What Am I Even Doing?

Ok, so I've been all over the place lately. Time to clear the air. 

Let's be real, I don't really know exactly what I'm doing or where I want to be. Does anyone? I can't be the only one basically wandering around the land trying to figure out where to put my feet.

Many of you may have known me due to my place in the fitness industry. At around the age of 19 I began posting on Instagram about my fitness journey, did my first bodybuilding competition, and eventually became a sponsored athlete for multiple companies. A year and a half or so later, I'm never going to compete again and I am no longer sponsored by any companies. Some people may see this as a failure or a loss, but not me. I see it as a learning experience.

When I started competing, I knew nothing about the fitness industry, I didn't even know what the Olympia was nor had I ever been to an expo before. Over the year and a half following my first competition, I attended expos all over the country, collaborated with many fitness influencers, and made some of my best friends (and plenty of haters as well). All of it was wild. Everything was new to me and I was always the youngest person at the events, struggling to be taken seriously. This wasn't a bad thing, though, as it taught me to a) stay honest to my beliefs, b) stand up for myself and what I deserve, and c) learn from my elders. 

I wouldn't take any of it back. I wouldn't be who or where I am now without my experiences in fitness, but my mindset has drastically changed. As it should, I mean, I'm 20 years old now. Thus, I slowly began to draw myself away from the industry and those sponsorships this past summer and fall and integrated myself into a new community. 

By: Brendan Bannister | www.brendanbannister.com

In September I began lifestyle modeling. For me, this new path includes fashion, lingerie, and bikini modeling. I was skeptical at first, of my ability as a model and my lack of social savvy when meeting large communities of people, but I fell in love with it. For so long, I felt like the creative side of me was pushed away while I was working in fitness. Pursuing lifestyle modeling allowed me to express my creativity in imagery and in collaboration with other models, creators, and photographers from around the world. It has re-sparked my interest in design and drawing which has led to some exciting projects that I can't wait to show you. I have had the opportunity to travel to Portland, Yosemite, Bass Lake, and all over LA to meet and shoot with some incredibly talented artists over the past two months. In simple terms, it's been so much fun.

I know changing my style of modeling and posting comes with a lot of opinions. The thing is, the kinds pictures I post doesn't change what I believe in. Fitness will always be a part of my life because it has made me a better, healthier, and happier person, but I don't want the industry to be. I have studied nutrition and exercise in depth for years now and have a wealth of knowledge and experiences I still want to share with you all, and will continue to do here!

I realized that I can be a healthy, positive influencer without being a part of the industry. I recently took a moment to remember where I was when I began lifting in the first place. I was at a very low point mentally and began using the gym as a safe place and stress-reliever. 

I exercised because it made me feel good. It made me feel stronger in all aspects of my life. And for that reason, I fell in love with it.

It was then that I realized that it felt hypocritical of me to be so consumed by the industry when in reality, it had nothing to do with why I exercise in the first place. Embodying and sharing a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be valued by a trophy, follower count, or a body fat percentage. To be the embodiment of something, you must be able to take away all of those numbers and material things and remain that person at your core. 

So, here's me. A student always learning, an artist always creating, and health nerd, all in one.