I would say one of the hardest things about bodybuilding, if you have ever done a competition is accepting yourself and liking your body when you're not shredded and lean.

I feel like it is a common practice for myself, my clients and competitors in general to look back on the endless number of selfies when we were in our best shape and think "oh I looked so much better back then" or “I wish I still looked like that”.

While the pictures are fun to look at it can be easy to forget how much sacrifice and mental fortitude it took to get that way. There are times of hardship, low energy, questioning your sanity that all come with being in a caloric deficit.

Things that I don't miss about being in season / prepping: 

  • Waking up every morning and constantly checking my physique
  • Being OCD with my nutrition
  • Borderline obsessing with progress and weight/fat loss
  • Super low energy in the gym (especially towards the end)
  • Not being able to eat out or be as flexible with nutritional choices
  • Crying because I was hangry or ate my macros too early in the day
  • Poor sleep
  • Non existant libido 
  • Not as social and outgoing
  • More time spent in the gym, plus cardio
  • Being critical of myself
  • Being cold and tired 
  • Questioning if I am lean enough 

Dieting is hard work. It is important to realize that maintaining that level of conditioning and leanness is not healthy in the long term, physically and mentally.

Coming out of the prep/ competition mindset is challenging to say the least. Things aren't ever really the same once you've taken the journey to pushing your body to it's pinnacle and seeing those results physically. Transitioning your mindset from “in-season” to “off-season” is hard but also exciting!

When you finish your season you have the opportunity to basically rebuild your body completely from scratch. Figuring out a game plan is the first step, ask yourself what you want to do with your physique. My goals are to be much improved every time I get to step on stage so to do that I need to add size to my frame. I know that in order to do this that I can’t stay nearly contest lean all the time and expect to put muscle on my body. Adding lean muscle is a slow process and takes A LOT of time especially as a natural athlete.

I am currently taking a two-year offseason with solid game plan in place which has empowered me in more ways than one. Some of the things that I love about offseason:

  • Lifting heavy and training hard
  • PR's in the gym with basically every lift
  • Putting on muscle and making dem gainzzz
  • Copious amount of energy
  • Not obsessing over the scale (if you want to put muscle on you better expect it to go up)
  • Flexibility with my nutrition and eating out occasionally
  • Filling out my bra 
  • 'Miring my gains
  • Being more social
  • In the gym 4x a week with very minimal cardio
  • Being "thick-fit"

My motivation comes from being able perform my workouts with high energy and intensity, to be able to see my body grow right in front of me and working on liking how I look. Having the mindset that each workout, and each rep being one that is only going to add to my physique has been really helpful.

There is so much more to our fitness journey than a number on the scale, a body fat percentage or if we have abs. There is more to life than being shredded all the time.

Be clear with your goals and adhere to the process. If you want to gain muscle, make your training the priority and have your nutrition support it. Embrace your physique at all stages and enjoy being able to make progress. Your offseason will determine your NEXT season. The more I am in this game, the more determined I am to keep improving. I still have a long way to go but I am making the most of it. Remember competing is like a marathon - not a sprint. This next prep I do in 2018 will be very long, require a lot of patience but also allow me to bring my best conditioning yet.