Healthy Mind + Body

Bikini Competition through an Eating Disorder Victim’s Perspective

20151109_231323000_iOSIt sounds pretty ironic right?

“Let the girl with disordered eating habits, low self-esteem, and 10 year history of yo-yo dieting compete in a bikini competition”



That was my first thought as well. How could I, the girl who after months of therapy sessions and dietitian visits and doctor visits, be “okay” enough to compete in a sport that revolved around rigorous training and demanding calorie needs and restrictions.

Sure, my dietitian told me I “graduated” from disordered < 500 calorie/day eating to a healthier, daily eating schedule. But did she know I just lied and made my food journal look like ideal, perfect American diet with 50% of calories from carbs, 30% from fat and 20% from protein? Did she know I wasn’t mentally healthy yet? No, but in order to end those monotonous and silent sessions with Carol in which I never wanted to speak at and to free up my Wednesday afternoons from dietitian visits, it had to be done.


And it was stupid.

Because ten years later and I’m still where I was. Except I’m not the same emaciated 90lb girl. I was a regular BMI, starving girl who would gain weight after anything more than 1000 calories due to the starvation mode that I’ve been stuck in. I was sick and tired of being well…sick and tired. I was tired of the fear I had behind food: behind rice, and peanut butter, and potatoes, and oils. And that sounds extremely silly; as my gym owner called it; “the killer carbs!”



But you can’t laugh at my fears; you can’t laugh at the disorder that’s fueling these fears. You certainly can’t laugh at my attempt to wake up everyday and fight it.

So what in the world would force me to change? I was tired of striving for a feeling of happiness through health that I wasn’t obtaining; I was tired of being afraid. And maybe it was egotistical of me, and maybe it was selfish, but I wanted to look and feel better. So I contacted a friend regarding bikini competitions and how to get involved.

Now, I was about a BMI of 24 in the beginning of prep, close to the overweight zone due to muscle mass and some excess fat.

I was given a meal plan to follow and weekly check ins to see how the diet worked and if we needed to tweak it. Now, following the diet was key to success. A lot of people found it hard to follow because it eliminated so many things. But for me, following this diet added more calories than I was already eating; more carbohydrates and fats than I was already eating. And the anxiety began there, but I put trust in my coach that it wouldn’t lead to a weight increase.

Trust is key, that’s an important element I learned.

Seeing that I had to eat pastas and sweet potatoes (yes—they are healthy complex carbs which take longer to digest and are full of fiber & key nutrients…but tell that to a girl with an ED or someone recovering and they won’t listen) made me nervous, but like I said…trust.

After weeks went by, I started dropping some weight and losing some inches; a very healthy progression. Sure, I plateaued several times, and I won’t lie, I’m fairly certain it’s due to the fact that I overtrained several days a week and sometimes I chose not to eat that extra carb choice in the day because I was too afraid too, and that’s my own damn fault—you LEARN from your mistakes.

My diet included several different foods all laid out with relative times an portion sizes, such as broccoli, sweet potatoes, tuna , chicken, oils, salads, rice cakes, etc. I wasn’t used to eating all of these different foods–I mean I was a vegetarian prior to this, so it was a whole new experience!

Now I sit here and type to all of you as I eat some egg whites and 1/2 a sweet potato in prep for Saturday’s competition. Yes—I chose to compete again. Why? Because this whole journey…this experience…this six long ass month experience of 3AM gym sessions, two a days, “no I can’t drink” speeches, HELPED me. How did it help me you ask??

  • I don’t fear carbs like I used too. Actually, I want a freakin bowl of my mother’s ziti (ground turkey and low fat cheese of courseWinking smile ) and a turkey sandwich with whole wheat bread.
  • I found the connection to food, your body, and your energy output—I see how important food choices are to your body for athletic performance
  • I found motivation in myself that I never thought I had
  • I found a new appreciation for food and health: FUEL your body with healthy choices. In other words, eat better not less.

