(Note: this article was written Sept 2012 during my last week as a reporter. I recently learned it was never published and so I’ve posted it here.)
For those of us that struggle every day with eating better and exercising more, the world of a bodybuilder may as well be on another planet.
Jessica Pagsisihan is a bodybuilder. She recently won the Women’s Lightweight category at the 2012 Canadian National Bodybuilding Championships, held at the Winspear Centre on Aug. 18.
This involved 15 weeks of intense dieting and exercise to make the category’s weight restrictions of 115 pounds or less.
“If I have that chocolate bar, it’s the difference between first and last place,” explains Pagsisihan.
For the last few weeks before the comptetition, her diet was basically chicken for protein and almond butter, a healthy fat.
“The family packs [of chicken] that I buy [from Costco], I go through three of those a week,” she says.
She also did about two hours of cardio per day plus weights with her husband, who is also a bodybuilder.
40-year-old Pagsisihan hadn’t planned to compete in the Nationals, but her plans changed.
“Someone had sent me a message on Facebook after the Albertas and basically said ‘if so-and-so was there, you wouldn’t have won,’” she says.
That callous comment demeaned the months, even years, of Pagsisihan’s effort.
“I thought ‘you’re taking away all of my hard work and you’re belittling me,’” says Pagsisihan.
While Pagsisihan was hurt, she didn’t let it get her down. The comment spurred her forward to compete in Nationals.
“I made sure that when I came in, I was at the top of my game.” She beat the woman who supposedly would have beaten her and the commenter saw her win.
But Pagsisihan’s win wasn’t just because of a comment. It was because of her determination to achieve a goal.
And she was content to only win her category; she knew she wouldn’t win the overall competition against larger women.
“To get up there with the middle weights and the heavy weights and the super heavies for the pose down, it was just amazing being on the same stage as them,” says Pagsisihan. “I had a blast.”
One of the most important factors in Pagsisihan’s wins is the support of her husband.
“He’s what keeps me going. He keeps pushing me to achieve my goals. He’s my biggest advocate,” says Pagsisihan.
Bodybuilding is an amazing feat of endurance and will power. It takes a great deal of effort to achieve the distinctive bodybuilder look and perseverance to continuously win competitions.
Pagsisihan says it is important to have clear goals, solid routines and the self-respect to devote her time to herself.
And it never hurts to have a great support network.
“It’s just a great rapport of women, very dedicated to the sport. It’s a lot of fun,” says Pagsisihan.
If you want to learn more about bodybuilding, visit abba.ab.ca.
Since the writing of this article in Sept 2012, Jessica Pagsisihan competed in the Arnold Classic, an international competition, and placed fourth in her category.