I haven’t been posting as much on social media lately, and there’s a few reasons for that, but the major one is that I’m coming to realize that the message I’ve been sending out is not quite the one I’m intending to promote. Let me preface this by saying that I have no issue with 1stphorm or their contest. As a brand and as a movement they have inspired and motivated hundreds of thousands of people and I support that. My issue lies within myself. In trying to promote myself to win a contest, I’ve lost sight of what I truly believe in and what truly matters to me. In aligning my message with what I thought would win, I’ve lost sight of promoting MY true message, the one that comes from my heart.
Do I believe in hard work, of course. Do I believe in giving it your all, absolutely. Do I believe in accomplishing your goal at all costs regardless of the toll it takes on your body, mind and life as a whole? No. And honestly I think a lot of the fitness industry via social media has been promoting that mentality- obsession.
Being obsessed with eating healthy and working out, at the expense of everything else in your life, is not in fact “healthy.” Being obsessed with how you look is not healthy. Being obsessed with doing “whatever it takes” and going to extremes to be “great” or to look a certain way is not healthy.
Obsession is not healthy.
But unfortunately, in my opinion, the majority of the fitness industry is promoting a message of obsession with diet and training, of extremes, of doing whatever it takes or else you’re a failure. And I no longer want to be a part of that message.
I used to be one of those fitness obsessed people. Quite frankly, I probably worked harder and more intensely at it than the majority of people out there. I turned pro in my second show, I competed at the Olympia in my first year as a pro. I was invited to compete in two Arnold Classic Fitness Internationals, I was sponsored by a major supplement company. I was ambitious, I did whatever it took, I was dedicated, disciplined, obsessed. I worked harder than most could dream of and I wasn’t going to stop until I was THE BEST. And you know what, I was absolutely miserable. It was NOT, in any way, shape or form, a healthy way to live. It did not create a healthy body or a healthy mindset. It gave me an outlet to channel my poor body image and to trick my mind into believing that I was successful because I was working hard and being 100% disciplined and pushing myself through no matter what. In reality, I was incredibly unhealthy both mentally and physically. I developed an injury that pretty much put an end to my career. I developed reproductive and thyroid issues. I isolated myself from family and friends. And I developed a severely distorted view of my body which lead to severely distorted eating habits.
When I returned to the stage in 2013 I vowed to do it the right way. With balance. With self confidence. With love and respect for my body and mind. Both on and off season. And I also vowed that this was the message I would promote to those that looked up to me. And I think in participating in this contest, I’ve lost sight of that a little bit.
The fact is, I whole heartedly believe that you can achieve great things in your life without becoming “obsessed.” I know because I’ve done it- I’ve done it both ways. Letting something consume your whole life is not healthy. As someone who’s “been there, done that” with that mentality, I just cannot go on promoting it, knowing all the damage it can cause and knowing that it’s just not necessary.
The images we see on social media are not real life. Realistically, the majority of these insta famous fitness icons are not the true picture of what is healthy. I certainly wasn’t. Although I was damn good at making everyone think I was.
In fact, by “fitness industry standards” right now I’m considered FAT. By fitness industry standards right now I’m “out of shape.”
The truth is, I’m not fat and I’m not out of shape. I’m far from it. I’m focusing on other things in my life and not spending as much time in the gym or “food prepping,” and you know what? That’s OK. I’m OK with it. But 5 years ago, back when I was “great,” I wouldn’t have been caught dead posting pictures at my current weight. I would have been terrified of what people thought. It’s really an absurd concept if you think about. WHAT KIND OF MESSAGE IS THIS PROMOTING?? I’ll tell you what message it’s sending- an unrealistic one that promotes poor body image. And it’s no better than the photo shopped “too skinny” cover models that everyone gets all up in arms about.
I believe people should work hard toward their goals, believe in themselves and give their all. But I cannot support this “get it done at all costs” philosophy because I just don’t believe in it. I lived it. And it damn near ruined my life. And I’ve since changed my approach, and done things the healthy, balanced, non-obsessed way- successfully.
I workout because I love my body. I eat healthy because I want to nourish my body not because I think I need to change it. I compete to see what my body and mind are capable of, not because I dislike how I look and I feel like I need to get in shape.
It took me a really long time to come to that realization. It took me a really long time to accept my body, my structure, my flaws. It took me a really long time to be proud of what my body is capable of and not just obsessed with how it looks. And it took me a really long time to realize that doing whatever it takes to be “great” is a good way to ruin my health and my happiness.
I want to promote a message of self confidence. A message of respect for your body, mind and soul. A message of kindness toward yourself. I’d like to inspire others to be well rounded, to be real, to be grounded, to encourage others. ENJOY YOUR LIFE. Be motivated, be dedicated, but never lose sight of the big picture. Stop trying to live up to the insta famous fitness model. That’s not real life. That’s not YOUR life.
Workout because you love your body. Eat well because you love your body. And always remember that you do not have to go to unhealthy extremes to accomplish what you want.
I don’t know what the future holds for me but I do know that moving forward, my message will be more clear. I don’t want people to look up to me because of how I used to look and what I’ve accomplished in the past, because the mindset and methods used to get there were far from healthy. I want to inspire people to do things the right way, respect their bodies, maintain a healthy mind and spirit, maintain balance, recognize obsession, BE HEALTHY! Personally, I want to be fit, healthy, HAPPY…
And should I ever be blessed with the opportunity to compete again, I am certain that I will be successful doing it my way.