By Rebecca Drew
MEET the young woman who has beaten her bulimia and anorexia demons, after the sudden death of her godfather, which saw her go through periods of manic binging and purging to surviving off just one 150-calorie meal a day.
Growing up, student, Valentina Homberg (23) from Wuppertal, Germany, was always very slim despite the fact that she loved food, but concerned friends and family would always comment on her size. It wasn’t until she hit puberty when Valentina’s body started to change that these comments stopped.
Missing the attention, Valentina joined the gym and stopped eating altogether which caused arguments with her parents. When on an exchange scheme in America, Valentina started binge eating so much she could ‘barely breathe’ and was secretly purging by forcing herself to vomit.
It wasn’t until she moved into her own apartment in 2015 that Valentina’s anorexia really took hold, she started exercising for several hours a day, consuming just 150-calories. Her obsession with diet and exercise lead her to avoid all social events and lie to her family about what she was eating, sending them pictures of food she never ate. This saw her weight plummet to just 7-stone and a size zero.
“When I turned 16, I went to the US as a foreign exchange student. That’s when I relapsed from anorexia to bulimia. I felt very lonely because I got treated very bad by my host family so I tried to escape by binging on food,” she said.
“On some days, I ate so much that I could barely breathe anymore. As I started gaining more and more weight, that’s when I tried so throw up for the first time. After half a year, I came back to Germany and felt very sad and uncomfortable in my body.
“In January 2015, I moved into my own apartment and I was so happy because I knew there was nobody who would ‘control’ what I ate or hear me purging at night. I started going to the gym again, only ate 150-calories a day.
“I lost weight very fast and I remember everyone being worried about me. I started lying. When friends invited me to parties, hanging out and cooking, I said that I had no money and was busy otherwise. I even sent my friends and family pictures of food I never ate.
“I was depressed, sad, hungry and tired 24/7 but most of all I was lonely, on some days I did not even have energy to get up at night and go to the bathroom. My whole body hurt from just lying in bed.”
Valentina is now a fit and healthy 10st 10lbs and a size 10 and says the death of her godfather inspired her to get better.
“It took me long time to realise that you cannot recover unless you actually want to,” she added.
“When my godfather died unexpectedly, I thought I was going to relapse into anorexia or bulimia because I’ve never felt as sad as I did then. I did not know how to overcome the sadness. I hated myself for not being able to see him again.
“I realised that I’m not able to change my past but my future is still open. I knew he wouldn’t want me to start starving myself again so I immediately stopped starving, binging and purging.
“I thought that there are people that actually want to live but don’t have the chance and I’m ruining my life because I think it’s more important to be skinny than being grateful for being alive.
“I think my godfather’s dead was the actual point that made me finally overcome my eating disorder.
“I don’t care that much anymore, I feel good about myself because I now know what actually makes me happy is being able to be with my friends, having two, three or more bars of chocolate without thinking about it, spontaneously ordering pizza at midnight when my friends and I get hungry.
“I feel good because I’m able to love others and be loved by others again.”
Since making a full recovery, Valentina wants to urge others to get better as she doesn’t want people to miss out on the same things she did.
“Recovery is only possible if you want it. You’ll never be able to fully recover when you only want to recover for others. You have to realise that being skinny or sick will never make you happy or popular,” she added.
“You miss the most beautiful times, as others get engaged, go to university and fall in love, you’re lonely. I lost a lot of friends because I did not want to hang with them anymore but eventually that’s what life is about.
“Life isn’t about being skinny and ending up alone, it’s about falling in love with yourself and sharing that love with others. The sad thing is you only realise what you’ve missed when you’ve fully overcome your eating disorder and finally realise how beautiful life is.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/valle.homberg