How Competing in Master’s Figure

May Have Saved My Wife’s Life

April, my wife, has numerous qualities that made me fall in love with her, and love her more each day –inner beauty, outer beauty, smart, humorous, witty, caring, and so on. Yet, this year she showed how strong and courageous she could be.

We had decided to compete for the first time. It was something April always wanted to do, and I decided to support her by competing too. As the contest approached and we were getting into better and better shape, we noticed a lump in April’s lower ab/groin region that wasn’t supposed to be there. One of her clients is a nurse so April asked her to take a quick look at it. She said it did not look like a hernia and that she should get it checked (Thanks Jan!). She made an appointment but the earliest she could get in was 4 weeks, a week after our final contest.

Once her doctor’s appointment was made, April did her best to focus on our upcoming contests. Before I tell you the rest of the story, I’d like to outline her pre-contest nutrition and training for you.

Nutrition:

April’s motto is "abs are made in the kitchen"! She is a fabulous cook and very creative in making nutritious meals. She will see a good recipe in a magazine, book or on TV and then modify it so it is balanced appropriately for our figure and bodybuilding diets. We cook all of our meat, rice and sweet potatoes for the upcoming week on Sunday. We then package them in containers and freeze them. This makes it easy to pick what we want to eat and use different seasonings daily for variety. The basic structure of her diet is as follows:

Meal #1
UMP; fruit; chia seeds (~15-20g protein, ~10-15g carbs, ~5g fats)

Meal #2
Egg Whites, egg yolks; rice cakes (~15- 20g protein, ~10-15g carbs, ~5g fats)

Meal #3
Chicken breast or 94% lean turkey burger; brown rice or sweet potato; olive oil (~15-20g protein, ~10-15g carbs, ~5g fats)

April Ockington front pose

Supplementation

UMP: April’s favorite! She drinks UMP as a shake, makes a pudding with it, and uses various recipes she has found in past NO NONSENSE magazines and creates many of her own.

Fit Tabs: 2 tablets with meal 1 and meal 3

Lean Out: With every meal

7-Keto: 3 capsules, twice a day

EFA Gold: With meals 1 and 3

Fast Up: 2 times a day (April’s 2nd favorite!)

Quadracarn: 3 times a day with meals 2 and 4 and before training

Up-Lift: One serving 30 minutes before training and she sips on another serving during training

Glutamine Select: Combined with

Up-Lift: before and during training

Multiple Enzyme Complex: With each meal

Weight Training

April loves to lift and is a firm believer that women should lift weights. She gets frustrated with women who just focus on cardio and then wonder why they are not getting the results they want. As a personal trainer, April has to deal with the misconception that many women have... "that they are going to get big like the guys". April is a personal testament that this is not true. She lifts heavy and hard and has a beautiful look and body! Loving variety, she struggles with doing the same workouts all the time, so she changes her exercises every 4 weeks. She trains 5 days per week and takes the weekends off. Below is her training schedule:

Monday
  Chest and Calves
Tuesday
  Back
Wednesday
  Legs
Thursday
  Shoulders/Hamstrings
Friday
  Arms
Sat/Sunday
  Off
One of her favorite back workouts is:
T-Bar Rows: 5 x 12-15
Lat Pulldowns: 5 x 12-15 (wide handle bar)
One-Arm DB Rows: 5 x 12-15
DB Pullovers: 5 x 12-15
Lat Pulldowns: 5 x 12-15 (V-Bar handle bar)
Seated Cable Rows: 5 x 12-15 (using D handles)

Cardio

April did 30 minutes of cardio 3-4 times a week early in her pre-contest training. She ramped this up as needed based on her condition by adding days or minutes as the contest approached. She rotates different equipment including the recumbent bike, stationary bike, elliptical, treadmill and stair master for variety.

Contest Results

We competed in 3 contests, met a lot of outstanding people, and had the time of our lives. April earned 4th place finishes in the Novice and Open Figure, and a 5th in Master’s Figure at the NPC Cincinnati; two 3rd place finishes in the Master’s Figure and Open Figure at the NPC Natural Ohio in Cleveland; and a 2nd place finish in the Master’s Figure and two 3rd’s in the Open and Novice Figure at the NPC Natural Eastern USA Championships in Pittsburgh.

Medical Results

April and huband Jim Ockington together
After the contests were over, April was finally able to get into the doctor and have her lump checked out. It wasn’t good. It was diagnosed as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a non-curable, but treatable condition. Luckily, we caught it early when it was still Stage 1. She was grateful that the treatment protocol included radiation, but not chemotherapy. That way she was able to hold on to her hair.

You can’t hold April down. She asked the doctors if she could continue working out and sticking to her nutrition and supplementation program during treatment. We were happy when the doctor actually recommended she stay on course and that it would help with her recovery. He knew of the Beverly International brand and spoke highly of it.

We then had to wait three months (until mid-November) to find out if the treatments worked. It was good news! The cancer is in remission! However, the doctors did find another small lump on the other side of her groin that we will need to monitor over the coming months and years. It is non-curable and something she will have to manage the rest of her life.

If it were not for April wanting to do a figure competition, she would not have reduced her fat and bodyweight to the point where the lump became visible. The cancer may have continued to grow and spread and who knows how long it would have been before we would have found it. Doing those competitions probably saved my wife’s life! She is now focused on coming back stronger in 2013 and getting back on stage with an improved overall package!

Final Words:

April’s goal for a number of years was to step on the stage and compete in a figure contest. It was something that she really wanted to do and she was driven to make this goal a reality. If you have been thinking about doing the same, do not let anything stop you. You never know what the rewards will be. We thought the reward would be stepping on the stage and being one of the very few who had the courage and dedication to actually do it. We also thought we would thoroughly enjoy the experience and meet some great people. All of this came true for us. But the biggest reward was that we found the cancerous lump in April and it saved her life!

April Ockington at a glance
Age: 43
Occupation: Owner, BODY 4 U Personal Training
Family:Jim (husband) and 4 cats (all rescued)
Current Residence: Willoughby, Ohio
Years training: training and health fanatic since high school (1987)
Height: 5’5¾" Weight: Off Season: 136 lbs, Contest: 120 lbs
Favorite Meal:Turkey burgers and brown rices
Favorite supplements:We are big Beverly International fans and have been longtime BI users and distributors with our personal training business. One of the symptoms of April’s disease (see article) is fatigue, something she will have to deal with for the rest of her life. Fast-Up has helped her energy levels tremendously.
What would you recommend to someone who has never used Beverly supplements before? UMP, definitely! The taste is fantastic and it is easy to mix. Its texture is fabulous and you can make it as a shake or a pudding depending on the amount of liquid you mix it in. It is very versatile too; you can cook with it (pancakes, waffles, crepes, etc) and also make it into an ice cream. Whenever we recommend UMP to someone, they end up falling in love with it.
Most Inspiring Book: Excavating Your Authentic Self ˜ Sara Ann Breathnack
Hobby or interests outside bodybuilding: Travel and anything that is health & fitness related such as attending seminars, EXPO’s and competition shows
Words to live by: "Dare to be awesome at something in your life." ˜ Harry Truman