2001 NPC Northern Kentucky
Since my 9th article, "It's Show-Time!", I have competed in two events. On April 7th, I competed in the Ohio Natural in Lakewood, Ohio and placed 1st in the middleweight class and 2nd overall. Three weeks following, I traveled to Hartford, Connecticut and competed in the Jr. USA. There I believe I placed 9th in the middleweight class*. I still have yet to see the official results and that is why I say, "I believe". As you can see, if you have read my previous articles, I competed in 3 events exactly 3 weeks apart. In this article, I will talk about my physical struggles to rebound following the full 9 weeks of competition preparation dieting and training. As an amateur bodybuilder, you may encounter or may have already encountered what I will discuss in this article. If not, I will explain how I learned from the post contest trauma and how you can be prepared and hopefully prevent it from happening to you!
*UPDATE:You know what it is and every bodybuilder that has dieted for a competition for several weeks will encounter it at some point. Following a competition, it is commonplace to run out to the nearest Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Burger King...etc. and engorge yourself with as much as or, in most cases, more than your body can handle. I have. To me, it is a sort of reward for all the sacrifices that I have made in preparation for the competition and I deserve it, right? At least that is the rational I use to justify stuffing my face with all the food and sweets I can take in! Unfortunately, I have a habit of going too, too far.
I just saw the "official" results from the Jr. USA and I actually placed 7th (not 9th!!!).
Following my overall win at the 2000 Ohio Governor's Cup, I and my loving wife, as usual, ran to the only restaurant still open (Fridays) to celebrate. When ordering, I asked for not one but two personal size pizza's. Of course I also ordered mozzarella sticks and nachos for an appetizer. Without a thought, I had ordered more food than I had ever eaten in my life in one sitting! In addition to all that, I ordered a large cherry coke (free re-fills!) to wash it down with. Before our waitress had even delivered the appetizers, I gulped an entire large cherry coke. When the appetizers arrived, I began to wolf them down like a person who had been deprived of any food. Several times my wife tried to stop me by repeating time and time again, "Honey, don't over do it". Did I listen? Hell no! I was in bliss and no one was going to deny me the pleasure of diet fornication. I felt no guilt. My conscience was clear. My mouth was open wide and full of food. What else could I ask for after being so committed to my diet for more weeks than I could remember?
As much as my mind was controlling the moment, my body began to catch up. Soon after starting on the first of two personal pizzas, my stomach began to ache. I thought the feeling would pass in a minute or two and started to slow down my eating. After a few minutes, I felt even worse and even starting feeling nausea. Good thing a restroom was nearby because within a matter of a few moments after feeling the nausea, I was praying to the porcelain GOD and hurling all that good food I had just engulfed.
Sound graphic? I hope so. I intend for this to help deter any new bodybuilders from the sin of overeating after a contest. It is easy to do and you must resist the temptation or suffer the consequences. What I learned from this experience is that you must be sensible. You must make yourself realize that your body needs time to re-acquaint itself with all the fatty, greasy, carbohydrate and sodium filled foods that you have avoided like the plague for weeks. Especially if it is immediately following a contest. Remember, when you are hungry and begin eating, it takes 20 minutes for your brain to communicate a sense of satiety. This means that eating at a slower pace is the answer to help prevent over indulgence.
Also, is very important to plan your competitions in advance. As I mentioned previously, I competed in 3 contests back-to-back with only a 3 week buffer. Following the first 2 contests, I ate in moderation with the upcoming contest in mind. I also took Vanadyl Sulfate and Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) to minimize insulin production and aide with glycogen storage when indulging in the carbohydrates.
Another area of post contest concern is in relation to sodium, water, and potassium manipulation during the final week of contest preparation. The intent with sodium, water, and potassium manipulation is to assist with the removal of as much water as possible from subcutaneous tissue. Towards the end of the final week, sodium intake is gradually decreased and eventually, usually the day prior to a show, removed. At the same time that sodium intake is decreased, potassium is increased usually by taking over-the-counter potassium. Water intake is also gradually decreased. This manipulation, if done properly, can make a big difference in your overall appearance on the day of the show. However, post-contest water retention can result sodium and water intake is resumed. Reason for the water retention I have experienced was due to a lack of understanding.
Depleting sodium and water results in a state of dehydration. The problem is that as soon as we step off stage following a contest, we run to the nearest available food establishment to eat as much and drink as much as we can. Usually, the foods of choice are high in sodium (i.e. pizza) and carbohydrates! To top it off, some will order beer after beer after beer to wash it all down. After being sodium depleted and water depleted and assuming potassium intake (which helps maintain a healthy electrolyte balance) is suddenly stopped, we have a tendency to hold large amounts of additional water.
I have actually seen my body change seemingly overnight from being ripped beyond my wildest imagination then blow up like a weather balloon. It was all due to my lack of understanding that a gradual increased intake of sodium, water and carbohydrates must be accomplished following a competition. Also, if taking a potassium supplement, a gradual decrease is necessary as well. Don't worry, after almost a week of being a weather balloon, my body did finally rid itself of the excess water. To anyone new to bodybuilding, please heed my warning and make your post contest "feasts" moderate ones. You will be surely glad that you did!
Thanks again for reading and I will be back soon!
"Winning is easy; it's deciding to become a winner that is hard!"