Doing this competition (along with my desire to please everyone and to not let someone down), I wanted to win. I wanted to be the best. Weekly/Bi-monthly check ins’s with coach to ensure I was on track really helped me well….eat. It also helped me change up my workout routine and learn the importance of strength training. I no longer am that cardio bunny–but a strong woman–both mentally and physically.

Sure, my mentality is and always will be skewed. I feel as though I will always see a plate of food and see numbers instead of deliciousness; calories/fat/protein instead of how aesthetically pleasing it looks




But that’s just who I am. If it becomes a problem and interferes with my social life like it used to (sorry girls from the 8th grade soccer team…I really did want to get that pizza after the game I just mentally couldn’t go!) then  I know I need to get help. I think it’ll always be with me, but more so it’s the actions I can control and how I go about dealing with it that can change.

Overall, many people think competitors, whether you’re doing bikini or figure or you’re a male doing bodybuilder or physique (or one of the other trillion classes they have…) that you’re going to have tis disordered mindset and that you’re diet is just super unhealthy and blah blah blah. Well PERSONALLY lemme tell you—this saved my life. This saved my mindset. And I can’t wait to continue to compete.




Reflection Friday: What I learned from my First Bikini Competition


20160330_215030000_iOSI’ve slacked this whole week with posting due to the overwhelming schedule I’ve had, but I think this post may be one of the most beneficial ones I write.

Friday: Driving down to Pittsburgh for my spray tan:

After my meeting with the interns and clearing up all of the odds and ends of things, I drove down to the pittsburgh area where I was spray tanned by Olympia Tan. I chose to do the tanning through the venue that was affiliated with the show. Pricey? Yes, but it was ENTIRELY worth it. The day of the show that provided us with more touch ups, shine, bikini bite, and they were such a nice group to work with. They ensured I looked my best and that there were no drips or lines. They even got me in a whole hour before my appointment was scheduled! Talk about luck right?? After my tan I waited around the hotel for an hour or so until check in/weigh in at 6pm. I was so nervous that I dropped my coffee and it landed on some girls feet! Luckily she was so sweet about it and we started talking; she told me how this was her second show and that I shouldn’t be nervous. We got some cool swag bags and t shirts at check  in filled with lots of supplements and protein bars that I couldn’t eat…..#peakweekproblems. It was about 7pm and all I wanted to do was go to sleep, so I did haha! My coach told me how I’d be in bed early and I didn’t believe her. All of the carb depletion really got to me.


Saturday: Show time!

I went back to the hotel at 8:30AM to get some bronzer/touch ups done on my tan. I also got dressed in the hotel bathroom and did my makeup there . Some people get their hair/makeup done, but I chose to do it myself. I don’t usually wear makeup or do anything to my hair, so I was too nervous for anyone to do an awful job and ruin my day! I drove on over to the venue and waddled on over with my huge isolator fitness lunchbox and carry on bag that contained my shoes and suit and other paraphernalia and found a seat in the back. In an hour was the competitor meeting, so  had some time to change and practice posing and redo any mascara that smudged, which is inevitable with my unsteady hand. I came back to a few guys that were sitting near my lunchbox and ended up having a great conversation with them. The competitor Matt had done about six shows and is really progressing in the bodybuilding field, and his friend Chad came as support. I looked like a loser sitting all alone but soon enough I knew my friends and fan club at the gym would show up. Tip I learned: TALK to people!! seriously—go network! Talking to Matt and Chad ended up being the highlight of my day! We discussed different diets an techniques, as well as personal stories that weren’t non-fitness related. It was so nice to have my nerves calmed before we all headed backstage to get ready. Lacey and the gym women showed up relatively soon, just in time for me to go on stage!


