A woman who lived on soup and salad in a bid to get a 'thigh gap' turned her life around to become a bodybuilder – and now eats 4,000 calories a day, going from a size six to a healthier size 10.
Anna Thomson, 29, spent years eating less than 1,000 calories a day as she tried to maintain her slender frame.
She was terrified of carbs and avoided rice and pasta for three years while only allowing herself half a carton of soup for lunch.
At her lowest point Thomson, from Edinburgh, weighed just 7st 9lbs and says looking back she thinks she had an eating disorder.
But five years ago she joined the gym and fell in love with weightlifting, going on to compete in two bodybuilding shows for the first time last year.
“I was really underweight, I was eating less than 1,000 calories a day and trying to get a thigh gap," she admits.
“I think people were so conditioned to want that because of what we saw in the media, on TV and in films.
“My diet was so specific – I went years thinking I should only be eating soups or salads for the rest of my life.
“I would obsess about food for 30% of the day, which is a lot. I was so terrified to eat any extra calories I would only allow myself to have half a tub of soup for lunch.
“Every day I had no energy, no get up and go because I was restricting myself so much and I was damaging my body. I used to be obsessed with dress sizes and scared to get bigger than a size six.”
She now wears a size 10 and said she embraces the fact she can’t fit into any of her old clothes.
She eats up to seven meals and 4,000 calories a day when she is bulking to put on muscle – and enjoys guilt-free carbs, chocolate and meals out to socialise with friends.
Thomson, who can now squat 100kg, became a qualified PT this year and hopes to inspire other women to ditch restrictive diets.
The bikini competitor says she is now trying to close the thigh gap she always longed for in bid to put on muscle and get strong in the gym.
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“I started the gym five years ago but just doing cardio and ab work-outs," she says.
“I was so timid it took me about a year to build up the courage to go into the weights room.
“I had been stuck in a vicious cycle, but I started to realise I needed to eat to fuel my sessions in the gym.
“When I am bulking now I am eating nearly 4,000 calories a day.
“At the start I didn’t understand how I could be eating that many calories but then I started to see the benefits of eating more.
“Now I am eating between five and seven meals a day which are mostly based around protein and are much more varied than soup and salad.
“My mindset has totally shifted, I know food is not the enemy anymore, it’s fuel. It’s been so transformative it’s like I am a different person.
“I am trying to gain as much muscle on my legs as possible and close the thigh gap. I wouldn’t be able to fit into any of my old size six clothes now but I embrace that."
Additional reporting by SWNS