My decision to never do a fitness competition again

Honestly, this post has been a long time coming.  I competed in my first and only NPC Bikini show in June of 2014.  Since then the majority of people in my life have asked:  ‘When is your next competition?’ or ‘Do you plan on competing again this year?’  For a while, my answer was “Not right now, I am busy with my career or other things in my life” or “No current show set, I am enjoying life and not having to stick to a show preparation schedule with workouts and meals.”   On my other social media sites (hello Instagram), I finally voiced that I don’t plan on competing again anytime soon.  Well, after a short debate, I decided I don’t plan on competing in a bikini or fitness competition ever again.  I wanted to fill you in on how I came to this decision and why.  I wanted to finally discuss my real reasoning behind it so that if you plan to compete in the future or you are struggling with the same decision, it can help inspire and educate you.  I am adding pictures from the day before and day of my NPC bikini competition but in no way mean to glamorize this post.

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1. I want to focus my energy on other aspects of my life outside of my body. Competing and bodybuilding in general is all about sculpting your body.  When you walk into a gym, you are surrounded by wall-to-wall mirrors.  I love lifting and have become addicted to the way feeling “strong” makes me feel but don’t feel the need to constantly be worrying about my body.  Wondering if I am lean enough for the judges, or if my glutes are big enough, shoulders round enough, or hamstrings popping enough.  My body is a representation of my lifestyle but not the END-ALL BE-ALL of my existence.  It is not worth the energy to me anymore.  I have so much else in my life I want to accomplish outside of competing, earning a pro card, getting lean, and looking good on stage.

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2. I saw some dark sides of the fitness industry. The saddest part?  All of the hundreds and thousands of ‘coaches’ out there who have been in the industry for awhile and take advantage of girls and guys who are looking to compete.  There are SO many coaches who have no qualifications and charge people thousands of dollars for a 12 week competition preparation diet and training.  And what is the diet and training?  Usually very low calorie, low carbohydrate, with lots of cardio.  ANYBODY can tell you to eat that little and do that amount of exercise and help you get shredded.  It’s like people lose their minds when they are in competition prep and think that their coach knows EVERYTHING about their own body.  When in reality, they don’t know your body.  Only you know your body.  There are other dark sides-the supplements people feel they have to take, being part of a certain team just to place well, etc.  This is just the tip of some of what can go on (drug use, etc) and I don’t even know it all.

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Personal Cell Phone 4163. Body dysmorphia. The feeling that you are just never lean enough.  Even the week before the show, I was uncertain to whether I was lean enough.  Then, you look back several months later and think, WAS I CRAZY?!  I was SO lean.  How could I not see it?  And I think almost anyone who diets down for a show, photo shoot, vacation, etc can go through this.  Especially the feeling afterwards that you are just never good enough because you don’t look like you did on competition day or week.  I did NOT do ANY extremes that many people go through (fasted cardio, water/sodium manipulation, 2-a-day workouts, consuming unnecessary supplements) but still was at an extremely low body fat and weight.  I was under what is considered a healthy BMI and was at 10% body fat.  To be a healthy functioning woman, you must have at least 12% body fat.  I see most girls still trying to chase this leanness.  So many girls say “Can’t wait to shred again” or “I feel so flully” in the off season.  This is just SO sad.  Why can’t these girls realize they are in shape, exceptional athletes, smart, and still probably leaner than 95% of the population?  Body dysmorphia.  Even when I got that lean, I knew it wouldn’t be sustainable yet somehow it is still hard to gain back the weight and be OK with it.  You have to realize that that lean body was not you-only a symbol of the extreme time and effort you put into it.  Even if you have the time and effort to maintain it, you will need to get over the fact that it is NOT healthy to look like that.  Even if you can maintain it doing 10 minutes of cardio like I had been able to, your body still craves homeostasis.  It is OK to put on some weight-that is what reverse dieting is for!  I am not saying you need to gain 10-20 lbs after the competition like many girls do because they went to such extremes, but you need to at least be HEALTHY!  And because of body dysmorphia, I don’t want to get myself that lean again only to know I will have to put back on a little weight. Because I am beautiful the way I am now, and don’t need that mentality anymore.

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Please email me or comment below with your thoughts.  Thank you for reading!

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23 thoughts on “My decision to never do a fitness competition again

  1. This is a great post! I have gone through periods of being lean and not so lean, and get frustrated with feeling like I’m always chasing leanness and not just being happy. So this is really refreshing to read and a good reminder. I don’t know if I missed it somewhere but I’d love some more info about your weekly workout routine. I see a lot about your diet but not your exercise (again I could be blind!) How often/long do you lift weights?

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      1. Thank you for this article and being honest I am sending it to my daughter who has competed very successful ly the past two years. I don’t like or enjoy the person she is when she is on prep and training for the competition. Last year she was in the hospital due to issues after her last show and is still paying on medical bills how do I as a mom encourage her to stop. I want to be supportive but when I see the results it kills me she is ruining her body, her relationship and her life for approval of some judges its just crazy. Pls help?

