Although this may seem a little premature, given that most people are still in their ‘off season’, ‘improvement season’ or whatever you decide to call it, I think it’s probably a good time for me to pen my thoughts (ok, rambles) again. This time, I want to bang on a little about prep coaches, or more specifically, a role they play that so many underestimate, and that I know first-hand how important it is. Now I don’t have a coach, but I have had one in the past and currently work as consultant to clients so have seen this from both sides. As always, this is my opinion. I’m not preaching the right way to do things, I’m saying what I see, whole-heatedly and completely truthfully, as always…
We all know that coaches are there to provide an external source of information, an outside set of eyes that can help us to build muscle, lose fat, and generally work towards our main goal. That goal might be a bikini competition, a holiday, a date with an ex-boyfriend…. (no I don’t fall in to that category, mine tend to get slacks and the appetite they know so well and love…). We rely on our coaches to be brutally honest, knowledgeable and experienced. Anyone who has successfully worked with a coach knows that these relationships work much like any other in your life. They rely on 100% trust, both in the process and the person. If you manage to develop this strong relationship, rest assured that together you will achieve your goal to the best of your ability and both you, and your coach, can live happily ever after. But, what happens then?
This is where there seems to be some sort of disconnect. We start to see those that believe that now that they have stepped on stage, gone on holiday, convinced that ex-boyfriend that they lost the best thing they ever had, that they can now go it alone immediately. Those who so often fall in to the same trap over and over, one which is pretty darn hard to climb out of.
I’m going to relate the rest of this to bikini competitions, because that’s where the majority of my experiences lies, but rest assured this applies to all walks of fitness, in my opinion. After my first show, 18 months ago, I kept working with my coach for a number of months afterwards (Zeus Fitness). Sam (Mr Zeus himself) reverse dieted me out of my diet, allowed me room to breathe and kept me on track, reminding me that it was a good thing that I was eating more, and that I NEEDED the lack of cardio / increase in food / mental break. Emma (the other half of said Mr Zeus) provided the emotional support I needed.
Now let me explain what I mean by this (if you haven’t read my previous blog). Post-show is HARD. Have you ever tried sticking to a diet, with no reason other than to GAIN weight? No goal in sight, just the prospect of gaining some body fat and losing your abs. That, in itself, is a massive challenge. Now, combine it with the most intense cravings you have ever had. You know, when you see that Krispy Kreme fridge in Tesco on a Saturday when you’ve been dieting for 10 weeks and have such a low body fat, that your body is literally screaming out for fats and sugars, but you’re in simply to buy some sugar-free jelly and celery to stop yourself from going mad with the hunger. Finally, add in that over those past weeks of dieting, your strength has taken a hit because of lack of energy but now that you’ve started eating loads, you walk in to the gym thinking you can smash that workout now you’ve had your pizza, but alas, you’re still struggling to squat 50kg and are still 8kg away from your shoulder press PB. Let me tell you, that is one hard time. Ok, relative to real world problems, it’s nothing. But in normal girl / boy / fitness world, that’s one hell of an emotional rollercoaster.
What comes next? Binges. Binges because you can, because you’re hungry, because your body is still starving. Over-cardio, because binges. Tears, because you’re pathetic and weak and can’t see any improvements in the gym or aesthetically. Then some more binge, because tears. As you can imagine, at this point in your life, you are an absolute TREAT.
This improves show by show, goal by goal. I am self-coached now but have an amazing support network who understand and go through similar things. Had I not kept working with Sam and Emma for a few months after that first show, I don’t think I’d be in such a good position now, with such a healthy attitude towards off season (at least I think I do, and you guys who message me seem to understand that). I’m still seeing girls now, months after their shows, almost stage lean and portraying that they’re eating a lot and not doing cardio and, without sounding pessimistic, I struggle to believe that they’re in the healthy mind-set that they want others to believe. Likewise, I see those that have binged to the point of extreme body fat gain and they themselves, admit to losing the happiness a little.
So please, those that are competing for the first time, or indeed have just signed up with a coach to reach that goal. Extend that coaching contract, that end goal, just a little. I assure you, the time that you need that coach isn’t now, it’s after the show is over, when the goal is no longer in sight, and all you’re left with is an empty ‘post-show treat box’ and a freezer full of cookie dough. Change the goal. Don’t finish with that stepping on stage, looking good in the bikini, impressing the ex. Finish with a healthy attitude to fitness, dieting and life-balance.