On today's episode, guest Christine gives such a good insight into a world that so many of us don't know a lot about- the honest side of being a fitness pro and competing. She shares some raw & vulnerable moments, with the hopes of helping to open your eyes to this world. She discusses the idea of achieving a fit body, achieving the epitome of health, and the actual road that she had to get to win those competitions. I think there's so much here that's beneficial for everyone to hear, so I can't wait to dive into this episode with Christine Ajisafe.
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You're listening to Biceps after Babies radio episode number 126
Hello and welcome to Biceps after Babies radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PRs. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, wife, and mom of four. Each week, my guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise mindset, personal development, and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel, and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you, my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in, now let’s jump into today’s episode.
Amber B 0:48
Hey, hey, hey, welcome back to another episode of biceps after babies radio. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, and today I am bringing you a fabulous interview, just a fabulous interview, I'm so excited for you to listen to it. I have my friend Christine Ajisafe on the podcast today, and she is going to speak to some things that I think are really important to hear. And that I will be the first to say I'm not an expert in. And at the end of the podcast, I even mentioned how I have a very strong boundary of not working with people with eating disorders with binge eating. And that's because that's not my zone of genius. That's not what I'm really good at. And so I leave people who need that kind of assistance, that kind of help to people who like Christine who can really serve them and help them at such a higher level than I can. And that's one of the reasons I wanted to bring Christine onto the podcast because she gives such a good insight into a world that so many of us don't know a lot about. And that is the world of bodybuilding, the world of looking fit because that's really what bodybuilding is like, how fit can I look. And what Christine does is she kind of peels back the curtain and shows an example of what it takes to be able to “look fit”. And the measures that she took to get to the level where she was winning bodybuilding competitions, she shares her record of how many bodybuilding competitions she's done, and how many she's won. And she was a winner like she won a lot of bodybuilding competitions. But the reason I'm bringing her on is that she is so willing to share the process that she went through in order to get there, and where that's led her now in life.
Amber B 2:36
And the thing that I love most about Christine, well, there are two things. The first thing that I love is that she is very vulnerable in this episode. And she told me before we started recording that she was an open book, that she was willing to talk about anything. That wasn't anything that she was going to shy away from talking about. And I so appreciate her because we talk on some really difficult topics and things that a lot of times there's a lot of shame around these topics, and it makes it so people won't share about them. And we talk about shame in this podcast, especially towards the end. And one of the things Christine says about shame is that shame prevents you from being able to do what you want to do. We think that shame is a tool that helps us to change. And in actuality, shame is often the thing that keeps us from changing. And so she shares some of these really raw vulnerable moments in this podcast, with the hopes of helping to open your eyes to something that is really important to discuss. And that is this idea of achieving the fit body, achieving the epitome of health, and the actual road that she had to get to win those competitions.
Amber B 3:45
And then fast-forwarding to now where she's at in her journey and in her life and the fact that she's been able to recover from a binge eating disorder from bulimia, and now is at the place where she helps and serves women who are struggling with that. So if you are someone who is struggling with binge eating, or bulimia, or has struggled in the past with that, I think there's so much here beneficial for you to hear from somebody who's on the other side who has recovered from that experience.
Amber B 4:18
And if that's not something that you currently struggle with, or have ever struggled with, in this podcast, there are still going to be some amazing takeaways because Christine gets to the point where she really starts to break down the difference between what we think is going to make us happy and make us confident, which is oftentimes why we're setting fitness goals and between what actually does. And so even if you haven't struggled with an eating disorder, even if you don't struggle with bulimia or with binge eating, there's going to be so much in this episode that you can directly relate to the goals that you have currently set. And I think it's always good to be refreshing and ask ourselves some of these questions about why we're setting our goals? Like what are you hoping to accomplish with them? And are the actions that you're taking really aligning with what you actually want?
Amber B 5:09
At the very beginning of the episode, Christine talks about why she got into bodybuilding. And I can't wait for you to hear what she talks about because I find it's something that a lot of women want, but don't talk about. And, again, I hope by her being so raw and vulnerable and sharing these things that most people won't talk about that we can start to talk about them. And we can break down some of the shame associated with it and be able to move forward and to grow and to get to the places that we want to get to. So I can't wait for you to dive into this episode with Christine Ajisafe.
Amber B 5:44
I am so excited to welcome Christine to the podcast. Christine, how the heck are you doing?
I am fabulous. I'm so excited to be, I'm so excited to have this conversation with you today, like actually almost jumping out my feet excited. Thanks for inviting me.
Amber B 6:02
It's gonna be so good. I am just thrilled that you said yes when I asked you to come on, because I know that the conversation that we're gonna have, first of all, I know you and I know that you're going to be real and honest and vulnerable. And I know that the things that you share are going to be mind-blowing for some of the women listening. So I'm so excited that you're here. So let's start out with just the like, absolutely. Let's start out with getting to know your question, right? So someone is just brand new to you, they don't really know you, they don't know what you do. Who are you? What do you do? What is a little bit of your history coming into this space?
Wonderful. Okay, so I help women who struggle with binge eating or overeating, emotional eating, whatever you want to call it, I help them overcome those struggles. And I help women who have full-body image who are constantly thinking that bodies aren't good enough that the size of that body matters, that they can't get the things they want from life because of the way their body looks. And I used to be a personal trainer, I actually stopped training completely around the beginning of COVID. And before that, I was a bodybuilder. So I came from the fitness world, I spoke to people who were like, my life would change if I could change my body. And when I saw that, that wasn't happening with the change of their body. I was like what is missing? There's like a missing step here. And that's how I got into it.
