Confessions of a Bloated Bikini Girl: PART 2

Good morning world 🙂 So, I took A LOT OF TIME OFF and I have decided to take my Confessions of a Bloated Bikini Girl in a different direction. I just got back from an amazing Vegas vacation with my mom and I’m in such a better mental and physical space.

Check out my last video on youtube where I share my fitness journey from overcoming overeating, indigestion, gastritis, and extreme bloating following my last bikini bodybuilding competition. I’m providing you all with an update to my plant-based fitness journey and some of the experiences I’ve had along the way.

A few months ago, my friend, @vayepez90, suggested I start documenting what I like to call … my #bloatedchronicles. Coincidentally, that very same day, my other friend, @mkhendon, sent me @stephanie_buttermore ‘s ALL IN video and it was as if the fit chick stars had aligned for me.

This was my first year competing in the NPC and I am eternally grateful for such an amazing season!

As many highs as I had this past year in terms of physique, there was also a dark side that only my closest friends know about. Following my AMAZING SHOW IN MIAMI with @fitlife_productions, I experienced some severe bloating. I assumed it was the ropa vieja and tostones so I didn’t INITIALLY pay too much attention to it. As the days passed by, the bloating worsened. After 30 days, I realized I was 112-114 lbs and barely fit into any of my clothes. I decided to finally go see Dr. James Maher in Katy, Tx who’s known as the Stomach Doctor (Gastroenterologist). I was treated initially for stomach bacteria, then food sensitivities, and then gastritis. NOTHING SEEMED TO WORK.

Many don’t know this about me but I actually studied Dietetics at @floridastateuniversity AND I was vegetarian as a child. I don’t know how to explain this but my body was craving a plant based diet – on July 10, 2019, I decided to become vegetarian and I haven’t looked back.

Now, why did I mention the “All In” video? Because…in addition to being on my 3rd prep of the season, experiencing extreme bloating, and then beginning my improvement season, I too felt like I could eat an entire pantry in one sitting.  At first I felt guilty then ashamed at how much I could eat.  I thought, maybe I need to do 90 minutes of cardio (reformed cardio bunny over here) and then I thought maybe my coach needs to cut my carbs.  Finally, I started listening to my body.  My coach had told me, if you’re hungry, eat an additional 25 grams of carbs.  Sometimes it was 50 grams and sometimes even more but I ate the good stuff, took out that fake syrup, 0 calorie, sugar free stuff, and just listened to my body.  I’m not the poster child for any of this – this is my journey.  Finally able to look in the mirror, appreciate my body, kill every workout, enjoy every meal, and focus on my upcoming move to D.C.

Blogging and vlogging has sure proven to be a difficult task but it’s definitely something I consider FREE THERAPY FOR YOURSELF. My editing isn’t where it needs to be but I sure hope my content helps someone who is struggling.

Now that I’m in my off season or what a lot of you competitors call improvement season, my carb intake has significantly increase. It’s been challenging balancing my move, vacation, and a new semester but I’m managing! Because… health over everything.

I am enjoying all the fresh fruits and veggies I can right now and living my best life 🙂

Confessions of a Bloated Bikini Girl: PART 1

There I was standing next to some of the greatest physiques from across the world, receiving my 1stplace medal. Me?!The girl that was picked on for being too chubby.  Me?! The girl that was picked on in college for having stretch marks.  Me?! The girl that would never be caught dead wearing a bikini at a pool party. YASSSSS QUEEN – YOU!!!!  That’s what I kept saying to myself over and over.  

As I stepped off stage, I was overwhelmed with emotions.  I sat down to look at my medals and began to reflect on everything I had endured and overcome.  Holding back the tears of pain, joy, and excitement, I looked up and heard my coach say, “Em, I’m so proud of you. The old Emily is gone, you have to let her go. You’re not that girl anymore.” 

I’m not that girl anymore?! Who am I then?!  

It’s quite apparent I suffer from the imposter syndrome, but I’ll save that topic for another day!

June 8,2019 was the day I became a Nationally Qualified Bikini Competitor and less than two days after my show, I looked like I was in my second trimester.  My bloating was so severe, my doctors were convinced I had bacterial gastroenteritis (a digestive problem caused by bacteria).  Defeated by my lack of progress, I decided to pull out of my last competition.  I was rapidly gaining weight and feeling imprisoned by my own body.  Even after 15 tubes of blood and 2 urea breath exams, my doctors are still trying to figure out what’s going on with me.  

I decided to go back to the drawing board. I was determined to find a holistic solution for this gut issue.  Why? Because I come from a long line of Jibaritos (term used to refer to mountain people, who lived “in-land” in the heart of the island and are the backbone of the Puerto Rican culture).  From a very young age I was introduced to the power of herbal teas, natural detox, fasting, and meditation.  In fact, my family was vegetarian in the 90s!  We started eating meat in the fall of 1998 because we moved to Seoul, Korea and at the time, had limited resources.  Realizing the power of proper food and nutrition, I saw my parents overcome Type II Diabetes by simply changing their lifestyles.  Even though their veganism was short-lived, I’m convinced that clean lifestyle saved them – they never touched insulin.

Against the advice of many professional fitness and health gurus, I made the decision on June 28, 2019 to go vegetarian.  You may be asking yourself, “why didn’t she go vegan?”  BECAUSE I LOVE CHEESE (they didn’t call me ratonsita/little mouse for nothing) and I was still enjoying my veggie egg white omelets.  

My famous almond cloud bread, veggie scramble, and unsweetened almond milk cappuccino!

In the next two posts I plan on sharing how my transition into vegetarianism has gone while also nearly doubling my carb intake in order to reset my metabolism.