Our Instagram feeds are constantly littered with images of buff, tanned women flexing for the camera.

The #fitspo movement has well and truly arrived, along with millions of women who love to push their bodies to their limits and compete in bikini competitions.

One of those competitors, Colorado woman Julie, is shedding some light on just how much work and sacrifice goes into those bodies.

She used to compete in bikini competitions in 2014 and says that kind of effort is not sustainable all year round.

Advertisement

"I was almost in the single digits for body fat percentage (not healthy), constantly cold, always thinking about my next meal because I was in a deep caloric deficit and couldn't miss a gym session," she wrote in an Instagram post which has been viewed more than 1.5 million times.

"I also remember sending that exact photo to my coach asking him if I was ready because I thought I still needed to lose fat in my stomach ... like what?! Talked about a WARPED brain I had.

"The body on the right is a maintainable body. I am at a healthy body fat percentage, 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. This body is something that I can confidently say I can maintain for life."

She said the moral of her post was to encourage women not to compare themselves to images on magazine covers or bikini competition photos.

"99.9 per cent of them are either showing a VERY VERY VERY extreme highlight reel OR photoshopped. No matter how 'healthy' your approach is to the stage, it is an extreme. Plain and Simple," she wrote.

IF YOU'RE NOT COMPETING THEN WHY ARE YOU TRAINING SO HARD? 🎧 It completely disgusts me that people immediately assume that if a person is working hard in the gym, they must be competing. 🤦🏼‍♀️ It disgusts me is because competitions are NOT the goal of this lifestyle...what happens after your show? LIFE. Why is it that the left photo(a stage-ready body) is idolized in the fitness industry? Why is it what millions of women strive for? That photo on the left was 48 hours pre-bikini competition. That conditioning was the leanest I have ever been and will ever because it is NOT maintainable. Why is it that normal every-day bodies are not truly celebrated in the fitness industry? Why do so many coaches try to talk their clients into "one day competing" as if it is the "ultimate goal" that you can achieve in this lifestyle? Ladies (and men) LISTEN UP...competing is SHORT lived. That body on the left is NOT maintainable.., I was only able to achieve that look for about 7 days...after months and months of preparation. Even though I followed #MacroCounting and a #FlexibleDieting approach with that #WBFF prep, I still was still VERY strict. I measured every piece of food down to the literal .00001g and if I was off by even that I freaked, thinking I wouldn't be ready for the stage which would lead my points to be deducted and my chances of winning not as high. I did not miss a single second of my HIIT workouts or weight lifting sessions. Drank every last ounce of water, every single day for over 4 months straight. That is NOT realistic. We (the fitness industry) needs to STOP idolizing those bodies like they are the ULTIMATE goal, because ultimately we are in this for LIFE-LONG heath. Since when has it been "not" popular to just freaking work on bettering yourself for the sake of BETTERING yourself, not for the stage, a judge or a trophy? I spent too many years trying to please others between and eating disorder and my addiction to please judges. I have finally come to the place of peace and complete balance so I am going to celebrate this body and you should too!! Tag a friend who needs to read/watch this! #SelfLove #EmbraceYourReal #EdSoldier

A post shared by SELF-LOVE • LIFESTYLE • HEALTH (@juliealedbetter) on