Post competition blues..
All of the above were terms that got tossed around when I was "rebounding". I competed in my last show in 2010, and from 2010-2014 I struggled with body image, food obsession, exercise dependency, depression, fatigue, weight gain and unhappiness. In my Instagram post today, I mentioned there being more posts on "post competition rebound". Women sharing their stories and struggles and always ending it with "you're not alone".
I have also stood by the message of “you’re not alone” when sharing my story. Though these symptoms are “normal” for the type of diet and exercise regime many women are on, I would like to make this not a “normal” aftermath.
Maybe the solutions are as follows:
A longer less aggressive plan
A post show plan
While these all pose as great solutions and have been proven to reduce the magnitude of post show rebounds, I can’t help think that other alternative solutions:
Solution 1: A stronger filtering process by coaches
Going beyond the questions of “what’s your why?” and taking the time to LISTEN and help individuals identify their values. As I mentioned in a previous blogpost, identifying your values is not only the foundation but also the infrastructure for our happiness. For instance, if you value self compassion and respect yet are training in the gym regardless of feeling dizzy, pain or as a form of punishment for eating an extra serving, are you living in accordance to your values? Most likely, not. This discrepancy, contributes to unhappiness, discontentment, and frustration. So instead of taking payments, maybe we as coaches should pause and have a conversation about what competing serves for the individual. Maybe this will help reduce the number of women who are struggling.
Solution 2: How do you want your life to FEEL?
What if we paused and had a conversation about what you want your life to feel like and how competing fits into that feeling?
What does happiness mean to you? Not to society, but to you.
I wanted my life to be shared with someone. I wanted to be happy and I thought I would be happy once I competed (see video below for more on this concept of "weighting" for happiness). Media is powerful and as humans we are impressionable. I was one of them. I believed once I stepped on stage I deserved happiness because I was lean and I now fit into the standard of "fit" and fit people were really happy...right? With time, I realized competing did not equal happiness or vise versa. To me happiness actually meant feeling loved, being loved and loving. Competing did not make me more lovable, more worthy or more happy. If I wanted to be happy, I had to learn how to love. And love really does come from ourselves, not from changing our bodies.
Solution 3: Transparency, Authenticity and Embracing Imperfection and change the way Health and Happiness are viewed
The more we can be transparent about our struggles, step into authenticity and learn to embrace our humanness, the more we allow space for others to do the same. Not to mention, we help educate others on the dangers and potential repercussions that happen with extreme dieting and exercise regimes. The more stories that are shared, liked, watched the more we impact future competitors to at least pause and reflect.
The more we can showcase other ways to achieve happiness, other ways to embody health, other ways a woman can be in her body, the more likely we can influence future generations to live a life they want and not what society wants.
So maybe the aftermath competitors move through could be reduced if we took more time to reflect and identify for ourselves what happiness really means to us. Maybe it doesn't mean competing, maybe it does. Only you can decide:)