Before and after. Alexandria Harris /

By Liana Jacob

THIS MUM-OF-TWO defied the odds and dropped ten-stone, beating the body dysmorphia she has suffered with since she was a child.

Middle school teacher, Alexandria Harris (29), from Terre Haute, USA, was an emotional binge eater and never cared about being healthy, despite being teased at high school about her weight. Her unhealthy habits of snacking on fast food four to five times a week, frozen pizzas, sweets and not exercising, led Alexandria to ‘balloon’ to 24st and a UK dress size 28.

Before. Alexandria Harris /

On top of having two jobs and attending church, Alexandria beat her negative inner-voice and dropped down to 14st and a UK dress size 14. Despite being an outgoing joker who loved to have fun, she always suffered with body dysmorphia, which saw her have a distorted view of herself.

“I did not have a lot of love for myself and definitely not about the way I looked. I was made fun of a lot for my size in high school and I honestly believed that I was ugly and fat,” Alexandria said.

“While I was pregnant with my son, I ballooned to well over my recorded highest weight. I realised that when my son was born, I would never be able to keep up with him.

“I couldn’t go out and play and run around with him without being winded and exhausted. I didn’t want to be the kind of mum that sat on the side lines.

Before. Alexandria Harris /

“I knew that my life needed to change physically or I wouldn’t live long enough to see all the big things he would do. I knew that if I didn’t make some changes, I would die too soon from all the weight that was dragging me down.

“I lost five-stone after my son was born and I first started my journey. I then became pregnant again and gained much of that weight back. When my daughter was born, I started all over again. I knew I had to continue to become a better me.”

Although she has lost an incredible amount of weight, Alexandria still has moments of doubt about her look.

Now and then. Alexandria Harris /

“I still carry those wounds around, but thankfully this journey has really helped me build self-confidence and while I still have body dysmorphic tendencies, I’m being healed mentally as well as physically in this area,” she said.

“Losing weight has made my life so much better in every single way. I feel strong and confident. I love the way I’m looking in the mirror every day.

“I can go out and do things I never dreamed I would do; such as go rock climbing with my husband. My family and I go on walks all the time, whereas before I hated, even dreaded, going outside.

“My husband tells me and others all the time that he has a new wife and the changes in diet and exercise have transformed his life as well.”

Alexandria and husband – now (above) and before (below). Alexandria Harris /

The hardest part for Alexandria was learning to fight the negative voice in her head, but she felt her faith and persistence kept her on the right track.

“Most of my weight loss is learning to use self-control and growing more disciplined. Before losing the weight, I couldn’t tell myself no or stop,” she said.

“Fighting all the negative images and thoughts I had about myself when they began to overwhelm me and learning to put my trust in God and not binge eat, really helped me start to overcome the mental blockades.

“I love the transformation that has taken place. I still have hard days where old thoughts creep into my brain, but most days I feel confident. I feel healthy. I feel so strong.

“I’m learning to love and care for myself more than I ever have. I feel like losing the weight has brought me closer to my husband and has made me rely on God more than ever, greatly improving my spiritual and mental health as well.”

Alexandria now. Alexandria Harris /

To lose the weight, she started to study nutrition and learn about the way the body uses food for fuel and adding exercise to her routine.

“Doing this, I’ve had to really make sure that I write all my food and macros down, learn how to weigh and properly measure my food, enforce portion control, listening to my body when it’s full and buying clean, fresh foods instead of overly processed junk,” Alexandria said.

“About four months after my son was born, I learned and researched a ketogenic/low carb lifestyle. It consists of low carbs, high fat and high protein. I set my macros a little higher on the protein because I am so much more active.

“A lot of people don’t recognise me. They don’t believe that my ‘before’ pictures are me because the two are so different. A lot of friends and family say that my mentality is a lot more confident and determined as well.

Now. Alexandria Harris /

“I just want to tell people to jump in. Don’t get overwhelmed with the task at hand, this isn’t a race. It’s a weight loss journey. You’ll take all different twists and turns along the way.

“You didn’t put on this weight overnight and you won’t lose it that way either. No matter what happens, whether you fall off the wagon or mess up, keep going.

“Most importantly, find what works for you. It isn’t magic health pills, wraps or miracle programs. Consistency and finding a healthy balance of diet and exercise that works for you is what will help you find success.

Alexandria rock climbing. Alexandria Harris /

“Don’t neglect mental health either, everybody is different. Don’t get discouraged if one way of eating doesn’t work for you. Try, try again and always keep working at it.”

Body dysmorphia is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to have a distorted view of how they look and spend a lot of time worrying about their appearance.