I recently posted on Instagram why I’m no longer affiliated with a supplement company.
For the past 2 years I’ve been a ‘sponsored athlete’ whereby I got a certain quota of supplements every month in exchange or representing a brand – posting on Instagram, recommending to followers, product tastings, wearing their clothing and attending fitness events. Most of the time with these sponsorship’s you’re expected to do a minimum number of posts per week about the supplements or brand itself. Some of the companies monitor it very closely and other don’t, but obviously it’s expected that you post a fair amount in exchange for around $400 – $500 of products per month.
Last year I made the conscious decision to stop competing and I cut all ties with the fitness industry because, I no longer wanted to be a part of it anymore. Obviously, since then my goals, values and passion have all changed direction dramatically, in a way that doesn’t really align with the values of typical bodybuilding supplement companies.
When I signed with ANS, I was already very open about my stance on the industry and I made sure that I lay everything on the table about whom I was and what I would promote before signing on. I wanted to make sure they got an athlete they were happy with and I was with a company that understood and supported my goals. I was extremely straightforward and transparent in my initial conversation and said I will never be stage lean or ‘photoshop ready’ again (what even is that!?), I didn’t and wouldn’t use fat burners, nor would I promote these products. So, if they’re okay with all of the above then I would love to be a part of the team. The director was happy with everything and at no point throughout my sponsorship did I ever feel forced to do anything I didn’t want to. They’re not the kind of company that ever promoted the ‘sex sells’ side of the industry with photos of DD cleavage with a protein shaker. In fact, the ANS team were some of the most down to earth, fun, no bullshit sort of people I’ve ever come across in this industry. They are all supportive and genuine and really easy to get along with.
But that didn’t mean I tried to force things upon myself. You see, when you’re sponsored and required to promote supplements that aid muscle growth, fat burning and help you towards your fitness goals, you feel like you should look a certain way to be worthy of representing the brand. And you should. No one wants to go to a fat nutritionist so why would people want to buy supplements from a company whose representatives don’t look like fitness models? That’s the way I saw it anyway. Coming up to the Arnolds, I felt myself slipping into my old habits because I didn’t want to be out of place at the expo. I didn’t want to be the ‘fat’ person on the stand so I started doing cardio and reverting back to temporarily weighing food. No one put these pressures on me, I put them all on myself. (I mean fat compared to these bikini girls).
I also felt like a massive hypocrite. Here I was, promoting holistic health and wellbeing, body love and positivity and sharing my story about getting out of an industry that I continued to promote. I felt like I had made a huge amount of personal progress since consciously making the decision to change my goals yet, there was this one thing that kept reeling me back in. I experienced a great deal of angst when posting about any products because I felt like it didn’t align with the messages I’m trying to put out there in regards to health.
Furthermore, I attended and ran tasting sessions after work nearly once a month in different gyms around Melbourne. I stand behind a stand, smile, engage people, promote the products and talk about how amazing they are. Both of the companies I’ve been sponsored by I genuinely love the products so they’re extremely easy to talk about. Tastings were fun, I never had a problem with them. I like talking to people and am an avid people-watcher but I always shied away from the questions that people asked me. I was always confronted with females saying how they needed to lose weight and would this help, or males saying they wanted to grow, would that help. In short no, because unless you have your nutrition and exercise in check, nothing will help. I listened to females openly express how unhappy they were with how they looked; they would grab their stomachs or butts and jiggle their arms and tell me they wanted to ‘get rid of it’ so they’d started this new diet and maybe this fat burner will help. Time and time again I saw individuals place their happiness on how they looked and turned to me for advice on supplements that would help them achieve their goals. This, really didn’t sit well with me.
It made me sad. Like really sad. I wanted to grab these people and hug them and let them know they’re great just the way they are and they don’t need fat burners. But I didn’t, obviously. Instead, I smiled and said that it may help if they had nutrition and exercise in check, this would give the extra kick.
I had people close to me asking why I’d give it up, why wouldn’t I continue to do a few posts a week for free supplements? I’m not about the free stuff and always about representing something I believe in but, it wasn’t important to me anymore. I didn’t care and that wasn’t fair to ANS – they get requests literally daily by budding athletes who will give their left nut to be sponsored, who would represent the brand in a way I couldn’t.
So, around about the time my 6 month contract was ending I decided I no longer wanted to be sponsored, by anyone. I didn’t want to feel like I HAD to post about anything and I didn’t want to feel like I had double standards. I like to be raw, real and honest with everyone and I felt like I wasn’t being honest with myself. I decided to listen to my values and start to fully embody this new Stacie, who didn’t want to be a part of bodybuilding or in an industry that is based solely on looks. And I’m so glad I stayed true to myself because now I feel like I’m no trying to be someone I’m not. I feel like a lot of people on social media try to be this person they think others will look up to and aspire to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool being sponsored. But it’s not the be-all end-all and it’s not the only way to equate to anything.
In saying that, if a natural supplement, coffee, or Doughnut company wanted to sponsor me, that is something I would consider.