What to expect during body building prep (it’s not what you think)

July 26, 2014

I wanted to post about all those little things you should expect when you embark on competition “prep” for a bodybuilding contest.

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No, no… not about dieting, training, emotions or any of that stuff. The little details which are so peculiar, you wonder if anyone else does them. Then you venture to admit them to another bodybuilder, and they say “OMG, I do that too! I thought I was the only one!”

7 random things you are likely to do as a competitive bodybuilder

You’ll indulge in intense, often bizarre and very niche, online shopping
Perhaps it’s a displacement activity, but most bodybuilders I know end up obsessively buying and stockpiling… something during their contest prep. Of course for many it’s food. Food they can’t eat until after their show. By which point they no longer want it (because they never truly did in the first place). Thankfully, I’m past that stage. But… er… I did win 4 pairs of high top trainers on eBay last week. Yes, 4 pairs. I had employed uber-stealth mode and was stalking ones listed at 99p. I put a small bid on all of them, thinking I’d win maybe one or two pairs. Forgot about them all. And… well, you can predict the outcome. No doubt by next week it will be something else.

Top tip! If you find yourself spending too much time (and cash!) on online shopping during your contest prep, try this. Browse to your heart’s content, fill your online shopping basket – and then close the browser window. Do not press “complete purchase”. You get all the fun of window shopping without actually crippling your Paypal account.

Your language will change
Perhaps it’s the extra testosterone your body is producing (we can hope!) or maybe it’s hanging around more males than females, but expect your lexicon to shift. You’ll start calling your (female) friends “beast” and telling them they’re starting to look “disgusting”, and they’ll be delighted. Someone could call you a “horrid little monster” and it would make your day. Oh, I’m a “freak”, you say. Thank you, thank you!
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You’ll eat out of the same bowl all day long
Thanks to my gym buddy “Lady P” for this one. You’ll take to pretty much eating out of the same bowl all day long. I’m not sure why! I can’t remember the last time I used a plate – always a bowl and usually a spoon – and, yes, I tend to have my breakfast in one bowl and then… er… just kind of fill the same bowl with my next meal, and so it goes on. Why? I don’t know! But I’m not the only one who does it. I then wash up at the end of the day. As Lady P quite rightly points out: “my cats eat out of the same bowl all day, so why not!” (I refer you to the “beast” description above…)

You’ll be more obsessed with beautification than before you were a bodybuilder

Maybe just one for the women (but I never judge). Before I competed as a bodybuilder, I don’t think I’d ever had a manicure and I’d certainly never had cluster lashes. Nowadays? I “get my lashes” done as often as I can afford. There doesn’t have to be a reason. And as for spray tans/self-tanning… don’t get me started. Once you go orange, you never go back.

You think nothing of going out wearing shorts, a stringer or tank top (and your hi-tops, of course)

I’ve been to client meetings in gym kit (good quality, non-revealing stuff of course, and on my way to the gym, not on the way back!) I’ll go in to town wearing gym kit. I’ll queue in the Post Office post-cardio. I honestly don’t think anything of it, until someone points/stares/tuts (expect all three when you’re prepping). I will put an extra layer on to go into Waitrose. Somehow, it just feels the proper thing to do ;)

You’ll genuinely like very odd food combinations
If you’d told me five years ago that I would look upon ground flaxseed and egg whites as a delicious treat, I would have looked at you like, well, a bit like how your face is looking right now. Dieting for bodybuilding shows not only means that you come to appreciate the smallest and most paltry treat as hugely exciting, but you end up experimenting with certain foods in a bid to make a meal you haven’t eaten 234,123,943 times already. What are some of your favourite discoveries?

You’ll kind of like shaving…
Before I tanned up for my first bodybuilding comp, I’d never shaved my arms (funnily enough). But when you’re getting ready to apply stage tan, you kind of have to shave everywhere. Let me tell you, you’ve not lived until you’ve shaved your own rear delts! Most (female) bodybuilders I know will give their forearms a quick swipe with the razor throughout the year. And no, it’s nothing to do with getting hairier (I’m part of the drug-free scene, remember). It just… feels nice.

