Yes. I compared myself to a drug dealer. Not because I am constantly carrying around baggies of powdered substances and pills, although that is pretty funny, too.
There’s a much bigger picture here and I feel like many competitors get blind sided by it. I knew that some competitors develop eating disorders or body dysmorphia post-competition because they want to continue to look “stage ready” but that’s just not healthy. You can’t stay that lean, water depleted and tight, you just can’t.
I wish someone would have given me the low-down before competing. It wouldn’t have changed my decision to compete, but I would have appreciated the information. I didn’t realize that I would have the same mental struggles just on a much smaller scale.
So let me explain why competitors are like drug dealers…
You’ve heard stories of drug dealers who get busted and spend some time in prison. They have rules, expectations and boundaries for months on end. Finally, one day they are un-cuffed and sent back out to the streets to live a normal life. Some decide to change their lives and others go right back to dealing because it’s all they know, or maybe because they actually subconsciously craving the structure of prison and find comfort in it.
I know it sounds weird, but us competitors are the same way.
During prep, it can feel like prison. All we want is a piece of fricking pizza but we can’t have it. In fact, we can’t have a lot of foods. We sometimes feel trapped with our workouts and nutrition plans which allow us little freedom. There are “rules” we have to follow; meal timing, nutrition plan with specific meals, workouts and times we need to workout, supplement timing, water intake and more. It’s rigid but it’s structured and consistent.
We compete and then it’s off-season. This would be when the drug dealer gets to leave prison. Competitors are finally able to indulge, sleep in or skip workouts, not track macros or water and just enjoy some freedom.
This sounds fantastic, right?!
Well, for some it’s not. It becomes a mind fuck. Pardon my French.
Some competitors decide to reverse diet by continuing a prep plan, but slowly adding “fun” foods back into their diets. This is a great plan, but even still, it becomes hard to see abs start to fade. The slight bloating may make it feel like all the hard work and progress will be lost, which is not actually the case.
Other competitors binge and have zero self-control with food because they have forgotten how to find balance after following such a strict prep diet for so many months.
This was me. I was battling mentally.
“Kayla, you can have all these foods again you don’t have to binge on them all now. If you do, you will just have to work harder for your next prep to lose the bloating and any fat.”
“Who gives a shit. You will just have to bust ass for a week and all the bloating will come off. You deserve it. Eat it and don’t you dare feel guilty for a second.”
“You’re going to walk into the gym on Monday and everyone will think, “Wow, she ate everything in sight over the weekend.””
“Kayla, people know you are off-season. Gains girl! Think gains!”
“Bye abs. Holy crap my stomach already looks terrible. Cleaning up the diet tomorrow.”
“Stop worrying and pinching yourself. It’s just a bit of water retention because you have had sodium.”
Either way, I think competitors decide to go back to clean eating or a prep nutrition plan because we just don’t know how to function normally without one. Much like drug dealers back out on the streets; we’re not sure how to handle the freedom so we lose all self-control or we want prison.
I have to be honest with myself and remember that for six months I had a strict plan so I can’t expect to just switch back overnight. I have to re-learn how to find balance and it’s going to take time.
The whole goal of off-season is to maintain my fitness level and health. It’s NOT to look perfect and no one expects me to.
Does this hit home for you? If so, please share below. It’s great for us to connect, support each other and educate!
In case you missed it, my friend and fellow competitor Ryanne shared her story yesterday.
You can also follow this series True Life: I’m A Bikini Competitor here.