I Don't Regret A Thing
Today as I sit and think about all the things I loved and still loved about my sport, the sport of bodybuilding, I am always taken back to the days of my youth. These were the days before injuries; when gains came easier; when I could perform spontaneous workouts. Although I still train hard as I possibly can at my age, time makes it harder to recover (this reminds me to try and be nice to this body of mine). A body that never let me down was very responsive to whatever I asked of it and healed fairly quickly in the past. Sometimes we need to look back and say, “I don’t regret a thing”. The excitement of training in my own gym, being able to train with my family and friends, and achieve goals others dream of has brought on a real appreciation for the sport itself.
One of my fondest memories was winning the 1972 Mr. Philadelphia contest. I had been in several different local shows with a substantial amount of success. It was around this time I felt the next move was to step up into a bigger arena. So I set my sights on the next contest, Mr. Philadelphia. When you're young and hungry, nothing can and should stand in your way. My brother and I were on a mission – that mission was to win my city title, a contest I wanted very badly. We trained and dieted with intensity and did whatever it took to bring this title home. I wanted to win that trophy but it was for more than just me. I wanted to share it with my family and training partners who witnessed first hand all the sacrifice and commitment that I put into this sport.
When the contestants took the stage on the day of the contest, only five men were left standing and I was one of them. Any one of these men could have easily been crowned Mr. Philadelphia (a title that still gives me a shiver and a smile). The five of us stood on stage like gladiators, waiting to hear the order in which the contestants would be placed; each man hoping not to hear his name as the fifth place winner.
The judges made their announcements. “Coming in 5th place” and “coming in 4th place". At this point I was still in the running and the goal is was becoming more real. Third place came and went. The thoughts of all the sacrifice and hard work was beginning to shine through for me. At this point, 2nd place was not an option for me. "Now coming in 2nd place..." It wasn't me. My name wasn't announced. I realized then that I was the new Mr. Philadelphia.
After I was crowned and the prize was handed to me, the joy of the moment swept over me. I couldn't describe it then and I still can't describe it now. I wanted scream, cry, jump up and down. I did a little of all of them. The best part of this joy was the ride home. In the car, I had a chance to think back and truly savor the moment.
I still vividly remember sitting in the back seat of the car as my brother looked at the trophy. It wasn't a big trophy, but it read, "Mr. Philadelphia, 1st Place". The joy on my brother's face and in my heart is something I will never forget. From that show, I went on to win hundreds of trophies. While they all hold a special place for me, nothing stands out like my first big win and being able to share that experience with my loved ones.
So, remember this. Regardless of your age, if you're trying to set a goal for yourself, do it as best as you possibly can and share it with those who helped you get there. This will provide that magic moment of sharing a dream with someone you love and appreciate... And it will mean you'll never have a regret.