OK, so that was a bit embarrassing! Please let me know I’m not alone in all of this. What weird and unexpected things do you now do since prepping for bodybuilding shows?

What to expect during body building prep (it’s not what you think) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Easy ways to generate content for your business blog

July 24, 2014

Do you struggle to find things to blog about? If you’re a sole trader, owner/manager, or the person responsible for marketing, chances are you have a business blog (if you don’t… start one!)

One of the biggest grumbles I hear from people with work-related blogs is “I don’t know what to blog about!”

Yes, you do. And I’m going to tell you how to uncover it.

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I’ll aim this at fitpros and brands/businesses within the fitness and wellness worlds, cos that’s who I work with. But, really, this advice could apply to anyone in any sector. I’ve actually written something similar – based on a presentation I delivered to a local business networking group (none of whom were fitpros) – you might like to read my advice for small businesses – why write in your authentic voice

Here’s a professional copywriter’s advice on how to generate blog content every single day (your only problem after reading this will be finding the time to blog it all. Hint: get in touch with me ;) )

What are your clients talking about?
– you see your clients regularly, and you have a good relationship with them. You’re not just a fitpro to them, you’re a sounding board, a therapist, a friend. They tell you what they’re worried about, what they’re excited about, what confuses and intrigues them about health and fitness. They are your eyes and ears – listen to them and they’ll tell you what your next potential client is almost certainly thinking about.

What do your clients ask you?
– what do your clients actually ask you? What exact questions do they come to you for, looking for an expert answer? In their eyes, you’re the expert, and that’s how your blog is going to position you, too. Take those questions, and blog with an answer to them. Chances are, someone is actually Googling that question. SEO, my friend, SEO…

What’s hot in your industry right now?
– You know what’s creating waves in your industry. Regardless of how seriously you take the latest discussion/argument, or how long you think the next fad is going to stick around, these things are on your prospects’ radar, too. So blog about it. Your opinion, your advice, your experiences.

Use the news
– Had a news story broken which affects or feeds off the fitness industry somehow? The news is a great resource for your own blog posts. There’s something in the news every day which somehow refers back to health, fitness, weight loss, wellness. Use news, stats, research. Local news (great if you’re trying to dominate your local area) and national news. Link back to the story for better SEO.

Memes and infographics

– Content is about more than just words. It’s becoming increasingly more visual. Consider making memes and infographics to illustrate your blog posts and to give you another angle on creating compelling content which your followers are likely to share and engage with.

Numbered lists and top 10s
– Stuck for a blog post? Here’s an easy way to break your writer’s block: choose a topic, and do a “top ten reasons why….” or “ten easy ways to…” type post. Easy to write, easy to read, great to share.

Create a theme
– Use regular themes within your blog: perhaps a mindset/motivation post on a Monday, a workout type post on a Wednesday, a healthy recipe on a Friday. Not only will this make blogging easier for you, but your readers will come to expect the content and will look forward to their favourite posts from your blog.

And here are some practical tips (because it’s all very well having all those fabulous ideas, but you’re busy and likely to forget them)

- carry a notepad and pen with you at all times. Or have a note-taking function on your phone/tablet. If a brilliant idea for blog content strikes whilst you’re rushing between clients, setting up your circuit class stations, or making a coffee… make sure you can make a note of it

- Just do it. Don’t procrastinate. The nice thing about blogging is that you can do it quickly and get it out there. And it’s a medium that lends itself well to being time-sensitive and reaction. So… just get on with it

- Reuse and recycle your content. Once you’ve written your blog post, use that bad boy! Push it out via your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and any other social media (personal and business). Put it in an email and send it to your list (with links to your website of course). Use the first paragraph in your digital customer newsletter with a juicy enticement to click through. Add it as a Facebook note. Consider using it as part of that ebook you’ve been meaning to write for a year. You get the idea

- have an editorial schedule. Treat writing, and blogging, as part of your business strategy (because it is)

- set aside regular time for blogging, just as you schedule in time for other business matters

- and… outsource! If you can’t do it yourself, or don’t want to, contact me. Writing content (including blog content) for people just like you is exactly what I do as a job. You have no idea how many of the fitness industry blog posts out there were written by me!

