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Post-Competition Assessment / Action Plan

Post-Competition Assessment / Action Plan


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Mission accomplished: You got to show off months of hard work by hitting the stage. Now it’s time to assess. Did you look the way you thought you would look? What could you have done differently? These are questions I asked myself post-competition and came up with an action plan based on my findings. Here is what I plan on doing differently for the next show:

Drink More Water
I will be the first to admit that I have never been a fan of drinking a lot of water. I’m one of those people who would take a whole day to go through one bottle (16 fl oz) of water. I tried to drink more during contest prep, but that was only about four 16 fl oz (half a gallon) per day, which is way off from the 1-2 gallons recommended. Because I did not drink enough water, my body created aldosterone—an antidiuretic hormone that causes the body to retain water. So throughout my entire contest prep the water retention was persistent, and my confidence dwindled up until the very moment I got on stage. I knew something was wrong— I just didn’t understand why until afterward. And then with perfect timing, FAB Editor Kristin Shaffer posted this awesome video on the importance of drinking water. If you haven’t seen it, check it out here: Since the competition and helpful video, I’ve been increasing my daily water intake. I am up to a gallon per day now and already seeing positive changes in my body.

No Supplement Experimentation and Yohimbine (Yohimbe)
This should be a given, but for some odd reason I thought it would be cool to try the supplement samples I received at the Mr.Olympia Expo and GNC during contest prep. I figured that as long as the product didn’t have creatine in it (creatine is known to cause water retention), I would be fine. Wrong. I started taking Hydroxycut Elite for the last 3 weeks, not knowing the effects of one the ingredients—Yohimbine. Yohimbine Hydrochloride (HCL) is a synthetic form of the active ingredient in Yohimbe bark extract (Gomez, 2012 – see the reference link below). While it aids in fat loss, one side effect is significant water retention. Any supplement containing Yohimbine should be cycled to minimize water retention. I did not cycle it because I only associated it with burning fat…and my assumption on why Hydroxycut didn’t mention it on the package is because it probably wasn’t intended for contest prep. Either way, do your research before taking any supplements! I’m going to stick with what I know.
Yohimbine info link:

Drop the Chewable Vitamins
Depending on the brand, chewable vitamins may not contain enough sugar to do damage during contest prep. However, if you are like me in that you are emotionally connected to sweets, taking them may not be a good idea. Chewy vitamins provoked my cravings— creating a cycle of thrill, insufficient satisfaction, and extreme sadness from missing the sweets I loved. There were days I would take more vitamin chews than instructed in an attempt to quell my desire for something more decadent. In the end, it just made me even more miserable. Next time around, I will maintain taking my vitamins in pill form and eat red grapes (intrinsic sugar) if I need something sweet.

Weight Source Control
Notice I'm saying "weight SOURCE control," rather than just "weight control." In my last article “What They Don’t Tell You,” I mentioned that one should not obsess over the weight gain during off-season, as healthy weight gain is typically between 7-15 lbs and muscle weighs more than fat. For the FLEX Bikini Model Search, I had to lose 20 lbs of mainly fat in 9.5 weeks. It was doable, but not ideal in the sense that I felt like I really had to ramp up cardio to lose the weight in a short period of time, which caused me to lose more muscle than expected. As I transition to Figure next year, I want to make sure that the weight I gain is mainly from muscle so that the fat burning occurs naturally by increased metabolism due to the additional muscle mass and strict competition diet.

Now that I’ve established a penchant for competing, I would like to start dieting earlier—maybe around 12-14 weeks out. That way, I can slowly taper my body down to the way I want it without having to race against time and burning too much muscle.

