My Dream Team Journey to Stage (Part 2)
Blog written by Doreen Nicolaou
An insight into a Team Tabban figure athlete’s competition preparation and journey to stage.
Thursday 4th of August
The count down has begun! Four weeks to go before we step on stage for our first competition for Season B. It is sometimes hard to comprehend that our gym life leads us to a stage performance. The two can seem worlds apart. My gym life consists of work, training, sweating, weigh in’s and wearing gym gear that now is two sizes too big for me. Competition day is more refined with a dark tan, make up, hair do, heels, elegant bikini and lot’s of bling. As different as they are at Tabban we try and mock the feel of a competition every Wednesday at our pose class. Girls in bikinis and heels, boys in their trunks all standing on a stage posing trying to imagine how competition day will feel. This week Michael Tabban even placed chairs in front of us where the judges will be seated on competition day. We sometimes have members sitting on these seats pretending to be judges. This week our members were busy training so Mike placed swiss balls on our judges seats and drew faces on them and we posed to the judges. It may sound silly but it worked for us.
Busy times ahead with fundraising in full swing to help the athletes travel interstate and to the USA. We are planning on a long season starting in September and fingers cross ending mid November. Competitions start in Victoria then travelling to Queensland, Sydney and the USA. This season has been very surreal for me as it is my first time competing as a trainer at Tabban. It has made my journey much easier as I see members of our team daily and inspiring them to stay focused drives me to be a strong role model. Also surrounded by our members that support us on the sidelines with positive feedback really helps us soldier on. I had one of my clients stop me, look into my eyes and she asked “How are you?” Well the checkout lady at Woolworths asks me that every time I shop but this was different. I was touched that someone who has never competed actually acknowledged that what I was doing was tough even though I try not to show it. Priceless moment for me.
In my normal world, family and friends are excepting of my decision to compete but think that I do this effortlessly. I have done this before, I work at a gym, I have trained most my life and always stayed trim so how hard could this be? Again two worlds apart! This is extreme discipline and that is why we are called athletes. The focus, dedication, mindset is a lot tougher than “I will have dessert tonight and work it off tomorrow”. This is months of following an eating plan that can vary from day-to-day. In the past I could be eating pancakes and ice cream then straight back chicken and greens. I have always believed that is the true test of willpower.
My weigh in is on Thursday but Michael mentioned to me during the week that we may get it done on Wednesday this week. So when I got into work I weighed in and my weight for the 3rd week in a row remained exactly the same. As we had a busy day at work I forgot to get back to Mike about me and left it until today. Jumped back on the scales and the weight I was flashed by my eyes then dropped another 500 grams. There it was the reason I don’t weigh myself in my real world and why at Tabban we only weigh in our clients at the same time weekly. My clients that live and die by the scales watch out! My theory that swear by is that when your losing weight then the weight stabilses just continue on your with your eating plan. Don’t take food out and be patient! This is your body adjusting to a new low weight then it will continue to drop once again.
I am 3.5 kg down and predicting 1 kg to go. I feeling lean and strong so at the moment can’t ask for more than that..
My work as a trainer was rewarded this week when my client Margi Woolman became the Tabban Motivational Member of the month. Margi called the gym back in May this year and asked to speak to me. At that time I didn’t know of Margi but she said that she saw me training clients on my first day of work at Tabban Gym. She asked if I could train her as she had a trip planned to Bali in five weeks and wanted to lose 8 kg.
My response was ” Let’s see how we go” Margi showed up to training on the Monday as promised and the wheels were in motion. This woman was a power house and every personal trainers dream client.
If I said jump she would ask ” How high ? “
She gave me 100% effort and I gave her 150% effort back. Margi lost 8 kg in five weeks and flew to Bali with a new goal in place. Margi has set her sights on competing and is now an athlete in The Tabban Dream Team. My goal to compete, inspire clients and fellow team mates is becoming a reality not just dream . 11 kg down Margi is well on her way to the way to competing in September and I couldn’t be prouder!
Friday 12th of August
As I lie on my couch ready to update my blog I hear my husband devouring his chocolate paddle pop.. Nothing unusual at my house except he asked why I was pushing a pillow into my ears then throwing a blanket over my head! I showed my belly button sinking into my back and said that the sound of that paddle pop was causing me pain! He put me out of my misery by eating it as quickly as possible. Bless him!!
