Historically, there has been a huge misconception that eating disorders affect only thin, young, white affluent females. This misconception has led people to believe eating disorders aren’t a problem in the black community that it’s a white woman’s disease which is absolutely not true. 22-year-old Carla talks about her experience of overcoming bulimia through fitness, faith and prayer.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Carla Lotus! I am a support worker, mentor, women’s fitness coach and beauty pageant queen from South London that loves keeping fit and cooking dope food!
What led you to want to make a lifestyle change?
Growing up I struggled a lot with my appearance and developed body dysmorphic disorder and bulimia and depression. I hated my reflection and believed I was ugly and went from being under weight to piling on pounds and I got to a point where enough was enough and it was time to start loving and nurturing my body and working with what God blessed me with.
[Below, Carla shares her experience at the Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK on May 30, 2015]
Tell us about your transformation
It first started with a mental transformation, by retraining my mind to see myself in a healthier way. Also, instead of allowing mental illness to hold me down fitness was one form of a release for me and I used the pain of my past to push and motivate me to work out rather than let it bring me down. I love working out in the gym 3-4 times a week, the gym is like a playground for big kids (like me hahah!)
How did you overcome your struggles with food?
I use to have a very unhealthy relationship with food, I would binge eat and then feel guilty and force myself to throw up (bulimia) and then I went through a stage of comfort eating. I changed this habit by renewing my mind and remembering that my body is a temple and looking at eating healthy as a form of self-love and self-respect. I also always remember the powerful benefits of eating healthy but also remind myself that a treat is okay and that a healthy balance is key!
I went from being a size 8 to now being a size 12, so I have actually put on weight but feel so good and don’t mind that I don’t have wash board abs lol!The journey has been a long one …a battle I have now won and I have learned a lot and learned to love me some me!
What was the hardest part about your transformation?
The hardest part of my transformation was my mind, your body can change dramatically but if your mindset doesn’t change at the same speed it can be hard. I overcame this through prayer, speaking positive words to myself and also looking back at old pictures to see visual proof.
How have things changed with you in general (health, relationships, self)
I have been able to share my story with many women and as a women’s fitness coach I have helped change so many women’s lives that have come to me with similar body confidence issues! I feel so much happier within myself and always remember where I have come from. I have learned to rock all that God has given me and nourish and exercise my body simply because I deserve it!
Who or what helped you along your journey?
Prayer was one thing that helped me. There is a strength God gives that can’t compare to anything else! Knowing that I had a purpose motivated me to push and always keeping the future at the forefront of my mind continues to motivate me until this day!
I also meal prepped and planned all my meals and had set days of when I would train in the gym. Planning is key and just knowing you’re worth the effort.
What might we catch you doing on your days off?
I love to chill at home watching a movie and I absolutely love to cook!
What piece of advice would you offer others suffering with Body Dysmorphic Disorder
You are worth it. Don’t do it for anyone but you! You have been blessed with a body embrace it and all of your imperfections too! Work with what you’ve got and have a vision of where your heading. Know your why! I’m a firm believer in writing things down and placing them where I can see them. Write down your why so that whenever you feel like giving up you have a clear reason why you shouldn’t! Lastly enjoy yourself, chose ways to work out in ways that you will enjoy!
You can connect with Carla via her Instagram @carla_lotus
Carla shares more about her personal journey with BDD on her Youtube channel