Keith Beaudry dreams of broccoli.
After months of dieting, which is to say he is forced to eat the same bland foods every day prior to a competition, nothing gets Beaudry salivating like a stalk of broccoli.
“Even broccoli tastes sweet when you are dieting,” says Beaudry. “I’ll get excited to eat broccoli.”
The Nelson native is eating as much broccoli as he wants lately. Beaudry finished first in the men’s physique Open-D category at the BC Amateur Provincial Bodybuilding Championship on July 10. The result, is only Beaudry’s second competition, qualifies him for nationals in 2017.
Since he is skipping this year’s nationals it also means he can, for the time being, broaden his palate.
“My diet’s already down the drain,” said Beaudry. “I was set mentally, like this is where my diet ends so I can eat junk food again.”
It was hockey that led Beaudry to the gym. His father was a gym rat, and Beaudry followed suit when he was 15 as a way of getting in shape while playing minor hockey. Once he graduated from L.V. Rogers, Beaudry was done with hockey but stayed in the gym.
“I used to just work out and party every weekend and not diet,” said Beaudry. “I always had an okay physique but other people [said], ‘you’ve gotta compete.’ I was like, well, I should probably make my lifestyle a little healthier and see what I can actually do. If I really commit to it and diet and train, I want to see how far I can take it.”
Now 25, Beaudry has taken bodybuilding further than he thought he would. But doing so has required adhering to an exhaustive schedule that balances exercise, work and a bland menu.
In the four months prior to provincials, Beaudry woke up every morning at 5 a.m. and went to the Nelson and District Community Centre gym for an intense cardio workout. After that, he’d go to work for 10 hours as an electrician apprentice.
His work day done, Beaudry would head back to the gym for two hours to focus on either his legs, arms, back or chest. Because Beaudry stands out physically, even in a gym, his workouts were regularly interrupted by curious onlookers.
“It’s hard to get a workout complete just because it’s such a small town and if you go to that gym every day, so do lots of other people,” said Beaudry. “They always have lots of questions for you. ‘How is competition prep going?’
“Like when you’re dieting, you’re eating such low carbs it’s hard to be friendly and hold a conversation with someone. I just want to get in here and get this done and go.”
Fueling those workouts was also hard for him.
Beaudry’s diet was focused on high amounts of protein, low carbohydrates and moderate fats. For breakfast he’d have a cup of egg whites, two whole eggs, a cup of oatmeal and a protein shake. After that he’d eat chicken and rice three to four times a day, supplementing that with coconut oil, peanut butter and avocado for his fat intake.
All of that also needed to be measured out prior to Beaudry sitting down at the table. In the two months leading up to the competition, Beaudry and his girlfriend Rachella De Vuono had to make separate meals. Sometimes De Vuono would eat in a different room.
“It’s definitely a challenge because obviously when he’s dieting that hard and I’m wanting to eat pasta smothered in sauce, it’s pretty hard for him to watch,” said De Vuono.
“So I try to be as careful as I can, but there are a couple of arguments about me eating cookies and stuff in the house.”
Beaudry finished third at a regional event last November, which qualified him for provincials.
Standing backstage in Vancouver, he said, was a little surreal. First he needed to get spray tanned by event staff, which helps judges see muscle definition under the bright lights. It’s also hard to wash off — weeks later Beaudry still had a little on his arms.
That was weird, but so was watching the competition.
“You’re almost like, what am I doing here? That’s how I felt,” said Beaudry. “All these guys are rolling up in the full track suits [with] sponsors and their name on them and I’m just like from Nelson hanging out in my Nike T-shirt being like, ‘Let’s do this.'”
Beaudry didn’t expect to win, and his first instinct with a huge medal around his neck was to destroy his diet. He had a burger with a milkshake and then drove 30 minutes to a Krispy Kreme to eat a dozen donuts. Not content with his meal, Beaudry went out again to grab a large pizza and chicken wings, KFC popcorn chicken and cheesecake.
He was sick that night. “I tried to eat it all. It was disgusting.”
De Vuono said Beaudry gained 20 pounds in three days. “I remember just standing there being like, I wish I was still dieting because this is so gross,” said Beaudry.
Beaudry is taking time off now between competitions. He’s working on his next level of electrician’s qualifications at Selkirk College while being on what’s called a reverse-diet, which helps his body adjust after months of dieting.
He’s still planning to become a pro bodybuilder, which would entail getting sponsorships and travelling to pose at events, even though that means resuming what he admits is an insane lifestyle,
“Sometimes I’ll look in the mirror and I’ll be like, this is almost over the top, getting close to the competition, but this is what I’ve got to do to win,” he said.
And as his reward, a fresh piece of broccoli for dessert.