This is the reality behind those crazy, buff bikini pictures on Instagram

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Our Instagram feeds are constantly littered with images of buff, tanned women flexing for the camera.

Photos: Instagram / @juliealedbetter

This article was originally published on news.com.au and has been republished here with permission.

The #fitspo movement has well and truly arrived, along with millions of women who love to push their bodies to their limits and compete in bikini competitions.

One of those competitors, Colorado woman Julie, is shedding some light on just how much work and sacrifice goes into those bodies.

She used to compete in bikini competitions in 2014 and says that kind of effort is not sustainable all year round.

“I was almost in the single digits for body fat percentage (not healthy), constantly cold, always thinking about my next meal because I was in a deep caloric deficit and couldn’t miss a gym session,” she wrote in an Instagram post which has been viewed more than 1.5 million times.

“I also remember sending that exact photo to my coach asking him if I was ready because I thought I still needed to lose fat in my stomach … like what?! Talked about a WARPED brain I had.

“The body on the right is a maintainable body. I am at a healthy body fat percentage, I am not constantly thinking about my next meal or stressed when things take priority over my workouts.

“I am strong, content and most importantly confident of the body I have built since 2014. This body is something that I can confidently say I can maintain for life.”

She said the moral of her post was to encourage women not to compare themselves to images on magazine covers or bikini competition photos.

“99.9 per cent of them are either showing a VERY VERY VERY extreme highlight reel OR photoshopped. No matter how ‘healthy’ your approach is to the stage, it is an extreme. Plain and Simple,” she wrote.

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