HI FRIENDS! Happy Thursday and Happy 4 Days til Christmas! I literally cannot believe that 2017 is actually coming to an end… Where has the time gone??
With the end of 2017 comes 2018… you know, the whole “New Year, New Me” mentality. Not saying there is anything wrong with that or making New Years Resolutions… i personally think goal setting is crucial when it comes to growth, not just in fitness, but in all aspects of life.
You see often that a very common goal, in the new year, is weight related. “This year is the year i FINALLY lose the weight”… nothing wrong with that. The issue, in my opinion, is when people decide that in order to reach their weight loss goal they need to jump into prep for a bodybuilding competition.
… No. No. No. No. No…. just NO.
There’s more to competing than fake lashes and pretty makeup
Competing is more than a sparkly bikini and a stage tan
If you follow fitness social medias at all, like Instagram or YouTube, you see that the bodybuilding lifestyle is often times glamorized and appears to be very common. It comes across like if you are serious about health and fitness, losing weight, and looking good than a bikini bodybuilding prep is DEFINITELY the next step in your journey.
WRONG. Let me say that again… WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.
Bodybuilding competitions are a lot more than being shredded, putting on a sparkly bikini, and flaunting around in 5 inch heels on stage.
The purpose of this post is to help you ask yourself whether or not a competition prep is right for you. Are you ready for the extreme that is competing? I ask you to be honest with yourself and really think about the following points. You Ready?
- Bodybuilding is an EXTREME. Let me say that again… Bodybuilding is an extreme.
This was before my last show of the season. I was TINY. I had no energy, was always hungry, and tired. This is not a maintainable look for me.
It is more than just a “healthy lifestyle” or trying to lose weight. It is getting exceptionally lean while maintaining a proportionate, defined, muscular look. It means setting a strict timeline and procedures to reach that goal of getting on stage. Stage lean is NOT maintainable and yet we push ourselves to that limit. Competing often times mean super low calories, a strict diet and nutritional choices, a rigid like training schedule, increased amounts of cardio, and a certain structure to our life and lifestyle choices. It is more than just a quick diet or quick fix.
- Ask Yourself: How is your relationship with food? Seriously though. I want to put this one in all caps, underline it, put it in bold, and shout it from the rooftops. Have you had an Eating Disorder in the past? Whether that be BED, Anorexia, Orthorexia, etc… have you suffered from binge eating episodes? Do you often find yourself super fixated on food or experiencing food guilt? If the answer is “Yes” to any of these questions, are STRONGLY DISCOURAGE you from competing. Starting a prep diet will NOT fix a disordered relationship with food or an ED. It will only make things worse. Whether or not you make it through your prep sticking to your diet 100%, is one thing. But the struggle post show with the food/body image struggles is a whole other monster all together. A prep diet requires a caloric deficit and putting a restriction on your food and food choices. I know a lot of competitors who have developed BED or binge eating-like tendencies post competition and it is extremely difficult and hard to see. Fix your relationship with food BEFORE you decide to start a prep.
- Ask Yourself: How is your relationship with your body? Do you look in the mirror and pick apart everything you dislike about your body? Do you hate how you look? If the answer is “Yes” to any of those, i STRONGLY DISCOURAGE you from competing. Getting leaner and losing weight will not automatically give you self confidence and take away all your feelings of self doubt. If you don’t love yourself BEFORE you compete, say at size X,Y,Z, then I promise you that you will not love yourself when you are 2 or 3 sizes leaner and ready to step on stage. You have to love yourself for who you are on the inside, and outside, before starting a prep diet.
- Ask Yourself: How is your relationship with the gym? How often have you been working out? What type of workouts have you been doing? How often do you go to the gym? Have you been lifting for a while? Do you ENJOY working out? If you donot enjoy going to the gym, then i would suggest waiting until you do. It’s important that you love the gym, BEFORE you compete, because during prep, you will be spending ALOT of time at the gym. If you don’t enjoy it, you will be miserable. You also need to ask yourself what your current “muscular base” is like. If you diet down without that muscular foundation, then you will not have that muscular, defined look when you diet down. You will look “skinny” and not have that desired “muscular” look that you want when you are stepping on stage. Somethings to think about…
1st Year Competing
2nd Year Competing
3rd Year Competing
The above photos are from my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd years competing. My first show I had very little muscle (and I was not ready to step on stage but that’s a story for another time haha). I hadn’t taken the time to lift seriously before i jumped into a competition prep. Take the time and work on your muscular base. Muscle growth doesn’t happen over night. It takes time. And food. And lifting heavy. You can’t rush the process. I’m proof of that.
