The Post Competition Blues By: Kristie Higgs
How to Stay Devoted Post-Competition
When preparing for a physique show, it’s easy to dive right into to the preparation process and neglect to ask the question, “What happens after the competition?”
Preparation habits are built around the end goal of stepping on stage. For months competitors manage an around the clock dedication to a strict diet, cardio regime, and lifting schedule. But, when the stage lights go out, the auditorium empties, and every competitor has eaten to their heart’s content, there is a single question that crosses every competitors’ mind: “What now?”
Competitors often follow one of two trends. Under the guidance of their coach, they will resume their diet and slowly reverse their calories up while tapering cardio down; or, more often than not, post-show competitors will lose most of their pre-show control. Being “mentally starved,” their dialing cravings will turn into week-long binges. Consequently, they will rebound in weight, and become unsure or depressed wondering where their pre-show self-control went. This is the vicious post-show cycle that the majority of competitors experience and aren’t warned about beforehand.
With five years of competing experience, I can personally attest to taking both routes. The first three years of competing, I followed the second trend, falling into a cycle of daily overeating in attempt to satisfy the mental hunger. Without the goal of the stage, I had zero self-control and continually made excuses for eating unreasonable amounts of treats. This binge period would last a few weeks and then I would slowly take back my self-control. Unfortunately, I had gained about ten pounds above stage weight in those weeks and felt like a failure.
Mentally, I was so negatively affected by this that I would find myself turning down invites to go the pool or be seen in a bikini, feared of being judged for having more body fat than my stage physique.
During my fourth year of competing I told myself “enough is enough.” I decided ahead of time that if I chose to continue competing, I would follow my reverse diet post-show. After competing at Nationals in Miami (2016), I immediately fell back into my routine. It was the first time I felt amazing post-show. I no longer viewed competing as an off season/on season ordeal. I decided that in order to be happy, I needed to stay on point year-round. This didn’t mean that my body fat would stay as low, but I would keep my mind and metabolism healthy by slowly reversing my calories up and staying in control. I was so much happier with my post-show physique and the preparation process for my fifth year of competing was made that much easier.
Being successful at post-show dieting is all about having a game plan and mentally committing to it BEFORE the show ever happens. Here are some tips that help me be successful:
1. Take ONE day off from diet and workouts (typically a Sunday if the show is Saturday) and be ready to get back to routine the following Monday.
2. Stock your kitchen with healthy foods before you leave for the show. If you can avoid the store when you get home, you will be less likely to buy junk food.
3. Continue to drink water. After you reintroduce carbs and sodium post-show, you are going to retain a lot of water. Keep yourself hydrated. Drinking lots of water also curbs hunger, making it easier to manage cravings and indulgences.
4. Keep yourself busy. Make a list of things you want to accomplish after the show to keep your mind off of snacking.
5. Limit yourself to going out once a week. A weekly cheat meal won’t set you back like a week-long binge will.
6. Don’t neglect cardio. Your body has adjusted to burning extra calories because of the cardio expenditure, it’s important to slowly taper cardio down and likewise slowly taper your calories up.
7. Remember how it good it felt to be in control while getting ready for a show; eating healthy, lifting, and doing cardio made you feel great. These are lifelong habits. Although they don’t need to be as extreme for daily living, it’s important to continue these habits at a pace that keeps you feeling strong.
8. Continue using calorie/macro friendly food finds. Use recipes that are creative to keep things fun and fresh. The best part about post-show is having the liberty to explore new recipes! Check-out Devotion Recipes for fun ways to use all of our Flex Flavors and Protein Powders.