By Nichelle Laus (@NichelleLaus)
I have been competing intermittently for 10 years now and, because I have a different reason for competing each time, I always go into my prep with a different mindset, goal, or expectation. While I always feel amazing after finishing a show, there are definitely some post-competition monsters that I have thankfully learned to fight off over the years. They do creep up now and again, but it’s part of what makes competing that much more interesting and challenging every time.
Don’t worry, it is very common to feel a little anxiety or depression after your competition. Some first-timers are so caught up in their journey, they forget about the period that is just as important, if not more: the post-competition phase.
As competitors, we can safeguard ourselves against the post-competition blues by following these tips to get out of that dreaded funk.
Most competitors have been in hardcore training and dieting mode for 12 to 16 weeks – some even longer – and on competition day, they see their bodies like it’s never been before. The important thing to remember is one cannot maintain this look year-round; it is unhealthy and your body needs a break. Knowing this as you prepare for your competition is crucial.
Make a Plan
The physical rebound can also be hard after a fitness competition. Like your competition plan, you must map out a post-competition plan. Because you have restricted yourself for so long leading up to the show, you need to be careful introducing food back into your diet. Find a coach who is experienced in “reverse dieting” so you can introduce calories and nutrients – especially carbs – back into your diet carefully and effectively. Be sure to enjoy indulgences in moderation.
Keep your mind occupied by focusing on a new goal. For example, book a photo shoot, a vacation, or an outing with friends and loved ones you may have neglected during prep. The post-competition struggle can be harder than the actual competition itself, so it could be helpful to keep yourself distracted. It’s important to understand that your body and your mind need to recover.
Get Back to the Grind
Take a couple of days (or even a week) to recharge, refuel, and refocus, then get right back to the grind. The great thing is, you will have a lot of extra energy from the additional calories you’ll be putting back into your diet, so you will be able to train heavier and longer.
Reward yourself with something other than food for all your hard work, such as new gym clothes, a new gym bag, or a new workout playlist.
The most important thing to remember after a competition is to take at least one positive thing from the experience, especially since we tend to lose our sense of why we started as we get closer to the end.