Ok so I have been very busy these days with the contest season heating up and so many competitors preping for many contests right now. This year should be a very exciting year for my team and for anyone competing. Even with all the excitement of getting your body ready for a contest it seems that so many athletes that I work with year after year hit a stage in their contest prep where they feel burnt out, over tired, overwhelmed and generally down and out. I know because I have felt this way also during a heavy and intense contest diet. Much of this is caused by all the physical, mental and emotional stress you are putting your body under when you ask your body to burn its own tissues as fuel. You start a hormonal cascade that can make you feel a bit down in the dumps and make your dieting process feel like your progress is going nowhere. When in reality you may be right on target. You have to remind yourself when these days come that much of this is part of the preparation process that goes hand-in-hand with getting in great shape for a contest.
I have told competitors over and over at these later stages of a contest diet; “the crappier you are feeling, the better you probably look!” Don’t let your feelings about your prep get in your way of what may actually be going on. It is very important to take this part of your prep very seriously. I can’t tell you how many people I have started working with that end up giving up half way through a contest diet. They all have great reasons why they have to quit, but six weeks prior they were 110% fired up to compete and it “was something they always wanted to do…” before, while now they just can’t do it. Nothing has really changed about competing from the start of their diet until they feel they should quit except how they feel about it. And these feelings seem to always happen is they all get warn down, beaten up, and overwhelmed. So they end up feeling like it all isn’t worth it.
How do you combat this? There are two ways to safeguard yourself against potentially de-railing your contest aspirations. First, get a coach or someone that can help monitor you, keep you accountable, and ground you when you start to lift off into the space of quitting. Second, you have to come to terms with the fact that you are most likely going to feel like not doing the show at some point in your diet. Just knowing ahead of time and telling yourself that there are no circumstances that will prevent you from quitting will help you be more prepared when these feelings of anxiety and depression come to you as you hit your diet hard the last several weeks.
As you think about preparing for a upcoming contest, or as you begin a diet process think about adding these simple mechanisms into your process planning. The strategy is simple, be prepared not just in body but also in mind, because it is usually a person’s willingness that gives out before their bodies do.
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