One of the shhh…secrets of doing a second show is that it’s not as hard as the first one. I see a lot of women who work EXTREMELY hard to transform their physiques for a contest / wedding / event, but because of the toughness leading to “stage”, they ditch their transformation protocol as soon as the event is over. In doing so, they miss out on this week’s Secret to Stage:
Your starting point has shifted.
When contest prep is done well, this shift happens in a positive way and you take an accelerated seat to your next stage. When contest prep is not done well, the shift will take you backwards and require some repair. Similarly, with any diet or body transformation, a crash diet or cleanse may help you shed weight quickly, but your starting point will retreat in proportion to the deterioration of your muscle mass and any damage to your metabolic response from the rigors of the transformation protocol.
Honey, can I have another salad?”
Another one?!?” ~my husband
Yes, I’m still hungry!”
After hitting stage, my metabolism seems to go into another realm. With methodical dieting, there is a predictable response: hunger. When dieting is done too quickly or erratically, this response is not experienced the same way.
Whether or not you’ve dieted well may not be evident on your first stage, but it will become evident after the show and in preparation for subsequent shows. The term “reverse dieting” has become part of the vernacular of bikini competition because of the “accessibility” of the division. By accessibility, I mean “within reach” for most women. As such, the division attracts women…and trainers of varying fitness backgrounds with little to no knowledge of bodybuilding. This camp will diet hard for a “one and done” show, which often backfires after the show for weeks, months, or even years to come. This is the amplification of a crash diet gone wrong.
If fitness is your lifestyle, a rigid reverse diet is rarely needed because the immediate weeks after are not so off the hook (I’m requesting extra salads from my husband, not a dozen doughnuts…) and I’m back in the gym utilizing those extra carbs before the first week is up. For the fitness newbie or someone who has struggled with disordered eating behavior in the past, a reverse diet can be extremely beneficial in terms of providing structure, balance, and moderation to your post-contest splurges and to prevent physique deterioration in the weeks after stage.
Understand that the goal is not to maintain your stage physique or an ultra-lean body composition until your next stage or indefinitely. Bodybuilding is best understood as an extreme sport when it comes to your physique and body fat levels. For women, maintaining single digit body fat levels for extended periods of time will trigger all kinds of hormonal havoc. This is not to say that a competitor needs to go from fit to flab, but it is important to have healthy expectations for the post-show period to prevent any health or psychological issues and to also encourage your body’s optimal response for your next prep.
To see the shift in starting points, we have to look at body composition. So, let me pony up mine…after an exceptional night of sushi and wine with the hubby!
Transformation weight = lbs of body fat lost + lbs of muscle gained
21.2 lbs = 12.2 lbs of body fat lost + 9 lbs of muscle gained
Looking at body weight alone, it would appear that I am only three pounds ahead of the game from my last prep. Months and months of work for a measly three pounds?! Not so fast…there is noticeable vascularity in my biceps! Indeed, looking at the fuller picture of muscle mass and body fat, there is a 21.2 lb difference between where I started in April and where I’m starting today.
Body weight changes can mean all sorts of things in transformation terms. To create true transformation, we have to ditch the fixation with body weight.
From a contest prep standpoint, this means I don’t need as long a ramp-up for my next show…from 4 months down to 2 months…and with a superior starting point. The simple scale scenario would have left me discouraged; the richer body composition analysis informs and inspires me…to set my alarm for cardio…because I’m seven weeks out from my next show!
Want to explore body composition further? Check out these posts:
Or, ready to take action? Click here to schedule your body composition analysis and/or to discuss which Star Transformation package fits you!