By: Marie Gibbon
IFBB Figure Pro, NPC Judge, Personal Trainer
00Contest diets. Do they really need to be hurtful, harmful and make you feel like crap? No! Be careful how you diet for a competition because there is always life after the show.
How many competitors do you see that look like they have 2 different closets, one for competition season and one for the off-season? Ok, for a big male bodybuilder this is not unusual now BUT for a woman going from size 10 to 0 and back again: why??? We all know it’s going to feel horrible, with your confidence plummeting while you spiral down in a big well of self-pity and disgust wondering why you ever did this to yourself.
There is a happy medium. No, you can’t stay 8-10% body fat year around and feel fantastic. It’s not even in your best interest to do so if you are still trying to better your physique, and let’s be honest, there isn’t anybody out there that can’t improve. Good can be great, great can be amazing.
When I first started to compete my diet was pretty much fish and veggies 6 times a day for 4 days then a carb-loading day. It worked, as I got really lean but also felt like crap. I forgot where I was going sometimes, was always tired and often cried from exhaustion. Not worth it!!! As a mother of two there are way more important things in life than how I look and most of us, kids or no kids, still need to work. If there is one thing you don’t want to sacrifice it’s your relationship with a spouse or friends because of a temporary time of looking fantastic. There are much better ways to diet.
Extreme is not always better. Extreme diets can actually make you plateau or gain body fat. There needs to be a balance. At this point in my life after much trial and error I have learned for me the best way to diet is to keep some carbs and fat in my diet but add cardio. I like to eat and don’t like to be hungry so if that means I need to do cardio each day I’m all for it.
My diet the first years competing with only fish, veggies and occasional carb-loading days might have worked, but the look achieved on a “starving yourself” diet and doing it the healthy way is totally different. Also, doing it healthy makes you feel good, allows you to still enjoy life, kids and friends and you don’t feel the need to go crazy after your show. There is never a need to gain 20-30 pound after a show as a woman. Stay feeling fit, healthy and feminine after a show. Add in things here and there. Most importantly remember the food will always be there, be it a day after the show, a week after or a month after. There is NO rush to eat immediately after a show. Your body will be in a defense mode directly after competing, so you’ll need to give it time to adjust to a more normal diet. Don’t shock it with so much fat and carbs it swells up, because it will. And remember to keep lifting and moving. The end of one show is actually the beginning of the next. The work is never done; just make sure you enjoy doing it.
Avoid yo-yoing on overly restrictive diets and post-show binging. Make that 30 pound weight gain 10, and that 5-10 dress size jump only 2 or 4. Treat yourself good, feel good and keep up the great work.
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