So, you're thinking about competing?

 

So, you're thinking about getting on stage and competing for the first time?

You know a few people who've done it and most of your idols compete/have competed so you feel like maybe it's time to see what it's all about? Fantastic! Taking the plunge and getting on stage can be one of the most rewarding things a person does and personally I know how much it can mean to a you once you set your heart on it.

Now for the useful but less glamorous news.....

Competition prep is hard, REALLY hard, especially the first time. You are going to be mentally testing yourself for a good 3-4 month period knowing that everything you're feeling and going through physically and emotionally can stop and return to normal at any point. If you decide to quit. That's the reality, you need to be able to be strong enough to battle with your own mind on a regular basis and not give up. Then there's the part that often gets overlooked...there are LOTS of people who will be working as hard as you will be, but only one person can win on the day. Remember this.

Well If you're still reading at this point and haven't been scared off then good because there is some light at the end of the fish & broccoli tunnel.

There's no such thing as a "Guide to prep", it's going to be a very different experience for each individual but there are some things to think about beforehand that may just help you prepare for some eventualities and also take the sting out of stressful scenarios.

The people in your life to a large degree will notice the changes in you physically and in the things you do, for instance, when it's a best friends birthday meal two weeks out from your show and you simply don't want to attend.
You're tired, depleted and the thought of being around alcohol/food you can't really have will either tempt you or irritate you, so you politely decline, to the usual responses of "you're so boring now" or "one meal won't make a difference". You make a commitment with deciding to compete and it's a 100% commitment. It's one of those things that not many people will understand, real friends will though.
Relatives will also play a part here, they're used to you being a certain way and although it's simply just polite concern, the "You look ill" or "you don't seem yourself" will not be the best reward to hear for all your hard work. BE PREPARED FOR IT FOLKS

If you're fairly clued up but want some useful hints to apply then all I will say is:

  • You may have heard horror stories about dieting, usually based around white fish and rice for 12-16 weeks, it's not as horrific as that but hire a good nutritionist or prep coach if you're unsure about what it will entail.
  • Don't try dieting on silly low calories and tons of cardio, this WILL NOT WORK
  • The longer time period you can set aside for your dieting period the better. This will allow you to make smaller, less mentally taxing changes whilst reducing the risk of muscle loss if you are "Hard Dieting" or have a short time frame to achieve your goal.
  • Consider where your research has come from (REPEAT THIS A LOT) a diet you found on the net could be used by ANYONE, it hasn't been tailored to you and that will be a vital requirement as everyone's needs are different.
  • You will probably spend years attempting to find the perfect dieting experience, Before I first competed I decided to do a test run diet (10 weeks) where I made a LOT of mistakes. These mistakes I learned from and used much to my benefit when I first stepped on stage six months later.
  • Consider your financial situation, deciding to do a comp is a surprisingly expensive venture with quality nutrition and supplements all adding up, my prep cost me about £350-400 per month.... but when you're not going out on the pop every week you should be fine.
  • Buy your meat online in bulk or strike a deal with your local butcher and you'll save a fortune over supermarket prices.
  • CHEAP PROTEIN (In frozen meat form or powder) IS CHEAP FOR A REASON!
  • When you surround yourself with like minded people, for instance on Twitter or Instagram you will receive, in general, a lot of positive praise for your hard work in the form of compliments on progress pics or even when you're in the gym training hard. Sadly however the internet is often as toxic as it is useful during prep.

 

For every compliment or praise you may get there will be a childish person prepared to put negative comments just to get a reaction, ignore this and remember: you look good naked, they don't! Other competitors will post pictures filtered/in good lighting and often create a false reflection of where they actually are, pay no attention to anyone else's progress, the winner is decided on show day not on Instagram.

I'm going to be bold and say I highly doubt any competitor has made it through a prep without experiencing at least one of the topics/issues just raised, but if it was easy everyone would be in great shape and PT's wouldn't make money.
If you decide to compete, accept these possibilities, don't be shocked, you've made a huge choice to do this and no matter what the outcome, whether you win or lose, love it or hate it, I GUARANTEE you it will be one of the biggest experiences of your life and you will learn so much about yourself during the journey.