Its been just over a week since the Iron Games and oh boy what a week it has been. 12 weeks of prep culminating in one amazing, exhausting, fun, incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding day. So what now? I’ve had a lot of people ask me “Whats next?” Whens the next show?” “How do you feel and how do you train now that competition is over?” Well, lets talk about it. First of all TODAY I feel amazing! Its exactly 7 days since the show and today is the first day that I finally feel like ME again. You are probably wondering why and this is what I want to talk about in this post.

On average competition prep is about 12 weeks long. You spend 3 months with your every waking thought being about what you will eat that day, how you will fit your workouts into your day and where you will find the willpower to push forward and say no to temptations. If anyone ever tells you prep is easy they are lying. It is a huge mental and physical challenge. That being said there are a lot of rewards that come with it. Contrary to popular belief competitors do eat….A LOT…every 2-3 hours, we are not by any stretch of the imagination starved. We eat clean, REALLY CLEAN! No added sugars, no dairy, no alcohol, no cheats, no treats for 3 months. 11 of the 12 weeks of prep are EXTREMELY healthy. Along with the super clean eating, you are drinking tons of water and working out hard 6 days a week. I feel great, I sleep great, my skin looks great and my body is chiseled. Gotta love that. It is everything that we SHOULD be doing for our bodies on a regular basis. Ok ok, yes, every once in a while its nice to have a treat or a glass of wine but my point is 11 of the 12 weeks are healthy, healthy living.

Then comes the week before competition, better know as peak week. This week is fun but so challenging. You get to finally see all of your hard work pay off. Here is where it gets a little sticky. If you know me, you know I don’t sugar coat things, Im brutally honest and I will be honest here. There is a science behind the sport of fitness competitions, a way of “playing” if you will with your macros and your water intake to get the look you desire for stage. There is carb depleting, then there is cutting water, followed by filling in with carbs and more of the no water thing. That minimal water part for a day and a half is brutal. Especially when you have been so healthy and doing such good things for your body for so long. All of a sudden, BOOM, it all goes out the window for the last 2 days to make sure you look absolutely as lean and shredded as possible. Believe me it works! I stepped on stage looking phenomenal and feeling like shit! Kinda funny when you think about it. It is only for a day and a half that your stuffing your face with lean protein, carbs, peanut butter and cutting water to a minimum but thats all it takes to feel crapy. None the less I got on stage with my body on point and killed it in both of my categories. I took 1st in my height category in Novice, when on to compete in the Overall in Novice and won it! Then took second in my height category in the Open (a harder division). Not to bad for a girl who got started in the sport 2.5 years onhealthy weight loss ago.

Ok, so I was crazy healthy for the first 11 weeks, then had to put my body through some stuff for the last week leading up to competition so why, a week after competition, am I just starting to feel like ME again? The week after competition brings new challenges. You are finally finished with your training, the big day happened, you killed it and THEN….its over. You can finally enjoy yummy desserts again, maybe a glass of wine or a burger and some fries. Ah ah ah be careful. You sucked a lot of water off of your body the week before, start stuffing your face with sugar and carbs and add the water back in and you have a recipe for disaster. Your body starts to hold on to all of it, especially the water. I know going into a show that I have to mentally prepare myself for what the week AFTER the show brings. It takes 3-4 days for your body to rehydrate properly and it takes about 7-10 for it to let go of the extra water and sodium that it decides to hold on to. So one day you have killer, rock hard abs and 2 days later you look 3 months pregnant. Its normal and I know its normal but its a mind fuck (pardon the language) none the less. Competitors will go one of two ways after a show. They will either enjoy a cheat meal, take a few days off from training to let their body recover, then get back to clean eating and working out within a few days OR they will enjoy a cheat meal, and another and another and skip the gym because they are tired of it then skip it again and skip it for weeks. Before they know it they are up 20-30lbs. This is a route I will NEVER go. I know that for 7-10 days I will retain water no matter what, my abs will be gone for a few days and I will be scared that they aren’t going to come back.

I also know that if I stay the course of clean eating and get my butt in the gym that everything will be just fine in a few days and I will feel like the old ME again. So here I am, 7 days after my show, I went through the bloated days (not fun) I went through the mild panic that my abs weren’t coming back this time (yep that happened) and I went back to my clean eating and working out (did that) and TODAY I FEEL GREAT! As of right now I don’t know if there is another show in my future, my second place win qualified me for USAs in July (never say never), I’ve completely changed my training, Ill be doing a lot more functional, cardio strength training for a while, partly because its fun, partly because its a different challenge and partly because if I continue to do the same type of training forever my body will plateau. I consider fitness competitions an extreme sport, they aren’t for everyone but if you have the discipline and the drive they are a really fun way to take your body and your fitness to the next level.

Just remember when its all said and done, you worked really hard for that body, treat it right, feed it well and work it hard even when the curtains have closed the spray tan has washed off and the sparkling bikini has been put away.


Your partner in health,
Autumn Calabrese