Entering a competition is a stressful time, just in case nobody told you, it is. The day itself is probably filled with a lot of waiting, lethargic struggles, juggling your water intake and trying to eat enough with the hopes of not messing up your condition. These are just a few of the things you may experience, it doesn’t sound like a pretty picture does it? Well its not all that crazy.
The thrill of standing on stage and posing is something very few people will understand, and it is that which makes it all worth it and which is the highlight and excitement of the day.
But anyway, the actual show day is not really the stressful part I am talking about. It is the weeks and weeks leading up to the competition which are the toughest and most testing.
The tough part? Well to name a few:
- Sticking to a simple diet day in and day out for those weeks
- Slowly tapering down your calories and/or carbs and experiencing fatigue while still trying to train hard
- Not eating out or eating what everyone else is enjoying etc.
These are all small things to get stressed about though, because in essence the time will pass either way, eventually you will get your energy back and you will be able to eat some nice treats, so don’t worry about it. So what do you gain? It’s a great chance for you to learn a lot about yourself, to learn more about how your body works and what it does and does not respond to. You will learn so much about nutrition and training when you have a purpose and a goal of the competition, and most importantly you will develop and train certain great characteristics like discipline, willpower, patience and endurance.
These sort of things can only get stronger through constant use and practice by oneself, and this is a perfect way to ‘train’ them.
So with all that being said, you now have a few insights into stepping on stage and what goes into it and what you can expect to gain from the experience, but what about the aftermath. What happens when the competition comes to an end? What happens when it’s all over? Now you are free, free to eat whatever you want, free to take it easy and not train as hard… so much freedom!
This is something which you need to be prepared for and more so mentally prepared for, as if you are not you can find yourself spiralling out of control very, very quickly. More so if your pre competition regiment was extremely strict (which it does not have to be).
Too many people put so much effort into planning and preparing for the pre competition phase, and neglect to even venture into thinking about the day after a competition, or the only thought on their mind for after, is PIZZA! ICE CREAM! CAKE!
Once its over you may feel like what next? Where do I go from here?
Usually there a few things which can happen:
You pig out and eat everything that you wanted to eat, and just eat and eat and eat. Especially if it was your first competition or it was a very long preparation. You may find yourself at a buffet not knowing when to stop because the freedom is overwhelming and you feel like you need to make up for all that lost time of not eating all those delicious foods that you purposefully couldn’t eat.
It can be quite dangerous as your body can end up drawing in and holding a lot of water which could land you in hospital if it happens too quickly. You could also end up gaining back all the weight you took off for the competition if you continually just binge and eat whatever you can for days on end.
So, yes, enjoy a few meals of whatever you want to eat but then be sure to get back into a more structured diet (probably not as strict) as soon as possible.
Take a Chill
It’s too easy to just decide take a few weeks off after a competition by convincing yourself that after such an intense few months I could do with a break. Don’t fall into that trap; a week or so off is fine, but be sure to get back into training sooner rather than later. Get back into a schedule and continue to do some training at least.
It doesn’t have to be so intense, but just make sure to do something. Eventually you can get back to a high intensity when you are ready.
The mental aspect of it all is probably the hardest. If you don’t have another show to do relatively soon afterwards you can get a slight sense of feeling unsure of what to do next or why you should bother continue training as hard. This probably leads to some of the above points.
Its a mental as well as a physical battle which needs to be conquered. So make sure to set a few other goals which you want to accomplish to keep you going and to keep you motivated to stay on the right path and not slack completely.
In the end remember to live a little, and spend time with your close friends and loved ones who were there for you during that time when you were probably not very loveable.
Enjoy eating out with them every now and again. But take it slow, the biggest thing is to not eat everything in sight all the time, you then need to exercise control and self discipline and get into a routine again and keep setting small goals to work towards.