Post Show Psychosis – A real problem that affects many body building competitors
Dolores Van Bourgondien
Post Show Psychosis Syndrome – Post Bikini Competition or even Pre Show Advice !
You’ve trained for months, sacrificed friends, families, dates, food and alcohol, missed out on parties, showed up at a function with dinner in a Tupperware or Ziploc. You’ve risen at 430 for fasted cardio and closed your day with weights. You’ve Prepped, primped, weighed and measured and now, post show, nearly instantaneously you have fallen into a depression. Nothing seems to work, nothing can get planned or organized and you’re eating like you’re going to the electric chair!!! Does this sound like you???
OK so “psychosis” may be a strong word BUT it is defined as “characterized by an impaired relationship with reality” and many competitors feel this, post show to some degree. Their thoughts are far from realistic and often downright delusional! And a syndrome is defined as a group of symptoms that consistently occur together or a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms or a characteristic combination of opinions, emotions, or behavior. Competitors far and wide (US, Ireland, Australia and more) all show the exact same thoughts, moods and emotions post show ranging from statements of feeling fat and fluffy to feeling inadequate and like failures.
As an ARNP (and competitor) I’m taught to look for signs and symptoms of psychosis, especially when these signs or symptoms are clustered together. What I have noticed is that there is a post show “Psychosis Syndrome”, and competitor’s world wide are experiencing these symptoms; some mental/emotional and some physical. The following are 5 Symptoms that many competitors will experience post show. Its not only important to identify these symptoms but to also offer what are viable solutions or “treatments” so that many can avoid these mentally, emotionally and physically debilitating pit falls.
- Post Show Crash – All the comments, congrats, best wishes, compliments. The exhilaration of walking on stage, the feeling of “I’ve done it” !!!! and then the focus or attention is no longer on you. Competitors fall into a funk and many people find it hard to deal with the lack of attention. Don’t forget for many months’ friends and support systems have been pushed away as you strive for that bikini or figure body. You have ignored invitations and social outings and friends, while supportive, have gone on with their lives. Competitors often don’t have a post show goal. For 12 – 16 weeks your focus has been on one thing, getting to the stage. Now What????? The let down of having nothing to focus on often outweighs the success of your accomplishment. Lets not talk about the expectations of placing? What if you have done absolutely everything possible to achieve that amazing bikini body. What if your coach, friends and family all think that you should place (top 3 or 5) what if you don’t what if you are 5th call outs in a group of 25 and you are squarely on the wings. We are all human and no one likes rejection or criticism.
Solutions: Competitors need to be realistic! This needs to be fun! This shouldn’t consume your life!
Strike a Balance: While prepping try to strike a balance with friends and family – arrange a coffee date instead of at the bar, have lunch dates and socialize with friends instead of dinners and If you have family functions try to plan ahead – look at restaurant menus and come up with a selection of foods that work or bring our own foods.
Set a Realistic Prep Time Frame: Also try to embark on a prep that doesn’t mean that you are constantly deprived for 12, 16 o r20 weeks, a prep that is realistic and fits in with life and a lifestyle and which may actually be longer than a 16-week prep.
Get a Great Coach: Choose a coach that is realistic and honest and has both your best interests AND your health and sanity in mind.
2. Feelings of Inadequacy and Depression– Many competitors feel inadequate after a show (again this is out of touch with reality) and this also coupled with depression. Many competitors fall into a complete “funk” immediately after a show. Depression is defined as feelings of dejection and despondency and is manifested by feelings of sadness, loss of appetite or increase in appetite, loss of feelings of satisfaction or pleasure. Difficulty sleeping and lack of energy and increased fatigue and feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. Competitors may also have difficulty concentrating or making decisions. What complicates things further is that a lot of these symptoms are also felt from dehydration, lack of carbs and intense training so its difficult to distinguish real depression post show from just the side effects of what your body has been through in the last few weeks pre show and peak week itself.
Many didn’t do as well as planned or expected, many compare themselves, negatively to their competition, many will state I was bloated, felt fat, I felt clumsy etc. Comparison is the thief of joy!!! DON’T compare yourself to others think of the things that you have accomplished in this journey. You stuck to a plan, you should have improved your health and wellness, you achieved a goal many don’t. Would you beat yourself up as much if you had completed an Ironman, swan a mile race, learned a new language.
Focus on the positive and look at what you have accomplished and learned
You Learned how to fuel your body and to weight lift
You planned a goal and maintained the discipline necessary to achieve that goal
You inspired others – this is huge along the way you have definitely inspired many. You may be the reason why someone loses weight, improves their health or even dedicates themselves to a goal.
