The off-season lie no one wants to talk about.

offseason
Andreia Brazier in her show season and off season.

Let me start this post by saying this
Stage Lean is addicting. To me.. it’s like in the movies when you see a vampire taste blood for the first time.  You are on a never ending path to chase it down, own it and keep it.

Every single time I prep, I swear I’m going to stay stage lean but I don’t. It’s not real and it’s really just a moment in time for most of us.

What is stage lean, really?
If you don’t know what stage lean is, it’s extreme.Personally,  I love my physique at 5 weeks out. As I get closer to stage, I look drawn , tired, frail, tiny, quite bobble headish. On stage, under the lights, in my bikini I look huge. But in reality, it’s the smallest I’ve been since I was 11 years old.  As a women, it’s the ultimate high even though I know how I look in real life.

Stage lean is the extreme phase of body building where you are at your very best, displaying all your hard work and feeling like you own the world.  It’s important to be extremely lean so that your muscle show and you can be judged on them!! I’m not thin. I’m not naturally athletic. I’m not an outlier. I’m not someone any of this comes easy to.

Those few moments in time are everything.  I will take on everything about prep, dieting, training to own those moments.   Seeing your hard work makes it all worth it!

What is off season?

Off season or improvement season is for building muscle and getting gains! It’s important as competitive athletes to work to improve our package each year.  To do so, we must eat and lift.  In a caloric deficit, we are fighting to keep the muscle we have. That means for most of us, in our prep, we are working hard to save the muscle we have! No muscle is growing!

To achieve gains, we must be in a surplus of calories and that’s how we grow!

A solid off season weight would be 8-10 pounds over stage weight.

We are hopeful that post show, we can do our reverse diet properly and move into a lean bulk. For many, it’s simple. For some..not so much.

bart

The lie: 
The internet provides us some pretty intense  fitness inspiration.   My Instagram feed is all about body building competitions so I have a steady diet of lean, ripped , physiques to keep me motivated.   When you finish your show season and begin your lean bulk, it’s very easy  to get discouraged and feel like you are failing because you don’t look shredded  like the  InstaStars .

So many of our fellow competitors find that post show, they experience the blues and they feel fluffy because now they now comparing their physique to their stage weight.

This certainly has the potential create body  body dysmorphia!

“Look at her.. If she can stay ripped all year, why can’t I? Why am I failing?”

Thoughts
Someone I admire very much made a post that really brought it home for me..
What if, post competition you were normal? What if you gained a little weight back, you don’t look stage lean and you just  ate at your maintenance macros. Because we are looking at the InstaStars who appear to stay stage lean all year round, we have a skewed view of what is actually normal. His point was, the majority do gain in off season and don’t stay stage lean. So while feeling like we are the ones who aren’t normal.. we actually are. Most of us do, eat, lift and build!!

Chasing the dragon:  As body builders  we laugh and say
Welcome to the world where you are
1. never lean enough
2. never big enough
3. your abs are never good enough

There are athletes out there who never take the time for their bodies to recover. They don’t take grow seasons and they don’t improve. But, recovery is important. As athletes we should take at least the same amount of weeks we dieted to recover. I have a full year between my shows. My body could not take less. One year I did an 18 month off season.
Recovery and improvement are good things. They just don’t look very glamorous!

Judgement: I see posts from athletes who are feeling so strong as they compete then their feed in off season becomes apologetic.  #offseason  #fluffy  #bulking
Off season doesn’t and shouldn’t look like stage lean!   Why are we judging our fellow athletes when they are doing what they are supposed to do ? EAT and lift heavy weights!
Growing a booty means feeding that booty.  Gains come from surplus!
What we can do:
Be kind to ourselves.  Stop listening to the noise of what the InstaStars present. They are not directing it at us. They are selling sups, menus, workout pants. Of course they are going to present their ultimate package all year. They have sponsors!
Also..We do not know these people and their feed could be posts from their prep,  or their photo shoot time frame.  We do not know if they are lean naturally. We do not know if they are enhanced.  We do not know if their pics are enhanced.  Comparison is the thief of joy!

Change the channel: One of my bikini athletes had a great idea. She scaled back her Insta feed to reflect only natural athletes she knew.  This is a protection of her spirit!  She is committed to bring the best HER possible and the unknown variables of InstaStars are distracting!!

Plans: We can focus on the goals of our next competition.  Eating with purpose to support the gains we need to help us come in stronger.   This is when I feel like I’m most challenged as an athlete. Keeping my focus when my body image is low.

Support: I love having a team. We support each other because we know how this feels.  We can keep each other grounded as we navigate this  part of the journey!  There are facebook groups that are very good support systems for competitors. Not all of them are, but if you find like minded friends it can help you feel less like an island!

I wish you luck in your competition journey. I know you are working so hard!

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