Thursday, April 11, 2013

When is FIT NOT HEALTHY?

If I asked you: "Do you want to be healthy?" you probably make up your mind without skipping a beat and answer,  "Yes." Not healthy is no fun; just remember the last time you were home with a stomach flu. Sick = Sucky. 

If I asked you: "Do you want to be in great shape? To look fit?" I would hazard to guess the answer would again be, without hardly thinking, "Yes." Granted, some people do not want to be in great shape more than they want to party, to eat as much as they want of what they want, to drink $5 lattes, or to avoid all physical exertion... but they DO want to be in shape too. 

If I asked you: "Which is more important: to be healthy, or to be in great shape?" you might have to think a bit longer ... Wait, aren't those basically the same thing? Mutually inclusive at least? Related? Isn't a fit, attractive, slim, toned body merely the physical manifestation and effect of a healthy lifestyle? And if so, doesn't being in great shape necessitate and therefore include being healthy? It seems so silly to question whether one would rather prefer health or to be in great shape. Doesn't fitness cause health, and doesn't health encourage fitness? Like so: 

HEALTH <--> FITNESS

NO. You are right to think that fitness follows, and is encouraged by, being healthy... but the question: "Which is more important - to be healthy, or to be in great shape?" isn't silly, and it is not a stupid question! In fact, it is no laughing matter the lengths I have seen many people go to, myself most definitely included, to GAIN the physical appearance of a fit body at the COST of health. It is entirely possible, and by definition extremely unhealthy, to achieve the look of a fit body without possessing what should be the root cause of fitness: your health. 

Your health is really a sum of three parts: 
(1) A healthy mind 
(2) A healthy body
(3) A healthy spirit 


Without ANY of the three parts, the sum is incomplete and you are, by definition, unhealthy. The lack of wellness, 'sickness,' in one of the three creates an unhealthy condition in the whole person!

Sadly - there is a dark and vile lie that has infected the minds of many on their quest for health - but has NOTHING TO DO WITH HEALTH! In women especially, the lie reads like this: 
LIE:
"My physical appearance can, should, 
must be improved...at any cost."

This is where the kind of should-be-used-for-good mantras:

"no pain no gain," 
"if it hurts, it's working," 
"suck it up cupcake," 
"suffer now, reap the results later" 

... all snowball into a self-centered, self-condemning, self-destructing prophesy of extreme measures so you can just look in shape! No health required. 




Ladies and gentlemen: this is where Health is NOT = Fitness. This is trecherous territory. This pounding, throbbing, insatiable desire to be attractive and look "in shape" has lead men and women astray in a multitude of horrendous, and sometimes even subtle, ways. It has lead women to the tip of a knife for a nip and a tuck; to the makeup counter for more coverage and less freckles, 10X fuller lashes, and 5X fuller lips; to the gym for 3 hours of cardio and hundreds of crunches to lose a muffin top; to the latest overpriced, fad diet with only juice and powdered food to subside on in return for a new, slim physique - fast.... only to spend longer than we'd like to admit pinching and checking our bodies in the mirror for any signs of reduced body fat, freshly sprouted six-pack abs, smaller pores, or fuller brows... we search and search for even any sign of improvement; always coming up short of where we "should be." 

Where has the lie lead you? You can probably think of many ways that you have personally believed the lie that: "you need a more perfect body.... at any cost." Whether it was stuffing your bra with socks in high school, hiding your freckles under thick makeup for pictures, or maybe not eating all day because you want to lose that last 5 pounds. This deep, pounding, throbbing, insatiable desire to be attractive and look "in shape" lead me to Bulimia Nervosa. I believed the lie too. I fell, like so many other miserably trapped men and women that I shutter to imagine their pain, into an eating disorder; an eating disorder, that took YEARS to escape. I put perfecting my physical appearance on a pedestal of such epic proportions that I could not see around it. I forgot all about the true meaning of "Health" and its three parts: mind, body, and spirit. All I could see was BODY


BODY

BODY

BODY

BODY
Bulimia Nervosa is only one of many terrible eating disorders, such as: anorexia, bingeing, and laxative abuse, that weasel their lying and deceitful claws into a person's mind and convince the person that: 

LIE: 
" This __ (eating disorder) __ will help you get skinny/look fit/be attractive ... and if it doesn't help - it will at least relieve the stress and pressure of the struggle to get skinny/look fit/be attractive." 

Eating disorders take root for a multitude of different reasons, one of which I know personally is the deep insecure desire to improve, and somehow continue to improve and maintain a "perfect" physique... at any cost. I was trying to fix my body. I was desperately trying to achieve what in my mind I envisioned as the "PRO BIKINI" look. It didn't help that I was also trying to meet my maximum potential to excel in the sport; to make my coach proud; to inspire my friends, family - and even strangers - to work hard and get fit; to prove my haters wrong; and to prove to myself that I was a success. Looking back, I started competing in Bikini competitions for the athletic challenge of it all, and for the sisterhood with strong incredible women. And I stayed for those same reasons, and the platform I saw open up to share health and fitness with others and improve their lives by being a motivator, an inspiration, and an educator. I wanted to be like my idol and my hero: Jamie Eason, a fitness spokes-model with a heart of gold and a wealth of knowledge. The way I saw it, I HAD to succeed!! Anything less than reaching a perfectly fit physique would be a grave failure to not only reach my potential but to inspire others. NOT an option. 