Amber B 7:27
That's so good. And when you were talking about that, I'm curious about your answer to this question. You mentioned that you help women who binge eat or overeat or emotional eat, what would you say? Like what are the differences between those three? Or is that or are they all the same?
Really good questions. So overeating is something that we all do. And it can be for any reason, you know whether the food is really delicious, or you waited too long to eat, and now you're starving. So you're just furiously eating all your food, you don't realize that you've overeaten until you're suddenly like, Oh my gosh, I'm way too full. Right?
Binge eating is more of a complete lack of control around your food, right? You tend to eat what one person might eat for five meals, you tend to eat that in one meal. There's not really any doubt in the person who's binging mind that they've been binging. They may be in denial, but they know, right, you're it feels like you're an actual bottomless pit. Not like when you were a teenager and your parents called you a bottomless pit. Your binge desires are not ruled by hunger, necessarily. Like it might come on from hunger when you're desperately searching your kitchen for what else you can eat after you've already eaten, you know, perhaps five meals, that's the symptom of binging, right?
Emotional eating and binging, do tend to overlap. But it can also be just overeating emotional, and emotional eating is usually avoidance of your emotion. Like you're feeling bored, stressed, angry, sad, and you're wanting to distract yourself from those emotions. And then you use food because at the moment, you know, it's like when you've had a really bad day at work, and you're just like, I can't wait to get home, get in front of Netflix and eat all the ice cream in my freezer. It's the idea of the foods that you have wasted. See, that's going to comfort the feelings that you're having. And also talking about avoidance, all types of binge eating, overeating, and emotional eating tends to be a form of avoidance.
Amber B 9:28
Yeah, so good. And so then does that also bring in and I'm sure this is different for different women, but we have like binge eating and then we have like binging and purging. And would you differentiate between someone who just binges versus a binge and purge or what's the kind of line there?
Absolutely. So binge and binging and purging are different, you know, binging and purging tends to be bulimia and bulimia isn't always purging like growing up. I was bulimic for 12 years. Sometimes the purging part of the bulimia is overexercising, which I also noticed. So you eat problems and some people don't even realize that they purge, right? They're just like, No, I'm just working off my calories. What do you mean? That's the purging, feeling like you have to make up for the food you just ate.
Amber B 10:11
That's interesting. So when you were doing your introduction, you mentioned that you had competed in bodybuilding. And I think this is such that your story is such an interesting story. And it has such an interesting story arc. So, I kind of want to go back to like, when you were starting to compete in bodybuilding, and that maybe that phase of your life. So, you know, what prompted you to, like, set that as a goal or set that is achievement? How many years was that? What was that? Like? What was that part of your life like?
Oh, my gosh, such a good question. What got me into bodybuilding? You know, at the time, I didn't know it, it's in hindsight, that I recognize what it was, is, I have always loved the attention. I've always been someone who really loves and needs love, and significance, they still want attention. When I first got into bodybuilding, what I have learned about myself is that I still love attention, right? We live in a world where wanting attention, loving attention is seen as a bad thing. It's like it was…
Amber B 11:17
That's what I was gonna say I but like, I love it you like own that you want attention and like if so many people would be like, ashamed to say that. But you're like, yeah, I want attention. And we don't have to see it as a bad thing.
No, it's not a bad thing. It's so natural. It's so normal. I mean, look, you have four kids, like, how many times do they do something? Look, Mommy, look, look what I'm doing.
Amber B 11:40
And that's how I am. And we're taught that it's a bad thing. So sometimes we try and find ways to get the attention that doesn't look like we're trying to get attention, right. So essentially, I changed my body and got into bodybuilding because I wanted attention, right? I wanted people to admire me and adore me. I wanted love and significance, all things that I still want, I just realized that, that I can't get those things through other people, right. And I thought that if my body looked a certain way, then I would get that attention and I would get that love. And in some ways, I did get that attention, right? People were always like, Oh my gosh, how do you do this? You're so disciplined. You're so this, oh, my gosh, look at your body, look at your abs, look at your butt. And it's you know, it's great to hear compliments. But the thing is, is a part of me didn't even believe those compliments when I was getting them, right. It didn't give me what I thought it was giving me. It didn't give me a feeling of safety and peace. Like it felt like, if I could just look like this, then I can find peace. Knowing that my body is good enough that I'm beautiful, that people love me that people adore. And when I got home, after or after I stopped reading the comments on Instagram or whatever. I still felt how I felt before I started competing like I wasn't good enough. Like there was something missing. I needed something else to add to me, that would make me better.
And I saw a picture of someone right the day before. I can be very impulsive, right? So the day before I started working out, I saw a picture on Instagram. And it was a before and after picture of a girl, I still remember her name. And in the supposedly 12 weeks between the pictures, and I looked at her picture and that was the first time I'd realized that I could change the shape of my body. Like I thought it was just about getting bigger or getting smaller. I didn't realize but you know, I could lift weights and change the way my body looks. So right then and there. And something I realized the other day that's important in this picture that she posted had a lot of like, 1000s of likes, and a lot of comments. And this was like back in 2012. So, you know, I maybe have like three followers on Instagram at that time. And I saw all the attention she was getting, and it wasn't conscious, oh my gosh, if I look like that, then I would get that attention. But that's really what it was, like needing to have the attention. And then I started lifting and I saw competitors. They got so much attention in the fitness part of Instagram. And people saw them as experts and like the people to listen to, the people to watch, the people to admire because, you know, they're like the 1% of the population. No one else can do what they do, and I really crave that. So it felt like a natural progression. And I did get more attention when I was competing. It just didn't do what I thought it would do.
