An anorexia survivor who struggled with the eating disorder throughout her teens has now turned to body building to support her recovery and demonstrate that ‘food is fuel’.
Kendall Strampel, 19, was diagnosed with anorexia when she was 15 years old. The disease left her wrestling with depression and anxiety while wreaking havoc on her family and social life.
As a teenager, Kendall, from Florida, wanted to have a ‘perfect body’ and her disorder started by admiring the very Instagram bodybuilders she emulates now.
Recovering: Kendall Strampel, 19, who struggled with anorexia, once weighed 85 pounds (left). She is now in recovery and has reached a healthy weight of 120 pounds (right)
Beginning: As a teenager, Kendall, from Florida, wanted to have a ‘perfect body’ and her disorder started by admiring the very Instagram bodybuilders she emulates now
‘I started off running cross-country in school and I joined Instagram; I admired girls with bodybuilding physiques,’ Kendall said.
‘I saw the highlights of their lives; dainty meals, hours in the gym and motivational posts, I wanted to be them. I thought running and not eating was the answer.
‘I refused to put anything in my body that was not considered “clean” and I ran five to ten miles every day while doing twenty minutes of ab workouts.’
Kendall reduced her meals to the point of starvation. She went from a healthy weight of 118 pounds to 85 pounds, shedding 33 pounds in total.
The disorder caused her to isolate herself from those close to her, and the teen ended up withdrawing from her parents.
Heartbreaking: The disorder caused Kendall to isolate herself from those close to her, and the teen ended up withdrawing from her parents
Wasting away: Kendall (pictured during her disorder) reduced her meals to the point of starvation. She went from a healthy weight of 118 pounds to 85 pounds, shedding 33 pounds
Looking back: ‘It led me to depression and anxiety,’ Kendall said of the disorder.’If I could describe how I felt in one word, it would be lonely’
‘Everyone tried to help me; my family, friends, counselors, but I would not have it. The thing is, I hated my body for being so frail and small, but I refused to eat—I was afraid of something that was supposed to be keeping me alive,’ she said.
‘I was lucky to be eating 600 calories a day; I remember feeling dizzy and weak all the time. I lost all my friends, I avoided all social events because I knew food would be included.
‘I completely isolated myself, almost to the point of death. Which at one point was something I craved more than anything, I never thought I would recover; I didn’t think it was possible.’
After almost two years, anorexia had turned Kendall’s life upside down.
‘It led me to depression and anxiety; if I could describe how I felt in one word, it would be lonely. Nobody wants you when you treat them like crap,’ she added.
‘I was seventeen and I had done the worst thing I could. I turned my parents against each other. I just wanted to work out and not eat; I tried to convince them to let me and that I was OK.
‘This caused chaos among my family. I realized that I was the thing tearing my household apart. I took the initiative to simply try.’
On the mend: After almost two years, anorexia had turned Kendall’s life upside down. She eventually started eating more, and trying out the foods she loved again
Evolution: Kendall started following recovery accounts on Instagram and now competes in bikini shows (pictured) as part of her passion for body building
Healthier: The teen has gained back 35 pounds and reached a healthy weight of 120 pounds, consuming 3,100 calories a day
Kendall eventually started eating more, and trying out the foods she loved again. She also found solace in following Instagram accounts dedicated to eating disorder recovery.
‘I enjoyed my first “fun” food of ice cream, when I realized how amazing it felt to enjoy the food I loved, and I started to feel more empowered and strong,’ she said.
‘I followed recovery accounts on Instagram and they were so helpful, that I started my own. Sharing my story almost gave me a sense of accountability.
‘I felt that I was motivating others with my story and I knew I had to overcome my eating disorder for me and for my following. It gave me such a drive and desire to build my best self.
‘It has given me the ability to build relationships. I can now work to help others overcome and create their best self.
‘My platform has allowed me to travel and meet so many wonderful people with similar backgrounds. It has given me life; I’m so happy and now I just want to pay it forward.
‘I now compete in bikini competitions, body build and eat the most amazing foods while managing to balance my diet with nutrient dense foods.’
Network: The teen has now rebuilt her relationship with her friends and reassured her family. She said her parents were extremely proud of her and her friends proved supportive
Spreading the word: Kendall’s Instagram account, on which she discusses body building, recovery and fitness, has 69,000 followers
Feeling stronger: ‘Food is not the enemy, it is fuel,’ Kendall said. ‘Your body does not define who you are as a person. You deserve life’
Kendall has now gained back 35 pounds and reached a healthy weight of 120 pounds, consuming 3,100 calories a day. Her Instagram account, on which she discusses body building, recovery and fitness, has 69,000 followers.
The teen has now rebuilt her relationship with her friends and reassured her family.
‘I think my parents were the proudest people on the planet. My friends came back around and cheer me on. They are my number one supporters and I have built such healthy relationships with them again,’ she said.
‘I want people to know they are not alone—they can reach out to recovery accounts, seek professional help—and that telling someone can be the most life-changing experience for them.
‘Food is not the enemy, it is fuel. Your body does not define who you are as a person. You deserve life.’