Hold on,  wait... do you see the disconnect here? I wanted other people to get fit too, and I absolutely still do, but there's just one blatantly obvious problem with the way I was going about it...

PROBLEM:
If healthier is happier, WHY are so many women (like me) making themselves MISERABLE in the name of health and fitness!?

I don't have all the answers, but through conquering my own demons and realizing my own motives for being UNHEALTHY to achieve the perception of health I have discovered the "why's" behind my SICKNESS, and that is what ultimately led me to finding my HEALTH. I sincerely hope  that by identifying these unhealthy thought patterns I can save someone - maybe you - from repeating my wretched mistakes and developing an eating disorder. That is why I write these things, that is why I investigate and explore these dark problems - to prevent them from being repeated. 


What I learned from my own experience is this: 
The dark and treacherous lie of, "My physical appearance can, should, and must be improved ... at any cost." or in other words, "Get attractive at any cost." sneaks in because it starts with acknowledging that there is some beginnings of beauty, attractiveness, a body to be admired - or at the very least there is some potential! Potential, that if left untapped would be FAILURE.  See? It started out positive. It started with: 

"You are special, Ruthie."
"You can help so many people - keep it up, keep pushing."
"You could have a great Pro career."
"You could be great." 

Wow, no pressure! The pressure literally (excuse the pun) ate me alive. Read all about that in my other post: Victory Without Competition.  I was on a fast-track to success, and a fast-track to failure at the same exact time! I crashed and burned. But now, it is like night and day - I see my past as a stark contrast to my future, and the challenge to "improve," "be better," "be great," "help so many people," and "inspire others" are no longer reasons to PANIC and eat everything in sight only to purge it back out in a matter of minutes; no - I see this challenge is an amazing opportunity, and it actually brings me great peace and joy to think of my potential! 

You are probably wondering, so I'll ask for you.... 


THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: 
WHAT CHANGED? WHAT DID I LEARN?


ANSWER: 
I DON'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT TO DO ANY  OF THE AMAZING THINGS I HAVE THE POTENTIAL FOR. IF FACT, MY IMPERFECTION IS WHAT MAKES THE GREATNESS OF MY IMPACT.


Read that to yourself, release yourself from a quest for perfection (at any cost) and allow the possibility of increased efficacy due to your imperfection become your new vision. It's so simple I almost missed it. I missed it for a long time, in fact! So simple, yet SO POWERFUL. My imperfect holds strength??? It increases my potential to help others and make a difference in their lives for the better??? Yes, and yes. So, since I learned it the hard way, promise me you'll learn from my experience

Lesson: in your imperfection lies your beauty, your greatness, and your unique, priceless qualities. Love yourself and all those imperfections. Keep your mind from hating your body, from squelching your spirit, and destroying your health. The way we see our bodies begins and ends in the mind; therefore, to be "in good shape" does in fact necessitate health (mind, body, spirit) so make it your #1 priority to obtain Optimal Health in MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT. 




SO - after learning all that - I will continue to work hard, eat clean, be a voice for health and fitness, and keep working towards my own Optimal Health. I am stronger now that ever.  After going through all those years of self-hatred and perfection-seeking, I think I can survive a couple intense workouts to improve my fitness!! Going through a great struggle makes enduring smaller struggles absolutely conquerable.

I am not a victim and I am not broken; and I am most DEFINITELY NOT done working hard, staying focused and one day realizing my dream job of being a fitness motivator, writer, and model. I can make my dreams into reality despite what I have done wrong in the past, and so can you ;)  




Blessings,

Ruthie xoxo 





Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Follow-Up: Victory Without Competition Part II

After my last blog post about suffering through an eating disorder after starting to compete in bikini competitions, someone asked me: "Is possible to compete without being unhealthy and doing all this?"... oh my gosh, YES! 

If you had this thought ^ please read my blog again. I talk about some women who I consider to be great example of how to be a healthy, balanced competitor without developing an eating disorder, or a disorder of any kind for that matter. 
Linked here: My Testimony of Overcoming Bulimia: "Victory Without Competition" 

The truth is, MANY men and women do compete in a healthy way. An eating disorder is NOT the only outcome from competing, but on the same note... sadly for many - it is the outcome. Many factors play into the difference between a healthy and a non-healthy competitor: the workouts (excessive?), the diet (strict? repetitive? unrealistic? too specific?), the person's goals (unrealistic? unhealthy?), the person's disposition (perfectionist?), support system (is there any?), pressure from others (or from self), self-esteem (is it low?), background (problem with food before?) ...etc. Just like not every soldier gets post-traumatic stress disorder after war or every college student gains the freshman 15; not every competitor binges, purges, and/or has bulimia after undergoing a contest prep. I mean no disrespect by the soldier analogy... soldiers undergo a much more valiant pursuit that a bikini show. In either area of "war" though, either against an eating disorder or against depression after war, there is a massive amount of mental trauma. A soldier battles a physical enemy on a battlefield, and later the demons and mental issues in the battlefield of the mind. For me, the physical enemy was myself. Both of us experienced very real traumas. The way someone handles stress and deals with the emotional trauma of pressure, physical difficulty, anger, depression, sadness, etc is unique to the individual and that - combined with a multitude of other factors - produces either a good or bad stress reaction. Mine was obviously very bad. 