Easy ways to generate content for your business blog is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Fitness Writers at FitPro Live 2014

July 20, 2014

fitness writer fitpro liveThanks to membership organisation The Fitness Writers’ Association (please note the impeccable use of apostrophe!), I got a VIP pass to FitPro Live, and popped along on Friday.

Here’s a quick round up of what I did, saw, heard and took away with me:

I spent most of the day in the educational talks rather than at the expo. Room 8 turned out to be where it was at for all things marketing, digital and content. My kinda place to be!

I listened to sales specialist Lesley Aitken talk about how digital is rapidly changing the customer journey (particularly in the fitness industry). Fascinating stuff. Clients, are you aware of just how much research your potential customers are able to do about your business, brand and products… before they even visit your website, shop or facility? What’s out there online about you? And how do you control and optimise it? Lesley told us about “ZMOT”, which pretty much defines how the customer decision-making and buying process has changed due to digital/online. She talked about the ongoing importance of big data but, more than that, what to do with it. Don’t let it languish (80% is never used, apparently). Segment, drill down, utilise “pen portraits”… and then make sure your message (content!) is specific, relevant and targeted. The right message, at the right place, at the right time.

Here are my take away points from Lesley’s talk:
– pitch to the customer journey (understand what that really is, not what you think/hope/assume it is)
– collect data… but use it!
– the future of sales, marketing and comms is going to be much more integrated (hooray)
– plan for conversion and retention (this includes your content strategy)
– social is huge, and it’s not going away. Social marketing, advertising and selling… don’t get left behind (because your future customers are already ahead of you)
– become a publisher of content in some way and on some level
– get your content out there, position yourself as an expert, build trust, engage people and then nurture them. Yes – all through content (but I would say that ;) )

Next up was Jon Lipsey of Jon Lipsey Media and the man behind the new (and fantastic) Iron Life Mag (have you got your free download yet?) He spoke about how fitpros can use Twitter more strategically to get more customers. It was really interesting for me to sit in on this and hear the barriers and challenges PTs, coaches, facilities managers etc face (or think they face) to using social media. Most were things I hear from my clients on the regular: not enough time, not sure how to structure a message, not sure how to achieve the desired tone of voice, how to put together a strategy rather than just being on social media for the sake of it.

Jon gave some real gems of research into Twitter use, and left the fitpros with some useful questions to ask themselves:

- how active are your targets on social media?
– how much time/money per week are you willing to spend on social media content creation, upload, management?
– what is your strategy?
– how will you track and measure success?
– why would someone follow you and engage with you?
– and why would they want to stay connected?
– why would they engage with you, and not your competition?
– what do you offer (what’s unique)?
– why would someone want to share your content?
– what message do you want followers to take away?

I really liked his advice on putting together an authentic Tweet which does the job: ask a question (be specific), push people’s buttons, be subtle and genuine, and always reply!

I then sat in on a talk about the future of exercise and nutrition by Dr John Berardi of Precision Nutrition. It was a real pleasure to hear John talk “in real life”, he doesn’t come over the UK often so there was no way I was missing this! I was a total cliche at this point… yes, I sat listening to Dr Berardi of Precision Nutrition whilst I ate turkey and green beans out of a plastic tub ;) There was a great deal to take away from his talk and it was fascinating for me to listen to a leading name in the industry talk about future trends, challenges and opportunities.

I think the bit which resonated with me most was John’s prediction that the fitness industry will shift more and more towards a holistic consultative role, helping people with stress management, sleep and all the lifestyle and behavioural barriers they present. It’s going to be about change management before exercise and nutrition plans.

I then…er…did a Metcon class! Yes, me! It was fun actually, I’d forgotten how much I like classes :D I don’t do them at all any more but I was really into classes at one time. The presenter reminded me of one of my friends (who also presents fitness classes), the music was bangin’, I worked up a right old sweat, and I jumped in the air! As in, with both feet off the ground at the same time! :-O I KNOW RITE!

