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Be Your Own Trophy: 7 Tips For Surviving Physique Contests

Didn't place at your last competition? Don't let disappointment ruin your self-confidence. Here are 7 ways to stay positive, no matter where you place in the lineup!

I won't sugarcoat it, because you shouldn't be eating sugar anyway: Physique competitions are a tough business. You can pour your heart, soul, and whole self into your contest prep and still come home empty-handed—and that is an unpleasant pill to swallow, even with a spoonful of sugar.

I've been competing since 2008. I have seen the full gamut of backstage reactions to placings. I have seen angry tears, beaming smiles, punched walls, and flying platform shoes followed by volleys of expletives. Show results can elicit some extreme reactions.

Competition preparation is a personal and spiritual investment. You will feel every possible emotion, including some you'd never felt. It's a whole different ballgame when you go outside of your local region and step on stage for a national or international show. The bigger the show, the bigger the stage, the more pressure you will feel to place well. The unfortunate side effect of these high expectations is that the opinions of the judging panel can often cloud and distort your own sense of self-worth.

It doesn't have to be that way.

Winning Isn't Everything ///

Over the years, I learned that I have developed a relatively subversive viewpoint about getting on stage. We are such a "winning is everything" society that it's easy for people to forget why they began training in the first place. Competing in a physique show is a chance to do something most people in the world don't have the discipline to do. You have the chance to reveal the best version of yourself by presenting it to a waiting audience. I often caution athletes new to the world of competition to not let their heart venture anywhere near the scoring sheet. The disappointment can be so detrimental that they never set foot on stage again. And that, my friends, is a gigantic waste.

"Oh, stop it," I can hear you shrieking at me out there: "Get real, Abby. What's the point of getting on stage if I can't win? Coming home empty-handed is going to make me feel like the biggest loser on the planet!" Listen, kids, I hear you. I didn't always have this mindset. I want to win as much as anyone else. Who doesn't want to come home with hardware? But I come from an overweight background. The genetic lottery handed me some difficult cards. I weighed approximately 190 pounds and carried 38 percent body fat at my heaviest.

For my first show, I got down to about 14 percent body fat and 127 pounds. I have been on stage a dozen times since 2008 and have never left with a trophy. My first few shows, I was a complete emotional disaster when I didn't place. My self-esteem took a huge hit, even though my physique improved with every show. I had to accept that I will never be the girl who gets on stage for the first time and wins a trophy. But that's OK. We can't all have the same story, journey, or experiences. That would be boring, right?

Your Body Is Your Trophy ///

You have no idea who will show up on the day of a show. The members of the judging panel and the athletes are arbiters who dictate how show rankings fall into place. You can show up looking the best you ever looked without approaching the top 5 or 10. Why should your self-worth and confidence crumble because of circumstances you can't control—especially in a sport that's so subjective and political?

If you're competing this spring or summer, don't let your place in the line-up dictate how you feel about yourself. Before you don your posing suit and spray tan, consider these seven tips. They'll help you navigate the emotional minefield in the world of physique competition.

  1. Never determine your value as an athlete by what a score sheet tells you. Your time and effort wasn't wasted just because you didn't get a $50 trophy.
  2. No training or contest prep is ever worthless. You benefitted physically and emotionally from your hard work. If you don't have a sense of pride in having the discipline to complete honest show prep, then you may need to have your head examined. It's a big deal to get on stage!
  3. Keep your emotions in check before and after a show. If you're frazzled in the weeks leading up to the show, you'll be an emotional wreck at the outcome. The more flexible you are emotionally, the happier you'll be.
  4. You are your own trophy. You are a walking, living, breathing award that made gigantic sacrifices to get on that stage. You are the result of your own hard work. Every effort you made in diet and training shows in your stage and progress photos. That's your trophy, your legacy.
  5. If you don't have good sportsmanship or never learned to "lose with grace," never get on stage in the first place. Disappointment is one thing, temper tantrums are another. Keep it classy.
  6. Whether you're a greenhorn or fifteen-show veteran, remember that the people you motivate and inspire are more important than any prize. Don't get me wrong—pro cards and trophies are fabulous—but, after months of preparation, washing off that fake tan, eating gummy bears, and wearing deodorant can also be satisfying.
  7. Most important, have fun! Work and train hard, control the components you can control, and keep striving to be your best. Trust the work you do and allow everything else to fall into place.

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About The Author

Abby has experienced a variety of events that led her to embrace an underdog role. She hopes to offer a different perspective on health and fitness.

