Official Blog of Allison Ethier

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Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
Official blog of Allison Ethier NSCA Personal Trainer, ISSN Sport Nutrition, Educator & Mom

19 August 2008

To Eat or Not to Eat?

After the Nationals event was over, I headed back to the hotel to shower, change, and went out to a Boston Pizza to eat with a few competitors. This was the only restaurant relatively close and open at that time of night in downtown Vancouver.

After any show, I can eat and have absolutely no guilt about what or how much I am eating. However, the next day I find even more difficult, than when you are dieting. When you are in diet mode, you know what comes next, how much, when, and what to eat. A plan needs to be in place post show, to lead you back into a regular eating lifestyle without having the urge to binge eat.

Post show if you don't have a plan, many will fall completely off the wagon. Many competitors don't know how to stop themselves from eating, or having the urge to want to eat. Nancy Georges did post a YouTube video about this - post show eating - and how to get back on the wagon once you have opened your mouth to those sinful treats you have been denying yourself for so long.

Nancy Georges - Post Show Eating

Post Show Planning

I do feel that your diet leading up to the show, does play a role in how much you are going to binge after the show. I have noticed, and discussed with many girls that the more restrictive you view your diet, the more you are going to have post show uncontrolled binge eating.

For the first timer, this is really hard to grasp. As you compete more, you learn that the food will be there tomorrow. But, it takes a while even for the seasoned competitor to learn how to control your eating post show. There are many girls who slip up, and I have to admit even this year after the Arnold Amateur I found myself eating a bit more chocolate than normal. I hear a lot of "this time I am going to try to keep the weight off", but yet, somehow old habits die hard, and you end up gaining all the weight you lost and sometimes a bit more. So how do you control it; how do you manage to get back into real life food situations without stuffing your face every time you have a social event? Or going to the store, and wanting to buy everything in sight just to taste it because you can?

You need to have a plan post show, as you would pre-show. Post show should be considered part of your training - for at least 3 weeks after the event. Your body needs time to readjust to the 'extras' you are giving it. It took to time to cut these things out of your diet, so you need time to put them back in.

My plan post is simple: not to make every meal a cheat meal. I still maintain my pre-show diet meals, but add a few treats in order to feel satisfied. Nothing is more depressing than seeing your contest shape disappear in 7 days, when it took you 8-10 weeks to lose the weight.

I do allow myself a treat immediately after the show. Like I mentioned before, whatever I want, no matter how much. But, the next morning I would get back into diet mode. Then later in the day, I allow myself another treat. I have found that this allows me not to completely fall off the wagon. What I really dislike is how I feel when I am completely full, bloated, and feeling sick to my stomach with the volume of food that I have just eaten. This feeling is my deterrent to overeating all day long. I am just too full to eat more.

After having an all out binge, eating clean is welcomed. I enjoy how I feel when I eat clean. It is the return to this feeling that is troublesome for most. How do I get back to this point?

My Diet Since the Show

It has been 10 days since the Nationals. What have I eaten since then?

Saturday night after the show, I had salad - (did she say salad??) Yes, salad. I love salad. But I had a lot of dressing and all the fixings. I finished the meal off with bread, and then had peanut m&m's. I was completely full!

The next morning I was back into diet mode. I knew I was having supper (Sunday) with my family the next night so I ate clean during the day.

On Monday, I was meeting a friend for lunch. So in anticipation of this next treat, I ate clean for the morning, and had prepped ahead of time what I have going to eat on the way home on the plane. I had estimated how much I was going to cheat post show, and brought plenty of clean foods for myself during the days after the show and my trip home on Monday.

During this time, I drank plenty of water to help re-calibrate my system. In the past I would feel so bloated and swollen from eating more processed carbs, that overloading on water helped in reducing that feeling during the transition back to normal eating.

After getting home, I returned to the gym. For me training is part of who I am and to take a week off (as some trainers recommend) is not me. I like going to the gym, and it helps relieve bloating from eating too much. I am not lifting heavy, but am there to help transition my body back to normal. I do my cardio - maybe 20-30 mins per day, and some weights.

I also cooked my meals for the week, and ate at regular times as not to be caught feeling hungry if I was away from home. I added dairy, fruits, and some extra carbs. I have had more peanut m&ms this week, and one meal out with friends, but I am not feeling the urge to binge eat every time I sit down to eat.

The goal for me now is to transition back into what I would do normally. To me that means clean eating, and a few treats 1-2 times per week.

Off Season Vs On Season

What do I do different on season vs off season? Off season I tend to eat more of those hidden calorie foods - like salad dressings, and sauces, breads, dairy, cheese, and all fruits.

