Not the typical “before” and “after” shots, right? You might have looked at these photos and wondered if they were in the wrong order. But no – for me, the photos are in exactly the right order.
The “before” picture documents one of the reasons that I ended up here at FM as a client. Just five years after I competed in Figure (a type of body-building competition that focuses on muscular definition rather than size), I found myself 50 pounds heavier than my competition weight and struggling with a binge eating disorder that resulted from my severely restrictive competition diet. I was overwhelmed and searching for a healthy balance that continually eluded me.
During the two years that I competed, it must have seemed to others that I had it all: a bikini-ready body, a wonderfully supportive husband, and three healthy kids. Things looked good on the outside.
Unfortunately, living up to media-driven ideals had me putting things in the wrong order. My bikini-ready body was my first priority, and my focus on diet was all encompassing. Social isolation became the name of the game, because it was easier to stay home than it was to go out and politely decline everything that was offered. The photos of me from that time in my life are all “of me” – no family pictures, no pictures of me in social settings. I may have looked great, but I had no balance in my life.
Fast forward to the “after” shot: a family picture of me with my husband and son taken a few weeks ago in Seattle. Choosing this photo as my “after” picture was deliberate, for several reasons:
- It is afamily
- It is a photo of us traveling.
- It is a head
To me, this “after” photo represents balance, love, relationships, and joy – despite the fact that I weigh 25 pounds more than I did in the “before” picture.
Part of the learning for me during this journey has been to recognize that I am an “all-or-nothing” thinker. I am either all in or all out. In my quest for the “perfect” body, I rode the body image pendulum from one side to the other: dieting my way to bikini ready and then, in response to restrictive dieting, bingeing my way back to the “dark” side. The realization I have come to is that my best life is lived somewhere in the middle. My best life includes family, loved ones, social get-togethers, and the occasional cheese fondue!
What does your best life look like? Here’s to finding your balance, which though different from everyone else’s, will work for you because you created it that way!