The funny thing about the off-season, is that there is no off-season.
Like Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, and people who can stop at just one Pop-Tart, the offseason doesn’t exist. I learned this the hard way.
After my 8th competition in 2005, I gained 30lbs post-show. After my 9th competition in 2008, I gained 35lbs. After lucky number 10, I put on a whopping 9 pounds. For those of you who’ve struggled with the “post-comp blues” or body dysmorphia in general, you can relate. Whether it’s 3, 30, or 100lbs, not looking the way you did the day of your show is devastating. Realistically, we know that we can’t maintain 5-10% body fat year-round; it’s not healthy, it’s not feasible, it’s not practical, and it certainly doesn’t do you any favors in terms of making improvements from one show to the next. We know all this, but some of us try anyway, and then end up failing miserably, and going horribly off plan in the ensuing weeks because our bodies just don’t want to diet anymore. Err... Hypothetically speaking, of course.
I’m currently sitting in a state of purgatory (and hyperbole, obviously). Due to a series of fortunate (and some UNfortunate) circumstances, including 3 minor back surgeries, a trip to the Middle East, and a bout of food poisoning, I was forced to drop out of the competition I was prepping for. In my head, I was going to compete on October 12, do a photoshoot or two, then slowly transition into my off-season. That was all cut short after my last (surprise) surgery when I was forced to take two weeks off from the gym. With only 6 weeks to the show, there was no way I was going to make it in time. So my “off season” started 6 weeks earlier than anticipated… Which left me confused and puzzled about where to go from there.
My coach (who is amazing, and understanding, and wonderful, and has the patience of a saint) encouraged me to stick to the plan, and continue getting leaner, albeit it at a much slower pace. He would slowly bring up my calories, lower my cardio, and we’d do a complete body recomposition, but without the pressure of a show in mind. The ultimate goal, he said, is to look my best for Spring 2014.
“Spring 2014”? Isn't that like, 8 months from now?
I have to reconcile not having a short-term goal anymore, but still adhering to my plan for the sake of my long-term goal. The reason I only put on 9lbs as opposed to 30 was because I had a specific focus after my show in 2012: I knew I wanted to get on stage again in exactly a year, and come back leaner and better than ever. So I re-hired my coach, trained my butt off, and stuck to my plan. In years past, I didn’t know what to do with myself in terms of when to compete again, so I just ate… and ate… and ate. Where’s the incentive to get lean, if you don’t know what you’re getting lean for? (Note: #Faultylogic)
Well now I know, and it's taken me the first 2.5 weeks of my pseudo-off-season to figure it out (Note: I refer to it as "pseudo" because I can't say I've been following my meal plan or cardio protocol 100%.. Err... *Note, again: Euphemism*). The off-season isn't an excuse to gain weight, or get off your meal plan, or slack on your cardio, or let yourself go, or abandon all good-judgement and common sense when it comes to your adherence. From now on, I won't even call it an off-season, because for me, that term has so many connotations that I'm not OK with. Henceforth and forthwith it shall be known as "Physique improvement season." BOOM! Your physique improves and improves and improves, until it's time to diet down, and then VOILA! The brilliance of what you've been doing for the last 6, 8, 10 months is revealed at a compeition. Or at your wedding. Or on a cruise! Wherever your "stage" may be.
Not having a competition in mind doesn't scare me, confuse me, or puzzle me anymore. I know exactly where I'm headed, how I'm going to get there, the people who'll I'll have around me for the process, and what I'm going to look like at the end of it all.
BRING IT ON!!!