The Post Show Blues
Have you ever finished a contest and said to yourself, “What Now?” You have just gone through a whirlwind of excitement, intense discipline, and a roller-coaster ride of emotions that now has come to an end. You may feel a little sad about losing all of this energy & focus. It’s a real issue that I have noticed many times in discussions with my own clients and with other competitors. Primarily it is really important to keep a healthy perspective regarding what has essentially been a temporary contest condition versus what is a healthy & realistic off-season fitness level. One of the biggest problems I see with clients is the struggle to try and stay in peak condition all the time, fueled by a fear of losing that conditioning. For the past 3 months you have manipulated your physique to achieve the best contest look possible. Then, the contest is over and indulging in all life’s fun foods becomes the main focus! Training and cardio drop to a low point and you may gain several pounds and now you have the “Post Show” Blues!” I believe the solution to overcoming this disheartening situation is to resist the temptation of going from one extreme to another. Your body and mind need time to adjust to a new, less driven schedule, new eating habits, and less excitement! I always conduct “post show” consultations to design healthy changes that will help my clients slowly return to a normal life pattern. I suggest that you not stop all of your fitness routine at one time, but rather cut back slightly on cardio for a couple of weeks and maintain your training at a fun & relaxing pace. Give yourself time to enjoy what you have accomplished before immediately jumping feet first into any extreme. Don’t forget that it’s healthy to allow yourself to add back proper body fat levels for the off-season. Everyone has different opinions of what is best for them, but the bottom line is it’s not natural to stay at extremely low body-fat levels all year round. No one is perfect all the time and if you try to stay in contest condition for extended time periods it can actually be UN-healthy and very emotionally draining. It would be wise to sit down with either your trainer or significant other and discuss healthy goals to set for your next contest or whatever you decide your next fitness challenge will be. Again, ease into any changes and allow your mind and body time to adjust to this new path and you will enjoy the journey much better. You’ve heard of the phrase “Everything in Moderation”. If you take this advice to heart, then you can easily make a smooth, healthy & happy transition into your post competition life. 1. After my show is over, I notice I suddenly don’t know what to do with all the extra time I have on my hands? The important thing to remember is not to drop all your training activities at one time; instead keep a modified schedule so that you don’t suddenly finding yourself with too much extra time on your hands. Create a blend of visiting with friends and family you haven’t seen, do things you haven’t been able to do for the past few months, and enjoy your new modified training schedule at the gym. 2. How do I control my elevated food cravings after the contest is over? Most cravings begin in the mind! Don’t allow yourself to go free with all your cravings at one time. If you’re craving sweets, go out and have one serving of your favorite dessert. Don’t go out and buy a whole gallon of ice cream, because after twelve weeks of dieting for your show, chances are you will now want to eat that whole tub within a few days! Try not to do 2 days in a row of eating non-nutritional foods. Give yourself a week between treats. In this way you will allow your body time to utilize the extra calories before adding more. 3. What is a healthy off-season body fat for a fitness competitor? Every person has a different level of what will a healthy off-season body fat percentage. First you must decide at what body-fat level you truly feel comfortable. It has been my experience that most of my clients perform well when they remain between 12% and 14% body fat during the off –season. At this range of conditioning you can stay lean enough to insure future contest prep will be relatively painless, yet because your energy levels and strength remain high, you will also be able to achieve lean muscle gain.