It is not uncommon for fitness competitors to suffer from what is often called “post-competition rebound.” Symptoms may include sudden weight gain, loss of motivation, feeling “burnt out” or even depressed. These responses seem almost systematic after such a long and enduring mental, physical and emotional journey. However, they usually seem to creep up with no forewarning.
After having undertaken a 12-week transformation, it is normal to feel a mixture of emotions. Post-competition recovery is a process and will take time to run its course. Whether your symptoms are mild or severe, follow the “5 R’s” to cope and overcome those blues.
1. REHYDRATE. Drink water, and lots of it! This is key to your replenishing phase. You probably put your body through a water load followed by a water deplete. It is essential to fully rehydrate to return your body to its natural balance.
2. REST. This is very important! Your body needs to naturally restore as a result of depletion. Sleep is an anabolic building process which allows your body to undergo a tune-up, both physically and mentally. Although ideal sleep length may vary per person, aim for 8 hours per night to maximize the associated benefits.
3. REPLENISH. Treat your body right. Eat clean and stick to a healthy regimen. Choose your food wisely; protein and vegetables are ideal while reintroducing other food groups gradually. Avoid high-caloric low nutrient foods. The last thing you want is to fall into the “brain shift.” This occurs when your body develops a sugar addiction that can result in cravings and a challenging sugar detox down the road. Continue to eat 5-6 meals per day and allow yourself guilt-free cheats. Remember: moderation is key.
4. REWARD. You did it! Pat yourself on the back. You have accomplished something amazing. It is important to applaud your efforts and list what you are most proud of. Ultimately, recognition of your milestones, big or small, is an indicator of your progress and your success. Someone once told me that somewhere between setting and accomplishing goals is the importance of living your life. It is a journey—live it passionately.
5. RELAX. Embrace this time and slow down. Do not be afraid to take a break from the gym. But do stay active! Use this post-competition time to switch things up. Set some new modest goals for yourself and take the pressure off. Try that yoga class your friends have been talking about, sign up for martial arts lessons or play sports. Rediscover that fitness is fun!
Written by Brigitte Dompierre, Stage Prep & Nutrition Coach