Weight gain – It is what it is.

The dreaded post show weight gain. The part of competing that everyone seems to hate. And yeh, it is a daunting thought. After being such a miniature human for so long, solely focusing on getting smaller to then completely switching focus to gaining weight, increasing food intake and growing – it’s safe to say that it’s not going to be the easiest or most comfortable task. I won’t lie, at first I didn’t want to send my check in photos to my coach, which is silly I know! It almost felt to me like I was regressing because after being focused on getting leaner each week to then send a photo of myself looking fuller, it felt as though I’d taken a step back. Safe to say though, after my initial post show check in, I’m really happy with the way I’m looking and feeling and life out of prep is bloody brilliant.

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Mini me vs. still mini me, just not quite as mini

In comparison to stage lean, anything is going to feel fat. FACT. That’s just how it is. Your parameters change when you’re prepping for a competition. Reality is – the you at the start of your prep probably would have died for your current physique. It’s natural for your parameters to shift throughout prep because the extreme becomes the norm, however that extreme can’t remain the norm because it is just that – an EXTREME.

Of course, no one likes to feel their jeans getting tighter or having their breathing slightly restricted by their sports bra but that’s the thing about this sport. Weight gain is inevitable. Weight gain is necessary.

Weight gain is what it is.

Weight gain isn’t bad.

Weight gain just IS.

It’s something I would recommend thinking about before jumping into a competition prep – are you mentally strong enough to accept your body at the different stages of the competing process – your ‘stage-ready’ body and your ‘off-season’ body. To get better in this sport, you have to go through times of not being your leanest and if that’s not something you’re prepared to do then it might not be the right sport for you.

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Just over here trying to grow some glutes and lats

The amount of times you read about the ‘post show weight gain struggle’. Someone not liking how they look in the mirror, people restricting calories to keep the weight off or carrying on with crazy workout and cardio programmes in order to maintain that show day look. It’s not healthy and sadly these are the people whose disordered eating habits and body dysmorphia can be spotted a mile off.

People moan and cry about gaining weight post show, about feeling unconfident and unhappy with their new body and about how they’re not able to accept themselves – that’s not right and that’s not how it should be. Something that I learnt when I was recovering from my eating disorder and something that I tell my clients who I’m currently helping overcome their demons is that your weight or body fat percentage shouldn’t dictate your happiness or self worth. Your weight doesn’t define you. Your friends aren’t your friends because of the weight you are. Your family don’t love you because you’re a certain body fat percentage. You are more than how you look or what you weigh.

Remember, you aren’t fat. You’ve gained some fat. Know the difference.

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The whole point of post show weight gain is to return to normality. It’s about letting go a bit and returning to enjoying good food and feeling strong again. It’s about getting all those hormones functioning properly again and getting your energy back. Taking some time off dieting and focusing on building muscle and increasing strength so you can make improvements to your physique. Rather than panicking about a bit of fat gain, focus on how you’re feeling and performing. If your lifts are improving, you have more energy to perform well both in and out of the gym, and if your hormones have (somewhat) returned to normal then slightly chubbier cheeks and an extra tummy roll is just a small price to pay!

This isn’t to say that completely letting go and shovelling burgers down your neck at any opportunity and passing it off as balance is the way forward BUT it is to say that, like everything in life, competing is just another little exciting journey that should be enjoyed and embraced.

Life’s great. You’re wonderful. Cheers.