Also, I want to just draw attention to the idea that I take full personal responsibility for my choices that led me to where I was; meaning I don't blame the sport, my coach, my teammates, my family...anyone. I personally was the one who made the choice to continue to compete and try to get "more perfect" even after I started seeing problems with food arise.  I do NOT blame ANYONE else for the outcome! I did what I did; and I learned what I'm not sure I would have ever learned about myself otherwise. I really wish I could have gotten stronger through something less torturous... but when I really think about it I am glad for my troubles. I have had amazing opportunities to speak hope into ladies lives who are in the darkest depths of where I was... and encourage them that there is a way out - and show them that way out: counseling, Cognitive Behavioral therapy, adjustments to body image/goals. Through this struggle I inadvertently also taught myself the VERY important lesson that YOU MUST LOVE YOURSELF and NOT see "success" and "perfection" as superior aspirations to JOY and HEALTH. I share my story not to bash anyone or any sport, but to share what I have learned (the hard way) so that it will Lord-willing help someone out there who needed to hear something like this. God will use my story for someone's healing, He already has! I had to first endure it, and then be vulnerable and brave enough to write an honest account of my experience. I hope no one goes through what I did, but if you are going through it now - know that it is TEMPORARY and you CAN escape.


After writing my blog post, some very courageous and strong ladies shared their amazing stories with me and I wanted to pass along their encouraging stories of victory here. They overcame not only eating disorders; but poor body image, negative self talk, pressure from themselves and society, and the perfection rat-race. An eating disorder is not just a behavior you start or stop - there is a ROOT cause. THAT is what must be healed and/or removed to repair the eating habits.


Other blogs:

An amazingly powerful quote from Fit Gal Chal:

" I know how it feels to hate your self, and I also know how it feels to love yourself. I can promise you that loving yourself has so many more benefits. "

Fit Gal Chal also said this, which I can completely agree with in my own story: 
"There is NO one person, or one thing to blame for the onset of my struggles. The possible genes I was born with, my long history in the dance world with the “thin ideal” being my goal, my own insecurities, not handling stress in healthy ways, my need for perfection, and plenty more things all played equal roles as the triggers and onset of my unhealthy, addictive behaviors." 


 
Bex, of BexLife.com said this: "Body hate knows no size. You could be a 6 foot tall 100 lb model and hate your body.” Which is sadly so so true. I was a 5'10" 130lb bikini athlete and hated my body- it needed so many improvements (in my former, super critical perfectionist opinion). 

Electra said this in her post, "What's Beautiful" on Vanilla Bean Lean (linked above) blog, which is such an empowering and beautiful statement:

"I will continue to walk the walk myself & inspire others that a lean lifestyle is NOT about deprivation but about fueling each day and each intense, sweaty workout session with proper fuel. I will continue to transform my body and remind myself I am beautiful, daily! I will fuel, not deprive. I will be excellent, not perfect."

Amen, Electra!! Below is the YouTube video I published a to thank ya'll of the incredible support I've received since I wrote my testimony/confession of struggling with an eating disorder. 




In the video I also mention some steps I am taking to regain my health after totally trashing it with competing, overtraining, overSTRESSING, bulimia, not sleeping, etc. I have my work cut out for me but I am being kind to my body now and progress will be slow but stead to recover my full health. I have been researching Adrenal Fatigue over at my  Ruthie Harrison Athlete Page on Facebook. Post-bulimia, I've learned things I WISH I KNEW when I competed!! EVERYONE who trains and is looking to improve their fitness (not just competitors) should go read what I've learned about excessive cardio & chiropractic work ... those two things alone will make a HUGE effect on how healthy you are. 

I can't say thank you enough for accepting me, even with a big terrible battle, with open arms! I love ya'll! 

Blessings,
Ruthie 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Victory Without Competition

My mind races, my hands quiver uncontrollably, and my heart beats in what feels like slow motion as I type this...

A strange mix of emotions swell up within me: feelings of great delight and relief to finally be disclosing something I struggled with for a long time - but have now overcome; yet also I feel twinges of pain and shame for what I have done. These thoughts fight back and forth in my mind as I begin to share with you - no, more like tear back the curtain  - over a dark and silent desperation. Oh, how I wanted so badly to write this post earlier! Oh how I yearned to be well, to be cured, to be fit, normal, healthy, and vigorous again. One of the most painful truths I have ever learned is that:

You Cannot Go From "Before" To "After" Without "During."

Many times I was still in the "During" and couldn't see the light of "After," but  I felt so far from "Before!" 

