So I am currently just over 12 weeks out from my first show of the season and one thing I have made a conscious effort of doing this prep is remove all food focus. Last prep towards the end I found myself in a rabbit hole becoming more and more obsessed with food and extremely focussed on it as the end goal. I would follow numerous 'food porn' accounts on Instagram and would find myself endlessly scrolling through brownies, pancakes, dirty burgers, food challenges. I would always save numerous posts as a reminder to create it post show or would find myself ordering items and hoarding them in my kitchen cupboards. My freezer at one point was full of baked goods I was preserving for that post show treat.
When I tell you the things I would do the weeks running up to show you would think I was crazy! I would walk up and down the confectionary isle of supermarkets and find all the limited edition flavours of chocolates and store them min a box on the top shelf in my kitchen cupboard. In my mind I would convince myself 'out of site out of mind', but realistically I was counting down the day to divulge in that box of treats. My family were shocked at my sweet and chocolate obsession id suddenly developed as growing up I have always been a savoury person. I'd never finished an advent calendar or and easter egg because I just wasn't bothered by chocolate at all. I remember not being able to sleep the night before my show in Italy and I found myself lay in bed at 1am order a Cookie Dealer box for when I arrived home.
At the time I didn't see anything wrong with my food focus and thought it was all part and parcel of being on a long season of prep. I couldn't see the damage it could possibly cause post show. I thought it was fine to be so obsessed with drooling over foods because I knew at that moment I was doing everything I needed to do to get in the best condition possible and post show I felt I deserved all that sugary goodness.
The Arnolds was due to be my final show of the season and I was so excited to spend the weekend at the expo after competing with friends, allowing myself to relax and enjoy myself. I packed my case first with all show day essentials and then came the post show treats! I had a large bag of pick'n'mix, brownies, cookies, chocolate bars, doughnuts secured in my case ready for the moment I stepped off stage. After astounding myself with a 1st place finish I dug into my treats and felt elated. That evening we had a meal planned and I remember after the starter having this sudden onset of fullness and discomfort. my stomach was bloated, I felt fatigued and nauseous. However I continued to eat and put myself in a food coma in my hotel room.
The following days family and friends wanted to meet up and finally have that post prep celebration and my schedule was filled with events and I had the guilt of feeling as if I needed to full fill everyone's expectations and finally being able to be 'normal' again. Three days post show and I felt horrendous. Water retention was kicking in and bloating was so painful. A conversation with my coach and all this events I had planned I cut back to once a week and jumped straight onto my reverse diet. As my diet improved and snacking massively reduced, water retention and fatigue started to wear off and 'normality' resumed.
From last years experience I have promised myself to not get into the same situation physically and mentally as I did last time. I am in control of what I choose to view and all food pages have been muted and unfollowed. My discovery page on Instagram is now filled with training videos, motivational quotes and house transformations (a little obsession of mine).
I would highly advise anyone competing for the first time to nip the food focus in the bud as soon as possible. Discuss it with your coach, adapt your social media and what you're exposed to. Don't get me wrong it might not be perfect this year but I am now fully aware of triggers and how to cope with it. Food will ALWAYS be there!
Unfollow/mute food accounts
DO NOT hoard food
Post show listen to hunger cues and don't over indulge
Don't schedule in loads of events post show, limit yourself to once a week