Congratulations! You have spent the last 12 weeks (or more) – that’s 84 days / 2,016 hours / 120,960 minutes – preparing for your competition. You put in the work and got on that stage and accomplished your goal!
You have finally adapted to your continuous routine of — waking up to your morning alarm before the crack of dawn, going to do cardio, eating, chugging water, going to work, eating, going to train, chugging water, eating, going home to meal prep, chugging water, eating, going to sleep, and then repeating it all over again. Every thought, every rep, every waking moment has been dedicated to one and only one thing – bringing your best physique possible to that stage…
When the show day comes and goes…. Afterward it can feel like you were just let out of prison or some type of intense military boot camp training… you’re completely lost with your new found freedom because your routine is suddenly broken!
So now what?! You’ve been so focused on achieving THAT PERFECT STAGE PHYSIQUE while tracking your progress and counting down the days… that now you aren’t quite sure what to do next.
Let me just say…. That this feeling is totally normal and I’ve been there MANY times. Personally, it took me a very long time to find “balance” after competing. I would feel so deprived leading up to my first few shows that I would obsess about what I was going to eat as soon as it was over during my whole contest prep. During my contest prep, my mind was like a war zone, it’s like I would never get to eat junk food again so I would stock up on it little by little, and then eat it ALL within a few days after my show was over. When you do that right after a show, that’s when the weight starts piling on because your body is super receptive and will soak up everything you put in it… if you keep filling it with junk. This post-show window can either be used to your advantage to gain great lean muscle OR is can be used to your demise. I have done both several times.
For that reason, I want to share a few tips on getting back to normal life without the huge weight gain so that no one has to struggle like I did in the beginning.
The last thing you want to do have intense “dieting” is to follow another diet, right?! But don’t worry, this doesn’t have to be super strict, unless you want it to be. Some girls are super lenient with this process (I’m one of those girls lol) and some still follow a plan to a T. If you’ve only competed a couple times, then ask your coach to help with an off season plan. “Reverse dieting” is really just a fancy way of saying – increase your calories gradually week by week so that you don’t shock your body by going from a 100% strict diet to complete chaos. Don’t feel like you can’t still have a few treats here and there, but as long as you aren’t bingeing, you’ll still be fine.
– Have your couple cheat meals the day after the show and then get right back on a plan – not necessarily your diet that you were just on because you’re definitely sick of that by now, but something different that you can easily follow for a little while and not be hungry.
– Eat what you want – IN MODERATION and within reason – that’s the key, moderation. No reason you should feel deprived on a diet.
– Realize that food will always be there! You can enjoy treats here and there without going overboard and can easily still stay within 8 lbs or so (good pounds, not all fat) of your contest weight.
Gradually Decrease Cardio
Again, you don’t want to go from doing an hour of cardio every day to no cardio at all. You want to gradually decrease your cardio as you gradually increase your calories for the best results IF you would like to stay semi-lean and not gain a lot of unnecessary fat. A competition prep coach should be knowledgeable around this process.
– After you take a few days off, keep your weight training in… if you’re an athlete, then you love weight training anyway and want to keep doing it, maybe just cut it back slightly.
Following these guidelines will mean you won’t have to deprive yourself constantly or do hours of cardio to get an excess amount of weight off when it’s showtime again. You can also make more progress during your contest preps because instead of ONLY focusing on getting that fat off, you can also focus on building muscle, eating tons of clean foods to fuel your body and really shaping your physique in the process, which is what you want.
So don’t be so hard on yourself! Enjoy your treats but also enjoy your good clean meals and spice them up so you don’t feel like you are deprived. You can still look fit in the off-season without stressing it!