This was, by the way, on the hottest day of the year. I then got stuck in horrendous traffic driving home (from London, at rush hour on a Friday… no sh*t). But never fear, because I had left my coolbox in my car, so I popped my (still frozen) icepacks on my legs and drove home like this.

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Did you go to FitPro Live? What were your highlights and take-homes?

Fitness Writers at FitPro Live 2014 is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Macros and the bigger picture

July 15, 2014

honeyfly

I’ve got a story to tell you this evening.

The other day, I was on a long walk with my dog. We were pretty much in the middle of nowhere (well, as far as the Kent Downs allow) and the only souls in sight.

Then I saw a chap crouching down, peering at a spot on the ground. He had some pretty hefty photography equipment set up. Being the nosy curious person I am (occupational hazard), I asked him what he was taking photos of. “Just this flower,” he said. “Oh, I thought maybe you’d found some mega-rare newt or something,” I replied (no, I don’t know why I thought of a newt, either).

“I’m just playing around with macros,” said the chap.

Macros. That little word which means so very much to us in the fitness industry. IIFYM. What’s your macro split? Have you met your macros today? What are your macros?

It’s a word we use so often, it needs no explanation.

At least… to us.

For this photographer guy, the word macros means something else entirely. And he probably has no idea what his own macros are, maybe he doesn’t even know what the three macronutrients are and – if he does – he probably doesn’t care.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t care about our macros. After all, for those of us serious about body composition, physique sports and nutrition, macros do matter. In general, I think it’s a positive thing if you know the makeup of what you’re eating.

But the encounter with the photographer so absorbed in the details of that flower made me realise: the macros that matter so very much to us in the fitness industry really mean very little to a lot of other people. For the photographer, it’s about fine and tiny detail in extreme close up. To us, it’s about three big all-encompassing nutritional behemoths.

So, fitness industry, maybe it’s time to tear our eyes away from the detail of our own macros (and everything else) so we can spend more time looking at the bigger picture. Looking through someone else’s lens from time to time is refreshing.

Macros and the bigger picture is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Prep update: what’s been going on?

July 14, 2014

It’s been a while since I blogged about this year’s bodybuilding contest prep, so I thought it was time for an update!

I’m now mumble-mumble weeks out… let’s call it “about 12″ although it could be less than that, or more than that, depending on what I decide to do, which will depend on when I feel I’m ready. How’s that for vague? ;)

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Training is going really well, I always enjoy my lifting sessions and am enjoying doing my own training programmes this year. I stick to the same split (same bodypart/s on the same days) but tend to mix up my actual sessions from week to week. I have some favourites which I gravitate towards, and always include big compound lifts, but enjoy trying out new things and mixing stuff up, too. I share ideas and new finds with friends (often over whatsapp, in the form of spontaneous videos using household objects in place of the barbell… LOL you know who you are!) In general I am a high-volume person, and also use things like supersets and dropsets.

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Diet is going OK too, it’s tough at times of course but that’s bodybuilding dieting for you! I find it fascinating how my body holds fat differently each year. This year for instance, my quads were as lean at the start of prep as they were at about 8 weeks out last year (on skinfold) and my abs (amazingly!) have remained pretty lean. In previous years, most of my bodyfat has been on my abs. This year it’s on my triceps (standard) but also on my bum and hamstrings. Boo! Oh well, I suppose it has to be somewhere. I just hope it starts coming off soon! Everything else is definitely getting leaner. I spotted my friend Gary Gristle last week (<< this is a weird lump of gristle on one of my shoulder blades, which is only visible when I get to a certain point of leanness). Next up will be spotting the knot on the stitch of my hernia repair operation. Then we'll really be motoring!

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I’m doing a lot more cardio this year than I did last year (which wouldn’t be difficult, since I did no cardio – other than powerwalking with my dog – in last year’s prep). This is partly because I genuinely enjoy it, and partly because I feel I need to extra push (I refer you back to the fat-bum comment above). I’ve been doing either off-road rides on my mountain bike (love it!) or running hill sprints (don’t love it quite so much) in the mornings, or doing a bit of “gym cardio” (usually stepper or Arc machine) after weights sessions. I prefer morning cardio, though, and I prefer doing my cardio separate to my weights sessions.

