Hey y’all! I’m sure many of you know that February 26- March 4 is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. (That’s now last week by the time I finished editing this…but better late than never, right?)

Every year NEDA has a theme for this week, and this year’s theme is “Let’s Get Real.”

So… let’s do that. Let’s get real about eating disorders and break the stereo types that eating disorders look one way. Eating disorders come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and forms. Eating disorders are silent killers, and too many people are not getting the help they deserve. I believe no body is “not sick enough” and every single person deserves to live life to the fullest, and a life with an ED is not that.

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I want to share my story in hopes that those struggling can gain hope, and see that it will get better. I also want people that are not struggling with an ED to be able to spot the signs in their friends or family and will be inspired to step in.

Eating disorders are mental and physical illnesses that affect millions of people. Here are some scary stats:

  • Eating Disorders affect up to 30 million Americans and 70 million
  • 1 in 5 women struggles with an eating disorder or disordered eating.
  • Middle-aged women are the fastest growing segment of the population being diagnosed with eating disorders
  • Bullying about body size and appearance is the most common form of bullying in schools.
  • The most common behavior that precedes and predicts an eating disorder is dieting.
  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
  • Men constitute 40% of those exhibiting Binge Eating Disorder.
  • Girls who diet frequently are 12 times as likely to binge as girls who don’t diet.
  • 25% of American men and 45% of American women are on a diet on any given day.
  • Americans spend over $40 billion on dieting and diet-related products each year.
  • Four out of ten individuals have either personally experienced an eating disorder or know someone who has.
  • 81% of ten year-olds are afraid of being fat.
  • 52% of Minnesota high school females fast or skip meals to control weight.
  • 20% of Minnesota high school males fast or skip meals to control weight.

*from http://emilyprogramfoundation.org/our-work/eating-disorders/stats-about-eating-disorders/ 2017 Annual Report

This topic is near and dear to my heart because I struggled with eating disorders throughout middle school and high school and still to this day I have bad body image thoughts.  My eating disorder started as an innocent wish to “get a little healthier” and spiraled into extreme calorie restriction and under-eating. As so it does for many. I got to my lowest weight (which I won’t mention) and was extremely weak. I was scared to gain a pound and was excited every time my jean size dropped.

My family and doctors were concerned, but I was never officially diagnosed – even though it’s obvious I had anorexia. I didn’t think I had a problem, and I didn’t see what they saw. I was confused why I was moody, anxious, weak and always cold. At one of my check ups during one summer (can’t remember the exact year) my doctor told me I needed to gain 10 lbs. before he saw me again or else he would really be concerned and most likely refer me to an eating disorder specialist. I did not want that label. I don’t know why, but I wanted to prove I was not sick. But I was.

I had terrible digestion.

I had no period.

I was moody.

I was cold.

I was weak.

One day I woke up and it just hit me. I had a problem. And I was f*cking tired of my own BS. I truly believe God gave me a wake up call.

I dedicated myself to gaining weight and getting strong. I decided to start tracking my calories in a positive way to make sure I was getting enough. I began lifting weights and loved getting stronger. The one catch was… I wanted to gain weight “the healthy way” so I became obsessed with “clean eating” and my restrictive eating developed into orthorexia  – an obsession with healthy eating.

Long story short, I got more and more and more into fitness… which on one end of the spectrum was HEALTHY because it helped me get strong, and learn to view food as fuel. On the other end of the spectrum it was NOT HEALTHY because I discovered “iiym” or “macros” and became less obsessed with the quality of my food and became a slave to hitting my macros every day. I wanted to hit my proteins, carbs and fats TO THE GRAM.

(note: Macro counting is very useful at times, and does not mean you have an eating disorder. But it can become disordered when it becomes stressful or obsessive.)

Even though I was at a healthy weight at this point, I could not give up control of my food. Counting macros became a new form of my eating disorder that I preached as “balance” because I could account for a piece of pizza or a cookie into my macros. (cue eye-roll)

Listen, if you can’t eat a cookie without counting it, that is disordered. (I’m not talking to fitness competitors, I’m talking to the general public or those with eating issues.)

When I went off to college, I tried to loosely track macros here and there and I honestly can say I got to a *pretty* good point. I was not nervous around food (most of the time) and even decided to do a “bulk” (eating in a calorie surplus for muscle gain). Looking back, even though I was “bulking” I was still measuring all my food meticulously and never missed a work out.

Then, I decided to compete in body building which requires precise macro-counting and a rigorous fitness regimen. I don’t think it was disordered in itself, but anyone who has an ED past could be easily triggered, and I was. The prep was not hard for me, because my mind loves control. It was easy to see myself getting lean and having abs. It was after my show that was tough, I’m not going to lie. I reverse dieted for a while until I decided I needed to try intuitive eating. I don’t think I had ever fully committed to intuitive eating, even though I would go through periods of it – it was still off an on. I would always “go back to macros” to “get back on track.” I still have fitness goals, sure.. but I didn’t want them coming before my health goals.

