By Alyce Collins
BULIMIA dominated the life of this fitness instructor before she was able to beat her demons with the help of her supportive partner and succeed in her quest to become a healthy mother.
Marketing and PR specialist, Brenda Raftlova (30) from Montreal, Canada, has overcome the eating disorder that left her purging from the age of just sixteen, and controlled her food habits for the next eight years of her life, with her weight falling to a shocking 7st 4lbs and UK size 6 (US 2).
Pictures show Brenda, now a certified fitness instructor, flexing her gym-honed arms and abs and her impressive weightlifting capabilities.
Side-by-side contrast images show the stark difference in Brenda’s appearance from when she was bulimic, to orthorexic, to now being happily balanced. Other images also show Brenda proudly displaying her growing baby bump at four months.
Brenda never felt truly happy with how she looked because she hated her appearance, but she wasn’t willing to decrease her calorie intake. Purging became her instinct as she believed that being thinner would make her happier, without having to change what she ate, but this in fact led to further weight gain.
In reaction to further weight gain, Brenda saw the need to change and became heavily dependent on exercise to get thinner. These obsessive orthorexic actions led to a drastic weight loss, by which point Brenda weighed just 7st 4lbs, and was a UK size 6 (US 2).
“I was very unhappy with myself and my body and I thought that thinness would fill my soul,” said Brenda.
“I was so desperate to lose weight, but I loved food too much and wasn’t willing to reduce my intake, so I decided to purge.
“I would run 10km every day and only eat very specific food. It took me a year before I found the right balance.
“The hardest part was that no one knew about it. I was suffering alone and in silence.
“My diet and exercise regime before I started my recovery journey was extremely obsessive and unhealthy. I would work out for hours on a daily basis and eat very small portions.”
Brenda’s recovery certainly wasn’t easy; when she first stopped purging at the age of twenty-four, her state of mind was still dissatisfied with how she looked, and this made her become overly obsessive about fitness.
Brenda’s turning point came when she met her now-husband, a former professional hockey player and now coach, who understood the benefits of fitness in his lifestyle and was able to introduce this to Brenda.
“The minute we started dating, I knew I was going to marry him one day and have kids with him,” she said.
“But I knew that if I wanted to be a mom, I would need to stop leading this crazy unhealthy lifestyle. And that was my wakeup call.
“I am now a totally different person.
“I work out four to five times a week for about an hour and I do it because I absolutely love it. My family are very proud and very happy that I’m finally living a healthy and cheerful life.
“In terms of food? I have the biggest appetite. I eat five to six meals a day, I make sure I fuel my body with nutrient-dense food, but I also like to listen to my body and give it whatever it craves.
“In other words, I live a balanced life.”
Brenda and her husband have been weightlifting together since 2013, and they are expecting their first child later this year.
“Since finding out about my pregnancy I actually haven’t missed a workout.
“I feel great and I feel strong. I’m very lucky.”
Brenda, who is currently four months pregnant, works out four to five times a week, and she plans on continuing this for as long as she is physically capable and enjoys it.
You can check out Brenda’s blog Candied Chocolate or see her journey by going to her Instagram page.