"I feel fat today."
"I am not going to be ready in time.”
These are the things that go through our head during contest prep. No matter how experienced a competitor is they still have to deal with the mind games. Some days you’ll look great and want to rip your clothes off and jump onstage right then and there. But other time you’ll be flat, fat and full of self-doubt. I’m currently about three weeks out from a competition so I know a little bit about the intricate mind games you’ll experience when you go through a contest prep diet.
I’ve had two moments when an avalanche of self-doubt buried me while preparing for a contest. The first time was early into my contest prep diet after a scheduled high-carb day. The next day I was holding a lot of water. I felt fat and smooth. I headed to the gym with a sense of panic that I needed to accelerate my progress. Low and behold, once I started working out and sweating I look lean, full, and vascular. In fact, I looked the best I had looked in a long time.
The second time the mid games started to plague me was just a couple weeks ago when I flew to Boise, Idaho for the Bodybuilding.com Fit Expo. I landed Thursday afternoon and when I took my shirt off to change for my evening cardio session I was a watery mess! I looked bloated, smooth, and lacked any vascularity. Even though I knew that flying messes with your water balance my mind was so cloudy with panic it didn’t register at that time. I was five weeks out from my competition and I was about as vascular as a snowman. Filled with disgust, I finished changing and headed to the hotel gym to do my cardio. After a 30-minute session on the step-master, and a lot of sweat hitting the floor, I headed back to my hotel room. Once again, after losing some water from the workout I started looking better. And after my weight-training workout the following morning I was back to my lean, vascular self.
Bodybuilding is about trying to achieve perfection by displaying the most muscular and ripped physique possible. Striving for this perfection is a daunting task that is both physically and mentally draining. Having doubt doesn’t mean you’re mentally weak or ill prepared. It’s perfectly natural to have doubts during a rigorous contest prep diet. By staying calm, sticking to your diet and workout program, and thinking positively during times of self doubt you will overcome these mind games and continue on your quest to the stage.