I came across this t-shirt whilst shopping today. Alysha Frigo your famous words. The tag read ” One size fits all” well maybe for most but not for the real Hangry people 🙁
So with only weeks to go to our first competition, times are feeling very tough for all that are going through this process. Have I mentioned how tough this is? Oh yes I think I have.
In times like this I look for strength from within to stay mentally strong. My mind starts to question Why am I doing this? I have to press delete on any negative thoughts that pass me by as there is no doubt that I thrive during this challenge. So to inspire myself I have gone back 12 years to a blast from my past. My very first competition pre Tabban Gym and Michael Tabban. A time when I dieted for 20 weeks and I ate not much other than tuna, greens and sweet potato.
I suffered terribly but did not stray as I did what I was told to do.
Check out my posing! Rear double bicep and red shoes…
There was no team posing classes. I can still remember the ladies face from my computer print out on “5 compulsory poses for female figure athletes” I should have googled a Tabban athlete as every competition I watched I always knew which were the Tabban athletes as they posed with strength and grace. My starting weight for all my competitions may have only differed by a kilo but my eating plans over time have certainly improved with a balance of protein, carbs and fats. Also the length of time I am on a competition eating plan is much shorter.
This season Michael Tabban has nailed my eating plan as my weight once again remains the same 3.5kg loss but visually I change every single week since this process has begun. Michael has taught me that the first competition of a season is not your best body of the season. As I’ve noticed with myself and other athletes he is dead on the money there. Each competition ours bodies become harder, leaner and stronger. For me this may be my the best I have looked for the first competition of the season. I believe in life you should stick to a good thing, not chop and change. I’m talking about doctors, hairdressers and trainers. Give a trainer time to see how your body responds to training and diets, have faith and let them do their job. Michael could now get me to my personal best with his eyes shut! It is also hard to acknowledge your own progress as we can’t always see ourselves clearly but we can see everybody else’s progress. Same goes for all my clients as they can only see the numbers on the scales not their overall shape and appearance. My training and flexing during pose class has also moved to the next level of pain but I thrive during the physical challenges. All I could visualise during Wednesday nights pose class was the bottle of magnesium vitamins I had in my pantry to relax my aching muscles.
Tonight I celebrate my own personal progress over the past 12 years and I inspire you to look back in your life, not to dwell on the negatives but to reflect and be grateful for your own personal achievements thus far no matter how big or small.
Friday 19th of August
Competition season begins next month and there is a buzz around all Tabban’s Dream Team athletes. The realisation that our gym life leads to the big stage is upon us. Months of training, posing and organising is all coming together. There is now a mad dash to confirm hair, make up, lashes, tans, jewellery, and bikinis for the ladies and a little less for the men. Amongst all this excitement there are nerves for all not just the novice athletes.
My ambition to compete with the team is now most fulfilling. Not only sharing my knowledge as a trainer but also my previous experience as a competitor. Then one step further as I am also feeling all the mixed emotions that they are I can relate to their concerns. I feel that when they look at me they are hearing my words as I am not only training and posing alongside them but that I also look like them so my words are more convincing. Yes sounds crazy but we have this certain look of determination to succeed no matter how tired or hungry we may be.
My focus this week with the athletes is all about the goals we have set. No athlete in any sport can succeed without setting a goal. The big picture of where we want to get too. There is no doubt that if I hadn’t set this goal I would not be so focused to cook all my meals, train hard plus add in my cardio, posing, flexing, practise walking in my new competition shoes and all my added extras that have been set for me by Michael Tabban. Michael knows from my past seasons that I eat what he tells me to eat and train harder than ever but without the goal to compete I could easily go off track.
Goal setting is easier when you have a trainer that has the knowledge to guide you along but it is an athlete’s determination to achieve it. When setting goals you need to stay focused on the big picture and appreciate all the small gains that you achieve along the way. Two steps forward and one step back is not failing it is a priceless lesson gained towards making you more determine to stay on track. Expectations can have a negative impact on your goal as I have found in this sport as it sometimes needs to be left in the hand of the God. Sound deep but true! We all start at different body weight with a starting date in September and pressure ourselves to reach this deadline. Michael has said over and over there are many competitions every year there so there is no reason to be unrealistic. In saying this I also believe if your goal is attainable and realistic in the time set power on and don’t give in to negative thoughts of “Maybe I will wait until next year”.
