Hafid James

Hafid James

–Hafid James qualifies to represent Grenada because his mother is Grenadian

by Nadia Arandjelovic/The Royal Gazette

HAMILTON, Bermuda, October 7, 2015 – Hafid James was optimistic when he took the stage for a bodybuilding competition in Mexico in 2013.

He’d won the event just a year prior and believed he’d put in enough work to take home another trophy.

Things didn’t go as planned.

He placed fifth. The 29-year-old felt his dream of becoming a professional bodybuilder was slipping from his grasp.

“It wasn’t even the losing so much that hurt. I felt I had let down a lot of people close to me,” Mr James said.

“After that, I was confused and didn’t know what to do. I thought about stopping for good. I actually broke down and cried because it was that devastating to me.

“I wanted to take some time off, but my support system wouldn’t let me quit.”

He gave the Central American and Caribbean Bodybuilding and Fitness Championship another go last month.

He won first place in the Men’s Physique B Class in the competition in Nassau, Bahamas.

“I was able to use that energy from my loss and converted it into something positive,” he said.

“I had to go outside of my comfort zone and that’s where real growth happens.

“Before that I had certain ways of doing things that were my way but after the show, that’s when I started working with a new trainer Carmichael Bryan. [I] had to swallow my pride and start doing things his way.”

The win represented a notch for Grenada — his mother’s hometown.

Mr James learnt only a short while before the September 27th competition that he hadn’t been selected for the Bermuda team.

“I’m a Bermudian but from this point onwards I will be representing Grenada,” he said. “It’s kind of sad, but I’m very big with loyalty and the respect I’ve been given from the Grenada Federation has been incredible.

“They sent me congratulations and have been asking me a lot of questions and even want to send me down there to do a seminar for physique guys because they aren’t as big into bodybuilding yet.”

Mr James loved basketball as a youngster but had to find another way to stay fit after a knee injury.

“I was still able to work out, but I couldn’t run or do any serious jumping,” he said. “I had to take off time from doing ball, but started working out and lifting weights. It helped to strengthen the muscles around the knee and on top of that I was just hooked.

“I loved everything about it. I have always been the type of person where I’m addicted to bettering myself in some form or way.

“I don’t want to look at last week and think I’m that same person.”

With weightlifting he’s able to see the changes in his body over weeks and months.

It’s also challenged him personally, said Mr James, who claims to have a bit of a sweet tooth.

He relies on self-control to stay in tip-top shape. Goodies are only consumed on special occasions.

“I eat healthy all year round with high quality protein and vegetables,” he said. “I try to keep processed sugars as low as possible. I have a cheat meal once in a while. I don’t have it every week, but if it’s a special occasion I try to enjoy life.

“What I tell everyone, including my clients, is the only way to measure how badly you want something is by how much you’re willing to sacrifice for it. If you want to be fit, but aren’t willing to sacrifice drinking alcohol then you don’t really want it. If you’re a student who wants good grades, but you aren’t willing to give up hanging out with your friends then do you really want it?”

Mr James goes to the gym every day of the year, including holidays. For the most part, his workouts last less than an hour.

“This process has showed me I’m a lot stronger than I thought and not just physically, but mentally as well,” he said.

“What a lot of people don’t understand is when you’re a bodybuilder you can’t just go into a gym and work out. It’s a lifestyle — it’s about what I eat and how I live my life. I can’t just be on my phone or be distracted while I’m training.

“If I’m having a bad day and something is going on in my personal life I just have to push that aside. I have to challenge myself every time I go into the gym and that takes a lot of personal strength.”

This year he had a lot of chances to “slip up or slack off”, but he stayed committed.

He says his success is due to support from friends and family and sponsors like Kara’s Kitchen who deliver healthy meals.

“There were times when I wanted to stop and didn’t think it made sense to keep training, but I had to do it for them,” Mr James said. “I really felt this particular show was bigger than me.”

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