- Have you competed before? If so, how long have you been in “off season?’ If you have competed before, ask yourself to think about your experience. You know now what it takes to compete and you need to figure out if that is something you enjoyed and would want to do again. Did you have a terrible experience during prep- binging episodes, negative self talk, or self doubt? How have you fixed/tried to improve those areas since competing? If you decide you do want to prep again, that’s great. If you decide competing is not for you, that’s great too. There’s nothing wrong with deciding prep isn’t healthy for yourself and your mindset. Now if you are a seasoned competitor and you have already decided that prep is something you enjoy and want to do, instead of jumping in to another prep, it is important to ask yourself if you have given yourself enough time to recover. Have you been eating enough? Have you gained muscle in the areas judges/your coach/yourself feel as though you needed to to improve? Have your hormones returned back to normal? Have you cut back on your cardio? Have you put your body in an IDEAL place to start a prep and do it the right way? …how would you answer those questions? The common thought process says that if you dieted for 6 months, your “off season” should be twice as long to give your body time to recover. Granted, everyone is different and has different goals. The main point is to simply make sure that your body and mindset are in a healthy spot before diving into another prep.
- Are you ready to say “No” to “Normal People Things?” I think this one is super important. This is something i always ask myself, OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER, before i decide that I am going to prep. A competition prep can last anywhere from 12-24+ weeks, depending on a variety of factors. That is 3-6+ months. While you can still hangout with your friends, sometimes prep WILL get in the way of those things like going out on weekends, going out to eat,etc etc. If your friends ask you to go out drinking, you can a) either go out and not drink or b) you’ll choose to say no. You could feel left out if you feel like your friends are doing all these fun activities without you. You most likely can’t say yes to spur of the moment activities like donut runs or weekend trips because of this goal of stepping on stage. That’s just something you need to be aware of and okay with. The closer you get to show day, the less energy you have for said activities, less food, less flexibility. Yes you can still compete and and have “balance” during prep, in regards to your relationships and life in general, but it is inevitably going to affect your life in some ways.
In the two pictures above, I was 1 month (ish) out from my competition. I wanted to drive 5 hours to watch my friend(s) compete… Shoutout to you Taylor and Kelsey. XO. I choose to drive that far despite being on low macros. This meant packing my own meals for the road trip. This meant drinking a diet coke while everyone else was eating BJ’s pizza, burgers, and pizookies. This is something that you have to be okay with when you decide you’re going to prep for a show. Yes, i was okay with making that decision because I wanted to support my friends and I wanted to stay on track.
- Are you ready to not eat “What you want, when you want” and restrict your calories and food choices? Regardless of how many calories you get to eat during prep, YOU WILL BE HUNGRY. You will be in a caloric deficit and eating less than you are used to. The closer you get to show day, the more meticulous you have to be. This means weighing out every single thing you put into your body… including drinks, condiments, and every gram of broccoli. It means drinking hot tea instead of eating something else, because you already ate all your macros for the day. This means saying no to the fresh, delicious chocolate chip cookie thats 9F/11C/1P because you know choosing a more voluminous food option will satisfy your hunger cues longer. It means less variety, less “fun” foods, and choosing more macro friendly versions of your favorite foods. It means not going to restaurants if you don’t know the nutrition facts and it’s a lot less pizza and wine nights with your girlfriends. So for me, if i am not ready to give up District Donut trips for a few months… prep is a NO for me. (Haha).
