Rebounding

Discussion in 'Competitors Corner' started by Leah, May 4, 2006.

  1. Leah

    Leah Well-Known Member

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    Rebounding
    You’re a fitness enthusiast about to enter your first competition. You’ve talked to other competitors, read about contest preparation, studied the diets of the champions, and pored over lists of tips and tricks. Music has been chosen and your choreography is in the works. Water intake is up, protein is the staple of your diet and you’ve clocked so many miles at the gym you’re thinking about buying your own treadmill. Hip to the inside scoop on posing, tanning, and walking on stage, your confidence is high. Your mind is firmly focused on taking home the trophy.

    But are you prepared for what happens after the contest?

    There is a dirty little secret associated with fitness and bodybuilding competition that before now hasn’t been discussed — the virtually universal post-contest rebound effect. Familiar with the term “yo-yo” dieting? It’s not just your mother’s nightmare; even bodybuilding and fitness champions will gain weight after they stop the highly restrictive diets that are required to achieve the extremely low body fat levels they need to be competitive. It is a consequence that is almost never talked about, and therefore, rarely anticipated. Strict competition diets and training programs work, even for non-competitors. But the extreme results can’t — and shouldn’t — last forever. Anyone who is considering entering a competition should be prepared to deal with the physical and, more importantly, the emotional impact of returning to a more normal eating program.

    The goal of pre-contest dieting is to lose as much fat as possible, and to achieve this, most competitors undergo a highly restricted eating and exercise plan that starts 12 to 16 weeks before the competition. As the macronutrient balance shifts toward high protein, moderate carbs and low fat, the competitor’s body begins to shed both fat and water. As the intensity of the precontest diet increases, the competitor’s mind compiles a list of foods that she can’t wait to eat when the show is over. Most athletes want to celebrate, or simply reward months of sacrifice with a feast right after the competition. Some will take their indulgence a step further and immediately resume an offseason diet. This type of competitor may also stop taking the fat burners that helped her get through her twice daily cardio workouts, cut back on the cardio or stop altogether, and decrease the intensity of her weight training sessions. Such an abrupt change in eating patterns and workout schedules will shock the body and cause a rebound effect. While enduring a calorie restricted diet, a competitor’s body tends to go into a starvation-survival mode, which subsequently causes her metabolism to slow down. When she starts to eat a few more calories, her body will quickly store them as fat, stocking up for the next famine. Within a couple of days, her hard, lean appearance will smooth out primarily due to water being pulled into the muscles when glycogen (from carbs) floods the body. After even one week of less controlled eating and drastic reductions in her training intensity, she will regain body fat. This is the very same yo-yo effect that plagues many conventional dieters.

    Although the physical effects of diet rebounding could be harmful if taken to the extreme, perhaps the more significant impact is the psychological one. To a fitness or bodybuilding competitor, this kind of rebound can be emotionally devastating. She may only rebound to half as much body fat as she started with, but to someone who has been in the single digits, that small increase may feel like an enormous failure. One day, the competitor is onstage presenting her perfectly sculpted and lean physique, subjecting herself to the judgment of a panel of strangers, and within a couple of weeks, she feels fat, bloated, and self-conscious. The form fitting clothing that she bought to show off her hard work is snug, her six pack is gone and she feels embarrassed by her sudden weight gain. The judges at her competition weren’t nearly as critical of her as she is of herself at this point. “It’s amazing the kind of pressure we put on ourselves,” says personal nutritionist Keith Klein, CN, former champion bodybuilder, and founder of the Institute of Eating Management of Houston, Texas. “When you start your diet at 20% body fat and get to 15%, you’re on top of the world; from 15% to 12%, you feel like wearing only your underwear all day; then when you get to 6%, you can’t believe that you’ve reached the best condition of your life. But once you begin to rebound, you feel as fat at 10% as you did at 20%.

    The problem isn’t that she’s lost her willpower or control over her body; it’s that the competitor’s standards for herself are unrealistic. Rebounding is the reality. It is normal. In fact, it is a mistake to believe that one can achieve and sustain a sharp, competition look year-round. It may help to know that most of photos that fill the pages of health and fitness magazines are taken at competition time, and are not indicative of how even champion competitors look in the off-season. “Competition shape is unnatural,” says Labrada, former world champion professional bodybuilder and a past winner of the IFBB Mr. Universe, and founder and President of Labrada Bodybuilding Nutrition. “Your body has a thermostat — and it seeks to maintain its body fat level around a constant amount.”

