I was ugliest when I was skinniest.

There’s a time in my life that I keep under a very secret lock and key because it’s too painful to bring it up. But, since we are all on the same journey of self-love and acceptance, I’d love to share one of my most vulnerable stories with you.

Back in the day, I was a figure competitor. I worked out like a crazy woman, ate sometimes no more than 900 calories a day, did 3 cardio workouts a day, all so I could get on stage for :30 before a panel of male judges who decided that I was best or worst.

The deprivation brought out a lot of terribleness in me. I was exhausted and physically and mentally drained.

I had a sticker on my computer that said, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” (That’s not true, chocolate is pretty damn delicious!)

But the mindset was one of deprivation, obsession and body loathing.

It’s interesting because at my leanest of times, holding around 13% body fat, I was in the most miserable place I had ever been in my life.

I worked out with a group of girls and we all competed together. I loved those girls. But on the same token, I was jealous as hell of them. There was one who was genetically gifted and had beautiful broad shoulders naturally. There was another one who was petite and brunette and just simply gorgeous, and I watched them go through their journey as I went through mine.

I watched them with jealousy – that evil spear of hatred when you see someone getting something you’re not. I watched them lose weight faster than me, and watched them become the “ideal” body type to get on stage and I became more and more self-conscious and self aware of my faults. I was never lean enough, I was never strong enough, I was never pretty enough.

So I took to defense mechanisms. I started badmouthing them behind their backs. It was easy for me to hide behind an email and write pretty nasty things about how they were fake, or they had “work” done. I would do anything to tear them down in my eyes to build myself back up.

One day, the person who I was talking to about said things had his email hacked and all the emails he and I had sent back and forth were sent out to the entire bodybuilding community, both local and national.

I took the brunt of it. I was absolutely slaughtered on social media and all the message boards for the fitness community. I couldn’t show my face in a gym, let alone a competition and the people I relied on most – were the people I hurt the most.

What hurt so badly about it was that I could not make amends for the things I had said. There was no denying the things I had said. It was on paper, out there for the whole world to see.

I got so wrapped up in this self-centered view of my world – this drive and want for perfection that I forgot that other people existed. I forgot that I had an obligation to protect my friends, not hurt them. I forgot who I was and I became an ugly, vile person.

This lesson had a profound impact on my life. It had a profound impact on how I view others around me.

At the end of the day, we’re all battling our own demons. We’re all striving for our form of perfection – but it’s all a sham. Perfection is you doing you and you doing you to the best of your ability.

After that lesson, I vowed to never say anything behind someone’s back that I would not say to her face. That’s a hard lesson and a hard thing to do. But this lowest point in my life, when I felt most ugly, was when I realized and started to truly identify the truth behind who I was.

It’s taken me years since that experience and I still don’t know what I would say if I ran into the person who I was nastiest to. But in the interest of time and self preservation and love, I have become who I am today.

I was a cyber bully. I was fixated on myself and my “beauty” and relative perfection. I forgot to look outside of me to really see the beauty everyone else has to offer.

Yes, I was definitely ugliest when I was skinniest. I will never go back there again.