My biggest lesson learnt was when in 2008 I was disqualified for entering the fit body (figure) division at the Victorian State Titles with the WNBF. The head judge believed that I should have entered the body building division. WHO? Mini me at 49 kg!! I was shattered and devastated to say the least. I wanted to give up on this sport as I was feeling confused and deflated. Michael defended me and I was then flown to Sydney for free to enter the Nationals. The night before the body building division I had a meal at a restaurant ordered by Michael and boom my little muscles exploded. Michael suggested I keep eating and get a quick lesson in female body building posing. Fifteen minutes of practising to keep my hands closed and to pose without shoes and bang just like that I was a body builder. Now on the road to a new goal all my expectations had to be put on hold as I was now entered as a female body builder. Feeling like a little lost sheep I shut out my thoughts posed with my fists shut tight and I won my division. Then I went on to the fit body categories the next day and won two of those too. Finishing off in New York with a 6th in the fit body and 3rd in the world for body building.
Moral of my story is goal set, expect to do your best and have no regrets. This sport has no finish line with lots of different body types. Don’t compare yourself with anybody else as God has made us all different for a reason. Most importantly everything happens for a reason with lessons to make you stronger in the end.
You learn more from losing then from winning!
To reach my goal I had to alter my eating plan this week which I accepted willingly focused on the changes that I would achieve. In four days I lost 400 grams with lots of visual gains. With this added cat naps but at 50 years old maybe I should call them nana naps. Most of my day is now consumed only of cooking, eating, training and looking for everything that I have lost!
Saturday 27th of August 2016
With one week out from our first competition our pose class this week was all about tweaking our poses, flexing as hard as possible as we posed over and over again. Towards the end of our session Areti asked the team which competitions we would like to enter and which categories she recommended that would best suit each of us. This is the time where there is no turning back we progress from competition preparation to competition season.
For me this is when I put my hand up to compete in every possible competition and category available to me. We have worked too hard to not give ourselves the best possible chance to get stage time and compete against other athletes. Bring it on!! I want to compete against the best athletes in the country and see if I am competitive. We need spread our wings, do our best and not be afraid of being judged. When Areti started reading out the different competitions I held my hand up high “Yes me! Pick me! I’m in! I will give it a go! When? September, October, November? Yep put my name down” as in the past I want to remain in the team until the end of the season.
I was once in a team with a young athlete that prepared for 12 weeks to enter her first competition and towards the end she would talk about a cupcake. Every pose class we would hear about this cupcake! She was so focused on eating a cupcake after her first competition that it became her everything. She had the most beautiful figure and worked very hard to get to stage but that cupcake was her downfall. She obviously ate her cupcake and her competition focus was over. We do get treats on competition day to fuel our muscles but to be able to switch back onto our clean eating plan to prepare for the next competition is very testing and I believe this is where a strong-minded athlete shines. Strength of the mind is needed to succeed more than the strength to lift heavy weights.
Flash back to nutella pancakes between competitions in 2014. Apparently I only looked up to snap the photo.
Next morning back to competition clean eating…
Back to pose class: Areti then wrote on a scrap piece of paper our suggested categories and placed it in front of each athlete. As I looked down to read I had the most awakening moment.
I read “50+ “ WOW.. it was always on my bucket list to compete at 50 years old. Tick Tick.
Menopause Who? Why do we put ourselves into a mindset that I can’t because blah, blah, blah. Apparently I should find it harder to lose weight, have poor sleep patterns, have hot flushes for years etc. No doubt I have had symptoms and as I mentioned earlier in my blog that I began this preparation with extra weight around my midsection since turning 50 but never fall into a belief that something is impossible because of experiences of others or google said so . This week I asked many of the ladies training at Tabban gym their age and no surprise to hear many were over 50. Over 50 fit, strong and happy! No doubt that good food and exercise beats the odds of aging and poor health. These women have not let age affect them and accept changes but don’t use it as an excuse to slow down. I want to applaud these ladies for their fantastic attitude to doing the best they can to stay fit and terrific!