    Patty Urrutia, age 30, didn’t know how to transition from pre-competition to post-competition eating after her first Miss Fitness contest in 1994. “I had worked so hard to achieve my physique, and I didn’t want to lose it,” she said. “I wanted to continue with the high protein diet, but I also wanted to eat some of the foods that I missed. I ended up doubling the amount of calories that I needed and gained a lot of weight.” Patty competed in another Miss Fitness and two Galaxy contests after that, going through the rebound cycle each time. After her last contest in 1998, she realized that she would rather return to a more normal eating routine than to make the sacrifices necessary to keep her body fat at 7%. She now maintains a healthy, feminine physique at around 16% body fat, and allows herself to indulge in what she calls “fun foods” in moderation. “I don’t want food to be a focal point, just a part of my healthy lifestyle.”

    For some, the only way to reverse a rebound and a corresponding sense of failure is to begin another competition diet. Whereas winning, placing or simply entering a contest used to be the goal, now they become the means to an unattainable goal — physical perfection.

    Laryn McCandless, age 22, will have competed nine times in three years by the end of 2001— including a bodybuilding competition, four Galaxy competitions, two NPC fitness contests and an upcoming NPC Figure competition, a Women’s Tri-Fitness and the Fitness America pageant. Although she’s experienced the rebound each time, the emotional impact is still significant. “It’s hard to watch yourself gain weight, and then look at your competition pictures,” she says. “I feel guilty and unhappy.” Laryn has decided to win the rebound battle by avoiding it completely. In effect, she plans to convert her precontest diet into a strict lifestyle that allows for few days off.

    Unfortunately, for women, there are health risks associated with having too little body fat. Some of these risks include hypothermia, vitamin toxicity, cessation of the menstrual cycle, and osteoporosis. Hal Louis, founder of Better Reflections: Fitness through Strategic Training, Inc. believes that a female athlete should carry enough body fat to maintain her menstrual cycle. “You must take your health into consideration,” he says. “You can still look great at 14-16% body fat.”
    So how can a competitor avoid this emotional rollercoaster? “The solution lies mainly in adopting a more realistic, accepting view of your body,” says Klein. “You need to realize that 10% or 12% or 15% body fat is totally acceptable — especially since you felt good about yourself when you first got there on the way down to your competition shape.”

    An athlete must go into a competition knowing that she is trying to achieve a temporary condition of leanness, and accept that her body fat will return to a more natural level. With this in mind, she can prepare for a smooth transition, extending the discipline she’s gained from dieting and training for competition into a healthy program that she can maintain for life.

    Sidebar:
    Advice from Experts: How to Control a Rebound
    Lee Labrada:

    When done correctly, a methodical reduction in the amount of carbohydrates can help you achieve your ideal shape. To maintain your physique after a competition, you have to follow the natural laws of metabolism: base your diet on small, frequent feedings, consume adequate protein to maintain muscle mass (the foundation of metabolism) and manipulate carbohydrate and fat calories to meet your energy needs.

    Keith Klein, founder of the Institute of Eating Management:

    Even if your intentions are to stay lean after a contest, when you start eating more normally, your brain is going to turn up your appetite. The body doesn’t know the difference between true starvation and the purposeful withholding of food. Have an exit strategy with a formula that will work for you. For example, when the competition is over, celebrate and eat whatever you want that night and for brunch the next day. But on Monday, resume your clean eating, except for a “cheat day” once per week.

    Hal Louis, founder of Better Reflections:

    If it took you 12 weeks to get into contest shape, allow at least 8 weeks to return to an eating program that you can maintain for life, slowly adding back small portions of “normal” food. Continue with your cardio and weight training, and strive to stay within 10-15 lbs. of your competition weight. Remember that you have achieved what millions fail to do every day!
     
  2. The13ig13adWolf

    The13ig13adWolf I win...

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    this should be a sticky...
     
  3. Blondell

    Blondell Former Postwhore

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    I agree. :)
     
  4. Diana

    Diana Active Member

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    I feel like my digestive system is out of whack, is this normal?
     
  5. CraveMuscle

    CraveMuscle Active Member

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    I got physically sick after my comp from many foods that had been eliminated from my contest prep. my stomach was uber-sensitive.

