It was just too tempting.
For the first time in one year, bodybuilder Amber Gage got to eat a plate of poutines, and a slice of pizza – and six cupcakes.
She had been in training for a figure bodybuilding show in Vancouver last week and on the weekend she had her first chance to eat “real food.”
Diet, discipline and determination had gotten her where she wanted to be – on stage, pumped up and showing off her 129-pound body with muscles gleaming and – thanks to coach Cara Roberts – perfectly posed.
It was a proud moment.
“I came in eighth in the figure bodybuilding category. My only goal going into the competition was not to come in last – and I didn’t. I honestly didn’t think it mattered where I placed as long as I did it and felt confident and proud just going out there and doing it. You know when you step out there on stage you are going to be critiqued. That’s why you’re there. I was nervous though, I’m sure they remember me as the only one who sweated.”
She has already set her goals for the 2016 competition.
“Next time, I want to be in the top three. That’s what I’ll be working towards.”
What has been the hardest part of her journey – besides her rock-hard abs?
“The hardest part for me is that I just love food. So it’s not easy to do this but it is fun and you meet people. And now I’m on a whole new meal plan again which started today (Wednesday). You are allowed one cheat meal per week that has only 600 calories – so what can you eat for that that tastes good?”
This whole thing has given her a “whole new appreciation” for food.
Her trainer Grant suggests having sushi or a homemade hamburger.
Gage, 23, really began her fitness routine years ago when she took up boxing in high school. Then she took up weightlifting mostly to keep in shape and eventually chose to continue with weightlifting over boxing.
Seeing the results she got over two and half years of lifting weights made her want to train even harder. Soon she had her sights set on competitive figure body building. Last July, she signed on with her Team G-Fit coach Grant and began training. Gage weighed 148 pounds last year before beginning her rigourous training, and began to reduce the percentage of her body fat.
“In the off season you try to put on more muscle. In the on season you try to lean out. So while I was getting in shape for competition, I had to drink seven or eight litres of water every day. No lemon water, or black coffee or green tea. Just water. You eat whole foods, six small meals per day. I would eat a little bit of oatmeal for breakfast, four asparagus spears with a tiny piece of fish for lunch.”
Two days before the show in Vancouver, she could “load up on carbs,” she said, because she was so lean it looked like she don’t have muscles at all.
“So you can have half a Snickers bar before you go into the pump room. And before you go on stage, they give you this glaze for your skin. You always have a spray tan on your skin because the lights are very bright and if you didn’t have the tan, you would look all washed out.”
Competitive sports is nothing new for Gage, neither is goal setting.
In October, she’ll compete in a figure body building competition in Prince George.
“I was always athletic in high school (she graduated from Duchess Park), playing sports and trying to stay active,” she said.
That didn’t change for her as a young woman. Her plan now is to go into physiotherapy and later become a personal sports trainer.
“It takes a long time. First I do two years at CNC, then two years at UNBC, then another two years at UBC. You can get your certificate as a personal trainer during that time too.”