As a first time competitor, you can say I had NO idea what I was doing! Without a posing coach I was all alone up there, but I think I did fairly well for going into this whole show blind. Prejudging  I entirely failed haha, I think I was so nervous I could feel my smile shaking the entire time on stage. But I didn’t trip, I did remember to move my hair to the side, and I was always smiling Smile  The two classes I competed in were True novice (never competed before) and collegiate (<25 years old and taking college classes). What really pissed me off was that there were 3 girls who competed in true novice who actually had competed before….and competed with Lacey in previous shows!!! Entirely unfair! But hey, I can’t be salty forever! After I got off stage I was like wow…..that was SO easy. I can’t believe I was so nervous! Prejudging ended around 2:30 and Lacey and I had 2.5 hours to kill before finals, so we sat and chatted with Matt and Chad for a while, until Matt wanted to get coffee.

So that began our journey to find a coffee shop in a town we had never explored. And this involved walking around (luckily it was 66 degrees, because I was walking around in a bikini and a robe) for about a mile looking for this coffee shop that I googled…which ended up being this run down shady looking place in the middle of nowhere. But nonetheless, it was the best time of my life. Walking in, all of the african americans in the room looked at me and were complimenting my tan, stating how black is beautiful. The tan and outfit was a great conversation starter. All of the people in the room were interested in what was going on in town this weekend. We all grabbed our coffees and sat down and just relaxed until finals at 5.




20160330_215032000_iOSSaturday: The end result and take away message

Getting 2nd in the collegiate division baby! All of the girls on stage in every class looked phenomenal! It was bad to say that I was ashamed with how I looked because everyone else topped me big time! After watching all of the women, it only makes me want to try harder and eat better to become like them. I’m so proud of everything that I accomplished and I’m looking forward to my next show in April. Going to bring it even better (and more posing practice is needed). We all celebrated by grabbing food at Red Robin afterwards as a cheat. Mine was a grilled chicken sandwich with unlimited broccoli (accompanied by an entire row of cinnamon bun oreos Winking smile and chocolate covered pretzels…and some of Laceys french fries obviously)


Things I will take away from my experience as a first time NPC bikini competitor:

  • Practice posing….more than you think you need too. Posing is so important! Doing things the right way will hide as well as accentuate the areas you want.
  • 80% nutrition, 20% exercise: dieting is key. Cheating is ineveitable in small doses, but staying on track on your diet is so important
  • Get a coach: Unless you feel confident in your abilities regarding nutrition, I suggest getting a coach
  • Talk to people! Talk to people in your class, the judges, compliment the girls, everything. Not everyone will be nice of course, but it doesn’t hurt to try to network
  • Smile—no one likes someone who is flat faced on stage
  • Don’t overcheat the night after the show—my cramps after my meal was awful!! Well worth it of course Smile but driving 1.5 hours home after that meal was painful!!
  • Take as many photos as possible—you’ll want to remember it forever.



Weekly Wrap-up: Counseling, Portion Control and Competitions



20160318_094522863_iOSBusy day in the neighborhood! From working at Headstart preschool and playing some physical activity games with them along with eating lunch with them (ham and cheese pitas, mixed veggies, plus a rice krispie treat!) and then going straight to counsel clients, my day was non-stop moving. I also went to the gym and passed out some samples for RSP Nutrition (using the code RSPTabithaD, anyone can get 25% off!) A lot of people really liked the BCAAS and compared it to Kool-Aid, so that’s a plus.




We had a little convention to attend up in Pittsburgh, topics ranging from researching in dietetics, to sustainability. Sadly a few of us had to leave early to attend a multicultural family night at the local elementary school. Here we discussed portion control and how to practice eating within proper portions. Maybe different cultures do not practice the same way we do, and truly do over-portion their meals. Many people were mindblown with what a serving size of pasta or meat should be (since most of the time we tend to eat 3x the amount we should be). I think portion control is key to weight loss/weight maintenance. You can be eating a well rounded diet, but if you’re over consuming the healthy foods, the calories still count! I was really busy with commuting, food prepping, and this nighttime event that I actually did end up taking a true rest day. It did make me a little nervous, and I’m still a little bummed about it, but hopefully today I’ll get in there and kill it! It’s crazy how YOU never see your own progress. My professors and friends told me yesterday how physically I’ve changed and I still see the same girl with love handles and a gut in the mirror. I do hope my body image will start looking up soon.