The is a light at the end of a long and difficult journey
What secret and silent desperation could I possibly be talking about? My life is shared candidly and honestly on a daily basis over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and this blog.

That being said, you likely already know that I started competing in NPC Bikini competitions about two years ago (The full story here: Going For It: My First Competition) The first show was a really more of a way to spice up my fitness routine by testing  my physique against the fittest in the Montana countryside than anything else. I wasn't going for the win or the title, I was kinda just curious and thought, "why not?" Not a very compelling backstory to an IFBB Pro card and a Ms. Bikini Olympia International invite to say, 'a college classmate of mine just suggested I do a bikini competition,' but that's all it took! From there I was off to be the best (More on that here: Bikini Babay!). 
My very first show

From my first show to winning my Pro card

After my first show I decided to get serious about being a #1 bikini competitor (My post on that here: IT. IS. ON.). I hired the best coach in the field, I paid for a year in advance, and I signed up for more shows. I was going to get good at this! ... Gosh this is hard to actually voice the problem I started this post to confess to you!...  Here goes: Four months later, during the competition prep for my first show under a professional trainer, I developed an eating disorder. What started in the same way that many competitors consider a usual occurance: a week of extreme dieting followed by a weekly cheat meal, a post show binge here, a "refeed" there; ended in full blown Bulimia Nervosa, a disintegrated metabolism, a wrecked body, and a self-deprecating and fragile girl struggling to reassemble all the shattered pieces. Let me warn you my dear fellow fitness competitors: Beware of the binge/diet cycle. It is delirious and organized gluttony. And it is just that: a cycle, that once started may never end, or may take years to escape. It took me almost two years.

Post-show binging is not harmless and it is not healthy.

You guys, this is so hard to talk about. It is so difficult to try to explain why I would do such a horrible and destructive thing as eat copious amounts of the foods that I knew would ruin my fitness goals, and then shortly thereafter: drink hot water, lay on the floor rolling my stomach to loosen it back up, and then spend a half hour over the toilet bowl wretching up as much as I could - until my eyes were swollen and tear filled, and my heart was beating in my forehead. I was so caught up in the desire and the pressure to get better and better... to not only preform, but win... to be what the judges wanted. I honestly have no idea what my thoughts were at the time. I defined myself by what I thought others wanted from me, and I would do ANYTHING to maintain and acheive that. Anything. When the pressure got to great? Binge. A flurry of stuffing everything from peanut butter and cheese, to frosting, to straight coconut oil and sugar mixed together. Sometimes it was fast food: 3 orders of curly fries and cheesecake. Sometimes it was bakery goods: donuts, brownies, cookies. Sometimes it was pizza and wine. Sometimes... it was all of that and more. Fast-farward... through the emotion-numbing and pressure releasing binge... to the guilt. A split second after realizing, "Oh SH!T, I just ate X,000 calories" comes the damage control: the purge.... The desperate attempt at preserving my "fit" image and perceived successful happiness.  Eventually the fear of failing and being "fat" prevailed (this would be the purge) over just wanting to escape it all, throw my hands up, just have some fun, and not worry about it all anymore (this would be the binge). I blush to say this cycle would repeat itself up to ten times in a given day. Actually, I got too depressed to keep count. I have no idea what my highest number of binges in a day was... It was A LOT. You see, I set massive amounts of pressure on myself to succeed, and massive amounts of pressure can make someone do almost anything to achieve success. I felt like (and was often told this as well) that I had a gift/blessing for this sport, and if I didn't give it 110% of all I had then I was failing myself and the world! Some common thoughts I had included:

"I need to get a 21 inch waist,"
"My glutes aren't tight enough,"
"___ is gonna beat me if I don't push harder,"
"People look up to me, I can't disappoint them!"
"I have to impress the judges, I have to catch their eye!"
"I am expected to do ___ show,"
"I have to do this. I can't quit now,"
"I want this too bad to fail."
"___ said I inspire them, I can't let them down!"
"I have to finish what I started!"
I got extremely skinny, but I never felt small
enough. I always pushed farther. I didn't want
to be weak or stop short of maximum effort.

Competing brought out a savage underlying weakness: to sacrifice all happiness and reason for the sake of succeeding. Succeeding at that which I was convinced was my "calling," because as I did well, I was encouraged... and encouragement feels good! At first. But then, all I was accomplishing was what other people wanted to see me do. At the root, it wasn't competing that made me prone to an eating disorder. It was taking that desire for other's approval, for getting that "you are #1." approval from the judges, from my coach, from my teammates, and from those who followed my budding fitness career.

