Most everyone is incredibly supportive and I always appreciate that.  However, when I say that I am struggling to get ready in time for these shows, I am not "being humble" or "down-playing" my condition; I am saying, "I am stressed and racing the 11th hour to get this done and done at 100%."  The typical response is, "Oh, you always show up in condition and you will this time," but that honestly doesn't make me feel any better about the situation I am in because I can't remember struggling to make a deadline like I am this time.  Maybe I have, but I certainly don't recall if I have.

My show is in just under 5 weeks.  Yes, I do have an out and can push to another show that is 3 weeks later, but that is the ONLY other option at this point because I have family obligations after that date.  My daughter goes off to Nursing School and we are going to be there for her orientation in Wisconsin and there are a few other things that we have planned in August and September that take precedence over continuing to push further out to get a show done. 

Yes, competing is a priority for me this year, especially after what happened last year, but at the same time, I will not continue forever until I am able to get it done due to these continuous unforeseen situations that for some reason, seem to only be an issue as I get older.  I am taking risks for this prep that I haven't taken in years and that also weighs on my mind.  There comes a point where enough is enough. 

I am still planning on making the show in just under 5 weeks but if I don't think I can, I will push to the show 3 weeks later and that is the last option.

The psychological aspect of this is a bitch because I am forcing myself not to over-evaluate my progress and just keep my head down and trudge forward.  At the same time, I have no choice but to evaluate because I cannot lose even one day of progress at this point.  It's a catch-22.  What I am doing is evaluating progress once a week and trying like hell to not even pay attention to anything else the rest of the week other than execution.  In the gym, I stay covered and avoid the mirrors and I avoid the mirror in the bathroom at home, too. 

As we all do, I had a day yesterday where it just sucked and I felt defeated - we all have them.  I felt skinny-fat, beaten up and it was just one of those days where you have to buckle down and deal with the mental aspect of prep and just execute knowing you are getting better whether you are having a bad day or not.  It didn't help, at all, when all of a sudden my left knee was bothering me during the last few minutes of my second cardio session and I refused to stop and instead just pushed through.  I then had a swollen knee for the rest of the night and it was stiff this morning, as well.  My left hip was tight and pulling on my knee, so I did extra stretching today before training and it improved dramatically.  A big deal? No.  However, when you have a day that is already a struggle, little things feel like big obstacles.

I have no appetite - zero.  I think it is more mental than anything as food is not on my mind, at all. I admit to feeling remarkably good in the gym - strength is actually up, pumps are freakin' insane (for no good reason, really) and workouts are very productive.  Even cardio seems to be a breeze to maintain my HR where I want it.  No complaints there.  

As it usually happens, after a shitty mental day, today was a great day.  I wore a tank to the gym to train chest and was pleasantly surprised when I caught a quick glimpse of myself in the gym mirror and thought, "Ok, maybe I'm not in as much of a shitty situation as I thought I was." Tomorrow will be different, though.  That's how it works.

I am always ahead - always.  I think that is where this is really tough to handle.  Though I don't have great genetics and was probably built more for crocheting than bodybuilding, I do have one thing going for me and my long-time friend Dion used to tell me this all the time: "Skip, you can go from incredible condition to shit very quickly, but you can also go from shitty condition to incredible condition just as quickly." I am banking on this and I keep reminding myself of his words over the years.

Some changes this week to the plan (not dramatic):

Dropped fat intake by about 20%

Increased cardio 25%

Changed my training rotation from a 3-day split over 3 days and then a rest day, to keeping the 3-day split but repeating the 1st day on the 4th day before taking a rest day.  This pushes my Skipload out another 2 days and has me training more frequently.  I feel this will not only help condition and progress being crunch time, but it helps psychologically because I am simply doing more work.  I am still training twice a day and doing cardio twice a day, as well.

I will also be dropping protein by about 15% in 2 days.

Progress has been very good - that I will not deny.  However, it has to be at this point in the game or I won't make it.  Understand something:  I have been doing contest prep for a very long time - longer than most who are well-known right now in the industry.  Even without chasing a pro card and even though I haven't competed since 2012, I cannot get on stage less than 100%.  Would people understand?  Maybe.  However, there is no way that I would allow it and, to ME, there is nothing worse than a prep guy getting on stage and not being ready no matter what obstacles he or she has dealt with. 

If I knew I was not going to be 100% I would already have pulled the plug.  I feel confident that I can pull this off or I would already be done - off supplements, off the diet and cleaning out.  I still feel I can pull it off and I will find out soon enough.  Obviously, pushing to the later show should be no problem - UNLESS something else arises that I have to deal with.  That is more my concern than anything else at this point.  In the time left, there is no reason I shouldn't be able to be ready, but as I stated before, I NEVER used to deal with the obstacles that I am dealing with as I age.  Yes, minor aches and pains and typical prep stuff is normal, but nothing health-related or anything that would potentially make me question whether continuing was a good idea or not.  It just seems like a different game as I get older, and honestly, if I knew this would continue if I prep for more shows in the next few years, I would likely not ever compete again.  That may sound weak, but at the point I am in my life, competing is something I do to prove to myself that I can still do it.  It is for the challenge of it; it is not something that I am willing to take big health risks to get done.  I have too many things in my life that are more important than competing for another 3rd place trophy or a masters class win. I do it because I want to continue to be able to do it and feel the end result and satisfaction of saying, "Not only did I do it, but I did it well."  

I can say one thing for sure:  I will definitely be going back to TRT and not continuing the gas game.  It wasn't worth it.  I did not make such huge strides during this prep while taking the risks to warrant me continuing to stay in the gas game.  Maybe I should have known that it wouldn't be a dramatic change, but I, like most in this game, held out hope that it would make a big difference.  I know damn well that if I continued this gas game and did a couple off seasons that I absolutely would improve quite a bit.  Bitch is, THEN what problems would I be facing as I am pushing 50? My health is just too important and outweighs my curiosity.  Plus, I hold plenty of muscle on TRT and I feel SO much better and don't have any health issues, either.  I would rather be ripped all the time and look like a bodybuilder than to only be in shape for 2 months and fat and unhealthy for the other 10.

Bottom line is:  It just isn't that important to me, anymore.  I had a good run, it was fun and I enjoyed it.  I absolutely LOVE prepping but this will be the last run unless I decide to go back at 50 and do it TRT only (and I can't say I won't at this point). I just know that the gas game is over.  I'm done.