By Alyce Collins
CRUEL bullies led this 18-year-old girl to believe she was fat and exercise for up to EIGHT HOURS a day until she had a smaller waist than her five-year-old sister and weighed only FIVE-STONE.
Bar supervisor, Beth Nevey (23) from Worcestershire, UK, spent her teenage years battling the scales after hurtful comments about her weight gave her an unhealthy obsession with the scales, to the point of exercising up to eight hours some days and weighing just 5st.
As Beth started noticing changes to her body as a result of puberty earlier than those around her, the difference in her figure became more apparent. When she was only 13-years-old she received horrid comments that she was ‘fat’, leading her to make changes to her diet and exercising more.
By the age of 14, Beth began using diet pills before becoming obsessive over counting calories and tracking her food.
On top of her dance classes, Beth would walk wherever she went, attend Zumba classes, go jogging and use the treadmill at the gym, doing between two and eight hours of exercise every day.
Beth was keen on measuring the size of her waist and at the age of 18 her waist was smaller than that of her five-year-old sister at the time. At her lowest weight, Beth weighed 5st and wore children’s clothes, aged 10-11, sometime even aged 8-9. Now, Beth is now a much healthier 8st 12lbs and a UK size 6-8.
“When I was in school, about 13, I became more aware of my size and image and that stuff matters more,” said Beth.
“I hit puberty before a lot of my friends and I became curvy and had boobs when they didn’t. They still had child-like figures and it made me insecure.
“I was never fat, I had a little puppy fat but nothing crazy. Some horrible comments really stuck with me – I was told I was ‘fat’ and had ‘thunder thighs’ or that I only had boobs because I was ‘fat’.
“So, I started making changes like walking to school and eating better. At this point it was healthy changes and I lost some weight.
“Then when I was around 14 I started using diet products. I’d use literally anything from tablets, shakes and bars but none of it really worked. At 15 I did my research and became obsessed with calories.
“I started tracking what I ate and noticed the scales dropping and I loved it. I also became obsessed with exercise. Dance classes, walking to school, Zumba classes, the cross trainer, treadmill, jogging and cycling. I could exercise for up to eight hours some days when I had dance class.
“People started making comments like ‘Beth looks thin’ or ‘look how skinny you are’ and I thrived off it.
“My mum got me to see a counsellor who weighed and measured me and asked me lots of questions. I would drink between four and six litres of Pepsi Max, so I could bloat but it was practically calorie free. That way I’d weigh more, and I’d look like I was bigger.
“I told the councillor what she wanted to hear, and nothing was made of it.
“Before prom, I exercised for three hours in the morning because I was scared of the calories in a three-course meal. I was so afraid of seeing people and them thinking I was fat.
“My mum banned me from exercise due to being skinny, so I would run on a cushion in my room, so she couldn’t hear me. I stopped socialising for fear of having to eat when I didn’t know the calorie content.
“I suffered with depression because all I did was go to school, come home to exercise and plan my food. I had no social life.
“My anorexia wasn’t what people think when you don’t eat, because I would eat around 1200-1500 calories a day, but I’d exercise so much that I created a huge deficit.
“I was alone and obsessive. I felt controlled, like there was something in my head making me do this and I couldn’t ignore it because I didn’t think I was ill. I’d have done anything to continue losing weight.
“My perception changed and people I thought were thin started to look fat to me because I was smaller. Everything hurt, and I bruised easily as my bones stuck out. Even lying on my front hurt my hip bones.”
During university Beth would go out drinking with her friends and had a poor diet which she would criticise herself for. As a result, she would then over-exercise to compensate, and the cycle went on.
In her final year, Beth moved back home and started to realise the negative state of her health. When she came across Instagram accounts promoting healthy lifestyles and strength, Beth decided she wanted a fit physique and to regain her health.
“I started to notice how I was upsetting my family and friends. It hit home that I was hurting them and that hurt me,” said Beth.
“I was told that I had to put on weight or I’d be hospitalised or put into care. I was making myself ill and I hadn’t had a period for 18 months.
“The doctor told me that I could damage my body and even be unable to have kids as I was so gaunt and nutritionally deprived.
“My recovery wasn’t a straight forward process – I would gain weight and then lose it in a constant cycle.
“When I was 21 and moved back home for my final year of university, my unhealthy relationship with food and the gym dawned on me.
“I found some accounts on Instagram which inspired me to want to be strong, not skinny. I wanted to lift weights, build muscle and a bum. I noticed how happy they were, and I wanted to be happy again.
“I love that the media stopped focusing on skinny people. From this I started eating healthily and weight training.
“I’m now happy and confident because I understand the importance of nutrition and I’ve learnt so much about exercise. I can socialise with my friends without fearing food and I don’t spend hours doing cardio.
“I want to push the message to be strong not skinny. I want people to remember they aren’t alone, and recovery is possible, and it will change your life.
“Change comes from within, so you need to want to change. Find it within yourself to love yourself enough to ignore the voices in your head.”
Beth is now training to be a personal trainer and she weight trains five days a week, no longer counting her calorie intake because her focus is on happiness.
You can find out more about Beth’s recovery by visiting @bethnevey_fit.