The Essential Shapefit Interview By Boss Man 18/12/09

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The Essential Shapefit Interview By Boss Man 18/12/09

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Interview by Boss Man, done with two time figure competitor Cassie Gose.

So Cassie, firstly, thank you for agreeing to this interview. It's a real pleasure to have your time and input.

It's pleasure Bossman.Thank you for taking the time to arrange this interview.

Now, you recently competed in your first competition in October and a second one in November, where you placed second; congratulations by the way. So tell me, what inspired you to do a competition?

Thank you for the congratulations!

Well I’d always wanted to do a competition, however between working full-time as an insurance agent and part-time as a spinning instructor while working towards Bachelors degree, I just never had the time or energy to put towards competing. In March of 2009 I graduated with Bachelors degree in business and health/wellness. Shortly after graduating I was looking back at pictures over the previous winter and I realized that I had put on some weight. I decided that it was the perfect time to train for first figure competition. I finally had some free time on hands and I was ready to get body in the best shape possible. After graduating I also decided to take a step further into the health and fitness industry, in an effort to help and inspire others to adopt healthier lifestyles. I’m a firm believer in leading through actions. Setting the goal of competing for a figure competition gave me something to work towards and forced me to step up studying in the fields of diet and exercise, as I was planning on composing own diet and training program for the competition. It was a wonderful learning experience.

Presumably then when you announced to some of your friends, family and colleagues, you were planning to do one, did some people think you were mad, or did they all believe in what you wanted to do?

HA! Well family already thought that I was mad because of extensive history in athletics. Prior to getting into bodybuilding I went through a half-marathon phase for a few years. However after two half-marathons and quite a few other races, knees no longer allowed me to run. To take the stress off knees, I got into cycling and competed in numerous races, as well as a “century” ride which is a 100 mile bike ride, (I did this on mountain bike as I didn’t have a racing bike at the time). After a while I became burned out on the cycling, so tried to get back into running but found that it just wasn’t fun any more and knees still weren’t holding up. By the time I got into body building, I think friends and family were so accustomed to random acts of fitness, that they just kind of accepted this as another one of random endeavors. fiancé was incredibly supportive of decision to compete. dad, (a former power-lifter), was very excited about it, as I think he probably understands reasons for wanting to compete, more than others in life. mother supported me ,but I know she didn’t/doesn’t understand why I would want to do such a thing. sister thinks I’m 100% crazy regardless of what I do, (she might be right?) and best friend ended up competing in the first show with me, (she did the bikini division), so she was really there for me every step of the way.

At local gym I definitely faced differing opinions on the matter. Many supported and encouraged me, while others seemed to look down on training and diet and often informed me that I was “working too hard” or “getting too skinny”. It was interesting and at times, discouraging to experience different people’s judgments and reactions. One fellow actually approached me while I was working out, to tell me that what I was doing was unhealthy and that after the show I needed to get the idea of competing out of head, have a couple cheeseburgers, and move on with life. In the end I just kept in mind that I was doing the show for me and if others don’t understand or approve, it doesn’t matter because it’s not their business. It was goal and it was something that I wanted to do. I knew that I was training and dieting in the healthiest way possible and knew that as long as I was staying true to myself and goals that was all that mattered. I’ve never been one too care too much about the opinions of others.

Great ethos Cassie, I mean it's the old saying of if I cannot understand it, it must be wrong. So no point wasting time trying to justify to people, something that is perfectly acceptable.

Now I presume the long term plan, would be at some point to aim for the pro ranks. How long do you think it may take, for you to achieve this and in a sport notorious for tough judging and often fluctuating rules and regulations, sometimes in the same federation, let alone different ones, do you think your ability to progress, may be harder than you first thought, now you have experience of what people require or look for, in an athlete of your type?