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      2. Hi Deb,
        I am unsure of the entire situation but to end up in the hospital after a bikini show is serious and sounds like her competition prep may not have been done in a healthy way. I would encourage you to talk to her and ensure her coach is someone with legitimate certifications and experience in the field-a certified strength and conditioning coach, a registered dietitian, etc. Doing an NPC bikini comp and ending up in the hospital is NOT ok!

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  2. Deanna, I really commend you for this and you can – no, should be! – proud of yourself. Instead of loosing weight again for a temporary body shape you -gained- experience and wisdom for life. I mentioned before that I’m no fitness competitor or even lifting. But am genuinely interested in hearing about people’s experiences because it allows a glance into a world that is so far from me and helps me keep an open mind.
    You’re proof of the people who stay true to themselves and figure out their priorities amongst this very look-focused community. Choosing health is so SO much better than chasing a hyper-toned physique. I hope others in the field will find inspiration in your words.

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    1. Thank you for the inspiring words and for reading along while I continue to work on staying true to what I want to accomplish in life. I hope to read your blog tonight as well, Miss Polkadot. You are truly an amazing soul!

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  3. This is so true! Many girls are wanting to compete and seeing how they completely fall off mentally post comp is devistating. Thanks for sharing !

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    1. Thank you Christine for reading! Post show can be very devastating for many girls-you have to go in with a concrete plan of dealing with the weight gain, the reverse dieting, and everything mentally and physically. I wish more girls would think about it before-hand!

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  4. Can I just vocalize how much I love you? 🙂 I can’t ever say I won’t compete again ever, but as of right now- no desire. I didn’t have a crazy food plan or exercise regimen but my mentality and dysmorphia of my body happened and I’m fixing that now. There is much more to life than being a prisoner to thoughts of what you consider perfection in your head.. Or judges.

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  5. Thank you for writing about this Deanna! I have been himming & hawing about doing a competition for almost a YEAR! After I had my baby I was super inspired by all the strong women (like yourself & Ashley Wilkinson) doing competitions. I am down to 15.5% body fat and sometimes I think I look good and other times I compare myself to strangers on Instagram and feel bad- it’s ridiculous but I think many women do it. We compare our no make up- missed-the-gym-a-few-days look to others’ 12 week-trained-depleted-stage-ready look. Part of me still wants to do it to prove to myself I can stick with something religiously to attain a goal- especially on my own and without a coach (I think with enough knowledge coaching is really unnecessary) and using IIFYM. But on the other hand… Do I want to potentially subject myself to body dysmorphia? It’s tough, because competing looks like so much fun! Do you regret competing? Thanks again for your great post ❤

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    1. I definitely don’t regret it-it taught me more about myself and my drive than ever before and is an accomplishment I won’t ever forget. I have just come to a place in my life where my goals are different! Thanks for commenting and discussing your thoughts with me Rachel!

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    2. Thanks for reading Rachel! I don’t regret competing but know it’s not my ultimate goal to be a professional in the industry-there is a lot more out there-and even though I was in a good place with my diet and body it is still hard!! Just make sure the Pros of doing a show for you is more than just “it looks fun” as it is Very mental!!

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  6. Hi Deanna!! I was just wondering if you do online coaching? Or possibly can give me some advise? I have been going through bikini comp prep for about 6 weeks now and it’s just not cutting it for me anymore. I’m doing the old school way of eating fish and broccoli with very low carbs (only 17g) a day. With fasted cardio in the morning and weights in the afternoon. My other friends do iifym and reverse dieting and it looks like a god sent compared to what I’m doing!! I just don’t know how it works, what to do, how to get started, how to calculate my macros to accomplish my goals!! I recently got very ill with pneumonia and had to take almost a month off from the gym. My coach just dropped more fat and carbs to make up for my lack of gym time and thought this was super unhealthy and fired her!! I’m slowly gaining the weight back and just could use some guidance and help. Thanks so much!

    Tracy

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  7. Well said! After taking a 5 year break from figure competitions, I returned to the stage in the beginning of August, and have had the worst time getting back to normal healthy eating. (Even though I have a live-in nutritionist! Lol my fiance.) Whether you’ve done one show or many, I’ve learned the rebound can still “get” you. I doubt I do another. I much rather be balanced and live healthy year round than focus on peaking for a short period of time. It is draining mentally. And even if you place very well, the toll it can take often times isn’t worth it.

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  8. Deanna!!

    I have been thinking about competition for more than a few years. The more I think about it, the less I want to do it. More so, after getting very ill from taking very common supplements.

    Now that I feel better, I was thinking about it again. I came across your post, and you answer my question.

    I have never done it, but I don’t feel that this is what I want to do.

    I always felt that this was just a big sick business. And I will not be there puppet. On the other hand, I will enjoy my life and be the happy person that I am.

    My body always been petite and pretty lean and toned. I ran cross-country and track and Field in high school.

    I have mantain my body pretty good. I have a 14-year-old son that needs me.

    Again, thank you so very much for your sincere post. You are definitely helping a lot of people.

    Let’s all strive for health!!!

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