Jason and Vanessa Bartley have been dieting for about 6 months and will have competed in 5 shows in that time.  So far they've got under their belt the NABBA BOP, Wellington, Nationals, North Harbour and soon are off to the Phillipines for the Phil-Asia Unified show.   Eventhough they're experienced athletes, its good to know they - well Jason aka Bart - still finds the dieting side of contest preparation a grind.  Luckily he has a great imagination and channels his thoughts into imagining what food tastes like rather than indulging in the tasty treats. 

Bart has also channelled his thoughts onto the keyboard and has written what what's been going through his mind during these past months.  Hopefully we'll have regular updates from Bart's Brain in the future.  In the meantime, enjoy his tasty morsels..... 

  Food, food, glorious food – it an obsession at times, and when you can't have it, it's even worse, I don't know about other bodybuilders out there, but I get it really really bad when the sharp end of the lean down arrives pre-competition.  My thoughts head straight to what I can't eat, and the fact I want to eat it now!

left: Vanessa and Jason, couples winner at NABBA North Harbour

That in itself is weird, as when I can eat these foods, I don't usually want them. There are of course a few exceptions - Whittakers White Chocolate for example. In my, ahh, portly days (if you can call 120 kilos 'portly', I think a more apt term would be fat), I was able to knock a bar off in a sitting without raising a sweet.  Blimy, come to think of it, the bar I bought to eat post Nationals is still not bloody eaten - epic fail there on my behalf!


                  Anyway, I don't know if I'm in the norm among the bodybuilding fraternity, but in those last weeks before competition I turn into Gordon bloody Ramsey. My bedside reading becomes cook books (with colour pictures, a picture worth a thousand words and all that). I plan what I am going to bake for competition day and the day after. The plan changes from night to night, but it usually comes back to something insanely sweet that I would never even consider eating normally.

It doesn't stop there though, not only does my reading become centred about cooking - or really, baking, but my TV viewing all of a sudden becomes 'MKR' - My Kitchen Rules centric. Cooking and baking programmes, and the Food Channel on Sky become my first ports of call while channel surfing. I am usually a tragic 'sports/history/discovery' surfer, but when the body is existing on fumes, I love to watch nice food!
  Among the better programmes I discovered was one I think is called Cup Cake Wars, where bakers have to make up various cupcakes before, once in the finals they have to make 1000 (yes a thousand) cupcakes for some flash celebrity event, winner goes to event with their cupcakes, loser has a 1000 cupcakes to deal with - I am sure a local bodybuilding competition would appreciate them!  


There's also another about a cake making shop run by some Italian types just before or after that programme - that rocked too, they would make some superb cakes, and cupcakes and all sorts of great looking food! It's a reflection on how bad this habit affects me that I actually watched episodes of MKR instead of rugby world cup matches. That would never have happened pre bodybuilding days!

So while I read and watch and dream about all this lovely food, Vanessa on the other hand is more a woman of action, and the grateful recipient of her action is our daughter Renee, who close to competitions gets to eat some damn fine baking. But not only Renee, our neighbours find themselves with baking appearing on their doorsteps, and the farmer where Vanessa grazes her horse also gets to sample
some delights!

Despite the fact that I read all about baking, I still have just baked two things since starting my wonderful obsession – some muffins after last years Nationals, and a Weet-Bix ginger slice before this seasons Nationals.  The muffins were sweet to start with, and once I added the white chocolate to the centres, they became death by sugar – perfect!  The slice, well, I ran out of plain icing sugar, so I used that flash chocolate flavoured icing sugar, which made them even sweeter too.  Both of which once I was able to eat them were almost too sweet for human consumption. But consume I did!

Not only is it the reading and watching though, I also wander down supermarket isles in a daze at times, wandering along among the biscuits looking lovingly at the Tim-Tams, Mallow-Puffs and Gingernuts.  Well, not for me so much the Gingernuts, those are Ness’s vice, but like my White Chocolate, they have travelled far and wide and still survived – they’ve done the BOP, the Wellington and the National competitions and are still wrapped ready to go – perhaps they might sneak over to the Philippines with us, and not survive!

The bakery departments also get the once over, I love scones, date scones first and foremost.  Nice stogy white bread – there’s the rub, I used to be able to knock a loaf off in a day easy – toast when you get home from work, toast for breakfast, a couple of sandwiches for lunch and before you know it, loaf gone.  Now bread is a complete luxury for post comp toast and jam and treat days in the off season.

The potato chip aisle (the other side of the biscuits) gets a lesser perusal, and the crackers, Sesame Wheat in particular more so, I always add a packet of those for the post comp chomp – usually with the dip I buy for the chips, yummo!

But it's the specials that I can never resist - the novelty bars, three for three dollars and the like. Hard to go past - although this season I have done well avoiding them, but Ness had a thing for Picnic bars for a short while, and she still has not eaten one post comp' and we have six left still (from nine, as they called my name long and loud)! But shopping without a list becomes harder and harder over that last couple of weeks as the carb depleted mind wanders into the world of treat foods, as opposed to the foods that are on the eating plan!

The only hard part is stopping eating once the season is over – when you don’t have anything on the immediate horizon it’s far too easy to keep sneaking in extra treats.  Last year I topped out at 92 kilos in the off season – this year though the plan is to stay in the mid 80s, it’ll make life much easier when it comes to the lean down when competition season hits again.  It’ll mean staying on pretty much clean eating for six days a week, and on the seventh day, well if God says it’s OK to rest, well, who are we to argue?

All the pain and hunger was worth it for the condition Jason achieved.  Congrats Bart on your awesome year!

Good luck to Bart and Vanessa for the Phil-Asia Unified Champs in Phillipines 20 Oct 11

Jason Bartley
Overall Athletic Champ
NABBA Nationals 2011

For more of Jason's ramblings go to www.oversize.co.nz

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