By Rebecca Drew
THIS BRITISH mum-of-two was haunted by anorexia throughout her teenage years and saw her weight drop to under FIVE-STONE until she made it her mission to beat her demons so she could survive and have a family to call her own.
Accounts manager, Olivia Cooper (31) from Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom, was a sporty child growing up and was always involved in school sports teams and gymnastics. However, when she reached her teenage years, Olivia became aware of her appearance and started to limit her food intake and became addicted to exercise.
Whilst suffering with anorexia, Olivia felt lost and was exhausted battling with her illness. When she was admitted to the Highfield Adolescent Unit in Oxford in 2002 for 12 months, she weighed close to 4st 7lbs and often wore children’s clothes as nothing fitted her. Whilst in hospital, she was closely monitored and had to follow a strict diet plan.
Olivia’s recovery turning point came while she was in hospital after she fainted in the shower, and seeing her family’s turmoil, she realised that she wanted to live and have a family of her own. Olivia is now a UK size 8 and no longer weighs herself and has learnt to love her body and food. She also has two children, Bella (2) and Jack (10 months), with her husband Marcus, who she met in 2011.
“I was very athletic at school, captain of games teams, did sports, was a gymnast as a child, and so I was always conscious of being active. I think going into my adolescent years I became more aware of appearance and it just spiralled from there – combining not eating with being addicted to exercise I became anorexic very quickly,” explained Olivia.
“I felt completely lost. I was fighting a constant battle between being owned by the illness and wanting to banish it for good. It was exhausting.
“I knew that I wanted to be a mum. And I knew the longer I carried on destroying my body the less likely I was to have children.
“When I was in hospital for a year in Oxford it was very strict. We were weighed every Monday and Thursday, we had very strict diet plans, we had to be monitored and observed after meals, I had weekly blood tests to check, well, everything really.
“It was absolutely horrendous. And terrifying.
“I had a very bad accident when I was in the shower at hospital. I fainted and banged my head badly. Seeing my family completely torn apart I just thought ‘what am I doing?’ I won’t be dictated to by an evil illness. I knew I was going to die if I didn’t. And I didn’t want to die.”
Now Olivia is happy with her body and she is proud of it for producing her two children and is supported by Marcus and her family who love her for who she is.
However, she found changing her mindset towards food the most difficult and she shared her advice to others who may be in the same position she was once in.
“Getting over the fact that whatever I eat wouldn’t make me fat and that I didn’t need to walk 10 miles a day if I ate an apple was the most difficult thing about my recovery,” she said.
“I don’t really have a regime now. I am looking after two kids under three so it’s just full on and hectic but I love cooking, I love food and I love eating. I don’t exercise apart from running around after the kids.
“Anorexia is not right. You don’t need to be owned by it, life is for living and just to be healthy. There’s so much more to life.
“I know it is so so hard to think that way when you are in the grip but it can be done! I’m proof.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/oliviacooper10x_