Amber B 14:58
Wow, that's awesome. I'm curious, you said that this is hindsight, right? This is Christine now looking back and saying, well, that's really what I was craving. I'm curious, what did you tell yourself at the time the reason you were doing it?
You asked the best questions. I'm actually flawed. I should write all of these questions that you're asking down in case I interview people and coffee, like coffee, and have questions. That's a great question. At the time, I thought that I was a little bit chubby, which is hilarious, because I wasn't even close to being chubby, right? But I saw I was chubby, I saw I would feel better if I looked different, and I thought that I had a belly. And I really, my stomach for a long time has been like the bane of my existence. I thought, like, it was the one thing that was stopping me from being a perfect 10. Like, that was literally what I thought. So I started lifting because I wanted them out, right? I thought that having abs would make me look better would get me more male attention. I was single, I still am single, actually. And I just thought it was the answer to everything. I'd like to improve. I thought that having abs would improve me, and I wanted to be better.
Amber B 16:27
Okay, so going back to when you were competing, what did that look like? How many competitions did you do? How many shows did you do? What were those? What were the results from those shows? And what was the point where you were like, Okay, I'm done? Like, what was that transition like for you?
That's a really good question again, I'm gonna have to stop saying that to all your questions. So competing? Ah, gosh, this is such a good question. I can tell you why it's a good question. Because any competitors listening to this, they are not going to like this. But when you choose to get into competing, nine times out of 10, that's a sure sign that mentally you need to pay attention to something because it's so extreme, that there's a part of sadistic pleasure in it. Like competitors want to torture themselves, right. In the last couple of weeks of prep. I was secretly thrilled, over how dead I felt, right? Like when I woke up in the morning, and my stomach was cramping from hunger when my legs felt so tired from the workout that I could barely walk when I had to stop in the middle of running in the morning because I literally thought I was going to die. There was a thrill to that, like, I enjoy punishing myself. And it's like, there's a side of disordered eating that we don't talk about enough. And there's a feeling of enjoyment that comes from hunger, right? Like because you think it means that you're doing the right thing.
And I think that a lot of us have been raised to be punished, right. And we are punished for the things that we do the adults deem as wrong. And what that leads to is adults punishing themselves when they don't feel good, because we think that it is creating change, and it's not. And so my routine for competing, changed a lot. Towards the end it was I would usually run for about an hour in the morning. And then an hour at night, I would lift weights for about two if it was like they may be two and a half to three extra hours on top of that. I would eat about six meals a day. I was not because of my bulimia I was not definitely not spot on with my meals. Sometimes I didn't eat them. Sometimes I would combine a few of them. But my meals consist mainly of chicken and sweet potato and that was about it. There were supposed to be veggies in there but I didn't eat veggies like them. So I would ignore that part of my plan. And then you know in peak week that'd be water loading and cutting so drinking a ton of water at the beginning of the week and tapering off to the end of the week. Taking clan which in case some of you guys don't know it's like an illegal apparmor. I think that actually for animals. I never actually really did a lot of research on that. I didn't do a lot of research and a lot of the drugs they took. I just took them because someone told me it was great and it wasn't my page. My coach actually never told me to take drugs. He knew I was taking them because I told him because I wanted him to be aware when he was making my plan. But I took a lot of drugs and it first started with oral steroids. And then in the last couple of years, I switched to injectables like coils that they actually injected into me. Well, most of the time, it's me, sometimes it wasn't. And that was pretty much my routine.
And it was, you know, I would go out with friends, I was actually just talking about this to my story. I went to Brazil, once with an ex-boyfriend. And we went for about a week to a wedding. And it was maybe the most glamorous, fancy wedding I've ever been to, you know, in Brazil, no one at the wedding party was from Brazil. I mean, the groom I think maybe that was pursuing or something like that, I don't remember. But there were about 200 guests. So they were like 200 people who flew to Brazil for this party. And now it was multiple days, the food was divine, they had like this dessert table that was like, the most beautiful looking cake, dessert, ice creams, like everything you could want. And I looked at this table so desperately because I so badly wanted to eat it. But it wasn't allowed. So I didn't. But so I spent this time in Brazil, we were staying on the beach, running my ass off going to the wedding parties, not eating, or eating like some chicken and asparagus that I brought with me from America, right. And that's what I was eating. But then what would happen is in the evening, I would go run by myself, and my boyfriend at the time would be sleeping. And I would end up somewhere like McDonald's in Rio like 3 am in the morning, and I would scarf down like two meals, get back to the hotel, throw it up and then run again for another hour, right. Now, like that is not you know, and not all competitors are doing like the binging and purging that I was doing. It's just like, it's a pretty brutal schedule for very little payback, right? It's competing, it's not something you get into to make money. There are very few people who are competing, and they're making a lot of money. But does that answer your question about the schedule?