I do watch what I eat, 5 out of 7 days per week. I try to see how many calories I am consuming and don't 'waste' calories on unnecessary foods. Do I eat cookie, cakes, candies, and the like? Rarely, if ever. I don't want to waste the calories. I spend so much time working out in the gym, that those items are reserved for truly special occasions. If something does not taste absolutely delicious -- I don't finish it. If I know an event is coming up with great food, I will eat clean leading up to that event. Special events should be considered just that - 'special'.

I am sure that I have gained a few pounds since the show. This is to be expected. But you will not catch me weighing myself every time I eat something. This is just insanity.

I will let you in on a secret - "You will gain weight post show". This is not a bad thing. You are not getting 'fat' as some would say, you are just returning to 'normal'. Your perception might be slightly off post show, and returning to your regular body is not a bad thing. You are still healthier than many other people out there. Many of whom would trade bodies with you in a minute.

I read, and hear many girls say, "Oh, I only gain 5-8lbs post season". Funny, no one ever want to fess up to gaining 10-15lbs. Or there are girls who completely fall off the wagon, and gain 40+lbs. This, in my opinion is excess. They obviously did not have an exit strategy post show.

For me, I do gain probably 10lbs or so, but it takes me a good 3 months to put it back on, not 7-10 days post show. Or if I am finding my clothes getting a bit tight I know that it is time to cut back on the processed foods, and watch my macros, and calorie intake.

Competing = Future Food Issues?

Do I have food issues? Sometimes, I think I do. Competition surrounds food intake. Prior to me getting involved with fitness, I never watched what I ate. I was also in my 20s, and could also drink all night, party and get up and go to class the next time. Time passes, and now I am in my 30s, so my body does not respond the same way anymore.

Eating is such an emotional thing. I can remember spending so much time with my girlfriends, either partying or watching movies, and what accompanied that - eating. Good food. Fun food.

Clean eating is your maintenance plan; your goal 80% of the time. While letting loose
can happen during those 'special occasions'.

I have had some binge eating moments post show. I remember back to my first show and immediately afterwards I had about 10 cookies, and then was so tired, that I crashed from the sugar rush. Even now after a show, I can feel a 'high' from eating those treats that I have been avoiding for so long. Basically I was in a food coma.

There have been times after a show where I eat a box of cereal in a sitting and wonder why am I doing this to myself? I have learned how to control my eating post show, but it took a long time to learn this. I have been doing this for 10 years. So, why did it take so long? Maybe my food issues where there but only manifested themselves when I starting to compete.

It the newbies that I worry about, and sometimes even the seasoned competitor has issues. After days and days of all out binge eating; you have to know that this is not good for you. Not physically, not emotionally. Even when you feel sick to your stomach somehow you manage to keep stuffing your face. I know I have been there.

What I have found is that you do have to look inward to find out why you are doing this to yourself. Each time I do a show, I always look inward to reflect on why I want to eat in excess.
From my experience, I know that when I overeat I feel:
1. feel physically ill,
2. completely guilty for doing so, and,
3. vow to work it off more in the gym the next day.

I have found that it is the physical bloating, and full feeling I dislike, so to avoid that I keep myself in control.

Remember, the food will be there tomorrow, so you don't have to eat it all today.

When deciding on a trainer/nutritionist make sure they include an 'exit strategy' from your competition - your digestive system, and your emotions will thank you for it.


Brit-Man said...

That is perfect sense. The fact is when you train your body for 3 months, and thusly the metabolism, you can't expect your body to react too well to the way you might have eaten more than 3 months ago, it has to be a controlled gradual increasing of calories.

I would suggest, one way to do this, is to sneak back a little Fat into the diet, and may be a little carb.

Increase calories back approximately 50 per meal, like 5g Carbs, 3g Fats approx for example, and again this could come from good combinations like Avocados, Cashews, small Veggie Increases, (Half a large Broccoli Stalk, for example), with Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or a tiny bit of Coconut Oil, Half a Lerge Tomato half a small Orange etc etc, as examples, with a few Almonds perhaps.

In a way you're treating yourself tothings you haven't had for a long time, but it's nice easy Metabolic increases, rather then just bumping up your cals in a couple of meals, you keepthe metabolism functionng the same as before, but with mild increases, then, after 1 week, do it again, and again, until after a few weeks, you're back to where you were about 3.5 months ago.

Yes you can sneak in a few things like a bit of chocolate, or things like that, but I think as an alternative possiblity, just slow steady increases to meals weekly, and keep the calorie increases per meal, as close as possible to each other.

This is just my take, and of course I wouldn't disagree with anything you have to say Allison, as I respect and admire your understanding and knowledge immensely, and of course you.

I hope you are doing well. Take care and very best wishes :-) :-).


EM :) said...

Perfectly said. Thank you for this entry!! :)
Congrats on all your success!!!
You're a true role model in this sport!!!
Have a great rest of the week!!!

Claudine said...

Fantastic post Allison!
Thank you so much :)

Claudine said...

et Bonne Rentrée! :P

Bernee said...

Excellent post extremely helpful!