Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fitness Show Recap (Part 2) - The Highs and the Lows

In Fitness Show Recap Part 1 (found here), I talked a little about how I prepared for my 2nd bikini competition, as well as the day-of events. However, I also wanted to share what happened after the show ended - when it was time to head back to reality - so I decided to write a Part 2.  Every competitor's experience is different but here is my personal journey back to "normal".

I spent ~16 week training for my show.  Training is a process.  It involves: following a specific nutrition plan that was modified as the show date got closer, weekly batch cooking to ensure I was always prepared with on-plan meals for the week, 5-6 one-hour workouts per week (sometimes done after a 12-hour workday because that was the only time I could fit it in), attempting to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, attempting to drink at least 1 gallon of water per day, consuming ZERO alcohol and sticking to this plan regardless of what life threw at me.  Okay, if I'm being honest, I was allowed two cheat meals per week and I probably treated myself to more dark chocolate than I should have.  Hey, it was Easter season and chocolate is practically a food group for me.  Eliminating the alcohol was easy... trying to keep my hands off the Crackbury Cadbury Royal Dark Chocolate Mini Eggs proved to be way tougher.

Even my cat stares longingly at them...

The day of the show, as well as immediately afterwards, were a complete high for me... I placed in two of my classes, felt great, got to spend time with my family/ friends and hit another goal on my 20(in)12 list.  Shortly after that is when the low set in. Think about it, you spend all this time building anticipation and excitement for the show, not to mention seeing all these great changes happening in your body... then the show ends and all of a sudden you CAN have anything to eat if you really want to, you don't HAVE to go to the gym if you don't want to (especially after a 12-hour workday), you can finally dig in to those stockpiled bags of dark chocolate (after months of pretending they weren't in the fridge).  If you are not set-up for success with a post-show plan, you can easily succumb to the competitor's version of PTSD - Post Traumatic Show Disorder.  My coach talked about it being a real thing but I didn't truly understand it until I went through it myself.

I first experienced it after my 1st show... I went completely off-plan with my nutrition, batch cooking went out the window and I took a hiatus from working out.  About two months after my show, I underwent corrective back surgery (to fix one of the rods in my back from scoliosis surgery 17 years prior) which put me even further back fitness-wise.  I was out of work for two weeks and forced to take a slow return to physical activity which, at that time, simply meant walking!  I finally returned to my workouts and nutrition after recovering but it took a while and I pretty much had to start from scratch again.

From my 1st show... pre-surgery, when I still had a little pep in my step!

I started going down the same path following my 2nd show, except I did manage to keep up with the batch cooking this time (thanks to my boyfriend who had adopted the habit during my training!).  However, although I was eating on-plan, I was also cheating at will with copious amounts of chocolate (I wasn't kidding, I had that stuff stockpiled), which wasn't doing much to help my energy levels or my bloated stomach.  After about a week, I realized that I needed to change my mindset or it was going to become even harder to stop. I was so frustrated with myself for allowing my willpower to become so weak after being so STRONG for months.  Even though I had my 20(in)12 goals, the only one that had a deadline attached to it was the bikini show.  I am a goal-oriented person but apparently I'm much more apt to achieve those goals if I have targeted completion dates instead of leaving it up to chance.  I also realized that I'm human and it's okay that I fell off track a little bit... I know how to get back on.  Guess I just had to get that MoeJo back :)  I decided to put together a plan of action:

  • Scheduling a fitness photo shoot with a good friend of mine, who is also a photographer, for the summertime.
  • Planning out my workouts each week.
  • Starting a weekly stadium stairs sprint workout with one of my co-workers.
  • Assigning targeted completion dates for some of my 20(in)12 goals.
  • Giving away the rest of my chocolate.
  • Contacting the competition judges for feedback so that I can make the necessary improvements... IF I decide to do another show.

I'm undecided if I want to do another show... on one hand, the competitive side of me knows I can improve upon my physique and is determined to prove that I can; on the other hand, the level of dedication involved in training for a show like this is quite high.  I think I kept a healthy perspective throughout - competing doesn't define who I am, it's only one of the things that I do;  therefore, I did my best to fit training into my life as opposed to making my life revolve around training.  However, doing a show still influences a good number of daily life decisions, whether you want it to or not.  Therefore, I've decided that I just want to enjoy my summer/fall and give my body a bit of a break.  If I do compete again, it will be in early 2013 and I will definitely heed the judges' critiques.  Here is a sampling of their feedback:
  • "Your main strengths were your abs and overall shape. To improve in the future I would suggest trying to add a little shoulder and lat development to round off your upper body. Congrats on great placings at a very competitive event!"
  • "I highlighted your tan as a major concern. I think it's what knocked you down a notch or two. That and I felt you needed to tighten up your rear end.  On a positive note, you had a great overall physique and presentation and nice abs."
  • "Slight abdominal definition is fine but you shouldn't have ripped abs on stage. Bikini is a softer look, so be careful not to lean out too much.  I would definitely recommend being darker but you posed well and looked very happy on stage."
  • "You did a great job at the show.  Your posing and stage presence are all there.  I think you are just a bit too well-conditioned for bikini."
  • "Your midsection is definitely your strong point but in bikini, just like figure, the glutes are very importance.  If you could lean up and round out your glutes, it would bring you up to that next level."

In a nutshell, my abs and stage presentation were there, my glutes and tan were not!  I am well aware that my glutes are not my strongest asset but it's not everyday that you have 7-8 complete strangers confirming it for you.  Then again, it's purely constructive criticism and I did ask for their honest feedback.  In my defense, I am not physically capable of holding myself in the stance that competitors take when posing with their back to the judges (back arched so that hips and glutes are "popped", giving the illusion of a more defined rear end).  Due to the aforementioned back surgery, I have two rods fused to my spine to keep it straight... in other words, my back doesn't arch, haha.  However, I cannot use that as an excuse, I just need to work harder so that my glutes look "popped" even when they're not.  As far the tan goes, that's an easy fix... from what I hear- once you think you're finally dark enough, add another coat or two :)

I'll be sure to post any updates on competition training if I decide to go that route... in the meantime, stay tuned for more 20(in)12 posts.  It's shaping up to be an eventful spring/summer so I predict I'll have some good stuff to blog about!

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share!

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