Julie Ledbetter, once a bikini competitor, is now a fitness and body-positive blogger. She knows how tough it is to train for a competition, and in her case, it led to a scary-low body-fat percentage and a very unhealthy attitude concerning her size and shape. That’s why she decided to share a different kind of before-and-after photo with her Facebook followers.
Ledbetter posted a photo of herself taken just before a competition in 2014 and then paired it with a video showing her “after” body as it looks today. In the video and the post caption, Ledbetter explained how her pre-competition body was unhealthy and unsustainable.
“I was almost in the single digits for body fat % (not healthy), constantly cold (in the middle of JULY), always thinking about my next meal because I was in a deep caloric deficit and couldn’t miss a gym session because ‘I was ___ weeks out from my show,’” Ledbetter wrote in the caption.
She also mentioned that even though she had a super toned physique and visible six-pack, she still thought she needed to lose stomach fat.
“Talk about a WARPED brain I had,” she commented.
These days, Ledbetter is healthier, and she’s embraced a positive outlook concerning her body. Her weight has gone up, and she has more body fat. In the video, she said it might be confusing for some people to understand how her progress involved adding pounds. Yet having a maintainable body and lifestyle makes her feel better, physically and emotionally.
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Ledbetter explained that she still works out five days a week, but she’s able to take weekends off and incorporate rest days. She’s also no longer sacrificing time with friends and family in the name of “perfect” eating.
“I am at a healthy body fat %, I am not constantly thinking about my next meal or stressed when things take priority over my workouts. I am strong, content and most importantly confident of the body I have built since 2014,” she stated. “This body is something that I can confidently say I can maintain for life.”
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Ledbetter ends the post by encouraging women not to compare their bodies to someone else’s, reminding them that most bikini competition photos are only showing an extreme highlight reel and aren’t realistic.
The original post has been viewed 6.6 million times and has racked up over 30,000 shares. Clearly, Ledbetter’s message to embrace balance is hitting a chord.
She wrapped up the video with a powerful statement: “Yes, this is my after body and I’m proud of it.”