    I don't know if that's typical though.
     
  6. Leah

    Leah Well-Known Member

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    Definitely...you eat clean for a period of time and anything you eat that's not so clean can mess w/ you.
     
  7. Diana

    Diana Active Member

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    :lol: Love the title Leah!

    kay, I guess I will just have to go back to eating clean again! only 20 weeks out again!
     
  8. LauraM

    LauraM New Member

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    Great thread I'm so glad you carried it over from the O2 board.
     
  9. heidip

    heidip New Member

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    GREAT ARTICLE! I went through this and I'm glad to hear it is very normal!
     
  10. jessatthegym

    jessatthegym is building hyoooge muskles.

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    I'm rebounding BADLY I think.

    I did two shows- fitness and figure- two weeks apart, did well(in my opinion) in both. It's been almost a week since my last show and since then I haven't met a cookie I didn't like. I was never much of a binge eater and I'm just throwing anything I can get my (now chubby) fingers on into my mouth. And then I feel guilty. And it blows. My abs are m.i.a. and my arms look like sausages(which I have also been eating.. ).

    The workouts have been great this week... strength and energy are through the roof, so that's a plus.

    Today is Day #1 of back to the grind clean eating.

    I guess the question is, is this normal or am I potentially ruining a year's worth of progress in the past week?

    Thank you!
     
  11. Amy

    Amy Guest

    Jess, is that you? My Jess?

    If so, Don't worry chica, I have been chatting w/ AmyBeth and she has said basically the exact same things as you!

    Call me if this is you!
     
  12. Leah

    Leah Well-Known Member

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    Did you actually read the article? :)
     
  13. ladybug

    ladybug Member

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    wow! great post...I guess I missed it earlier...very good read
     
  14. fluteangel

    fluteangel Well-Known Member

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    Metabolic Damage

    Have you all seen this article? I found it on SiouxCountry.

    http://www.bodybuildingweekly.com/v...age_among_figure_and_bodybuilding_compet.html

    I recognize some of these things in me, albeit thank goodness to a much lesser extent, since I only dieted for 6 weeks. Next time around I will definitely be doing a more sane contest approach! No more massive amounts of orange roughy and asparagus and that's it!
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2008
  15. I'm glad that this article was put up--no one told me what would happen afterwards. Thankfully, I didn't go off the chain. But it was so much harder to start contest prep the second time around. The best thing I think to do is make a mealplan before you come off the diet--that way you are prepared. Great article Leah! :)
     
  16. patriciaann

    patriciaann Active Member

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    Hey Angela
    Nice to see you over here! Great find! Thanks for posting this article! When did you start with Erik?
     
  17. fluteangel

    fluteangel Well-Known Member

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    Hi Sarahlou! Did you come from the O2 boards? Actually, I haven't started with Erik....yet. I REALLY want to, but unfortunately, we just don't have the money right this minute. As soon as we can fit it into the budget, I'll see if he can fit me in, till then, I'm trying to wing it on my own with the help and guidance of everyone over here!
     
  18. patriciaann

    patriciaann Active Member

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    Yes! SO happy to hear that you are here and doing well! I hope you can get the money - I think you will do great here!!! For now just keep doing what you are doing - posting and asking questions and pushing it - if you haven't already start a journal.
     
  19. Amydow

    Amydow Member

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    I knew there was a chance I would gain some weight...I thought maybe I could just gain 5lbs...but in a matter of days, I managed to gain 11lbs, this is depressing. I wasn't even going super crazy. I was lean all week after the competition around 127lbs, then on the following saturday my husband and I made a healthy pizza and had dark chocolate for supper...then the next day I was 129lbs, had another easy going day of "normal eating" and I was up to 132, come Sunday morning I was 134! God! My stomach is all out of wack..I am bloated, and crampy. It is soooo depressing. But I guess I just got to think about it in a positive note, you can't eat a contest diet forever, and if you want to live a little and have a normal diet with fruit, cheese and more carbs, you will gain weight. Hopefully it will level off because I don't want to get any larger, or my clothes won't fit.
     
  20. Erik

    Erik Admin

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    Rebounding has nothing to do with 'not eating a contest diet forever'; that part is obvious.

    Rebounds are most often tied to what you did DURING your contest diet.
     

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