"I saw myself as less-than and I wanted to do whatever it took to win," the Blogilates creator says of her bikini competition days.

By Julia Malacoff
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Cassey Ho of Blogilates has made a name for herself in the wellness world by keeping it real. While she's known for her inspiring workout videos, she's also open about the fact that she doesn't believe in diets that involve seriously restricting food intake or making changes that aren't sustainable long-term. She's also talked about her body image issues in a super honest way, something not all fitness personalities are willing to do. (For more on her thoughts about diets, check out her viral video post, "Why I Will Never Diet Again.")

But this hasn't always been Ho's philosophy, and lately she's been opening up about her previous experiences with diet and exercise-the ones *before* she became the body positive icon she is today. She recently told us about how a bikini competition changed her approach to health and fitness by helping her realize that subsisting on only tilapia, chicken breast, egg whites, lettuce, broccoli, and protein powder wasn't exactly healthy for her. Now, she's tackling a body image issue that's a major sticking point in the bikini and fitness competition world: breast implants.

It all started when Ho noticed something strange about the other bikini competitors she was up against. "Never had I ever thought of altering my body until I saw the stark difference between the girls who won and the girls who lost," she explained in an Instagram caption. "Every girl that I met that day was uniquely beautiful, but what I noticed was that the girls who placed in the top five in my contest all had breast implants. I, on the other hand, placed near the bottom five." Her body image took a major hit, and it made her start to think that maybe she wanted breast implants herself.

"In my moments of weakness, I did not see the situation clearly. I saw myself as less-than and I wanted to do whatever it took to win. I wanted boobs. Boobs were gonna make me win, I thought. The problem was... The reason for changing my body wasn't for myself. I wanted to change my body for a panel of judges I didn't even know," Ho explains. She goes on to say that she thinks there's absolutely nothing wrong with getting plastic surgery if it's for you, but in this case, she wanted to do it for other people.

A few years removed from her bikini competition days, Ho shares that her perspective on the whole experience has changed. "I see now that I set myself up for this mental state of weakness. When you put yourself up against other women in a physical bodybuilding competition, your entire worth is how you LOOK. Not who you are. Not your GPA. Not your talent. Not how nice you are. It's literally how low your body fat percentage is and whether or not the ratio of your waist to your boobs and your butt is better or worse than the girl next to you. And guess what? Your entire worth is dependent on a panel of judges who spend a few seconds looking at you like a piece of meat." (Related: I Quit Bikini Competitions and I'm Happier and Healthier Than Ever)

While some people might find fulfillment in participating in these types of competitions, it's clear that for Ho, they were the perfect recipe for body image issues. More than anything, her experience is a great reminder that what can be an amazing fitness experience for some isn't necessarily right for everyone-and that when you find yourself in a moment of self-doubt, a reality check about where those feelings are coming from can make all the difference.

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