30, per­sonal trainer and health and fit­ness blog­ger

Women's Health (UK) - - NAKED -

‘I’ve strug­gled with body dys­mor­phia (BD) all my life. I was taller and big­ger-boned than all my friends when I was grow­ing up, and my mind started play­ing tricks on me by am­pli­fy­ing that. When I looked in the mir­ror, I’d see a girl three sizes big­ger than the real me. It meant that I would al­ways wear loose clothes, try­ing to cover up.

When I was 18, I started go­ing to the gym, do­ing end­less car­dio in a bid to lose weight (which, I later learned, wasn’t the way to do it). At first, I’d wear big, baggy gym clothes, but they got in the way, so I started wear­ing tighter clothes – and peo­ple in the gym be­gan com­pli­ment­ing me on my fig­ure. It grad­u­ally made me re­alise what I saw in the mir­ror wasn’t real and, af­ter do­ing a bit of re­search, I re­leased I had BD.

I worked in mar­ket­ing for years, but started Youtub­ing fit­ness videos in my spare time. I built up about 20,000 fol­low­ers in a year, and de­cided to quit my day job and take a per­sonal train­ing diploma. I now have over 370,000 Youtube sub­scribers, sev­eral clients in the gym and a wait­ing list for on­line Skype clients from around the world.

Through watch­ing my videos back and see­ing what my body is ca­pa­ble of, I’ve been able to beat my body demons. I re­spect it now and don’t com­pare my­self to the small, thin girl I once dreamed of be­ing. I train three to five days a week, al­ter­nat­ing body weight and weighted cir­cuit work­outs; rarely car­dio un­less I go for a run with my dog. I’m a size eight and I weigh just un­der 11st – it’s the heav­i­est I’ve ever been but I’m two sizes smaller than when I was 18.

I do re­ceive the oc­ca­sional cruel com­ment on­line such as “you look like a man” or “your abs look too mas­cu­line”. When I started, that would deeply af­fect me. But I’ve learned to try not to take crit­i­cism to heart. I’m proud of those abs be­cause they prove I’m strong.’ @car­ly­rowena

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