#WorldMentalHealthDay

Creativity. The most fruitful part of healing throughout my life. Whether the medium is photography, styling looks, writing or crafts... I channel my intentions, honest feelings and experiences into everything I get my hands on. Being able to express myself in this capacity is as refreshing as opening a window in a stuffy tight room, and finally taking in that first fresh breath of air. It’s a home to my vulnerable emotions and allows me to let go of what no longer serves me, while also bringing me closer to souls who mirror my own.

creative direction: Maica Sta Ana x @msnerriss

creative direction: Maica Sta Ana x @msnerriss

I’ve grown up pretty aware of mental illness, both learning how to be a supportive ally to those struggling in my family, and figuring out how to navigate my own feelings of depression and anxiety. I held onto demons for far too long, and as an empath had a tendency to hold onto others’ too. Art in all it’s forms has been the release.

At least for me, content creation has always been about storytelling and creation itself. Not recognition nor reputation. It’s a personal ritual. It’s medicine. All the toxic tendencies that I encounter in the influencer/blogging world are discouraging and I always have to ground myself with why I began in the first place. To create. Sometimes you can’t escape the mud that grows around the lotus, but you can continue to grow through it.

I struggle with the ebbs and flows constantly, whether it shows publically or not. The first sign I’m going through it is when I’m introspective and extra quiet in the virtual world. Sometimes, I feel like I have to be a lover and fighter all at once.

I guess my lesson to share and note to self is this. Grow through the mud, even past the days when self-doubt, hopelessness, or anxiety start to peak through. Catch yourself before you spiral and step back. And on the same note, take your time and cherish the present. Don’t rush the process, just give your personal best. Sometimes you’ll feel like you can take the world while other days, your best is just putting one foot in front of the other and it’s absolutely okay.

No matter what it is that brings you down, I hope you always stay rooted in what makes you feel whole. Sending you so much love.

Kindly, Kimiko

Finding Balance After Binge Eating

I've been quiet since 2013 but I'm no longer afraid to speak up about why I chose not to compete in the National Physique Committee bikini competitions. In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I'm going to share my story to shed light on my struggles.

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In 2013, I hired a coach and followed an extremely restricted diet, 900-1000 cals/day to be exact. (NEVER AGAIN.) For once in my life, I saw impressive progress in my physique and eventually my passion for fitness unleashed into an all-out obsession. After the first 12-weeks, I was hooked, and decided I wanted to compete in an NPC bikini competition. But in the process of my competition prep, I ran myself into the ground, and took each detail from my coach's plan to heart. Crying over any one extra bite of food "off the plan". The harder it got to turn food down, binges increased and the more I mentally beat the shit out of myself. I would secretly eat everything in my fridge, without realizing how quick I consumed it all. My memory was numb, and my stomach was an empty pit. I knew It spiraled out of control the moment I saw my face in the mirror with tears rolling down and chocolate covering half my face. This chaos resulted in daily binge eating and orthorexia.

By all means, I did try to work it out with my coach, looking for solutions, but at that point my conditions were too severe. I put my bikini competition goal on hold and knew I had to go to therapy and focus on recovery.

Battling compulsive eating, and orthorexia is no joke, and it still happens to many fitness-driven individuals, but it's an easy problem to overlook. It disguises itself in one's strength to follow through with their "prep plans". At least that's why I let it get so bad. I told myself "you're just finding a reason to give up" but it's important to identify the fine line between mental illness and perseverance. I urge you that the moment you question whether you should be feeling so bad during prep, reconsider the plan before it's too late.

I still respect the sport of bikini bodybuilding, and still admire it's athletes/coaches. It is no lie that a champion needs the strongest mental capacity to survive this sport. And I won't lie and say I didn't learn a lot of positive things out of this process too. I learned I could stick to a plan. I learned to work out in the weight room with the big guys. I learned to prep healthy meals on my own. I learned to not make excuses. I learned I was capable of success I never knew I could accomplish. I will never take any of that for granted.

...but for me, a 900 calorie plan wasn't the way. If succeeding as a bikini competitor meant throwing my health, relationships and other aspirations away... I had to be completely honest with myself and let this one go. At least I knew, it wasn't my time to pursue it. I'm not saying never, but I know there's another way of getting there.

Two years later, I still find it difficult to get back on a strict exercise/meal plan, but through this struggle I found inner strength.

Actually, that goes for ANY type of plan. I gave myself the mental break that I deserved. I've finally embraced that there are multiple ways to maintain a healthy weight without tearing yourself apart, including flexible dieting, and switching up different activities for exercise.

My struggle helped me genuinely understand the importance of balance in one's life.

MY health and wellness is still important to me. Hell, I'll still hold it down in the weight room, and work towards my best health and be in the best shape of my life! You may not see me posting too many gym selfies/meal prep pictures anymore though.  Maybe a post here and there, but I realized I abused social media to add an additional pressure so I wouldn't fall off course. I now realize my journey is for me, and me only, as it always should have been. :)

This happens more often than you think. Be aware, eating disorders do not discriminate. Help a friend if you see these signs. He/She may need you more than ever.