10 things I learned from my bikini competitions Like 0 Twitter Megan von Kolnitz Follow July 3, 2016, 5:33 p.m. in Life and Styles Views: 832 Like us on facebook 1- FOOD IS FUEL without proper and adequate nutrition your body changes, and not in a good way. sure you get to look super lean & ripped but you do NOT feel great. mentally it is exhausting and can have some serious side effects depending on the person. 2- LOSING WEIGHT DOES NOT SOLVE BODY IMAGE ISSUES this one speaks for itself. sure you might feel more confident after dropping a few pounds but if you're not happy with your body to begin with, losing weight is not the way to solve that issue. it's not a magic fix to make you happy, anyone who thinks that will never truly be happy in their skin. 3- LIFE IS ABOUT BALANCE competition prep can be extremely isolating and sad. spending hours in the gym, hours in the kitchen. skipping out on family dinners, missing fun events and not making memories. all because life revolve around food or because you are too busy with gym/meal prep to enjoy regular life. it takes a toll on your social life and relationships with family and friends. 4- MENTAL HEALTH > PHYSICAL APPEARANCE just because someone looks super healthy and fit DOES NOT mean they feel that way. in fact, for me, it sometimes felt like the complete opposite; especially towards the end. for someone with diagnosed anxiety I think it was risky to participate in something that can become so addictive/controlling so quickly. I strongly urge anyone who is considering competing to make sure their mental health is fully in check beforehand. 5- SELF LOVE IS HARD/STOP COMPARING YOURSELF It's easy to say "love your body" "you're perfect the way you are" "everybody is beautiful" but truly believing it? well that's a different story. before starting this journey I never confronted my body image issues, I just brushed them off assuming it was normal for most girls to dislike their body. and while that might be true, I no longer want to be one of those girls. I want to embrace my body at ANY size it chooses to be (which is not stage weight or 12% bod fat). sure I want to be healthy, be active and fit but a number on a scale or body fat percentage shouldn't be the end all be all of my body worth. just because the girl next to me is 15% body fat and loves herself doesn't mean I need to be that way to love myself. we as women need to embrace ourselves and each other to celebrate healthy bodies of ALL sizes. instead of comparing we should appreciate each other's beauty without belittling our own. we are so much more than our bodies. 6- SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE TOXIC sure following some "fitspiration" and "healthy eating" accounts might seem harmless at first, but for someone like me it became obsessive (see #5). it's easy to get caught up in the fakeness of social media and begin to compare your life with everyone else's "highlight reel" of social media. I have gone through and purged a lot of my followers so that now I only allow fitness/health accounts of they promote body positivity and embrace the healthy lifestyle I can appreciate. 7- EATING DISORDERS ARE COMMON In the fitness/physique industry disordered eating and eating disorders are EXTREMELY common. but here's the thing, it's hidden by the "healthy" outward appearance. how can someone eating such healthy, clean, balanced foods be unhealthy? when food becomes obsessive and restrictive (even if you're not in a calorie deficit) it can quickly become disordered eating. especially in female fitness competitors the push to be leaner and leaner has people ignoring the mental illness because of the outward physical appearance of perfect health. in fact it's basically considered normal to have eating habits that resemble disordered eating during competition prep. now I'm not by any means nsaying all competitors suffer with this but I'm just saying that it can be very prevalent. anyone who is in this fitness world will agree there is a huge emphasis on food. 8- EVERYBODY IS DIFFERENT whether you follow IIFYM, bro diet, paleo, keto, or whatever is up to you. everyone's body responds differently. and everyone's MIND responds differently. some girls thrive off of the structure of a set meal plan, others love the flexibility of macro counting. some people look better on low carb high fat and some look better with more carb less fat. the point is that everyone is different and you should make SURE your coach has your physical and mental preferences in mind when preparing you for a competition. don't settle for a coach who doesn't make you feel 100% confident in your plan and approach. 9- PHYSICAL APPEARANCE IS TOO HIGHLY EMPHASIZED IN OUR SOCIETY even though I already knew this being a somewhat attractive 20 something year old, I realized this even more after I cut some of my body fat. I was getting so much positive feedback. people were so curious how I got so thin and how they could imitate me. it was addicting. but guess what? I was still unhappy and self conscious of my body. but the positive feedback from society drove me to diet down even further and get even smaller. which in turn had some bad side effects mentally and physically. and guess what? that still hasn't made me happier, it hasn't made me more relevant in the world. your worth should NEVER be determined by a number on a scale or percentage of body fat. 10- ITS OKAY TO NOT BE PERFECT as someone who suffers with anxiety/depression I am constantly seeking perfection. I always want to do my best, be my best and if I can't do it perfect I don't want it at all. this mentality can be very damaging especially when it becomes extreme (as in the case with restrictive/extreme dieting and over obsessive exercise). it's almost as if my anxiety to be perfect pushes me to unhealthy tendencies. this experience has taught me that I need to sometimes step back, breathe, and realized it's okay to not do something 100% and still do it! healthy life needs to be sustainable (see #3) and that means balancing physical, mental emotional, social and spiritual health. I'm learning to embrace not everything can be perfect all the time and that's okay. xo mvkayy Published by Megan von Kolnitz Share Mail Messenger Twitter Pinterest Linkedin Comments Related Article Life and Styles DEAR WOMEN Life and Styles Escape from the BS Life and Styles It Is Still August Right?