Yes, long term goal is to someday compete at the next level and eventually earn pro-card. Gosh you know it’s really impossible to say how long it may take. last show was a National Qualifier, which means that by placing second at that show, I am now eligible to compete in a national level show. If you compete and place in a national level show then you earn your pro card and the right to compete at the professional level. I know of some ladies who managed to get to the professional level, with only a few shows and I know some who have struggled for years and never gotten to that level. In the end I feel it comes down to genetics, money, time, and “supplements”. Genetics plays a huge role, because you really do have to have the right body and build to make it in this industry. Money is a HUGE factor in going to the next level, because competing can be extremely expensive with coach fees, training, diet, entry fees, traveling expenses, posing attire, and many other costs. For first competition, while I didn’t keep track, I think I easily spent close to $2000 and I was being extremely frugal! Having the time to put towards a competition is also vital, because it really can consume your life. In training for the shows it seemed like every second of free time was spent training, eating, preparing food, shopping for food, thinking about eating food, or being so exhausted that I just didn’t want to do a darned thing. I can’t imagine how people with families or demanding careers, find the time or energy to put towards a competition. Lastly, “supplements” can make or break a person’s future, when trying to get into this field. I’ve found that when you get to the upper levels of competing many, possibly even most of the other athletes, are using a wide range of legal and illegal “supplements”, to achieve a competitive advantage. In the end, future in the industry could come down to whether or not, I’m willing to take steroids to get to the next level. If this ends up being the case, I know that while I do enjoy this sport, I don’t love it enough to want to better myself through drug use, so I guess I’ll just have to be happy with what I can achieve naturally.

A refreshing outlook on things, I have to say.

So when you initially decided to do this and began to prepare, how long did it take before the enormity of what you were attempting sink in?

Well I began training for first show on March 31st 2009 and first show was on October 3rd, so I ended up training and dieting for that one for 6 long months. By the time I finished 2nd show, I had been dieting for 7 months and had endured 2 grueling peak weeks. When I initially decided to do it, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into and I honestly really didn’t think about actually having to get up on stage. I guess you could say I was more in it for the journey instead of the destination. I don’t think anybody can truly understand, how hard the competition diet and training are until you go through it. I think I really began to realize what I had gotten myself into, in the In the 4 weeks before the show. In this time you really have to crank down on your diet and training, to make sure your body peaks on the day of the show. It was at this point that I had suit, shoes, and other necessities and I realized that I was actually going to be getting up on stage in only 4 short weeks. I really started to panic a bit in the last month before first show, because I had no idea what I was doing and really started to doubt myself. I also knew that I could not afford to make any mistakes in that time, or I could very well make a fool of myself by having to get up on stage unprepared. So to answer your question, I think the enormity of the situation, slowly become clear to me over the months and then just really hit me in the last 4 weeks before the show.

So for those people reading who have never competed, of which there will undoubtedly be many, would it be possible to sum up how it feels to be up there on stage and having done it a second time, does it differ in any way to the first time?

As I’ve mentioned, the training and diet that you must endure for a show are pure torture and is undoubtedly hands down the hardest thing I have ever done in life. By the time you are 5 days out from the show, you are pretty much going crazy with food cravings and lack of energy. However when you get up on stage every workout and every minute on the diet becomes totally worth it. Walking out on the stage, you are OVERCOME with excitement, pride, nerves, anticipation, and pain (from holding your poses). The first show was like night and day compared to the second show. For the first show I was beyond nervous as I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. By the second show I was much more confident, partly because I knew the ropes a little better and partly because I was leaner and more prepared than I was for the first show. Also, the second show was much smaller than the first and much more laid back. I found that honestly the first show wasn’t very much fun at all, but the second one was really a blast.

Yes I've read about people going through emotional toughness, for the one glorious moment, so that's great to hear, that you experienced it too.

Now I want to briefly touch on if I may, the fact that you did by your own admissions, once have an eating disorder. When you started to do the competition diet, did you think at any stage, that your past issues might resurface again, or did they at all become a potential factor in your approach or consistency?

Oh this is a great question and it’s very insightful for you to think to ask this. This one is kind of a hard one to answer so I’ll try best. Yes, I developed eating disorder (anorexia) at the age of 15 and have been dealing with it since. While I have put it behind me for the most part, I (like most people who’ve overcome these) still have to battle with “food demons” from time to time. When I began training for this competition, I really didn’t think about it bringing back the food issues, that I had worked so hard to put away. Because I hadn’t really considered past eating disorder, when I started planning the diet and training, it really did not affect approach when it came to developing diet. However over the months of gradually becoming more strict with diet, I did find that if I person isn’t careful, the contest preparation, can definitely cause a person’s past eating disorder to resurface.

