12 weeks ago I signed up for a transformation challenge on Bodybuilding.com. I signed up because I felt as if I had come to a very difficult spot in my competitive journey to the stage and felt like I needed a complete override in terms of my mindset, diet, and overall relationship with food. I have had ups and downs, but as of lately, especially during this challenge I have had great improvements in my relationship with food. I believe I have finally arrived at a beautiful spot in life, in my life, and I feel it’s time to reveal a little about my past and why I compete and what my struggle has taught me. Let me explain:
I grew up as a competitive gymnast. News to some, or maybe not, I struggled with an eating disorder at the age of 15. I didn’t quit gymnastics purely because I wanted to, I quit because an injury I had acquired wasn’t healing, and it wasn’t healing because I wasn’t eating. To be specific, I was eating, I just wasn’t eating anything that had fat in it. Shit worked. I dropped weight so damn fast. Of course I was also still going to practice 6 days a week for 4 hours and doing strength training and cardio on a recumbent bike. I’m sure that helped a bit, and I am sure that it helped sculpt some of what I have now. I was one strong chica, but I was ashamed of it, hence why I was trying to decrease my size. I didn’t want to be as strong as the boys anymore, I just wanted to be normal and fit into girlie clothes. I felt like a beast. My thought process of eliminating fat meant scrutinizing every label, fights with family over what to eat, and isolation. I would cry over 1% milk, butter, or a piece of chicken with visible fat.
I made the decision on my own that I needed to leave my sport in order to fix things. I was in treatment for A.N, seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist, and a specialist. I was put on antidepressants and adderal, a combination that had me fueled for the day but unable to feel many emotions. Over time I pulled away from treatment, which may not have been the best decision on my part, but I didn’t want to take a pill everyday anymore. I have struggled with food, drinking, and emotions since. I have binged, purged, drank way too much too often, relied on alcohol for comfort, destroyed relationships, and hurt my body along the way. We all struggle though right?
After gymnastics I became a diver. I attended UConn as a freshman and was a member of their diving team. I left after a semester due to my inability to handle my coach and my eating disorder. At this point I became a closet purger. I would purge right before a practice, getting on the boards sometimes with blurred vision. I didn’t understand at that time that chronic purging would be dehydrating me and creating electrolyte imbalances. Probably really fortunate that I didn’t seriously hurt myself. I headed home and completed community college, and things quieted down a bit. Up until I met my ex husband. He showed me an entirely new world: food and wine. This is where heavy drinking came into play. If I drank too much I would just throw it up. And continue to drink. It was fun and every morsel, every drop tasted so damn good. Food wise, I began to research clean eating and prepared to run my first marathon. Post marathon, things in the marriage began to crumble and it seemed like each clean meal I had was backed by a heavy, indulgent ‘make up’ meal to soothe the pain of an argument. Purging and heavy drinking began to rule my life again. Once divorced, I partied. No food issues here as I usually wasn’t interested in food. I was more interested in meeting new people, drinking, and dancing all night til the sun came up. pivotal moment in my life for sure. What I learned here was to be ok with what was. I started to let go of preconceived notions. Beautiful time in my life. Also the time where I met Nick. He’s been the magnetic force to my compass.
In the time that I’ve known Nick I have absolutely still struggled with food. He has seen it all. He has seen the complete nonsense of a mess that I can become. I love where we came from and whom we’ve held/hold friendships with but I can hands down say that I can not be around a crowd that drinks often. I am not strong enough. But that’s one of my realizations: I should not be upset with myself for acknowledging and respecting a weakness. If I am around people drinking, I will drink, and I don’t want to drink. And I had to have the same realization when it comes to food.
Competing in figure has been an eye-opening experience. I have battled with some ghosts, had some slips, some flashbacks to an earlier time, yet I continue to pursue the stage. I feel my best, my most stable when I am preparing for a show. Am I nuts? Is this just another sign that I have a poor relationship with food? My mentality on this has changed and I feel its important to share as I know there are so many people out there who are struggling. People will say that eating a strict diet or a clean diet is no way to live, but my answer to that is that if I will inevitably ‘slip’ and binge by eating whatever you are eating and eating this [prep/clean] way keeps me from doing so, then why is that so bad? Could you compare it to an alcoholic or a drug addict? They stay away from their weakness because the second they indulge they go too far, they use and then they can’t stop. Does your slice of pizza look amazing? Eh, for me it’s a smell thing, so does it smell amazing? Yes, of course. But if I eat that slice, or even take a bite, it’s all down hill. I will eat more than you. And then, because I feel ashamed and guilty, I will go and buy a pack of dark chocolate covered pretzels…along with some Ben and Jerry’s. Don’t worry, I’ll share, but I’ll add peanut butter to mine. And then I will feel so sick. And if I feel sick enough I’ll either purge or keep eating. Sounds fucken pleasant huh? No, no it doesn’t. It sounds crazy.
This was still a part of my life up until this challenge. I entered this challenge with the mindset of “you need to save yourself. This is no way to live”. The challenge was a transformation challenge, winner with the best transformation taking $50,000. I signed up knowing that I probably don’t stand that great of a chance of winning seeing as I didn’t have a ton of weight to lose and my before and afters won’t be that different. Despite this, I wanted to commit to realigning my mind, letting go of negative thought patterns and becoming a strong woman, one who is confident and feels good in her own skin and with her own choices. I am a winner in the sense that I have never had a better relationship with food, I am no longer drinking alcohol, and I feel like a million bucks in my own skin. I feel amazing!! If I were to win, I would take that money and create more stability in my life by paying off my student loan and fixing my car. Then I would pursue additional certifications: KICKBOXING is calling my name thanks to Miss Eliza Rose, and YOGA thanks to many inspiring yogis! Then I would probably either put the money towards a down payment on a house or invest so I can open my own gym one day. Ah, dreams…
How? I am 6 weeks out from UFE Chaos and I am following a very specific diet with plans in place all ready to reverse diet and come back to a healthy year round weight of around 140-145lbs. I am using supplements to support my intense training and am finding comfort in the fact that I am ok with where I will place. I am where I am and everyday is a new day, a day where I can wake up and give 110% because I am mentally healthy and my body is ready. This is how it should be!!!!! I also have an amazing support system, both from family and fellow comptetitors (Mandy and Erin I am speaking specifically of you two fabulous ladies!)
To complete the challenge you must post your ‘after’ photos, holding a current newspaper. You will see below my ‘befores’ and my ‘afters’. Thank you Bodybuilding.com and Dymatize for an amazing challenge filled with tremendous inspiration from fellow competitors! Keep rocking on everyone!!