By Josh Saunders
A personal trainer shares her transformation from bulimic bodybuilder to cured and curvaceous, now loving her feminine figure and butt as big as a ‘thanksgiving table’.
Johanna Sophia, 23, from Toronto in Ontario, Canada, was so consumed by the ‘superficial bubble’ of the competitive bikini world that the pressure to succeed left her battling with food problems and her mental health.
She started training for competitions after gaining nearly two stone (23lb) in university, as her focus over time switched from getting healthy to looking like a fitness model.
Living off a restrictive low-calorie diet and enduring up to three cardio workouts a day, she started purging once a day and dropped to a chiselled but unhealthy 8st 3 (117lb).
After three competitions she quit in 2014, upon realising how deeply depressed she had become and fixated on finding problems with her physique.
Johanna started focusing on her wellbeing with meditation and yoga, gradually introducing exercise and a healthy diet throughout the year, also allowing herself treats and rest whenever needed.
She began a 100-day squat challenge that helped her to gain three inches on her butt and other strength training exercises to carve a curvaceous body.
Now a personal trainer and fitness influencer, Johanna who is a healthy 10st 5 (145lb) loves her body – particularly her strong and lean butt and legs.
Johanna said: “In my first year of competing, I knew I needed to eat a whole lot less and do cardio up to three times a day.
“I developed an eating disorder, bulimia, eventually I realised that I needed to stop but I was so deep in the competition world and the superficial bubble that it took a long time to figure it out.
“At the worst of my eating disorder, I was super-light and was making myself sick at least once a day.
“I was consuming the low-calorie diet that my coach put me on but also was binge eating junk food – whatever sugary or fatty food I could get my hands on.
“The fixation caused be to constantly pick out the imperfections all over my body, I always felt like I wasn’t enough or didn’t measure up.
“After my third and last competition, it took me a good year to tackle my problems and since then despite there being many challenges since I’ve never looked back.
“I took time to try other methods of fitness like yoga and meditation, I also started doing a bit of running as that was a time where I could clear my mind.
“I focused on learning and taking care of myself first, and the curvaceous body came afterwards as I continued to lift heavier and stay on top of my fitness.
“Getting a bigger butt first started with my “100 day squat challenge” that I decided to take on through my time of depression.
“I ended up increasing my squat 1RM from 225lbs to 320lbs in just 70 days, and with that came an extra three inches on my butt.
“People would call my rear a “thanksgiving table” because it stuck out so much.
“When I used to compete people saw me as ripped and disciplined, but I felt awful and looking back now, all I see is how unhappy I was compared to how happy I am now.”
Since leaving the world of bikini competitions in 2014, Johanna maintains she is much more content and healthier.
After quitting, she struggled to find purpose and battled with depression, eventually finding solace through more mindful exercises and rediscovering herself.
Johanna said: “I had to start from zero and figure out what I wanted for my life, which was when I went through depression.
“I felt I was lost and had nothing to hold onto, I was alone, without confidence or self-esteem, but now I’m the complete opposite.
“I had to go through all of that to help others through it, I feel so much happier and free now, I do as I like and make healthy, good decisions.”
Now she maintains a healthy approach to diet and exercise, since breaking free of the restrictions placed upon her by the world of bikini competition.
Johanna said: “I don’t have a set diet any more, I eat intuitively and allow myself treats when I really want them, I abide by the 80-20 rule.
“For 80% of the time, I’m eating healthy and working out, doing things that will keep my body alive and the 20% is eating what I truly enjoy or while socialising, I’m not afraid to indulge any more.
“What I am mindful of is keeping my protein high, healthy fats moderate and carbohydrates complex – meaning I get the majority of my carbs from foods like sweet potatoes, quinoa, rice and others.
“As a result of all these habits and this free way of living and eating, I can say that I pretty much never crave anything, and I feel more healthy and energized.”
Johanna believes that by focussing on rebuilding herself without obsessive constraints she was able to find happiness.
She added: “I brought a level of care into my eating – which meant being a little more ‘loose’ with expectations of myself when it came to ‘healthy eating’.
“I would allow myself to have more treats when I wanted to, and that meant that I wouldn’t crave them as often and I wouldn’t feel guilt when having them.”
Now she hopes to inspire and empower others through her Instagram account that boasts over 100,000 followers – giving tips on exercise, diet and mindfulness.
Johanna said: “I realized after I came out of my depressed state and eating disorder that there are a lot of women who struggle with the same things, and that fitness was what brought me out of it.
“What I was reaching for during my battle wasn’t a reality, I didn’t look good, womanly and wasn’t happy.
“Now I have the freedom to have an off day or do what I like, my body is just a product of how my mind has changed.”
To follow her progress visit: @growwithjo