Singin' The Post-Contest Blues
Congratulations! You've just completed an excruciating journey of unimaginable discipline and self-sacrifice. You've put your mind and body through the wringer and lived to talk about it.
You've stepped onstage practically naked, posed and performed your heart out, collected your trophy and waved to the crowd. You've accomplished something that most human beings would never dream of achieving. So why are you feeling so miserable, champ?
In the days following a bodybuilding, fitness or figure competition it's not uncommon to ride a rollercoaster of emotions. One moment you feel on top of the world and the next you want to go to bed for a week.
One moment you're perfectly pleasant to be around and the next you want to bite someone's head off for making too much noise when they chew. You look in the mirror in the morning and feel positive about what you see. Later the same day you see your reflection in a storefront window and want to go crawl under the nearest rock.
It's difficult enough to deal with emotional responses to the physical and chemical shifts the body goes through as it transitions from a pre to a post-contest diet. I'm sure you could find a few biochemists who would be more than happy to talk with you in great detail about all that.
However, there are a few other non-chemical components which may also contribute to the post-contest blues that I'd be happy to tell you about.
- Feeling Lost: After spending several weeks utilizing vast amounts of mental and physical energy in preparing for the big show, you may feel like you don't know what to do with yourself once that show has come and gone.
- Feeling Fat: Watching your body slowly (or not so slowly) move from shredded to softer can be painful to come to terms with.
Dr. David Ryan
- Feeling Let Down: As a driven competitor, you most likely had high hopes for your contest. You probably had a clear vision of how you wanted to appear onstage and where you wanted to finish.
In the end, if things didn't go exactly as you dreamed they would, and in the weeks following your show you failed to receive the accolades you desired, this might be a little hard to deal with.
- Feeling Impatient: After a show is over, a dedicated competitor will be ready to take the lessons learned, get out there again and prove him or herself.
If you're itching to compete once more and it's going to be a while before the next show rolls around, you might feel a little bummed out.
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- Feeling Nuts: Some of us turn into unstoppable eating machines. Some of us spend lengthy sessions on the computer comparing our contest pictures to other competitor's pictures. Some of us drink to excess.
Some of us return to the gym and attempt to push the same weight we used in the previous off season without a sufficient period of rest and recovery. Some of us do all of the above.
It can be a downer when you look at yourself with cold hard eyes and make the connection that you may have gone slightly mad in your post-contest days.
So What Should You Do Now?
Okay. Now you know why you may be feeling a little down. So what can you do about it? Here are a few helpful suggestions to get you feeling better again.
Watch Your Processed Sugar Intake:
You may not realize this, but along with all the other negative effects on the body, taking in a lot of simple sugar can also cause mood swings and severe unhappiness.
Click Image To Enlarge.
Taking In A Lot Of Simple Sugars Can
Cause Mood Swings And Severe Unhappiness.
It may be tough to return to more disciplined eating once you've finished your pre-contest diet, but this may actually help you feel better faster. Sugar monster out of control? Have an
apple! No, really. I like Fuji's myself. They always take the edge off my sugar tooth.
Try Not To Obsess:
I realize this may be a lot to ask of a physique competitor, but finding other things to think about apart from your sport might make you feel like a complete human being. Yes, there are other things in life besides competing,
dieting, looking in the mirror, etc.
Go to a movie, spend time with your friends and family, play a board game, go bowling, play the guitar, learn a new language, fly a kite, write some bodybuilding articles, I could go on and on. You don't have to fixate on your body twenty-four/seven to be a successful competitor.
Give Restorative Yoga A Try:
Having once taught
yoga, I can tell you there's nothing like leading a class through various poses,
stretches, breathing exercises, guided relaxation and meditation, and then actually getting applause from a room filled with completely calm, rejuvenated individuals who had been
stressed out and cranky only an hour before.
Even if you only did the breathing exercises and final relaxation, you'd probably find your mood would be improved at least a little. I try to get some light yoga in every night before bed.
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Nothing too strenuous, but enough to work out a few kinks from my training and to shake the cobwebs of negativity out of my brain. Never done yoga before? You can always work with a
DVD, find a good class or learn from a
Take A Hot Bath:
This one always works for me. There's something about lying in very warm water that puts me in touch with the wiser side of myself.
I often find solutions to my problems and answers to my anxieties. Not to mention, it just feels good. Give it a try. Light a couple of candles or maybe use aromatherapy if you like it. I feel more relaxed just thinking about it.
Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that uses volatile liquid plant materials, known as essential oils, and other aromatic compounds from plants for the purpose of affecting a person's mood or health.
Remember Where You Came From:
For bodybuilders in particular, the drive to do better is always pushing us. It's all too easy to be harsh and critical on our bodies in an industry where our bodies are critiqued so harshly.
In a way, you need to be critical to be able to make improvements. But it's always important to take a step back and remember where you started.
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Look through your old photos from before your first contest and then compare them with your most recent ones. I'll bet you'll feel loads better about yourself by doing this. It's something I do often.
Well, I hope I've given you a few useful tips to help you fight your battle with the post-contest blues and that in time you'll be back to your old chipper self. Give your mind and body a chance to recover. Remember, you've done an amazing thing! Never lose sight of that!