Not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough, not enough…
My life was full of fear, insecurities, self-abuse, depression, ambiguity, you name it. I was a miserably unhappy person.
Today, I am proud to say that I have a deep love for myself, confidence, strength and so much more. I am full of life and happy to be alive.
I am…Rachel and this is My Story:
For many years, I struggled with the value of self-worth and how I saw myself compared to others. I never felt I belonged, pretty enough, smart enough, good enough, simply put, I was NOT enough. I was always seeking perfection only to find that I was chasing an illusion I had created in my mind. I was never happy with myself, physically and mentally. I constantly felt judged, criticized, and alone. I thought that was how everyone saw me, through my own eyes. I had developed a warped sense of false identity and began to believe everything I told myself, lies.
To me, I believed perfection was what I had seen in magazines and what the media displayed. This lead me to have issues with my weight and at times, I took drastic measures. I was trying so hard to look a certain way and I felt lost, hurt and miserable.
In 2011, I joined a gym and decided I would compete in my first bodybuilding/fitness competition in spring of 2012. I did just that, I set a goal, I accomplished it and…hated every bit of it. Why? Simply because I did not like myself. I couldn’t accept who I was becoming because I did not deserve it. The athletes I looked up to were my idea of perfection, just look at their bodies! I followed a meal plan to a T and was so afraid of failing that I gave up my social life. I was afraid that one mistake would set me back and all my efforts would be negated. In fact, I did not cheat once. I was that committed and determined to give 100%. Once again, I was miserable. The physical pain and emotional struggles I endured just to look a certain way. I thought, why was it so easy for everyone else?
Over the course of my prep, I was changing physically by losing weight and fat and building muscle, however, I did not make the mental changes. I thought that would come once I saw how great I was looking, the weight I was losing, the number on the scale, or how perfect I ate. That mind shift never happened. I failed, it just wasn’t enough.
The whole process was so stressful. I was over training my body to the point that I unknowingly had ruptured my L5-S1 disc. I was pushing myself so hard for something I thought the judges would like and accept. I was chasing validation from people who had never met me. This was a competition and I did not place. In hindsight, I deserved not to place because I was not ready. My body developed but my mindset never did. The judges didn’t know me, they didn’t know my story. They didn’t care, this was my journey, my struggle. How could I expect others to see the value in me when I never valued myself?
After the competition, I was a wreck, emotionally and physically. I had gained a total of 25lbs and was in so much pain from my back injury . After I had exhausted all medical options, I had surgery. I was so scared! The surgery was a success and relieved the sciatic pain instantly and for the first time in months, I was feeling optimistic about my recovery and recouping my body. I was afraid people would look at me and judge me again for not meeting the exceptions of the bikini body I once had.
When I started my physical therapy, they told me I would never be able to lift weights and strength train the way I had. I felt crushed, just devastated! I lost everything, my reputation, my body, my back and now my love of fitness. I went into depression and felt no one would understand or could even relate. My mind became so cluttered with negative thoughts and I felt hopeless, alone and scared.
I slowly regained my strength and started training again but didn’t know where to begin due to my limitations. Everything I used to love, I was no longer able to do, per doctor’s orders. I was afraid of re-injuring my back that I became so over protective and believed everything they told me. No, Don’t, Can’t!
I was overwhelmed with so many emotions, trying to chase the ideal life of perfection and happiness. I felt like a failure no matter how hard I tried. I played the Victim and Judge for many years and once I realized it, I was the only one holding me back.
I let my limited beliefs stop me from being who I was born to be, the person I am today. I lived in a world ruled by fear, guilt, hate and failure. The pain I felt everyday and the abuse I put myself through became so much that I had finally hit my breaking point. I needed to make some serious life changes: personally, professionally and spiritually. That is exactly what I did!
I sought help where my spirit was most crushed and hired a fitness coach and it was the best thing I ever did. By doing so, it cut the learning curve and provided me a path of structure and balance. Once my fitness/personal journey was in place, I sought help in my professional career. I never lost, questioned or doubted my faith throughout my struggles. The struggles were my stepping stones to something bigger and greater. I continue to strengthen and grow every day physically, professionally and spiritually.
Where focus goes, energy flows. I focused on turning my fears into love and pushed through the obstacles. Once I started to see progress, mentally and physically, it became an addiction, a way of life and there’s no reason to ever go back. I made that major mindset change and everything started to fall into place. I have been able to rebuild myself from the inside out. I have never felt more alive, confident and self-love than I do now. I am far from where I want to be, but I am even further from where I started. This is a journey and I am ready for all challenges that await. Every day I strive for progress, not perfection. I know that I am perfectly imperfect and most of all, I am Enough.
Today, I can honestly say I have found true peace and happiness. I am content with where I am; grateful for all I have, struggles and all. My passion for fitness has evolved and I have found a new love for strength training, yoga and meditation. They have given me strength and mental clarity and I cannot wait for what the future holds.
Through my own experiences, I have realized that I am not alone. There are many people who have and are going through their own life struggles and this has inspired me to create my fitness and apparel line, I am… Athletics.
I am… Athletics is a unique representation of who you truly are. Let go of your limiting beliefs, redefine who you are and Create your own Story. I hope you too, can be inspired and empowered by my story, as well as your own.
This is my journey. This is me. This is my Story.
What is your story?