Life During Bikini Prep – The Post Prep Phase
I’ve started to write this one several times now, but have had to keep going back to edit because so many things keep changing.
Rather that’s the way I’m feeling mentally, how well I have or haven’t stayed on track, or any advice I think of.
That factor pretty much sums it up right there.
The period after a competition season is over is like a roller coaster.
Some days I feel on top of the world, other days I’ve felt like a whiny baby.
Why is this time so crucial for competitors?
For starters, the body’s hungry and is ready to be done dieting.
Even flexible dieters are going to have a few things on their list they’ll want to get their hands on that maybe didn’t fit their macros the last few weeks.
Mentally, you feel like you’ve worked your butt off and you just want to enjoy whatever foods you want while disregarding any macro considerations.
It’s like going on a vacation and being ready to eat whatever you want, but having a lot less mental control and a MUCH heavier appetite.
This happens because:
a) You no longer have that goal of competing at the top of your priority list
b) An increased appetite is effected by the amount of fat lost during the calorie restriction phase therefor the leaner you got the harsher these outcomes can be (known as the hyperphagia response).
At this point the body is literally craving to get back to it’s baseline body fat levels (therefor it’s necessary to put some body fat back on immediately), which can be extremely challenging for competitors to deal with mentally knowing how hard they worked to get to where they did.
Too Much Too Fast
Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed and heard about too many competitors who have put all the weight back on (and then some) that they had lost in only 1-2 weeks post show.
This typically happens for those who have been on an extremely restrictive diet with lots of food limitations.
I was guilty of this myself after my 1st competition in 2012, when I only ate “clean foods” and was dieting to under 1,000 calories a day.
I had lost 11 pounds for that show, but in 1 week I had gained 7 of them back because I simply could not stop eating.
I didn’t have a plan afterwards, because I didn’t want to (and I had no clue what was to come).
After the 1st week when I felt like I had thrown all of my hard work away in a just a few days, I tried going back to the diet, only to fail a couple days in.
I went through feelings of depression, self hatred and felt like I never even dieted for a show in the first place.
But at the same time, I was still SO hungry constantly and could not seem to get my appetite under control.
I battled with these issues for a good 6 months before I felt like I was somewhat “normal” again.
Post Prep 2016
Here I’m going to give you a simple-to-the-point run down of how things have gone for me thus far, in the last 5 weeks post competition.
Adherence is a rating that I’ve given myself on a scale of 1-10 in terms of how well I followed my coaches instructions in regards to hitting my macros and completing training/cardio goals.
Weight was taken 1st thing Monday mornings, at the start of each week discussed.
Final Show Date: June 18th
Stage Weight: 112lbs
After the show, I’ve never been more proud of myself in terms of my immediate reactions.
There was a dessert table set up for competitors to enjoy including foods like cupcakes, cookies, brownies etc.
But not one part of me had any desire to grab any of these treats. I knew we’d be going out later that night and that I’d get to enjoy myself plenty at that time.
Instead, I choose to walk around the expo and try samples of protein shakes, protein bars, protein cookies, protein chips, BCAA’s etc.
I had a blast and got a ton of attention/extra samples because I was one of the very very few competitors who stuck around (most ran out the door immediately to go get whatever foods they were craving).
That night my husband and I went out for flatbread pizza and wine, our favorite.
I didn’t over-do it, and ate until I was full.
Adherence (1-10): 8
Accomplishment(s): What I’m most proud of here is a did a fantastic job with my food choices at the grocery store this week.
Instead of buying anything and everything that looked good on the shelves, I stuck to the same foods I had been eating over the last few weeks of prep (this is where I had failed in previous preps).
If the foods aren’t there to much on, than you won’t munch on them!
Workouts: My strength in the gym was through the roof!!
I don’t remember the last time I felt that good in the gym.
Though some of my lifts weren’t what they’ve been in the past immediately, I still felt amazing and could feel my body burning some serious calories all week long.
Notes: Towards the end of week #1, I had a photoshoot scheduled, which I believed really helped me get back on track immediately and stick to my macro goals for the time being.
After the photoshoot though was when things started going down hill a bit.
I was craving to “mindless eat” (not binge).
I wanted to eat out of the box of crackers without counting them. I wanted to dip the crackers in hummus without measuring out 2 tablespoons first.
Though I wasn’t measuring things perfectly, I still tried to keep track of things somewhat in my head.
When I began the mindless eating was when I started going over my goals, so I made up for it by trying to go lower in carbs/fats the following couple days.
By the end of week #1, I had successfully averaged what my macro goals were suppose to be.
Adherence (1-10): 6
Accomplishment(s): I was not bothered by the scale during this week!
Training: Here was when I sat down and created a new workout split for myself, which consisted of 5 days of lifting and 2 rest days.
It was exciting to have a new plan to follow in the gym and switch up the exercises I’d been working on.
