Posted 1 month ago

One year on – post-prep lessons

So, it’s been just over a year since this day…

I still get goosebumps when I remember hearing my name announced for a 3rd place in fitness model and open bikini at last year’s UK Ultimate Physiques British Finals. When I realised I would be placing top 3, I remember feeling my bottom lip quiver, and I did find it hard to hold the tears back.

But this article isn’t about show day, or how it feels to place at a British finals show. This article is about the three main things I’ve learnt since stepping off stage last year that could help you too, whether you have ever competed or not!

  1. A trophy doesn’t mean you stop working hard

If anything, the trophy means the beginning of even harder graft!

When I was nearing the end of prep last year, I do remember envisioning myself placing at finals. I also remember shutting that idea down and telling myself to go in with zero expectations in case I then got disappointed. Of course, I was elated after placing, but it didn’t mean I got complacent. It meant that my standards went up a few notches, and that I went into my offseason more driven than ever. So, if anything, coming off stage has made me critique my physique (positively!) and work incessantly to improve it. Even during a pandemic!

  1. It’s not all about the trophy – when you love bodybuilding, the drive to be better never stops

Tied into that first point, I have realised that whether I had placed or not, I’d still be bodybuilding and I’d still want to compete. I love this sport so much, more so because of the person it’s enabled me to become. Bodybuilding as a female is empowering, energising, and I just love the notion of putting hours in weekly to improving myself. The progression you see, and the focus and determination it requires is a huge driving force for me, and I know that – even once I step off stage for the last time – I will never stop bodybuilding and/or training hard. So, stepping away from stage for a year has helped me realise that I love bodybuilding way beyond the glitz and the glamour of show day. If it was just for trophies, it simply would not be worth it!

  1. A trophy doesn’t boost your self-esteem past the show-day high

Yes, read it again. It feels amazing to do well. It feels like an acknowledgement of your hard work, perseverance, and consistency. The public/social media accolades feel pretty good too! But guess what?! Unless you feel good about yourself at a baseline level, a show placing will not give you the long lasting boost you might be seeking. That shit requires as much time and effort as you put into your training. And if bodybuilding is the only leg keeping the self-esteem table up, I urge you to branch out and develop other areas of yourself. Bodybuilding is not and should not be a replacement of more tangible self-worth markers.

This past year has been absolutely crazy, and I’d be lying if I said it had gone to plan. With gym closures, it did feel like a lot of progress was lost. However, getting up and working out in the living room – and not skipping a workout – showed me that I love this for what it is, not just for stage, or trophies.

If you want to step on stage for the first time and don’t know where to start, hit the button below and sign up today.

Clara Swedlund MSc MBPsS