Amber B 22:02
Yeah, it's so good. And, you know, what was coming up for me and you had a post on this, I don't remember it was a couple of weeks ago, that was just like, so spot on. Around this idea of what we think is like the look of health, right, like what we think when we look at someone, and we look at them, and we say this person is the epitome of health. And then you kind of pull back the curtain and show like, hey, here's what I was doing when you looked at me and said I was the epitome of health, is that actually healthy? And most people I think listening to this are like, we can recognize that those things that you were doing were not healthy. And yet, if you looked at you, so many people look to you like she's the epitome of health. And so I think like you pulling back the curtain and being able to share this and kind of uncover this helps to break down that idea that like we can look at somebody and tell if they're healthy or not. So will you speak to that a little bit, because I know you have some really important things to say?
It's so ridiculous that we have this idea that we can tell whether someone is healthy or not. It's so ridiculous. And when you even just listen to my story that I'm telling you, you've got to be able to look at that and recognize that thinking you can identify health from the way someone looks. It's so untrue, that there's got to be a reason that you think that, right? Because you're thinking that you are healthy, just based on being small. There are people who benefit from that. And when I say benefit, I mean make money from you believing that, because it's not the truth. It's far from the truth. Firstly, one of the things I want to buy, let's say that there are people who are overeating or binging, right, we tend to look at people who have bigger bodies and say they're big because they eat too much. And that's not healthy. But for as many big people, as you see who may be overeating, who may be binging, there are tons and tons of people in smaller bodies who are doing the exact same thing. And you just don't know it, right?
So the question is, is it healthier to eat a bunch of food overeat, and binge, and then just say, well done now, and then possibly gain some weight? Or is it healthier to overeat and binge on your food and then panic that you're not going to be expected if your body is bigger than a certain size and throw that food up or run 100 miles to make up for it? So that's something that you have to consider when you're talking about health. And not only that, it's like just thinking about health. What does health even mean? Like when you say you want to get healthy? What does that even mean? Like was so unclear about what being healthy means right? We have all of these ideas that if you're over a certain weight, it's like you magically think if you gained 30 pounds now you're suddenly in danger of all of the heart-related or health-related weight-related diseases. But if you gained 12 pounds, then you'll stay. It's like that's a magic number that makes you unhealthy.
And this is the thing. One of, I can talk about this forever, the supposed weight-related diseases is sleep apnea, right? Or even, you know, diabetes. I'm not obese by any stretch of the imagination, right? That I have sleep apnea. Right? So does that mean that I am now not healthy? Am I not healthy? Because I have sleep apnea? Like are you not healthy because you have headaches? or not you personally but someone listening to this, like, what exactly is the line between healthy and unhealthy and it's healthy meaning there's absolutely nothing wrong with you ever, you never get a headache ever? You are always completely fine, you don't have allergies, you don't have asthma, you're just like in perfect health, right? And that's why I say it's really important to get clear on what we mean by health. There are many people who have diabetes that is not in a bigger body. Like you can't tell someone's health by the size of their body. And even more important, and some people might consider this more on the woo-woo side. Thank somebody, something I want you to consider when it comes to health is let's say you have someone who has a supposedly weight-related disease. Is it their weight that caused that disease? Or is it something else that caused that disease that also caused them to overeat and gain weight? Right, what came first? So for me, what I believe is that our mental health is the most important part of our health. And if your mental health is not in check, then you are not healthy, right? So there are many people who are struggling mentally that manifests into physical diseases, that not even you know, that's not even me being whoo, right? We all know how sick stress can make you. We all know that
Amber B 27:19
So there are so many things. So instead of looking at someone, right, and I mean, and it's just the fact is that you don't know how different people's bodies react to food. We have this idea that we can eat, you know, a pizza, once a day, or once a weekend, our body might not change as some people who might do eat exactly the same food you eat, and that body looks different. So are you saying that everyone has to eat the same amount of food in order to be healthy, that's not healthy, right? If I'm trying to eat what someone else needs, just because they said that amount of food is healthy, even if we're the same weight, even if we're the same height, but I'm still hungry, but I'm ignoring my hunger because so and so is that I only need 1900 calories a day to be healthy, is ignoring your hunger healthy? Like there are so many things to consider that we don't consider when it comes to health.
And on top of that, this desperation to be healthy at any cost possible is not healthy. Health is not something that you have to strive and fight for and stress about? If you're stressing about your health, then guess what you're already not healthy. You can just be healthy, like allow yourself to be healthy, and get rid of all of these ideas about what it means to be healthy. How to me is about happiness and joy, get rid of the things that are getting in the way of you being healthy and happy. And one of those things is the idea that you have to be a perfect size six, or four or two or eight, or you have to have a six-pack and a big butt, you can't have cellulite. Those things aren't true. Those are beliefs, right? We have a belief about what it means to be healthy, but it's not based on facts in any sense of the word.
Amber B 29:08
So good. So good. I mean, there's so much to unpack there. And I think the question that Christine asked was like, What does health mean to you? Like, how will you know when you're healthier is such a good one to reflect on. Because if you aren't clear on what that is what you're trying to achieve, it's like running a marathon that doesn't have an end. Like there's no end you just keep running and running and running. And you're searching for this thing that you don't have ever really even defined. And so when we can start to define it, then we can say okay, this is what I really mean when I say health. When I say health, this is what I mean. And here's how I can reverse engineer the process to get there, get to it. And then I'm gonna have you add on to that because again, I mean, I just love your posts but recently you wrote: can you diet and still love yourself. We all want To make improvements. Question is, why do you think being smaller is an improvement? And I just think that is such a powerful question for women to consider. So what were you hoping when you wrote that to spark until a woman who was hearing that?
