You have spent months training and preparing for that special day…the sum total of all of your hard work…SHOW DAY! It’s finally here! For most of us who are veterans of natural bodybuilding, this is an exciting time, not only because we get to compete at our best, but also because show day is a time to connect with people we have forged friendships with over the course of our shared fitness lifestyle. The lights brighten, and you hit the stage…the best you have ever been…this is the highest of high!. For many of us the feeling is so overwhelming, we are brought to tears just thinking back on these experiences. But what about when the lights on the stage go dim? What is next?
I remember as a first time competitor, a feeling of being lost afterwards with no real sense of direction or guidance. So what did I do? A few months later…I hopped right back on stage. Luckily, I was still relatively new to training and in the hands of a seasoned coach. After a few more months of perseverance…I won a pro card in women’s physique.
I remember thinking “Ok, now the real goal is accomplished…now it’s time to take this thing to the next level!” I remember a wise voice
(Coach Kelly Killen) saying to me “Keisha….you need a year off. Do not hit the pro stage yet!”
I smiled and nodded, took the wrong advice from another trainer…and hit the pro stage in 2015.
What many of you don’t realize is that when you hit the pro stage, you are right back down to the bottom of the heap. Unless you have been competing a while or are genetically gifted, your lack of experience will show up as clear as black paint on a white canvas against more seasoned competitors. Needless to say…I didn’t reach my goal of being top 5. It was at this time that my husband told me “If you are going to do this right, you need to take some time off.” He didn’t waste time, he hired a coach who agreed with him! LOL
Most of you know that I competed last year (2017) and it was definitely my most conditioned physique to date. My prep was long and arduous. I started a mini-cut in October 2016…my final competition wasn’t until October 2017. The mini-cut told my coach one thing…my ROL (rate of loss) was very very slow. With that in mind…we didn’t chose a contest date and I continued the process slow and steady until I was at my best.
After the final competition in October, my coach and I set out to reverse out of the show diet. Let me tell you one thing…the harder and the longer you diet…the slower your reverse will be. Fast forward to now…nearly 7 months later…my hormones are just now starting to regulate (see the attached photos).
The same is true for men as well…about 6-7 months after being their leanest is when testosterone starts to reach normal ranges again. A true contest prep reverse diet involves an even stronger commitment (we call this living in the grey at KKW).
It demands that you retain control over your choices without the allure of the stage lights. All too often athletes lose control post contest and they want to go right back into the diet. WRONG SHIPMATE! Why? Well for one thing…after you come out of the diet (controlled starvation) your body is telling you eat eat eat due to the compound ghrelin (overwhelming hunger) being high and leptin (feeling satisfied) being low.
This is when you have to maintain the highest resolve by sticking to a strict plan that includes foods that you had during prep. In the beginning it seems like your body will soak up anything and everything like a sponge and there are no negative effects…but this quickly comes to an end if you try stay on the Binge – Diet- Binge – Diet merry-go-round. Do not blame this on carbohydrate sensitivity…this is due to your own lack of self-control (believe me I’ve been there).
So I wrote all of this to try to help you, my friends and fellow competitors. After having completed a yearlong contest prep and now having reversed successfully the past 6 months, please do yourselves a favor. Prepare your mind to extend your contest prep focus about 12 weeks post show. You will be so much happier. Now keep in mind that the longer and harder your prep is…the longer it may take to reverse out of the brain fog. You will know you have arrived when you wake up in the mornings feeling refreshed and you feel strong in the gym. I pray this helps you!
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