By: Courtney King
Courtney King is a fitness guru, holistic nutritionist and Vital Proteins ambassador. Here, she writes about her experience competing in fitness competitions — and the reason behind her departure. Follow her on Instagram (@courtneykiing) and watch her workout videos on YouTube (Courtney King).
I remember the day I fell in love with the gym like it was yesterday. I was doing barbell walking lunges down a small hallway late at night in my home gym. I was getting to the end of the hall and I started to cry. Not because I was in physical pain, but because I knew I did it. I dropped the bar, fell to my knees and started to laugh after tearing up. Mentally and physically I pushed myself to an extreme that I didn't think was possible. Right then and there I knew I loved what I was doing, I loved the gym and the feeling of accomplishment it brought me. I put in endless amount of work, drive, determination and dedication the last 16 weeks to reach that very point. You are probably wondering what the last 16 weeks of work was for, I was two days out from my first-ever national competition. I don’t know exactly what gave me the idea to compete in the fitness industry. I think I wanted to escape and clear my head from a rough past two years I had at the beginning of high school. I needed a fresh start, a new beginning. So, the gym was the one place I could go, put everything aside and just focus on bettering myself. Spending every single day in the gym, training endless amounts of hours, preparing and prepping all my food for every meal for the past 112 days, getting my mind in a mentally good place and learning so much about myself along the way.
I was 17 when I first stepped on stage competing in the National Physique Committee. From age 17 until age 24 I was determined to be the best. I competed at a national level for less than a year until earning my professional status and turning IFBB pro at 18 years old. Fast forward 7 years and I climbed my way through the sport competing as a pro, traveling all over the world, competing on the most prestige stages, meeting the most wonderful people and building my brand and business around the fitness industry along with reaching the pinnacle of my career and winning the 2016 Ms. Bikini Olympia title at 23. Competing at the Olympia year after year, placing top 10, then top 3 and then winning, was the ultimate dream. If I were to look back and tell my 17-year-old self, "You will win the Olympia in 7 years … just keep going," I wouldn't have believed it because of all the obstacles and challenges I faced along the way. I knew if I didn't face certain things in my life, I wouldn't have reached that point. I gave up a lot of those things you're "supposed to do" in your teens and early 20s … but it didn't matter because I wanted to get to the top of my sport. I wouldn't change a thing about giving up a lot to get to the top. I always loved the quote, “If you don’t sacrifice for what you want, what you want will be the sacrifice,” and I knew I wanted to be the best, so that’s what I did.
Living a life on social media and competing professionally for the past few years has had many ups and downs. For the most part, I am so grateful for the wonderful memories and experiences that I've been given though my career in the fitness industry. As any profession, it comes with times of difficultly. I thought many times, “I’m not good enough,” “How can I do more to make an impact on others?” and “I need to be better.” So, I do tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to perform and look a certain way as well as inspire others. In February 2017, my health took a hit. I started dealing with many GI issues as well as hormone and thyroid issues. My body was telling me to "STOP" after years of extreme dieting and putting a lot of stress on myself through training and always looking a “certain way.” My body was fighting against me.
My health has been my main focus since February 2017. I began to look at my body as much more than just that. I wanted to care for my body like I always should have. I don’t regret the amount of hard work and dedication that came with my career competing in the fitness industry, but I do regret not taking better care of my body when it came to overall internal health. Since getting into the world of fitness competitions, I've had many hormonal issues.
Years without a menstrual cycle and having a low-functioning thyroid played a big role on my health. After dealing with that, I started to develop many gut issues that affected my mind and body so much. I am in a much better place now with healing my body and getting myself to true health from the inside, out. It's my full belief that no matter how “good” you look on the outside, feeling good on the inside is what it’s all about! Having balance in life is so important and I want to help people and inspire women and men who might be dealing with health issues or have some type of body dysmorphia or eating disorders; I want them to know that I have been there, and I know how it feels. I went back to school last year to become a certified Holistic Nutritionist and learning about real health has been such a deep passion of mine!
I found Vital Proteins when I started getting very sick and it made such an impact on my life. Now working with this company, I can’t tell you how very blessed and grateful I am for the opportunity to stand by a company that values true health and wellness and is impacting so many people to get back to feeling their best, just like they did for me!