I was so happy and excited when Madelyn Moon contacted me about collaborating. She has a blog called Mind, Body, Musings, and today she’s on sharing about her story and her mission.
When I was growing up in high school, I discovered vegetarianism. It started out as an ethical cause, helping the planet and whatnot, but soon (with my type-a and all-or-nothing attitude) I took it to the extremes. It turned into a weight management diet as I glided into college at the University of Arkansas. Around this time, I also discovered the treadmill. One night I had stayed up way passed my bedtime studying for an exam and after hours of endless cramming, I decided to push my body even further and go for a run. I ended up running to the gym and then running on the gym’s treadmill…for a full hour (7 miles). Proud of my new accomplishment, I made this a new standard for myself and decided I had to run a full hour on the treadmill every day or I “didn’t really get a workout in.”
After my knees became too much for me to handle, I decided I needed to put away the running shoes and pick up something new. I started eating meat and lifting weights, which is a very healthy well-rounded approach to life. But with my personality, of course, I had to take it to the next level. I ended up signing up for my first fitness competition in Austin, TX, after I transferred to the University of Austin Texas. I had one meal plan for 4 months. No, not one meal plan at a time, but one meal plan the whole time. That’s 4 months of eating the same exact thing, not a blueberry more or a bell pepper less. I ended up losing 15 lbs, my period and my social life. I placed okay, but not high enough for my satisfaction, and so I eventually signed up for another show.
I do not regret that second competition. Why? Because the day of the show, I could finally understand what was important in life and what was not. Being judged by a handful of strangers was not on my priority list anymore. The judges don’t know my heart, don’t know my passions, and simply don’t know me. It’s hard enough to be judged in a world full of strangers without asking, but it’s even harder to stand up on a flashy stage in two inches of clothing next to completely different body shapes, and be told that one is better than yours. Or be told “that body part” isn’t symmetrical or full enough. It’s brutal. And I knew it. I finally realized my body is perfect and beautiful and unique. These strangers telling me otherwise no longer mattered to me because I didn’t need approval from anyone else anymore. I was free. After that competition, I moved to Boulder, Colorado and adopted the most amazing puppy I ever could have asked for. Together, we have explored the beautiful mountains, slept in late on weekend mornings and took long breaks from social media to snuggle instead.
Soon enough, I started the Mind Body Musings podcast. I love sharing my fitness modeling and competition stories with people so that they can hear, from a real life person, the pitfalls of having a lean and “perfect” body. It’s not always great. At certain levels of leanness, it’s damaging. I’m not saying it doesn’t work for some people,
I feel that once we learn to release the desire to control every inch of our body and lives, we can truly explore our potential. Once we see the beauty in our own “imperfections,” we release our insecurities and unrealistic expectations. Finding gratitude and joy in every day things is also a part of this process. Learning to compliment other women and men, instead of looking for their flaws, acts as a gateway “drug” to joy and self-acceptance. Getting rid of superficial ideals and self-sabotaging thoughts is the only way to fully experience life in all its awkwardness. We are humans. Not gods. We need to learn to build each other up and experience the awesomeness of being human together.