Notes: This week was easily the worst one I’ve had thus far in terms of adherence.
The problem occurred when I gave in and bough this birthday cake flavored popcorn (popcorn coated in frosting and sprinkles).
I’d have the bag sitting on the kitchen counter while I prepped other foods. I’d have it sitting on the coffee table to munch out of while watching TV.
You get the idea – Mindless Munching.
Before I knew it the entire bag was gone and hardly any of it had been accounted for.
When I flipped it over to read the label and saw how many servings I had to makeup for, I almost went into shock when I saw 20 servings, 170 calories per servings…therefor 1,700 calories over my macro goals.
Over the next few days I tried my best to calculate how much I needed to cut back on calories in order to reach my weekly average goal…but it was sooo hard to hit them on point because that meant I was having to go back to what my low day macros were while dieting…and that was the last thing I felt like doing!
By the end of the week, I was pretty disappointed in myself and my lack of discipline, but at the same time I knew I was doing better both physically and mentally than I had during previous post preps so that was a bit encouraging.
Training: Still killing it in the gym, started setting several new all time PR’s this week.
Notes: This week I was given a range to hit in terms of carbs & fats, which I believed helped me quite a bit with being able to hit my macro goals (plus I didn’t want to mentally feel like I had the previous week).
I have to admit that the scale starting bother me quite a bit at this point (especially when I saw 117 flash midweek)…largely due to the fact that I knew it was up even more because of the mistake I had made the week previously.
I went into this post show diet with the desire to stay as on point as possible so that I could raise macros at the right pace while maintaining as much leanness as possible.
Like many other competitors, I started looking in the mirror feeling like I was no longer lean, and I was beating myself up about it quite a bit (looking back I now realize that having my period this week probably played a role with all of this).
However, as stated in the first section, some body fat is vital to put back on immediately post show.
It is not realistic for 99% of the population to maintain stage leanness year round.
Accomplishments: At this point, I finally started to feel much more relaxed about EVERYTHING. I felt much more in control of my appetite and was hitting my macro goals spot on. I also finally got to a point where I stopped feeling guilty about having a glass a wine, so long as I accounted for it in my calorie goals.
Training: My momentum started slowing a bit at this point in terms of my crazy energy in the gym, but I was still doing well in hitting small PR’s here and there
Notes: Overall I felt very “normal” again.
It was nice to no longer see that 5lb gain on the scale.
I started feeling really good about my macro range here, realizing that the last time I was eating this much I weighed around 121lbs.
My appetite didn’t feel so elevated anymore which left me feeling satisfied but not too full.
Training: This week I was sick with whatever nasty summer bug that’s going around, so I missed a couple days in the gym + the workouts that I did get in were a struggle and minimalistic. It’s been rough trying to find my grove again!
Notes: You’re probably wondering what the heck happened with the scale here.
A couple things:
1) I had a couple + weeks under my belt of actually reaching my goals again
2) I had a chat with my coach about the scale that put me at ease about how I’m doing so far.
I’ve witnessed this multiple times now with my both myself and my own clients.
Stressing out about the scale can actually cause it to go up/stick. But when relaxing about it mentally and no longer caring what it reads, it can actually go down due to decreased cortisol levels.
It also finally hit me that I’m 5 weeks post show, and only up 2-3 pounds.
From what I’ve seen, most competitors (bikini girls) can be double that at this point.
When I saw 117 a couple weeks ago, I was getting nervous because I didn’t want to see it continue to go up when I haven’t really had more macros added in yet.
Now that it’s back down and has seem to stabilize, I’m feeling VERY good about where I’m at physically and mentally.
I gave myself a 7 on adherence this week due to:
- Missing some workouts from being sick
- Some days I was under on macros from lacking an appetite/being sick
- Some days I was over my macros due to alcohol consumption during the bachelorette weekend
To sum things up, overall this has been my best post prep experience thus far, even compared to the first time I used flexible dieting to compete in 2014.
Not because I did things so differently, but because I believe it gets easier with each prep.
I had a much better idea with what to expect.
I knew I wasn’t going to be perfect, and I knew the scale was going to go up some because it needed to.
Going into it with a much more relaxed mindset helped me drastically.
Yes, I’ve had some moments where I messed up and started to freak out a little, but I honestly don’t think there’s a way of getting around that 100%.
That’s just all a part of the post prep roller coaster!
However, had I not used the Flexible Dieting approach, you probably wouldn’t even be reading this blog right now because I’d like be to ashamed to discuss the post show outcomes.
Flexible Dieting for the win!
This blog marks the end of my Life During Bikini Prep series, and I appreciate the love and support I’ve received from all of you following it!
Please note that this series was only to show my personal experience with competing, and is in no way the only way to go about getting stage ready.
I wanted to share (with those of you who have interest in it) what life is like for an athlete in this sport and the mental and physical obstacles faced daily as well as the priceless feelings of accomplishment felt at the end.
Until next time!