By Josh Saunders
A stocky student cruelly called ‘whale’ by bullies has shed over seven stone to become a figure competitor thanks to being ‘fat shamed’ by a five-year-old.
Kiersten Zimmerman, 19, Edmonton, Canada, struggled to recognise how dangerously overweight she was until a child she was babysitting told her she was ‘fat’.
She weighed a whopping 17 stone (235lb) four-years-ago, which at her 5ft frame put her into the highest level of obesity.
At school, vicious bullies called her a ‘whale’ and other cruel comments that regularly left her calling her parents from the bathrooms crying multiple times a week.
But after being told she was overweight by a child, she started hitting the gym and eating more healthily, which helped her drop down to a slender 9st 12 (138lb).
Now she’s training for bodybuilding figure competitions and uses pictures of how she used to look as motivation to keep working on her transformation.
Kiersten, a personal trainer, said: “I was pretty viciously bullied for my weight, I was called ‘whale’, ‘fat’ and ‘a waste of skin’.
“Being called a ‘whale’ really upset me, regularly I would call my parents from the bathroom crying because of the bullying – despite them giving tips and support it was hard.
“It wasn’t until one of the boys I was babysitting said I was fat that I realised how unhealthy I had become, hearing that from a child was a real lightbulb moment for me.
“Children always tell the truth, they don’t have a filter, so if someone that young told me I was overweight it was clearly an issue.
“I thought people at school were just being mean and I was average size, but after hearing that from a child, it helped me to see more clearly and I knew I needed to change.
“The bullying complemented other reasons why I decided to lose weight, it was hard to walk upstairs and everyday life seemed to get tougher and tougher.
“Although some of the bullying was a motivation for me to lose weight, it was most definitely not the only reason, I knew I had to do it for my own health and well-being.
“I started doing an hour on the elliptical five times a week, then watched my portion sizes and was clever about what I ate, I would only have a burger if I was prepared to cut it in half.
“I’m so much happier now, I can’t believe I let myself get to such a size back then but now whenever I get down I use pictures of me at my biggest to motivate myself.
“Thanks to my family’s support and working hard I’ve been able to change my life completely.
“I’m training to become a profession bodybuilder now and know when I show off my body on stage it will help me appreciate the massive changes I’ve made.
“Before I was heavy, morbidly obese and my BMI was way higher than it should have been but now I’m sculpted, tinier and so proud of how far I’ve come.”
Kiersten rapidly started gaining weight from the age of ten, which she believes was the result of eating unhealthy food and secretly scoffing tins of ravioli in her room.
She believes bullying played a massive part in her overeating, eventually leading her to develop a dangerously high 45.9 BMI – a healthy range is 18.5 to 25.
Kiersten said: “When I was younger I had no control over my appetite, my parents tried to help me but I would secretly eat whenever I was struggling emotionally.
“I was eating a lot of fast food and closet eating canned ravioli as it was fast to eat in addition to a lot of deep fried food, I didn’t eat vegetables or fruit.
“Then bullying in person and on social media played a huge part in my weight gain, when I wasn’t confident in myself, eating was just a way for me to release stress.”
But after being fat shamed, Kiersten changed her diet and focussed on cardiovascular exercise to help her shed weight before looking to tone her body.
She said: “It was hard to do and not as easy as just cutting out fast food and fizzy drinks, it took a lot of mental strength and determination.
“But every pound I lost motivated me to keep going, the mini goals motivated me more and now I’ll never go back to being unhealthy.
“I work out six times a week now, focussing on resistance training and adding muscle to change my physique to become a professional bodybuilder ready for competition.
“The difference is astonishing, whenever people see my before pictures they can’t believe I looked like that and how different I look now.”
Kiersten now says that people who used to bully her ask for workout tips and some have even tried to ask her out on dates.
She said: “It’s funny when people try to reintroduce themselves into my life with different intentions now, some of the guys have tried to take me out but it’s hard to see past what happened.
“Because I changed physically and mentally, people want to get with me just based on how I look.
“A lot of people who used to make fun of me try to apologise now, I find it funny they have only taken time to communicate with me since losing weight.
“Without the bullying, I may not have pushed myself to get healthy but things that people said were pretty horrible and really hurt me.”
Now she’s training for bodybuilding competitions next year and shows off her transformation online to help inspire others.
Kiersten said: “I think back to where I was at 15-years-old and never would have thought I’d be having an impact on individuals and their goals by posing.
“My waist has never been this small, my butt never this big and shaped, nor have my legs been so defined.
“I found a passion for fitness and am a certified personal trainer, I help people online and in person to achieve their weight loss goals similar to how I made my own transformation dreams come true.”
Breakfast – cereal with added sugar in it or four scrambled eggs and toast and banana
Lunch – lasagne with gummies sweets
Snacks – crisps
Dinner – large enchilada
Snacks – two cans of ravioli
Meal one – two egg whites and one organic egg with fat free cheese
Meal two – half banana and VCA supplements
Meal three – whole cucumber with ham and half cup of brown rice
Meal four – two chicken breasts, half cup of brown rice and cup of green beans
Meal five – blueberries or raspberries
Meal six – turkey or steak with vegetables