My whole life I have been an extreme, self-competitive, driven, determined, structured, type A individual who can get deep into something I put my heart into. This is great for accomplishing things and with being a former national level figure competitor in bodybuilding, this was great for succeeding in the sport but I didn’t realize I had a lot of healing to do and competing only pushed me further away from myself. Bodybuilding is not to blame, I still love following the sport and love seeing my friends achieve their personal goals with it. I believe that determined mindset is also why I did so well. When I did well and kept improving each show, I was rewarded with my own competitive stage goals, that made me love the stage even more, creating a vicious cycle and an unrealistic expectation of myself in the “off season”. Being so lean on stage created a sense that when not competing and wanting results I felt like…
“I have to do hours of cardio”
“I have to eat the same foods and restrict calories to the extreme.”
“I have to be a slave to the gym.”
This mentality also cycled into…
Feeling like a prisoner to food
Never feeling good enough
You don’t have to compete to know this cycle. I do believe there are many competitors and non-competitors who have the same mindset and suffer mentally, physically and emotionally from the years of an extreme mindset that causes a multitude of issues that affect wellness. There are so many people feeling this way, but it isn’t talked about because so many do not want to appear “weak”. What I didn’t realize during this rabbit hole I was in, was that these qualities were reactions of feeling out of control of my life, imbalanced, insecurities, past emotional issues and not truly loving myself. That is not weak, that is a serious issue that needs addressed. I hope by speaking about my own journey, it will encourage others silently dealing with the same feelings, to help themselves out of this situation.
I have friends who are competitors and non-competitors who understand this mental state, who have asked me “how did you change that extreme mindset and heal yourself from it because I don’t know how to change?” Everyone’s situation is different and healing looks different for everyone, but these are the first steps I took that started my journey of healing myself.
- I started making decisions for my wellbeing.
These decisions look differently for everyone, but I would challenge you to ask yourself, “what is holding me back from being my best self? What is it that is bringing me down?”. After some big realizations, I decided to quit competing and left a toxic relationship. These two decisions were the very first steps to improving my overall wellness and honestly were necessary to my health. My body was so exhausted and needed time to heal from the hormonal damage of extreme dieting for so long. I knew I needed to make decisions that put me in a less anxious, less volatile environment. I needed to focus on me and my mental, physical and emotional well-being.
- I hired a coach I trusted.
I hired a coach who helped me come up with a meal and cardio plan. I know what you’re thinking, “How could this be helpful, wouldn’t this put you back into the same situation?” No, this was necessary because if I made my own plan at that time, I would have made things worse. I needed someone to get me started in the right direction and someone that was knowledgeable and knew what they were doing. I was eating the right macros for my body, I was feeling full, I liked the food I was eating and also felt like I had someone who cared about the state of my body, mentally and physically. This helped me get to a point that I could rely on myself and my own awareness which is something I could never do before.
- I started listening to my body.
Being on a wholesome, balanced plan sparked enough confidence to start listening to my body, paying attention to my needs and truly taking care of myself. We know our bodies better than anyone but a lot of times we ignore important signs and wait until it’s out of hand. We can prevent a lot of issues just by living more intuitively, quieting the outside noises and extrinsic pressures, and really being real with ourselves.
- I started exercising for enjoyment.
I stopped exercising for a competition and started training for fun. I stopped punishing my body with exercise and instead rewarded it with exercise. That was a part of breaking that obsessive habit of only training the way I needed to for the stage and to please judges. I focused on what I liked to do and what made me keep going back. Exploring different kinds of exercise empowered me to break free of the obsessive-compulsive part of my mentality, while maintaining the benefits of aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
- I stopped comparing myself to others.
There is nothing wrong in wanting to improve things about yourself while loving yourself and the process. It becomes negative and the opposite of loving yourself when you compare yourself to others. This is so crucial in our world of social media. Social media is a highlight reel of someone’s life, so you can’t compare your challenges to their best. There is so much behind the scenes that we don’t see and who knows where they are in their journey of life. No one is you and that is a beautiful thing to celebrate.
Healing and changing the way you think is challenging but staying in a toxic mindset is even harder. Time will pass anyway so always prioritize your own happiness and see what unfolds. These 5 steps that started my own journey to a healthy and happy mindset inspired many positive things in my life. I married someone who brings even more joy to my life, I got certified in personal training, fitness nutrition, and Holistic Life Coaching, created The Balancebuilding Philosophy based on my own personal journey, that has helped so many struggling individuals become blissfully balanced as well and most of all I have found my own internal peace and love for myself. If you are someone who struggles with finding a balance with personal goals, health, wellness, loved ones, and/or life in general, start with step one, be real with yourself, and start making decisions to better your well-being. Positive decisions create positive outcomes.
Peace, Love, and Positivity,