- Are you aware of the struggles that happen Post Show? People think about whether or not they are ready to prep for a competition but they don’t always think about the struggles and challenges that happen once you step off stage. The “Post Show Blues” and “Post Show Rebound” are challenges that many competitors face following prep .(Click the link above for a more in-depth look what Post Show Blues entails). Competitors can struggle with self esteem, binge eating, lack of motivation,
Post Show is HARD. You need to go into it knowing what to expect. Have a plan. The #PostShowStruggles are real.
feeling “lost” and unsure of what to do now that they no longer have a “goal” to work towards. To go from having a specific goal (of being half naked in a bikini in front of ALOT of people) to being unsure of what’s next, can make it hard to “stay on track” whether that be with training or nutrition. Competitors may also feel burnt out mentally, from being so strict with training, macros, and diet, that that can also result in a “Fu*k it” attitude. It is also difficult to see the number on the scale go up. Despite knowing that stage lean is NOT a maintainable look, that doesn’t always make it easy to deal with the weight gain. Competing changes the way you see food and your body and after you prep, it is darn near impossible to look at yourself the same way you did in the past. Yes, competition prep is HARD. But in my opinion, post competition is HARDER. Everyone that competes needs to be aware of the potential struggles that happen post show. You may think that post show rebound won’t happen to you, but let me tell you… you are not immune to the struggle. I wasn’t either. Please, please be aware.
- Are you financially ready? Competing. Is. Expensive. AF. SOOOO expensive. So many things go into a competition prep that you need money to pay fo
Competing Costs Add Up FAST $$$$$
r. For example… coaching, food, supplements, gym membership (if you don’t already have one), show fees, npc card, competition suit, hair, tan, makeup, shoes…. and that’s just to name a few. You need to be in a good place financially before you sign up to compete. You do not want to be struggling month to month and asking “omg, HOW am i going to pay for x,y,z??” Stressing about money is never fun… not to mention stress is terrible for fat loss. Go over your monthly bills and figure out if you have extra money that you want to put towards competing. Bodybuilding is an aesthetic sport and it’s all about looking good… and unfortunately for us, that makes it expensive as hell lol.
- Ask yourself WHY? WHY do you want to compete? WHY do you want to step on stage? Is it because everyone else is doing it? Is it because your friends say you should? Is it because you want the attention? Is it because you think it looks “fun” and you just want to go through the glitz and the glamour that is show day? If you answered “Yes” to any of those, then that’s a HARD NO, you should NOT compete. If you want to compete because you’ve been thinking about it for a while, you are ready to challenge yourself, take your physique to the next level, and are ready to see all the handwork you have put into your body the past few years with your training and nutrition, then I say YES, go ahead and compete. The main point is that you need to be intrinsically motivated to compete, you need to have the drive and dedication within yourself… Not extrinsically motivated by the opinion’s of others or the plastic trophy.
I compete for ME. Because i love it. Not for anyone else. The trophies were just the icing on the cake. (YUMM, cake).
So i ask you… IS COMPETING THE NEXT STEP IN YOUR FITNESS JOURNEY?? What has made you hold off from starting a bikini prep in the past? Or what has encouraged you that you thought “Yes, this is a great time for me to compete”. What factors go in to you making your decision? Please leave a comment below, I would LOVE to hear about your experiences.
I hope this blog post has you thinking long and hard about whether or not competing is right for you. This post is by no means bashing competing. I love competing and I enjoy the challenge that is competition prep. But competing is ALOT more than throwing on a sparkly bikini and starting a diet.
If you hesitated while reading this post and thought “EHHH, I don’t know if competing is for me” i encourage you to hold off on starting a prep. The stage will ALWAYS be there. I repeat, THE STAGE WILL ALWAYS BE THERE. This is not to say that you will never start a bodybuilding prep… it is just to say that you are going to respect yourself and wait until you are in a better situation to do so. Don’t get sucked into the “It’s January 1st, today’s my first day of bikini prep”… that we all know we are going to see all over the internet in the next couple of days…. We don’t need to do what everyone else is doing. (Don’t worry, i’ll be saying that to myself as well. Ha).
Thank you SO much for taking the time to read this post. I have been meaning to make a post like this for a while. I am going to really try to get back into the habit of blogging consistently because i truly do love writing these blog posts. Please feel free to COMMENT with any ideas you may have for posts in the future. I love hearing your thoughts and opinions.
Happy Holidays, y’all,