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What it took to be “perfect”

Every year I, like many of you, write down resolutions. The No. 1 thing on my list in 2018 is to get healthy both mentally and physically.

I realize mental health isn’t something most people like to discuss, especially with strangers on the internet. But hey, I created this blog so I can be real with you, so no topic is off limits. Our society views “healthy” as someone with a perfect body. But I think it’s much more than that. In order to be “healthy” you need to balance physical health with emotional and spiritual health. Many of us set goals so we can look a certain way, but why don’t we set goals to feel a certain way?

2013 was one of the best years of my life but came with an overwhelming amount of consequences that I’m still suffering from. I was struggling with severe stomach issues for 2 years, and felt I had no control over my life. I was a freshman in college, but I spent more time at the Mayo Clinic and at my parents house than I did at school. The stomach pain was so severe I struggled getting out of bed, I barely socialized with friends, and was so desperate to just feel “normal” again. After countless medical tests, scans, and misdiagnoses’ I attempted to take my health into my own hands. I found a trainer who struggled with Crohn’s Disease (similar to what I have), yet seemed to function completely normal. I confided in him, and he swore the more I exercised the stronger my body would become and the more I could manage my symptoms. Over time the gym became my sanctuary. I looked forward to sweating everyday and I began feeling significantly better. Given, my diet was extremely limited but for the first time in my life I was seeing physical results in the gym. I was surrounded by fitness competitors, and I admired their dedication to the sport and their insanely ripped bodies. At that time, these individuals were my definition of “healthy” (lol). After 3 months at this gym, I decided to prepare for a bikini competition. I was more determined than ever and became extremely strict with my regimine. I exercised 7 days a week, averaging around 3 hours at the gym, and pushed myself until I was shaking and light headed. All I thought about was the gym, and I fell in love with the process of watching my body transform. The endorphins gave me a natural high, and I thought I could keep-up with that lifestyle forever.

Although I was over-excerising, my diet was the most damaging part of my training. Before the fitness competition, my diet consisted of:

  • 1 Rice cake with a cup of egg whites in the morning
  • 4oz tilapia and asparagus for lunch with 1 rice cake
  • 4oz tilapia and asparagus for dinner

 

As I look back on that time, I can’t believe I ate the way I did. I was burning hundreds and hundreds of calories every day at the gym, but wasn’t eating nearly enough to keep my body stable. To top it off, I was taking fat burners, which are basically an unnatural amount of caffeine in pill-form, so your body is constantly burning even when you’re not at the gym. I felt drained, but I also felt sexier than ever before because of the attention I was recieving. People were constantly reaching out asking for tips so they could look like me, and be “successful” like I was.

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I lost over 40 pounds in 3 months. When I stepped on stage at my fitness competition I was under 100 pounds. For reference, I’m 5’10, so I should never be under 100 pounds. I was frail and weirdly proud of it. I placed 5th overall, and was approached by a judge afterwards who told me I should be walking in the Victorias Secret Fashion Show, which I took as a huge compliment.

My hard work was paying off and my wildest dreams were coming true. I was signed by a modeling agency and I won Miss Arizona USA 2014. From the outside, people thought I had it all, mainly because of my body. Little did anyone know, I was falling apart mentally. I began to equate my weight with my self worth; the thinner I was, the more valuable.

I avoided going out or spending time with friends because I didn’t want to be tempted to eat or drink something that would compromise my figure. All I thought about was calories and training. When I attempted to introduce “normal” foods back into my diet I would get sick. Even attempting to eat turkey, chicken, or protein powder was a struggle. My body couldn’t tolerate or digest anything and I started gaining weight back. I remember stepping on the scale at 107, and feeling disgusted with myself. I had torn both labarums in my hips while training, which suddenly made it hard for me to walk and I definitely couldn’t run. Cardio became painful but I kept doing it because I figured it would keep me small. At this point the negative self talk was at an all time high, I constantly thought to myself, “If I gain any more weight, I’m going to lose everything.” I trained harder. I went back to my previous diet. I took fat burners, but nothing worked. My stomach pain increased daily and no matter how hard I trained, the scale was only going up.