Off to an Iron Chef competition at a local high school. The interns and I get to discuss National Nutrition Month’s theme of Savor the Flavor with the concept of taste buds and the five basic tastes. I’m excited and a little nervous to see how things work out in the end (like how responsive the students will be, how interested/interactive, etc). ill be having them sample bitter, sweet, salty, sour, and umami flavored beverages. Of course I have to make it over to the gym and tie up some lose ends regarding some work (submitting papers, typing up a few things, etc) but overall today should be a smooth sailing afternoon come 1pm.




Motivation Monday: mindless thoughts,

20160314_125201000_iOSI love those mondays (or days in general) when waking up isn’t tough. I was able to get right up, drink my pre workout & head on over to the gym despite the rain. Although I started with my 30 minute cardio session, I really didn’t want to complete it. The lack of progress I have been feeling lately in regards to my competition are affecting me mentally

why am I not sleek, fit, and ab-showing yet?

is this normal?

is my diet the right one for me?

I was getting too flustered this morning with negative thoughts so I did my best to drown them out and ended up having a fairly successful leg day!

Body image: we are all so self critical and nit-pick at the smallest things about ourselves. Focusing on our best features deems us as “cocky” or “self-absorbed”,  but once we start nit picking on the worst we’re just looking for attention apparently. There’s no winning in society! I decided to stop thinking negatively about myself this morning and focus on the positives that will happen today:

  • I will finish this cardio session strong
  • I will go home and stick to my diet all day
  • I will inspire people to be healthy as I teach about fiber benefits at a local community center
  • I will make connections with parents at the regional hospital’s family health night tonight
  • I will laugh a lot
  • I will enjoy my cup of coffee (or 2 heheh)


It can be tough to stay positive, but surrounding yourself with positive thoughts and people can truly affect your mood for the better.

20160314_105852980_iOSOn a positive note, one of my favorite supplement companies RSP Nutrition is letting me be a sales rep for them!

From BCAAS, to whey protein, to creatine, RSP has a long line of products!



USE RSPTabithaD for 25% off your purchase!!



Off to get ready for some fiber lessons!


Tuesday: Bike rides and coach check ins

20160308_134755000_iOSYesterday’s session with the coach went fairly well. Progress is being made + we practiced some posing, so that’s always fun. She’s switching up my diet because my body isn’t doing well with carbs…aka I could potentially be carb resistant at this point. Let’s see how the new diet goes! She has added dairy which makes me super nervous due to the effects of dairy on the GI tract, so I might avoid it still. The thing about food is that how your body handles it versus how someone else’s body handles it may be COMPLETELY different! It’s crazy. And that can be the frustrating part, but it’s all just a science that overtime we we will see how it panes out. I also managed to squeeze in an eight mile bike ride outside (BEAUTIFUL day) plus hit up the library! The library is such a wonderful place, I cannot believe it took me four years in this small little town to visit the public library.


This morning after my leg day + 25 minute cardio session, I was off to the preschool to read a book regarding nutrition! Love seeing the kids get all wild when talking about fruits and vegetables. One section of the story discussed how the boy was going to the grocery store with his father & I asked the children if any of them shopped with their moms dads or grandparents, and what they bought. and all of the children said mac and cheese…..


like I guess no one buys fruit or veggies or chips or milk?? I could not stop laughing!

And when I came home, I had a nice package waiting on the porch for me….



no…sadly it wasn’t my suit yet Sad smile but my BCAAS and new vanilla cupcake protein by Dymatize came! Cannot wait to give that a shot today. Wonder what recipes I can create with it Thinking smile

Off to do some reading. On my book list to accomplish this year:

  • The Hunger Games Series
  • Gone Girl
  • 50 Shades of Gray Series


Any other recommendations?? I haven’t had any me time in so long, I can’t wait to read for actual FUN again.


