AN anorexia survivor has revealed how fitness helped her overcome the illness – after her weight plummeted to just six stone.
At her worst, Charlotte Stuart, 22, from Brighton, refused to sit down and ate just one small meal a day.
Charlotte, now a personal trainer, was just 12-years-old when she first started to suffer with anorexia both psychologically and physically.
Before her recovery, she would exercise for up to six hours a day, wouldn’t sit down until bedtime and would eat a sole daily meal of chickpeas.
On top of this, Charlotte drank little water – leaving her severely dehydrated.
Charlotte is currently enjoying life in Australia but her recovery turning point came when, at 6st 6lbs, she was told that she would have to defer university for a year as she was too unwell to take up her place.
Thankfully, with the help of supportive family and friends, Charlotte is now a healthy 10st 7lbs and enjoys HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and weight lifting and has a healthy diet.
She said: “I suffered from anorexia since the age of twelve from the psychological and physical aspect. It's quite difficult to pin point what really caused it to start.
“Putting pressure on myself to do good could most definitely be linked but I find that it’s not necessarily a bad thing not knowing how it started, rather it becomes about how to make things better.
“Sometimes things unravel over time and you think about whether that may have started it.
“Looking back, I can truthfully say I was exhausted.
“Your brain is in constant overdrive without you even realising it. Everyday seemed to be the same structured routine and if anything fell out of that it was be chaos.
“You feel like you want to be left alone all the time. Honestly, I had no real emotion to anything.
“I find that choosing recovery is one of those things where you kind of have to catch yourself on a wave.
“Mine I’d say was when I had to defer my place at university for a year because I was too unwell to go.
“I also had to get flown back home from holiday because I couldn't cope out there.
"The fact that it was getting in the way of my education and me furthering myself in life I thought, right I need to get it together.
“My family and friends have been nothing but supportive throughout this whole journey. It's hard to say without them commenting but they are so proud of me and I know they are.
"They are just thankful I'm still alive and breathing and have a smile on my face.
“Recovery has allowed me to laugh. It's allowed me to achieve things I never thought possible and beyond that. I mean right now as I speak I'm sitting on a deck drinking coffee in Australia, my home for the next year.
“There is no way I would have been able to do this. I can now make memories that are happy and unforgettable.”
But, Charlotte stresses that someone’s physical weight is not an accurate indicator of a psychological recovery.
She added: “There is no set way of recovery so don't think that what works for someone else will work for you.
“I found that fitness really helped me through my journey but finding the right balance. Not every day will be easy and that's okay,” she said.
“If you feel like it's time to make the change grab that moment and run with it.
“Be more honest and you will begin to see changes. Make small changes, challenge yourself and know that people are there to cheer you on.
“Most importantly, people think of this illness and purely physical. The psychological aspect is incredibly huge, people need to realise that it's not just about the physical appearance and that's something I want to really try and draw attention to.
“I'm not really about weight I don't think it's a good measurement, especially for anorexia sufferers. If you’re feeling healthy and happy that is the key.
“When the mind begins to change and grow and become more positive that's where someone will see the change. Forget about numbers and calories and routine, focus on the present and let go little by little.
“It's okay to have slip ups just pick yourself back up and carry on. It's a beautiful thing when you can reflect and see just how far you've come.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/charlotte_s95
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