My new trainer, Scott (if you live in AZ I highly recommend him), instantly realized all I cared about was the number on the scale. Since I was preparing for Miss USA, it would have been easy for him to push me to exhaustion and give me tricks to fool my body for a few more months. But he didn’t, he encouraged me to strengthen my mental health, and stop pushing myself so hard in the gym. He was the first fitness professional to educate me on the importance of self love and confidence. Looking back, I wish I would’ve implemented his advice to repair my metabolism and focus on my mental and emotional health more than physical. I was so consumed with doing whatever it took to be a size “0” before Miss USA, that I couldn’t focus on anything else. I didn’t lose the weight, and I competed at a size 4. I was considered one of the “bigger” girls at the competition.

My physical and mental health went out the window after Miss USA. The gym was no longer my sanctuary, it was now a means for punishing myself. If I went out with friends, had a drink, or ate something I “shouldn’t”, I felt guilty and spent hours trying to work it off. It was such an unhealthy cycle and I was trapped.

All of this was happening while my life looked perfect on the outside. Of course no one shows their struggles on social media, so instead of turning to get help I kept up a viscid and hoped it would get easier. Don’t get me wrong, I had so many positive things happening in my life and I am so thankful for my reign. However, if I could go back there’s a lot I would change, beginning with telling myself to chill the F out. When I passed-on my crown, I essentially gave up pushing myself in the gym. It was frustrating not to see results, so I avoided it all-together. When I turned 21 I let go of my routine and decided I was just going to have fun. I surrounded myself with friends, went out to clubs every weekend, traveled all over the country, and had the time of my life. But my new routine of not caring wasn’t working either. I went from one extreme to the other and my body broke down.

To this day, I’m still trying to repair my metabolism. Because of my torn labarums, I will need double hip surgery in the near future. I torchered my body because I thought the smaller I was the happier and more successful I would be. Let me tell you something, even when I was at my smallest, I still wasn’t happy with myself.

In 2015 and 2016, I wrote “get healthier” as my new years resolutions. But as each year passed, I was frustrated because my body didn’t have that “unbelievable change”. My only goal was to get that “perfect” body back.

In 2017 I made the resolution to do everything I could to fall in love with myself. Sounds weird I know, but I realized I would never be perfect so I was setting myself up for failure. I needed to learn to love myself in every phase of my health journey in order to be the best ME I could be. I transformed dramatically in 2017, because I began practicing self-love every day. I was proud of myself for my growth, and I began exercising again because I loved my body, not because I hated it. I journaled, I cut out negative people in my life, I limited social media, and I believed in myself.

I still battle with insecurity at times, but I’ve never felt mentally, emotionally, or spiritually healthier in my life. This shift changed everything. My relationship with myself and with others has improved dramatically and I no longer feel like I need to hide who I am or how far I’ve come.

Being vulnerable is scary, but I share my health journey with you because I know I’m not alone. I believe the majority of women reading this post will be able to relate to me in some way. But most importantly, I want this post to show you that I’m not even close to perfect. I don’t want to be another girl on your instagram feed that makes you feel less than. I’ve said this before, but social media isn’t reality. No one shares their struggles, failures, and insecurities online. It’s easy to get lost in comparison when looking at someone else’s “highlight reel” but the truth is that NO ONE is perfect.

We’re all beautifully and wonderfully made and it’s the year that we begin celebrating that. I want you to join me and become healthier mentally and physically in 2018. Become the best YOU possible, but don’t sacrifice your health to obtain an unrealistic standard of beauty. Learn to appreciate and love the skin you’re in, and watch your entire life transform.

XO

JWESS

38 thoughts on “What it took to be “perfect”

  1. Jordan,

    This was so incredible to read, you are such an inspiration to all woman! You’ve been through a lot and have over come challenges that are hard to over come. I my self just graduated college and my junior year of college I went to the Mayo Clinic and have been seeing specialists since I was 14 due to awful stomach pains and health issues. I have an autoimmune disease that is like chrons and I am still trying to figure out the fixes to help, but nothing seems to help. Is there a spicific workout and/or meal diet that you do that helps? Or really anything that you find helps your stomach?
    Secondly, I just greaduate with my batchelors in social work & I absolutely love your resolution of becoming healthier mentally and physically, it is a perfect way to start the new year!
    You are truly inspiring and I love how your outlook on life has transformed!

    Cheers to a healthier US!
    Nicole Richardson

    • Nicole, Thank you for your support! I’m sorry to hear you’re battling stomach issues as well, but it’s always nice knowing you’re not alone. I manage my symptoms through exercise and eating a gluten free diet!