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Does anyone else find that, during prep, they start to enjoy training bodyparts which are boring or uninspiring off-season? For me, that’s shoulders, and arms. I’m loving both at the mo!

Oh and I got tutted at by an elderly lady in the High Street today. I take this as a good sign! I was wearing gym kit (including sleeveless top) and she stared, patted the top of her own arm, and shook her head crossly. Cheers, lady! ;)

The amount of #gymselfies ^^^ (arrest me, social media police! :-P ) has increased, which is also a sign that I feel I’m getting leaner. So, if you want to keep up with prep in pic form, follow my instagram. Other than that… what can I tell you? Any questions, just ask :)

How’s your training, racing, competing or generally being-active going? Hope you’re having a great Summer so far.

Prep update: what’s been going on? is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


“Thank you” reviews for birthday pressies from The Protein Works, Monkey Nutrition, Muscle Mousse & Meridian Foods!

July 6, 2014

What a lucky lady I am! My generous industry pals at The Protein Works, Monkey Nutrition, Muscle Mousse and Meridian (the nut butter people) heard it’s my birthday soon (…21 again) (and again) and very generously sent me some pressies. Thank you all! When you’re old and live by yourself like me, you don’t get a lot of surprise presents (unless you develop amnesia after a late-night internet shopping spree). This was a lovely treat.

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Let me tell you what they sent, and what I thought of the various products (I’ve sampled them all – they arrived some time ago ;) )

The Protein Works
Huge box of goodies from The Protein Works, online sports supplement people renowned for their crazy (and crazy-good) protein powder flavours, huge range of supplements, and innovative things like zero-cal syrups. I’m kind of embarrassed by how much they sent but hey I guess you only celebrate your 18th birthday once ;)

What’s in the box?

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CLA Do you take CLA? I know some bodybuilders absolutely swear by it, some have tried it but don’t think it does anything for them, and others haven’t ever used it. I’ve used it on and off in the past, but am big on using healthy fats particularly during a prep diet, so I was really pleased to received a good quality CLA.

Whey protein in banana smooth flavour. I’d never choose banana whey for myself (just not a favourite) but it worked out well for The Protein Works to send me a flavour I don’t usually choose – cos it’s lovely! This is their whey protein concentrate 80, with added “Aminogen” (an enzyme system which helps the body digest the product better and absorb the aminos). And TPW’s whey protein concentrate 80 is tested by HFL, which is an added bonus for athletes tested against the WADA banned substance list. Anyway – this banana whey is very yum and might just have converted me to the flavour!

Greens powders Greens powders are another product which people either use and swear by, or disregard. Personally I think greens powders are a great thing to include whether you’re dieting down or not. They’re just such a quick and easy way to pack tons of raw nutrients into your daily diet (and far better than a multivit IMO). This one is flavoured and quite sweet but does also come in an unflavoured option. You may prefer an unflavoured greens powder, particularly if you like adding it to savoury dishes or mixing it with oils to make salad dressings.

Milk protein aka casein in chocolate smooth flavour. I have casein/milk protein most nights as a before-bed snack – I tend to blend it with a ton of ice and a bit of xantham gum to make a sort of icecream. The Protein Works’s milk protein is really nice, blends up well and tastes rich and creamy without being too sweet.

Creatine I’ll be honest – I haven’t actually started on this creatine monohydrate from The Protein Works, because I’ve still got some on the go. But I’m confident it’s great quality, and I do think creatine is a very useful supplement particularly for bodybuilders and particularly during a diet, to help maintain strength.

The Protein Works’s preworkout “Raze”. I love a preworkout, and this one is great! Check out the ingredients: AAKG (Arginine Alpha-Ketogluarate, Beta Alanine, Creapure® (the best type of creatine mono available), l-tyrosine, citrulline malate, taurine, caffeine and instantised BCAAs amongst other things. Totally safe for drug-tested athletes, tastes great – and works! I’m pretty resistant to caffeine (I drink a lot of coffee) but Raze still gave me a little boost when I needed it (for instance when I had a big squat session to do on the hottest day of the year… ) No jitters, no crash or energy slump afterwards. Good stuff!