Good question again. So this is the thing when I wrote that post, I didn't want to start the person saying, hey, if you feel like you have to be smaller to love yourself, that isn't self-love. If you feel like you have to diet in order to be accepted, loved, and whatever. That's not self-love, like feeling you have to, then you don't have to change anything about you in order to be worth it. But I didn't want to tell people what they are or who they are, right? I wanted them to question it to themselves. Like what is it that makes you feel like you would be better if you were smaller? And a lot of the time that idea comes, it's so ironic, because chasing a particular physique is often exactly what stops you from getting that physique, right? The desperation to be a particular size is what keeps it from you. Because what happens is, you're like, Okay, well, I'm really hungry. But if I want to look like, you know, so and so on Instagram, then I have to starve myself in order to do that. And you're like, that means I can't eat cookies, I can't eat cookies, I can't eat cookies, and in your subconscious mind is only hearing, eating cookies, eating cookies, and cookies. And what you might find is that, when you decide to cut out a food, you then start eating or thinking about that food more than when you were allowed that food. And that tends to lead to overeating and binging. And now you've gained 5 pounds- 10 pounds from the day that you said you were going to lose weight. And it's just a continuous battle. So I really wanted people to question their motives for wanting to be smaller. Like often the idea that you have to change what your physical body looks like, it's a distraction. That feeling comes from within you, right? There's a feeling inside you that tells you I'm not good enough, I'm not enough and I have to change it so I will be enough. And instead of answering that, pay attention to where it's coming from. Why do I think that? Because that's what needs your attention, not your body.
Amber B 32:27
So this is you, this is Christine now, right? Like this is Christine sharing these really eye-opening perspectives, you know, some of these perspectives that maybe people listening are like, I had never considered that I'd never seen the world this way. That's very much in contrast to the Christine that you were talking about initially, who got into bodybuilding, right? That's not like, it's like different evolutions of Christine, right? It's the same person, but it's like different evolutions of you. So I'm curious, at what point did you decide that like, this is not working for me, it's like this, trying to go after this is not working for me now and you start to like, I don't know, peel off some of those layers and figuring out Hey, what am I gonna do? What am I gonna do now, this isn't working for me, what's next?
So I originally wanted to heal my bulimia, because I wanted to lose weight. That is the most ironic process. I felt like if I could get my binging under control, I wouldn't gain so much weight in between competitions, then I could be even better. My body could be even better when I stepped on stage. Because all I ever heard from judges and my coaches is that you can be better and bodybuilding on some level was kind of effortless to me. It wasn't because of the eating and all of that. But as most people around me when I was competing will tell you that I didn't actually work out that hard, right? I didn't hit the gym that hard. And I felt like if I could, my bulimia, I felt like it was like I had one foot on the brake and one foot on the gas right? And it was slowing my progress. So that's originally why I was like okay, this needs to be under control.
It was only as I was in the process like once I and this is the thing about not dieting like once I got out of this constant binge-purge and then every evening I hated myself and tell myself I was the worst and I can't do anything right and everyone else out there is figured out how to, you know, diet and all of that but I can't do it. So once I got out of this binge-purge cycle, it brought up other things that had been trying to get my attention for years, but we're being blocked because all I was focusing on was my body and how it looks. So it was really just like an upward spiral-like okay, one thing came, and then I was like okay, well, I'm not binging right now. And I'm feeling this emptiness, or, like, you know, I've lost 10 pounds and it feels like my body still isn't good enough. Like, I don't understand what's going on. So I just dive even deeper into that stuff that was coming up, right. And then I competed again in 2019 and as soon as I started prepping, there were restrictions and a lot of running and having to work hard and being compared to other people. And what I also want to say is I won, I did about 13, or 14 competitions, and I won about 11 of those. I think there were only three times that I didn't win. Yeah, I was a good competitor, I won a lot. And I won lots overall. So I have like, five overall that I want. And I say that not so you can be like, wow, you're amazing. I mean, you can say that if you want, you know, I'll never adjust that.
But the point is, I won, right, I did what I said that I was going to do, I want the overall too. At every level, I did what I said I was going to do. And it did not give me what I thought it would give me. And I questioned myself, even more when I was on prep, I questioned my body, even more, when I was on prep, I felt less attractive when I was on prep, I felt more uncomfortable. And my last prep was in 2019 ended in September maybe, August or September. And I relapsed and my bulimia came back on this prep, I started throwing up my food again. And that's when I was like, is this worth it to you? Like is this because at that point, I was going for my pro card, right? And I hadn't gotten my pro card. And I had to ask myself what I thought I was going to get from my pro card. Because the same way when I first competed, I was like, I gotta get that overall thought. And when I got the overall award again and again, and again, it didn't change anything. So I had to ask myself whether it was worth it. Like all that I was doing. And sometimes I don't think people evaluate that enough. They're just like, Well, you know, this science didn't work, but maybe another diet will do it. Okay, well, okay, that didn't work. Okay, maybe it's me, maybe I'm not doing it right. Maybe I just need to do it right and then I'll get everything I thought I was gonna get from the side. And at some point, yes, you know, I don't think that you need to diet. But if you all go to diet, like there should be some self-evaluation going on. Like, it's the way I'm feeling changing? Is the way I feel about my body changing? Am I being kind to my body? Am I being kinder to myself, am I receiving and giving more love? Do I feel adored? And at that point, I had to evaluate those things and look at the things that I was doing more stuff with, you know, business by design, I was spending more time with entrepreneurs, I was spending more time with people who I considered super whoo.
