The straw that broke the camels back or so they say!!!
Now, before I write this blog I want to make it very clear that what I am about to share is my personal experience and I still truly admire anyone who competes in these sports; just because it isn't for me - does not mean that I don't respect the sport or the hard work people put into it.
2016 goal - compete in a bikini body building comp
I had my eye on the prize and during the whole preparation nothing else matter apart from my training and my eating. I did not focus on anything else, my whole world became 'comp'.
Coming from a basic group fitness and corrective exercise rehab background; body building broke a lot of the basic rules. At first, I was hesitant with the training as it was so different to what I was used to. but then I fell in love. Once my body adapted to the training, I felt great and could see the changes occurring of muscle growth.
The food was not much different as I was pretty healthy, however my protein intake increased massively.
This is where it changed for me, knowing that I was going into a competition where you would be judged on how you looked - I started becoming very obsessed with starring in the mirror, picking apart my body, analysing every inch of fat.
My food became quiet strict and without realising, I starting becoming obsessed with food - wanting everything I couldn't have and when it came to the 'cheat meal' on the weekend I would feel so guilty for eating it. Again, at the time I didn't think I was that bad but looking back now; it was controlling my whole world.
In regards to learning though, I had never macro counted or calorie counted & I was absolutely learning so much about food; I loved the knowledge I was soaking up.
The last few weeks leading up my coach removed most my carbs & did the old 'fish & lettuce diet' (which I might add, there are much better ways to comp prep) but I was not aware at the time & as mentioned my background was not body building.
At this stage I was looking pretty good, I had a full six pack even at the end of the day, my body was tight & I was at my peak but then with the changes to my diet - my body did not adapt & I actually went backwards. But, I trusted my coach & did whatever he said.
My body started shutting down; if you have read my previous blogs, the helicobacter pylori and the damage to my stomach and digestive system was not in my favour here.
With the food being so strict, I was getting blood noses, cramping, bloating, severe pain, and I found out that my body was not absorbing the nutrition I was putting in including water.
Now, I am not here to blame anyone not even my coach as this is something that we did not foresee and he isn't trained to pick up on this. However, the one thing that broke me, was when my coach turned around and said 'some people, are just not strong enough for this sport'. So, with all my stubbornness - I proceeded to finish what I started, ignoring every single health risk.
Because my body was going backwards, and knowing that in a few weeks or days I would be on stage being judged on how I looked; my mind went.
I was at an all time low of body dysmorphia, I thought I was obese - that I was not good enough for this; but I was so determined at the same time.
The day was finally here and although I didn't think I looked amazing I still went to the day and to be honest I loved every single minute.
*The make up
*The pump up
*Being back stage
*Being on stage
Absolutely, everything - it was so much fun, it reminded me of dancing & for anyone who knows me, knows I love the stage.
I didn't win, I didn't even place & to be honest for me - yer I was a little bummed but I didn't really care. I was happy for the one day and really enjoyed it.
Coming out of a comp there are a few things that I now know I should have received but didn't including a 'reverse diet'. However, not having this isn't the reason I spiraled, the rest is on me.
About 3 weeks after comp and going back to a 'normal diet', I began to find myself being strict on food and then binging. The binging was so bad that I would eat anything and everything for a period of 10-20 minutes.
I gained about 7kg over another period of 3 weeks and found that I would not be seen in public expect for work.
My self worth was at an all time low, and old habits of binging & purging happened a few times within the 3 months. I was so ashamed of myself, I was meant to be a fitness professional who did a bikini comp; but instead I didn't even place and now I was 'fat'. I hated myself, and I believed that all my worth was in how I looked.
My relationship with food was at an all time low & I even lost a few friends along the way as I couldn't bring my head above the darkness of what I was living. Again, now looking back I was still in the basic 8-10 clothing size range and some of my friends just couldn't understand the disease inside my head.
Not to mention my hormones were so out of wack; I had a hospital trip and an ambulance out over night to help me.
Again, I did not realise how sick I was until I had 2 lightbulb moments.
Light bulb one - I was driving home from work and I had not eaten all day, I felt faint & decided to stop at the servo & grab something small to eat. I found a macadamia honey nut bar & ate it.
But, I checked the calories on it & went straight to the gym to match the exact calories on the bar even though I had trained before work & on my lunch break.
Light bulb two - I skipped three 30th birthdays of close friends because I was 'too fat' and couldn't be seen. I then went to one of my close friends 30th's it was a sunny nice afternoon & I went in a huge brown jacket; I was so hot I was sweating & my friends said to take it off but I wouldn't. This is when one of my guy friends finally asked me what was going on.
Talking about it to him was the start of my recovery; I also told my best girlfriend everything from start to finish. She is the reason I am recovered today.
If I can give any advice to anyone who is suffering - it would be to start talking.
I had a disorderly eating disorder - where you would restrict then binge & match workouts to calories. This is just as unhealthy as bulimia or anorexia, it's just that people do not realise these are conditions.
At this stage I regretted everything to do with the competition, I wished for anything to go back to the start of the year and not make the decision to compete. Oh, I forgot to mention I broke both my feet just after and was in 2 moon boots with stress fractures on both feet. I hated training, I hated food and I struggled to even get out of bed.
Writing this now; breaks my heart for the person I was at the time, but I have no regrets going through this process because... I have learnt so much, my research, my experience and my studies have now progressed in hormones, nutrition, exercise, and mindset. I would not be empowering women today if I had not gone through this.
My journey does not stop here.
Stay tuned for Moment Seven.
With Love, Sarah xoxo