By Liana Jacob
THIS TEACHER’S weight plummeted to FOUR-STONE after the death of her grandmother lead her on a dark path of over exercising for up to twelve hours-a-day and BREAKING 23 BONES in two years but has since beat her demons to become a bodybuilding champion.
In 2004 when high school teacher, Chelsea Kamody (30), from Florida, USA, was at high school herself, her grandmother, who was her best friend, passed away from cancer, this left Chelsea feeling distraught and out of control.
Not knowing how to handle her emotions following the devastating news, she decided that exercising intensely was the only way she could cope. Up until 2012, she would refrain from eating anything except celery and bananas, as well as exercising so vigorously, her weight reduced to just 4st 4lb and below a UK size two.
Her bones became so fragile, she suffered from 23 broken bones in just two years, her hair fell out and she was constantly cold.
In 2012, she then binge-ate 8,000 calories worth of food in a state of panic before feeling guilty, leading her to exercise for 10 to 12 hours-a-day to ‘reverse the damage’.
It wasn’t until November 2014, when her doctor warned her that she could die within a few weeks if she carried on, that she made the brave decision to recover. In January 2015, she noticed the difference in her weight and she is now a healthy weight of 10st 2Ibs and a UK size six. She first stepped on stage for a bodybuilding contest in March 2015.
“I felt absolutely terrible. When it first started, and before things became too horrible, it was more about control,” Chelsea said.
“It was actually a high to feel like I was in control of everything and everyone, and I was able to manipulate so many people.
“After several years of lies and games, my weight finally dropped below one-hundred pounds, and kept plummeting. At this point, I could barely function physically or mentally.
“I constantly felt dizzy and I basically went through each day praying I wouldn’t pass out. I suffered twenty-three broken bones within two years because I had the bone density of a ninety-year-old woman.
“My hair was falling out, I was constantly cold, my nails were brittle, and even my skin started turning a jaundice colour.
“I was living in a black hole, and I lost who I was as a person. I was always such a happy and energetic child growing up and at this point I had no personality, compassion, or any feeling whatsoever.
“I remembered what it was like being the person I had been ten years earlier, but it was like she was lost somewhere inside of me.
“The scariest thing in the world is when you know you are in a daily battle with yourself, and you know you are losing.
“I was hospitalised several times, placed in treatment centres, surrounded by doctors, therapists, and other sick patients, and I hated every minute of it.
“My heart rate was so low, I was not even allowed to get up to use the bathroom because they were afraid any movement would cause my heart to stop.
“My grandma and I were incredibly close. She was my piano teacher from when I was three-years-old until she passed when I was sixteen. I’m a concert pianist, and music is a huge part of my life.
“I went over to her house every single day after school from nursery until year ten when she became ill.
“During year ten, she developed a rare form of cancer and was put in hospice. I had to slowly watch my incredibly strong grandma basically deteriorate.
“I’m not very good at expressing my emotions, so I bottled everything up, and basically started using exercise as an outlet.
“I would come home from school and literally jump rope in the basement for three to four hours. I then found a love for running, and I would run miles and miles a day to ignore my emotional pain.
“Not only was I exercising obsessively, I had completely lost my appetite, and wasn’t eating a thing. I already have an insanely fast metabolism, so that in addition to not eating and burning loads of calories, I began losing weight.”
Chelsea explains that the decline in her health resulted in her nearly losing her life and this woke her up to get help and recover.
“I really didn’t have a choice. I had suffered for ten years and literally ruined that portion of my life. I tried several times to fix it in those years, but I wasn’t strong enough,” she said.
“Finally, I was told I was going to die. My organs were basically shutting down and my heart was barely beating. Being told you only have a few weeks left to live is one of the scariest things you can hear.
“At first I actually just gave up. I knew I had been saying for ten years that I was going to fix things, but I always ended up going back to my old habits and each downfall would be worse than the one before.
“Then I started getting mad at myself; I spent so much time obsessing over workouts and nutrition. I spent way more time in the gym than anyone else.
“I was more dedicated to and obsessed with eating healthy than anybody I knew. I spent hours and days of my life reading fitness magazines and studying exercise or nutrition articles.
“With all of this time I dedicated, why did I look so awful? It wasn’t fair. That’s when I realised I had failed. For all of those years, I said I could change this on my own, and now I was literally about to die.
“This was my last chance. I decided to set the goal to compete. I had always dreamed of competing, read article after article in magazines about fitness competitors, and would have given my left leg to step on stage just once.”
Chelsea competed in her first bodybuilding show of the season called NGA Gator Classic and came first place in the Bikini Novice category as well as bikini open.
She credits her coach, Cliff Wilson, as well as her family and friends for their consistent support.
“I honestly didn’t think it would happen. Why would this time be different than any other time in the last ten years when I said I would fix this? But it was worth a shot,” she said.
“I did research on a proper weight gain diet, talked to some people in fitness groups on Facebook and started envisioning myself competing.
“To be honest, that’s what got me through the first two weeks. Going from eating nothing and doing hours of cardio to two-thousand-five-hundred calories and very little cardio was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
“I have an amazing support system between my friends, family, fellow competitors and my coach. Everyone is so incredibly proud of me, especially those who were there during the bad years.
“Don’t give up. Many times, it seems like it’s impossible, and you’ve dug too deep of a hole, but it’s never too late to turn your life around.
“Seek out and accept help. That is one thing I wouldn’t and couldn’t do. I did it all on my own, but honestly, I would never tell someone else to do that.
“Don’t be scared to admit you have a problem. Acceptance is the hardest part, but once you are willing to change and accept the help, there are countless support systems available to help.”