Entering a fitness or beauty competition comes with a slew of serious commitments, including a strict workout regimen and diet plan. Sadly, rock solid abs won’t sculpt themselves while you sit on the couch with a bag of Cheetos. (Life isn’t fair.)
Former bikini fitness contestant Chessie King has recently opened up about the strict calorie counting that goes on before and during the competition, the binge eating that occurs after and the mental impact this extreme lifestyle has on participants.
For King, a 24-year-old woman from the U.K., entering a fitness competition was a personal challenge. “It was like a science experiment to see how I could change my body. I learnt so much about training and nutrition,” she told The Independent.
And while King discovered how to alter her physique, she admits it came at a cost.
“There’s a huge difference between choosing when you want to workout & being so obsessed you don’t even have the choice,” King wrote on Instagram. “I was addicted to not just looking the leanest I could but I was obsessed with the gym, I spent way too much time there & it took priority over things it shouldn’t of.”
The photo on the left of her Instagram post depicts King in a state where she obsessed over every calorie and second spent at the gym, while the photo on the right highlights her current state: happy and healthy, yet not focused solely on working out.
She wasn’t the only one suffering behind the scenes, though. According to the Instagram star (she has over 260,000 fitness fans digitally following along with her life), many women who participated in the same competition were incredibly unwell.
“None of them had any energy. All of them were drinking red wine to dehydrate. They were so drained and it was just so sad to see them,” she said “It’s a lifestyle for people but it’s not healthy.”
After she’d shown off her hard work on stage and the competition came to a close (King didn’t place), she turned into an eating machine, gobbling anything and everything that was high in sugary goodness. Basically, us every Tuesday night.
“I literally couldn’t wait to have a bag of white chocolate buttons,” King said. “I ate them before we’d even gotten round the supermarket. I showed the guy at the till my packet and he was like, ‘Have you just eaten that whole family bag?’”
From start to finish, King’s experience in a bikini competition sounds incredibly unsustainable. Who would want to put their body and psyche through something so stressful and taxing? Last time we checked, drinking wine to purposefully dehydrate the body and binge eating junk food weren’t healthy habits.
Now, King is working as an advocate for body positivity by using her social reach to show people what being healthy truly looks like. It’s always refreshing to hear women all across the spectrum of body types speaking about their challenges. But just because someone has killer abs doesn’t mean they’re healthy, mentally or physically.