By Sarah Radcliff

It's very easy to share transformation pictures when they're flipped the other way; having your "best" look on the right side, indicating that is the most current look. Recently as I was putting two pictures side by side, comparing my peak fitness picture a year ago to my current physique,

I started thinking "why am I even doing this to myself?"

I then thought back to the way I felt a year ago. I loved that look and I was doing everything I could to keep that look. I confined myself to a life of lean protein and vegetables in a tupperware. I said no to friends, and going anywhere that would put me in a situation where I had to turn down food. I tried to workout twice a day and not a day went by that I wasn't at the gym. I used to think that was dedication. That is what it took to be a "fit girl." That's what all of the girls I followed on Instagram did, so that is what I had to do.

I feared NOT looking the way I did in that picture.

I feared food. I feared drinking. I feared getting invited to go places because I had to eat every 3 hours and it had to be my typical chicken, sweet potato, and broccoli meal. 

I had this idea in my head that I was above people who drank every weekend and ate pizza whenever they wanted. I honestly let myself believe that I was more dedicated, I was harder working, and I knew what it took to REALLY be into fitness. People who didn't follow a perfectly structured meal plan and let other priorities outweigh the gym just "weren't as dedicated."  What a disgusting mentality...

I was so wrong. So incredibly wrong.

You're allowed to love fitness and live your life. You're allowed to want to be strong and feel good and also go out with friends. You're allowed to be a freaking normal human being while also loving the gym. You don't have to compete in a bodybuilding competition just to prove that you workout, and you don't have to eat out of tupperware to claim you're into fitness.  

How you eat and how you train does not make you any better or worse than somebody else who eats or trains differently than you. 

Just as Arianna Dantone (one of my favorite fitspos) said, “if you don't love competing, why would you put yourself through that?” Many people have asked me if I want to compete again. My answer to that has been "I don't know if I love competing, or if my ego loves competing."

I have tried numerous times to diet back down. Each time I've failed.  I just haven't had the desire to put myself through a diet the way I did when I knew a competition was at the other end of the tunnel. I think the more I try to be disciplined and restrictive, the more I negatively affect my relationship with food. I have no desire to "diet" anymore.

However, I do have the desire to find a balanced lifestyle that is sustainable for me.

That's going to look different for me than somebody else, and that's okay. There is no blueprint for this kind of stuff. Tailor a plan to your lifestyle and stay consistent. 

Today, I workout 5-6 times a week. I squat when I feel like squatting and run when I feel like running. I work hard in the gym. Sometimes I track macros, sometimes I don't. I don't say no to going out to eat with friends, and if an opportunity comes along that sounds better than the gym, I take it. I am working everyday to gain a healthier relationship with food and with myself. It's the hardest thing I've ever done, but I have yet to give up. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SARAH RADCLIFF

Sarah attends Kent State University and has a passion for health and fitness. She is currently studying nutrition in hopes to become a Registered Dietitian. Sarah keeps a blog, where she expresses her experiences competing in a bodybuilding, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying fit, while also balancing all that comes with being a college student. With her posts, Sarah hopes to reach out to other individuals like her who are striving to be healthy and happy in their own bodies. She believes it is okay to love yourself and want to better yourself at the same time. 

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