Weekend Wrap Up: Phipps Conservatory and Dry Rub Recipes!

20160221_111849000_iOSSometimes you need a little fun in life right? Well after this long weekend of presentations for my nutrition program, a great weekend was needed! On friday we had transition day from 7:30AM-4:30pm, and that was simply just learning about the masters programs, taking exams and giving presentations about our management experience. After being on campus alllll day I had to wake back up and do it again the next day, luckily only until noon. At about 12:30pm Shawn and I decided to spend the wonder 60 degree day in Pittsburgh exploring Phipps Conservatory! I’m really not a city person….and by that I mean I really hate crowded areas and the hustle and bustle of things, but this gardening location was BEAUTIFUL! The demonstration that was going on this month was a fairy tale theme train set. Each garden was a different fairy tale, it was beautiful. The tickets are only 14 dollars for a student (gotta take advantage of that student discount hehe) and the café and gift shop were both really nice. At first I was just rushing through every single greenhouse room at the conservatory, and Shawn was like Tabitha slow down why are you rushing this?


Again…there I was RUSHING a good time with Shawn. I am ALWAYS rushing things. That’s something I need to spend more time being aware about: rushing for no reason. I think the fact that there were so many people really bugged me, but hey that’s pittsburgh. After the garden trip, we walked down to Primanti Brothers. Shawn got several calorie laden meals, such as the Pittsburgher and the cheese fries with sour cream, chili, cheese, and jalapenos. I purchased a cajun rub chicken salad, which got me thinking: How can I make my own spicy rub?? I pondered that while enjoying my cajun style salad and watching the cheese and sour cream overflow the boat of fries infront of me. After we finished I grabbed a tanzanian coffee from Café Mocha and we headed back to our little college town. Sometimes it’s nice to get out of your comfort zone of netflix and sweats and actually throw on a pair of jeans & try something new! Next adventure? Rock climbing!!

I got home and started organizing all of my new binders, folders, and agendas for my new rotation, which involves counseling people, athletes, and teaching FDNT classes!! Smile 








You know how I asked myself the question on how to make a dry rub? Well that was today’s task!



20160221_210039941_iOSI gathered:

  • 1/3 cup of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun Perfect Pinch
  • 1 teaspoon Southwestern Perfect Pinch
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • dash of sugar!


Threw that mixture all over my chicken and BAM! New flavor. The red pepper flakes really add heat to it, but I’m not a baby when it comes to spice. I’ll be looking more into how to change up the rub and how to add flavor. Any recommendations?








Just Another Manic Monday

20160208_124605000_iOSLuckily today my job called me in for 9:30AM instead of 8:00AM! Although it’s still a 45 minute commute, it was nice to wake up, hit the gym , and have some down time before I even think about leaving. Today’s enjoy:

  1. Drive on over to the hospital for work until 4pm
  2. Meet for health awareness orientation at 5pm until 6pm
  3. Attend ANOTHER meeting for my Eating Disorder Event to get all the nitty gritty details fixed up. Can’t believe my event is in a week!!
  4. Emails clients regarding tips/tricks for healthier eating

The concepts of meetings always a) fascinated me and b) scared me. I think holding meetings, events, discussions and what not is important to management and I love the leadership theme behind it, but the concept of time, especially one meeting after the next, always made me nervous. Because why would I want to a attend a short meeting when I could be at home  sleeping haha, you know? I guess that’s my inner child coming out of this adult body of mine. Luckily I already made it to the gym so I can cross that off of my to do list.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions and requests lately about eating healthier, specifically for college/busy 20-25 year olds, and I love it! I love feeling comfortable and confident in my future occupation, but if there is one thing I need to learn it’s organization. So today’s agenda includes….


purchasing an agenda book/planner to keep me on track! And not a cheap 5$ Walmart one. I think purchasing a pricier, fancier one may motivate me to constantly stay on track.


