By Liana Jacob
MEET the medical student who would go to extreme lengths to avoid consuming calories during her battle with anorexia that she would take butter from her bread and grease it on her neck then washed it off so that no one would find out.
Annika Hof (21), from Mainz, Germany, began her eagerness of losing weight when she was just 14 years old. Desperate for a ‘flat stomach’, she would hide food in her jacket pocket, or even take butter from her bread and rub it on her skin to avoid consuming calories. The five-foot-seven student’s weight plummeted to a tiny 6st 4Ibs and a UK size four.
Her illness left her in an angry state, where she would lash out people who told her she was ill, she isolated herself, the fear of eating affected her social life. When she was taken to a psychologist, her illness became worse and she would drink four litres of water every day to ‘fake’ her weight in order to be allowed to sit outside or see her family.
She was then taken to intensive care unit for two more months due to her heart and kidneys failing. It wasn’t until she began applying for jobs, that she realised, no employer would believe her to be a good fit if she didn’t recover. She began to change her goals to developing a healthy body and is now a healthy 10st 1Ibs and a UK size 10.
“It started with cutting out sweets to get a flatter stomach – first it was really hard, but then, when I saw the weight dropping, even secretly cutting out any meals under the watchful eyes of my suspicious parents became easy,” Annika said.
“I ran everywhere; I ran to school, always raised my legs up from the ground with a bag on them to train my abs while sitting in the car or in school for hours.
“I used to fight with my parents every day, I hid the food in my jacket or took butter from the bread and greased it on my neck.
“After the nurses in the clinic didn’t give me napkins for the meals anymore, I had to be ‘creative’ and secretly put it on my skin under my hoodie sleeves or in my neck, to conceal it.
“I washed it off afterwards just like I threw away the food I hid in my pockets. All that led to me being searched for things naked after every meal.
“My whole life was a farce and I got so afraid to eat in public that I always tried to find an excuse like I have eaten so much already before or having some food incompatibility.
“I then got treatment with a psychologist, where I got worse and drank four litres every day to fake my weight.
“I ended up being admitted into intensive care unit for another two months because my heart and kidneys started failing.
“After applying for jobs, I realised that nobody would believe me being an authority when I look like a twelve-year-old, sick person.
“Another part of my recovery was starting with strength training. It helped me being ambitious in something else, getting the feeling of hunger that I lost, and regained my muscles.
“I had this moment when I stood in a lane and just felt stable and strong and it was a good feeling, not like a little wind can beat me down any second.
“I changed my goals to wanting a healthy body with trained female curves. I knew I needed to eat enough to gain muscle, so I moved out from my parents’ home, started with med school, learned more about health and became more independent.
“It changed the way I perceive other people. It also increased my self- confidence. My boyfriend has a big role in that too; telling me every day that I’m beautiful.
“Overcoming anorexia has made me stronger. I have hit rock bottom, experienced a lot of pain, been admitted to hospital, fears and force from people in my early age.”
While she no longer counts calories, she estimates to be consuming around 3,000 a day now, making sure she eats a good amount of protein and a lot of vegetables. She incorporates strength training four times a week as part of her exercise routine.
However, increasing her food intake was the most difficult part of Annika’s recovery process.
“To accept my body’s changes, not fitting into your clothes anymore, really letting go of the disease I identified myself with for a long time were the hardest parts,” she said.
“It became like a safe haven, even though it is killing you and forcing you to hurt everyone that loves you.
“I figured out in therapy that anorexia was my framework for showing that my parents can’t control me.
“So, the hardest thing was to become ‘normal’ and not sick-looking anymore, as I kept a very low weight for some years.
“My boyfriend is very proud of me and supportive. My family mentioned it in many letters too that they are happy and proud of me becoming healthy again.
“I want to convey that nobody except yourself can fight this illness. Outer motivation is a great thing, but pressure often leads to even more restriction.
“You need to take action and ask yourself if you want to sit on your porch when you are sixty; weak bones, weak heart and tell people that you kept your weight really low for forty years.
“Or if you want to tell your grandchildren about the fun you had in your life; your career and adventures you experienced with your friends and on vacation.
“Strive for being strong in a healthy way.”
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