As much as I want to compete again, I knew I had to make sure my body and mind were in a good place.

I started dealing with gut issues again, and my hormones have been out of whack since my restrictive eating disorder and I’ve never fully committed to putting my health first. Gut issues and hormone imbalances are very commonly caused by eating disorders and can last long after being recovered. I started working with Victoria Meyers, RD from Nourishing Minds Nutrition to heal my gut, work on my relationship with food and fix my hormones. She has been amazing and made me realize I still had a lot of pent up disordered tendencies and issues with control. She has taught me so much, I am eternally grateful.

My journey has brought me to where I am today. It has made me stronger, wiser, and more compassionate to anyone dealing with any mental illness. We all have our own struggles, but if you’re reading this I hope you’re not alone. You can get better. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I still have my hard days, but I keep going because I never want to go back to where I once was. I keep going because I have so many other amazing things I want to accomplish (like helping others over come their struggles) that I needed to stay fueled, strong and happy!

Please join me by sharing your story and hashtag #NEDAwareness to spread the message.

I love you all!



Hey y’all! I hope you’re having a great week! As I’m preparing for my next competition, I’m also preparing for…. the beach! Whoo hoo! I am so excited to relax and get away for a few days. My parents and I will be headed to the beach just two days after the competition. I’m starting to gather up the clothes, beauty products, snacks, and other things I think I’ll need at the beach. I thought I’d share my personal favorites I’ll be packing, and some things you should remember to pack! I’m going to break it down into beauty, clothes, and healthy snacks. Let’s get started!




  • waterproof Mascara
    • any kind will do, but waterproof is a must for obvious reasons!
  •  tinted lip balm



  • white tee shirts
    • they go with everything from skirts to jean shorts. I love to get mine at Target.
  • jean shorts
  • white shorts
  • comfy shorts
  • wrap skirt
  • sun dress
  • t-shirt dress
  • off the shoulder top
  • floral top
  • tank tops
  • sweater
  • pj’s
  • undies
  • sandals
  • wedges
  • flip-flops for the beach
  • workout/running shoes if you plan on being active
  • workout clothes for hiking or outdoor activities
  • bikinis (i like to limit it to 2 or 3. It’s good to have options but you  don’t need to over pack)
  • one piece
  • baseball cap
  • sunhat
  • fun jewelry


some of my favorite protein/energy bars:

other yummy snacks:

  • trail mix
  • rice cakes and travel packets of almond or peanut butter
  • travel packs or protein powder (great to mix in oatmeal at the hotel) I like these from PEScience.


  • water bottle
    • I love Corkcicle because they keep your water ice cold for up to 24 hours!
  • sunglasses
  • beach bag
  • cross body bag
  • wristlet
  • reading for the beach – I’m taking a book and a few magazines!
  • your vitamins/supplements
  • cash for beach shops
  • extra sunscreen for your body
  • after burn sunscreen- I know you all wear sunscreen… but just in case!
  • camera – I’ll be bringing my cannon to get some quality shots and my polaroid for some fun snaps.

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I hope you all found this checklist helpful! Let me know what you’re beach (or pool) essentials are!
Stay happy and healthy.



show day

Hey guys! If you follow my fitness Instagram @stephbalanced_fit, then you’ve probably seen my journey of prepping for and competing in my first fitness competition. I haven’t been blogging lately, but I want to pick it back up and I thought I should start by updating you with all that’s going on! Also before we hop in – I may be changing my ftness Instagram to my main instagram and renaming it to match this blog. Let me know what you think.

You can watch my show day vlog here, too!


Let’s do a little recap on the competition!

My first competition was a few weeks ago, the Dexter Jackson Classic in Memphis, TN and I have another local show in a few weeks. Back in January I decided I would want to compete this summer, so I decided to do a 3 month “bulk” to put on the added muscle I would need before cutting (leaning out/losing body fat) for the show. I started prep in April, and prepped for about 14 weeks for this first show.

The competition was one of the most weekends of my life! The venue was beautiful and everyone running the show made it so enjoyable and as stress free as possible. Seeing 14 weeks of hard work come together on stage was so rewarding. I’ve found I have a true passion for this sport and it combines so many things I love.

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I ended up coming home with 3 trophies, which was I wasn’t expecting at all! I won True Novice, Teen, and placed 3rd in Open Class B. Words can’t explain how happy and grateful I was. After the show, I went out to celebrate with my dad and Hayden and we enjoyed a good burger, sweet potato fries and an amazing deep dish chocolate chip cookie skillet topped with ice cream. And we can’t forget the Gibson’s Red Velvet Donut Hayden had waiting for me when I got off stage. I enjoyed the next day and we went out for brunch, before hopping back on track for the next show. I’m currently 3 weeks out!

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I want to share a few things I’ve learned, observed and want to share with you all.