Tiny waist and tight glutes were the only things
that mattered in my mind when I was competing 



_________________________________________________________


As a necessary step to regain a healthy lifestyle and win my battle with an eating disorder, I have decided it is best for my health - both mentally and physically -  to not continue to compete in IFBB Bikini competitions. This is a choice I had to make for me. Some of you already knew I about this, but for those of you who didn't I hope all of my amazing friends, former teammates, and followers understand my decision. I am so much happier and healthier now! And trust me, this is not the last you've seen of Ruthie Harrison ;) I have a great passion for sharing health and fitness with anyone who will listen, and this battle with bulimia will ultimately makes my mission even more effective.
_________________________________________________________


Fitness competitions are NOT, in and of themselves, inherently evil! NO! Fitness competitions can be great catalysts to self-confidence, to personal betterment, to improved self-value, to meeting like-minded and lifelong friends, to finally learning how to workout and eat clean, and to finally believe and prove to yourself that you CAN and WILL reach a goal if you work hard.  That is a very positive thing and Lord-knows how many women and men in this world would benefit from finding that out!


I know this feeling of pride and PROVING to yourself that you can do what you set out to accomplish. I accomplished what I set out to do: I earned my IFBB Pro card. I didn't cheat, I didn't take steriods, I didn't do favors for the judges, pay off any one or do anything dishonest ... no, I just worked my butt off and achieve fast, jaw-dropping, transforming results. My efforts sculpted a winning physique, won shows, earned my Pro card, and fast. 

Earning my Pro card was one of the most gratifying feelings in the world. 

HOLY. 
SMOKES. 

I WON!

I worked so, so, so hard to get there - so many workouts, so much dieting, so many expenses - literally, emotionally and physically; but it didn't matter because I DID IT! It was all worth it in that moment. My journey from rookie to professional wouldn't have been near as swift without the mentoring of my coach; but my commitment to strict dieting and an intense workout plan brought me the physique I needed to join the top ranks. From there, I even earned a spot in the 2012 Bikini Olympia. NO coach out there wants anyone to develop an eating disorder, and I want to make it clear that I take 100% ownership of MY choices to binge, purge, and not step back from competition's rigorous dieting before binging escalated to bulimia. You should know though, there are certain dietary practices that research shows encourage an eating disorder, and a repetitive dietary plan is one of them. The food plan I followed was VERY repetitive. For the sake of consistency and coach-ability (it's easier to know what to change/vary to gain results if you know exactly what hasn't been varying) my coach had me repeat a single day's worth of meals for 30 consecutive days; subject to change if needed - based on my progress photos. Such repetitiveness is a definite no-no for someone who has had issues with food; the repetition breeds boredom, which potentially breeds the risk of  "acting out" against it - aka: Binge. 

REAL TALK... The following statement I mention as an honest disclaimer: Competing makes you at higher risk for taking extreme measures to reach "success," such as an eating disorder. * I must warn you (especially the ladies): Competing is not all glitz, glam, and victory! With competing there is also a heightened risk of developing a new problem, or worsening an existing problem, with body-image and/or an eating disorder. 

Getting extremely skinny to the point where my body was actually screaming for nutrients and variety of food was definitely the reason for my first binge. Serious physical need was the start of my eating disorder, and even after reaching a healthier weight - the disorder did not stop. It is true though, that although competing was absolutely the catalyst that drove me to rock bottom, but it wasn't the root problem - I needed to love ME and actually value who I am.

Many incredibly athletic men and women compete in bodybuilding shows like I did, but do so in a normal and health way - with healthy goals, a positive and realistic attitude towards winning or losing. I have witnessed (and partook in) some very extreme and unhealthy practices in the competition world, but these practices are not necessary to achieve and maintain a stage ready physique, and in the end they definitely hurt your placings (and so much more). I know these practices are unnecessary to win because women like Amanda Latona, Erin Stern, Jen Jewell, Nicole Moneer, Nicole Wilkins, Tanji Johnson, among others are placing very well in the WBFF and IFBB Professional Leagues and are not doing them.


Erin Stern is an amazing athlete, competitor, and
role model. She IS healthy and portrays a healthy
example for competitiors and non-competitiors alike.

Jen Jewell is another example of a woman who lives a healthful,
incredibly fit lifestyle and is also a competitor. Not all competitors
are unhealthy on the inside, as Erin and Jen show. There are
many many other women and men who fall into the "Healthy
Competitor" category too.



So, if we were to look at this whole ordeal in a positive light - consider this: I wouldn't have learned about and eventually (after 2 years of struggling with bulimia) changed a very flawed and very crutial character trait without competing and without an eating disorder budding it's ugly head. Before I ever set foot on a bodybuilding stage in clear hooker heels and a bedazzled bikini, I put far too much worth into other's opinion of me and far too little worth into my own happiness.

Someone very close to me during my struggle said this of my eating disorder:
"Bulimia was a poor stress response to a self-imposed and magnified feeling of required perfection."

