Then and now

23 Jun Then and now

It took me 13 weeks to achieve the body on the left. It has taking me every day since October 17th, 2014 to accept the body on the right, to accept my body, to accept myself.

Before I competed, I honestly didn’t think much about body image or had insecurities the way that I do present day. It’s mind boggling to me every single day about how hard it is to be self accepting of my body. Some days I don’t have a care in the world, some days I pick at myself- literally, I grab parts of my body. Do I wish I never competed? No. Even though it’s been hard on me, I am honestly thankful for the experience because I have learned so much about myself, body image, health, perception and so much more.

Competing and fitness blew up the same time that social media blew up. I felt that in 2014 and 2015 there was such a big frenzy over competing and fitness began to become an “in” thing due to social media. It is true that being active and healthy is a lifestyle- however with the power of social media it became the it thing to do. To always post about what we’re working out on, progress photos, our food, etc etc. When I was working my mortgage job, I would surf the web (because I was so bored being there. Lol) and the first time I came across body building bikini competition was in 2013. In 2014 after acquiring my personal training certification, I still had the thought of competing lingering in my mind so I thought why the hell not and just did it.

For those 13 weeks I was fully committed to the plan, I worked out twice a day every day and was on a super strict diet. I didn’t realize it but I was obsessed with working out and that’s all I did. There was no balance in my life whatsoever because I was so committed to this goal. At that time I honestly didn’t realize how much damage I was doing to myself because no one told me the cons of competing. I wasn’t prepared for the mental and emotional toll that it would take on me, I had to learn the hard way by myself. There is a 32lb difference between the two photos. I’ve learned prior to competing that the number on the scale does not define my self worth, however the way I viewed my body changed and I was extremely hard on myself. I remember a month after competing, I felt so miserable because I kept viewing myself as big. Looking back at photos during that time period, I was fine- my body simply went back to pre-competing.

Since my last show, I’ve been learning a lot about having a positive body image towards not only myself but to every body type. During the time I was competing and into body building, I was honestly obsessed with muscles, getting bigger and having a hard look. It’s crazy for me to think about how consumed I was at one point. Not only did I see how consumed I was but I saw how social media portrayed it as the “ideal” body type. All of these “fitspos” with shredded bodies promoting a healthy lifestyle, when in reality the things to achieve that body was no where close to healthy not only physically but mentally and emotionally. I got tired of how much time I was spending trying to fit an image and tired of these pages that I knew were bullshitting. I started to work on myself again but this time I started from within. Changing how I looked on the outside would be easy, working out is easy but learning to be happy about my body and myself from within is the hard part. I began spending time outside of the gym and stopped dieting because eating tilapia and asparagus over and over again was not for me. I stopped following social media pages who only promoted being shredded as “fit” and as a “lifestyle”. I stopped being hard on myself for wanting to eat foods that I enjoyed. I stopped letting this whole fitness frenzy consume me. I started to have fun again, I started to hang out with my family and friends, I simply lived again and it felt so damn good.

Some people are going to look at the left photo and think that it is the ideal body. Some people are going to look at the right photo and think that I let myself go. Some people may think the left photo is gross, some people may think the right photo is gross. What do I think? I think that these are two different body types and mentalities that I have gone through. I can truthfully say that I am much healthier and happier these days with my present body- and that is all that matters and what I constantly remind myself. Change is never easy and especially when it comes to one’s body image but I am working on it every single day not only for myself but for my family, friends, clients, future daughter (if I have a girl) and for all women. It is not easy putting myself out there for the entire world to view but I know that there is a young woman somewhere out there who is going through the same exact situation and I want her to know it will be okay.

Love and accept yourself from within first..and the rest will follow.

Anne Phung