Eating disorder past to bodybuilding

I made a promise to myself that when I began my bodybuilding journey that I would not relapse. I tried to purge one time last summer and quickly served myself an ultimatum. The mission would be aborted if I couldn’t lose weight in a healthy way.

I developed bulimia after being sexually assaulted my freshman year of college. The incident was minimized by not only myself but my closest friends. I wanted to pretend that it didn’t happen and that I didn’t lose control. I become extremely depressed and suicidal in the months to follow. I binged and purged frequently. I did not understand the correlation between needing control and the assault until I went to therapy years later.

Eating disorders and sexual assault are unfortunately too common (not necessarily related) but we don’t speak as openly as we should. I am choosing to share my history because women need to know they are not alone. You are not alone.

My bulimia came in phases for about 6 years. I was triggered by financial stress and the desire to be wanted by a man.

I vividly remember losing my starting position on my rugby team at Iowa State the year we won our National Title. I was blacking out often and didn’t have the energy to play such a brutal sport. I was able to pull myself out of it and earned my spot back.

No one knew. I was very good at hiding it. I only talked about my bulimia when it wasn’t active. If I was in a phase, I was in a depressive state and would keep to myself. I didn’t want to be helped. I wanted to be sick.

When I was sick, I was praised for being thin. It was addictive. I remember going shopping and being so pleased with myself that I was so small.

After college I moved to Southern California. There was a lot of pressure to look a certain way and I loved to eat. Bulimia was my solution.

I eventually matured and decided that I didn’t want to be sick. I wanted to be healthy and stopped purging in my mid-twenties however the desire to purge was prominent for years to follow. I wish I could say that at 36, I never get urges, but I do. I still think about it but do not take action.

I disclosed my history to my coach, nutritionist and posing coach when I set out to compete. Bodybuilding requires obsessive behavior and restriction. There are parts of the lifestyle that would be very difficult for someone recovering from an eating disorder.

I’ve spent a lot time in therapy healing and working on my relationship with food over the past decade. Bodybuilding has helped me understand nutrition and truly establish good habits. I haven’t relapsed because of the mental health work that I put in.

The con of bodybuilding is that you go on stage in a temporary body. My nutrition coach always said the bikini look is “anorexic with muscles.” My best friend saw me at a show and was uncomfortable by my thinness. The look is sexy to some and disturbing to others. Either way, a show body is temporary.

I do prefer myself lean now. I am intentionally maintaining around 5% above stage weight. I eat prep 90% of the time and I am enjoying some flexibility off-season. When I indulge, I enjoy it. I work really hard to not shame myself for higher calorie food or exceeding macros.

I’m also in a different stage of life. I’ve had my child and do not want more kids. I truly changed my lifestyle to keep the body that I want year round. If you’re young, you might want more flexibility or need to maintain a higher body fat percentage to have a child. We are all at different stages so it's best to avoid comparison.

If you are struggling or have struggled with an earring disorder, you must acknowledge going in that this sport may trigger you. I would highly discourage anyone from pursuing bodybuilding until they have established a healthy relationship with food. My journey has provided valuable nutrition education that allows me to keep the body that I prefer without purging. I changed my lifestyle to have this body and vow to maintain it in a healthy and sustainable way.

Up next: 1 year recap of counting macros


Aurora aka Bicep Blonde

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1 comment

Thank you for having the courage to share your story! I too have had a similar background and I can’t express more how important it is to normalize the struggles with creating a new relationship with food! Going through this journey is by far the hardest obstacle I have ever experienced in my life!


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