Are You Thinking About Competing?

This time of year, many people are embarking on new challenges and goals. For some people, that goal might be competing for the first time or maybe just toying with the idea of competing. In the right circumstances, setting the goal of stepping on stage can be huge and exciting! It can be the start of a new passion and new competitive, athletic endeavor.

As a first time competitor, there are some things you probably already know. You’re going to put your body through hell, you’re going to be hungry, and you’re probably going to do your fair share of cardio. But there are many things you might not think to ask yourself or prepare for until you have actually competed. So I reached out to some of our most seasoned competitors to find out what they would encourage first time competitors to consider and prepare for before deciding to compete. Here is what they had to say! 

Is Now the Right Time?

 “While there is never a perfect time to prep, some seasons of life are easier to prep than others. Prep and competing take up a lot of time and energy via meal prep, gym sessions, cardio sessions, posing practice, daily mental stamina, and much more. During the earlier period of my education, I had the time and energy to execute prep meticulously. However, currently I wouldn’t be able to execute prep to the same level I have in the past prior due to the increased demands of my educational program. The professional and educational goals I am working toward would suffer if I were to prep at this time. In this current season of my life, I want to do one thing very well instead of two things sub optimally.” – Kat @katcoburn

Will It Add Value to Your Life?

“Competing teaches people many beneficial skills, as well as have positive impacts such as time management, nutritional foundation, perseverance, drive, etc. For many it is a good distraction, something to do, and gives them a goal to work for. If it is something that brings you joy WITHOUT sacrificing or taking away from other important areas of your life then go for it!” -Jessica @jbrew02

Check Your Intentions

“My first desire to compete was all about looking like the girls I saw on stage. With more exposure to the sport and its athletes, I realized stage lean is not physically sustainable (nor is safe to maintain) for most people. So, instead cut for a photoshoot. I got down to a more sustainable “lifestyle lean” look. In the process I fell in love with the discipline and challenge of “prep” and thought, “If I can do that, what else can I do?” When I finally decided to compete, it was now for the challenge, the goal, and the desire to push myself mentally and physically. These intentions made competing rewarding and a huge growth experience. Not having the expectation or goal of maintaining such an extreme physique set me up for a lot less disappointment and mental turmoil post show.” – Me/Sam @sammyfitsleeves

Does It Make Sense Financially?

It’s EXPENSIVE! And your expenses vary depending on the level at which you’re competing.


Prepare for the Post Show Period

“Post-show is a TOUGH and sensitive time mentally and sometimes physically. Adherence can be just as important post-show as it is during prep and prioritizing recovery (hormonal, physical, sleep, mental) is extremely important. Be mentally prepared that while being stage lean and shredded is nice, for MOST people it is not sustainable, comfortable, nor optimal.” – Jessica

“You need to time your reverse diet.  Make sure you have sufficient time, at least 4 weeks, after the competition season to devote to your reverse diet. i.e. no long vacations, think of the impacts around holidays/birthdays. The prep isn’t really ‘over’ when you walk off stage.” -Chanel @chanelcollette – posing client

The Post Show Mindset Shift is Unlike Anything Else

“Before I started competing I wish I would’ve known how much it would affect the behavioral relations I would create and how those would create my habits going forward. For example, you become so obsessed with watching the scale decrease and then receiving reinforcement from watching that number decrease by seeing your body get leaner, positive comments from other people, fitting into smaller sizes, etc. Watching your scale weight decrease and having that be reinforced for so long in prep and then having to do a 180 and watch that number on the scale increase without the proper tools and mindset can be incredibly detrimental to your self esteem, relationship with food, relationships with others, etc.  Having to then to find reinforcement from watching the scale go the opposite way is nearly impossible. HOWEVER, with proper coaching and practice (e.g. more dieting/off season phases) this gets easier. Not every day or hour will be sunshine and rainbows but with proper supports in place this does get easier and you can actually enjoy seeing your body come out of a strict dieting phase and see all of the new positive attributes that can beyond just physical appearances.” – Jenna @jenna_rae7_

Credible Guidance and Support is Invaluable

“Have a support system to get there! Sometimes a support system is you leaning in towards your teammates for understanding.” – Josie @josieharbaugh

“Do you have credible coaching/guidance? This is a VERY important factor! Also, having a credible coach to help guide you through the post show period is CRUCIAL.”- Jessica

Like everything, competing has its pros and cons. It can be a life changing experience for the good or bad depending on how, when, and for what reasons you decide to prep. Take the time to critically analyze your entry to the sport. If you feel competing is for you, set yourself up with the structure, support, and guidance it takes to prep and compete safely and successfully.

For more information on competing and working with our team, visit

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