  2. Incredible Honey.
    I’m so very proud of you now and always.
    You and Courtney are the best daughters I could dream of having.
    Keep moving forward Jordy and know how incredibly loved you are
    Daddy

  3. Thank you for this Jordan! Such an inspiration. I can’t wait to share this with friends ❤️ TLAM!!

  4. Jordan I love you so much and I am so proud of you and I have always been very proud of you and all you have accomplished and for who you are ❤️❤️

  5. Jordan, thank you for sharing your story. I truly believe you are going to help so many women who are going through this from girls in Junior high, high school and college.

    You are a beautiful person inside and out, continued success in your life.

    Jill

  6. I can totally relate to your article! I have been and still struggle with Body Image issues. Keep killing it out there!

  7. What a awesome and raw story you shared ..very inspiring and appreciated ..I try to be the best version of myself and focus on being healthy. . Entered the giveaway and would loveto win these products to help me achieve my goals …ig username @dpw268

  8. Wow, what an inspiring, great read. I myself am trying to be a better me. Thank you for your inspiration. Good Luck in all!! 💪🍀💚

  9. Wow. So powerful and so amazing of you to share your story! Such uplifting words and great advice for all women and girls to know/ learn.

    Thank you.

  10. Soo great! I think so many people struggle with trying to be perfect or match someone they see on the internet when really perfect is just a mirage. We need to prioritize mental health!

  11. This is so inspirational!! overcoming obsticals to be the best you, amazing 💓 Great post

  12. This is so powerful and brave. I have been following you since Savannah became Miss Teen AZ and have always admired you from social media. Honestly I read your blog to enter in your most recent giveaway… but the truth is reading this gave me more than a months supply of product. I have been so mentally unhealthy for so long and this year I also made it a “New Years intention” to take the steps to change that. I needed to read this post more than I wish to admit. It truly hit home and I am so grateful for your truth and honesty. Thank you so much for sharing.

  13. Ok BABE you are incredible. Not only are you incredibly beautiful (and I def think you have a bangin bod!), but you’re so REAL! Thank you for sharing all of this with the world. It made a big impact on me and I’m sure it will help lots of other girls struggling with this “perfect” seemingly unobtainable body image. We’re already perfect. Love you! So proud to have you as my friend xoxo

  14. That was very touching. We all have hard with mental health and it’s a tuff subject to talk about. I am so happy to see you getting better and pulling it all into balance. Imperfectly balance is how life is meant to be and the wonders of it all !!

  15. if your photo at top is what you looked like at the beginning, i am totaly baffled at why you would think you didnt look perfect. you look amazing! the next photos are totally too thin. go back to eating the right stuff, tone up and be positive! again you look amazing! be you!

    • The photo at the top is me currently, the photos in the middle are from my fitness competition. I’m very positive, and very proud of the progress I’ve made. Thank you for your kind words.

  16. Thank god, most women have the common sense to understand that any contest that requires what you described above is NOT WORTH the agony and the insanity! You didn’t even win the stupid contest. Just Miss Arizona from four years ago. What did that pay you? Not even enough to cover the medical bills you created from the abuse to your body!

    Clearly your IQ is less than 0, not your dress size 0.

    This story is like telling other women not to jump off a cliff. They already have the common sense to know this! Buy makeup with your modeling money, because without a ton of it, the abuse would clearly show on your face! I can’t believe any woman would go through this much suffering for the little bit of recognition that you received.

    Perfect, you say? Perfectly insecure and totally dysfunctional is what the public would call you. Certainly nobody’s idea of perfect! By the way, those Victoria’s Secret models that you compare yourself to are NATURALLY skinny, from genetics. You would have been far better off to go to college and get a business or computer science degree! At least that makes some sense!

    My god!

    • I hope that tearing me down makes you feel better about yourself. It’s funny how all the women on here are calling me inspiring, yet the only man on here wants to insult me and pretend he can relate?
      For the record I graduated college with honors and a degree in Business Management.

    • “My God” right back at you^

      1) Jordan DOES have a business degree, so don’t go trying to come at her intelligence.
      2) You’re clearly not smart because “Perfect” is in quotes in her title and the entire point of this blog post was to show how warped the industry makes women feel- and “perfect” is nowhere NEAR where she wants to be. She shares specifics to show people who aren’t in the industry the lengths she actually went to attempt to become “perfect” – which girls all over the WORLD are doing, and you’re ignorant or live in a hole if you think otherwise.
      3) You wrote that her story is like “telling other women not to jump off a cliff” and “they already have the common sense to know this” YOU’RE WRONG. And if you think what you’re saying is a correct statement- you are delusional not knowing what’s going on in society.

