Published on Sunday, 18 November 2012 20:54
Written by Trish Wood
Trish Wood In Training (T-N-T) Blog #9: When Competition Training Goes Wrong
I'm writing my blog this week not only as a bodybuilder, but as a coach. Normally I enjoy writing about my personal experiences as a competitor in training, but this week I felt compelled to talk about the struggles a competitor faces and my perspective as coach/trainer. I know first-hand the obstacles and the emotions that one faces during competition prep and that they are often just brushed under the rug- never to be delt with...
I understand that food cravings play a major role in sabotaging the "leaning-out" phase of the competition diet. I personally have dealt with these cravings every season since I began competing in 2008. But, I have learned how to curb those cravings through creative cooking and food experimentation. I believe that as a coach it is important for me to share my findings with clients, but I admit that there are some things for which I simply don't have a solution. I have personally learned how to avoid cheating on my competition diet plan by doing several things:
1. Redirecting my attention to another activity that doesn't involve eating (cleaning, drawing, exercising, etc)
2. Having non-calorie sweet treats (flavored teas/waters, Walden Farms sauces, chewing gum, etc)
3. If none of those things work, I go ahead and split up my next meal (if I have one left) to stretch the food out a little longer. For those clients who succumb to their cravings, we usually have a "come to Jesus" meeting where they can "come clean" about their endulgences and re-evaluate their competition goals with me and my husband . Depending on how close they are to a contest, we'll either recommend that they tighten things up immediately or we tell them to not compete at all. Believe me, telling a client who's been prepping for 3 months that they shouldn't compete in the next couple of weeks is terribly difficult- but absolutely necessary!
That's why having a coach can be a very important factor in your competition prep experience. Many stage hopefuls need brutal honesty when they otherwise won't get it. What husband (besides mine) is going to tell his wife to not compete because she's not lean enough? It's my job as a coach is to "tell it like it is" no matter how hard it is for me to do it! At almost every contest I sit in the audience wondering, 'Why do some people even got on stage?" I know that may sound ruthless, but I have a critical eye and I feel that's what makes me, and my husband, great coaches. I know that I would want someone to tell me to hold off on competiting if I wasn't physically ready! Now as for the mental aspect of competing, that's something that only a competitor can work out. I have tried every trick in the book to help people overcome their anxieties about getting on stage, but if a client's not mentally ready I can't do anything about that. This is an individual sport. We do it for various reasons like: proving something to ourselves, controlling existing food addictions, or simply needing a reason to get in awesome shape. Regardless of the competitor's reason, it's an individual accomplishment.
With that said, here's is some advice to anyone new to the sport or simply struggling with their dedication to it:
1. Hire a reputable coach! Ask other competitors who their coaches are and interview them to see if it's a good fit. We all have different training styles and if their style doesn't work eith your personality, then you'll be miserable! Also, you need a coach who's not afraid to tell you to refrain from competing until you're both physically and mentally ready.
2. Get in front of as many people as possible (in your swim suit- or competition suit) to practice your mandatory poses and your stage routines. Practice makes perfect- especially if it's in front of lots of people!
3. Create a plan to help with cravings and potential moments of diet weakness (parties, weekend getaways, movies, work retreats, etc) and share that plan with your significant other and/or friends. If you have no plan, then you WILL fail! Share the issues you may be having and let them encourage you and help you through it. Go ahead and let them hide the candy from you!
4. Take all criticism in stride. People will tell you that you're too thin, that you need to eat because what you're doing is "unhealthy". People won't understand why you are always working out or why you can't go out to eat- or why you bring your own food when you do go out. All of those comments are results of ignorance about our sport, and it will all cease when they see you on stage- guaranteed!
If you have questions or need help with your competition prep or posing, feel free to contact us. www.IronAddictionTraining.com.