Are You Ready to Compete?
It seems like over the last few years in the gym/fitness scene the “cool” thing to do is to compete (bodybuilding, bikini, etc).
Your friends are doing it, your boyfriend is doing it, so you probably should too. Right?
I’ll admit that’s exactly how I first got into it. I saw friends take their bodies from average to impeccable. They were the first ones to inspire me that maybe I actually DID have more control over my body than I grew up assuming…
Unfortunately I (as well as many others I’ve met in the industry) had to learn the hard way that there is SO much more to it than just saying “I’m willing to do whatever it takes for the next 12 weeks”.
Here are a few key factors to consider before jumping in headfirst…
- Are your calories high enough? I don’t start any of my girls on a competition diet until they’ve been in a caloric surplus for a decent amount of time. Think of it like this…you’re going on a road trip that is going to require 1 full tank of gas to get you there. If you start with only half a tank, you’ll only get half way. Your gas is your calories when it comes to dieting. If you go into the diet only consuming 1,500 calories, you’ll plateau much quicker and will get to a point where your simply cannot lose anymore fat because you have no calories left to take from.
[Check out Reverse Dieting to learn more on the matter]
- How much cardio are you already doing? This one is similar to the above. The body adapts to cardio. If you go into a diet already doing an hour of cardio 4+ days per week and you are maintaining weight doing that, you’re going to have to add more in. Eventually you’ll get to a point where there is simply no time left in the week to add cardio and you’re doing 2 hours day/everyday. That isn’t just unrealistic if you have a job and/or kids, but it’s also incredible mentally & physically draining. Therefore, the less cardio you’re doing going into a diet the better.
- Do you have enough muscle mass? A lot of bikini girls who decide to just “go for it” don’t realize how small they already are…and after 16+ weeks of dieting if they didn’t start with some sort of muscle mass they’re probably going to have issues keeping their bikini bottoms on because they’ll be a string bean. At some point I agree that you just eventually have to go for it but if you’ve never even lifted weights before, I recommend getting into the weight room first for at least a year or two.
- Are you prepared mentally? Do you know what you’re getting yourself into? Have you thought about the sacrifices you’re going to have to make? If you’re not excited to start the long grueling process, than you might hold off until you’re in a better place. While the rewards at the end are amazing and there are so many things one can learn about themselves during the process, most don’t understand how truly exhausting mentally & physically the entire process is. You have to be ready to suffer [to an extent] and be okay with it.
- Are you ready financially? A topic that isn’t discussed enough. This sport is EXPENSIVE, and you don’t get paid if you win (until you’re a pro but even that doesn’t usually cover 100% of the costs). Hiring a good coach is usually the most expensive part, and next would be the actual bikini that costs upwards of $250, and that’s with minimal bling. Then you’ve got the $100+ spray tans, entry fees, heels, stage jewelry, makeup, travel costs, etc. The list goes on and on.
- Is your spouse/significant other and family on board with your goal and the time commitment it is going to take? You might be thinking “but this is MY decision and MY goal, it shouldn’t matter what they think…” Let me tell you, if you care to still have those relationships once this process is over, this matters and should be one of the FIRST things that you consider. Though they may not be the one having to suffer the heartache of the actual diet, they still have to deal with you on those low energy & grumpy days. Plus, with how much time this is going to take from you (gym, cardio, meal planning, cooking, measuring, posing, etc) they almost always fall to the wayside in terms of priority orders.
- Do NOT look at this as just a 12 week ordeal that you’re “doing for the experience”.
A) Plan to diet longer than 12 weeks, no matter where you’re starting. This leaves you literally 0 room for error. If you have 1 week that you mess up, that basically is going to take 2 weeks away because the 1 week is wasted and then its going to take you another whole week to get back to where you were previously. Plus, the slower you take it the more muscle mass you will preserve, the better you will look at the end.
B) You must consider life AFTER the diet. In my opinion, that phase is the HARDEST part of the entire process. Your body fat is low, you’re hungry, you’re cranky, you’re tired in more ways than you can image even possible, and you are OVER counting everything to the gram. The worst thing you can do is plan a vacation immediately after a competition diet or just go into it saying I’m going to “take a break” for a couple weeks. That is a recipe for disaster and MAJOR “post show blues”. This is actually the time when your will power needs to be at its all time high if you have any desire to not gain everything you had lost over the last 16+ weeks in only 2 weeks. Make sure to have a plan in action with your coach during the weeks following to save yourself some major heartache.
- Expect to never look at your body the same way again and be okay with it. Even if you plan to never compete again and this is just a one time thing, the level of leanness you will reach will not be realistic to maintain, and it is extremely difficult to see all that hard work “disappear” in the mirror post show…rather that happens 2 weeks afterwards or 2 months afterwards. I personally do not recommend any one who is currently dealing with an eating disorder to get into this sport in hopes it will help them.
To this day, I have never had a client who when they first reached out to me wanting to compete, we immediately started them on the competition diet. We have so far always had to start off with a reverse diet in order to first get them ready for the competition diet…because most don’t realize how little they’re already eating.
My clients overall health & well being has and always will be my #1 priority, therefor if I don’t feel they are ready for the diet for whatever reasons, I will not diet them until they are in a better position to start the process.
Also know that my intent for this post is not to discourage you from competing, but only to help prepare you and have a better understanding of what to expect. I love competing as it has taught me some amazing things about life and myself, and I know I wouldn’t be half as successful in life in general today had I never dived into it “for the experience”.
If you’re interested in competing visit the Competition Prep page and fill out the application to be considered.