By Rebecca Drew
THIS inspirational young woman is spreading her body positivity message after beating the eating disorder that saw her eat just 1,000 calories a day and punish herself with a gruelling two-hour exercise routine.
Community development manager, Alexandria Sundstrom (27) from Houston, Texas, USA developed her eating disorder when she was 18 during which time she would obsess over every calorie she ate, meticulously planning how she could burn them off.
At her lowest weight Alexandria was 13st 12lbs and a UK size 18. With her self-esteem at an all-time low Alexandria decided to see a therapist who helped her learn to love and embrace herself regardless of size or weight. Now, she’s a happier and more confident 23st 2lbs and a UK size 28.
“I felt incredibly alone. All I thought about was food. Just waking up was time to think about every calorie I’ll be eating. If I had a single fry at lunch, I would plan how many jumping jacks I need to burn it off,” she explained.
“Everything was filled with so much guilt and shame constantly swirling in my head.
“I was doing ninety to one hundred and twenty minutes of high intensity cardio a day, six days a week; usually in the form of multiple gym classes or running.
“I ate less than a thousand calories a day and logged every speck of food that even smelled too strong.
“If I went over, I would make myself work out until I burned enough calories. This would lead to days of binging to the point of immobility from stomach cramps.
“I realised that my mental health and self-image was in a terrible place. So, I decided to go to therapy and learn how to love myself.
“When I began realising that I could love myself no matter what I weighed, my whole view changed.
“Training my brain to stop fixating on the calories and the guilt or shame that came with food. Sometimes I still get that feeling of guilt with dessert or a burger, then I remember how damn good they taste.
“Now, I eat what my body needs. I have PCOS, so I eat low carb part of the time because it makes me feel better. But if I want pizza or a cupcake, I’ll have it.
“I won’t feel guilty but I also won’t binge. I just enjoy it.”
Alexandria Instagrams under the handle, @chubbystruggles and has made it her mission to share the message of body positivity with her 16.1K followers but she thinks the plus size industry still has some way to go in the mainstream.
“I know so many women in my life who don’t realise how beautiful and amazing and incredible they are. I wanted them to see themselves the way I see them and myself,” she added.
“I am still amazed at how much it has grown and become mainstream, but there is still so much work to do. I shouldn’t get teary eyed when I find my size at a regular store or see a love interest on TV with a body like mine. That should be normal.
“Surround yourself with things that inspire you and make you feel good about yourself: friends, Instagrammers, books, music, hobbies.
“Embrace the wonderful things you are and have to give, and share that with somebody. It takes time, but you’ll get there.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/chubbystruggles