By Sarah Radcliff
The past 3 years have been a tremendous journey for me. After competing in a bodybuilding competition in 2015, I fell into a dark place. Bodybuilding is an extreme of fitness. I was taught how to be an extremist and that when you have a goal, you let absolutely nothing get in the way. However, nobody prepared me for when life got in the way. During my prep for my competition, I got really good at cutting out foods I couldn’t eat, social events, alcohol, my friends, and my family.
I was 100% dedicated to MYSELF.
I trained my mind to see the good in what I was doing, and the bad in the rest of the world. After my competition was over, I did not know how to re-adjust to reality. I continued to live the lifestyle I had taught myself was the only way to live, and I continued to avoid food, events, family, and friends. What I didn’t realize was that I no longer had to be an extremist. My competition was over; I was allowed to be a normal 20-year-old again.
I have slowly but surely gained my life back. I have accepted that the way competitive bodybuilders and athletes look, is not the norm. I have accepted that I love going out to eat, I love being out with my friends and enjoying drinks on a Friday night.
I have learned that one day out of the gym won’t make me a lesser person.
I have learned how to balance all of the different aspects of my life, because I learned how to prioritize. While my fitness goals will always be a priority of mine, they will no longer dominate my thoughts and feelings. There are days when a night out with my girls is far more important than getting to the gym the next morning. Going out to dinner with my boyfriend is 100% worth “falling off the wagon” sometimes. I don’t consider these moments “slip-ups” anymore. They are simply me living my life and being a human.
Throughout this journey, I have learned how to love myself. Of course, I have my bad days, but they are much farther apart than they used to be. I will take having a bad body image day every now and then over a life of food scales and stressful calorie counting any day.
Disassociating the way I look from my health has brought me so much peace.
I have been able to focus on the quality of my diet, as opposed to obsessing over the quantity of food I am eating. I find it ironic that I have become a healthier person by not obsessing over being a healthy person. I am very grateful to have gotten to this point in my life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah has grown up with a passion for health and fitness and is now studying nutrition in hopes to become a Registered Dietitian following graduation. Sarah keeps a blog at livingfitstronghealthy.blogspot.com, where she expresses her experiences competing in a bodybuilding competition, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying fit, while also balancing all that comes with being a college student. Sarah is also a singer in a country band, Post Road., a local country band that plays around Cleveland, Willoughby, and Westlake.
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.