By Sarah Radcliff

Following a week of birthday celebrations came a hard week of finals. Following that week of finals came celebratory outings, of course.

All of these events took place after making a personal decision to put a restricted lifestyle on the back burner.

Now, there is a difference between leading a healthy lifestyle without too much restriction, and just completely letting yourself go without "health" being in mind. I'd have to say those couple weeks for me consisted mostly of just simply not caring what the consequences would be from allowing myself to let go of any and all discipline. I was working out less often, and was not allowing nutrition to be the basis of my decisions when it came time to eat.

At that point in time, I was glad I let myself go.

I needed to give my mind a break. There came a point in my life when I realized my relationship with my friends and family was far more important than how I look in the mirror. 

The fitness industry can be tricky.

It is full of perfect pictures that give the illusion of perfect humans who follow perfect diets and never take one step outside of the line of being perfect. That just isn't the case. It's easy to get caught up in the glamorous life people portray on social media and forget that it is okay to want to be healthy, and feel good, without letting numbers such as calories, pant size, ounces of food, etc. dictate either of those. Currently, I'm trying to find that balance between feeling good, and maintaining a healthy mind that isn't constantly worried about what meal my body is going to be fed next.

Through the past few years I have learned so much about my body and how I need to treat it in order to feel my best.

As I type that, I think back to when I competed in my first bodybuilding competition. I was the most confident I have ever been in my appearance. However, I then think about what I went through to look that way. I was irritable, tired, and constantly turned down going out with friends. I had a goal, and I was not going to let anything or anyone get in the way of that goal.

So yes, physically I may have looked my best, but I wasn't a better person for it by any means.

I want a balance between the disciplined lifestyle and the completely "letting go." Allowing myself to eat and drink whatever I wanted for a couple weeks, resulted in me losing motivation to workout, finding excuses to eat more than what I was hungry for, and ultimately a loss of confidence in myself.

I know when I have overdone it, and that was it.

I believe everyone deserves to feel confident in his or her own body. If adding some discipline back in without shutting out everything and everyone else in your life keeps your mind healthy, then do it. I know when I feel good and when I feel good I am motivated to continue setting goals and working towards them.

It's okay to love yourself and want to change at the same time. 

A healthy lifestyle may be something I strive for the rest of my life. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing given I am always growing. I want to learn and teach and help others who are ever struggling with this concept. I recently read a post that really hit home for me;

"the fitness industry is not the health industry."

I hope we can all start to keep this in mind when we are scrolling through those perfect pictures wishing we were somebody we aren't. 



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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