That might seem "cold" but it is an just observation, and it is the cold hard truth. She was absolutely right. Yes, I had pressure to be perfect. No doubt. I had pressure to preform. No doubt. But the key here is how did I see myself?... And sadly, the answer is: not very well. I felt like I was required to be perfect. I self-imposed that requirement instead of just, "Doing my best" I lived and died by: Follow The Plan! I was under the extensive rules of:  DO NOT EAT OFF PLAN, DON'T USE CONDIMENTS, ALWAYS WEIGH YOUR FOOD, NO SUBSTITUTIONS, NO SNACKING, NO 'RECIPES,' NO ___, ONLY ___, but I didn't take these as "guidelines"... no, they were absolute necessity! I finally had gotten myself to a point where I absolutely could not be perfect anymore. I was incapable of perfection... Anyone would be. But to me it felt like a failure. I can't pinpoint where this feeling took root, but somewhere in my youth I developed this idea that I had to always be better; "good enough" was for losers and lazy people. I also thought I was getting pretty darn close to the point where if I was to continue to improve the only thing left to obtain was perfection. My appearance... the pursuit of the perfect physical appearance drove me stress and worry, fret and sweat, pinch and pull, binge and purge, cry and cry and cry and cry. My perception of what others expected of me, is the root of why I took such destructive and agonizing lengths to maintain the expected outcomes and successes. Can you see what I'm trying to say here? Clinical research shows that I am not alone in this; in fact, far too many very successful people are incredibly unhappy because they see their existence in terms of their accomplishements and what they can offer, instead of who the are and their intrinsic value in their character and love.  So as soon as they can no longer offer that perfection and excellence they are striving for, it's game over. Sadly, the most "perfect" people in appearance are quite often the least happy and whole people. So really, at the end of the story I am a much more healthy and whole person having combated this terrible problem and won.

Yeah buddy! I  persevered and eventually beat my
eating disorder back, re-learning how to be a happy
and healthy woman. If fact - healthier than ever.

Before I may have seemed like I had it all together, but let me shatter once and for all the "perfection image" I have attempted to uphold over the course of my life. Over the last two years  - on the outside you have seen perfect grades, a budding and successful engineering career, an on-fire Christian walk, and a straight-to-the-top athletic pursuit, a pretty face, and a fit body. But, I AM NOT PERFECT. Not even close! And that's OK! In fact, that's awesome! Why?

~ It gives God a chance to shine when I can't, be strong when I am weak, and be perfect when I am imperfect. Something I always said I believed in... but never let Him prove until now.

~ It gives my friends a chance to love me, to support me, to help me, and to be there for me. A chance I never dared to give them before now.

~ It gives my supporters and fans a real idea of success; a healthy way to stay fit; an honest example of moderation in eating clean and a sometimes eating a little dirty; training hard and taking rest days; and winning but sometimes losing.


I am just a girl, but I am strong. I am just a girl, but I have an amazing God, the best friends, and the most supportive fans a girl could ask for. I am just a girl, but I am everything I am suppored to be! Now that I have shattered that fake "perfection image" I used to have, let me tell you about the real me: My name is Ruthie Harrison; I love big salads and weight training; I am a smarty pants and a nerd; I make lots of mistakes but I always try my hardest; I love sprinting my heart out, helping others get started in fitness, making banana bread, sharing God's love with everyone, and lifting heavy.

I am victorious. I went from a "Before" through a "During," to an "After" and I am freaking proud of myself. I am more than a conqueror! 


_________________________________________________________



If you are out there, reading this with tear filled eyes because you know all too well the pain and loneliness of an eating disorder, I want you to know it can end. You will be healed. You can overcome this (
check out this site: Overcoming Binge Eating). It is not a permanent state. Get help, either support from your family, your pastor, your best friend - whoever you feel comfortable with, but do not stay isolated! I know its scary. I know what you're going through, I have been there myself. Over 7 million Americans have binge eating disorders, but you do NOT have to remain one of them! I thought I'd never be back to normal again, but thank God I was wrong.

Don't give up!! Just think, after stopping binging your life will be so much more full of joy! remember how carelessly happy you were as a child? That can come back! Although I am still on my journey of freedom from emotional eating and using food as a comfort - but I have come so far! I am still learning everyday; and honestly for me it took hiring a professional counselor to learn some healthy and effective tactics to stop seeing myself in the negative way I was, and treating my body so poorly. Yes- I saw a psychologist. If you might need to too, there is no shame in that! There is nothing bad about having a personal trainer, a dietician, a pastor, a language instructor... And this is no different - you want to learn something: how to conquer bulimia in this case, and they know how. Try as I might I couldn't make myself think differently all on my own, My therapist is a Christian Psychologist who specializes in treating eating disorders, Dr Anthony Hwang. Over the past 5 months, I went through - and am currently finishing the last few, post-disorder sessions - of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The therapy is detailed and outlined in "Overcoming Binge Eating" a book by Christopher Fairburn, available on Amazon.com.

I spent a lot of time trying and failing, and trying and failing, and trying and failing less... And learning more, and overcoming and eventually - winning. I don't enter Bikini competitions anymore in pursuit of victory, I win every single day that I no longer fall victim to an eating disorder. It gets harder before it gets better; but by the power of God IT GETS BETTER. You are worth the time it will take to overcome this. You ARE worth it. You're worth more than gold. 




I am always here if you need someone to talk to, message me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/bikiniruthie or email me: bikiniruthie@gmail.com


Blessings,
Ruthie



Monday, December 31, 2012

My Testimony


I once was lost and now I'm found. This is my story of salvation - my testimony.