One thing that I noticed in preparing for competition that REALLY shocked me, was the number of other athletes in this field who have also battled eating disorders in the past. Honestly, I would guess that 1 in 3 women competitors, (bikini, figure, and bodybuilding), have a history of disordered eating. It truly is AMAZING how many women with past disorders, end up turning to this industry. With that said, I think that people with a history of anorexia, probably have an easier time on the competition diet and training regimen, as they already have the principles instilled in them required, to be insanely strict and regimented in these areas. While I was dieting, I noticed that I began to see normal, healthy foods, as “bad” foods, because they weren’t allowed on competition diet. Towards the end of the contest prep, foods like fruit, some veggies, nuts and dair,y are removed from the diet in order to achieve an extremely lean figure. When these foods are removed from your diet and essentially “forbidden” for the last few weeks, you can actually begin to think of them as “bad” foods, just as you would with typical unhealthy foods. Your perception of what is “good” and “bad” for you, really can become skewed when you’re on such a restricted diet. I really struggled with cutting fruit out of diet, as its one of favorite foods. While enduring the diet, I found that I craved grapes as much as I did things like chocolate and other sweets and I actually associated grapes with candy and other sugary foods. They were all forbidden foods, so essentially they were “bad”. Anorexics tend to do the same thing with food, when I had disorder, I would only allow myself to eat a small variety of foods and all the other foods were “forbidden” and not allowed in diet. Like an anorexic, you begin to think of perfectly healthy food as unhealthy.

With that said, the one thing that I noticed when on competition diet, was that I wanted to eat things like fruit, dairy and (of course) chocolate, but wouldn’t allow myself, because I knew that it wouldn’t beneficial to contest prep. When you have anorexia you typically are afraid to eat, because you honestly think that food is going to make you gain weight. With the competition I couldn’t wait to eat normal healthy foods again, I was just afraid to eat them while training for the show, because I didn’t know how they would affect performance, (I actually went out and bought grapes for both shows, so I could have them as soon as the show was over). I hope that makes sense?

Another thing that I noticed with the competition, is that when the show is over it can be REALLY REALLY hard to go back on a healthy balanced diet. Quite possibly one of the hardest parts of the experience, is not the contest prep, but the days after the show, when you really don’t know what to do with yourself. After essentially starving yourself for so long, your brain is telling you to eat and eat and eat, however after achieving such a lean figure, you really don’t want to see all of your hard work go down the drain. Now that the second show is over, I really can’t seem to get enough food and I’ve found that I’m ALWAYS hungry and all I want to do is eat. It can be really hard, because you want to eat to make up for all the months of depriving yourself, but at the same time, you don’t want to lose your physique. I know that I’m going to go back on competition diet in a few short weeks, so I kind of want to “live it up” while I can, however at the same time I’m torn because I know if I live it up too much, I’ll just have more fat to lose, when it comes time to start preparing for the next show. There really is a fine balance and it can be difficult to find.

Very candid indeed, but it really is great to know you overcame such tough hurdles, as it proves that for many, a bad situation can turn itself around and can lead to very positive things.

Of course to actually compete takes a lot of courage, self discipline, belief and heart, so how would you sum up, if it is indeed possible, what it is like to put yourself, through three to four months pre- contest preparation and does it change your mental and emotional behaviour in any way?

Honestly the process of training for the show was a lot like a roller coaster. I kept an online journal as I was training and it really makes me laugh to go back and read that journal, as it brings back the extreme highs and lows that I experienced in training and dieting. One day you wake up and you really really hate the world and everything in it. There were days when I honestly just barely had the energy to get out of bed and it took every ounce of strength that I had, just to get myself showered and dressed. There were also days when I really thought I was going to strangle coworkers, friends, family, and fiancé for doing nothing more than breathing near me. There was one day when fiancé was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich next to me and I was so annoyed with this simple act, that I actually told him that he needed to leave the room, because I really wanted to punch him and steal his sandwich. And then there were really good days where I would wake up and be so ready to hit the gym, that I could hardly wait. It is such an awesome feeling to see your body changing on a weekly basis and there were days where I was so proud of results, that I could barely contain enthusiasm. There would be weeks where I was literally more tired than I have ever been in life, and then all of a sudden one day, I would wake up and have a ton of energy and be fine for a couple days, then wake up again and feel even more exhausted then I had before. If I had to sum up the experience, I would say it was definitely a roller coaster.