      Jordan showed incredible courage to share HER STORY, in hopes of making an impact on young girls who fall in the same trap she did. If she’s able to positively change the course for just one girl, so that she feels empowered and doesn’t go down the same path, then this blog post- reading negative and hurtful comments by people like you- is worth it.

    • Hi John,

      Wow! I am so glad that not only are you a pageant expert, a Victoria Secret expert, but you also can speak on behalf of all women too?!
      Believe it or not, you sir, have NO right or reason to speak on behalf of any woman or this industry. Not only do you sound completely ignorant from your post, you sound completely pathetic and “perfectly insecure,” yourself if you feel the need to belittle someone’s beautiful and vulnerable story which you clearly no NOTHING about. Do not speak about things and hate things you don’t understand, that’s ignorance.

      If you have any problems in the future regarding Jordan or what she chooses to post on HER social media platforms, please keep it to yourself or better yet reach out to me and I’d be thrilled to give to a reality check :)

      Sincerely,

      Courtney Wessel (Jordan’s little sister)

    • Hi John,
      You are quite the paradox, dear. But I only care to mention a few of these discrepancies, as I’ve got better things to do with my time. First off, I’d like to point out that not only did you take the time to read Jordan’s entire blog post, but you took considerable effort and personal time in writing a reply. I think psychological studies would point in the direction that you care. But I think the millennial term for you is “troll”. My advice is you go back under the bridge you came from, and ask yourself a few questions. You owe it to yourself to do some soul-searching, because everyone can be better than the person you just made yourself out to be. When was the last time you tried anything for the first time? And nailed it? You’re criticizing someone who overcame an obstacle. But it sounds like you’re struggling with quite a few yourself. You’re trying to hurt someone who has found their true purpose and sharing their journey on how they got there. I would take a few fuckin’ notes, because someone who has found their OWN personal value wouldn’t spend time tearing others apart. Your biggest problem seems to be your perception of worth. Why would salary, payoff, or monetary value paint an accurate picture of someone’s passion, integrity, and talent? Isn’t that what life’s true values are anyway? Aren’t we here to learn? I know you didn’t pop out perfect, because here you are…being an idiot. This world has enough evil, and everyone has a choice. You’ve chosen to be hurtful. Degrading. Patronizing. Angry. Vengeful. Even, evil. And I’m truly sorry your life’s circumstances have molded you into something so unfortunate. Until you’re ready to be better, do better, and be the best version of yourself….there will be plenty of blogs waiting for that spiteful person they can punch back at. But stay the fuck away from this one.

      Best of luck to you, poor soul.

      P.S. Next time you fuck with my best friend, hide your IP address. Just a tip for any future attempts at sabotage. Cheers!

  17. I saw your story on MSN, titled “What it took to be perfect”. It was SHOCKING, to say the least, that anyone would put themselves through something like this just to win some phony contest. My god! Only ONE woman in three million can meet the ridiculous demands of the “modeling” industry. Even that one single woman is not good enough, because she would need breast implants. No tall and thin woman would ever have the giant breasts that the industry requires. The modeling industry is a dysfunctional business that promotes an illusion that leaves millions of normal women feeling inadequate about themselves. Let me ask you something. What would happen if NO women were willing to starve themselves like you did? Then, Miss Arizona would be a NORMAL woman! That’s what would happen. It’s clearly a waste of time trying to make sense of your insanity. For some crazy reason, you seem to think modeling is the end-all and be-all of this world. So, feel free to continue struggling to exist on 700 calories per day. What you are doing is taking years away from the back end of your life. Most women live to be 70 years of age. With your endless workouts and inadequate nutrition, coupled with the injuries to your body, you may make it to your late 40’s. And, all for what? When you add up all of the hours spent, and divide them into the money earned by modeling, it comes out to minimum wage! “I destroyed my body and cut decades off my life span, and I was paid minimum wage to do it!” the model says. If that’s your idea of perfect, you clearly do not live in reality! Feel free to delete this, since you only seem to want positive comments that support your insanity here. The industry that you work in leaves millions of otherwise normal women feeling inadequate and negative about their appearance. Thank god, those women have more common sense than you do! One last thing. You certainly did not win any Miss Arizona contest. Every woman there was required to have sex with the men in charge of the selection process. Everyone knows this, how these contests work. Every woman there was thin and pretty, some more than you are. You were selected because you left the old men feeling better about themselves than the other women did. You pretended to like those silly old fools, the sponsors and the judges. That’s why you got to be Miss Arizona and the other girls did not. They were just as thin and just as attractive as you were. Some prize that turned out to be, huh? There is one advantage to your line of work. You can feed yourself for a whole year on just $43 per week! How much can egg whites and bottled water cost, really? I feel sorry for you, that you feel so bad about your body that you need to starve yourself as a way of life! Your correct weight is 145. Anything less is you abusing your body to serve a dysfunction need that you have in your mind. Remember, 49 is your lifespan limit, so make every single day count from now on, little crazy model girl!