At some point in all our lives we will realize we are not enough on our own, For a long time (since before I can remember) I was aware of what the Creator of the universe did for me (die on a cross to sacrifice His life to pay the debt for my sins and the sins of the world, then come back to life to rule and love and lead His children) BUT I wasn't really allowing Him to do any of that... I ruled my own decisions, I refused to abide in His love (or anyone else's), and I lead myself. My worth was based on accomplishing the highest level of achievement in school, sports and anything, that if I put enough effort into, I could "win."

That was then - up until Sophomore year (2006) of college to be exact. I'd been Most Improved in every high school sport I did, I was senior class VP, I aced AP English, I was Salutatorian, I had so many scholarships to college I was getting paid to go, I had gotten nothing but A's in college, I was Dean's List ... I was pretty, I was in shape, I ate healthy, I was Daddy's Girl, teacher's pet, and ALWAYS top of the class. Oh, and yeah I was Christian too- on the side- God died for me, I knew that. He raise from the dead, I knew that. I was going to Heaven, I knew that. But that was a given- I was GOOD, and pretty darn PROUD of all "I had accomplished." God was an afterthought.

Then, well - little by little - I WASN'T enough. I got a B. I struggled in school. I worked 3 jobs and still struggled to pay rent. I wasn't happy, I cried, I couldn't sleep, I never saw my parents (no more daddy's girl), but somehow "I could figure this out." I never talked to God... Except to ask for something. He wasn't doing me any good! Why wouldn't He step in and bless me already!? I was a good girl, surely life was going to show me favor... I could always think, work, or talk my way out of any bad situation before. Why not now?

Desperate, I gave in to my friend's constant requests to attend a church group for college-aged youth called "Overflow" and started going weekly. I went for months, but in my personal life I still kept pressing on in my own power. Slowly but surely little seeds of God's character got implanted in my soul though, I learned He loved me when I was still a sinner, I learned that once I was saved I was a "new creation," I learned He had wanted to give me the Holy Spirit to fill me, I learned He would satisfy me, He cherished me, He could comfort me, and He could be my strength. I learned that He had promises for me that He wants me to have! (Below are just a few Biblical references and the paraphrased truths I learned about myself)

1 Corinthians 12:27
I am a member of Christ's body (Ephesians 5:30).

2 Peter 1:4
I have been given God's precious and magnificent promises by which I am a partaker of the divine nature.

Hebrews 4:16
I may come boldly before the throne of God to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

1 Peter 2:5
I am one of God's living stones and am being built up as a spiritual house.

1 Peter 2:9,10
I am a part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God's own possession.

God, why do you do this? Why do you care? Why do you want me? Why can't I be who I want to be in my own power, I mean I try REALLY hard... [Because I want you to want Me, you need to need Me, I'd love for you to love Me... I love you and always have. I AM in control not you, Ruthie. Surrendering to My lead is not just a nice idea, it is THE (only) WAY you can get through this. Depend on My power, it is so so so much larger than yours- in fact, it has NO limit] These thoughts filled my heart and mind; now I knew something I couldn't unlearn: until I surrendered my life to Christ, I mean really gave up the fight- I would be living a much lesser and empty life than the perfect plan and beautiful life God designed me for. It was a heart thing. He wanted my heart, and He wanted me to voluntarily seek His will.

One teary night at Overflow, I finally surrendered. I gave in. I let Him love me. I let Him carry my burdens. I let Him fight my fights, and lead my path. I got baptized as an outward declaration of an inward decision to dedicate my life to Jesus - because He'd already given His to save mine. I didn't own me, He did; and whatever He wanted me to do, I'd do.

"We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life. Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions. Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and faculties] to sin as instruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the death to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness. For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy]. For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:4, 12-14, 23 AMP)

So, did I become an overnight perfect person? Did I become sinless and righteous? No. I am still a sinner, and thank God that He covered my sins because as much as I yearn to do God's holy and righteous will- I still cannot! Not all the time anyways. You may ask then, what's the difference between my "before" and my "after"? Well... I KNOW God is my strength, I KNOW He loves me for for who I am- not what I do or accomplish, and I KNOW that even though I fail time and time again, and sin time and time again... He is my joy, my true treasure, and my hope. Forever! He's not going anywhere! He WANTS all my insecurities, failures, sins, and unworthiness - and I will keep bringing it to Him.

You know, I didn't write this testimony for a long time because I was waiting until my life looked more pretty - until people could look at it and say, "Wow, look what God has done! Look at all she's done through His power, look at how she's stopped doing _X_ sin and _Y_ sin, look at how she's cleaned up all that mess and God fixed her." Well guys, truth be told life will NEVER be sin, mess, or problem free. I will ALWAYS need Him! In fact, I rejoice in my failings because each time I am weak I realize yet again I need Him. He gets the glory. He forgives me, loves me, and saves me. Yes - through His spirit filling my life it has changed my heart to stop doing sins I used to do; but even now, through my sinful nature I do other new sins! Gack! No, I am not perfect - He is. I get that now. I abide in His grave and love, it never fails... It never even gets a B ;)

If you are lost like I was: life is something that you just can't win and you have some sin you just can't beat, let me encourage you: God has ALREADY WON for you! Your life has been won by your Savior and Creator, and you don't have to do this alone. Have you ever given your life to Christ? Do you believe in Jesus, like John 3:16 describes? If not, now is the perfect time to cry out to God and surrendering you life and all it's "mess" to Him. Believe that His death fully covers ALL your sin, and ACCEPT His free gift of eternal life. Ask Jesus to come into your hearth and make it new, make it like His.

