MY FITNESS JOURNEY WAS A WRECK.
I got into fitness my senior year of high school and, soon after, I discovered NPC shows and decided my dream would be to compete in bikini competitions one day. This seemed unrealistic as a socially awkward, weirdo in high school.
Back in school, I was that person who was always “sick” on days I would have presentations and I grew to loathe myself for my social anxieties; I craved a reality where I was fun, outgoing, and unafraid to be myself (even though I also found it very hard NOT to be myself). Instead I was a girl who never felt good enough, the girl who people talked sh*t about on Twitter, the girl who never fit in with the crowd.
I craved to be just like everyone else.
So what better way to fight my fears and achieve this goal of being liked and adored than to get on a stage and be judged while half-naked in heels, right?
A year later (and after a long-term relationship ended), I decided to move to California to make my dreams come true — even more so, to completely change everything about who I am to mold myself into a character I always wished I could be and to create a life where I don’t hate myself and maybe even people would like me.
Little did I know, nearly starving yourself for 3 and a half months to be liked for 5 seconds of attention on stage can be detrimental to your mental health when you’re already struggling in that department.
I BEGAN BINGE EATING — AND WITHOUT EXAGGERATION — EATING 10,000 CALORIES OF OREOS IN ONE SITTING. THAT’S 5 PACKAGES OF OREOS, BY THE WAY.
I went on runs, with freaking Oreos in my pockets, crying, and not able to stop myself from doing all three at the same time; one as punishment, one as addiction, and one as hopelessness… all this began about 4 weeks into my first NPC bikini competition prep.
My dream came true of stepping on stage (after stuffing my face with an entire jar of peanut butter about 20 minutes beforehand), but turns out I created a bigger problem for myself through this “dream come true.” I now struggled with an intense eating disorder, which I would later allow to control my life for four years.
I felt like a major fraud; I was a personal trainer who had to pretend to have it all together for social media and, despite helping change my clients’ lives, I felt like I was completely destroying mine.
(This is the first time ever sharing images from my binge eating — the only images anyone ever saw were the “before the binges” and not later in the evening where I was completely swollen and mentally a mess).
In the healing process, I began lifting heavy to get my mind off of my appearance and more on strength and empowerment. I’ve always enjoyed being strong, but I had no idea that there were other sports out there that involved lifting other than bodybuilding initially. I’m not a huge fan of everything in the “self love” industry (as this was part of the reason why I struggled for longer, being told that binges were okay and normal), but you can definitely call this a “self love” period of my life — going from one extreme to the other.
During this period of struggle, I learned to be patient with myself, to accept that I would fail myself, and continued pushing through despite it all.
DISCOVERING MYSELF VIA FAILURE
This lead to me getting involved with powerlifting and dabbling in other sports and activities that I used to play simply for enjoyment — bowling (Fun fact alert! I’ve been a bowler since age three!), tennis, roller skating, hiking, exploring, and of course lifting heavy.
I ended up competing in powerlifting and falling in love— programming for the competition and experimenting with training volume on myself to learn more about overtraining, recovery, the importance of nutrition for performance (versus looks), and training technique.
FIRST YOU LOSE, THEN YOU WIN.
You’d think that’s where the story ends, but later on I watched my dad run a marathon (he had run more than a handful already at this point), and I joked that maybe I would run one with him one day.
Don’t make jokes with my dad. He takes that sh*t serious.
BECOMING A POWERLIFTER AND MARATHON RUNNER
The next day I woke up to an e-mail that I was signed up for next year’s Rock N Roll Full Marathon in San Diego with him. Yikes.
So now, I not only had to figure out how in the hell I was going to run 26.2 miles at one time, but I had to figure out how I was going to remain strong and maintain my muscle mass with all of the extra miles in my training.
MANY SAID I COULDN’T DO IT… AND THEN I DID.
That’s something I want you to remember throughout your journey. Do it despite the doubt. I finished that marathon and did pretty dang well. I am not special in being able to achieve the things I have, meaning that your goals are not out of reach. Let go of fear and doubt.
If you’re struggling with binge eating disorder or any other eating disorder, get help. Don’t ever let yourself think it’s okay and that you should give into these addictions. Most importantly, do the damn thing because you know you’re a bad ass and that you’re capable. Don’t do it to try and prove to losers that you don’t care about that you’re worthy enough.