    • So much to say hiding behind your phone but no BALLS to show who YOU are because I can guarantee, you couldn’t handle judgement on yourself the way you are so cowardly & ignorantly giving it. Get a life, loser.

  18. Jordan,

    You are an AMAZING and STRONG woman to have shared this experience YOU went through. So much appreciation for you and your encouragement to all women around the world who also struggle with body image, self love, and trying to be “perfect”!

    Keep staying true to you and sharing!

  19. Jordan,

    Regarding the cheap shots the men took at you Courtney and Natalie says it best!

    These men coming at you just misunderstood what you are saying. Clearly you are telling these women your story, how it went with you and what they should stay clear of or change themselves.

    It is clear these men have mental disabilities that they need to get help with. It says something about the way they were brought up, and the environment they live in, is how and why they treat women the way they do. Stay clear of such men.

    Thank you for this. I read your story for my wife, although I was inspired too. My wife is going through some of the same things you mention in your story.

    When I share this with her, I hope she will consider using some of your tips about mental and spiritual health in her routine to get pass her plateau. Women are always comparing themselves to one another, and they should stop it.

    We all could use new ways on how to fight our own demons. Sometimes the old ways just don’t work. From what I read in your article you make real.

    I cried reading your story, and was so happy when you finally found out the truth, from that trainer in Arizona. You stepped up and decided to tell your story! So, I am proud of you for taking this stand in your life.

    Jordan, you keep your chin up for taking a stand to help as many other women as you possibly can. In this life, we only live once.

    In support of what you are doing for so many women out there,

    Thank You!

    Kent

  20. Hi Jordan. First congrats on fighting through all of this. I’ve seen first hand how much of a struggle it is (still learning) and it’s intense. I recently started dating a woman that is struggling with all of this as well and it’s killing me trying to figure out how to help her. She has actually said, the skinner the better but she’s getting rail thin. Her stomach can’t handle food. It’s getting really bad and it scares the crap out of me. I don’t want to wake up one day with her in the hospital. She doesn’t exercise but I’m hoping to incorporate that into her life soon. But she’s a smoker as well (and has high anxiety). I thought it would help but now I worry she’ll just burn more calories and still not eat.

    I’m really at a loss for how best to attack this. She’s just starting the stage of admitting she has a problem and I’m the first person she’s told. So I know it’s a long road ahead. But I don’t even know where to start.

    Did you need to get medical help for your stomach? You said you eat gluten free but did you have to start off with something simple at first? I’m thinking a liquid diet for her at this point just to get nutrients into her system and digested. Most foods don’t last long in her and aren’t even broken down.
    I’m scared for her and the more I push her to get help the more she shuts down.
    Any thoughts on how best to approach this?

    And please ignore the idiots that have NO IDEA what they’re talking about. This isn’t something I would wish on anyone.
    Sincerely,
    One really scared boyfriend

    • Hey Don,

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re girlfriend is struggling, it’s definitely not easy to overcome. All I can recommend is that you continue to support her and encourage her to get healthy while giving her as much love and grace as you can. I’m sure she’s struggling to feel beautiful, so maybe try going above and beyond to make her feel beautiful and worthy as she is. However, I still would urge her to seek medical help, before any of her symptoms increase. I did seek medical help for my stomach, because I have a stomach disease I was diagnosed with prior to my experiences I described in this post.

      My thoughts are with you! Good luck!

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