by Janet Marsico

“How horrible would it be if you were to spiral out of control with your eating and training…”



This topic is the perfect area to touch on at this time of year. The competition season is at an end, you are now in the “off-season” mindset and you are at a loss on what to do with your training and dieting and other areas of competition preparation.

Let me first start off with saying, and I cannot stress enough, this is NOT the time of year to simply go off the deep end, blow up like a balloon and completely spiral out of control. The key here is “balance” and “moderation.” How horrible would it be if you were to spiral out of control with your eating and training and then before you know it the scales are tipping 15-20 pounds over your competition weight! Your clothes no longer fit, you look like a Macy’s day balloon, and you are completely unrecognizable to your friends and family. You may laugh and say, “Never, not me” but I’ve been in this business and have seen this happen all too often. I was guilty of the overindulgence and spiraling after my first show. But I lived and learned very quickly. In fact, there have been many times when I run into a client 2-3 weeks after a competition and they approach me to say hi and I have no idea who they are.

Now let’s talk about how to avoid all this while still being able to live a normal life and make your off-season improvements for the upcoming year. While yes, in order to make growth and improvements you will need to up your food intake and train a bit different and possibly heavier depending on the changes you need to make, this can all be done with moderation and balance.

“…set your competition goals for the following year.”


So where do we begin… I have always been advised by my nutritionist/trainers that it is certainly acceptable to have more “cheat meals” put into your weekly diet, just don’t go overboard.  What do I mean by this? Keep your 5-6 meals that you would normally eat in the off-season, but 1-2x’s per week add a cheat meal. Something you would not normally eat during your day.  This way you will feel satisfied and won’t go off the deep end. I myself am a candy junky so when I want my cheat meal, it usually consists of some type of candy, chocolate or gluten-free dessert and then I am good to go.

Another thing to make sure to do is set your competition goals for the following year. This is great because it keeps you structured, you have something you are working towards and are pumped up because you have a purpose. I have always found with my clients and myself if I have a project (meaning a competition or event) I will stay on target and not get what I call the “post competition blues.”

A lot of times competitors become depressed after a competition due to the fact that they spent months working towards a certain show and now that time is over. And I have noticed not many of us like an “end” or a big change in our lives. After a competition things significantly change. If you set a future goal there is never an end, only a new goal to move forward to. Most of us that compete are compulsive people. That is actually a good thing because we use this to our advantage. So having something new to work towards will help prevent any post-competition blues.

Keep up with meeting your trainers and/or nutritionists. Have them put together your off-season plan and choose your next competition. If you are like most of us you keep a log. Don’t stop writing in your log during the off-season. Continue just as you were, calculating your food intake and your training regimen.

I cannot stress the next topic enough. If you are a Bikini, Figure or Fit Body competitor, continue your posing classes with your stage coach. Whether it is me or someone else, continue. You don’t have to do many one-on-one sessions but continue with monthly group Workshops.

“…chill and reflect on the past year…”


The off-season is the perfect time to fix and work on anything you need to with your stage coach. Work as much as you can to ensure better stage presence and presentation scores for your next competition. Remember, if you are competing in the same organization, the judges will be looking for improvements each time, not only on your physique and posing but in all areas. You may want to do photo analysis with your coach and possibly make some other changes like hair color, suit choice and other factors that go into competing.

Another thing you should do is maintain only 5-7 pounds over your contest weight. Weigh yourself periodically to make sure the scale does not go up too much. But again, if you are trying to put on muscle it may go up more than 5-7 pounds depending on your goals for the upcoming year. You and your coach should go over this and put together a plan. Again, this is keeping structure and will help avoid any of the blues.

The other thing that all too many do is they don’t take any time off from the gym after a competition. I give myself a few days to just chill and reflect on the past year and then get right back at it.

I have seen in my years at this that too many either don’t take any time off or they take too much and wind up missing in action from the gym for months. Then it becomes very difficult to get back at it because you don’t like the way you look and you fell off the deep end.

“Go over your expenses and see what you need to get for the upcoming year.”


Everything I have mentioned should help you avoid this. Remember, give yourself some time to enjoy the holidays but again, with moderation and balance. This is something I try to incorporate into my everyday life as well. Not just regarding training and dieting. Don’t look at the off-season as binge time. Look at it as time for improvements and changes.

Don’t be like a lot of people and have a set of “competition” clothes and “off-season” clothes. Those people give themselves an excuse to blow up, binge and fall off the wagon. And if you are smiling right now you know all too well what I’m talking about. First of all you wind up spending a ton of money for two sets of clothes and secondly, what if your off-season clothes don’t fit either? Talk about getting depressed, well you certainly will now!!!

Plan a budget. As we all know, competing can become very costly. Go over your expenses and see what you need to get for the upcoming year. If you have competed in Bikini or Figure you already know you may need to order a new pair of shoes and makeup or accessories… But you will need to budget for other items such as a new suit, (which we all know can cost quite a bit), supplements and food, your posing classes, your trainer and/or nutritionist, possibly hotel and air accommodations if you are planning on traveling for your next competition, and any other items that will be coming up. Start saving for this right after the new year. You will see how much better prepared you will be in doing so.

Remember these few tips:

  • Network
  • Maintain balance and moderation
  • Keep an off-season log
  • Stay in the game regarding posing, nutrition and training
  • Set future goals!!!
  • Set a budget



Another area a lot of competitors don’t realize they should touch in the off-season is networking in the industry. Try to find a sponsor of some sort whether it be suits, tanning, supplements or clothing lines. You will be surprised how many companies out there are looking for new talent. If they don’t know about you they won’t find you.

I am sponsored by quite a few companies and you would be surprised at how much money I save and how much exposure I have gotten. I even got a job working as a Monday Night Raw Ring Girl with the WWF simply by networking!!! I plan on covering this more in an upcoming article because it is such an important part of competing.

As you can see, there is a lot to do in your off-season. You simply need some guidance and structure and you can avoid not only the blues but also the blow up phase as well.

As always I am hopeful my experience, guidance and the information I have shared helps all of you in your competition journeys. I am always available to answer questions or hear feedback from any of you. And as always … “Remember, it’s all about stage presence.”  Until next time, my friends. NATURAL BIKINI

JMJanet Marsico | Contributing Editor

Janet  has been in the fitness circuit since 1991. She has competed in fitness, Best Body/Swimsuit, Figure, Ms. Fit Body, and Bodybuilding. She coaches for over fifteen different organizations. Contact Janet at

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