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JohnHardesty

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JohnHardesty

Great article Abby! Welcome to the Bodybuilding.com family! I look forward to more great content from your perspective.

Mar 19, 2013 6:17pm | report
 
Abster82

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Abster82

Thank you John!

Mar 19, 2013 9:46pm | report
DCHodges36

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DCHodges36

"Competing in a physique show is a chance to do something most people in the world don't have the discipline to do. You have the chance to reveal the best version of yourself by presenting it to a waiting audience."

Well said!

Mar 19, 2013 8:25pm | report
 
DCHodges36

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DCHodges36

"Competing in a physique show is a chance to do something most people in the world don't have the discipline to do. You have the chance to reveal the best version of yourself by presenting it to a waiting audience."

Well said!

Mar 19, 2013 8:25pm | report
 
Abster82

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Abster82

Thank you!

Mar 19, 2013 9:46pm | report
supaman8118

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supaman8118

Very good article, helped me a lot thank you.

Mar 19, 2013 8:38pm | report
 
Abster82

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Abster82

Glad it helped you!

Mar 19, 2013 9:46pm | report
Southcac24

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Southcac24

Very good article. Since I'm doing my 1st show in June, I needed to read this.

Mar 19, 2013 9:34pm | report
 
Abster82

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Abster82

Good luck in your show! First show preps are always nerve wracking but you'll find they get easier with each one you do!

Mar 19, 2013 9:47pm | report
Abster82

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Abster82

Glad you guys liked the article! So happy to help! :)

Article Rated:
Mar 19, 2013 9:46pm | report
 
fredzz1003

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fredzz1003

she have an awesome body and nice article (y)

Mar 19, 2013 11:01pm | report
 
Abster82

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Abster82

I appreciate that, fred, thank you very much. My body is still a work in progress, trust me, dude! lol

Mar 21, 2013 3:44pm | report
CertifiedGymRat

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CertifiedGymRat

Great POST Abby! Having just competed in a physique contest, I can definitely say that I felt awful about where I placed in the competition. It was my first and I expected to do well. Ultimately, I had a family emergency the last two night before the show and wasn't at my best. I do feel good that I did have enough will power to do the show after all the training and dieting I did. Thanks again!

Mar 19, 2013 11:43pm | report
 
Abster82

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Abster82

Get back on that stage, man, it's all about the journey. Nobody who gets up there loses! :) Good luck on your next show!

Mar 20, 2013 9:32am | report
saevus

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saevus

I have similar thoughts and mindset about competition in case I decide to become a physique competitor someday, but you worded my thoughts so perfectly. I say its a must read for all future competitors. Well done, Abby.

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Mar 20, 2013 2:01am | report
 
Abster82

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Abster82

Thank you saevus!

Mar 20, 2013 9:32am | report
chumar47

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chumar47

good work abby

Mar 20, 2013 2:58am | report
 
Abster82

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Abster82

Thank you!

Mar 21, 2013 3:44pm | report
scarer

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scarer

This is a fantastic article which more people should read. I have yet to compete as I am training for a 2014 show but this has definately shown me that I need more mental preperation just in case I don't place. Stay optomistic but with a touch realism. I'll be keeping an eye out for future articles from you. Thanks.

Mar 20, 2013 3:43am | report
 
Abster82

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Abster82

Good luck with your first show prep! It's a little wild and a little scary, but learn to love every minute of it. You earned your place on stage whenever you get there! Thanks for the nice note. :)

Mar 20, 2013 9:33am | report
BLKSPARTANKING

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BLKSPARTANKING

Very well said. I find myself always asking myself questions as to why I choose to do what I do. And to enjoy the ride no matter the outcome. I'm about 8 weeks out until my first show and getting over a lengthy cold. I am still going to give it my all and be thankful, even with the setbacks. Awesome motivational tips that can really make a difference. :)

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Mar 20, 2013 5:55am | report
 
Abster82

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Abster82

Pop that Vitamin C and rock your show in 8 weeks-- keep us posted on how you do! Good luck!

Mar 20, 2013 9:34am | report
grossermanitu

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grossermanitu

I still dont get it why people need a trophy to like themself and be happy.

Mar 20, 2013 6:29am | report
 
Abster82

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Abster82

Not everyone needs it to like themselves as a person, but it for sure validates the work that they put into a show for many! It's a tough game to play!

Mar 25, 2013 3:26pm | report
ritchie684

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ritchie684

great article and advice. I totally agree with you. Better to have experienced and enjoyed it.

Mar 20, 2013 7:12am | report
 
Showing 1 - 25 of 100 Comments

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