Competing definitley is not for everyone. It takes a lot of discipline and sacrifice if you want to be successful. It can also trigger obsessive exercise and food behaviors for people that have a past of disordered eating. I honestly did not experience that during my prep, but it’s something to be aware of. I obviously had to meticulously track and weigh my food – but it’s for the purpose of the sport – not out of the obsession with food or the fear of gaining weight. There’s a big difference.

Another thing to remember is that getting stage lean, or getting abs – is not natural for your body. It’s a temporary state, and is NOT HEALTHY for a prolonged period of time. Being at such a lean state and in a calorie deficit does affect your hormones. Some are more affected by this than others- especially women. You absolutley need to put on some healthy body fat post show, and work closely with your coach to reverse diet properly. My coach, Paul Revelia has awesome information on his YouTube channel. You can check out his coaching offers at prophysique.com

I will do more posts on body fat, hormones and health very soon. 🙂 But overall, I think competing is amazing, but you have to do it for the right reasons.

Some things to remember if you’re considering competing:

  1. Getting stage lean will not and cannot fix: 1. un healthy body image 2. unhealthy relationships with food

2. People will not love you any more or any less if you compete.

3. Competing does not validate your fitness level.

4. Competing is very expensive. Don’t do it unless you know you have the money too or have saved for it.

5. During prep, it can easily take over your life and you will have to sacrifice certain things for a period of time.

6. If you don’t like structure, you’ll probably hate prep. If you like structure (like me) you’ll find it hard but still enjoy the process. Make sure you evaluate this before hand.


I hope you all found this post helpful, and let me know what else you’d like me to talk about! I’ll update you on my next show and also my post-show plans. 🙂

Stay happy and healthy.




Hey beauties! Sorry it’s been so long! This past month I started college… starting with  move in day, freshman orientation week, an awesome orientation trip,  ending the first few week of classes, and now turning 19! Meanwhile, I had been practicing hours every day for a huge dance competition — Shirttails — that my college has for the freshman dorms every year. (sadly my dorm did not win.. but it was still so fun!) It’s been a lot. But amazing.

I wanted to write a quick post on what I’ve learned so far and also a quick update–  hopefully any other freshman can relate! Even though it’s barely been a month, and classes have not gotten over whelming YET – it’s still quite an adjustment from living at home.

That first week you’re just trying to take it all in and see this whole new world around you. My school has an entire week of orientation prior to upperclassman move-in day and the first week of classes. I literally had a meeting or activity every hour of the day. It seems like it would be a bit much… but they really force you to get to know the campus and your fellow class mates– which is good! I’m used to being an only child, so living in a dorm with tons of other girls is quite different. But I love it! I love my room mate, and we’ve made the most of making our tiny dorm feel like home.

Once classes start, reality hits you that it’s not summer anymore… all the free time you had is sadly no longer there. But the bright side is– college is so different than high school. Even though you’re crazy busy, you some how feel like you have time to do what ever you want. You have so much more control over the classes you take, and you can really study what you’re passionate about. My school, in particular, is a liberal arts college which encourages you to take classes in a variety of learning domains. For example– my major is Business Econ but I’m taking Spanish, Psych, and World Religions. They may not exactly go with my major, but they’ll make me a more well rounded, knowledgable person.

One of the biggest things I’ve experienced in college is dealing with stress. And no, I’m not more stressed– I’m less stressed. I know, I’m surprised too. Being the perfectionist that I am, I tend to overwhelm my self and therefore deal with feelings of stress and anxiety. I was worried that since I wouldn’t have time to really film YouTube videos and keep up with my blog, I would feel like I failed. Or that I needed to keep up. But, I actually don’t feel like that. I know that I am in college and my main focus should be that– college. Studying hard and having fun. I’m still here,  I’m still “Beauty and Bananas”, and I’m still going to be posting. It just may be a little less frequent. And thats okay.  I thought of what I would tell a friend that was stressed out or trying to live up to her high expectations. “Just let it go. Take life a day at a time. Don’t worry about being perfect.”


Going along with “not trying to be perfect”, I’ve learned to just be as healthy as I can without being obsessive. Living a healthy lifestyle should not be stressful. Most college cafeterias have so many options now, that you eat fairly healthy. And indulge when you want to. I haven’t been working out quite as much as I did at home, but I’m staying very active with all the walking and golf practice.

I hope this post can be of some comfort to any freshman in college, or anyone in a “transition” period in their life. I’ll be back soon with some more beauty/health posts, but let me know what else you would like to see!

Stay happy and healthy.




I can’t believe I leave for college in less than a month! Where has this summer gone?! I know many of you are also going off to college, so it’s time to start shopping and packing! I did a shopping list guide, but I wanted to follow it up with an actual packing list for specifically clothes and beauty. College dorms are small, so you want to pack wisely. You don’t need your entire wardrobe and makeup collection, but you will want options. I’ve put together a printable list, so you won’t forget anything you need! Let’s start checking it off! 😉


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