a while stood at the door, I just carried on pumping up, and after some time he came up to me and told me I would do very well to day. I didn't know it at the time but it was Nigel Davis, who at the time was the the best Natural Bodybuilder in the world. So that was a great compliment. It’s funny but as I was pumping up, all my nerves had vanished, I knew I was ready. All the years of hard training, all the sacrifices, all the stress of the diet. It was my chance that day to show everybody what I had achieved though willpower, determination, and the will to succeed.

We all stood in line, and I was still flexing my muscles - I still do that now when I compete. Gotta GET A PUMP. My name was called, we all hit the quarter turns, then I got the first call-out. I was smack bang in the middle. and did my thing, flexed and posed my heart out, my training partner was screaming all sorts at me, just thinking about it now I’m getting tingles running down my spine.

Anyway, I won my class and I was over the moon. I just couldn't believe it, but then I heard there was an Overall prize. I could see the amazing statue on the stage. I thought to myself how great it would be to win the statue. Anyway we sat and watched the show, then all of a sudden the compere said, “Right, it’s Overall time”. We hadn't realised but time had flown, and nor me or my mates had thought “best go back stage as time is ticking”. . All the class winners were being called out, Angus and me ran back stage, I was ripping my clothes off. I was saying I gotta pump up I gotta pump up, he said forget it, get some oil on, then go. As he was putting oil on me as fast as he could - yes you guess - I had a pair of dumbbells in my hands - anyway I ran up the steps and was last in the line. It’s funny but I was still pumping up on stage, well trying with no dumbbells, again I flexed my heart out, then it was pose-down time.

The crowd erupted. I thought the stage was going to cave in, all my mates and half of Workout Warehouse were going mental. Oh what a day, in all honesty apart from my son being born, that was and is still to this day the best day off my life. It was Overall time, we all stood there, my heart was pounding from all the posing and all the exitement; the name was called my whole mind and body went blank for a couple off seconds as I didn't hear the name, but I realised the name Michael Phillips called out was I went mental. He gave me the statue that I had been looking at and wishing I could be mine and now it was. I won my class and the Overall title and it was the first time in the history of the ANB that a Novice had won the Overall on his first attempt.

My brother phoned my Mum to say what had happened, and when we got home there was a huge spread waiting for us. I couldn't stop eating, and when I say I couldn’t stop I mean it. It went on most of the night, my tummy was going to burst, but still I was walking around the house looking for more food. Nothing satisfied me. I had done that so many times, and even to this day when my head goes, I don't just have a biscuit or a piece of cake, I will nail the whole lot and still eat more. I think all the extreme dieting has messed my eating habits up. They should do a documentary on me dieting for a show - now that would be good reality TV.

Tips when competing.

1: When you get a diet, stick to it. Don't start asking different people their opinions, as they will all tell you something different, and it will burn your head out.

2: The last week before a show, if you’re looking great don't bother changing anything, other than increasing your water intake. And have a high fat and moderate carb meal. Same the first meal of the morning too.

3: Give yourself more weeks to diet than you think.

4: Take two pair of trunks or costumes, eg: 1 for judging and one for evening show.

5: Take plenty of food with you.

6: Have a few copies of your posing routine on CDs just in case it doesn't play. (Make sure it plays on various players, not just a PC.)

7: Don't take a army of people with you back-stage.

8: Don't go to the show thinking you’re going to nail all the competition. Just do your best and have fun too.

9. Don't have your mother tanning you up. Saying that I did have a great tan even though it took me a month to wash it off.

Mezza’s Q&As

Hi Mezza:
I know a lot of people with injured shoulders and they blame barbell bench press. Do you think that good chest development can happen with just using Dumbbells for all my pressing movements?
STEVE MADDEN

It’s not the barbell bench press that's solely to blame really. Done in good form and with not so much weight, it’s a great exercise. But for sure if people are hammering away week in week out with lots of sets and a huge amount of weight, then in time it’s possible that they could get shoulder pain and elbow pain, and dare I even say the words pec tear.

Dumbbells are great for building a good chest: They have any benefits over the barbell including less chance of injury. You don't need a training partner or spotter and they allow you to really stretch and squeeze your pecs. So my answer is Yes.

Heya Mez!!
Just wanna say what a great article in Beef mag!!! Always looking forward to next issue to read it. Very interesting, inspirational and funny!!! Just if you could add some more pics of you that would be great!! Still have a lot of space on my refrigerator. LOL. I would ask you some questions and hope that you will pick some and answer them:

So, Mighty Mezza. I have so many questions to ask that I don't know where to start, but here’s the main one:
What's the best advice you could give to someone wanting to get into natural bodybuilding? Mike, London

Go for it Mike, but try to remember that it is a hobby and depending on how far you want to take it, it can become a lifestyle, but please do take into account on your journey into building your Ultimate physique you will encounter highs and lows, ups and downs, twists and turns. It takes years and years to build a great body. Your muscles grow outside of the gym not in the gym, so YOU MUST FEED - NIGHT BREED - BE ONE OF US. Oops I just looked out of the window thought I saw a full moon. ;0)

I speak to many people that say they want to compete and they have only been training a year or two, never mind half their life, like many reading this have. They’re the type that look at the photos in the Beef and say they look better than what they see in the pics. And they’re the type that if they ever do decide to compete, when they pose in the mirror they see Arnie Schwarzenegger winking back at them. And of course they think there going to Nail everybody in their Class even the whole show. And shall I tell you what happens? Well I don't need to do I?

So my advice here is be the best you can be don't be Arrogant, over confident. Show your Competition some respect and be professional at all times. Every show I am dieting for I am a nervous wreck, not just on the day but weeks before. I go to bed nervous and yes I wake up the same having only a few hours sleep due to waking up so early. When you want to compete, there is a lot more to it than Pumping iron, eating clean and doing lots of Cardio. If you think there isn't then, a few weeks out from a show you will. 0) Oh Boy its no picnic I can tell ya. Hope I haven't put any off you off, I don't mean to, but on the other hand, standing on stage in great shape posing your heart out, there is nothing like it on Earth . .

So any of you dieting at the moment, Keep your mind strong. Remember your Mind Controls your Body, so give ya Body a piece of your mind.

Thank you John, no last name neccessary for giving me a solid understanding of diet and nutrition that has helped me win many shows and scott Gledhill who also gave me a positive out look on bodybuilding and again great advice thanks guys.

Thanks to Michael Phillips it was your show that we first met, and I have shared many great times on your stage, and you have again been very good to me; giving me Guest posing displays, writing articles on me and being a good man. Everybody that has helped pump me up back stage including Ryan, Rob Terry, Kris Gethin, Big John, Fivos, Tony Mony, Justin Johnson, Angus Govan, Steve Flynn, Karina, My Mum believe it or not.

And especially Reflex Nutrition: i am able to use their great products in large amounts. I am very into their Ace range of healthier living products: eg Ace Anti oxidant collection; Open ocean Krill oil; Nexgen; etc. Remember there is no point looking healthy on the outside of your body if the inside of it is not. Do take care of the bodyparts you can’t see as you can’t buy good health. Since my son Levi was born, I have changed in many ways. I used to enjoy going out on a Saturday night. Not any more. One thing I do know is if you do something positive then you are more likely to create a positive response. I hope you have enjoyed taking the time to read my articles. Never in my wildwst dreams did I ever think that one day I would write articles for a magazine. My grades at school were almost ungradable, apart from Art, where I got an A. So if any young lads out there reading my work think they could never do that, well am telling you “You can if you put your heart and soul in to something.” Thanks for reading

Mezza
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