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Monkey Nutrition

I’ve reviewed a lot of Monkey Nutrition products on the blog before (all reviews are on this page) and I really rate the quality of their supplements. They sent me their new whey protein concentrate – Primal24 whey protein. It’s Monkey Nutrition’s more affordable whey but still has 24g protein per serving (and a full amino acid profile). It’s 80% protein by weight even after being flavoured, so you know exactly what you’re getting. It’s a lovely vanilla flavour, not too sweet (as some can be) and I’ve been enjoying it mixed with a (cooled) espresso and a bit of ice in the mornings. Yum!

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Muscle Mousse
Muscle Mousse probably needs little introduction, but in case you’ve somehow missed the buzz: it’s an amazing casein-type protein which mixes up very quickly to make a super-thick mousse which is really like a certain Delightfully Angelic dessert you may have enjoyed as a child. There are loads of flavours, but I was sent the peanut-choc caramel flavour – very tasty! Muscle Mousse is a combination of micellar casein/milk casein, whey protein concentrate and egg protein which gives it its unique moussey texture, and the casein and whey are from grass-fed cattle. The latest formulation has a higher level of BCAAs than previously and more probiotics. It’s 100% gluten and soy free – and HFL tested. I’ve been loving this as a treat!

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Meridian Foods new nut butters

Oh, this was a wonderful but dangerous birthday present for a dieting bodybuilder! Happily I seem to be able to exercise more self-control around nut butter this year than in any previous diet/prep. The little jar size helps. I was sent the new cashew butter, smooth almond butter and crunchy almond butter – all are fantastic but the crunchy almond is my favourite by far. Meridian’s nut butters are 100% nuts – no palm oil, no nasties. Just nuts.

Thank you, friends! What a lovely load of birthday surprises :) The (protein) drinks are on me :D

“Thank you” reviews for birthday pressies from The Protein Works, Monkey Nutrition, Muscle Mousse & Meridian Foods! is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


How to beat the bodybuilding post-comp blues

July 5, 2014

With the bodybuilding contest season in full swing, I thought it might be useful to blog about the post-comp “blues”, how to avoid them and what to do if they strike!

Post-event blues aren’t reserved for bodybuilders and physique athletes, of course. It’s a common thing after any big goal: a marathon, a triathlon, a wedding! But there’s another level for bodybuilders, that of “falling off the diet”, potentially dealing with the rebound, sometimes even struggling with bingeing and the body-image issues which come with all of that.

It’s worth noting that the post-comp slump can strike whether you win or come dead last. I’ve experienced both ;) , and I’ve felt great and not-great afterwards. Winning or placing does not guarantee a wonderful few days after the comp, and has little bearing on how you’ll feel, act and cope. In fact, doing well can actually make the come-down worse.

Here are my thoughts and suggestions on how to navigate that post-comp period

Before competition day:

Have a food plan for the following day. Lots of people fall off the diet wagon the day after their comp, and they fall hard. It’s understandable, when you’ve been dieting for months, but it won’t make you feel any better. In fact, it’s likely to make you feel worse – physically, emotionally, and in terms of self-image, motivation and energy levels. So, have a food plan in place before your comp day. Include treats, things you’ve been cravings, meals out or meals in with loved ones. But have a plan, and stick to it. Your body and mind are used to a plan by now, and having one for after your bodybuilding comp will provide a sense of security.

Prep some meals. Again, you’ve got used to eating good solid homecooked food for months now. Have a few meals prepped and in the fridge or freezer for the days following your comp. That way, you can slip back in to a healthy eating routine easily, without having to think about it. Of course you don’t have to get back on your prep diet (unless you’ve got another show coming up), but it will serve your mind and body really well to not fall go completely off the rails. Your body won’t know how to cope with going from prep food one day, to all the foods you’ve been craving the next day. Give it a helping hand. Also, the less choice you have, the easier you will find it to eat well after your comp. And the better you eat, the better you’ll feel (physically and emotionally). I’m not saying you have to prep plastic tubs of chicken and broccoli. By all means prep some lovely nourishing meals you’ve been thinking about. But make them good choices, based around foods you know won’t bust your insides to bits, but with enough nice extras to satisfy your tastebuds.

