When the tanning slowly fades - 3 weeks after the bikini competition

Hey peeps!

My goal with this blog post series is to be as transparent as possible for you, so you get a feeling of how it feels to be a competitive bodybuilder, where you might struggle and what you learn during the whole process.

I stepped on the stage for the very first time 3 weeks ago and I shared every step of my journey with you - every up and down. Why even now after the competition? Because lots of people underestimate the time after the competition. You can't simply eat whatever you want. You have to systematically increase your caloric intake, otherwise you'll destroy all your hard work from the past months.

How am I doing?

Actually, I'm doing good. Reverse dieting is going as planned. I didn't gain any weight the last week (to be honest, I lost weight again). That's why I increased my caloric intake to 1800kcal. I'm still in a deficit and my body feels it. This is the struggle while reverse dieting: You have to slowly increase until you reach your maintenance level.

I struggled a few days ago with not being as 'dry' as I was on show day. I found myself disappointed that my body no longer looked as good as it did on stage. For weeks you're aiming to look leaner day after day. All the things you were doing served the goal of being lean enough for the stage, to see more cuts. Afterwards you're kind of feeling like you're not good enough, because you don't look like you did on show day.

Of course, it's dumb and I know better than that. I know being that lean isn't sustainable over a longer period of time, that's why it's a competitive event.

However, you start to develop some kind of body dysmorphia. It's like you're looking in the mirror and can't see how you actually look like. I realised that, when I recorded a short video for our Insta-Stories. Looking at it, I realised HOW lean I still am. And that I really need to start a bulk in a few weeks if I want to gain more muscle mass. Which I want!

So, that's what I'm working on right now: the right mindset during improvement-season. Finding my balance and where my body is meant to be. I need to realise that I'm in a really good shape and still probably leaner than 99% of the population. It's totally okay to put on some weight - that is what reverse dieting is for. To slowly slide into a bulk. That doesn't mean you need to gain 10-20 lbs right after the competition, because you went to such extremes. Balance and health is the key.

Now is the time to focus my energy on other aspects of life outside of my body. And I have a lot of upcoming events for you, so stay tuned! ;)

I have to say, I'm really tired of being in a caloric deficit right now. As I wrote in my previous post, it's pretty easy for me to overdo it. I'm always finding myself overanalysing. If I can have some ice cream (I discovered my love for ice cream cones) or some extra bread. Hence, I'm working on that, too. Trying to be more relaxed and don't stress too much about calories. Forcing myself into a break of counting every little macro.

In my opinion our bodies are in a constant state of oscillation. It wants to grow and be better.

What lessons have I learned from the entire progress

1. I'm more and more disappointed from the fitness industry.

There are hundreds of thousand of 'coaches' out there, without any basic knowledge about nutrition or training, charging so much money for a 12 week course. And what does the course look like? Unhealthy, with very low calorie meal plans, often unnecessary huge amounts of cardio and false 'bro-science'-packed information. It's driving me mad! Same with gyms. People train their asses off and don't see results. Meanwhile, they could train less and smarter and have 100% better results. Sad.

You don't have to lose your mind, because you're going to compete. Losing weight is no rocket science, it's all common sense.

2. Your mind drives your body!

It's all in your mind! Whether you succeed or not. Nothing is impossible unless you really believe in it and put in the hard work. Always believe in yourself!

3. Never compare yourself to others.

Everybody is different and has a different background and story. I was overweight for years and lost nearly 30kg/66lbs over the past 3 years. I used to compare myself to a lot of people on Instagram, we all do it! But it's never going to benefit you. I started feeling intimidated and not good or shredded enough. I had to remind myself of how far I came. How much I changed on the inside and the outside.

You are different than me, and all we can do is to be the best version of ourselves. The best we can possibly be. I had to learn to be proud of myself even tough I wasn't as lean as others. Damn, I'm in the best condition of my life and I never looked so good!

4. Health and happiness always comes first!

When you're going to compete, many people want to give you some tips. Not all of them are good or healthy by all means. Don't believe everything you hear. Research everything! It's one of the best tips I have for you. Researching helped me a lot to prepare myself for what is going to happen, how I am going to feel, what is wrong and what is right.

If someone wants to give you advice, always ask "why". Many people fail to answer that. They just tell you a "fact" without being able to explain why the body would react this way. Because 9 out of 10 times they can't, since their "fact" is nonsense.

Plus, enjoy the process! I know it's easier said than done, because competition prep can be really exhausting. Where's the fun in finally reaching your goals if you've been feeling miserable the months leading up to it?

5. What is realistic

The biggest part of the journey is to learn what is really realistic for you. You'll learn if achieving competitor levels will take more than you can give long term. For me it is and was an amazing goal to accomplish something that less than 1% of the population will ever accomplish.

Now I have to learn if I can maintain my effort during the improvement-season. Since I reached my goal, I'll give myself some time, while maintaining some of my new habits I've built and the things I've learned about myself during the process. The key is not to turn it into an 'off' and 'on' switch. Instead just turn the dial up a notch.

Enough of the blabla. Here are the current stats of my reverse dieting protocol.

Diet consists of

  • 1800 kcal
  • 130g protein
  • about 250g carbs
  • 40g fat
Typical meal plan

This is phase 2 of my reverse diet. I increased my caloric intake to 1800kcal per day. My current weight is still 55kg/120lbs, so I didn't gain any weight (if anything, some little extra treats helped me to not loose any more weight).

This is just a random picked meal plan from our app Slickcoach (Sign up, if you want to get informed when the beta-version is available, which will be very soon).

Meal #1 (Pre workout): 153 kcal

  • 1 crumpet; 98kcal
  • 10g mixed fruit jam; 25kcal
  • 10g honey; 31kcal

Meal #2 (Post workout): 322 kcal

  • 1 banana; ca. 85kcal
  • 25g vanilla whey; 100kcal
  • 5g raw cocoa; 20kcal
  • 1 whole egg; 83kcal
  • 2 egg whites; 34kcal

Meal #3 (12pm): 458 kcal

  • 1/4 can baked beans; 92kcal
  • 7 vegan chicken nuggets; 284kcal
  • 100g white potato; 82kcal

Meal #4 (3pm): 482 kcal

  • 250g frozen mango; 166kcal
  • 350g silken tofu; 216kcal
  • 25g vanilla whey; 100kcal

Meal #5 (6pm): 334 kcal

  • 150g mushrooms; 24kcal
  • 50g fresh spinach; 15kcal
  • 15g spring onion; 4kcal
  • 125g passata; 43kcal
  • 4 whole eggs; 248kcal
Training split

Training split remains mainly the same. I cut my cardio sessions down to 15 minutes now. Again, I focus more on heavy compound exercises at the moment and push those weights hard in every session.

  • Monday: 45 min Active recovery/LISS cardio
  • Tuesday: Back (high volume)+ 15 min cardio
  • Wednesday: Legs (high volume)
  • Thursday: Arms/Shoulders (high volume) + 15 min cardio
  • Friday: Back (high volume) + 15 min cardio
  • Saturday: Legs (high volume)
  • Sunday: Arms/Shoulders (high volume) + 15 min cardio

Supplementation changed this week. I want to get my nutrients mostly through my diet, now that I increased my caloric intake.

  • Vitamin D3 (5000 IUs per day)
  • Whey protein powder as needed

Follow my days back to "normality" on Instagram and Twitter. Thanks!

See you next time.

Until then, train hard and eat right!

Cheers, Sarah

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