So we’ve covered the diet</a href>, the look</a href>, and if you even should</a href> compete, but lets talk about the one aspect of competition that many fail to think of and prepare for: post show.
Post Show Emotions
Probably no matter what place you finished in, you’re on a little bit of a high. Especially if this is your first show. Even still after a repeat performance, you feel a bit hyped once the crowd applause quiets down, the lights dim and everyone has taken their pictures. There are a few reasons why…
The Good: You just spent 12+ weeks preparing for this specific show, you conquered natural fear of stepping in front of people you don’t know in barely any clothing in order to be judged, and you are done. Even if you fail at winning the top spot, the idea of leaving to eat a big juicy hamburger and some cupcakes is enough to make anyone feel filled with adrenaline.
The Bad: You could wake up in the next few days feeling a bit sad. It is because unless you have another show already lined up, your entire routine has changed and you have “nothing” to work towards. When you drill yourself into a strict routine of when to eat, what to eat, when to sweat and how to sweat, leaving a routine can throw you into a little bit of a spiral. This is natural and it is ok.
How to Manage: Whether you’re on the up loop or down loop, you need to find a way to get back to normal in order to manage your day to day. Staying completely hyped can drain you if you don’t have a place to channel it, and becoming sad can hurt the rest of your life. As much as you may not want to throw yourself back into a routine post show (because it’s the last place you care to see after so many hours is the gym), you need to start going back to the gym within the first week post show. Consistent time, consistent effort, a moderate to strict regimen. This will put you back on track and curb the following post show stumbling blocks.
Post Show Diet
Before the show you swore that once you stepped off stage you weren’t going to binge out, but as the diet tightens and the timeline shrinks, you’re dreaming of every cheat meal known to man.
The Good: You technically can eat whatever you want because you don’t have to step on stage tomorrow. A cheat meal after weeks of chicken and asparagus and fish tastes better than it ever has. And your metabolism is still churning so you’re able to maintain a bit of your abs for a few days even though you’re overindulging in cheesecake a bit more than you should.
The Bad: Post show diet is the biggest setback that many competitors have and here is why: your body isn’t use to whatever junk you’re about to dump into it and it will not react well internally or externally. Practically anything that isn’t meal prep will lead to major bloat given you’ve been low on sodium for weeks and guess what, all that good stuff you’re indulging is filled with salt. Mix junk with water retention and it isn’t surprising for many competitors to put on 10+lbs in the first week alone! This isn’t healthy but it isn’t uncommon. Major side effects from throwing your body into depletion and then back out vary and sometimes can even lead to renal failure.
How to Manage: This is an easy one: don’t overindulge. Slowly work in more sodium and more carbs. Your body shouldn’t maintain absolute low levels of sodium and carbohydrates for an extended period of time, but immediately adding both of those back can harm your body. Add 5%-10% of both to your diet each day, and allow for 2-3 “non-clean” meals each week until you’re back to your pre-prep diet (probably 40-40-20). This will allow your body to adequately adjust.
Post Show Physique
You can’t stop looking in the mirror at how amazing and lean you look. Muscles popping, abs apparent, striations visible. This is the best you’ve looked ever, and you feel so good about it!
The Good: You’ve worked so incredibly hard for this physique that your greatness isn’t just mirror visible but very obvious in the way you carry yourself. You emotionally and mentally feel stronger. The added bonus is knowing you can not only accomplish goals, but you can look the way you’ve dreamed.
The Bad: Any weight gain or change in appearance can easily bring a competitor down. They want to maintain this awesome look, but the minute they begin normal drinking and eating, water retention may quickly knock those abs away. You may quickly feel “soft” depending on how you manage your diet, but no matter what, you’ll look much different than when you stepped on stage.
How to Manage: Set clear expectations pre show. Know that there is a difference between stage ready and everyday life. Find pictures of your favorite competitors and see what their appearance and weight is on and off season. Know that while you can maintain a certain look, stage ready isn’t that look. Most importantly, be easy on yourself! Don’t feel guilty when the scale goes up and don’t feel guilty for that meal you want. Being realistic is the only way you’ll manage post show expectations!
Post Show Plans
Deciding if you should compete again depends on a number of things: Did you have fun? Do you want to do it again? Can you improve or is improving important to you? Now that you know what to expect and realistic costs (time, money, commitment), can you afford those costs? For the first time competitor, take some time before deciding on the next show. Let yourself come through that stage high and how you handle post show, then decide if this is for you. If you can do all of those things, then go for another show! If not, then don’t feel bad about deciding this isn’t for you, and find another way to keep your fitness goals going!