Feeling “blue” can be common after the show as emotions dip and the hype diminishes BUT when these feelings last more than 3-4 weeks after your metabolism has settled and as your hormone levels readjust sufferers should seek professional help
- Weight Gain– Yes this is probably one of the biggest mine fields. Many competitors have dropped considerable amounts of weigh to get to the stage and let’s get one thing straight immediately – YOUR STAGE BODY IS NOT YOUR LIFE BODY!!!!! PHEW. Maybe this should be the title of this article because is is probably the single most distressing mind F*** with competing. Most competitors should be told that their life body they will probably see about 2 weeks prior to competition and they need to be happy with THIS body – usually 10 lbs. above stage weight, this is sustainable. Many competitors eat after a competition as if they’re going to the electric chair (guilty as charged) and for many this mentality lasts well beyond the competition (guilty as charged) now the competitor has to cope with a steady and consistent weight gain until they realize WTF I need to get this under control.
Solution: Reverse diet, again reverse diet, again reverse diet. The night of the competition and even the day after you can have a cheat meal but look at it like just a meal and just that day. Most competitions happen on a Saturday in the US so take Saturday night and even Sunday as a cheat day but on Sunday prep meals as you have done for the last 12-20 weeks and have those meals on hand.
Competition Prep packages should include 1 month AFTER the competition – Just my opinion, and you will get your moneys worth and more by paying for an additional month of guidance after the competition is over. Ask any competitor out there and they will tell you that immediately post show is 10 times harder than the prep itself.
So what’s reverse dieting. The day of the show your metabolism is probably at its lowest functioning level, you may be depleted, you may have used keto, carb cycling and more to get to your stage goal – Reverse dieting with a great coach who is knowledgeable allows you to add foods back into your diet while also allowing your metabolism to increase to pre- show levels. As with getting to the stage reverse dieting is highly individualized and tailored to the individual competitor.
Doing a longer, slower and less restrictive prep will in the long run allow you to return to preshow levels at a more controlled rate.
- Injury – What Mark Van Bourgondien noticed training The Synergy Show Stoppers Team was that post show many competitors returned to pre show workouts too quickly with a higher incidence of injuries. Also injuries that competitors had worked through to get to the stage now become insurmountable obstacles to returning to preshow levels. Just as he trained competitors to Reverse Diet he felt that many competitors needed to Reverse Exercise giving their bodies time to recover from the strenuous and demanding workouts they had performed leading up to show. All competitors Reverse Exercise for 4 weeks post show and this has dramatically decreased injuries while also increasing compliance with returning to the gym. What Mark had noticed was that there was a high rate of slacking off post show when competitors were scared to return to the gym or frustrated that they were not able to perform to the levels they had achieved about 4 weeks out. These obstacles dissipated with Reverse Exercising.
Solution; Slowly increase workouts and activity immediately post show. You will not be able to return the day after the show to the intense training that you had been doing and exercise should be tapered up the same way as food is reintroduced. The following is a sample of how the Synergy Show Stoppers are reversed exercised.
Reverse Exercise Sample – 4 Station Split
Week 1: Warm Up Session only – Light Treadmill Work Daily
Week 2: Warm Up Session, Station one, Light Treadmill Work Daily
Week 3: Warm Up Session, Station one, Station Two Light Treadmill work Daily
Week 4: Warm Up Session, Station one, Station Two, Station Three Light Treadmill work Daily
- Blame Game – So let’s talk about blame! Yes, blame – a lot of competitors blame themselves for not placing, not being the best, not having done enough. Even more competitors blame others; their coaches, the judges, other competitors, hair stylists, makeup artists, suit creators for their not placing or doing as well as they could. STOP!!!! There is no blame, this is a subjective sport with multiple multiple variables. Who showed up on the day, did you show up on the day, did you genuinely do everything possible, was it a big show or small show, did multiple other teams show up. Were you ready, not ready? Were you going on stage, at all costs, without being stage ready. Does it really matter. What competitors need to know from the start is that while the sport is great fun and rewarding you ultimately have to have a thick skin. You have to be able to accept criticism that is meant to be constructive but is extremely personal you will be judged on your body its flaws and imperfections. You will be judged on suit selection, bling, hair make up, posing as well as body conditioning and symmetry. You HAVE to know the “standards” for each category and you also have to trust a coach when they say you’re not ready, need more conditioning, need to lose more weight or fat, need to develop better quads or shoulders to develop overall symmetry etc. This advice is not a criticism – it is coaching and training so pick another show. This sport can be difficult but no one likes a sore loser and the most amazing competitors are gracious in defeat. If you do feel things are unfair be gracious and sportsmanlike, smile and move on and NEVER publicly blame anyone. If you want to you can have a constructive discussion with your coach and talk to your family and close friends (though they may be too invested to be subjective)
Last words, if you have not been dissuaded by this article, then enter a competition, they are great fun, you meet great people and you can achieve goals many do not. The best advice I can give is :
- Get a Great Coach
- Create a realistic Plan
- Set Realistic Mini Goals
- Prep your Food
- Reverse Diet
- Reverse Train
But ultimately Have Fun!!!
Synergy Health and Wellness Dolores@synergyhealthandwellness.net
For more confidential help or if you have a topic you would like discussed – you can call me at 561-866-1211. Thanks Dolores