post show

What is post show? Post show is the phase after you have completed a show. In my opinion, post show is much more difficult than the contest prep itself. If you are a member of a local gym, you are likely friends or at least gym acquaintances with a competitor. Competing is popular, and you’ve also likely been following many competitors on various forms of social media. You have followed their impressive journey to stage – from the dieting, the endless selfies, the improved physique, and then all the stage shots. You understand the process of the contest prep, but what about after the show? Do you fully understand this phase?

It is very important to understand what post show is and be ready for it, both physically and mentally. During contest prep, you are so focused on one thing and one thing only: getting on stage and looking your best. It is easy to stay on track because anytime your mind wonders, temptations rise or you consider getting off track, you quickly think about the stage and it seems you have the inner strength of a ninja to stay on track and keep on going. However, once the show is complete, you don’t have this “stay on track” mentality because you are no longer stepping on stage. This is when the battle of wanting to stay on track but not having to do so sets in. This is where the problems can begin to arise.

If you have been dieting for 16 weeks or longer, it is crucial that you reverse diet out of a show. What is reverse dieting? It is as the name applies: “reversing out a diet” means slowly increasing calories to allow your metabolism to adjust to the increased calories while maintaining body fat.

For more information on Reverse Dieting, stay tuned for another blog next month!

Physical Effects

Most people don’t have the information or knowledge to reverse diet, and end up going back to “normal” eating after their show or even worse: bingeing. Bingeing is when someone eats a large amount of food – more than the average person – during one particular period of time. Often, when someone binges, it’s as if they’ve lost control over themselves and continue to eat even when they are already fully satisfied. After being on a restricted diet for so long, it is very common for this to occur, and many competitors (myself included) have experienced this on occasion.

Having some structure and a reverse diet set in place can help prevent this bingeing. Let’s consider bingeing’s impact on the body. During a binge, someone can easily consume more calories than they eat in a two-day period on their normal diet plan. The problem with this is that after a long period of dieting, the body is “impaired”. Your metabolism isn’t as fast, Leptin levels are decreased, and thyroid production isn’t as efficient, so you aren’t burning as many calories as you would if you hadn’t been dieting for an extended period of time.

So now you have a slow metabolism and you just consumed enough food to feed a tiny village… the result? Potential metabolic damage due to elevated insulin levels, which will in turn cause your metabolism to slow down. Excess insulin levels will lead to increased fat storage. It will also have a negative effect on your thyroid: which is another powerful factor in metabolism. Along with these negative metabolic effects, energy levels plummet, making daily tasks a lot more difficult.

As you can see, bingeing has some serious consequences, but what is much more detrimental is the psychological effects it can have on someone. Bingeing can also sometimes lead to an eating disorder referred to as Binge Eating Disorder. According to WebMD.com these symptoms include:

  • You eat more food than other people do in the same situation
  • Feel like you can’t control how much you eat
  • Feel upset after you binge
  • Have an eating binge at least once a week for three months on average

Although I have experienced binge eating a few times before, I do not have them frequently and would not be classified as having this disorder. I therefore, cannot speak on those who deal with this, but recommend professional help if this criterion meets your own.

Psychological Side Effects

Let’s rewind back to hitting the stage. For most people, you have just accomplished something quite extraordinary – being able to manipulate your body and get it stage ready is a huge accomplishment and no easy task. It is amazing to see yourself turn into this tiny little action figure. The problem? Once you have seen yourself at “your best” it can completely distort your body image and the way in which you view yourself and others moving forward. If you aren’t educated on the concept of dieting and stage leanness you might think that it’s realistic to look that way year-round, so when you start to soften up after the show, which is necessary, it can hit you hard.

It is very important to understand that manipulating your body to compete is for stage purposes and stage purposes only – it is not realistic and definitely not an attainable look to strive towards year-round. Your entire body would be out of whack, and as I have said before, the body doesn’t like to be “out of whack.” It will fight back in order to restore balance.

It is important to understand that you NEED fat. A women’s body is this immaculate and quite incredible thing: we can create a human inside of us! This isn’t something to be taken lightly. We are amazing. That being said, your body is made to make babies, and it NEEDS fat in order to do so. Even if you aren’t carrying a baby, your body needs fat to function optimally. When I am stage lean, I don’t function optimally, and neither do you. I have little to no energy, I am moody, I have little to no sex drive, I have no personality; I am literally a walking “zombie.” Hell, I look badass but I am just a blob of a person. It’s great to accomplish this for a short period of time and for competition purposes, but full time, HELL NO.

You must eat more food again, gain weight again, function properly again. Don’t be so consumed by looking a certain way that you forget to live your life feeling good and being healthy on the INSIDE.

Everyone’s body is different; we all carry fat differently. Some carry less, others more. Some put on muscle easy, others not so much. We are all unique in our own way, and this is what makes us human. Each of us have our own strengths, our own weaknesses, but they are different. We all have our vulnerabilities, our moments of doubt and weakness.

Social media might be one of the culprits. I love social media and what is has done for me and my career but it tends to lead to constant physique comparison. Comparison of others is one of the killers of happiness. We look at other people, we focus in on their strengths, their successes and then we focus in on our own weakness our own failures.

I too compare myself to others; sometimes I wish I was someone else. I wish things came easier, I wish I looked like this…. “wish, wish, wish.” The problem with wishing is that it doesn’t do ANYTHING. You can sit there and dwell on what you don’t have, and trust me I have, but at the end of the day it doesn’t solve anything. You are you, own that sh*t. Be proud that you have differences. Be proud that you are unique. Be proud of who you are. Don’t focus on others and how you wish you were them, or had this, or that. Focus on you, and your strengths, learn to make yourself better, learn to love you.

As I sit here and write, I think to myself, “Wow Victoria, it truly does appear you have it all figured out! You give advice as if you have mastered this all!” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, I give you advice as I want to inform and help, but learning to take my own advice is truly half the battle. I am not perfect; I am always a work in progress and am working hard at also taking this advice. I will continue to have days of doubt, but as long as I strive towards improving myself, focusing on myself, and loving myself… eventually I will succeed.

-Victoria D’Ariano