And just like that, it’s over. Twelve weeks of dieting and counting down the weeks and days has come and gone, which is pretty surreal.
It was a terrific weekend overall. I truly love being on stage and had missed it a lot. It was great to see so many of our fitness friends from across Ontario, and obviously I can’t complain about finishing fourth – allowing me two years to use my pass to the National championships. As much as I would love to hit that stage this year, it’s not the smartest decision so I’ll be heading to Nationals in 2016 with a bigger, better physique. It’s sad to think I won’t get to compete for a full year, but I’m also really excited for what this off-season holds.
Weekend Highlights in Pictures
Here are some of my favorite moments from the weekend. I didn’t get pictures of everything and everyone who made it amazing (you know who you are), but this weekend definitely tops my list for fun at a competition. New friendships were made, and I got to visit with plenty of old friends – it made me feel so grateful to have wonderful people in my life! XOXO
Something that’s not commonly talked about, but happens fairly often, is the “post-show blues”. Athletes spend an average of four months getting ready for a competition – which is an all-consuming task. You think of that stage and the possible outcome daily, even hourly. Then, suddenly, it’s over. People can often feel lost without the structure of the prep life, or a goal to work towards.
Suddenly, the food world is wide open to them because they’re not following a meal plan any longer. The “one day” of indulgence turns into two, and then a week. Everything they’ve craved for the last four months is fair game, and it’s hard to control yourself from having a little bit (or a lot) of everything. Suddenly, they wake up bloated and 10 – 30 lbs heavier (yup, it’s possible).
It’s a terrible feeling, to watch all your hard work disappear in the blink of an eye. It’s depressing and disheartening. Pair that with the feeling lost without a goal and you’re looking at a major meltdown… usually into another giant bowl of ice cream.
In my experience, the best things to do following a show are:
- Enjoy your post-show dinner and breakfast the next day (um, French toast or waffles? Yes please), then return to your meal plan for the rest of the day, slowly increasing your food quantity and variety.
- Don’t think doing cardio will erase binge eating, or make it acceptable to continue. You will easily out-eat your cardio burn, which is even more frustrating because in your mind you’re “working it off”. You’re better off to control your food and limit your treats.
- Slowly bring back water if you cut it off. Focus on drinking water around your meals to help your body process the food. Don’t chug bottles of water or Gatorade after you step off the stage, you’ll bloat pretty quickly.
- Set out a plan of what you want, be exact, and stick to it. Think of the things you’ve REALLY wanted and have those treats only.
- Remember that the food will always be there. You don’t need to eat everything in the first three days following your show. Trust me, the candy, donuts, frozen yogurt, and pizza will still be available to you in a few months! Your stomach will thank you for taking it easy off the bat.
- Learn to have fun with healthy food again. Think of creative ways to make your healthy meals more enticing. Add different vegetables to your meals, bring back fruit as something sweet, or make healthy versions of your favorite junk food (homemade turkey burgers or pizza instead of restaurant food).
- Look forward to something by setting a new goal. It could be your next competition (if you want to do one), a photo shoot, or something totally different like a Spartan race, or to focus on your career. By having something new to focus on, which excites you, you’ll be less likely to fall into the post-show blues.
Competing is an incredible experience, one that I love. The sense of accomplishment after it’s all done is greater than anything I’ve experienced before. It makes those tough days worth it. I often get asked how long I think I’ll do this for. The only way I can answer it fairly is “until it’s no longer fun”. And right now, I don’t see that happening anytime soon – there’s too much I still want to experience.