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Friday, February 14, 2014

Replacing My Mirror, Learning to Love Myself

Replacing My Mirror, Learning to Love Myself

They say hindsight is 20/20 and I can understand why.  At the time, you're too emotionally involved to be objective.  I mention this as I look back over old pictures of my own personal fitness journey as I'm about to start the 21 Day Fix Challenge Pack with a group of my other friends & fellow Beachbody coaches. 

As I look back at old pictures pictures of me and my family, what I found myself saying to myself was, "Wow, I actually look really good back then!" But what's funny is at that time I remember being so judgmental about how I looked, always knit picking over areas of my body that I felt needed improvement.  And while to a certain degree in our society that's a fairly common issues amongst most women.  The sad thing was as I reflect on that time period compared to just a year ago, I actually had a pretty healthy body image of myself.  Well let me take that back, what I realized was there was a change that occurred, there was a change in how I saw myself and it really started when I decided to "prove myself" and enter my first bikini competition, and try to win that trophy, like that would actually give me any REAL validation!!  I mean, yes the journey was awesome and I've learned so much about myself but I also paid an incredible price for that trophy, for that title and that's why I wanted to write & share this story. 

So right before I started my journey to become a bikini competitor I went on vacation with my husband.  It was just us, and we had a blast!  Being in Hawaii meant being at the beach, being outside, and pretty much living in your bikini!  I look back at those pictures today, and think there was absolutely nothing wrong with my body, but then I hired my first so-called "coach" who I ended firing shortly after hiring, but some of the things he said stuck with me all through that year as I went from one competition to the next.  

I remember him saying, "Yeah, we got a lot of work to do if you want to get on stage. You definitely have a lot to lose before you'll be ready." 

Me in Hawaii, 2011 when I decided to start to compete
A great website & blog I read is Coach, Scott Abel.  
He wrote a great article about the fitness industry

So after speaking with this coach, I went from being "I'm in pretty good shape," to "Oh I must be a fat pig."  So I started with my first show in March 2012, where I placed 5th, but then I wanted more.  I wanted to get a better place standing, I wanted to improve my body more & more.  The problem was that I soon found that even though I kept getting better, and improving in placements at shows, and eventually competed Nationally, in my eyes, I wasn't good enough, my body wasn't tight enough.  The one thing I thought would help my body image and self-esteem actually became the thing that made my body image and my self esteem worse!!!  I just figured that I just needed to continue on my journey competing, that eventually I'd find the validation I needed. I was about to quit it all, cause I just wasn't happy, but I also had this goal, this dream, and since I'm as stubborn as hell and hate quitting, I decided I'd do ONE MORE SHOW!!!  Amazingly enough that last show I won in 3 categories and won my Pro Card with the WBFF.  After that show, I was on the high from winning and being in the best shape of my life.  I felt more in balance, since I had a wonderful support team and friend who helped coach me & told me I could compete in a healthier way than I had in the past.  I was in the best shape I've ever been in my entire life and I was so proud that accomplished my goal, and for a brief moment I was extremely happy!!  I was happy with the way I looked, the way I felt; I felt that I had conquered those demons of body image with this win.  But after the high of the win went away, and life as usual set back in--no more show prep, no more excitement from people congratulating me, nobody cared anymore, and why should they!!  

My first show (Left), My winning Pro Card Show w/ WBFF (Right)
This is where things get a little crazy.  I thought there would be a way for me to keep my show body conditioning all the time, but it's just not that healthy for you to be that low in body fat for too long of time, and it's just not realistic.  After the show was done, I went back to my healthy eating, but I soon realized that things that I used to not really crave or really want; I wanted more and more since I had been on such a strict diet for so long (basically dieting from one show to the next for 11 months).  I started to want more and more junk food, sweets, candy (something that wasn't a big deal to me before--i.e. Hawaii times & before), but because I had condition my mind to see those things as being bad, and not allowing even a little bit; I started to get a really unhealthy focus on food, which then turned to a REALLY unhealthy relationship with food that I would literally hide my "treats" all over the house and then later when everybody went to bed or when nobody was at home, I would eat them in private, like it was some secret!!!  I never really had gained a whole lot of weight of course, but I gained more weight than I started out being before I decided to enter my first competition.  I knew it wasn't right, but I didn't know what the heck to do about it.  I tried to stop, but I couldn't--it was literally like I was addicted!!  

Then one night, in the middle of the night, I woke up hungry,  I couldn't sleep, so I went to the closet where I hide my treats, and ate all by myself at 2 o'clock in the morning.  Then the unthinkable happened, my husband woke up, wondered where I was and found me with my hand in a bag of candy sitting on the closet floor.  He just looked at me in disbelief, and I think I was in a daze because I didn't even react, I just said,  "oh hi honey! I'm just eating."  He took the bag from me and told me I should go back to bed and that's what I did.  From that was a moment on, I realized I needed to do something about this, or I could see an even unhealthier problem develop--regardless I was developing an eating disorder & I knew I was not in a healthy mindset.   So, I started to read & research as much as I could and found some incredible resources which really helped me, some which I've shared links to at the bottom of this article.  

So over year has gone by since I've won,  and since all of the above happened.  My metabolism has adjusted to be pretty normal now.  I've gone through so much with this whole situation and I'm not saying that I regret a single day of contest prep. I'm not saying that I regret a single thing that has happened because I've actually come full circle from these experiences.  Because NOW that I've had a chance to look back at all the contest pictures of myself,  I realize that it's been the mirror that I choose to see my body through, not the reality of what my body is.  

It's taken me about two years now to come full circle, but it's a good thing. I've realized that not only am I beautiful,  but I'm healthy, I'm strong and that I should love my body as I am. I want to be a healthy example to my daughter especially, as well as for my son.   I don't want my daughter to be obsessed with the way she looks.  I want her to be happy with her body image, and see she's beautiful, not for what's on the outside, but more for what's on the inside. 

So as I start this 21 day challenge with my friends on Monday, February 17th, 2014, it's like a renewal for me.  It's not about getting thinner, it's not about losing weight, it's about being healthy again and supporting my friends in their quest for health too.  This challenge is about taking control of who I am, my body image and loving me for where I am today!!!  

So as you read this and reflect on what I've shared, I want you to realize that perspective is a powerful thing and if you're doing this journey with me reflect every single day.  Journal, take pictures because you may be very judgmental of yourself today, but as you progress and you look back you'll see you've always been beautiful, but we have trained our eyes to see the negatives.  So can you promise me if you are following me on this journey, that everyday, you'll look at the positives of who you are? Learn from every experience, and don't judge yourself by the outside shell.  YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL for what you do, for the people you love, for the people you care for, for the people you inspire, for the lives you touch.  You may not realize the impact you make on people's lives, but you do in so many more important ways that has NOTHING to do with the size you wear!!  

May my story strengthen you and empower you to see your own beauty & strength you possess within.

Thank you for hearing my story, and if this has touched you...please share it. 

From my uncensored heart,

Me today



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