Fitness is a journey, a lifestyle, but not a destination

by Sara Russert

I am using this blog post as an easy way to make an announcement, consider this my coming out… I have decided to switch my sport to Powerlifting this year instead of Bodybuilding.
The short story is that I was struggling with food and decided that taking a break from a deficit diet was a better choice for my overall health and fitness this year. After all, I plan to be fit and healthy for my life… You can’t do that when you are mentally and emotionally unhealthy. I don’t want anyone to worry, I am perfectly fine- but I am fine because I am listening to my coach, my partner, and my body and doing what is right for me at this time.
The long story is that I wasted the first part of my offseason eating junk and not having a strong routine with my training. I had goals of building certain areas of my body and developing a decent amount of mass. I made some gains but not as much as I could have, or as I hoped for. By the time I was back on track with my food and training I had a very short time before I needed to start cutting for competition.
Despite this I was fairly happy with the gains I did make, and I had my head in the game and was ready to get lean for my first show of the year- April 19th. Then I got sick. Like really sick, with the flu followed by a vomiting stomach sickness. I wasn’t able to go to the gym or eat anything but applesauce for about 10 days. I lost 6lbs in that time and only a small amount of that was fat. I was advised by my coach to postpone my first show of the season and wait until june. I have lost a decent amount of muscle which I could not quickly gain back eating at a severe deficit- which would be required to get lean enough to compete in april.
I decided I would do the June show I had planned to be my second show of the year, and started back at the gym. My diet was all over the place though. I was taking advantage of those lost 6lbs and days without any food and eating whatever I wanted. The thought that I would be going back on a diet made me panicky and unable to withstand my food cravings. I was like “I HAVE to have this cake now because I won’t be able to have ANY til August!”. I was starting a 16 week cut under 1700 calories and I knew by the end I would be around 1500…
Again I talked to my wonderful coach, Dani Taylor, and just expressed to her that I was struggling to get back on track with diet, that I was having a lot of anxiety about food, and I was starting to spend a lot of time analyzing all my meals to figure out how to get the most food out of them. I told her I had been binging on sugary foods, without control, any time I let myself have a little leeway. I didn’t think much of it, I guess I hadn’t been thinking at all, but she definitely picked up on my obvious signs of disordered eating. She told me she really wanted me to consider taking a step back this year and postpone competition until I made sure I was in a healthy place with food. She was recognizing early signs of what could turn in to a full blown eating disorder and told me no competition was worth crossing that line.
I talked to my partner, who is a powerlifter on the Plantbuilt 2014 Team and asked for his advice and if he thought I was showing signs of an eating disorder- his answer “definitely”. The two people I am closest to in my life were both advising me to stop dieting for a while and get on track with healthy eating without so much restriction… So I am listening.
I love bodybuilding, I plan to return to it next spring, but for now the healthiest choice for me is to redevelop a relationship with my body where I can listen and eat what I need. I do not think bodybuilding is inherently unhealthy, but some people struggle more than others with making a super clean and calorically minimal diet a part of their every day lives. If you are a person that is already prone to disordered eating and body dismorphia this can get much worse if you aren’t careful. I am very lucky to have people who exhibit healthy behaviors in my life like my coach, Dani, and my posing coach Katy Wayman White. With a different set of mentors I maybe wouldn’t realize that my health is the most important aspect of being a physique competitor. I compete to showcase the healthy body I have built, I don’t build just to stand on stage.
I had considered doing powerlifting for a season at some point anyway so it seemed like a perfect place to shift my focus to. I am super excited to be able to transfer to the powerlifting team and beast the f out at the Naturally Fit Super Show this July. I plan on winning, so make sure you keep an eye on me. I will be the tiny one benching 185.

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One Response to Fitness is a journey, a lifestyle, but not a destination

  1. Bridget Flynn March 20, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

    Good for you, Sara. Your openness is inspiring and you’re going to kill it!!


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