By Mark McConville
MEET the Irish student who overcame her anorexia with the help of the gym after weighing just over FOUR STONE at her lightest.
Emele Gibson (17) from Kildare, Ireland, suffered from the eating disorder for four years after turning to controlling her food intake to help cope with the loss of her dad.
The five-foot-tall teenager was a UK dress size 4 or under when she was at her lightest but now wears a UK dress size 8-10 and weighs 8st 7lbs following her recovery.
Emele says her decision to kickstart her recovery was accidental but she could no longer grasp the control she once had with food.
“My body had been starved for a long time that I fell into binging and could no longer grasp the control I once had with food,” she explained.
“It led me to gain a lot of weight in a short period of time. I became stuck in a binge-restrict cycle and eventually figured the only way for me to stop it was to break the cycle.
“I couldn’t control my urges to binge but I could decide not to starve myself the day after. It was just a matter of accepting the guilt and the weight gain.”
“It’s massively impacted my life. This time last year I hadn’t even got the slightest desire to get better, and was convinced I’d be stuck in a cycle of restriction and hating my body for the rest of my life.
“Since getting into weight training it’s all completely changed, in every way possible. I don’t stress or panic when eating out in fear god forbid my vegetables might be drenched in butter.
“I’ve also met so many new friends through social media and through attending events which I never would’ve had the confidence to before. I feel like I actually have a life now unlike when I moulded my life around my eating disorder.”
Emele explained her she felt at her lowest and the changes she has made to get where she is now.
“When I was physically my worst it was so tough,” she said.
“I had a two hour commute by bus to school every morning in the winter, and I don’t think I’ll ever find the words to describe how excruciatingly cold I was constantly.
“I also had no period (they returned this year after 3 years gone), my hair was falling out, my bones were thinning from the lack of nutrients my body had. I also ironically was obsessed with food.
“I’d walk up and down the aisles supermarkets scanning and memorising the calories of certain foods and drooling at the sight of the foods I had “banned” myself from having. I’d spend hours watching the food network and scrolling through food porn on Instagram.
“Anorexia is an awfully sneaky illness. It makes you do the most ridiculous things to trick people into thinking you’re eating. I never completely stopped eating, as I wanted my family to have as little concern over me as possible so I’d pile my plate up at dinner with vegetables weighed to the gram and then a vegetarian meat alternative.
“I weight train four times a week now but don’t do much cardio at all. I’ve been following a guide for the past few months called the Strength Feed Guide by Lauren Tickner and I’ve made such good progress using it.
“I eat a balanced diet, which does include chocolate, and ice cream and loads of vegetables too. I love the fact that I no longer feel any guilt towards food. My relationship with food has completely changed.”
Emele also had some advice for anyone who is suffering from anorexia and wants people to know it is possible to get better but you have to want it for yourself.
“Recovery is hard, it’s so damn hard but it’s never going to become easy unless you go for it,” she added.
“People say recovering from anorexia 100% is not possible- from my own experience here’s what I can tell you; I worked for years with professionals, through all sorts of inpatient and outpatient therapies.
“None of them worked for me. They didn’t work because I didn’t want recovery, all I wanted was the security of anorexia blanketing me.
“At one point I was fed up of wasting people’s time, I knew myself I was not going to progress until I wanted it myself rather than people wanting it for me.
“When I decided it was okay to drop it, it all slowly became easier. Every time I challenged myself, the next time I done it, it became less of a challenge until it was normal for me.
“If you want your life back, go for it. Do it. I’m telling you, it WILL be worth it – difficult but worth it.”
For more information follow Emele on Instagram at @emgainstrength.