Post Competition Experience, you may be SURPRISED!
As many of my friends and clients know, this year I accomplished a long standing goal, to compete in a bodybuilding competition. I ended up doing 3 within a couple months and although my own worst critic, placed fairly well for a rookie. It was a very proud and exhilarating experience. Something that is hard to put into words. Some have asked WHY I wanted step on stage in a bikini vs. just run another race. Both are challenging and require a ton of time and discipline. But the difference for me was the commitment to both workout AND diet that a bikini competition required. Why not be athletic and have the body of your desire? Trusting that day by day, meal by meal, workout by workout, my body was changing. After a few weeks of progress pictures, I became hooked on the process of transforming. It was amazing to watch the changes physically EVEN when the scale didn't move. This was crazy to me since as a runner I always felt I needed to see a lesser number on the scale to feel “successful”. An even greater achievement was the emotional growth. Setting a goal, trusting the process and finishing until the end. Even when I doubted myself along the way, I finished.
Continuing even though I may not have believed in myself all the time, was very empowering when looking back. I loved the entire process! Except post show. Ahhh I should have known better. Through social media you see all the posts on “reverse dieting” and “having a plan” afterwards. I acknowledged and agreed yet didn’t lay out anything structured. The truth was, I felt SO AMAZING during my prep. AMAZING. My mindset was completely different then the figure show I completed in 2002 and up until the end, I truly felt like what I was doing was completely maintainable long term. I was on cloud 9 most of this prep, seriously, it was probably annoying how happy I was to most around me. Therefore I ended the season with blinders on, feeling a bit untouchable to the “post show problems”…
So why did I gain back weight so quickly?
At 5 weeks post show I am now fluctuating between 10-12 lbs, more then what I desired to gain back. For those who are not familiar with the sport, it is normal to gain back some body fat for overall health purposes, but I was hoping to keep it a bit less! Where did I go wrong? First off my mindset was not in a good place. I was disappointed in my final show placing. Lets be honest. Although I am always thankful to have the opportunity to compete with so many amazing athletes, I was hoping to do better. But it is ok, I learned a lot and moved on quickly. However from a disappointing 4th place finish directly into a week of camping (AKA lots of food and drink) it was just enough time to start a bad habit. After at home I quickly realized it was hard to jump into a “reverse diet” after eating in such a caloric surplus. My body was suddenly craving sugars and way more then what my macros would allow. I’m talking CRAVINGS that I had never experienced, so weird. I was starting to panic. So the research began. I was reading anything possible regarding post show habits, hormone imbalances, brain chemical alterations (think addict, but with FOOD)… oddly this calmed me down. Knowledge is power for me, something that gives hope. Each week I am improving. I’m certainly a WORK in PROGRESS!! I share my success and failures in hopes of helping others find their way. This is no different. And although the honeymoon phase of “flexible dieting” is over, I still find it an incredibly effective way to reach your goals. Just know that a pint of Ben and Jerry’s might not fit your macros. Nor does a bottle of wine, just in case your wondering. So, even though I’ve been improving post show, I still struggle, particularly with the weekends. It is all a mindset shift. Sound familiar? It applies to us ALL. Without a hard DATE on the line, I find it much easier to waiver on my no back to back junk rule…BAD IDEA. You will get no where fast. Without seeing results, motivation is lost and feelings of “failure” can overpower rational thinking faster then you can say “PIZZA”!
Lesson to be learned for anyone here, we all make mistakes. We all lose focus and derail at some point. The MOST important thing is to KEEP PRESSING ON!! I really didn’t think I would struggle post show like I have only because my experience was vastly differ then my last. Now, let me be clear, I am still 1000% BETTER post show NOW vs. 15 years ago. I create some very bad eating habits back then, that took years to work through. Emotional eating was at an all time high and although I still struggle with that now, it is much better. I am able to separate my feelings from food most of the time when stressed, upset, etc but not always. Because I am human. But with each experience I am able to learn. Reflect. And improve upon. This is something I have talked to many clients about, emotional eating is very common. It becomes a difficult cycle to break BUT YOU CAN break it. Start a new habit in place of the old one. You may even have to change seemingly good habits if they are a trigger. For example, I had to put my scale in the closet for awhile! Because when I'm eating well, I feel GREAT like in this picture I took a few days ago. But when I got on the scale the next day, it gave me a very scary number that was difficult to swallow. If the number on the scale dictates your mood or behaviors, it is time to break up with the scale for awhile. Remove the roadblocks and keep moving forward!
Not sure how? I sent out steps on how to do this in our last challenge newsletter. I will include an excerpt here in case you missed it:
I want you to remember something, your MIND is truly your MOST powerful and strongest "muscle". I talk a lot about mindset but it will make or break your success. Are you finding it hard to get out of a "bad habit"? I am going to give an example in regards to food but you can use this for working out also. Use these simple steps to create a new pattern. YOU ARE WORTH IT. You are GOOD enough. You are STRONG enough. You are AMAZING.
I want you to work on the mental game in regards to "treats". Recognize your triggers, when do you want to overeat or emotional eat? Then remove yourself from that thought and emotion temporarily. You will come back! It is a practice to create new habits. If you crave peanut butter for example, allow yourself the PB. Even if over macros. BUT. What would the old you do? "Can't stop" once you have a little bit? I hear this OFTEN from clients. Lets work on that together. It is possible to change!
1-Remove from situation (distracted though): fold laundry, go for a walk, pray, read, etc
2- come back and portion 1-2 tbsp. Walk away.
3- mentally tell yourself "I can have that if I want it, I will enjoy it, it will NOT ruin my goals"
4- the brain is way more powerful then any BODY or muscle. - positive affirmation! ❤️
5- return to serving and enjoy.
6- PRAISE YOURSELF. Phone or text me or a friend for accountability or positive praise. Use our private FB group. Seems silly but will help. You got this!!
One thing I am incredibly thankful for through all of this is my continued excitement for training. I LOVE getting to the gym and lifting heavy. My workouts have been fantastic. I know many competitors feel “burned out” after a prep but for me, seeing my strength improve is super motivating. Find something that you can praise about yourself. It will help to build the confidence lost from “derailing” and each success adds up.
I am writing this to share my experience but also in hopes to inspire someone who may have “fallen off the wagon” for a bit. GET YOUR BUTT BACK ON. Now it the time. NOW is YOUR time. Because time is precious. It passes by no matter what and I can promise you that no matter how busy life gets, you will find more joy during your time here when feeling good about yourself. So get moving. Start now. Don’t give up! And I can guarantee if you continue on, you WILL reach your goal. Then you will surpass it! Our bodies are a temple, a gift from our heavenly father. Treat it well, and it will treat you back.
In Health and Blessings-