And when I was in those environments, I fell away. I didn't feel it when I was competing. And it was because, in that field, it was all about not being enough and having to be better. And that's what they thought was motivational, you know, beating ourselves down and we thinking that was going to create a change. And at every level, nothing changed. So at that point, I was like, Okay, well, I don't think I'm going to do this anymore. And I didn't say I wasn't like I was never competing again. I still haven't said that I do make an effort not to say never. But I didn't think it was gonna happen for a while. And as the months went back, as the months went by, I couldn't even imagine like, I just can't imagine doing that to myself anymore. That just comes to a certain level. We like to look at people who absolutely beat themselves down at the gym, right? Who are Yeah, you know, my legs are brutal. Go to the gym, right? We're like, Oh, cool. You know, I had so many workouts where my shoulder was absolutely killing me. My knee was killing me. I felt sick, but I thought it was bad to keep going to flight though.
Amber B 39:47
I actually use something funny because you're like telling me this timetable. And you don't know this. I haven't told you this. But when the first time that I ever saw you was at BBD live which is a conference that we went to, and it was in October of 2019, which is like right after you said that last time that you competed, and I remember seeing you, and you had on like leggings and like a tank top. And I was like, dang, that girls are your delts. I was like, dang, that girl's delts are like, amazing. And I mean, a good enough spot that like, that doesn't mean anything about me. I can see it and be like, That's awesome, right? Like, that's so cool. It doesn't make me feel bad about myself. It doesn't make me think that I have to have that. But I can appreciate, oh my gosh, she has really awesome delt. But it's just funny to me. Because like this timetable, it overlaps right after that last competition. Again, you're like your body is in like the “best shape”, you're like the healthiest, you're like the epitome of like, fitness. And hearing like the backstory of like, what goes into that is, again, it's the hidden piece that most people aren't talking about, like what the cost was behind getting those big, huge delts that were like, I was like, those are amazing. But what's behind the curtain of that experience.
Exactly! Like sometimes, you know, you see people beating themselves down like that, and you make it mean something about you like you're not good enough, and you're not cool enough, and they have something that you don't have. And what you don't understand is that it takes a pretty deep level of self-loathing to really get into that mindset, and like just the complete lack of peace. You know, I would sometimes work out at 3 am, 4 am, 5 am, 2 am and hadn't slept yet. But because I could not go to bed until I'd done what I said I was going to do at the gym that day. I didn't have the peace. I couldn't do it. And I thought that that was bad off of me that Yeah, I'd get home and I'm yeah, I looked that up. Yeah, I'm so cool. When really it was just like, you really don't like yourself. And that's just something to think about.
Amber B 41:17
Yeah, it's so good. So you've been very open about your past with binging and restricting and purging. And so what has that, especially for someone who's listening that maybe it needs even that right like they resonate with what you're saying because they're in it right now? What has recovery looked like for you? And what would you offer to somebody who and I you know, I'm curious? Do you feel like you've recovered? Or do you feel like you are recovering? But what would you have to say to somebody who is maybe a couple of years behind you? Or is it like, would you like some insight about what this process is going to look like for them?
Okay, great question. I know I said, I wasn't gonna say that anymore but I have to. So I'm going to address your recovered versus recovering questions that are the nominal question, and I feel like I've recovered. And this is something to consider, some people might not like this. But I think that when you have the idea that you will always have an eating disorder, and there's nothing you can do about it. And it's about managing your eating disorder, then you will always have an eating disorder and always be about managing an eating disorder. I don't manage my eating disorder, I don't have an eating disorder anymore. Do I have disordered thoughts about my body come up sometimes? Absolutely! Yes! Sometimes I'm like, Oh, my body doesn't look good today, I should exercise. And then I know that day, I will not be exercising, right? Because I will never ever do that to my body again.
So it's really, I don't believe in having trigger foods. So if you say you've recovered, and you have trigger foods, you have foods that you can't eat, because they trigger binging, then I have news for you, you haven't recovered, because there is full recovery available to you. You don't have to manage your eating disorder. And in terms of insight, if you're dealing with this right now, and I know a lot of people have, you know, when I posted on my Instagram that this is what I was dealing with, I got a few messages from people who said they were dealing with the same thing. And the sad thing is I have followed up with these people over time because I really wanted to help them. And I haven't gotten a response from most of them, which lets me know that you know, I don't want to assume, but I am assuming that it's because they're still knee-deep in it and they feel shame.
So the first thing I would say is to stop the shame cycle. And I know that that's so easy to say and not that easy to do. But I would try hyping yourself up. Like when you have a binge then it's like you know what, you frickin rocked it like last time you binge this, what you did this time you look how different is and the fact that you're even sitting here telling yourself a good job, right? That's so much and it's such a huge improvement from the last time. Hype yourself up, not making it wrong, because the shame that comes with eating disorders is exactly what keeps perpetuating the eating disorder, you hide, you don't tell people about it, and get very lonely. And it seems like you're eating disorders, you're only friends, your only source of excitement. So stop the shame about it, right? Like, stop making it a bad thing. So even if you spend another year binging and purging, you're going to stop saying this the bad thing, and I have stopped doing this and this is awful. You've been doing that, right? And it hasn't worked. So it's time to try something different.
