I love this testimony from JillFit Coach Tara Ballard because it addresses something that many in the physique competition world struggle with: the “post-competition blues” or the inability to normalize eating and exercise after a competition. I have seen plenty of women have a perfectly healthy self-image go on a crazy-strict competition plan only to end up bigger, more miserable, guilty and struggling with the poor self-image they never had experienced previously. This is an important component of competition prep that needs to be discussed beforehand and prepped for in advance through discussion, planning and understanding.
JillFit competition gals always receive a flexible post-competition nutrition plan that allows for structured cheats and assures that they add back healthy weight slowly, encouraging a gradual process of lean muscle-building rather than water-retention-and-carb-crazy-bloat pounds that can unfortunately have some gaining 15-20lbs in a matter of weeks :( With a little foresight, a healthy mindset, a good support system of competitors/coaches and a strong dose of perspective, it is possible to come off a show and live the fat loss lifestyle healthfully, consistently and happily. The FLL is not an all-or-nothing mindset, but one that allows for practice and improvement. As we like to say at JillFit, “Practice makes progress.” Hope you guys like this post! Let me know :) ox Jill
By Tara Ballard
As a figure competitor, as well as Fat Loss Lifestyle (FLL) follower, I am always surprised to see so many women (and men) who compete in physique events go through what we refer to as the “rebound” after a competition. That is to say, they completely fall off the clean eating wagon, and go a little nuts with eating and/or drinking. As such, within a short period of time, lots of weight is gained and body fat percentage skyrockets. Being a JillFit physique coach and fellow competitor, it is difficult for me to watch as all the hard work these folks have gone through for months is reversed, in seemingly the blink of an eye.
Why does this happen? Why would someone work so hard for months on end, only to mess it all up? And why is it pretty easy for me and my JillFit family NOT to experience this rebound?
It is true that training and dieting for a physique event is no joke. I used to run marathons, and I am being completely honest when I say that marathon training was easy compared to the discipline and work ethic it takes to compete. I’m not downplaying training for endurance events – trust me, I know firsthand what a huge feat it is! But, for a lot of people, training for a physique event means changing their entire lifestyle. When I trained for endurance events, it was very social. I would go out for long runs with my boyfriend or other friends and we would pass the time chatting and talking about our post-run meal (can you say major carb load? :)).
But training for physique events is completely different. The typical time to diet for a show is about 12 weeks. That may not sound like a long time, but if you’re used to eating poorly, drinking alcohol/partying whenever you want, and basically NOT living a fat loss lifestyle in the beginning, it can be a total shock to your system – physically, mentally and socially. Gary Leake, of Metabolic Effect, hit the nail on the head: “If you haven’t been eating clean for at least six months, then you shouldn’t even consider training for a show.”
And THIS is what it boils down to…maintaining the Fat Loss Lifestyle year-round, NOT just going on a crash contest diet the couple months leading up to a show. For those who are not eating clean to start with, then dieting for a show can really mess with the psyche. It gets to a point where you feel deprived; as such, you start looking forward to the day AFTER your show, so you can go wild with those previously “forbidden” foods: pizza, cookies, ice cream, etc. Sure, I look forward to the post-competition cheat meal as much as the next person, but it doesn’t spill over into the weeks and months after a competition. I usually give myself a few days of unstructured eating-giving in to cravings if I have them, but not going crazy. Usually after the second day of this, I’m chomping at the bit to be back to my normal fat loss eating. It is just part of who I am. No foods are “forbidden” in the Fat Loss Lifestyle. I simply eat the foods I need to maintain muscle and leanness; and if I want to indulge, I do so smartly and consciously. Some weeks I indulge more than others – and that is totally ok; but, the key is keeping it clean about 90% of the time.
Training for a physique event, in my opinion, should be an extension of a year-round healthy lifestyle. I prefer to look and feel good all the time, not just for those couple weeks before a contest. Living the FLL helps me accomplish this and to avoid the dreaded rebound!