An eating disorder survivor managed to turn her life around after taking up bodybuilding.
Dementia carer Collette Anderson, 21, from Bournemouth, says she was bullied by her peers throughout her school life.
They added her to online hate groups where she would be verbally attacked and she was also verbally assaulted to her face, with people telling her that she should take her own life.
By the time she joined her school’s sixth form, Collette had low self-esteem and was suffering from depression.
Collette Anderson (pictured before she took up bodybuilding) struggled with eating disorders when she was at school, and was also bullied
Her appearance would often be compared to her attractive older siblings, and her peers preyed on her emotional state, where they even told her ‘your siblings are so pretty, what went wrong with you?’
In 2018, She started struggling with dangerous eating behaviours, such as binging or undereating.
She lost her appetite due to her depression, sometimes eating less than 1,000 calories a day and sometimes she would even take laxatives in an attempt to stay thin.
In 2018, Collette joined the gym as a way to cope with her struggles.
Pictured after gaining a stone of muscle from bodybuilding, Collette says the sport has helped her ‘find herself’
After almost a year of undereating and overtraining, sometimes skipping sixth form to go to the gym multiple times a day to hours of cardio and abs, she wanted to change. She no longer wanted to be skinny, but strong.
She was supported by regulars at her gym who helped her train and transform her body.
She started consuming a minimum of 2500 calories per day and went from weighing eight-and-a-half stone to nine-and-a-half stone.
She still receives negative comments about her appearance online, with people often trying to diminish the amazing progress that she has made, telling her that she looks ‘manly’ or that she is ‘too skinny’ or ‘unattractive’.
According to Collette (pictured after taking up bodybuilding), she trains between four and five times a week
However, since starting her body-building journey, Collette has found her confidence.
She trains four to five times a week using a structured regime designed to increase her strength and follows every session with a high protein and carbohydrate meal, so she is stronger than ever, both physically and mentally.
She now coaches her friends and family and provides advice to her 41,000 Instagram followers.
‘Throughout my school life, I was picked on a lot for the way I looked and my struggle to regulate my emotions,’ Collette said.
Colette (pictured here as a child) struggling with both binging and under eating, and would at times restrict her calorie intake to as little as 1,000 a day
‘This was often preyed on by peers. When I joined my school’s sixth form, I found myself feeling incredibly depressed and with poor self-esteem, which was intensified through bullying by others.
‘I would often get compared to my older siblings, and how good they looked.’
Collette joined the gym as a coping mechanism.
‘In 2018, I decided to start going to the gym as a release to feel better,’ Collette said.
‘At the time, I was struggling with eating issues, often binging or undereating.
‘It became a way to be skinnier, to have the bigger bum, any way to change my body so people would stop comparing me to my siblings.
At first Collette (pictured after taking up bodybuilding) joined the gym because she wanted to ‘be a different person’ but she says taking up lifting helped her find herself
‘It started as a way to change myself to be a different person, one that maybe I would end up liking or others would like.
But Collette’s attitude soon shifted.
‘After about a year of unhealthy habits with the gym and eating, I wanted to change,’ Collette said.
‘I wanted to be content in myself. I no longer wanted to be skinny and unhealthy looking.
‘I would cry in the mirror, and just pull apart bits of my body I hated, look at pictures and just find fault. The way I felt, made me want to change.
‘I was surrounded by people, who were the regulars at the gym at that time, who were lifting heavy with goals such as powerlifting or better mental health.
‘I started to engage in conversations with them, and eventually ended up training with them.’
Collette fell in love with her lifting community and found a sense of belonging.
‘I felt like it was somewhere I belonged. I felt supported,’ Collette said.
According to Collette, she found a sense of belonging within her lifting community, and felt as though she belonged
‘After that, I started my own journey, with my own goals.
‘First starting to want to become a powerlifter, falling in love with the adrenaline before a lift and the celebration of the achievement.
‘But it became a goal to improve my overall being, to create a routine I could get into. It made me feel productive and secure in knowing what I was doing.
Collette has received mixed feedback on her body-building journey.
‘I get a lot of positive feedback, especially from the older generations in the gym community,’ Collette said.
While she still receives some cruel comments online, the majority of people are supportive and positive, and the negative comments no longer get Collette down
‘They are all so supportive and positive, and I really appreciate it, it shows that others notice my progress as well.
‘But I do also get negative feedback, and it’s often sent online from fake accounts or troll accounts.
‘I have never received negative feedback in person, only online.’
But she doesn’t let it stand in her way or take away her newfound confidence.
‘With any sort of profession or social media platform, it is to be expected and I don’t take it to heart.
‘Since finding myself in bodybuilding, I have become more confident in myself and I can come out of my shell around people I don’t know.
‘The best compliment I have received is ‘you are glowing’.
When it comes to advice, Collette suggests setting both long and short term goals, as well as asking others for help if you need it
‘It’s a nice and empowering feeling when someone says that to you, as you feel like the star on a Christmas tree. You are the centrepiece in that moment and you just feel grateful.
She also offered some advice for others looking to start their own bodybuilding journey.
‘Make short-term and long long-term goals,’ Collette said.
‘For example, short-term goal; go to the gym twice a week for a month. Long-term goal; Lose weight.
‘Make a plan to keep you motivated. And if you are unsure of the form of an exercise, research online, ask a friend, or ask a personal trainer at the gym.’