By Scott Canatsey – Lead trainer at the Parrillo Performance training facility
Have you ever prepared to compete for a bodybuilding event? Then, chances are you have experienced the “Post Show Blues.” This is a common malady suffered by most every person who has competed in a bodybuilding event. The 12-16 weeks it takes to prepare for the show and the mental and physical grind day after day creates a rhythm that you live by. Every moment is about the final goal. The goal is to win the event. This takes a focused mind, body and spirit working in concert to align your being into a one mission machine. But, how do you come down from that high of being an ultra-fit machine? How do you come back to normal life?
The first thing to be aware of (especially if you are new to this), is that you want to pace yourself with food. Many tend to over eat like mad. I have even seen people gain over 50 pounds in 3-4 days after a competition. A person cannot even tie their own shoes when they get this out of hand; I have come close to this myself. The high blood pressure and headaches are not worth it. This food binge can also be the beginning of what brings depression on, due to its awful affect. The awful look of a bloated, sugar and fat laden bodybuilder is truly depressing just to see, let alone the fact that you must look in the mirror and see that.
Get right back in the gym! Even if it is just working light and going through the motions. Keep the good habits alive by practicing them. Get the body moving and get the good food going back in. You want to be packing food in, but it needs to be quality too. You have an opportunity to gain big just after a show, if you train hard and eat up strong with decent food. This is what we do as a Parrillo Performance practice. The six weeks after the show is vital to utilize. Those are the best gains of the year! Not a time to be down. Your body only gets in this state after an event where you have pushed for many weeks and the body is depleted and ready to respond.
Eating poorly after the show is a sure fire way of ruining that beautiful physique that you are so proud of. Seeing yourself bloated and water logged is not attractive. This is when you need to turn it around quickly or the decline for most people will continue. Those folks usually use the default excuse of bulking season and will get back to the gym, but it is common that the eating habits are still haphazard. There must be a way to enjoy the pleasure of a post-show meal or two without going completely off the rails when it comes to nutrition. If you can maintain control and eat smart, you will find that the mental down time is not long and not as debilitating.
A great way that I have found to keep away the PSB, is to already have another goal in mind. Another event on the far horizon is still a marker. You will not experience the lost feeling that occurs when there is not a next goal. When there is just a question mark, the mind has no moorings. Your focus will drift, and this lifestyle will not happen which takes diligence and focus. The next goal should be of higher caliber to keep you continuing to progress in the ranks of bodybuilding. Remember, no one is standing still. You are either moving forward or backward. In light of this fact, we have no choice but to move forward if you want to succeed.
Having been in this Industry for the past 30 plus years, I have counseled many people through the post show phase. The PSB’s seem to be the worst for the newer competitors, but even seasoned vets can get a little lost after a show. This seems to happen worse to the more competitive types. They can get so wrapped up in the process that the entire world has ceased to exist outside of their prep. This makes for a hell of a focused athlete (obsessed actually) and the result can be amazing, but coming back to earth after that can be a bit of a rough landing.
Let us bring to our attention another factor of importance. The athlete support system is one of the most vital factors for the athlete readjusting to normal life without depression and the feeling of being lost. The people closest to you went through this with you on some level. Take time to talk to them about the prep. You have certainly been a handful to deal with, so let them vent as well and clear the air. Have a good laugh about it; it can be quite cathartic. Spend a little time doing what they consider to be normal with them. Just make good choices when you go out to eat with family and friends. The show is over. You do not need to be perfect, you just need to be smart with your food choices.
The most excellent way to avoid the PSB’s is to adopt the Parrillo Performance lifestyle. You are never in an off-season. It is just changing seasons. Health and vitality through exercise and nutrition: this is the foundation of all that we practice. If you just live as a bodybuilder, eating several quality meals daily, taking extra nutrition when needed, training according to a regimen and schedule and resting to recover from the work put in, you will experience a different level of life quality. Not only is your fitness better, but everything seems to be affected by the higher quality health lifestyle. Being a disciplined person just makes you a different person. Everything becomes very intentional and life seems to become more purposeful.
Follow this prescription to stay away from the PSB’s and you will be successful. It takes some folks longer than others to figure this out. I hope this is helpful to someone struggling with this common bodybuilding affliction. Fitness is a positive and joyful thing. Let’s keep that glass half full!
~until next month