MY BODY IN MY TWENTIES At 27, I weighed 97 pounds. I had a master’s degree in exercise physiology and knew a lot about nutrition, but I also had the distorted vision of an anorexic. I looked in the mirror and saw someone who was fat. I restricted my daily calories to 450. I’d have black coffee for breakfast, a cup of cottage cheese for lunch and tuna salad for dinner. It was my way of retaining some control in a deeply troubled marriage. I also abused laxatives, taking up to 20 at a time until I passed out. I was hospitalized for 60 days. I got pregnant shortly thereafter and forced myself to eat enough to give birth to a healthy baby girl.
THE TURNING POINT When Sasha was six weeks old, I held her inside my bedroomcloset while my husbandshouted at us. It was then I realized I needed out of this demeaning relationship. So I sold my wedding and engagement rings to pay for airfare and flew home to my parents, who’d agreed to let us live in their basement.
With the help of a lot of therapy, I started to introduce more calories into my diet. When my weight hit 100 pounds, I didn’t panic. My demonswere still there, but they were whispering, not screaming. I married again—a wonderful man this time—had a second child, and in 2006, after decades of working as a legal secretary, I became a fitness trainer.
THE MAKEOVER In my forties, I was finally doing what I was meant to do: empower people through training. And I got stronger, too. I started swimming and running. When I was younger, I’d spend three hours on a stationary bike, obsessively burning calories. Now I was training as part of a healthy lifestyle. I’ve done 10 marathons. I sit on the U.S. Masters Swimming Sports Medicine and Science Committee. And I train everyone from women who want to shed pregnancy pounds to Ironman triathletes and former college football players.
MY BODY TODAY I am a healthy 122 pounds and can bench-press my body weight and do 10 handstand push-ups. It’s pretty amazing what I can do on the cusp of 50.
When I was anorexic, I wore sweats to cover up. Today, I rock a sports bra and Lycra pants. Showing my muscle is a way of saying I’m happy, I’m strong, I’ve reclaimed my life and will never let anyone demean me again.
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