And then understand that, and this is going to be a process to understand that part of your brain that says, I am stressed, and I need food to cope with that. That voice doesn't actually control you. That voice that says that is not the same one that says, Okay, I'm going to go into the fridge and get some food. As a binger, part binger, bulimic, I recognize and I knew that I could, and you probably can relate to this if you have experienced this. There's a part of you when you're binging, that knows that you can stop anytime you want, right? You know that. But then you're like, well, I just choose not to, or you push that voice, despise, because you don't want to deal with it. So you can actually acknowledge your binge judges, like, I know that you really want to dive into six cupcakes, and then 12 donuts or whatever. But you know, we don't actually have to do that anymore. Like, what is this part of me that wants to do that maybe address that instead, don't ignore your binge judges. And that's my problem with people when they tell you to distract yourself. Distractions don't work, distraction is temporary, don't ignore them, acknowledge them, but also acknowledge the fact that you are the thinker of your thoughts. And therefore you can control your actions around them. That's a good place to start, like not making things wrong, and understanding that that urge doesn't actually control you.
Amber B 47:06
It's good. You've said it a couple of times. And it's, I think it's so powerful that I'm just gonna say it again and highlight it. And you've said a couple of times, we think that it's creating change, and it's not. So we think that like, shame is creating change and it's not. We think that making ourselves miserable is creating change. So it comes and I talk about this, a lot of clients, like it comes from a good place like you want to create change. And you think if I stay with the shame if I put enough guilt on, if I put enough shame on, then it will create change and it's not. And so, you know, you've tried that, you've tried that you've given that a good old, good old boy-girl, and it hasn't worked. And so why not give it you know, letting go of that shame and breaking that cycle? And I know, you think that it's gonna, you're gonna, like fly off the handle. That's what people think. Right? They think that it's like if I give myself permission, I'm just gonna give myself an inch, I'm going to take a mile. That's the fear but the other way hasn't worked either. So you know, what could it look like if you tried a new way and remove the guilt and remove the shame. And I love that you said, Don't ignore the binges because a lot of times women are just like, I'm just gonna try harder. Just gonna have more willpower today than I did yesterday and I'm just not going to binge like, I'm just gonna ignore it and it's not actually solving the problem. It's just trying to pretend it doesn't exist, which doesn't get you anywhere. So anything else you want to say on that topic, I want to make sure that you have a forum to say what you want.
I could literally if you take only one thing from this episode, and just say, that behavior that you want to change, I'm no longer going to make it wrong. And you really commit to not making it wrong. That would change everything for you. It cannot be overstated. Don't take that part of what I'm saying lightly. Don't even like going into the well. What should I do to not make it wrong? We always want like, give me three steps. Like, tell me exactly how right? And what you will learn when you get into this is not about how, right there are so many words, but I can tell you in words haven't done it, right. It's not about words. It's just like a feeling, getting into your body. What does it feel like when you do something that you don't call wrong? How does that feel? Like it's just like, stop making it a slice on your character. And you will see a lot of changes. And I mean that mentally as well. Like sometimes we're like, Okay, well, fine. I'll let myself eat cookies because Christine said, but if I just allow myself to eat what I want then I will be fine. That with every bite of those cookies, you're like, this is wrong. I shouldn't be eating it. This is bad. And then you reach for another one, like, this is so bad. And now I'm having a second one. And then before you know it, you've had 16 of them. So when I say don't make it wrong, I also mean that internal monologue. Don't make it wrong.
Amber B 50:23
Don't make it wrong. I love that. That's so good. Coming from somebody who spent a lot of time in bodybuilding competitions, spent a lot of time in the gym and prep and running and all of the things, now that you're kind of on the other side of this and in a different space, how are you approaching health and fitness? How are you approaching your health and fitness goals? Or do you even is that even something that you're focusing on right now?
I don't have any health and fitness goals. You know, my goal for my health is to feel as good as I can, as good as I want, is to experience love and joy every possible moment. And when I don't feel joyful, when I don't feel happy, there are many of those moments, right? I spend time with myself in that feeling. I don't try to get rid of it. I don't make it wrong, right. But that's my health goal to feel as good as I spent 12 years, like, putting on a front without, you know, being happy people will tell me, Christine you are the happiest person I know. Wow, I tell you, I must have been a really great actor.
And that's the thing with shame that we talked about earlier not to jump around but I do kind of jump around a lot. When we try and fix things, ourselves or other people using shame, it just creates a disconnection. So you'll either consciously lie to yourself about the thing you're shaming yourself about, or there'll be some cognitive dissonance going on. Right? And you will think that you're doing one thing, right, but it's the complete opposite. Like, we've all had the experience of like a friend saying, you know, I just don't do this, like, I just don't guilt people anymore. I stopped that and you're like, I'm sorry, what? Did you do that every single day every time I talk to you, are you out of your mind? Because they shamed that part of themselves. So now it's like if they are that person, and they have to feel bad about being that person, so they're just going to tell themselves that they're not that person. So everything that happens, all the evidence that is presented to them, but they still are that person. They don't see it, right. It's like NLP when we just didn't delete things. You'll just generalize the store and delete it. So if something is not making you feel good, okay, I just don't see it. So that's why it's important not to shame yourself about things. I don't remember where I was going with this now.