Workouts Week Of the Show
This is probably still debatable to some, but a common recommendation is that one should not do heavy workouts during the week of the show, especially after mid-week, because of lactic acid build up and/or possible injury when the joints are more delicate. I agree. My last workout was Wednesday of competition week, but my workouts from Sunday to Wednesday were very strenuous. I’m one of those people who loves to lift heavy all the time, but doing that worked against me. The idea of that week is to deplete the glycogen in the muscle without creating too much lactic acid because lactic acid build up is a form of fluid retention. I went HARD on my legs that week and the fluid retention was apparent in my contest pictures. So next time, I will be a littler nicer to my legs during competition week. :)

Find Balance
Deciding to do a show is a big commitment, and it is so much more than people think. Your body starts looking great and you have more energy, but inside your hormones are not what they used to be and will most likely affect your overall psyche. I don't think I adequately prepared mentally and spiritually for my contest prep. I knew it would take a lot of work, but I was absolutely MISERABLE. I was sick of the tasteless food, hated running up my credit card, and bringing my food to weddings, funerals, jury duty..etc. I tried my best keep smiling, but it was like I was a different person. This time around, I think that starting my diet earlier and allowing myself to have the weekly cheat meals early on would help me feel like I'm not missing out too much; and staying spiritually connected will help me deal with the changes better. I think of all the topics mentioned, this one is the most important because if you aren't centered, it could ruin your attitude toward everything and you won't execute what is required effectively. From a physical standpoint, being miserable and stressed out creates cortisol- a stress hormone that raises glucose levels causing fat storage typically in the abdominal area. I don't think any of us wants that. So finding balance between being inevitably easily annoyed, pleasantly grateful for your privileges, and having fun is key to a successful contest prep. It won't be easy, but should be done.

There are more factors I am looking into for improvement, but I'm still doing research and would rather discuss it when it makes more sense to me. In the meantime, I'm hoping you can use this information to improve for your next show. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or even further clarification to any of these topics, please don't hesitate to post below or email me. :)

Author: Keri Walters

Member Comments

Keri, this is so helpful!!! It really hit home for me. I do take chewables but they are children's and are sugar free..but I do enjoy them too much! I am only getting in a half gallon myself and KNOW I need to get to a gallon. Any tips you use will be helpful to me! I started dieting a week ago and have been VERY strict. I will buy some red grapes for sure...Best to eat before or after a workout or in a craving emergency correct? What is your input now on how long to do a weekly cheat meal. I am roughly 18 weeks out and it is a long time with no cheat for me. When I think of cheating it is really a small cheat like an all natural, whole grain Healthy Choice frozen meal. I know they are bad with the sodium...most around 400-500 mg. When should I cut out any cheating if I choose to cheat? I am not even sure how much fat loss I need..I am 5'7, 116.8 and 17 percent right now. What weight do you think I would be at show? I am lifting heavy for me to put on the muscle. eg. 20-25lb dumbbell curls, 25-30lb dumbbell chest press etc. any input would be greatly appreciated!!! Good work to you too! I think you look amazing!!!!

Hi scyocsd,
Red grapes- I would eat them only when craving something sweet. Before or after a workout is fine. In fact, if you eat them with your protein source after your workout as it will facilitate protein absorption. Weekly cheat meal: You started dieting very early. I would say you can safely have a cheat meal once per week up until 8 weeks out if you are on track with lowering your body fat percentage. It really depends on your body's progress throughout contest prep. And for cheat meals, you can have a frozen yogurt or a doesn't have to be a Healthy Choice meal. Weight: Your weight is actually pretty low, so if were you, I would focus building muscle and utilize your lean muscle to lower your fat percentage. Go with how you look, rather than focusing on the scale. And since I'm an advocate of heavy lifting, I think you are on the right track with that. :)
Thank you for reading my article! I hope this answers your questions.


Keri- I did not know that about red grapes. That is good to know and I will utilize the absorption from them. It benefits me too that my workouts are all around 9-11am as I do not like to eat fruit late in the day. I do realize that I started really early. I just do not want to be stressed to rush my body. I am recovering from some spine/disk issues and want to make sure I am safe about my workouts. I typically eat super clean only difference in this prep is the measuring and weighing. The foods are exactly the same. I am definitely focusing on lean muscle building. I am content with where my macros are but I am struggling a little with my caloric intake. I guess I will have to give it a month and see where my strength gains are and how I am looking. Thanks so much!



Hi Sandee- I can tell you are deligent. You will do great. :)

Smackid- You're welcome! :)


THX!! :)


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