A quick update post from me, 4 weeks or so after my final competition and 4 weeks or so into “off-season”.
I went out to dinner this week with some girlfriends. They all asked about bodybuilding, competitions, prep and of course the diet – everything I’ve been through in this past year or so. One of them told me she hadn’t realised I’d competed “for me”. She thought I’d done it for work (?!)
Once I’d stopped choking on an olive, I told her that I doubt there’s a magazine out there which offers rates high enough to make a year of bodybuilding prep financially (or emotionally) viable. (As an aside, I did get one commission off the back of bodybuilding – the ever-lovely Editorial folk at Bodyfit magazine commissioned a short first-person piece which I will upload here at some point. Did you see it?)
“But will you carry on?”, all three of my friends asked.
Does this look like the face of someone who never wants to compete again?
I guess it hadn’t occurred to me that anyone would think I wouldn’t be planning to train, prep and compete again next year. So, for the record, yes. Yes I will carry on. I love this sport, I love the training, I’m fascinated by the nutrition, I adore being on stage. I wouldn’t say I will never do endurance sport again – as Prince once wisely said, “forever is a mighty long time” – but, for now at least, the iron game has my heart. And off-season is flexible enough that I can head out for a run, get on my road bike and plough up and down the swimming pool should I want to. It’s all good!
So, an update on me:
- I trained as I wanted for a few weeks, enjoying a bit of sweaty cardio, a bit of circuit-style lifting and a bit of wandering into the gym and doing whatever I fancied. I now have my new programmes from my coach Kat and wow are they tough! It’s great and I’m loving it. We have definite plans for my physique and this is the first set of building blocks to get me there.
- transitioning into off-season eating, and finding a balance, has been tricky. In truth, I believe this is something that every single competitor wrestles with. I just think it’s not spoken about much – the final taboo if you like. It’s no biggie and I’ve (finally!) got a handle on it, but it’s a prickly problem you don’t necessarily think about (or perhaps don’t want to think about!) when you’re deep in contest diet mode.
- leading on from that point, I have sat down and thought long and hard about the things bodybuilding prep has taught me. What have I learned about myself? What works for me, and what definitely doesn’t work? What makes me feel good, and what should I really avoid if I want to stay happy and healthy? This is all fodder for another blog post, another time.
- I have set myself some plans, goals (dreams?) for next year’s competitive season. I am a firm believer in the law of attraction. If nothing else, goals are good because they give you something to aim for. If you don’t make it, you probably ended up further ahead than you would have done if you were goalless the whole time. I have my new mood board in the kitchen, I have my path planned out. If it happens – amazing. If it doesn’t – still amazing. I know I’ll have a great time next year and enjoy whatever happens. For now, I like having dreams!
So, in answer to the “what’s next?” question, which I seem to get asked a lot:
- off-season eating, which for me means more calories, more carbs, less structure and more intuition
- heavy lifting in order to build and grow
- a focus on certain areas of my physique
- some cardio, but not much at the moment (the focus is on growing my muscles)
- enjoying holiday, Christmas, New Year and general “real life”!
- competing again next year: bigger & better!
Over & out
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.