Michael had altered my eating plan again this week and if I told you it was tough before it wasn’t; now this is really tough. I mentioned to him that I will need to adjust my thoughts to get my head around my new plan. Then that night I had my most testing moment yet, watching Jimmy Barnes in concert. It was my 4th outing since my eating plan begun and I thought it would be the easiest as I was able to take my food with me. My husband ate a grilled burger and I kept him company drinking my black coffee. At the concert intermission I stepped out and noticed every single person there eating a magnum ice cream. Ice cream is usually my favourite treat but I wouldn’t usually care about this magnum parade. When I got back to my seat I mentioned to my husband that everyone in this place is eating a magnum. The lady in front of me heard and turned to show me how much she was enjoying hers with a lick, a yum, a huge naughty smile and a few more yums!! I can’t share my thoughts that I had at the time, but as Jimmy belted out his next song I put my head down and meditated for 3 minutes. Moments like that just creep up unexpectedly and they test me to my limit. As a girlfriend said to me in my normal world I would have not even have noticed this magnum frenzy and she is right.
I woke up the next morning with no energy wondering how I was going to make this eating plan work. Michael called to check up on me and I told him I feared the changes and with his very soft assertive voice he said
”Keep your eyes on the end result” BANG! By the time I hung up I was refocused and back on track. Words for all the Dream Team to live by!
Saturday 3rd of September 2016
On the eve of our first competition I would usually be packing my competition bag, preparing food for the day and keeping in close contact with my trainer Michael Tabban but I find myself on my couch with my cat and my blanket updating my blog.
On Monday all the athletes competing in the Awnbs Victorian Titles were called to be advised that the competition was cancelled. As my diet was tweaked in preparation for the competition this weekend and my first words were
“Oh NO! Now I’m now HUNGRY”
When you have your eye on the end result as advised by Michael, willpower kicks in and nothing gets in my way to give in to any food thoughts but when you find out that your planned date for a competition you’re preparing for is cancelled willpower goes out the door for a split moment.
This has happened to me before so I know have no expectations when competing. Stick to what I am doing until advised by my trainer. We were offered to be flown to Brisbane to enter the Queensland State Titles the week after.If we didn’t enter the Queensland State Titles we would not be eligible to enter the Nationals in October I could not accept any offer until I had the all clear from Michael. The decision had to be made not just for me but our whole team. I was in limbo until 11 am Wednesday when Michael called Areti and myself into his office and asked our opinion. To go to Queensland or not to go to Queensland? We already had another competition on the same weekend but with a few phone calls and feedback from our team the decision was made.
The Victorians are travelling across the country to represent our state.
Destiny? Fate? or just the daring underdogs? Who knows but I never want to die thinking I could or should have!
I will keep you posted 🙂
Wednesday 14th of September 2016
Five athlete’s, all mum’s and two trainers flew from Melbourne to the AWNBS Queensland State Titles
As athlete’s from Victoria competing in tough line ups of amazing female competitors Tabban Dream Team proudly took out one first place and five third places.
I placed 3rd in the Over 50’s and 3rd in the figure short. I can refer to this experience on stage as a battle. I posed and flexed my hardest and felt like I had been horse riding for hours once the adrenaline had faded away.
Just a few snapshots from our weekend.
Sussing out the list of competitors in our line ups. My categories had 8 and 9 athletes and most of them were over 50 and short. So in this shot was the realisation that I was going up the same women in both categories. My words to Michael were ” I’m either going to win or lose” With very fair judging I cheered as I received my two third placings.
Backstage selfie with my training partner Kaye Swann. After all our hard training it was great being backstage together with other amazing inspiring female athletes. Kaye at 62 was the oldest competitor and as her manager I couldn’t be prouder
My sugar loading before hitting the stage is a good hit of nutella. Let me warn all parents don’t feed your children nutella. The reaction is extremely noticeable in my dehydrated lean body. My veins just filled with sugar and I looked like a road map. Great for comp!!