How do you stay on track with appointments, plans, practices, and meetings?


Way Too Early Workout Wednesday!

20160203_103044000_iOSBEING BUSY is awful. Because you feel as though you’re in a time crunch, and I can honestly say that is one of the most constricting feelings of them all. Yesterday for example this is how my mind went:

Okay, so if I get out of work at 3, I’ll commute home and get to the gym at 3:50 and then workout until 5:30, and then I’ll head to the store and grab just a few things, make it back to eat and then head to Roddy’s for a little and make it home to shower/cook/etc….

Like how crazy does that sound? and this was at around noon…like could my life be any more planned?

But for today and tomorrow, it’s going to be quite hectic. Patrice and I are incharge of cooking for 100 staff members of the IUP campus, so today we are grocery shopping and prepping ahead of the game (prepping baggies, shopping, etc), while tomorrow Kate and Tiffany are helping out in the cooking part. Then Friday morning at 6:00AM we are all reporting to campus to start the deliveries. As fun as it truly is, I’m already excited to get this week over with!! With how hectic tonight and tomorrow night will be, that means the gym has to come in the morning….3:00AM to be exact. Last night when I planned this out I knew I was going to be exhausted, but when I woke up it was SO easy for me to grab my cup of coffee and head into the gym…I was like, wait is this a miracle or what??? KILLED shoulders and chest, and settled for 20 minutes of cardio because I needed to get my butt out of the gym if I was going to make it into work on time!! Hopefully today is a smooth (and short) day because I need to get to campus and start prepping with Patrice.


Time is a struggle, but I think I’m working on it.

Another thing I will paraphrase that Roddy told me that I  think will forever resonate (and hopefully sink into my thoughts): we are always waiting to get work over with so we can shop and get that over with so we can get home and have dinner and get that over with.

How I interpreted that: Why are we trying to get EVERYTHING OVER with? Why can’t we just sit and enjoy the now? Me personally? I think I’m too afraid to let the future come without planning for it. I’m afraid of ‘not knowing’.  We are constantly moving onto the next thing and rushing for the next thing. more, more, more. One day I’ll find peace & let’s hope it’s not too late!!


Morning versus nighttime workout? Pre-workout favorites?


There’s something about waking up, doing what you love as a career, and then hitting the gym. Personally, I get myself up at 5AM everyday so I can make it to work at 8am (one hour long commute..the worst!). I make sure I have time to eat my oatmeal and eggs with a cup (or 2, depending on how rough the morning is) of coffee, get dressed, do my makeup, mess up on my makeup and have to fix it, and have time to forget something last minute! After work most of the time no one ever wants to hit up the gym, but thankfully pre workout comes into play!!


After experimenting with nearly every kind under the sea….C4 Watermelon or pink lemonade OR RSP Dyno fruit punch are my go-tos! (always having deals at bodybuilding!) Personally, I go for the choices that are higher in beta-alanine (the component of vitamin b5 that gives you that jittery, tingly feeling) versus anything else. Caffeine is like water to me—I usually drink coffee around the clock…and by that I mean I drink it at 9pm and fall right to sleep. So the caffeine content in the pre workout isn’t entirely important to me. I need something that will get me out of my seat and sweating!


I used to be a morning gym person, but I’ve discovered that  I have a lot more energy to spend at night. As much as I do love getting it out of the way and getting my day on track, going at night allows me to have a better lift. There is no “right” or “wrong” time to work out, as long as you get over there and break a sweat that’s all that matters.  I actually tried a few 5AM sessions and I was winded within 15 minutes! I guess it doesn’t really help that my carb intake has been on the lower end due to competition prep. Less than 8 weeks out until my first NPC bikini show! Let’s see these changes happen!