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I get asked if I still compete… Yes, I do. Right now, I am in offseason. “So you get to eat whatever you want?” No… I don’t.

I don’t like to call offseason the offseason – let’s call it improvement season because it’s not off. If you are serious about competing, you build your improvement season plan just as structured as your prep.

I competed in May the last time and started reverse dieting. Reverse dieting means slowly implementing more carbohydrates in order to reestablish your body’s normal state, reestablishing the healthy state of your body composition, building muscle and building your metabolism.

It is important to realize; your stage body is definitely not maintainable. You get to a super low body fat and low caloric intake that is not maintainable. Preparing to go on stage is a challenge and is a great experience but the weeks after a show can be tough. After being so restricted you can’t just totally fall off track and start eating whatever you want. Your body won’t be able to utilize the higher amount of calories and start storing it as fat.

The goal for my improvement season is to build, you need to gain weight in order to do so. Muscles can only be built when you ingest the essential amount of calories to build more structure, you will be putting on pounds. To me, that was scary at first. I have gained 14 pounds since my show and it’s different, I would say. I don’t hate my body but I do sometimes struggle with looking and not seeing defined abs.

Coming off of a show is mentally and physically just as challenging as being in prep. You need to be able to accept your body at a fluffier state. You have to stick to a plan, with a show in mind that’s far in the future or just with the goal of improving in mind. Improvement season is the time where the body is sculpted so you want to make sure you keep to the plan. The body is built in improvement season and shows when you are in prep.

Your improvement season body is the body your soul lives in. This is the body you are healthy in, not the lean-bean you were on stage. This is a time where competition can be put into the background and you can focus on personal growth. As long as you keep sticking to the plan, the muscle growth will come.

This process has taught me to be patient, trust my coach, trust my body to adapt to the different stimuli and I am in the process of learning to love myself, physically and mentally. Improvement season – muscle and personal growth.

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