So having now done two contests and getting first hand experience of what it is like to compete, what are three essential things, you feel any would-be competitor must consider, before they undertake such a challenging preparation process?

Hands down the 3 things a person must consider before competing are:
1) Do I have the time to compete?
2) Do I have the money to compete?
3) Do I TRULY want to compete?
Preparing for a show takes an IMMENSE amount of time. For both of shows, I was at the gym by 5:30 in the morning EVERY morning before work. I was also at the gym on lunch breaks, (I chose to go on lunch breaks instead of going back after work, as I found I was too exhausted by the end of the day to get a solid workout). Lastly, I was again at the gym on Saturday mornings, then, (for the last half of the training), Saturday evenings I would go for a jog or run stairs by house. At the beginning of training I was able to take Sundays off, however for the last couple of months, I added additional cardio on Sundays, as I wasn’t sure I was going to be lean enough by the show. When you’re not training, you are putting an immense amount of time into food shopping and preparation. I work full-time, so many of nights after work were spent preparing food or buying food. It truly is amazing how much of your life is consumed with training and diet, when you’re getting ready for a show. If you don’t have that time to commit, you’re going to have a hard time getting your body where it needs to be, to get up on stage.

When I first decided that I wanted to do a show, a friend warned me that I was an expensive process and that I should be prepared to spend some serious money. At that time, I guess I didn’t really understand everything that went into a show and I really had heart set, so chose to ignore her and proceed with the contest preparations. As I prepared for the show, I was constantly amazed at how often I found myself dipping into bank account. Before deciding to do a competition, a person MUST be prepared to spend a significant amount of money on the show. As previously mentioned, I ended up spending close to two thousand dollars for first show, on things like posing lessons, posing suit, shoes, supplements, show fees, committee fees, traveling expenses, and of course food. The second show was much cheaper than the first ,as I had already paid for much of the stuff that I would need, however I still had to fork over additional show fees as well as traveling costs.

The last thing that a person REALLY needs to do, before they decide if they want to compete, is decide if they TRULY want to go through with the process. If a person simply thinks it would be “cool” to get up on stage, then that might not be the best reason to do a show. I decided to do a show, because it was something that I had wanted to do for as long as I could remember. It was something that I had TRULY wanted to do, but for a long time, deep down, I didn’t think I had it in me to go through with it. When I decided to do the show, I pretty much put a lot of other stuff going on in life on hold, so that I could put everything that I had towards training, dieting, and preparation. If a person isn’t willing to make some serious sacrifices in their life, then they might not be ready to do a show. Quite honestly I think it is perfectly fine and normal, for a person to not want to make the sacrifices necessary to do a show. It definitely takes a “different” kind of person, (in opinion), to know what it takes to compete and still want to go through with it. You really have to have that intense desire to compete and you have to be willing to make some serious sacrifices.

Sounds like sound advice indeed. So for those reading this, who might not necessarily want to compete themselves, but have at some point in their life, undertaken or are considering a positive lifestyle change, from your experiences, what few positive words could you give to people, who are maybe struggling, or just need reassuring that they can succeed and are not wasting or going to be wasting their time?

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. When I first started training for show, I really had no business thinking that I could actually get up on stage and compete. When I started, I knew that I had an immense amount of training, dieting, and hard work ahead of me, to get me where I needed to be. I trained for that first show for over 6 months… 186 days to be exact. After first show, I trained for another 5 weeks to get ready for second. There were days when I would stop and ask myself why I was working so hard and there were days when I had to remind myself of goals. There were weeks were I would bust butt, only to take a progress picture and see that if anything, I had made negative progress in that time. There was one time when I threw goals in the trash for an hour and proceeded to eat everything that I could get hands on in kitchen. And there were times where I was so proud of myself, that I wanted to get up on the rooftop and dance around in glee.