Amber B 53:04
I don't know. But you ended up in a really great place. What I love, it's like, wherever you end up, I love it. I asked you about your health and fitness goals. And we are a really awesome place. Yeah, and I think like I love that your goal is just to feel good, right? Your goal is just to like, connect, feel love and joy, and experience that. And I think what better health and fitness goal is there than that. I think that's what we're kind of all looking for. Right?
Exactly. And that's why it's important to pay attention to that because I move my body in ways that feel good to me. And when I say feel good to me, I mean real enjoyment. Like I'm almost to the point where I'm turning myself on when dancing, that level of enjoyment. I don't tolerate my movement, I move in a way that I enjoy. And I move in ways that feel good to you, or like, well, I need to look in the mirror and see that I have abs or I have like, huge delt. That's not about enjoying them. Right? That's more about the longing, or where and I'm not saying don't lift the weight, right, do whatever you want. But your level of enjoying something shouldn't be like your return on investment on how your body looks, about how you feel.
Amber B 54:33
So good. I mean I all I want to say is just a big fat, amen. I love that. So Christine, if somebody is listening and they are resonating with what you're saying, where can they find you? How can they connect with you?
I spend a lot of time on Instagram. I spend a lot of time on my stories. So that would be the best place for you to connect with me. And my Instagram is chrissyajisafe. And that's Chrissy with two s's, C, H, R, I, S, S, Y. And ajisafe like A, J, I, S, A, F, E.
Amber B 55:11
Awesome. And you particularly have some programs where you work with women who are experiencing binging, who are experiencing that, like self-loathing that you talked about experiencing the need to like change their body to find success and happiness. So do you have ways that they can get started with that? Or what does that look like?
Yes. So currently, I have the first level of entry I have other than like free content is a 21-day challenge that I do. And that is actually open for enrollment right now. I will, you know, I don't know when they'll be listening to this, but it will reopen again if it's not open by the time they hear this. But I start with a 21-day challenge. And I absolutely, I love this process, like talking to women and hearing. And actually some men, not just women in there, when they realize they have that moment where they realize how they've been punishing themselves for so long. And these beliefs, like we question so many beliefs that they have about their body and why it's not good enough. And they're suddenly like, wait, I don't remember why I said like, what it wasn't good enough. Like, it's just, it's such a beautiful process. I love it, I love it, it lights me up. And that's the first place that people often work with me. But I also do one-on-one coaching and group coaching. So it just depends where you are both mentally and financially. Obviously, the challenge is a lot smaller of an investment and one on one time.
Amber B 56:44
That's great. Yeah, and I, you know, I'm always very clear with clients that I don't coach with eating disorders, that's not my realm. That's not my zone of genius. That is not my area of expertise. And if that's you, and you are resonating with this, I really highly suggest that you go talk to Christine, because this is not my zone of genius. That's why I brought her on. And she is somebody who is going to be able to serve you in a way to be able to get you to a totally new place. And I mean, I think Chrissy, the last thing I will say is just it's so amazing to be able to hear this story. I mean, we're talking about two years ago, right? 2019 was like, really less than two years ago. And where you're at today, from the Christine that you were two years ago is night and day, right? It's like not even in the same realm. And so what I think is so awesome about you sharing this story is that it allows other women to dream and realize that, hey, where could you be in two years? Like if you got this, you got this together and you got help, and you got someone to be able to work through these things with you. Where could you be in two years? And that's what you know, Christine is really good at helping and serving.
Thank you so much for that. And it is I think, because now I'm like celebrating myself because I haven't had that thought and so long. That really was only two years ago. Less than two years.
Amber B 58:13
Yeah, it's not that long ago.
It wasn't that long ago. Wow!
Amber B 58:19
Like a year and like four months ago.
It's crazy. Yeah, that's crazy. So much has changed. So much has happened in that time. And you mentioned that this isn't your zone of genius. This is 100% my zone of genius. I love this work. And I'm really good at this work. And this is the first time in my life that I have been able to look at myself and be like, no, you're good at this like I get up cool and I'm like I'm good at this.
Amber B 58:48
Yes. Oh my gosh, I talked about this a lot on the podcast where I'm like we as women, we need to like to celebrate our superpowers. In general, we're really bad at saying I'm really awesome at this. And I'm always talking about we need to own our superpowers and say I'm really good at this. You are really good at this. Not when I really get it. You are really good at this. So yes, I'm all about celebrating and talking ourselves up and saying this is my zone of genius. I'm really good at this. You are really good at this. That's so awesome.
Amber B 59:17
All right. Well, it has been an absolute pleasure to be able to chat with you and to be able to share you with my audience. I really hope that you guys go and follow Christine. We will link everything up in the show notes. We'll link up her Instagram, link up her challenge if it's open. If not, you can have ways to connect with her. But definitely go in and check her out. Thanks so much, Christine.
Amber B 59:37
A big wow, right? I think Christine is brilliant. I think she has such an articulate way to be able to break down some of these things that keep a lot of women stuck. And the reason I brought her on the podcast is because I think she has such a valuable perspective to share with the women who listened to this podcast. And my hope was that it made you think, it made you know, question where you're at and where you're going and be able to have the tools at the ready in your tool belt that is going to be able to actually get you there. And if you're someone who struggles with binge eating disorder or with bulimia I highly recommend reaching out to Christine going and following her and seeing what resources she has available to you. She is a great resource for that. That wraps up this episode of biceps after babies radio. I'm Amber now go out and be strong because remember my friend, you can do anything.
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