My Fitness Journey: 9 Years of Ups and Downs Part 2
I left you all in part 1 with the day I competed in July 2009. I was more than ready and felt great. I looked great too. After my show, my coaches all told me how impressed they were. They said I nailed my peak week and looking incredible on stage. Mind you, this was only the 2nd NPC Bikini show, so it wasn’t a huge thing like it is today. I think there were 7 people in my height class and maybe 30-40 total competing in bikini that day. Not many people were doing this and social media wasn’t really “poppin'” at the time. I’m pretty sure i was still on myspace….
This was my myspace profile pic at the time..don’t judge me haha
Anyways, this is where things got bad. Up to this point, I had been fighting off my poor relationship with food. I had kept it at bay because I knew I had to compete. Once I was off the stage, I lost control. I had scheduled a photo shoot for the day after my show with Bret’s brother Joel (who is an amazing photographer). I binged right before the photo shoot and tried throwing up so that I could suck it in enough for our photos (I don’t think I succeeded by the way). I was super lean, so a lot of food actually just made my veins pop a lot, but it was the start of a very long spiral down a shitty, shitty road.
(a photo from the shoot)
I had planned on competing in another competition 5 weeks after my first show, but with Fitness America this time (a different federation). A lot of the ladies that I’d been posing with were doing it, so I wanted to do it with them. I had become close with many of them and it just sounded really fun.
I binged 1x/week leading up to that show and couldn’t really control it. It showed on stage. I placed 5th and was told afterwards that they’d like to see me a little bit leaner for next time. I knew I didn’t look my best (although I’d argue that was the best my butt has EVER looked haha).
(i’m on the right)
I had qualified for Nationals at my first show and was planning on doing a national show in October or November, but from here on out, I just couldn’t get myself together. And so started what would be the most miserable couple years of my life. Battling an eating disorder.
I gained about 25-30 lbs in a short time, and felt awful. It’s a funny thing that happens. You get used to seeing yourself so lean, that only a few pounds makes you feel HUGE. The cycle becomes this: you binge, you’re REALLY bloated since you don’t normally eat like that and your body isn’t used to it, you wake up the next day 10 lbs heavier (water weight mostly) and just feel like you look awful (and let’s face it, you look like shit because you’re holding so much water). You vow to not eat all day and you mostly don’t. You perform at least an hour of cardio to “work it off” and then in just a few days, you do it again. Before you know it, the scale is TRULY going up and you’re depressed about it so then it starts again. It’s a cycle of binge, restrict, binge, restrict, and it is VERY common in the competition world. I know so many that dealt with the same issues, although at the time, I thought I was the only one and was very quiet about it. There weren’t a bunch of articles about the issues, and nobody talked about it. I was completely ashamed and watched as my friends stepped on stage. I wrote out my goals, started telling people I was “x” weeks out, and kept trying to get myself together. Eventually I started telling people I was bulking. That was a lie. I wasn’t bulking, I was just not comfortable telling people I had an eating disorder. That I couldn’t eat 1 cookie without eating the whole box. That I couldn’t enjoy any food that I didn’t know EXACTLY what was in it. It was embarrassing and I just wanted to hide from it all (even though it was very apparent something was wrong).
I remember my sister’s wedding. I looked awful. I look at those photos now and it doesn’t even look like me.
(getting ready for the wedding…this is one of the “good” ones)
I remember standing in my dad’s kitchen and him asking “are you gaining weight?” I freaked out and responded “I DONT KNOW DAD” and stomped out.
The thing is, when you get in really good shape, people start telling you how much they look up to you. How they wish they could be like you. How they wish they had the determination that you have. And it feels really, really good. So when you start to unravel, you feel like you’ve not only let yourself down, but everyone else too. Everyone starts to expect that you’re the one that’s going to be eating healthy all the time, working out, and looking awesome. At least that’s what it FEELS like they expect. Whether they do or not, I’m not sure. I can tell you that I not only felt pressure from myself, but pressure from my peers that looked up to me. My family that had complimented my successes. My friends that couldn’t believe I would bring my own fish and veggies on the boat with me to the lake.
I moved to Los Angeles in May 2011 and the disordered eating continued. It wasn’t until late 2012 that I finally started getting a handle on it. I finally decided that I was going to be OK with who I was, no matter how i looked. This was me and I could either continue to dwell on the past, or I could start anew. I knew that I had to allow myself to eat what I wanted in order to rid myself of the “guilt” I had from eating “forbidden” foods.
At first it wasn’t pretty, but over time, the glamour of a cookie wasn’t really that glamorous anymore. I could eat 1 cookie and be fine with it. I didn’t need to eat the entire bag of chips. I could eat a subway sandwich and not feel like I was a giant loser. In the past, I had not allowed myself to eat ANY of that stuff in the presence of others. I felt like i had an image to uphold, so this was a big step for me.
Over time, I was able to create a healthier relationship with food. I found that most of the time, I actually LIKED eating healthy foods. I ate junk when I wanted it, but it actually wasn’t that often. I finally felt like a normal person again.
I followed that up with giving up cardio. That was another piece that I knew needed to go. In the past, if I didn’t stand on the elliptical or treadmill for at least 30 minutes a day, I felt off. It was useless, and yet that tiny little bit of sweat I drew up made me feel OK so that I could move on with my day. Cardio came before weight training at that point and I knew that needed to change.
Oddly enough, as my relationship with food changed for the better and my physical activity decreased, I actually started losing weight. I dropped 10 lbs in about 2 months and finally started looking like ME again….
Part 3 is up next…