I think the number one reason why so many people don’t set out to achieve their goals, is because they are afraid of failure and they are terrified of how much work they will have to put forth, in order to achieve that goal. Some are probably also afraid that they are going to put forth all the work and still fail, so they see no reason to even bother. When I was training for show, there were several times where I failed myself. However, each time that I failed, I refused to let that be the end of goal. Instead, I used those failures as lessons and reasons to work harder in the upcoming months. I think the one thing that we all need to keep in mind, is that two steps forward and one step back is still progress. Just keeping taking those steps forward and you WILL eventually reach your goal.

Sound words, as I think some people sometimes need to remember, that falling only leads to failure when you do not try to get back up again.

Now I believe your plans are to compete again in 2010, possibly doing as many as three shows. Sounds like you'll have your work cut out next year. What are you hoping to achieve from this and can you give the readers a little insight, into what might be happening and where, or is this idea still very much in the infant planning stages?

Yes I do have big plans for 2010! At this time, I am planning on doing two shows for sure, possibly three or more depending on schedule and life events. I’m planning on getting back on the competition diet on January 1st, to begin preparing for first show. At this point, there is a show in the last weekend in April that I’m planning on doing and another the following weekend that I will do. There is also a show in March that I am contemplating, *if* I can get body ready in time. After dieting for 7 months for the last shows, I really felt like I needed to take some time off, to let body and mind recover. I was considering going back on the diet in early December, so that I could be ready for the March show, however after careful deliberation, I really felt like I needed and wanted to enjoy the holidays, without having to worry about diet. I also really felt like I needed to take some time, to get metabolism firing again and build some muscle back that was lost, while dieting down for last show.

This upcoming season, I have a few goals that I’d really like to accomplish. first and biggest goal, is to get body into the very best shape of ability. I felt like I was in good shape for the last shows; however deep down, I know I could have done better. For the upcoming season I’ll be starting diet with a much leaner physique and more muscle mass than I had, when I started training last March. I think this is going to help me immensely, as I won’t have to diet as hard as I did for the last shows and should hopefully have more energy, to put towards workouts. I know it’s going to be a huge challenge; however I’m totally up for it! Other than getting into great shape I’m hoping that this season I can just go out and gain some more experience, maybe win a couple more trophies, and more than anything have fun and enjoy myself!

Well whatever happens, you're certainly going to be a busy young Lady for sure, but it sounds to me like you are quite capable, of handling the competitive demands you are placing on yourself and I am sure like me, plenty of those people reading this now, would be really happy to see you progress, succeed, find more happiness from your wants and inspire more people, to learn something from your fine example and I'm sure you will not fail to prove yourself worthy, of much praise and respect.

I can only say to you, well done on all you have achieved thus far and good luck and best wishes with all you wish to achieve in 2010. It is evident you are an excellent rolemodel and a wonderful example of what a modern female can be and I must say it's been a delight to have had your input and co-operation with this interview.

Thank you very much! It’s been pleasure! As always, if there is anything I can do to help others achieve their goals please always feel free to shoot me a message. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m happy to help in any way I can.

Interview conducted on Shapefit, with the kind permission of Cassie.
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Re: The Essential Shapefit Interview By Boss Man 18/12/09

Post by Nokie173 »

Thanks for the post Bossman and Cassie for sharing. I have been following your journal regarding your competitions and I know I can never understand how tough it can be preparing for it. However, when I go back and read your journal and now reading this. You are an inspirational, with all your hard work, dedication and determination. It makes me want to work hard too!!! You are such a GREAT role model and I cannot stress that enough! I hope you will continue to post your journal so we can continue to follow you and support you. :D

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Re: The Essential Shapefit Interview By Boss Man 18/12/09

Post by cassiegose »

Wowzars some of answers are long winded. :shock:

Nokie- Yes for you darling I will continue to post a journal as I prepare for the upcoming shows. I start back on diet January 1st. I will start a new journal at that time. I'm very glad that I can help to inspire you to work harder girl. You consistently inspire me to be a better person with your selfless acts and crazy busy work schedule. :D
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