Competing in Bikini was one of the biggest adrenaline rushes I've experience. Each and every time. The thrill and excitement never lessened from show to show. But you already know that. Every competitor is happy to tell you the incredible high they feel on show days. But then there are many other aspects that people tend not to discuss openly. I run a group on Facebook with one of my dear friends for new competitors where we discuss these sorts of things frequently. But for those of you who do not have that sort of support group, I present to you the "Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me" blog comprised of very common forms of that question.
WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME I WOULD BE DEPRESSED AFTER MY SHOW?
I call this the bride syndrome. We've all seen brides depressed after their wedding day. Is it because they married the wrong man? Of course not. It's because they've spent day after day, month after month preparing and planning for one single day. And it's an amazing day that is gone in the blink of an eye. Competing brings about the same emotions! You spend 12+ weeks focusing on one single goal, every meal, every workout, every gram of perfectly portioned chicken, for one day that is over in the blink of an eye. Post show depression is normal, and temporary. Try setting other fun goals for after your competition like a color run, or surfing lessons, or that big long hike you've been waiting to try.
WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME I'D BE TANNING NAKED IN A ROOM WITH OTHER PEOPLE?
If you were shy about being naked around other people - kiss that goodbye. The professionals who spray tan people for shows have a lot of bodies to blast with the horrendous smelling oompa loompa paint so they need to get people in and out of their tents as quick as possible. That means you're moving from the tanning tent to the drying tent quickly - naked as the day you were born - in front of other people. The tanning people are professional who see this every week, the other competitors see this every show. No one is oggling your goodies just like you're too uncomfortable to sneak a peek at their junk. So just relax and focus on not freezing while standing wet and naked in front of a fan. I usually close my eyes and visualize my posing.
WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME I'D NEVER LOOK AT FOOD THE SAME?
By the time of your show you can perfectly eyeball your portions of food before weighing them. Chances are you're going to see a plate of food after the show and secretly be calculating the macros in your head. Or you're going to stand in Starbucks to order your grande iced coffee and shoot the barista an evil eye when she asks if you want it sweetened, and secretly judge the other people in line because OH MY GOD don't they know how many calories and grams of sugar are in that caramel frappuccino... ooooooooooh look at the whipped cream on it, that looks amazing... who is the culinary genius who created these things anyway? And those little frosted cake pops? Yes, I'd like to have 3 of those. This is a very typical thought process. You go from judging other peoples food choices to fantasizing about them. Cakes and cookies and Nutella become stuff dreams are made of and nearly impossible to resist, when you enjoyed them before but could turn one down if you weren't really craving it.
WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME THAT MY BOOBS ARE GOING TO SHRINK?
Unless you are a genetic freak of a lady, your boobs are going to deflate. You thought going through puberty at 13 was hard? Try going through it backwards as an adult. Yes - its hard. You breasts are going to shrink, and yes they will fill back out when you gain weight after your show.
WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME MY ABS ARE GOING TO DISAPPEAR?
"I'm going to spend the next 12 weeks working hard towards my stage body, there's no way I'll stray from that after I earn it!" Nope, not how it works. Not only is it not healthy to stay that lean all the time, but mentally it's challenging. You thought it was hard to stick to your diet for 12 weeks leading up to the show, well the truth is the weeks after the show are even tougher. You SHOULD reverse diet out of your competition prep, meaning you slowly add in more calories and slowly back off cardio. That takes WAY more self-discipline than it did to diet down for the show. So yes, your abs will slowly fade. Sometimes completely, sometimes just a softer defined look. But you're not going to be stage shredded every day of your life. But practicing as much self control after they show is important to avoid a big rebound (significant weight gain post-contest from over-eating.)
WHY DON'T PEOPLE SUPPORT ME?
Yes, you're working hard. Yes, you're dedicated. Yes, you're doing something that other people wouldn't ever consider attempting. No, that doesn't mean everyone is going to support you. Why? It's not because you have "haters" or because people are jealous of you. It's simply because your goal is something they don't understand. You're choosing to be tired and grumpy and hungry to stand on stage half naked. Definitely not a goal for everyone. So be prepared not only for some people not supporting your goal, but for some rude comments. Try working in silence. You're going to be tempted to post progress pics every week because your transformation is very exciting! But the more you refrain from that, the less of an opportunity you give others to criticize your goals. Try searching for competitor groups on Facebook for support. These are people who WILL understand your goals, and understand your insecure days too!
WHY DO I ALWAYS FEEL FAT NOW?
This is one of the biggest and longest lasting side affects of competing. Once upon a time you were a girl perfectly happy to be a size 5, not ripped or shredded. Soft body that you proudly strutted around with in a little bikini or a flirty dress and never gave a second thought as to whether someone was staring at your stomach or analyzing your thighs. Fast-forward to 3 months post-comp. Let's say you return to that exact same condition. But now all you see is fat, you feel fat, you can't stop staring at you fading abs and poking at the soft spots. The exact same body that you were once perfect comfortable in is one that you now find disgusting. This mentality does not happen for everyone, but it is very common! You just have to remind yourself just because your body isn't stage ready, doesn't mean it is incapable of amazing things and still is something that is to be loved, cherished, and appreciated.
WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME I'D DEVELOP AN EATING DISORDER?
This is probably the scariest one. For girls who thought they nipped an eating disorder in the bud, competing often makes it resurface. For girls who never had an eating disorder before, some will actual acquire one. BEFORE you start training to compete it is VERY important that you have a good relationship with food, realistic expectations of what your body can accomplish, and make your health of utmost importance throughout your training.