Write down what you love about bodybuilding
Do this now, before your comp. Write down everything you love about bodybuilding, about training, about lifting. Everything you’ve learned about yourself, your abilities, your strengths. All the bits of prep you enjoyed. You can have a read of this list in the days and weeks after your comp, if you’re feeling a bit down or lost. And you could even go back to some of them now you don’t have the pressure of the competition looming.

Get a post-comp training plan in place
It can be a struggle to get back into training when your competition date has been and gone. You might feel a bit lost without a goal. You may feel demotivated. Some people feel that, if they’re no longer “that person who’s competing”, they don’t have a place in the gym community. Others might be struggling with weight gain and/or body image and let that keep them away from the gym. Have a training plan in place before your comp date comes around. Work with a coach, mentor or trusted BB friend, or work it out yourself. Be realistic, and kind to yourself. You’ll likely be sore (from posing), weak (from dieting) and more prone to injury. But this is also prime time to make some serious progress, because you’ll be full of energy, food and nutrients!

After competition day:

Make bodybuilding more sociable
Chances are you got a bit insular, quiet, moody (moi?) during prep ;) So why not plan to make your bodybuilding more social in the weeks after your comp. Visit bodybuilding friends for training and foodie dates. Pay a visit to some other gyms and have a play on the equipment. Attend bodybuilding meets. Maybe even arrange to go and watch other bodybuilding shows, unless you think this will bring up any negative feelings.

Pay attention to recovery
Is your body a bit beaten up by prep? Well, now you’re done, here’s the ideal opportunity to indulge in massages, spend more time foam rolling, maybe even enroll in a yoga class. Or forget the sport-specific stuff and treat yourself to something really lovely like a beauty treatment, spa day etc (I would say ladies only but hey I’m not here to judge!)

Enjoy your success
Whether you won, placed or came dead last, your competition was a success. I bet you achieved at least one of the goals you set yourself when you started out, didn’t you? And I bet you felt great, beat some personal demons, stepped outside of your comfort zone, and transformed your physique? So celebrate that. Don’t be negative, don’t beat yourself up for not winning or not taking the overall or whatever didn’t happen. Celebrate what did happen. Look at your show photos, talk to other competitors about the day, chat with your supporters who were there.

If you’re struggling:

Seek support
If you’re floundering a bit, feeling lacking without a goal, struggling with self-image, eating issues, body-image, identity or anything else, seek support. I don’t know what will suit you best, but you could chat with a good friend, surround yourself with family, talk to a coach, go for actual counselling, read online articles/blogs, use online forums or groups of likeminded folk… Just do reach out and don’t let it fester.

It was only your physique which was judged
This is a subjective sport and not winning doesn’t reflect not trying your best. And the judges aren’t judging your character or the whole you. You’re still a lot of great things, even if you didn’t win a bodybuilding comp!

Take a compliment
Folk will comment on your Facebook photos and send you messages saying you looked fantastic, should have won, were the best one up there, etc. Even if this isn’t strictly true, they mean well, so take the compliment. You never know who you’re inspiring. So don’t say “oh god, no, I’ve got at least another 1/2 stone to lose!” or “are you kidding, look at my hamstrings!” Just say thanks, I’m glad you like the pic, I had a lot of fun. Or similar.

Remember, this doesn’t define you
Ultimately, nobody really cares. And I mean that in the most positive, constructive and kind way. Whatever level you’re competing at, it isn’t as important to anyone else as it is to you. And the people who really matter – the people who really love and support you – will be happy for you as long as you are happy. They only care about where you placed because you care where you placed. If you came last, but enjoyed yourself and are happy, balanced and in a good place after your comp, they will be happy for you. And remember that bodybuilding doesn’t define you. Yes, you’re a competitive bodybuilder, you put a hell of a lot of time and effort into prep, and it means a lot to you. But it isn’t all you are. And the rest of your life is still waiting for you once you step off stage.

How to beat the bodybuilding post-comp blues is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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