When you think about your competition prep, consider how you view your eating habits and workout schedule based upon your daily life. Consider whether your pre-contest prep is a severe deviation from your “normal” life or whether it is simply a slight moderation from how you live year round. Ask yourself the following questions to find out whether the fitness lifestyle is TRULY a lifestyle for you or if it is a temporary life alter.

• Do you live one way during the competition season and another during the “off season”?
• Do you completely change your nutrition habits the day after your competition?
• Do you stop training and/or doing cardio once your show is over?
• Do you gain more than 5-7 pounds between shows?
• Do you consider the time after your show as going back to a “normal” life?

If your answers to these questions are “yes”, then fitness and healthy eating is a life “alter” rather than a lifestyle. This view of things can make competition prep very difficult on you and can take the fun out of the process. More importantly, viewing fitness as a temporary deviation from your normal life will lead to yo-yo weight gain and loss, and will not teach you the tools to live lean and healthy for LIFE!

Many competitors use the offseason as an excuse to stop working out, stop following a healthy nutrition program and put on “bulk”. As Bikini Athletes, there is ABSOLUTELY no reason to “bulk” in order to improve! In fact, putting on excess weight at different points throughout the year will stretch out the skin and make it more and more difficult to become tight for stage each time. Stretch out the skin repeatedly and eventually it will not go back! Of course, staying stage lean year round is not healthy either. A weight gain of 5-7lbs when not hitting the stage is a healthy, manageable state that allows you to look great year round and keep your skin tight.

Here are a few tips to make living as a Bikini Competitor a lifestyle rather than a temporary life alter.

1 Lose the Initial Weight SLOWLY

If you have weight to lose in order to hit the stage, do it the RIGHT way! Follow a healthy, balanced nutrition program with sufficient calories to maintain your health. Make sure this program contains protein, fats and carbohydrates. Crash dieting, carb depleting or starving yourself will not build a long term, healthy metabolism. A good guideline to follow is to lose anywhere from 1-2 pounds per week.

2 Your NEW Normal

Think of the fitness lifestyle as your new “normal”. Don’t consider your training and nutrition plan something you do to deviate from your normal day in order to get ready for the stage. Rather, make it a PART of your normal day. Plan your training, cardio and food prep in relation to the rest of your life so that it fits your daily schedule and is simply part of how you live.

3 Jump Back on the Wagon

Don’t fall off the wagon when you walk off the stage! Take enough food with you to your event so that you can go out and enjoy one moderate cheat meal after your show, then jump back on your nutrition plan the following day. Your food choices do not need to be as strict as they were leading up to your competition. However, sticking with clean, healthy foods eaten several times a day will keep you on track and keep you from gaining more than 5-7lbs after your show. Keep drinking your water the entire weekend and get back in the gym on Monday. Again, the training does not need to be as intense and the nutrition not as strict, but you MUST continue with your new lifestyle and not miss a beat in order not to ruin all that you have worked so hard to gain!

4 Enjoy One Cheat Meal Per Week

Life is too short to say you will NEVER eat a calorie rich meal again! Enjoy ONE moderate cheat meal of your favorite foods per week. If you follow your nutrition plan all day – every day, one cheat meal in moderation per week will not impede your progress. Vowing to not have a cheat meal for 12-16 weeks leading up to your show often leads to failure and does not assist you in making fitness and healthy eating a lifestyle.

5 Monitor Yourself

Keep yourself in check! If during your time away from the stage you find yourself over the 5-7lb. weight gain mark, tighten up your diet and adjust. In turn, if you find yourself living at contest weight, adjust your calorie intake so that your body is allowed a few pounds of weight gain. By self-monitoring you will learn how to live in order to stay within a healthy, fit range. Everyone is different, so learn how your body reacts and make slight adjustments accordingly.

When you think about competing, consider how you view your eating habits and workout schedule based upon your daily life. Do you think of healthy eating and training as a lifestyle, or do you consider it a temporary life alter? Choosing to make health and fitness your lifestyle will ensure that you remain lean for LIFE rather than just for a few moments on stage. In addition, as an NPC Bikini Athlete, you have the amazing ability to be a role model to others no matter whether you walk away from the stage with a trophy or not. Just by taking this journey and by being YOU, the people you meet will be inspired to take charge of their health and fitness, which will inevitably improve their lives! I am excited for YOUR new lifestyle and can’t WAIT to see you on stage!


IFBB Fitness Professional Shannon Dey is the Founder of Bombshell Fitness and Team Bombshell. Over the past three years, Bombshell Athletes have earned 65+ IFBB Pro Cards, and Team Bombshell has produced two IFBB Bikini Olympia champions. In the 2012 Bikini Olympia, four of the Top five finishers were Bombshell Athletes.

Shannon holds a Masters Degree in Health Education and is currently working toward her Ph.D. in Sports Psychology. For more information on Bombshell Fitness and Team Bombshell, visit their website at www.bombshellfitness.com or visit the Team Bombshell Facebook page.