By Alyce Collins
THIS STUDENT starved herself with the intention of showing off her bones until hospitalisation showed her that anorexia was standing in the way of her dreams. London postgraduate student, Rebeka Tunegova (22), is finally embracing her incredible physique after years of struggling to accept her body.
A childhood filled with sports and activities meant Rebeka didn’t necessarily have to pay attention to everything she ate because she was active enough anyway. However, changes at puberty saw her figure change as she soon became overweight despite leading her active lifestyle. At her heaviest, Rebeka weighed just over 10 stone, wearing a UK size 12-14.
By the age of 15, Rebeka was noticing her weight more than ever until a sudden tragedy struck and Rebeka’s childhood friend was diagnosed with cancer. This triggered a change in mindset where Rebeka began to control every element of her diet, to the extreme point of starvation when her weight dropped to just 6 stone 6lbs, when she wore a UK size 4, which was still too baggy on her.
“I’ve never been a ‘skinny’ child as I love food, but I was ‘normal’ for most of my childhood, until puberty with all the hormone changes and I gained more weight quite quickly,” Rebeka said.
“I wasn’t huge, but I know at some point I was overweight, and people starting to notice that and pointing it out to me. I was still very active, but my diet habits were really bad.
“At around fifteen I went through a really hard time with problems in my family – my parents, who were my biggest support system decided to divorce and my best friend was diagnosed with a really bad illness, she was literally dying in front of my eyes.
“These were all triggers that I knew I couldn’t control, so I focused on things I could control. That’s when I discovered the gym and it became my escape from everything.”
Rebeka tried to cope with her friend’s cancer battle and her parents’ divorce by closing herself off and shutting those around her out, resulting in Rebeka spending much of her time alone.
“I was crazy underweight, I was satisfied that I could see my bones, but I was obsessed and I wanted to be even more skinny everyday.
“However, I got obsessed with losing weight and I lost a crazy amount in a short amount of time by starving myself. I was diagnosed with anorexia, but I didn’t want to accept it until I got hospitalised for weeks.
“Doctors were telling my parents that I’d have to stay there and go through the curing process. That was a huge eye-opener for me as I realised I had a food obsession which could stop me from reaching my goals and going to work abroad and further study.
“From then I completely changed my point of view and how I see my body. I started to learn about nutrition and training and all kinds of diet approaches, where I found my passion.”
After turning her health around, Rebeka has embraced a strict fitness regime, and after a few years of training she is now a UKBFF and IFBB competitor after going from strength to strength.
“I did my first ever competition back in Slovakia in 2014, but it wasn’t the best experience because I didn’t have the muscle or the knowledge to be competitive,” she said.
“In my first UKBFF season last year I placed second in the juniors and my height category and I won the following competition.”
In May 2018, Rebeka qualified for the international competition after winning three categories whilst juggling her final modules of her Sport Business MSc university degree.
“It’s important to realise that change won’t happen overnight, it takes time and patience. You shouldn’t ever be discouraged by anyone because everything is possible if you’re willing to work for it and put in the required effort,” she added.
“It won’t be easy all the time, but the hard days and weeks are going to be worth it in the long run.”
You can check out Rebeka’s Instagram page @rebekatunegova to find out more.