I want talk about "healthy" that may mean something else to me than it does to you or the next person. Healthy is a term that changes and adapts with us as we grow. In this day and age more and more people are striving to be healthy and there are countless ways to go about it. Some happen to be the wrong way. I want to inform you of where my "healthy" started, how it's changed, and where it is now. Decided 3 years ago I needed to change my lifestyle. I had been ‘chubby’ most of my life and my health has yo-yoed with Crohn’s disease and a pregnancy. From 17-19 I was eating pints of ice cream, lots of junk food, binge drinking, emotionally unstable, and didn't even know what the inside of a gym looked like. Something had to change. So I started where a lot of people start. I bought running shoes and started going to the gym. I just started running. I chose to push myself for time and speed every time. I also stopped eating crap. I had little understanding of nutrition but it's not to hard to know that I should stop eating brownies and ice cream in bed. I wanted to be healthy: to feel good, have more energy, and feel good about myself. I did exactly that for a year. I had balance. I lived a normal life. I had good grades, energy, and I all around felt good about myself. I got more comfortable with the gym and started having a little bit more and though school gained more of an understanding of nutrition. At this point I decided I wanted to push myself to see what I was capable of. I didn't have the slightest idea of what I was about to open my life up to. My first prep was short and didn't seem too tough. My metabolism was great as well. I ate the typical restricted bodybuilder Tupperware type diet. The first prep went well so I thought. Then you hit post show and your just like FOOD! You binge eat like a crazy person and tell yourself you earned it, at least that's what I did. I gained weight very quick and was very critical of my body, more than I ever have been. So what did I do? I was like okay I'll just start prepping for another show. I will stick to my meal plan and get back on track. But it wasn't that easy. I wasn't progressing like I was the first time. I started constantly stressing about food: when to eat, if I was eating just the right amount at the right time, and god forbids eating something not in my diet. Food guilt became a real thing. I made it through my second show and pretty much did the same exact thing. It's hard to actually understand what was happening at that moment I wasn't even aware what was happening. I hopped back on a "prep" and was going to try and stick to my diet and busy my as to "be better than I ever have been". I didn’t have the metabolism I used to and I mentally was not in a good spot. A few weeks out from my show something snapped. I wasn't happy with my body, I was miserable with my diet and my workouts and so stressed. Not to mention my grades in school. Something literally snapped inside me, I lost it. I was binge eating blindly. It's almost like if black out then be like holy shit what just happened. Well that kept happening in the weeks before my show (I obviously wasn't going to do well in). Before I knew what was happening I had a full-blown eating disorder. I was bulimic and no one knew, hell I even wasn’t aware what was happening. After my show I was so lost. Didn't know whom to turn to and I didn't know how to help myself. This continued for months and I knew I was in denial. I needed help. So I finally reached out to two of my closest fitness friends, Krissy being one of them. I was desperate to feel better about myself and fix my relationship and stop hating my relationship with food. I know I needed to get back on track somehow. I didn't want to not compete. I love being on stage despite all the shit behind it. I got back on a comp diet and told myself to allow myself cheats and be more relaxed and not stressed. That went okay for a little while but I still would feel so guilty about food. My eating disorder was just getting worse and I had no control. The opportunity to go to Europe arose and I decided this would be my chance to change things. To take control and get my life back together. To get healthy: to regain mental health and balance in all aspects of my life. Before I left for Europe I was lifting as heavy as I could as often as a could as an outlet for all of my frustration. Leaving for Europe was the best thing I could have possibly done with my life. It was hard at first but I made a promise to myself that no matter how hard it was I wouldn't throw up not in Europe not ever again. I wouldn't feel guilty for food and I was just going to life my life. So what if I gained a few lbs. I also stayed off a lot of Instagram accounts that made me feel like I should compare my body to someone else’s. I just focused on me and being happy. That's exactly what I did. Was I eating what most would consider a healthy diet? No. It was healthy for me though. I didn't beat myself up over food or not making it to the gym. I was just living my life like I used to before I felt like I had to be 'fit'. I found that I could be happy with myself abs or not. Eating pizza or a salad. I did a lot of research on flexible dieting and macros while I was gone and a little before I left. I decided if there was any way I was going to keep my healthy that's what I would do. I let myself get back to normal for 2 weeks when I got home and knew I could do it. I started my calories nice and high with no restrictions on any food. Since then I've been able to slowly introduce "trigger foods" back into my diet without major problems. Do I struggle every so often? Of course I do. It's not something that just goes away. I've struggled with self-harm since I was young. I never thought it would ever rear its ugly head in my life again especially when I was living a "healthy" life. It's something I will continue to grow past and move on from. The more I learn about eating disorders, fueling my body, nutrition, and lifting the more I want to be better every day. I'm not perfect but I will strive to be better every day. I will live my life and stay healthy, not to be fit not for the next competition, but for life, mentally and physically. Eating disorders run ramped in the fitness industry and its something that people need to be conscious of. I want people to be aware that life is never going to be a cakewalk. You will probably get your ass kicked a time or two and have to start over and re build. Remember above all to love yourself at every size or shape. Don’t let a competition, a magazine, or even a stranger tell you you have to look some way. Eat for your goals and train your hardest, for your mental and physical health.