Fall seven times. Get up eight.

I call this the Cadbury Egg Story. I have been through my share of struggles in my lifetime, including childbirth, miscarriage, chronic physical pain, eating disorders, and divorce, so I am not about to put contest prep on those levels, but it is its own type of struggle both physically and mentally. My first show was April 5, 2014. I did all my own prep and was working 4-6 hours a day for a private cleaning company. For those of you who’ve never done that, cleaning houses is a very fast paced physically demanding job. Well, Friday’s were always our longest days as a lot of these people¬†wanted their houses tidy for weekend parties. Two weeks before my show, in anticipation of a lovely post contest food celebration, I had taken Anna (my daughter) to Wallgreens and had purchased no less than $35 worth of easter candy. My absolute favorite holiday, possibly only because of the amazing limited edition candy assortment. The Friday, one week out from my show, I went into work. We had two houses on the schedule and being at about 7% bodyfat I was barely running. We were scheduled to be done around 2:00pm. At 1:00 our boss called us and told us another huge house was to be added onto the schedule last minute and I had no choice but to work. Five hours of house cleaning cardio in and me without an extra meal because I’d expected to be done at 2:00 I completely lost it while vacuuming, quietly crying feeling like I was going to die…we drove to the next house. It was almost 6pm by the time we finished and I got home and when I did, I dove into my stashed box of Easter candy eating 4 Cadbury cream eggs in a matter of minutes and God only know what else!!! I laid on my bed in a carb-induced coma hoping to fall asleep, completely exhausted, but unable to as all the sugar made my body feel like it was on fire. I think I took a benedryl and finally passed out.

I woke in the late morning and headed to the gym. When I saw my best friend I had a complete meltdown. I was sure I had ruined my prep. I was sure I was going to look like a cow in a bathing suit, and I was sure I’d undid all my 10 weeks of prior dieting. She hugged me and reassured me it has happened to everyone and that it probably would end up in my favor, and that my body obviously needed the extra calories (albeit I could have maybe chose healthier ones, but still) it was going to be ok. And it was. I looked very good for my first show. I won even though there weren’t a lot of competitors, and I learned a ton. Mainly three things: 1. You will not undo what you’ve worked on for months in one day, any more than one day of eating well and exercising will get you your dream body. 2. Your body is amazing and if you listen to it, and learn to listen to it, it is constantly speaking to you and often we misinterpret it, but we can learn to read it and all its clues and triggers as to what it needs. 3. Even if I hadn’t had that excessively physical day and I was just trying to diet and lose weight and messed up, it still would be ok because mistakes don’t make you bad they mean you are human. That third thing, that’s the difference between someone with an eating disorder and someone with a normal relationship with food. And that’s the difference with me now. There’s no guilt or shame in when, where, how, or why I eat. I just try to use food as fuel most of the time, and pleasure some of the time. And the best part is, you have so many chances each day to practice this and get it right. This, my friends, is called living.