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 years.
They added her to online hate groups where she would be verbally assaulted and she was also verbally attacked in the face with people telling her to commit suicide.
By the time she entered sixth grade at her school, Collette had low self-esteem and suffered from depression.
Collette Anderson (pictured before she started bodybuilding) struggled with eating disorders when she was in school and was also bullied
Her looks were often compared to her attractive older siblings, and her peers preyed on her emotional state, even telling her “your siblings are so beautiful, what went wrong with you?”
In 2018, she began to struggle with dangerous eating behaviors such as binge eating or undereating.
She lost her appetite because of her depression, sometimes eating less than 1,000 calories a day, and sometimes even taking laxatives in an effort to stay thin.
In 2018, Collette hit the gym to confront her struggles.
Pictured after putting on muscle through bodybuilding, Collette says the sport helped her “find herself”
After nearly a year of undereating and overtraining, sometimes skipping sixth grade to hit the gym several times a day to hours of cardio and abs, she wanted to change. She no longer wanted to be thin, but strong.
She was supported by regulars at her gym who helped her train and transform her body.
She started consuming a minimum of 2,500 calories a day and went from eight and a half bricks to nine and a half bricks.
She continues to get negative comments about her appearance online, with people often trying to downplay the amazing progress she’s made by telling her she looks “manly” or that she’s “too skinny” or “unattractive.”
According to Collette (pictured after she started bodybuilding), she works out four to five times a week
However, since beginning her bodybuilding journey, Collette has found her confidence.
She works out four to five times a week on a structured regimen designed to increase her strength and follows each session with a protein- and carbohydrate-rich meal so she’s stronger than ever, both physically and mentally.
She now coaches her friends and family and gives advice to her 41,000 Instagram followers.
“During my school days, I was bullied a lot because of my appearance and my struggle to regulate my emotions,” Collette said.
Colette (pictured here as a child) struggled with both binge eating and undereating, sometimes limiting her calorie intake to as little as 1,000 a day
‘This was often hunted by peers. When I entered sixth grade at my school, I found myself feeling incredibly depressed and having low self-esteem, which was compounded by bullying from others.
“I was often compared to my older siblings and how good they looked.”
Collette joined the gym as a coping mechanism.
“In 2018, I decided to go to the gym as a liberation to feel better,” Collette said.
‘At that time I struggled with eating problems, often bingeing or eating too little.
“It became a way to be skinnier, to have bigger butt, any way to change my body so people would stop comparing me to my siblings.
At first, Collette (pictured after she started bodybuilding) started going to the gym because she wanted to be “a different person,” but she says starting lifting helped her find herself
“It started as a way of changing myself to become a different person, someone I might like or others might like.
But Collette’s attitude soon changed.
“After about a year of unhealthy gym and eating habits, I wanted to change,” Collette said.
‘I wanted to be happy with myself. I no longer wanted to look skinny and unhealthy.
“I cried in the mirror and just pulled apart parts of my body that I hated, looked at pictures and just found flaws. The way I felt made me want to change.
“I was surrounded by people, who were regulars at the gym at the time, lifting heavy for goals like powerlifting or better mental health.
‘I talked to them and eventually started training with them.’
Collette fell in love with her hitchhiking 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 hitchhiking community and felt like she belonged
‘After that I started my own journey, with my own goals.
‘First wanting to be a powerlifter, falling in love with the adrenaline for a lift and celebrating 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 safe because I knew what I was doing.
Collette has received mixed feedback about her bodybuilding journey.
“I get a lot of positive feedback, especially from the older generations in the gym community,” Collette said.
While she still gets some cruel comments online, the majority of people are supportive and positive, and the negative comments no longer affect Collette.
“They are all so supportive and positive, which I really appreciate, it shows that others are noticing my progress as well.
“But I also get negative feedback, and it’s often sent online from fake or troll accounts.
“I’ve never received negative feedback in person, only online.”
But she won’t let it get in her way or take away from her newfound confidence.
“With any kind of profession or social media platform, it’s to be expected and I don’t take it to heart.
‘Since I found myself in bodybuilding I’ve gained more confidence and I can come out of my shell around people I don’t know.
‘The best compliment I’ve received is ‘you shine’.
When it comes to advice, Collette recommends setting both long- and short-term goals and asking others for help if you need it
‘It’s a nice and powerful feeling when someone says that to you, because you feel like the star on a Christmas tree. You are the center of attention at that moment and you just feel grateful.
She also offered some advice for others looking to embark on their own bodybuilding journey.
“Make short-term and 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 stay motivated. And if you are unsure about the form of an exercise, do your research online, ask a friend or a personal trainer at the gym.’