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."
Romans 12:1

When I did give myself to God, I gave Him everything I am; everything I hope to be; all my dreams, visions, hopes and desires... I made everything His, and even as I continue to screw up, He demonstrates His power through my life! Only then - in full submission to Christ - can your test become your test-imony, and your mess become your mess-age. You don't get perfect when you serve Jesus; but you get grace, mercy and forgiveness when you aren't.

"Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires." (In that order!) - Psalm 37:4 

God's will - God's plan- is supreme. I will rest in God's will. God will not allow something to come into my life that I cannot bear. It may seem like He is far away, but He has promised that He will never leave me. I know the Lord. He loves me. I will walk by faith in that truth. He hears my prayers because of my love for Him. This may be the greatest testimony I could have: clinging ever closer to His will for me through any terrible experience in my life. I was created for this one purpose, to love Him and be loved by Him.

"So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy." - 1 Peter 1:6-8


That's my story, I hope it gives you a good example of the hope and faith that is found in Jesus.

Blessings,
Ruthie

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

IFBB Bikini Olympia (Part II)

Hello again friends :)

Today was a great day to blog, but unfortunately it was a pretty lame day to do anything else - chalk it up to "flu season" I think the bug got me. A sore throat and a feverish feeling sent me home from work at lunch- like a defeated puppy with my tail between my legs, who overeagerly chased after the neighborhood cat only to smack into the picket fence, not fully aware of my own limitations. Ugh. Fail. Well the good news is I have extra time to blog and sip a coffee :)

Let's pick up where we left off shall we? Ah yes, I was recounting the surreal weekend activities of the Mr. Olympia Weekend in Las Vegas 2 weekends ago. I had enough excitement and late-nights there to last me until the end of the year! I am not a late night regular, usually going to bed at 9pm :p but when the Las Vegas lights put me up to it, I found myself staying up until 3:30am. Yikes!

But you know that if I was up that late-it was for good reason! Lots of fun and friends kept the midnight oil burning. With that, I give you my Olympia Recap (Part II) !! ....

Right after the Bikini Olympia pre-judging I found my friends Kinjal and Annie who drove up from San Diego just to see me. (**Please excuse the ridiculous show tan in all these photos... I know, I look weird next to normal skin tone colored people)

Annie, Kinjal, and I

My Bombshell homegirl, and good friend Leslie
came by and supported me too. Thank you "Mr.
Bombshell" (Leslie's hubby) for filming me at
prejudging. It helped to see my replay.
The night show Finals were Friday night, so if you missed the recap of that check out my last post.

Me on stage at the Olympia. Can you believe I get to say that?!
I'm still in shock.

Friday night after the show I was free to celebrate and enjoy the town with Kinjal, Annie, Leslie, and her hubby Jeremy. Our mission? Silly fan photos and quesedillas :)


My gguuurrrrrllls!
After a full night of exploring we got home at - gasp - 3:30am!! Way past bedtime to get some shut-eye to work the Olympia Expo for Muscle & Fitness Hers/FLEX magazine.
Photos from the expo on Saturday:


Not too shabby for 4 hours of sleep, eh?
Bombshells workin' and lookin' fly

Just being my Baddass self :p

My girl Nicole and I working at FLEX. Yes, we are actually
both standing on the same level... I'm not wearing heels....
Yes I am 5'10" and look giant here lol.

POWER CRUNCH!
Shout out :) and thank you for the bars! I
loved them and so did my peeps at work.

Another shout out; this time to FitnessGurls!
Check em out: FitnessGurls.com
This was for #ABSolutelyFitBody :)
Even with all that excitement at the expo, I got some once in a lifetime opportunities too... Like judging the FLEX Bikini Model Search! Yes, the very show I competed in last year.
 See the 2011 Olympia recap post here: Blessed at the Olympia

The gorgeous Top 5 ladies

Not a bad job :) It's so inspiring to see these amazing ladies.

Winner! Miss Ana D absolutely deserved it.

An awkward ending while waiting our judges scores to be tallied...
the Mr. Puny-verse contest. LOL. No words.


Saturday night it was an amazing time with my friend, Bobby Black, and Michael Middleton (Jamie Eason's new man) and his adorable Southern parents. We had a great dinner and then Bobby, Michael, and I went to the Boddybuilding.con party to meet up with Jamie. The rest of the story is a long night of ..."What happens in Vegas".....

Bobby (grrr baby grrr!) and I

Baddass Nutrition owner, Kevin and I
Yes- we look like we're going to prom and we like it lol.
 
Goodnight from LV ♥