The pictures, the glitter, the glam and the medals are all what makes competing so amazing. Show day makes every single day of prep worth the struggle. Show day makes every hangry stomach grumble, every gallon of water and every emotional breakdown worth it. Show day is amazing. Show day was amazing. I went into the competition not expecting to place, but just being happy I made it through 12 weeks of hell and got on stage. I was in Novice Bikini Class E where I took home 3rd place and Open Bikini Class D where I took home 4th place. I was elated and it made that much anticipated cupcake post show taste that much better with two huge medals around my neck.
Then normal sets back in. Which most people would think would be a good thing, but this part will test you more than prep ever did. Yes prep is hard and it sucks 100% of the time. You restrict yourself from all things yummy and sugary. You pass up nights out just because it’s easier. You cry for reasons you’ll never be able to justify simply because you’re hungry, but you’re seeing results. You are looking at yourself in the best shape you’ve ever been in. Your abs are coming in, your waist is tapering in and you have to have a belt with every pair of pants you own. The physical reward is so great that the mental challenge is easier to cope with.
Post competition though you have to gain weight back. It’s not physically possible to stay stage weight year round. Well I shouldn’t say it’s not physically possible because I’m sure some people could hold that body all year, but it’s not healthy and shouldn’t be done. So you gain weight and especially if you plan on competing again you have to gain some extra fat in order to grow your muscles and bring a better package to the stage next season. It is in every way just as mentally challenging to gain the weight back as it was to get it off.
Something people don’t tell you going into competing is how hard it is to mentally recover from prep brain. For me I hate the way I look now. My body is holding water because that’s what it should do. I’m eating more calories and the definition I had competition day is gone because that’s part of the process. I eat something and automatically regret it because I start to analyze all the calories it had and how I shouldn’t have eaten it. As much as I know the rebound is healthy it’s something I struggle with accepting everyday. I try not to show the people around me how much it stings to step on the scale and see that it’s 10 pounds over stage weight because that’s just who I am, but the struggle is happening whether it’s seen or not.
Not only is this part mentally hard it’s physically hard too. This is another thing that no one ever talks about and it’s how your body retaliates against you when you start eating like a normal person again. When I started eating normal (still healthy) foods again my stomach instantly rejected everything. Breads, meats, veggies you name it my stomach hated it. I ended up in the hospital twice (per Austin’s advisement) with abdominal pains because internally my body was so damaged from prep that it just quit digesting food properly. I also got a bout of food poisoning because my stomach was so vacant of good bacteria to fend off bad stuff to keep me from getting sick I ate something that normally wouldn’t have made me sick, but with post prep body I got sick.
I walk a fine line every day now of wanting to be healthy and wanting my stage body back. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin again, but I struggle to know how to. I see the other girls I was on stage with and they are eating normal food again and back in the gym again, and I am over here trying to convince Austin that I don’t really need to go to the emergency room again. Confidence has never been something that I lacked…until now. Transparency is something else that I’ve never lacked and that’s something that I still possess.
I want other girls to know that it’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to not understand the changes happening and it’s okay to hate gaining weight back. It’s okay to be uncomfortable and confused. What’s not okay though is holding it in. It’s not okay to hide how you feel. It’s not okay to internalize your feelings and emotions. It’s not okay to feel like something in your body isn’t right and not getting it checked out. Don’t ever let anyone tell you what your feeling isn’t right or that it’s wrong or it’s not that serious, because you have every right to that emotion. Just don’t drown yourself simply because your embarrassed and you won’t let someone else save you.
Will I compete again? That’s turned into an uncertain answer. When I was on stage and the day after, and even the week after my answer was yes, 100% yes. Internally what my body is going through now though I can’t say that it wants to go through another prep or that it would make it through another prep without more issues. Because of my first prep I have developed digestion issues and severe acid reflux. Is that as bad as it will get? I’m not sure I want to know the answer by testing my body with round two. My heart has every plan to be stepping on stage again next year, but my head hasn’t been so easily convinced, nor has Austin, and every trip to the doctor makes the chance of convincing less and less.
I would never change the fact that I did the competition. No matter what happens or what issues arise I will always be proud as hell that I did it and that I finished what I started. The prep was worth it and the stage was worth it. I don’t know if the road to recovering my body is long or short at this point, but as of now I’m working on it. I won’t ever glorify what I went through throughout this process to convince someone it was all sparkles and glitter and spray tans. It was hard, but it was worth it.