Things we wish people had told us before we decided to compete.

There are a few things that happen as a result of physique competing that you may not anticipate until you have first-hand experience of the competition preparation process. Some of these things will teach you resilience, mental strength and how to go to the toilet without getting fake tan all over the seat. On the other hand some of the effects of competing are unexpected and not always a positive.

  • You will never look at your body in the same way again

Show day is the best you will have ever looked and probably the best you will ever look if you don’t plan on competing again. “Stage ready” is also an incredibly temporary state and for a few days/weeks/months after your competition it’s not unusual to feel a bit soft and fat despite still being in better physical condition than the majority of the general population. It’s important to acknowledge that carrying a little extra chub on top of your stage body is perfectly normal and completely necessary. Nobody will look down on you for gaining weight after a show because it needs to happen for improvements to be made, energy levels to increase and hormone levels to return to normal.

  • The doughnuts will still be there tomorrow

I promise the novelty of putting chocolate on your breakfast and being able to have dessert after every meal does eventually wear off. The ritualistic, post-show food fest is something that pretty much every bodybuilder looks forward to but know your limits. All of this extra food can lead to an upset stomach and a general feeling of self-hatred. Your body needs a good feed but don’t make yourself sick for the sake of it. The doughnut will still be there tomorrow when you can factor it in to your reverse diet macros.

 

  • Invest in some bleach

Yep, fake tan gets everywhere and competition tans are far darker than the average, off the shelf self-tanner, you might have to bite the bullet and just chuck the bed sheets away. I had to soak my toilet seat in bleach to get rid of the orange leg marks.

  • Your weight will fluctuate a lot.

After my last competition my weight jumped 8kg overnight then dropped back down the next. This  weight is mostly just water retention and glycogen repletion from that massive post show pizza and tub of ice cream. Do not stress about this! My weight was jumping around for two weeks after my show as I found a balance with food and training.

  • You don’t have to know what your next goal is.

Everyone expects you to jump straight back in to competition prep and wants to know when your next show is, you don’t have to have an answer to this! A few months after my bikini competition and a month of travelling and I still don’t know what I’m doing with life or what my goals are. You’re allowed to take some time out from training and dieting to figure out your next move. This is a great time to plan something non-fitness related like a holiday or day trip, or just generally take some time out to spend with family or a loved one.

  • Coming out of a contest can be just as tough

By this I mean that the post show blues are a very real thing. There were plenty of post-show tears for me and I have no idea why. It feels like you’ve lost direction and have nothing to work towards but setting some new goals and embracing new challenges can help to combat this. Reverse dieting is also mentally very difficult. You’ve just spent months rigidly monitoring your food intake, probably denying yourself all of the food that you want and living in the mentality that you can’t indulge. This is so normal and experienced by more or less every competitor no matter how flexible your diet is. The temptation is to go on an all-out binge and eat every one of those hot cross buns you’ve got stashed away in the freezer but the best advice I can give you is: don’t! This leads to feelings of guilt and can be a downward spiral in to a dangerous binge and restrict cycle. Embrace your reverse diet and treat it the same way as a prep diet. Essentially it is the very beginning of your next prep diet!

 

- Charlotte Fisher
Nutritional Science Student