A bodybuilding rookie amazed herself by entering her first competition and winning the novice competition in Florida over the weekend.
Jodi McDonald can proudly call herself the Amateur Overall Figure Division champion after Saturday’s DFAC (Drug Free Athletes Coalition) South East Natural Championship in Altamonte Springs.
The DFAC adheres to stringent drug testing. Every finalist has to take a polygraph test too and all class winners at every show are urine tested.
They also do random tests outside of competition to ensure all entrants are completely drug free.
McDonald never imagined competing in a figure competition when she started bodybuilding last year.
“I love weight training and have been going to the gym religiously for a number of years,” she said.
“The physique and discipline of figure competitors is something I’ve always admired. When I first had the idea to compete – and step on stage in a tiny suit! – I contemplated it for awhile, but after seeing the quote: ‘The question isn’t can you, it’s will you?’” her mind was set.
She contacted her knowledgeable friend Nadine Dumas, a local fitness coach, and a few days later Dumas was sitting in the McDonald family room, giving her the ins and outs of the fitness competition world.
McDonald admitted to being a total rookie and had to learn everything about the sport, particularly the different bodybuilding federations, fitness categories, figure suits and posing shoes. “It was eye-opening.”
For women, there is bikini, figure and physique (bodybuilding). Figure seemed to fit her body and personality so she decided to enter the Altamonte Springs show.
Then the hard work began, which was not a huge change in training, just a little more intense. The diet, however, was a major adjustment, especially as she has two small children.
The 35-year-old Canadian has lived in Cayman since 2004 and is a teacher at Cayman International School, so juggling work, family commitments and training was demanding.
She has always been active, working out, practicing yoga and running. Husband Mike is an athlete too and used to be a regular top finisher on the road running circuit.
“Mike turned me into a runner and I have completed a half-marathon and [I] participate in a lot of the 5K and relays on island,” she said.
“I generally eat quite healthy, but during my 20-week preparation for the contest, I weighed and measured every meal and was very disciplined; no treats other than a few glasses of wine in the early weeks.”
The diet was the most challenging aspect, involving meticulously preparing meals in advance twice a week.
“The final peak week was quite tough but very rewarding as I love the mental challenge and high level of discipline that this sport demands.”
A typical day later in the diet involved six small meals. Earlier in the process she ate more fruit.
She would start the day with egg whites, veggies and oatmeal, then maybe a can of tuna and two plain rice cakes before a lunch of chicken with sweet potato, green beans and coconut oil.
Then it might be more chicken with almonds followed by tilapia, brown rice and broccoli and a protein shake later on.
McDonald went to the gym five days a week to weight train and added more cardio nearer competition time to get that ripped look and abs to die for.
By the end, it was six days a week, usually intervals on the stairmaster or treadmill, but sometimes, especially on the weekend, she loved early morning runs.
She was very nervous before the competition and glad that Mike was there for reassurance.
“As I went through the process of spray tan, hair, makeup, and general prep, I just tried to enjoy the morning as much as possible.”
She loved the atmosphere as all the other competitors were extremely supportive. “Everyone had a story of what brought them to the stage, and we had fun.”
Winning the title was great reward after the months of discipline and resisting the temptations when socializing and feeding her family. “The day was a great experience and I met some wonderful people.”
From the experience, McDonald found that in fitness competitions it is really all about the long preparation and everything that leads up to the day, as opposed to the few minutes posing on stage.
“It is a great goal for anyone who is into fitness and a great way to stay motivated to live a healthy life.”
This win qualifies her for the DFAC Worlds in Miami in October.
Is a repeat of the hard work and sacrifice really worth it? “I think I’ve just found my next challenge!”