The first place medal was placed around my neck, the crowd cheered, I ate a burger and drank champagne, and just like that show day was over.  For two years I envisioned that day. I worked harder than I ever had before; eating chicken breast after chicken breast and training a minimum of one and half hours every day.  I made a decision to put the work in.  I transformed myself physically, mentally and emotionally.  I adapted new habits, habits that I was consistent with and that yielded the results I wanted.  

Then I woke up the next day feeling lost.  Those days turned into weeks and the weeks quickly to months.  I didn’t take the necessary time to acknowledge what I had accomplished and overcome, and I slowly slid into a place of uncertainty. A place I spent far too long in, feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, before realizing that it was just another part of my journey.  

The truth is I only knew two ways of existing with food.  The new way which was super restrictive (no gluten, no sugar, no dairy) and involved me tracking every piece of food that entered my body, as well as preparing all of my meals in advance.  And the old way; which consisted of heavily processed sugary foods and take out, binge eating with all the guilt and shame.  Both ways are extreme and land on opposite ends of the spectrum, and I wouldn’t classify either one as healthy.

As strong as my intentions were to reverse diet (slowly add foods back into my diet that I’d omitted) and find a balance right after my show, it didn’t happen.  It didn’t happen because how could it? I had no idea what that was supposed to look like, or feel like.  My weight crept up from my stage weight and I struggled to not let that define me.  

Then a shift happened.  I was reminded that my struggle was normal and that I hadn’t failed but just took a little break.  I’ve hit the reset button and have been working to slow down and continue to work on the emotional piece, which without a doubt goes hand in hand with fitness and nutrition. 

This part of my journey has by far been the hardest part.  I’ve been an emotional eater most of my life, that is something that will take a bit more time to work through.  But I will without a doubt work through it and find my ‘normal’.  Old habits truly do die hard, but I’ll fight harder because giving up has never been an option for me.