Don't call it a comeback - I've been here the whole time.

April 30th, 2017 - My last blog post. And my how things have changed.

A lot has happened since then - things that will later, I'm sure, turn into future blog posts. Struggles, challenges, obstacles, huge valleys of my life, things that blind sided me, and things I saw coming all along that I was avoiding dealing with.

My last show. Post show blues. A bad rebound. A downward spiral with my body image. A short bought with binge eating. A lot of therapy. And, a divorce.

And on the flip side - so many positives. A new outlook on life. A fresh start. A new belief in myself. So many lessons learned. So much personal growth - mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. And did I mention a lot of therapy?

I have been wanting to blog again for so long, but I have so much I want to say that I've struggled trying to figure out where to start or how to put it in some type of organized fashion. So I'm just going to go with it - just let myself type and see what comes of it.

I guess I'll try to pick up where I left off. I competed in my last show, the Midwest Battle of the Champions on April 15th, 2017. Once that show was over - I fell into some deep post show blues. The "post show blues" was something I had heard about, even blogged about previously, but something I didn't really understand until I went through it. It's hard to explain, but I had spent 5-6 months focusing every second of every day on competing. Prep is an all-consuming experience. And suddenly, it's over. You're left kind of wondering "what's next?" And what I was left with was a body that was in a vulnerable state, surrounded by people all around me who just "wanted to get back to regular life with me". Wanting to order pizza, go out to eat, get donuts in the morning, etc, etc. Everybody wanting to do it all at once, wanting me to be normal - even though this had never been my "normal", not even before I ever made the decision to compete.

I knew what I needed to do in terms of reverse dieting, but with pressure all around me to "be normal", I fell off track. Hard. I struggled with binge eating for several months (I will get into more detail with that in another blog post). In a few short months I was up 37 lbs from stage weight (13 lbs higher than before I even started prep). That's a lot to put your body through in a short amount of time. I was disgusted with my body - I couldn't even look at myself in the mirror. One of my best friends suggested I go see a therapist, a suggestion that upset me because, as always, I thought I could figure this out on my own.

I couldn't. And I learned it's okay to ask for help. I ended up going to therapy and it was one of the best decisions I made in my entire life. My therapy sessions ended up being about so much more than my binge eating issues. We talked about my issues with codependency, feeling like I always needed to "fix people", my control issues, my people pleasing tendencies, the fact that I distract myself to avoid dealing with the hard stuff, and the fact that I've always put other people's needs and what other people think I should be doing before what I actually need or want to do. Once I started addressing some underlying problems, my binge eating literally just stopped. As my therapist said, it's never actually about the food.

I clearly remember my first intake session when my therapist was asking general questions about my life to get a little bit of background. She said "tell me about your marriage". I said uh, I don't know. It's um, fine I guess. We don't really need to talk about that. "That didn't sound very convincing". And out it came like a flood gate.. "I don't know, I mean... my husband... don't get me wrong, I love my husband, but we shouldn't have gotten married. I knew that before we got married. We got engaged way too soon, we hardly knew each other. And my parents tried to tell me to give it a little more time, but I didn't listen. Then I started realizing we weren't quite right together, but at that point an engagement seemed like a commitment you couldn't break. I didn't want my parents to be right. We had already moved in together. We bought a house. Calling it off seemed so messy. I was so worried about what everyone would think if I called off my engagement, I just sort of told myself 'this is the bed you made, now you have to lay in it'."

It was such a light bulb moment for me. Hearing myself say that out loud, I knew I couldn't go on the rest of my life feeling that way. I had to stop living my life so concerned about what everyone else thought Rylee should be doing, and just fucking do what Rylee wanted to do. People heard about my divorce and wondered if my prep and body building competitions were the reason for it. Absolutely not - but I will say, prep can put the toughest of couples to the test - and it will flat out expose a weak relationship. It didn't cause my divorce but it did take a big divide between Cam and I that already existed and made it vastly bigger.

Maybe sometime I'll blog again about my marriage and divorce, but for the sake of the length of this post I'll just say this: You can spend your entire life feeling bad about your situation and your circumstance, you can play a passive role and sit back and watch your life pass you by - or you can make a decision to change it. Sometimes doing the right thing is fucking HARD. That's why so many of us don't do it. I'm not saying if you're unhappy in your marriage you should tell your spouse you want a divorce tomorrow. I don't like the idea of divorce and certainly never thought I'd be a 27 year old divorcee. But my marriage was wrong for SO many reasons, and instead of facing that fact, I had chose to distract myself - first with working out, then with competing when I needed something "more" than just regular workouts, then with binging when my competitions were over. Anything to keep me from feeling. Confronting the hard stuff in my life, feeling the feelings I tried to avoid for so long is extremely tough but the feeling when you come out on the other side is unmatched. At the end of the day, people will have their own thoughts and feelings about me and my divorce. And nothing I say can or will change that. So I stopped giving a shit.

Don't get me wrong, my marriage wasn't all bad. Cam is a great person, just not the right person for me. And that's okay. At the end of the day my marriage was not healthy for me and it was keeping me sick. When you're sick you're not serving anybody well: not your God, yourself, your friends, your family, your work, nothing. I learned some big lessons in my marriage, and I'm still learning. But I am excited for what the future holds.

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