Cabin pressure on the flight home was also great for my veins. This photo doesn’t show how crazy they looked but Bev and Bev the lovely ladies that beside me could see that I almost turned into the hulk. The look on their faces were priceless…
We are off to the INBA Victorian Titles this weekend. Huge line ups and we will give it our best shot. I’m looking forward to a short break after this weekend to share my thoughts with you but for now its back to hair, tans, weigh ins etc
Friday 23rd of September 2016
From Queensland State Titles back to Melbourne to prepare for the Inba Victorian State Titles. With no time to rest posing, flexing and viewings all over again. In preparation Michael Tabban was on a mission to resolve the issue I had experienced in Queensland. All was going to plan but I could see moments of concern on his face and I knew “Houston we have a problem!”My legs began to hold fluid but he did not tell as he didn’t want to put me off my game. His silence spoke many words and I then noticed things were not quite right. He kept telling me that I had to flex my legs as hard as possible and that I did. Placing third twice was hard work holding my legs tight as possible with every pose. I felt like I had been horse riding for a week once I walked off stage. The physical pain was a reminder I did all that I had to do against a tough, big line up of athletes.
This week the magical mind of Michael Tabban was on fire. Testing my water, food and rest all week to find a way to prevent this happening again. I had to keep in close contact with him all week I had to take updated photo’s every hour, face time him and even have viewings in our office at work between clients trainings sessions. I even had to ask my cleaning lady to stop cleaning my house as I needed her to take a photo of a rear double bicep so I could send it to Mike.
All this preparation ended up with a master plan for competition eve and morning. It was like no previous preparation that I had ever done before. Timing of food, water and rest was crucial.
I had entered 3 categories for the first time ever and I was first to step on stage for the over 50’s. Nervous? Who me? Hell yeah!! No matter how many times I have competed the nerves don’t subside or I could call it an overwhelming adrenaline surge..
Before stepping on stage we need to warm up or I should say pump up back stage with the other athletes preparing to compete. At this point your on your own, no trainers, no team mates just yourself and your thoughts.
Have I done everything possible to give this my best shot? Now is the moment you can have no regrets or negative thoughts. Just give yourself a hug and walk on stage proud of your efforts thus far.
Once on stage you have a fair idea if you’re in with a chance when the head judge calls out your number and asks you to stand in the middle of the line up. Bang! 203 that was me, can you stand between competitors number whatever.. Well blow me away I was in with a chance in the over 50 line up. My eyes went straight to Michael and Areti as I looked for a little guidance and support to get me over the line. We posed over and over again so I knew it was close, betting that I may have placed 2nd.
Then when they called out 2nd place it dawned on me that I may had won. In that moment I didn’t know if I was going to laugh or cry. Let me tell you why..
My cardio was limited part of my training but it was extremely difficult. I found what I would call my mountain, which really was a road that entered my local parkland. This was one of my hardest training challenges. This road was where I would spend an hour 3 times a week flexing, lunging, squatting, posing and also walking forward and backwards. During my training at my mountain I would have music blaring and I would sing at the top of my voice.
What a feeling by Irene Cara was my most inspirational song
First when there is nothing but a slow glowing dream that your fear seems to hide deep inside your mind…..
I would sing and visualise myself winning the over 50’s and Michael Tabban coming on stage to receive the trainers award.
My mission was accomplished with two more divisions to go. I was then up back on stage competing in the under 50kg and short open where I was compared to a 21-year-old girl. This was interesting as she was as old as my youngest son and I was as old as her mother. Golden moment as we posed together I was chuffed to think that there was a competitive comparison between us.
Placing 2nd in the open short and 3rd in the under 50kg was a fine way to end my day. I could not be happier and felt accomplished. With a week of celebrations, its head down bum up and back to training with 3 weeks of competitions to go no time to lose focus. Victorian, Queensland and Sydney competitions three weeks in a row no time to rest. But I must say Michael is a magician because I couldn’t have achieved any of this without him. 5 line ups and 5 placings has exceeded my expectations so far.
Tabban Dream Team Congratulations
Inba Victorian Titles
1 x 1st, 2 x 2nd, 3 x 3rd and 3 x 5th places congratulations to all our team you made your trainers very proud!