BY NICOLAS FERNANDES
An anorexic student who ate as little as 600 calories a day and made herself sick through exercising has now recovered to become a WEIGHT LIFTER.
Alyssa Suzanne, 21, of Houston, Texas, USA, started cutting calories and exercising daily at the age of 16 because she wanted to boost her confidence.
The 5’5 (165 cm) teen soon found herself taking weight loss tactics to the extreme and plummeted to 100 pounds (7st), causing anemia, depression, loss of her menstrual cycle, lack of sleep and chronic dizziness.
She restricted her diet to foods with few carbs and low calories like Greek yogurt, vegetables and lean meats.
After two years of crying each time she looked in the mirror or acted upon an urge to eat ‘bad’ food, she could no longer deal with the tortuous symptoms and became determined to recover.
But once Alyssa stopped restricting, she found herself binge eating and often going to as many as three restaurants in one day, causing her to pack on 45 pounds (three stone).
She then took a big step in her recovery process, switching to a plant-based diet and making a promise to herself that she would not exercise again until she was in a healthy enough state.
The student took up exercise again last April for pleasure rather than weight loss and has been in love with weight training ever since.
The vegetarian now weighs 125 pounds (9st), is working on building muscle tone and eats as many as 2,300 calories a day to get more nutrients.
Alyssa said: “At first, it was an innocent attempt to lose weight for the summer so that I could feel more confident about myself, but I wound up spiraling very quickly in a very unhealthy cycle.
“I became very obsessive with my calories and would constantly track everything, including gum.
“I spent more than an hour a day on the treadmill even though I was deprived of energy.
“My eating disorder was a daily battle. I was tired of not being able to fall asleep, for picking at my fat in the mirror and crying at my body every day.
“I was exhausted both physically and mentally. I knew that I wanted to and needed to change.
“Now that I didn’t restrict, I wanted to eat everything. This started my relapse period of consistent binging. I wanted everything in sight, even if I was sick to my stomach. I wasn’t able to stop.
“I adopted a plant-based diet that helped me to honor and respect my body.
“I made a huge step in my recovery by making a pact with myself. I wasn’t going to exercise again until I truly wanted to and was in a healthy place.
“Nowadays, I find myself loving weight training, practicing yoga, going on hikes, and eating whatever I want.
“I am thankful I have found weight lifting because now I’m focused on eating more to build muscle rather than eating less.”
While Alyssa has ridded herself of her eating restrictions and found a healthier way to exercise, she still struggles with difficulties caused by her eating disorders.
She added: “Knowing one’s own triggers and what situations to avoid is very important in long term recovery, but may stay with you for an extended time mentally.
“It is definitely possible to fully recover from an eating disorder and I believe I’m getting closer every day.”