Elite Masterton bodybuilder Bevan Mackenzie has turned iron into silver and gold this year.
But it was no simple sleight of hand for the father of three and husband of Rachel Mackenzie, who in 2008 won a national silver in her class in the sport.
"For me, it's an exact science and discipline. Rome wasn't built in a day but it was built brick by brick and it's just one workout after another, one meal after another," he said.
Mackenzie, who with his wife runs the Wai Weight private gym in Masterton, is today fully recovered after battling through five regional and national shows in Wellington and Auckland over seven gruelling weeks of competition that ended last month.
"I was in five shows as a junior when I was 19 and 20, then I stepped away from competing.
"I never stopped training though, I just wasn't serious about it and my focus was on my family and career."
He came away from the demanding series of contests this year with a haul of medals and trophies and runner-up titles in two national championship finals.
Mackenzie had weighed in at a shade over 100kg for the contests after shedding about 20kg from his 1.88m-tall frame. He had competed for the first time this year in the Masters Over-40 division.
The run of competitions began on September 1 at the National Amateur Body Builders Association (Nabba) Wellington regional contest, where Mackenzie won the Masters Over-40 division and also won the overall championship title.
The next weekend, he competed in the New Zealand International Federation of Bodybuilding (NZIFBB) Wellington regional competition and won the 100kg Open Men's division and placed second in the Masters Over-40 category.
On September 15, he competed in the Nabba World Fitness Federation contest in the capital and won the Masters men over-40 division and placed second overall. Two weeks later, at the NZIFBB nationals in Auckland, Mackenzie was second in the Masters Over-40 division to former two-time overall Mr New Zealand Brian McFarlane.
On October 14, Mackenzie took silver in the Masters Over-40 division at the Nabba national championships.
"It was just the roll of the dice and, unfortunately for me, things went Brian's way. I wanted the national title and I had done all I could to get it and felt I had. But it just wasn't to be on the day."
Mackenzie said three people had helped fuel his competitive success this year - his wife, training partner Simon Ogden and fellow bodybuilder and 2010 Nabba Mr New Zealand Bruce Alecock.
"Bruce is a very close friend of mine and, like me, is driven. His criticism and feedback has been invaluable and he's been vital to my motivation and strategy."
He said Ogden had been his training partner for the past two years, which is longer than any previous gym partner.
Almost two decades of martial arts training had won Ogden a second degree black belt in jiu jitsu and led to his founding of jiu jitsu and judo academies in Wellington and Masterton.
Ogden also works as a pharmacist and the specialist skill set of "a ninja cleverly disguised as a chemist" has been a boon during Mackenzie's competition bids.
However, Mackenzie said his wife had been his greatest asset. He believed her success in the sport meant she had more understanding, patience and tolerance with him during the arduous months of preparation.
He said the stress and strain was epitomised on a single day after his first bid for a national title, when he had allowed himself a hamburger and fries.
"Rachel said to me after that one cheat meal - and I'd been dieting for 18 weeks - that for a little while, she got her husband back. That says a whole lot about what she had to sacrifice over that time.
"I'll probably never do a series of contests like that again but then you can never say never to anything. My priorities have changed and bodybuilding is about improving your weak points and that doesn't end.
"But it's all about Rachel and our children for the next couple of years. She's working towards her black belt in jiu jitsu and the kids are training in judo at the academy.
"My challenges this year stole away commitment to their pursuits. Now they deserve my commitment to them in return."
To view more images taken at contests this year, go online to www.waiweight.com